LOS ANGELES – Arizona’s streak of 25 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances came to an end with the Wildcats’ 75-69 loss to UCLA in the Pac-10 tournament. Arizona, which barely slipped into the dance last year despite finishing 19-13 and losing five of its final six games, was just two invitations short of North Carolina's record 27-year run from 1975-2001.
“Any coach who came to Arizona to make the NCAA tournament for a 26th time is going to find he’s going to be a paranoid coach,” said first-year Arizona coach Sean Miller. “The reason I came to Arizona is to rebuild our program and hopefully one day get it back to the level that everybody has watched.”
Considering how Arizona has played this season in finishing 16-15, the end of the streak didn’t come as much of a surprise to anybody.
“We knew it would be tough,” said senior guard Nic Wise, who had 16 points. “A whole new system, a whole new staff again and with the five freshman it would be a mountain to climb for us to make it the [NCAA] tournament.”
Miller must now go about the work of beginning a new streak next season.
“I’m confident that the price we pay through 31 games and the 80-plus practices that we’ve had, is a system that will continue to grow and develop,” Miller said. “Young players will get bigger, stronger and older and the more depth and size we have will certainly help.”