Why Sean Miller Will Be Better Hire for Arizona Than John Calipari
As the one-year anniversary of Sean Miller's hire at Arizona passed Wednesday, Kentucky saw five players off a 35-win team declare early for the NBA draft.
Kentucky coach John Calipari will have to (and likely succeed at) putting together yet another elite-level recruiting class.
There are advantages and drawbacks to this style, and here is where Miller will succeed over Calipari.
If you believe in rumors (and with this one I do), Calipari was a Billy Gillispie firing away from being the coach at Arizona. He would have brought flash and flair to Tucson. Instead he took the job with the Wildcats in Lexington.
Arizona then went on a wild goose chase and ended up with Miller.
Miller did the improbable in his first year at Arizona. He took a team that had six scholarship players returning, only three of whom had played meaningful minutes, and was able to grab five solid recruits and get them to a fourth-place finish in the Pac-10.
While his season didn't have the flash of Calipari's, Miller is doing something that Calipari isn't: He is building a program.
Miller is trying to take a team that was an empty closet and make them a consistent winner, much like Lute Olson did.
Calipari had a similar situation in Kentucky, except he went the route of the one-and-dones. He recruited six players, including two who became All-Americans. Four of them declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday.
Those losses, along with the departure of junior Patrick Patterson and three seniors, give the Wildcats just five returning players, only three of whom had significant playing time this season.
In one day Calipari is back in the same place he was last year.
Miller, on the other hand, is only losing senior Nic Wise. The returning players are committed to getting better over the summer, and their chemistry is unmatched by any Arizona team in the past eight years. Arizona is set to take a run at the Pac-10 title next year.
He is coaching the team in order to make them better and getting players who are not only looking to go pro, but also trying to be part of a successful program.
Kentucky, on the other hand, will be hoping to land players that can make an immediate impact. They have two players already committed but will be hard pressed to find six more that can contribute right away.
There is nothing wrong with going the route of the one-and-done players. It is very successful and can get a team deep in the tourney.
However, living year to year not knowing who's going and who's staying can wear on a coach. There is some stability that is needed, and the one-and-done players cannot provide that.
Calipari may eventually build a program where he does not need to constantly grab players looking to jump to the pros after one year, but for the time being, that seems to be his plan.
For the short term, John Calipari would have been a good answer for Arizona, but for the long haul, I'll put my cards with Sean Miller.
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