Campus Guide: Prominent UA coaches demand attention
Editor’s note: This article is part of the Arizona Summer Wildcat’s 2014 Campus Guide. The Campus Guide is a special issue that runs every year to help introduce incoming students to the UA and campus life.
Arizona basketball head coach Sean Miller is going into his sixth season, but it feels like it was just yesterday when the University of Pittsburgh alumnus was hired by Arizona.
Miller brought over a winning attitude from Xavier and has the Wildcats back to the glory days of Arizona basketball. His prowess has established Miller as a top recruiter on the west coast and put Arizona in a position to contend for the foreseeable future.
Despite the losses of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to the NBA, the 2014 recruiting class consists of a potential lottery pick of the 2015 NBA draft in Stanley Johnson and will complement a strong returning cast.
Miller has led the Wildcats to two Elite Eights (2011, 2014) and a Sweet Sixteen (2013), as well as earning his 100th win at Arizona.
In addition, he has coached five players that currently play in the NBA, two of whom were first round draft picks (Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill).
Arizona football is off to a good start in the Rich Rodriguez era after winning two consecutive bowl games, which hasn’t been done since 1997 and 1998.
Rodriguez is coming off an 8-5 season, which was capitalized by a 42-19 route for the AdvoCare V100 bowl.
Rich-Rod will have the huge test of replacing All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey this year as Carey was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Fresh off back-to-back 8-5 seasons, Rodriguez is entering his third season with the Wildcats as well as his third different starting quarterback.
The transition from Carey and last year’s starting QB B.J. Denker should be much easier, considering Arizona will have one of the deepest receiving corps in the Pac-12 led by Austin Hill and Notre Dame transfer DaVonte’ Neal.
UA baseball head coach Andy Lopez is entering his 14th season with the Wildcats and is looking to bounce back from a season where the Wildcats finished 22-33 (9-21 Pac-12).
Lopez isn’t a stranger to the national spotlight, as he has led the Wildcats to 10 NCAA tournament appearances, including winning the 2012 National Championship.
Lopez is a three-time national Coach of the Year and has been an elite coach for the Pac-12 conference and will try to bounce back and bring the Wildcats to the top of the conference.
Candrea is a one of the premier coaches and familiar faces in college softball. He has coached the Wildcats since 1986 and has won eight national championships to back up that claim.
Apart from a frustrating 2013 campaign, Candrea has done a fantastic job of keeping the Wildcats in the national spotlight year in and year out.
In addition to his work at Arizona, Candrea has also had an impressive resume away from Arizona softball. In 2004, he was the head coach of Team USA and the squad brought home a gold medal.
The Wildcats finished fifth in the Pac-12 last year with a 44-16 record and lost in the NCAA Super Regionals to Louisiana-Lafayette in a best of three series. Candrea will look to win the ninth national championship in program history next year.
The Arizona women’s basketball program is going into its seventh season with Niya Butts leading the way.
The former Tennessee Lady Volunteers player has brought intensity and energy to the program in the hope to put the team in the top half of the traditional tough Pac-12 conference.
As the team struggled to replace star Davellyn Whyte, the 2013-14 season was not kind to Butts and her staff as the Wildcats won just five games and finished last in the Pac-12.
Butts has always had a reputation as being a players’ coach, considering not too long ago, she was playing for legendary head coach Pat Summitt. In 1997, the same year Miles Simon and Lute Olson were cutting down the nets for the Arizona men’s basketball team, Niya Butts brought home a women’s basketball championship to Tennessee.
UA volleyball head coach Dave Rubio is entering his 23rd season coaching the Wildcats. In Rubio’s time at Arizona, he has led Arizona to 16 NCAA tournaments appearances and a trip to the final four.
Also, Rubio has put in the work on the recruiting trail as he has attracted many top freshmen to Tucson, including four first-team All-Americans.
Last season, the Wildcats finished 21-13 and lost 0-3 against San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Look for Rubio and the Wildcats to pick up where they left off.
—Follow Justin Spears @Hercules_52