Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Busy Day in Wildcat Country

It has been a busy day in the world of Wildcat athletics. Today was marked by one subtraction and one addition from our Wildcat family.

We'll start with the subtraction. Junior SF Zane Johnson has decided to transfer from the U of A. Indications out of the AD's office are that his request will be granted. Zane seems to be reacting to the writing on the wall with regards to his playing time. The Basket Cats signed Solomon Hill and are heavily recruiting Kevin Parrom both SF prospects from the class of 2009. Combined with the future recruiting outlook and Johnson could clearly see that his opportunities for playing time were quickly disappearing. While any loss is a bad thing for our teams depth next year this particular development is not very detrimental overall.

In more positive news the Football team landed a commitment from class of 2010 QB Matt
Brown out of Allen, TX. Brown is considered one of the top dual threat QB's in Texas. Brown has been high on the Cats for a while and decided to pull the trigger last night while watching the NBA Playoffs. According to an interview with (rivals) Brown said, "I knew it was the place all along, I was holding out because I wanted to see what else happened and then I was watching a basketball game last night and just figured, 'why not?'" On behalf of the Wildcat fans all over the world, we here at TheBearDown welcome Matt and look forward to seeing him lighting up the opposition defense some day under the lights of Arizona stadium.

More after the jump...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arizona: In The Wake of The NFL Draft

Many thoughts spring to the top of my head on the heels of this weekends NFL Draft. This was supposed to be one of the best drafts in recent Arizona history. There were 6 legitimate Arizona Alums poised to hear their name called, with the majority of the 6 hoping for Day 2 call-ups PLUS the possibility of Arizona Power Forward, Fendi Onobun a.k.a Fen-Diesel making it a total of 7 possible Arizona draft picks.

But alas Junior Tackle Eben Britton actually slipped to the second round to the Jaguars due to footwork issues despite his size and "tremendous upside", I hate the phrase as much as you do. Eben was the only name called on day one and swore to avenge the slip against every team that passed on him. Atta boy EB.

All-Time Pac-10 WR record holder Mike Thomas slipped a bit to the 4th round despite many thinking he was a sure thing 3rd rounder. But the 4th round pick landed him in Florida alongside Eben for a reunion. Interesting side note this was the 7th time that two Arizona players were drafted by the same pro team since 1990. See Box at Right

But that was it for ringing phones on Sunday and there were more than a few Cats sitting on the sideline with questions remaining. So we'll try to keep you up to date. Updates will come so check back often. Remember each team will usually wind up signing between 5-15 Undrafted Free Agents to take roster spots going into training camps and practice squads. Among the possibilities:

QB: Willie Tuitma - NFL size and arm strength, sometimes labeled as a system Quarterback Tui rewrote the Arizona record books in his 3.5 years here as a starter. A DUI arrest in the weeks leading up to the draft almost assuredly knocked his name off a few possible draft boards but don't be surprised to see him show up on someones off season roster. Possible candidates include Denver, Chicago, Detroit, and anyone else looking for a back-up QB.

LB: Ronnie Palmer - Sources say that Palmer has already inked a 3 year deal with the Washington Redskins. Congratulations are in order for Ronnie following in the footsteps of other UA alums to head to the Nations capital.

DB: Nate Ness - There have been some rumblings that Nasty Nate is vying for a roster spot somewhere out there but nothing has been finalized yet. Don't be surprised to see Nate lining up somewhere in the preseason, there are more than a few teams with secondary issues. UPDATED: Ness signed a deal with the Cleveland Browns.

DB: Marquis Hundley - Hundley enjoyed his first season as a Starter in 2008 and grabbed 4 picks. Decent size and great athleticism should find him a spot in offseason workouts. UPDATED: Hundley signed on with the St. Louis Rams.

K: Jason Bondzio - Arizona's most accurate kicker of all time held out hope for a late round selection yesterday, but alas no call was made. Kickers are a commodity in the NFL and they can almost always find a tryout. There are only 32 openings for a kicker in the NFL so even if Bondzio can't ink a deal by the start of the season, there will always be an opening after a kicker starts slow. Bet on it.

