By Kaelen Jones
While no Arizona-based programs were on the court in the first-ever Final Four hosted by the state of Arizona, there’s reason to look forward to the future on the hardwood, according to one analyst.
Sporting News’ college basketball insider Mike DeCourcy told Sports360AZ.com’s ‘The Brad Cesmat Show’ that the jobs Arizona’s Sean Miller and Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley have done throughout their current tenures have been “terrific.”
Despite the Wildcats’ inauspicious fall to Xavier bouncing them from the Sweet 16 at the this year’s NCAA Tournament, DeCourcy said “it’s ridiculous to say that somebody as consistently successful as he is, is not a good coach or is not a good enough coach,” regarding criticism of Miller.
Added DeCourcy, “He’s one of the great coaches in college basketball. Right now, Sean is getting the same treatment as Jim Calhoun (Connecticut) got, as Gary Williams (Maryland) got, as Bill Self (Kansas) got, and two of those three guys are already in the Hall of Fame.”
Through eight seasons since hiring Miller, Arizona has reached the NCAA Tournament six times (five consecutive), amassing five Sweet 16 appearances, including three trips to the Elite Eight.
“Arizona is blessed to have him, incredibly fortunate to have him,” DeCourcy said, “and then one of these days, it’s going to happen. You can’t win two conference championships in a year and say it’s a bad year.
“That’s not reality. That’s ludicrous.”
DeCourcy was also a defendant of ASU’s Hurley, whose Sun Devils tallied just 15 regular-season wins for the second straight campaign.
The 20-year columnist praised the work Hurley, despite the former Buffalo coach being withheld from postseason action since his arrival to Tempe.
“(He’s) changing the culture of the program, making them tougher,” DeCourcy said. “They have changed, and are starting to change their personality as a team. They need more good players, and I’m sure that’ll come. Bobby did a tremendous job at Buffalo, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting your guys in there, and getting them experienced.”
With the Pac-12’s powers set to take a step back next season, DeCourcy suggested the Sun Devils’ window of chance may be nearing, possibly sooner than some expect.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the Pac-12,” he said. “This year, there were three really good teams. Arizona State could get up into the pretty good or really good category not long from now.”
Nonetheless, fans of either school won’t be satisfied with their current standing, and haven’t been shy in vocalizing their displeasure. DeCourcy emphasizes time as being a solution, and has a simple theory of those who don’t see it being so.
“People who don’t know, like to talk louder than people who do, I guess.”