Greg Byrne is understandably pleased with the job Sean Miller has done with the University of Arizona men’s basketball program.
The Wildcats are 18-0 (5-0) and ranked number one in the nation, and are coming off a lopsided 91-68 win over in-state rival Arizona State.
“I’ve told Sean that I’m only 42, he’s 45, and I don’t want to work with another basketball coach the rest of my career if I can help it,” Byrne told Doug and Wolf Friday morning.
Byrne wasn’t the one who brought Miller to Tucson — the credit for that belongs to Jim Livengood — but he’s certainly benefiting from the coach’s presence.
Miller is in his fifth season with the Wildcats, and has guided the team to a 114-43 record along with a pair of NCAA Tournament berths. The Wildcats have gone as far as the Elite 8 under the coach, but appear to be on the way toward even greater heights this season and beyond.
Because as far as recruiting goes, Miller and the Wildcats are pretty much doing whatever they’d like.
“He’s wonderful to work with, obviously from a coaching standpoint. He does great recruiting…academically, every senior that’s ever played for him has graduated. He cares about every aspect of these guys and as an athletic director you couldn’t want anymore,” he said. “But as far as the recruiting goes, he’s relentless in it. Every time that they can be on the road recruiting, they’re out there.
“And we try to make sure that he has the resources to do that.”
Byrne added that while the team’s assistant coaches help, Miller takes an active role in trying to bring players to Tucson.
“They don’t do that on their own,” he said. “Sean will be there in the gyms in the summer, he’ll be very visible. We’ll be having practice in the late afternoon and he’ll jump on a flight to get to San Diego, get to L.A., get to Las Vegas and watch a game that night and be back home that same night.”
Miller’s prowess on the recruiting trail has landed him prized recruits as well as praise from ASU coach Herb Sendek, who described the Wildcats’ efforts as “absolutely astonishing.”
But as Byrne explains it, plenty of work is required to make it happen.
“He just has a great effort about it,” he said. “And when you spend five minutes with Coach Miller, you can tell how genuine he is, how real he is. He doesn’t try to be somebody he’s not, and I think that goes over well for so many people and the results are showing obviously.”
Byrne, who has been leading the Arizona athletics department since March 2010, added that the school’s fan base and infrastructure also help make it a prime destination for top recruits.
“We’ve done a good job as a university putting resources behind our program to continue to grow it and give us the best opportunity to succeed in the college basketball world.”