OG: Joe Longacre - Longacre was a rock on the Arizona Offensive Line during the Mike Stoops tenure even though players were missing time left and right. He's a mammoth of a man, but lacks many of the needs to play at the next level. Might wind up on a practice squad somewhere.

DB: Adrian McCovy - Coming off his best season McCovy can only hope for the best. He's got the athleticism and came up with 4 picks this year, but if he sees action, it will probably come on a practice squad this year.

OT: James Thretheway - With only one year of starting on the line under his belt, it would be a bit of a reach for most NFL teams. He's got the size, but don't expect to see him on Sundays.

PF: Fendi Onobun - Could he possibly be the next Antonio Gates? At least 3 teams think so as they were able to bring him in for some workouts. Fen-Diesel was told by former Coach Kevin O-Neil NOT to hit the weights, he was already too big. He's got the athleticism and size of a good blocking TE and could develop the hands to match. It's too bad the former forward on the hardwood won't get a chance to take the field as a Kitty Kat because of a lack of scholarships. But who knows, maybe one of the incoming scholarship players won't make the grades and there will be a letter with his name on it from Mike Stoops.

More after the jump...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leaping Lions: A New Logo in Detroit

In response to their 0-16 season the Detroit Lions have decided to have a new look for the franchise. After seeing how the Arizona Cardinals were able to turn things around with a new logo, the Lions have decided to follow suit. The 2009 Detroit Lions will take the field with this as their new logo:But this wasn't the first choice of the head honchos in Motor City. Other logos were presented at Lion HQ that were ultimately turned down for one reason or another. I have been given access to these images.
Your 2009 Detroit Lions?
More after the jump...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Staff is set

As previously discussed in the recruiting prospectus Coach Miller will something you hear shouted a lot this season at the Wildcat practices. It seems as though the entire coaching staff has now been set.

Archie Miller, Ohio State assistant coach and brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, is
expected to leave Ohio St. to take the same position on his brother Sean's staff at according to a source. Sean Miller, who left Xavier for the head coaching job at Arizona last week and took two assistants with him, had been keeping a job open for a third former Xavier assistant, Chris Mack, if Mack was not hired as his successor. But Mack will be announced today as Xavier's new head coach, according to reports. Archie Miller was coach Thad Matta's top assistant this past season at Ohio St.

This is big news for Arizona as Archie Miller is viewed as one of the top recruiters in the nation. It also seems to be be the death knell for TheBearDown favorite and all-time great Reggie Geary. Here's hoping that recently promoted Josh Pastner has Reggie Geary's phone number on speed dial.

We will continue to keep you posted on the developments in and around McKale as they happen.

More after the jump...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Recruiting Round Up

Well in just a few short days Coach Miller seems to have us headed in the right direction. As I previously stated in my recruiting prospective last week Coach Miller and his reputation were going to put us in hunt for a number of recruits previously out of reach.After an amazing weekend of recruiting news it seems that things may be even better then we could have imagined.

Coach Miller was recruiting the Kyryl Natyazhko the 9th rated center and 75th overall rated player in the country by Natyazhko narrowed his choices down to Pitt, Xavier and Arizona State prior to Coach Miller accepting the position at Arizona. This past weekend at the AAU Derby Classic Natyazhko announced that he would become the 1st member of our Arizona Wildcat recruiting class of 2009.This young man instantly gives us a viable C/PF option next season and was quoted by as stating the proposition of early playing time for a coach he trusted was a huge attraction to him.

If that was all the news we had it would still have been a successful weekend by anyone's standards. However it would seem that Coach Miller answers to a much higher standard then we do and secured the re-commitment of Solomon Hill this weekend. Hill is the #3 rated SF in the nation and a previous Wildcat commit, he de-committed from Arizona after Coach O retired and there was no permanent coach in place. He stated many times that Arizona was his dream school and when Tim Floyd flirted with the idea of leaving USC for Arizona Hill felt that he sent a clear message. Hill is expected to formally announce his re-commitment to the Cats some time this week after speaking with the Floyd and informing him of his decision.

