Predicting the Future of the University of Arizona’s Basketball Program

Was Saturday’s final 2017-18 home game against California the end of an era at McKale Center? Unfortunately the answer is yes and here’s what I think happens next:

1. Regardless of what happens in the NCAA Tournament, I’d be surprised if Sean Miller returned as Arizona’s head coach.

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Friday, 2/23 Quick Hitters – On Allonzo Trier’s suspension, Sean Miller’s future, and more

Late-Thursday afternoon Arizona star guard Allonzo Trier was ruled ineligible by the NCAA as a miniscule amount of the banned substance Ostarine once again appeared in a test. His attorney believes that since the substance hadn’t appeared since early-2017, it was the result of Trier taking the test when not properly hydrated. Either way, let’s break the implications of this down for Wildcats fans:

-First of all, this is complete BS. But welcome to the world of the NCAA and its rampant corruption / unfairness.

-Arizona has lodged an appeal and is challenging the ruling. Based on the usual slowness of the NCAA’s actions, it’s not looking good for Trier to return anytime soon. In fact it’s quite possible that last Thursday night’s win in Tempe might have been Allonzo’s final game in a Wildcats’ uniform. (But if this all gets sorted out on Friday as Sean Miller suggested on Thursday night, ignore the next few bullet points).

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Friday, 2/16 Quick Hitters: On UofA-ASU, Ayton’s dominance, Fitz returns, and picking the Daytona 500!

I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. I predicted a 10 point ASU victory over Arizona in Thursday’s college basketball matchup from Tempe. UofA’s 77-70 win was just the opposite and hallelujah!

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-First of all, Thursday night’s crowd at Wells Fargo Arena was arguably the loudest in the stadium’s history. Props to ASU fans for filling the joint. And bringing notable announcer Michael Buffer to announce ASU’s starting lineup before his signature “LET’S GET READY TO RUMMMMBLLLLEEEE” line was pretty darn cool.

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Friday, 2/9 Quick Hitters: UofA / ASU Recruiting, Ranking the Pac-12 HCs, Trades Galore, and more!

-Let’s start with the elephant in the room from college football’s National Signing Day…according to 247Sports’ team rankings…ASU is 36th and UofA sits at #58. Am I worried? Not in the least. Last I checked Herm Edwards was hired in early-December which gave him and his staff nearly two months to improve upon Todd Graham’s class. For Kevin Sumlin, it was closer to 2.5 weeks. And in three days, Sumlin signed Arizona’s highest rated recruit, QB Kevin Doyle from Washington D.C.

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-Props to Herm for finishing with a solid class…but if you’d like to bet me that next year Sumlin’s Arizona class will rank significantly above Edwards’ ASU signees, message me on Twitter @eacohen83. In fact I’ll take it a step further, if Sumlin’s 2019 class isn’t in the top-30, I’ll be prepared to eat some MAJOR crow.

-Georgia is going to be really, really, really good these next few years. What Kirby Smart has done in only 2+ short years…almost a National Championship + elite recruiting classes = brilliance. The Bulldogs will be the new Alabama in terms of success for years to come.

-I don’t want to say a lot about Arizona basketball after their garbage performance at home against UCLA on Thursday night. I’m still REALLY upset about it. But the fact is, if you think this team is a Final Four contender (as I previously had), you’re in for some major disappointment. As it stands right now, I’d be more surprised if they made the Final Four than if they lost in the first round…

-For those who have asked, here are my personal rankings of the Pac-12 coaches from worst to first:
12. Jonathan Smith (Oregon State)
11. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
10. Herm Edwards (ASU)
9. Mike McIntyre (Colorado)
8. Justin Wilcox (Cal)
7. Clay Helton (USC)
6. Mike Leach (Washington State)
5. Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)
4. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
3. Chris Peterson (Washington)
2. Chip Kelly (UCLA)
1. David Shaw (Stanford)

Wondering where I would’ve ranked Rich Rodriguez? Likely 8th on this list…

-At first I absolutely hated what the Cavaliers did on Thursday before the NBA’s Trade Deadline. By dealing Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first round pick to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, it didn’t at first glance appears that the Cavs made their team better. But a subsequent 3-way trade netting them PG George Hill (from Sacramento) and SG Rodney Hood (from Utah) gave Cleveland the firepower and defensive ability they recently have been lacking. Mind you that LeBron’s club is far from a lock to represent the East in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year (and his eighth straight year dating back to his days with the Heat) but these moves definitely help. Many props to Cleveland GM Koby Altman who wasn’t afraid to press the reset button right before the All-Star Break. Thomas was a disaster next to LBJ and he needed to go. For the Lakers, they were also the biggest winners on deadline day as they’ve freed up enough money to sign two max contract free agents in the coming offseason(s).

