That’s how Arizona coach Sean Miller described his basketball experience after Oregon State defeated Arizona, 63-55, in McKale Center.
Figure that he’s been in the college basketball business for 23 years – 18 as a coach and five as a player – and he had never experienced this kind of low. You could tell he was sincere. Very sincere. And very, very upset (although he stays even keel emotionally).
“I’ve never felt this way after a loss,’’ said Miller. “Your job as a coach and a staff is to really connect with your team and have them ready.’’
UA clearly wasn’t. No energy. No life. No guts. No glory.
Of course, no victory.
“Disappointed,’’ said UA’s MoMo Jones. “Oregon State came in and did what they did. And to the best of their ability. They outplayed us.’’
TucsonCitizen.com UA notebook: The McKale magic is gone
Oregon State made it a clean regular-season sweep of the Cats for the first time since 1982-83. It’s also the last time UA was swept by OSU and Washington State in the same season.
A victory for the Beavers in McKale Center? Unheard of in the Lute Olson era. Heck, Miller was 14 years old when it last happened. He wasn’t even being recruited to college then (nowadays all you need is a pulse it seems).
And I’ve never heard this from a coach: “We got what we deserved.’’
Then this: “You know, I’m not for everybody. I’m not for everybody. (Yes, he said it twice maybe for emphasis). As a coach you have that identity where you have some guys playing your way good or bad. I don’t want a guy who plays (hard) when things are only going good. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why I’m here and we’ll address that. It’s important week for us to get ready.’’
It’s not clear who that was addressed at, but his message has been sent.
Now, Arizona State looms next Sunday. Does the NCAA tournament? We’ll see, but it’s not likely if one were to look at it with total perspective. Miller is choosing not to look at it. To be fair, he hasn’t all season.
“I’ve tried to stay away from that (talk),’’ he said. “I don’t think they would be able to handle that. It’s about working hard and being consistent and recognizing anybody can beat us. We don’t have a large margin for error and we have to do our very best each game.’’
And simply on Saturday night, didn’t play its best. It may have been one of its worst. At least it was to Miller. Figure UA shot just 39 percent (35.3 in the first half).
“We had those plays where you scratch your head at,’’ he said.
Miller thought his team would be beyond that at this point. UA had been showing signs that it was headed in the right direction, winning five of seven games lately. But … no. And that’s what was surprising, too.
“Teams go through bumps in the road,’’ Jones said. “We’re like any regular team, whether it’s a team that’s undefeated or a team in the middle or a team that is down. Teams are going to have highs and teams will have lows. That’s what every team goes through.’’
Not when your coach is saying things like “Rock Bottom.’’
Steve Rivera can be reached at Steve.Rivera95@gmail.com. Visit SteveRiveraventures.com.