Coach Miller is surely not done with this class and many are speculating that we could have a top 25 recruiting class before everything is said and done. In fact it may not be far off at all, the expectation within the program is that one of the nations top juco centers, Jarrid Famous will be here visiting very soon. Famous is 6'10" 240lbs and is said to be favoring Missouri, South Florida and Arizona. Famous told that he would visit Arizona and then make his decision. Jarrid's coach at Valhalla (N.Y.) Westchester Community College was also quoted as saying that Jarrid is looking forward to playing in a much warmer climate then he currently does.

There are a number of prospective recruits currently on the radar and it figures to be an interesting ride in the next few weeks. We here at TheBearDown will keep you informed as any new stories develop.

Untill the next committment - Randle El

More after the jump...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pennell Signs a New Deal

Congratulations all around for Grand Canyon University's new Head Basketball Coach, Russ Pennell. Many thought that Pennell would have a shot at a higher position, but I personally couldn't think of a better outcome for Coach Pennell. He will have the chance to take over a successful Division II program that is attempting to rebuild and petitioning for Division I status. Not only is this great for Pennell who needs a little more experience before he gets considered for other Division I jobs out there, but he gets to stay in Arizona and his wife and kids don't have to worry about being transplanted.

Pennell will have a great opportunity to leave his mark on a young program and deal with a lot of young talent. He will hope to build on GCU's 13 win season last year and will most likely have an immediate impact on recruits. I'm sure the other coaches in the Pac West Conference are less than happy about the addition of a Coach with some Sweet 16 Coaching Experience.

Congrats again Coach Pennell, and The Beardown will make sure to keep up with Grand Canyon's success next season. Good luck to you and the 'Lopes next season on the court as well as your attempts to join a Division I conference in the near future. Grand Canyon really lucked out on this hire.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coach Miller's Introductory Press Conference

The entire introductory press conference in raw unedited format.....This guy is gonna be good and he bails Livengood out and wins the press conference.

Full Press Conference
More after the jump...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sean Miller: Videos From the Past

Question: What does new UA Coach Sean Miller have in common with this kid dribbling the ball?

Answer: In case you watched it on mute or weren't paying attention, that little guy is the new face of the Arizona Men's Basketball Program.

It's nice to have such a quality ball handler coaching Poing Guard U, plus listen to his work ethic as a 12 year old. He goes home and practices after practice.

Congrats on the new job coach, we're really looking forward to seeing what you can do for the future of Arizona Basketball.

More after the jump...

Monday, April 6, 2009

It is "Miller Time" for the '09 Basket-Cats recruiting class and beyond

With the signing of a new coach finally accomplished and the severe turnover of coaches all over the NCAA BB landscape we here at TheBearDown thought you, the loyal reader would like to know just what possibilities exist for the still barren 2009 recruiting class....

First things first, we should dispel the notion that we don't have anyone committed in this class. Unbeknown to many Reggie Geary has been hard at work recruiting uncommitted kids to come play for the Cats despite the lack of a permanent coaching staff. Coach Geary was successful in securing the commitment of relative unknown Tremayne Johnson a 6'7" PF for Southwest Community College in Los Angeles. it remains to be seen whether or not Sean Miller will honor the scholarship offers of the previous staff.

With Coach Miller potentially comes some of his recruits, here is our breakdown on who could be coming with him;

Xavier's only 2009 commitment is Kevin Parrom, a 6-6, 200-pound small forward from South Kent (Conn.), who is ranked 84th in the country by Parrom still needs to receive a release from his LOI from Xavier but it is rare that this doesn't happen.

Coach Miller is currently recruiting 2009 center Kyryl Natyazhko, who is ranked 75th in the country by Natyazhko is listed as having narrowed his choices down to Pitt, Xavier and Arizona State but that was prior to Coach Miller accepting the position at Arizona so it would seem logical that he would probably consider Arizona seriously.

