LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats watches his team take on the Santa Clara Broncos during the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational at The Orleans Arena November 26 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. Arizona won 82-59. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Gary's officially gone. We'll have more time to thank him later, but right now there's a high-octane coaching search going on.
For all I know, this job will be filled by tonight, and the hire will be Chris Mooney or something. So maybe trying to do previews is a bad idea.
Eh, that's never stopped me before.
So here's the deal: as fast I can typ them out, we're going to be posting profiles of Maryland's biggest coaching candidates, in some kind of rough order of desirability and likelihood. And, of course, we might as well start with Sean Miller, the current fan favorite and potentially Maryland's top target.
Current gig: HC at Arizona
Past jobs: HC at Xavier; ass't at Xavier, N.C. State, Pitt, Miami (OH
HC record: 166-70
Sweet 16 appearances: 3 since 2005; two at Xavier, one at Arizona
Elite 8 appearances: 2 since 2005; one at Xavier, one at Arizona
Recruiting: Very, very good. At Xavier, he took more of an under-the-radar approach, signing talented but not particularly highly-rated guys, like Derrick Brown (a former three-star now with the Knicks). Still, once he got his feet set in the area, he showed an ability to get four-stars semi-consistently, landing top-100 guys like Dante Jackson, Tu Holloway, and (perhaps most impressively) Kenny Frease, who was top 50. At Arizona, he's taken it another level. Within months, he landed/retained guys like Solomon Hill, Momo Jones, and, oh yeah, Derrick Williams. His 2011 class is stunning: it's comprised of two five stars (Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner) and two four stars (Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol. And, for the record, he already has a five-star PF committed for 2012. He's also shown adaptability, recruiting both locally and nationally at each of his jobs.
Game coaching: Solid. He led Arizona's recent demolition of Duke despite approximately equal talent. Quite frankly, it's impossible to have the success he's had, especially considering he only just began recruiting All-American-type talent, without being able to coach. That said, after several minutes of searching, I wasn't able to find the traditional "This guy is an amazing coach" newspaper profile that almost everyone else has.
Program building: Ah, that unquantifiable quality. Frankly, Miller's improved the program everywhere he's been. He picked up Arizona post-Lute. He continued the ascension of Xavier. Even though he was in good situations each time, he hasn't simply ridden the fruits of another's labor.
Cleanliness: So far, so good. His assistants have played the AAU game (see Book Richardson below) but even Gary finally caved into that with the hire of Bino Ranson, an AAU alumnus himself. Past that, when you Google "sean miller cheating," the first result is some cheat codes to Wakeboarding Unleashed on the OG Xbox. He'll walk the grey area more than Gary did, but he won't cross the line. The closest he comes to Calipari is the slick hair.
Other useful info: His brother, Archie, used to be his assistant at Arizona before he took the Dayton job in the last offseason. ... He has a recruiting guru of his own in Book Richardson, who was an assistant of his at both Xavier and Arizona. He has strong ties to NYC (hence the commitments of Sidiki Johnson and Momo Jones) and was to the NY Gauchos AAU team what Curtis Malone and Bub Carrington are to DC Assault and Nike Baltimore Elite. It'd be interesting to see the dynamic if he came, as most people want both Ehsan and Bino to stick around. That staff is light on Xs & Os, as well as experience, and might be an adventure in some games, but they would be bringing in McDonald's All-Americans daily. ... Pittsburgh born, Pittsburgh raised, Pitt alum. Probably a Steelers fan. (Boo.)
Bonus good thing: LOL @ N.C. State.
Interest in job: I never thought Miller would take the Maryland job seriously. Never. Especially after he summarily dismissed N.C. State without as much as a polite phone call. But, shockingly, apparently he'd listen if Maryland called. Perhaps it has to do with that whole "Maryland is an awesome job," thing, which is still a shock to me. Maybe the facilities will play in; maybe money; maybe the recruiting base; hell, maybe he just misses the East Coast. (On that note: do we have any Arizonans here to tell us about how nice/bad Tucson is?)
Is it realistic? This is where I get tripped up. Maryland will call Miller. People are saying Miller will pick up the phone. And, dammit, if Missouri can almost pull Matt Painter away from his alma mater, then you'd think a top 10 job (apparently) like Maryland would be able to make a strong play at Miller. But I'm still not sure of the financial state of the department, and Miller may just be angling for an extension in return for the great year he just had. Be wary.
Reaction to his hiring would be...extreme satisfaction and joy, for the most part. I don't think anyone thought Maryland had a legitimate chance at Miller until his name started to be mentioned by knowledgeable people. His combination of recruiting success and tournament success is more than enough.