Arizona may have lost in the Elite Eight Saturday night, but as the team returned to Tucson and Arizona fans started to look back on the season, there still seemed to be a positive feeling surrounding the program.
After all, this team certainly was not supposed to come within one shot of going to the Final Four. This is the same team that was blown out by BYU and UCLA and had a heartbreaking loss against Washington in the Pac-10 finals that many wondered if it would be able to come back from.
Then the NCAA Tournament started and Arizona needed some last second heroics to beat a 12-seeded Memphis.
The following game, it needed a bit of the same to beat a Texas team that it was leading basically through the entire game.
After that game, many Arizona fans were happy with what Arizona had done. Getting to the Sweet 16 was a solid accomplishment and facing Duke would be no easy task.
Then it happened.
Arizona blew out top-seeded Duke and gave the Blue Devils one of their worst losses in years.
Could it be that this team was something special?
Arizona took the court against UConn as the underdog and once again battled to the end, losing by two when a last-second shot wouldn't fall.
Sure, the loss is disheartening. However, Arizona's run did something that frankly was not going to happen for a few years.
It raised expectations. No longer is Arizona a program that is fighting little by little to improve. Rather, this is a program that is going to be fighting for national championships sooner than later.
Much of the talk after the game turned to Derrick Williams and whether or not he is returning to school next year. Obviously, him returning to school would be huge and put the Wildcats in the top three of the country.
However, the Arizona program is bigger than Derrick Williams. After Saturday's game, Miller did not shy away from the fact that he felt this tournament run was just the beginning.
"Well, I feel -- we all feel really, really proud of what we accomplished this season," Miller said. "When you can win 30 games, to me that's a number that's monumental in college basketball. We were here in this game and arguably a shot away from the Final Four, and that's the bar at Arizona.
"As the new coach, as the new staff you want to restore "order" so to speak and allow our program to experience the great success that we've had for decades under Coach Olson. This is a trampoline and a spring board, I hope, for future runs in this tournament. That's the goal. It's hard to do, but this season and in the things that we accomplished no question will feed toward us being able to do that in the future.
"I do believe that we can bring even more talented teams, more experienced teams than the one we have right now to this tournament, and that's the quest, that's the goal."
As Miller and the rest of the team had time to think on the flight back to Tucson, that feeling did not shrink in the slightest and as Miller took the podium for the welcoming back of the team at McKale, he summed it up perfectly.
"There is going to come a day when we are going to come back here and we are not going to celebrate an Elite Eight, we are going to celebrate the whole thing," he said.
At this point, it's hard not to believe him.
Tournament run raises expectations
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