Xavier also had two 2010 commitments - power forward's Jordan Latham and J.D. Weatherspoon. After Coach Miller made his desicion known this morning Weatherspoon contacted via text message and informed them that he was in fact re-opening his recruitment and would consider Arizona seriously. Latham is ranked 44th in 2010, Weatherspoon is 135th.

It should be noted that Coach Miller will be bringing his main recruiter Book Richardson as an Assistant Coach. Richardson used to run the premier East Coast AAU program the New York Gauchos, and has tons of connections back East. This of course means the U of A will most likely increase recruiting on that side of the country and do it more effectively than before.

One name that Cat fans should be familiar with is the #3 rated SF in the nation and previous Wildcat commit Solomon Hill. Hill de-committed from Arizona after Coach O retired and there was no permanent coach in place. According to an interview in today's paper Hill is more than open to re-committing to the Cats.

Also still unsigned and available is Victor Rudd of Henderson Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, NV. Rudd is the 107th overall ranked player in the 2009 class according to and has serious interest in Arizona.

The big question mark in play is PG Lance Stephenson who plays AAU ball for the NYC Gauchos. He is unsigned and the idea that he would consider following his old coach to PG-U is not out of the question. It should be noted that Stephenson(and Rudd for that matter) have not yet achieved the minimum qualifying test scores to get through the NCAA clearing house. On top of that Stephenson is a for sure one and done player and Coach Miller has not encountered this situation thus far in his coaching career.

One last note on his potential coaching staff. Coach Miller's brother is Archie Miller the #1 recruiter for Ohio State's program. Archie Miller has landed three 5 star recruits in the last two years for the Buckeyes. Archie was an assistant with with Sean on Thad Matta's staff before Matta left to take the Ohio St job. Xavier has a policy against nepotism and prevented Sean from keeping his brother on staff. One would assume that the family dinner conversation in the Miller household would include the potential for the brothers to reunite at Arizona. Who Coach Miller does or doesn't keep on his staff remains to be seen but I hope he saves room for Coach Geary as his West Coast recruiter, Book Richardson as his East Coast recruiter and his brother in as his Consiglierie.

This is just an initial list of the obvious possibilities at the moment. It remains to be seen how many players will be released from LOI's in the coming weeks with all the chaos of the off season coaching changes. Check back in with TheBearDown for more info in the weeks to come.

Randle El - Feeling the recruiting flow once again

More after the jump...

Announcing Arizona's New Head Coach: Sean Miller

So most would think that we may be a little late reporting this story and everyone would probably agree that we aren’t the ones bringing it to you since it is now old news. The fact of the matter is; Dom has been doing a good job keeping up to date with ALL the new information and it was changing at such an insane rate that nothing seemed true while everything seemed possible. Plus, I didn’t want to jump the gun in case Miller decided to pull an Abdul Gaddy on us.

So….. TheBearDown is proud to announce that it is officially official Arizona’s new Head Coach is Sean Miller formerly of Xavier.

Quick Facts:
Sean Miller: Age: 40
Head Coaching Experience:
Xavier (Atlantic Ten Conference) : 2004-2009
Overall: 120-47 (.719) : Both Rank him 3rd all time at Xavier
Conference: 55-22 Conference
3 Conference Championships
4 Consecutive 20 win seasons
4 Tournament Appearances (One Elite 8, One Sweet Sixteen)
Contract (Reported):
$18 Million over 7 years with a $1 million signing bonus

What did Miller leave behind? After Xavier’s run into the elite eight last year he signed a long term contract extension that would keep him in Cincinnati until the 2017-2018 season. The extension would have worked out to around $850,000 per year for ten years.

Those are the facts that are relevant at this point, but there will be a follow up article with quotes from Livengood and Miller with commentary so check back.

4Real Out....
More after the jump...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Floyd's Out

Alledgedly the Press Conference was for today at 4 and it was going to announce Tim Floyd as the next Arizona Coach. I thank God that that is apparently not happening anymore. This is getting more ridiculous by the momeny but I'm ok with pretty much anyone but Floyd.

