Goulston impressed by UA's run

Goulston impressed by UA's run

The head coach of future Wildcat Angelo Chol at San Diego Hoover, Ollie Goulston, talks to WildcatAuthority.com about the UA's season and NCAA tournament run.

In attendance for Arizona's Sweet 16 victory over Duke in Anaheim was 6-foot-9, 210-pound San Diego Hoover forward Angelo Chol, who committed to the Wildcats in February.

Chol's head coach at Hoover, Ollie Goulston, said the future Wildcat enjoyed his time at the game.

"He was excited," Goulston said. "He was really excited about how well they played in the second half; he thought the atmosphere was great and he's pumped up for the entire team and program for how well they played. "

When Chol committed to Arizona, the Wildcats were having a successful season but no one could have expected the UA to both win the Pac-10 and make it to at least the Elite Eight this year.

That said, Arizona's success isn't a complete surprise to Goulston, who knew it would come before long.

"I think Arizona has gotten to this level quicker than maybe we anticipated," he said. "Angelo and I were very confident in this coaching staff and Arizona Basketball that they would be the elite in college basketball sooner than later.

"Maybe it happened a little sooner than we anticipated. It's exciting and Sean has done a hell of a job with that team, he really has. Everyone is bonding and playing at a pretty high level, which is pretty neat to watch."

Goulston says that watching Arizona, everything still appears to be a perfect fit for Chol.

"It is what we thought it would be," Goulston said. "I just like the fact, for Angelo, how Sean uses his post guys. It's perfect for Angelo, since he's a guy who can play inside, outside, handle the ball and shoot it. He's a multi-skilled guy and I think it's the perfect system for him. From that standpoint I think it's really neat."

When Chol was making a college decision, he had the opportunity to choose a place that might appear to allow him to compete for titles earlier than he would at Arizona. However, Arizona had other aspects to its program that were stronger.

Now that UA is in the Elite Eight with programs that Arizona was competing with for Chol, it makes the commitment make even more sense.

"When we sat down with the programs, granted Kansas and North Carolina had a recent history of playing for a national championship, but we felt that Arizona had the best combination of things for Angelo and that it had the potential to be a national championship contender team and program," said Goulston.

"Sean Miller has been a winner wherever he's gone, as a player and a coach, and we just felt everything he offered in a program was really exciting. Sean has proved that they're going to be a national contender for the years to come.

"If you think about it, what he's done with this team is remarkable, and on top of it, the talent they have coming in is going to keep them at a very high level for a very long time."

Goulston feels that much of Arizona's success this season can be attributed to the team's struggles last season.

"If you look at last season, as hard as it might have been for Arizona to go through, it was probably a necessary step and they probably wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for last season," Goulston said.

"A lot of the times you have to take two steps back; you need to have some failure to have bigger success. When you're on the brink of failure, you need to bounce back to have success.

"This season started last season. People got spoiled because of coach (Lute) Olson's success year in and year out, but Arizona's program probably needed to have the season that it had last year.

"If you look at it, guys like Derrick Williams probably wouldn't have the season they're having today if not for last year. Sean is probably a better coach for going through last year.

"I don't think it can be understated that as hard as it was to go through it last year, a little failure, a little humility, that was probably good for everybody and probably made everyone a lot hungrier as opposed to if it was the same Arizona, going through the Sweet 16 every year and always competing for a Pac-10 championship.

"Having gone through it myself a few times as a coach, I think the foundation of this team was laid last year. It's an amazing job that Sean and his staff have done, but everyone had to buy in, and if they didn't go through some failure last year, they wouldn't be where they are."

Goulston also feels that last year helped the Wildcats' mental toughness this season.

"Because they kept hearing how bad they were and how this wasn't an Arizona team or whatever, it probably gave them a chip on their shoulders," he said. "It was probably something that Sean could utilize to keep them working and keeping them focused.

"I'll tell you what, they looked like a team in the second half that was playing with a chip on their shoulders. They took it personally, they were exited, they were passionate, they were enthusiastic, it was a team that looked like had some great burden lifted off their shoulders.

"MoMo (Jones) hitting his chest, Derrick's enthusiasm, maybe more than some of the other games, there was this enthusiasm like, ‘Hey, we're back. Arizona is back. We had to get some tough times to get here but we did it, we overcame it and we're back. All that stuff is a memory but ultimately they're memories that helped us.'"

Specifically, Goulston even looks at Williams' hand injury as adversity that helped both him and the team.

"I think Derrick's hand injury has made him a better player," he said. "He did different things to help his team win, some things that maybe he wasn't comfortable with before.

"I think all the adversity that Arizona has faced over the last year and a half to two years has ultimately helped them get to this point.

"It's kind of like a tradeoff. Last year was their first time in 25 years not making the tournament but the tradeoff was that they made the Elite Eight or better the following year. It worked out pretty well."

As a coach, Goulston has watched what Miller has done with his team and admired the way it has come together, something he says is tough to do.

"What I think is amazing, and I really think is understating about what Sean has done, is that Sean has one great player," Goulston said. "He has a bunch of decent college players and one great player.

"I think what he's done is that he's had everyone take his ego and put it aside, even Derrick Williams, and when your best player is egoless, it makes it easier. He's found a way to take everyone and put their egos and personal agendas aside in order to do what's best for Arizona Basketball.

"It's allowed them to do what they've done this season and a lot of them keep getting better because they keep working. It also keeps the competition going in practice every day because guys weren't guaranteed to start and they weren't guaranteed minutes. They had to do stuff the right way. Their depth has helped them in a lot of ways."

Something else that has impressed Goulston is how Miller balances his bench and relies on so many players to win.

"Sean should have been a baseball manager the way he juggles his lineup," Goulston said. "He should have been a pitching coach because he handles his bullpen as well as anyone I've ever seen.

"Most people can only play seven or eight guys and have a specific rotation. He's playing 9, 10 or 11 and he's also playing a lot of hunches. He's like the Jim Leyland of basketball. Jim Leyland always played his hunches as a manager, that's what he did.

"I'm at the Pac-10 Tournament and I wondered a couple times, but all his hunches seem to work. He's got like the magic eye right now. He's done a phenomenal job but he really should have been a baseball manager because he juggles his bullpen as well as anyone I've ever seen.

"It's hard to do in basketball because you always risk losing something but he's done it well. He's even done it with Derrick. Kemba Walker plays 40 minutes for UConn, he never comes out.

"Derrick comes out, he doesn't play every minute, and that's hard to do as a coach, because if a guy is that much better than everybody, it's hard to take him off the floor, and he does. It seems to work for them."

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