That fact is astonishing to think about considering where this program was right after Lute Olson called it quits back in 2008. But Sean Miller has righted the ship and has done so quicker than anyone would have imagined.
Miller addressed the media on Wednesday for Arizona's media day on what fans can expect as well as his own expectations on a team that almost found itself two wins away from a national championship. With Derrick Williams gone, Miller sees the 2011-2012 version of the Wildcats to have many different players stepping up to be go-to guys.
"We have a number of candidates," said Miller. "Sometimes you center in on having those go-to players but we may be a team of just great balance. We have a number of players that can get double figures on a given night. If things really work out well for us on a given night we may have five or six players in double figures."
Solomon Hill has been a name all off-season as the one who will be able to put Arizona on his back and help carry most of the load. Miller does not want to give him all of the scoring pressure and says that his all-around game will be the most important.
"A lot of times for Solomon scoring points per game are on your mind," explained Miller. "It is constantly referenced that he needs to score more. He might score more but there are so many other things that Solomon does well. Rebounding on offense and defense, he's a clever passer but at times he would turn the ball over.
"We need him to be able to score the basket some. Defensively, guarding the other team's really good wing players he needs to be better and more adept at handling screens. His progress won't be felt in one statistical area. He's always given us a lot of things as a player and that well-roundedness, we want him to do that better more than any single stat."
Along with Hill in the forefront will be senior Kyle Fogg, who has been recognized as one of the hardest working players across the country this summer, making sure his effort is not matched by anyone. Miller says that the senior guard will undoubtedly be ready for his final campaign.
"It has been well documented in some of the articles that have been done on our team in the offseason that Kyle has been a great leader, worked very hard and he really has," said Miller. "To me he is as prepared as any senior that I have seen to have a very good year."
But this season will be a bit different than that of the team that went 30-8 last season and won the Pac-10 regular season championship, making an appearance in the Elite 8. Williams and his 19.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds are awaiting the lock-out to end in the NBA.
Miller says that it has been "different" so far without Williams' character around the team but is not worried about what this team has to offer on and off the court. And a lot like last year, multiple players will have an opportunity to show what they have on the court.
"Really to a man, everyone has an opportunity to play," explained Miller. "It truly is going to work itself out through this next four to six weeks. Last year I believe that in the 38 games we played ten players in all 38 games. If I'm wrong I won't be wrong by many and look at this team to really be the same."
The buzz is back in Tucson and historically one of the best programs on the west coast and in the country has its swagger back. Fans realize it and are as excited as ever. The effects of great play have already come to fruition with recruiting as Arizona brings in a great 2011 class of Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson.
These four freshmen will be brought into the fold of a program that expects to be great, and Miller has already seen them buy into what the greatness of Arizona is. No one can deny that this team will have a bull's eye on its back and Miller is ready to embrace it.
"That's why we all came to Arizona," said Miller. "Coaches, players, it's why our fans show up like they do for next Saturday for the Red/Blue or for our games. There is a tradition of excellence and a tradition of winning. For you to deny that as a coach or a player is just to me, irresponsible. For us, it's just trying to get back there.
"One of the things that we can control is just that work ethic and trying to be good at the things that we really know we need to. That was the thing that last year's team really did a good job of and that's why we continue to improve."
For the first time since arriving at Arizona, the language of Sean Miller is changing and he is showing more confidence. Granted the season has not started and questions remain such as the health of Kevin Parrom, but making it to the Elite 8 was no accident.
"Last season gave us that confidence," said Miller. "What we do, works. The things that we tried to improve on in many ways we did."