Is Pennell still an option?

Did Livengood lose Pastner's number?

How mad was Miles when he wasn't retained last year?

At this point, just keep it in the family. This coaching seach has gone from a battle between Calipari and getting turned down by Tim Floyd. It's a damn laughing stock. Save the money. Best case scenario. Go get Pastner, you know he can recruit, he's never been a head coach, what better way then to start with a learning curve. Arizona's going to be in the toilet the next 2-5 years anyway. Let him get his feet wet. He has coached with Lute and Cal, you know he has forgotten more about basketball coaching and recruiting than most of us (blog writers and readers) will ever know. There's no downside with Pastner, he deserves a shot, and at this point what other option do we have?

I wanted Pastner over Floyd. I would have taken Pastner over Capel honestly (I mean he did play at we want that kinda of play at McKale?). Eff it, go get Josh, he already said he would say yes before Livengood finished the sentence. Everyone else is saying no. When Tim Floyd doesn't want the job, you've hit rock bottom.
More after the jump...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Arizona Coaching Update: Pink's in Town

Newest source of intelligence on the home front in the Tucson area is that Capel is out, Few is out, Calipari is out, Pitino is out, Pearl is out, and the newest coach of the Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball Team is ..... USC's Tim "Pink" Floyd.  That's right the coach that tied Russ Pennell's Men's Basketball Team for 5th place in the Pac-10 is taking over for the Arizona Wildcats.  

I was told this evening that Jim Livengood was seen at the Tucson Airport with Floyd as they got into an SUV together and drove off into the Sonoran Sunset to finalize the contract.  Apparently Calipari, Capel, and the others were using Arizona as a bargaining chip and the future of the Arizona program appears to be the newest dead man's hand.  This one hits a little close to home as my "fondest" Floyd memories, as a Bulls fan, were watching Floyd take a team that had just won three straight NBA Championships into a Lottery Team.  

Maybe he'll land a couple recruits, maybe not, but chances are the dam was about to burst in Tucson and instead of a coach that would "win the presser" Livengood needs a coach to stop the bleeding.  Things don't appear to be getting better at McKale Center. 

I guess everyone who said going to Arizona would be good because the Football program doesn't outweigh the Basketball program was wrong, since in the near future the Basketball Program could be one of the biggest jokes in the country.  If no one wanted to rebuild a Sweet 16 Team, I don't see a lot of candidates trying to rebuild a 16 win team a couple years from now.  

If you can't get a top coach, why not just keep it in the family and give Pastner a shot?  At this point it's the best scenario in my opinion.

More after the jump...

Capel Takes the Lead

Quick Report. As I posted earlier,, it appears down to Pearl, Few, and Capel. I was told that the candidate not only had a done deal but was in Tucson right now. As I mentioned in the previous article, Jim Livengood was rumored to be in El Paso recently meeting with Jeff Capel. I got a tip from an old Fraternity Brother that Capel was spotted at the Tucson Airport. I don't know if Capel is a big golfer and might be visiting for the weather, but he may have become the new leader in the rumor mill. At least for the next couple hours.

CBS Sports has reported that Arizona is Few's job if he wants it. Does a Capel visit to Tucson mean that Few turned down the job and Capel is the new leading candidate? From what I hear we'll find out soon.
More after the jump...

Final Stretch: Arizona's Coaching Search

Welcome back to the carousel that is the Arizona Basketbal Coach Search. The newest Doc Randi intel is in, but first let's look at how we got here.

October: Lute Olson retires, Russ Pennell is named the Interim Head Coach

November: Michigan State's Tom Izzo, through the typical back door channels, tells friends of friends, of colleagues, who happen to be of mutual acquaintance with Jim Livengood that he might be interested in learning a little bit more about the Open Arizona Head Coaching Position.

December: Jim Livengood begins his search, speaks with C.M. Newton at the U of A vs. Kansas game up in Phoenix. As we all know Livengood has never been a plan B guy in his coaching searches. He knows who he wants and goes after only them. Reggie Theus announces his interest in the coaching vacancy. Livengood doesn't listen.

