Two years ago Arizona was hanging on by a thread keeping their streak of NCAA tournament hopes alive by barely sneaking into the tournament as a #12-seed. The Wildcats would go on and upset #5 seeded Utah and then #13 seeded Cleveland State to reach the sweet sixteen. Then interem coach Russ Pennell ran into the top seeded Louisville Cardinals and a buzz saw. Louisville manhandled Arizona, beating them senseless 103-64.
The next year Arizona hired Xavier head coach Sean Miller and for the first time in 25 years the Arizona Wildcats were not invited to the NCAA tournament. Making it the first time since another man was in his first year in Tucson. That man was Lute Olson in 1984 and I think he went on to have a pretty good career.
In just his second year Sean Miller has returned the glory of Arizona basketball that Lute Olson once built. Being led by Sophomores like Lamont Jones, Solomon Hill, and superstar Derrick Williams who all came to the desert with Miller last year. Arizona won it’s first Pac-10 regular season title since 2005 and getting them to thier first regional final since also 2005.
All three member of this Sophomore class are key players in Arizona’s current tournament run and upset of Duke last night but none more then versitle big man Derrick Williams.
Last year as a Freshman Williams led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (7.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (.574). Making him the first Freshman in Arizona history to do so. Williams raised his game for his second season in Tucson but he has been a true superstar in this tournament play.
So far Williams is averaging 23 points a game and 10 rebounds a game. Both improvement from his season averages of 19 points and 8 rebounds a game. He blocked Memphis last second shot in the first round to seal the victory. Along with a modest 22 points and 10 rebounds. With Arizona trailing Texas in the final seconds it was….you guessed it, Derrick Williams who drove to the basket and getting the two points and a foul to give them a lead and trip to the sweet sixteen. So when Williams treated the Plumlee brothers last night like the gimp from Pulp Fiction, scoring 32 points at ease and grabbing 13 rebounds. Was anyone really shocked?
While the country (including me) was looking forward to a Kemba Walker vs Nolan Smith match-up in the regional final. Don’t worry everyone cause we will still get the chance at watching two superstars carring their teams to a cinderalla final four run.