-Don’t underestimate the Suns late trade on Thursday afternoon…having acquired Orlando PG and former 10th overall pick Elfrid Payton. While he’s known more for his crazy hair than his game on the court, Phoenix desperately needed a competent ball distributor and Payton brings them just that. While I still strive to see the Suns lose games in bunches to achieve a higher draft pick, the Payton experiment is certainly worth watching as the team plays out the string in 2018.

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-Let’s put it this way about the Suns, it’s hard to be much worse than they were on Wednesday night…3 of 32 from three point range has to be among the most pathetic statistics by any team this season.

-Five years, $137 million for Jimmy Garoppolo, a QB who has started what, eight games in his career? Ridiculous. I understand he’s never lost as a starting QB but it’s a SMALL sample size to say the least. Next week I’ll write a breakdown of NFL starting QBs…but there’s no way I’d have Garoppolo higher than 15th. Some players are about to get P-A-I-D!

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-Like many fans, players, agents, and observers, I’m disgusted by the pathetic lack of movement lately among baseball teams when it comes to marquee free agents. Pitchers and catchers report in a week or so and as of now, Houston is the CLEAR CUT best team in the league. Do something people! If players like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Cobb are still unsigned one week from today, something is CLEARLY wrong with the system.

-I really could care less about the Winter Olympics especially considering my favorite sport in the games, hockey, is being played without NHL players. Just looking at the U.S. roster…considering I haven’t heard of 90% of the players, it’s hard to expect them to be medal contenders.

-Starting a new weekly feature here – I’ll name the teams that I think will be in the finals of the six most popular major sports (including college). Based on injuries, transactions, etc… I’ll revise weekly as necessary:
NBA: Golden State vs. Boston
College Basketball: Villanova vs. Michigan State
NHL: Boston vs. Dallas
MLB: Houston vs. Washington
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan

-Finally – I failed to mention in previous blogs that nearly a month ago, one of my favorite sports broadcasters of all-time, Keith Jackson, passed away at the age of 89. To me and many others, Keith was the voice of college football during our childhoods. His smooth yet elegant style of broadcasting with a flair for the dramatic was what set him apart from the run-of-the mill announcers.

And if this video doesn’t give you chills…I don’t know what will…

Rest in peace to one of the all-time greats.

 

Kevin Sumlin to Arizona: The definition of an A+ coaching hire

Since 2001, I’ve been to 120 University of Arizona football games. I haven’t missed one played in the state of Arizona since 2007. The Wildcats’ record in those games? A pedestrian 63-57. But two decades of mediocrity ends now…

In the words of the late, great college football broadcaster Keith Jackson, “WHOA NELLY!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for an Arizona football season as I will be in 2018!

Sunday’s announcement that the Wildcats were hiring former Houston and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin might have been overdue to some but was welcome news to this alum and UA football diehard.

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Four Downs – January 8th: National Championship Game Pick, UofA’s coaching search, & NFL Playoff Thoughts

FIRST DOWN – The winner of College Football’s National Championship Game will be…

ALABAMA. Let’s say 31-21 over Georgia.

Nick Saban has never lost to one of his former assistant coaches in his illustrious career…I believe he’s 11-0. Well make it 12-0 as Alabama’s offense cranks it up in the 2nd half against a Georgia team that will have to abandon the run after falling behind early.

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Quick Thoughts on RichRod’s Departure from Arizona

Am I surprised that Rich Rodriguez was fired by the University of Arizona? NO.

Am I surprised that it happened on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018? YES.

I wrote back in September that a change needed to happen after the ugly Friday night loss against Utah when Arizona’s attendance dipped to lows not seen during the ugly John Mackovic years. Clearly the Tucson fanbase gave up on these Wildcats long before I did.

Heck, even despite the emergence of QB Khalil Tate, Arizona didn’t come close to a sellout during Homecoming against a ranked Washington State team. Something had to be done.

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