Miller-N.C. State speculation begins

2011-03-15T13:50:00Z 2011-03-20T20:39:54Z Miller-N.C. State speculation beginsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star

Ever since Sean Miller and Arizona beat N.C. State by 10 points on Dec. 19 at the RBC Center, it wasn't a huge reach to figure this might happen: Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe would be out of his momentum-less program by the end of the season and Miller, a former Wolfpack assistant, would be mentioned as a possible replacement after succeeding at Xavier and Arizona.

Today, both things happened.

Lowe stepped down and Miller is already appearing on lists produced by the Raleigh News & Observer and Fayetteville Observer.

Mark Fox, Tubby Smith and Rick Barnes are some of the other names being bandied about, according to SportsByBrooks, which also says N.C. State AD Debbie Yow can pay about $3 million.

Miller makes $2 million a year at Arizona plus he also will earn incentives well into the six figures this season. What's interesting, though, is that Miller has been promised an extension this spring because he only was able to be given a five-year contract in 2009 under Board of Regent rules, but Jim Livengood made a seven-year agreement with Miller by telling him he would be given two additional years in 2011.

Arizona AD Greg Byrne has said only that he will discuss Miller's deal at the end of the season but it will be interesting to see if he gives him an entirely new deal -- especially if Miller gains newfound leverage.

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Mike DeCourcy, who covered Miller as a high school player, says Miller isn't interested.

I've heard the same, though Miller himself hasn't addressed it at this point. It's always an awkward situation for any coach whose name pops up for vacancies while involved in the NCAA tournament.

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Just a thought: If N.C. State ever becomes open to hiring an assistant coach, it could take a long look at Archie Miller, the former Wolfpack player and coach now serving as UA associate head coach...

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So who's Lute Olson rooting for Friday? His longtime loyal former assistant coach or the program he guided to new heights for 25 years?

"Obviously,  I’ll pull for Arizona," Olson said.

Olson said he was convinced the NCAA selection committee knew that Pastner and Arizona had strong ties, though he said it should be a favorable matchup for the Wildcats.

"They're very talented but I think it’s a good draw for Arizona because they don’t have much size inside and that’s the thing that seems to get Arizona trouble," Olson said. Memphis is "very athletic in the open court and sometimes, we've been lax in recovering on the defensive end. So I would I think that’s a matchup that we can win.

"It’s a whole lot (tougher facing) teams with really big inside people," Olson said. "Texas has some big horses inside. That’s going to be a problem."

Olson said he figured Pastner would have been best off starting as a head coach at a lower level, but has been making progress at Memphis.

"Josh has done a good job just like Sean has in terms of making improvement week after week," Olson said. "I’m really pleased for Josh and I could see after the win at UTEP, why, he was like one of the kids out there jumping up and down. He’s obviously very excited.

"It will be his first NCAA playoff game. I’m really proud of the job he’s done with the cloud hanging over that program. He’s had two great recruiting classes in a row and that’s not easy."

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UA transcribed Monday's news conference at McKale Center, where Miller, Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne attended. Miller and the players won't be available publicly again until pregame news conferences on Thursday in Tulsa.

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Williams told the Arizona Republic that chemistry is the reason the Wildcats can make an NCAA tournament run.

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Josh Pastner is deploying his time-management skills this week.

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We had a story about Pastner's relationship with Jamelle Horne and Derrick Williams if you didn't see it.

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The New York Times profiled Gus Johnson, the excitable commentator who called the Isaiah Thomas game-winner in Los Angeles on Saturday. 

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DeCourcy has Texas beating Arizona in his bracket but says the Arizona-Memphis game is the West Region's best first-round matchup because of the young talent involved.

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Nikola Vucevic is lightening the mood for USC.

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Maybe Ernie Kent will resurface in Wyoming? Or is it Mike Dunlap, who assisted Arizona in 2008-09 and Kent in 2009-10 before joining Steve Lavin's ship this season?

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