Arizona Wildcats' Sean Miller: First Month in Review

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

BOISE, ID - MARCH 20:  Head Coach Sean Miller of the Xavier Musketeers adjusts his team against the Portland State Vikings during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Taco Bell Arena on March 20, 2009 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When Sean Miller took the Arizona job, you had to wonder if he really knew what he'd gotten himself into.

The Wildcats have struggled early in the season. They have struggled on offense and defense. They are still struggling to define roles, and develop a flow to their game.

Despite all of this, eight games into the season, the Cats are .500.

To the team's credit, it has  been in every single game and has had chances to win every one, minus the Oklahoma game.

Much of this can be attributed to Miller's coaching. Miller has done an great job early in the season as the team tries to learn a new system.

This isn't a situation in which returning players know the system. Each player is learning the offense and defense.

Arizona has gone through this in each of its previous two seasons. It had early season struggles. It got better and made the tournament.

This is a different situation, though. The Cats have just three players returning who saw significant playing time. They are dealing with players who have never played together for any period of time, and are basically learning on the job.

Miller is a master of Xs and Os, and it has shown so far this season. He knows the team is going to rely heavily on Nic Wise, Derrick Williams, and Solomon Hill, so, he is making sure at least two of the three are on the court at all times.

The Cats breezed through easy victories over NAU and Rice.

With a trip to Maui early in the season, many fans thought, if Sean Miller was going to make a statement, it would be there.

Arizona made a statement, but not the one the fans wanted. The Cats looked good but went 1-2 on the trip. They took Wisconsin down to the wire, and beat Colorado in overtime. They also hung with Vanderbilt until the Commodores went on a hot streak to end the game, and won by 12.

Arizona then lost to UNLV, in a close one, and Oklahoma, in embarrassing fashion, before finally beating Louisiana Tech.

Fans are in for another roller-coaster season. If it were any other coach, fans would be worried. But, they aren't.

Miller is able to see the bigger picture: This year is one filled with growing pains.

He is coaching this team so it will develop as a cohesive unit. The team has yet to show it, but, every game, Arizona seems to display a little bit more rhythm to its game.

Either way, Sean Miller salvaged this season back in April when he accepted the coaching position.

If he can get the team to the tournament, great, but it has become very clear that his ultimate goal at Arizona is raising a banner to go alongside the one Lute Olson put up after the 1997 NCAA Tournament.