Arizona Basketball: Sean Miller Emerges with Win in Coaches' Shootout

Casey CroweFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts while taking on the Washington Huskies in the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The best free-throw shooter in the Pac-12 is 43 years old and hasn't played in a college basketball game since 1992.

Arizona coach Sean Miller stroked 145 of 150 free-throws—that's just under a 97-percent clip—to take the Shots from the Heart contest, a benefit for the American Heart Association. And it also highlights the legacy of the late Skip Prosser, who is among Miller's mentors in the coaching ranks.

After surviving an opening-round scare against Northern Arizona's now-defunct head man Mike Adras, Miller took down Butler's Brad Stevens, Boston College's Steve Donahue and Oklahoma State's Travis Ford before facing Detroit's Ray McCallum in the finale.

In the championship, Miller hit 24 of his 25 attempts while McCallum missed his final four shots to go 21 for 25.

As the points are weighted higher as the attempts build, the final score was a rout: 55 to 43. McCallum hadn't missed a shot in the whole tournament before that disaster of a conclusion.

It gave Miller the victory, one year after finishing second to Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg in the debut campaign. Said Miller (via video interview from Shots From the Heart):

It's good to break through, especially to take down my good friend Ray McCallum. I know that, before he shot his last 25, he knew that if he missed he was out. And he was right.

Considering no one on his Arizona roster shot above 80 percent (Kyle Fogg/Jordin Mayes), those post-practice free-throw shootouts—coach versus players—in exchange for lighter running sessions probably ended with a lot of winded 20-year-olds.

Kyle Fogg (right) had the top free-throw percentage among Arizona's players last year.
Kyle Fogg (right) had the top free-throw percentage among Arizona's players last year.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As a a team, the Cats hit about 71 percent of their shots from the line last season.

No player in the Pac-12 shot above 91 percent last year, with Oregon's E.J. Singler leading the conference in that category.

While Miller didn't hit his 145 free throws in the heat of D-1 game action this time, he proved plenty capable of that in his day.

Over the span of his college playing career, Miller posted the 10th-best mark in NCAA Division-I Men's Basketball history, nailing down 88.5 percent of his free throws over his four years at Pitt.

That makes him the favorite to win this thing over and over. And he already guaranteed victory for next year.

Miller also called out other big timers in the coaching ranks, challenging friends Billy Donovan (Florida) and John Calipari to get in on the action.