Steve Kerr, Matt Muehlebach and Sean Miller talk Arizona Basketball

TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats smiles prior to the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at McKale Center on December 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. The Gonzaga Bulldogs won 84 - 80. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats smiles prior to the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at McKale Center on December 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. The Gonzaga Bulldogs won 84 - 80. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Arizona Basketball greats Steve Kerr and Matt Muehlebach join Sean Miller in a coaches roundtable to discuss their careers and things we’ve never heard.

Just when you think you know everything about Arizona Basketball, it takes the Corona Virus quarantine to get three great Wildcats together to discuss all things basketball and then some, and we are all here for it.

On Friday afternoon, former Wildcat greats Steve Kerr and Matt Muehlebach joined Sean Miller in a coaches roundtable, and it was here that Kerr told the group that one thing he took from Lute Olson was a drill in particular.

More from Cats in the Pros

“Still doing the ‘Toss Back’ drill”, Kerr ordered six toss-backs when he got to Golden State, all influenced by Coach O. He said that it’s not the details, it’s the general sense of being incredibly organized and prepared and running a program that was something special that he took from Coach O, “We all just felt so lucky to be a part of it.”

Kerr also spoke about “Brisk Walks”, an early morning thing Coach O did with his teams.

Muehlebach played against Miller when they were in college, and they reminisced about that. Miller’s team won, but mused it was probably that Muelebach’s team flew in around midnight, and had to play at 11 am the next day. There was a brisk walk taken none-the-less.

As for Miller, he talked at length about how his dad gave him the passion for the sport of basketball. If the kids were inside the house, he would be upset that they weren’t playing basketball outside.

Miller also passed on the fact that in his house his dad preached that you really have to love the sport to be successful. His dad was a huge fundamentals coach. All you need is a basketball and yourself, dribbling both with your left and right hand.  Miller and his brother Archie are both NCAA Basketball coaches, as Archie coaches at the University of Indiana.

Kerr sees the passion in basketball in Sean and Archie while they coach. He asked about the competitiveness between the two. Sean explained that Archie is 10 years younger than him and that Archie learned the game watching Sean and being coached by his dad.

“He [his dad] never messed around,” said Sean. Sean reminisced that when he played a high school game, he dribbled the ball four times and showed the number one on his hand while the seconds came off the clock in a win, and he had to walk home after that. Dad wasn’t happy with showboating.

Matt and Steve talked about growing up in California, and revealed that their upbringing was slightly different, but they both had highly-involved parents. Matt noticed that both he and Kerr were nice guys, but they could snap every once in awhile.

Kerr was a ball boy at six years old for the UCLA Bruins when his dad was a professor there. “My first basketball memory was walking into Pauley Pavilion (I believe it would have been 1972) and UCLA had Bill Walton who was number one in the country,” explained Kerr.

The Bruins were going to play Maryland that night, and he explained that in his young age, he loved running around, but walking into Pauley Pavilion with a filled stadium, the No. 2 team playing, that’s when he fell in love with the game.

UCLA won by one point that night. When Kerr walked out with his dad, he overheard the Maryland fans complaining about their team and how good Bill Walton played. He was “Hooked forever.”

Miller asked Kerr about the one season when his three-point percentage was as high as 57 percent, a record that has lasted 30 some years. It was almost impossible to do that then and even now.

He asked Kerr how he became that kind of a shooter in games. He simply responded that it was the one thing he was born with as a kid; being able to shoot. That and having really good coaching growing up.

In High School, Chip England (a current assistant coach with the Spurs) was his shooting coach. He was four years ahead of Kerr at Palisades High School.

At Arizona, the team shot 55 percent as a team the season Kerr shot 57 percent from three, it was a dream year according to Kerr.

It was pointed out, that out of the three of them, Miller was the best free throw shooter (88.5 percent from the line). Miller credited his father who was his High School PE Teacher, but he never attended a class.

While the class played kickball, he would go shoot free throws and his dad would log all the made free throws by him and his teammates. Miller credits that repetition was how he got so good.

The year Miller was hired, there was an Arizona Alumni party held in which Miller attended. While there, apparently he asked every player in attendance ‘what made Lute a great coach?’

Matt wanted to know what everyone told Miller, and these were the three things that stood out for Miller in regards to Coach Olson:

  1. He connected Tucson and the community and his program one in the same – Arizona has led the Pac-12 in attendance for 36 straight years, and had passion for the game.
  2. He always has been a great recruiter, a great scout of talent, not necessarily bringing in all McDonalds All-Americans.
  3. He was well-rounded. His teams were so balanced, the way he organized his practice plans and focused on team play.

Kerr discussed how he was recruited in 1983. Olson told him that in the past McKale was packed when Fred Snowden was coaching and he knew that if they put a good product on the floor the fans would come.

Kerr remembers going into the 7-11 across from Babcock Dorm to give away tickets and he couldn’t give them away. But the next season, Kerr and Lute’s second season they started selling out.

Nowadays, Kerr bumps into so many Wildcats in the NBA, he feels it’s really a “Fraternity, a brotherhood and we watch out for each other.” He spoke about playing the Bulls and talking to Lauri Markkanen about how the Wildcats played that week. Kerr also noted that Olson’s grandson Matt Brase is an Assistant Coach for the Houston Rockets and he bumps into him as well.

But as they continued, Miller even addressed the most difficult thing today in college sports recruiting is explaining A Players Program to recruits who don’t know about it. That appreciation is something he really emphasizes, given that players leave after a year. It’s hard to get eight, new players each season and stoke their fires every year.

dark. Next. More on Arizona Basketball on ZZ...

In the NBA, Kerr doesn’t have it so bad. For seven years Kerr has been coaching Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. NBA players used to stay in school for four years, Michael Jordan left after his third year. It’s harder for fans because if you cheer for a team that has turnover, you have to keep getting to know your team. Quite a fun discussion, we learned things we never knew.