June 8 column: Wisdom.....
Stallion (Regular+; 24301)
Posted on: 06-08-2009.
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And the Sean Miller magic continues.
He just landed his fourth recruit for the ’09-’10 season and instead of a freshman it’s a senior who will be on the short list of best players in the Pac-10. Is it too early to give Miller the coach of the year award?
UA’s new king of basketball is definitely on a roll. But before the success in the press and on the recruiting trail, his first victory was simply not being Tim Floyd or John Calipari. Good grief. Things change in a hurry, don’t they? Rambo didn’t dodge this many bullets.
I am now revising the list of Greatest Near-Misses in American History:
-The Cuban Missile Crisis But we didn’t miss on our best remaining player. Welcome back, Nic Wise.
-Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania on 9/11
-The time I had to make a right turn from the left lane at 50 miles an hour at the Grant/Campbell intersection to avoid an accident
-Arizona not hiring Floyd or Calipari
I’m not going to play the game where I argue it’s smarter for a guy to stay in school just because he happens to play for my favorite team. Injuries are always a threat, especially for a player who has had knee issues like Nic. We won’t know for a few years whether or not Wise cost himself money by playing another year of amateur ball. But I will say this: If Nic wants to play in the NBA, staying at Arizona is his best bet.
Nic wasn’t going to be drafted this year. If he took the European money he would probably stay there. If he wants a shot at the NBA, making a national name for himself as part of a major U.S. college basketball program is the only way. I hope it works out for him.
Here’s something that would help. Nic’s given first name is Dominique. Shortening it is fine, but there’s no C anywhere so why go with “Nic”? This isn’t like Nicholas Grigsby or Dominic Costa. No, the starting point guard and best player on the 2010 Arizona Wildcats should be…
Tell me that’s not an NBA name. And spelling matters. You think Shaquille O'Neal would've won four NBA championships if he went by "Shack"?
He’s already made our summer. Now it’s time to remake his image and make history.
Welcome back, Niq Wise.
(Bonus suggestion: Jam Horne. There’s a name that wouldn’t lose games with intentional fouls.)
This latest good news doesn’t change my opinion of next year’s expectations however. Think of it this way: The most likely starting lineup is Wise, Fogg, Solomon Hill, Horne and Natazhko. That means the two starters we lost were NBA first round picks, and the two guys we’re replacing them with are freshman.
Last year’s team baaaaarely made it into the tournament. And this next year’s team is supposed to be just as good? It’s not a fair burden to make them bear.
If the three freshmen aren’t incredible (and if Niq doesn’t change his name) the consecutive tournament streak will most likely end at 25. And that’s OK. Lute couldn’t coach forever and his streak can’t last forever.
If 25 is in fact our final number we need to keep it in perspective as we move forward. It’s not the all-time record so there’s no need to start fretting when Kansas gets close to passing it in a couple years. Lute’s record 28 all-time tournament appearances isn’t the magic number either since Boeheim (26) and Shushefskee (25) will soon eclipse it.
No, the number we need to cherish, defend and boast about is 23. Twenty-three years was the length of Lute Olson’s personal NCAA tournament streak which is tied for the best ever. Kansas isn’t challenging that one since they changed coaches mid-run. The longest active one-coach streak is now Mike Shushefskee at 14. Just another reason to root for something dreadful to happen to Duke in the next 9 years.
All that said, the return of Wise does give us hope. Even if we shouldn’t expect another tournament-worthy team we may as well cheer for it until the math says otherwise. So the Maui games now mean something. Home wins against UNLV, NC State and BYU could be valuable. At the very least this team should have enough talent to be a threat to steal a bid at the Pac-10 tournament.
Thanks to Niq the rest of our summer will be happier, healthier, and a lot Wiser.
Edited by Stallion at 6/8/2009 7:42:49 AM
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