Sean Miller earned a name for himself at Xavier University. He would not be in the situation he currently is at now in Tucson without the help and support of the Musketeers and he has continually praised their program since joining Arizona in March of 2009. When he supported his former players after their brawl with Cincinnati this past weekend, it should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
Well, anyone except for Eamonn Brennan at ESPN, who blew everything out of proportion.
Here is what coach Miller said regarding the fight:
"If Cincinnati tries to do what they did (Saturday) they're going to get a fight," Miller said after UA beat Clemson on Saturday. "So I'm proud of those guys." [...] "They have a chance to win it all," Miller said. "It's just such a great story. I'm really proud of those guys and I watch them any time that I can. No one's going to bully those guys."
"Happens every game (the heated environment and scrappy play). I'm proud of those guys, I really am," Miller said of Xavier, his former team. "I would fully expect there to be a fight."
Miller said nothing more other than he supported his former players and that they would not back down to anyone. That's a trait of a good team. That's the kind of team we want at Arizona.
And for what Brennan wrote about the statement this morning:
Were I a college basketball coach, I would probably want to stay as far away from Xavier and Cincinnati as possible right now ... Apparently, Sean Miller disagrees. The current Arizona and former Xavier coach spoke out in support of his former players Saturday.
[Statement from Miller]
Lo and behold, that seems to be the exact same attitude Xavier stars Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway took in their postgame news conferences, the ones that included poorly chosen phrases like "gangsters" and "thugs" and "where we come from" and only drew further criticism and ire.
Brennan proceeds to give a 4th grade textbook definition of what 'toughness' means, before ending with this:
Cincinnati-Xavier erupted into what it did because nobody involved apparently understood what "toughness" really is. That's the biggest criticism we've heard in the past few days, especially of Xavier -- that "these guys just don't get it."
If their former coach is "proud" of what he saw Saturday, well, no wonder.
The annual Xavier-Cincinnati game is one of the most heated rivalries in college basketball. For Arizona fans, they can compare it to the annual games with Arizona State. A brawl is never good for a program, but they happen when emotions get the better of players. Coach Miller knows first-hand just how intense these games can get. Sean would not be where he is now without the help of Xavier and his comments backing up his former-players are completely warranted.
Because of ESPN's article, Miller clarified his comments:
"I made comments following our win Saturday over Clemson regarding my former team, Xavier University. These remarks were in response to a question as to whether I have been following Xavier's on-the-court successes this season. My comments were directed toward my admiration of their on-the-court toughness and their respective approach to giving great effort as a team."
"In no way was I condoning a fight. At the time of my press conference, I was only responding to my belief in several players that I once coached and a head coach, Chris Mack, that I have great respect for."
Next time, we can only hope ESPN does not jump the gun and put words into coach Miller's mouth. He never once said he condoned fighting or that what transpired on Saturday afternoon was acceptable; all he did was support his former players and coaches. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and ESPN blew it out of context. Eamonn Brennan owes Sean Miller an apology.