January: Rick Pitino's name starts coming up in small sections of possible coaching replacements. From the Doc Randi intel it is at this point that his interest begins heating up like an Arizona summer.

February: Rick Pitino rumors spiral up to the top. It appears that he is fast becoming the top target. Despite Arizona's 7 game win streak, Russ Pennel not being considered at all for the job, and won't be.

March: Livengood's list is two candidates long. Pitino and John Calipari. Both of whom are in the Sweet 16. Calipari's Memphis team loses it's Sweet 16 match-up and is overheard saying that Arizona gave him a blank check. Again the Doc Randi intel says that Calipari and Livengood were approaching an understanding on details.

March 27: Kentucky fires coach Billy Gillespie. Arizona fans take a heaving gulp knowing that there was competition for top coaches, then gets taken apart by Pitino.

March 30: My Cell Phone is dinging off the hook. First, Pitino is almost locked up, 10 minutes later I get a text saying Pitino has cooled significantly. John Calipari is the leading candidate for the new Kentucky opening for a ridiculous sum of money. With their contract offer on the table, it seems Kentucky killed Arizona's top 2 choices by chasing Cal with a truckload of money.

March 31: I receive the following texts -
6:30 PM - "My buddy just called and told me he thinks we'll have a coach (no specifics) in the next 24-48 hours."
10:30 PM - "Press Conference sometime between tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning. Izzo out, Pitino less than 5% chance."
10:35 PM - "FWIW (for what it's worth) I'm hearing it's either (Gonzaga's Mark) Few or (Oklahoma's Jeff) strong evidence though, just general feelings....supposedly (Jim Livengood) was in El Paso meeting with Capel yesterday morning"
At this point I turned my phone off so as not to wake the little one.

April 1:
"Add Bruce Pearl to the list, we are looking at a top 3 of Capel, Few, and Pearl at this moment. The deal is done and the coach is in town"

With the announcement that Calipari will take over this afternoon in Kentucky I don't see Livengood holding his presser today. So Cats fans, in my estimation, you will go to bed tonight without knowing for sure who the next Arizona Head Coach is. There is always the possibility that a name could leak before or after the Calipari presser, but chances of a formal announcement today is unlikely.

Capel is coming out of left field here (which for those of you who watch My Boys learned to true definition of last night) but Bruce Pearl and Mark Few were on my original list of believed candidates from October.

Mark Few has been my top choice since day one. He won't require a huge price tag. If he can recruit to Spokane, he can recruit to Tucson, he will still have access to all of his pipelines he's been using for recruiting, he's young, he's helped maintain the Gonzaga program that came out of nowhere in the late 90s. There are a lot of questions marks with Few, but most of them surround his inability to make it past the Sweet 16 as a Head Coach. I should note that Few was the WCC Coach of the year 2001-2006, and the co-coach of the year in 2008. He has also had the conference's top player in each of the last 8 years and a few All-Americans.

We know that there might be some interest there based on his comments (following the loss to Arizona) on December 21 about shoveling snow for 6 hours upon his return to Washington from the 60+ Degree December days he'd spent in Arizona.

Fans who want to continue to hold out hope for Pitino can do as they please but it sounds like January and February was the time to get Pitino to sign a contract (which wasn't possible) because he was considering it then, but the Calipari signing might have done just enough to keep Pitino out of Livengood's reach. The only real chance Arizona would have at Pitino would revolve around a lot of money, and a guarantee that his son, Richard Pitino, would have right of first refusal when Pitino retires. Pitino has taken a great interest in Richard's future as a coach.

So Tucsonites, with Doc Randi telling us that the next coach is in town, keep an eye out for Few, Pearl, Capel, or whomever else you think might be taking over the house that Lute built. Those of you working at hotels, airports, rental car agencies, and restaurants keep those cell phones at the ready.

**UPDATE: Jeff Capel allegedly seen at the Tucson Airport. Thanks to Galvez and Boudreaux for that tidbit. We'll see.**

More after the jump...