TUCSON, Ariz. — Seemingly, all is right with the Arizona basketball program after two consecutive wins — even for a team still in search of its powerhouse identity.
But a team like Stanford, next up on the Wildcats’ schedule, could derail the recent progress.
Forget Arizona (16-2, 4-1 Pac-12) has won nine consecutive games against the Cardinal. The two play Thursday for at least a share of the conference lead.
The road has been nothing but trouble for No. 7 Arizona — at least on its two road trips — where hostile environments and stingy defenses left coach Sean Miller’s group looking, well, un-Arizona-like.
But there will be more to Stanford (13-4, 4-1) than just playing in Maples Pavilion; Arizona will be face one of more veteran teams in the conference and a team likely headed back to the NCAA tournament in two months, at least according Miller.
Stanford is coming off a 72-59 win over defending national champion Connecticut, and beat UNLV 89-60 to start the season and Texas (in Austin) 74-71 in December.
“They are having a great season and the reason is they are a really good team,” Miller said. “… They are very capable of winning our conference.”
After all, Miller said, the Cardinal could very likely have the conference’s player of the year in senior guard Chasson Randle, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 19.8 points per game and has the help of fifth-year seniors Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic.
The duo of Brown and Randle, Miller said, could be one of the best backcourts in the conference, and Nastic could be one of the most improved players in the country.
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The trip, too, will mark Brandon Ashley’s return to the scene where he suffered a season-ending injury last season. That happens Saturday when Arizona faces California. Ashley suffered the injury early in the game vs. Cal as Arizona was attempting to win its 22nd consecutive game to start the season. Arizona lost, then had to readjust with life after Ashley, who has said numerous times in the last two months he no longer thinks about his one-time broken foot.
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TUCSON, Ariz. – Six days into the new year, coach Sean Miller says seventh-ranked Arizona feels good about itself and its chemistry.
How it feels tomorrow and beyond, well, one never knows until you get there. Chemistry is a fluid situation.
Just hours after Miller’s assessment, Arizona announced that freshman forward Craig Victor has decided to transfer.
“We wish Craig Victor and his family well,” Miller said in a statement.
See how fluid it is?
“I’ll judge our chemistry on January 4th when we played Arizona State and I’ll do it all over again the next day,” Miller said in his weekly gathering with the media on Tuesday. “It only takes one day and you could go from what you think is a tight-knit group that will go on a vacation together to disarray.
“There are so many people tugging and pulling and so much selfishness at the core of college basketball that you don’t have chemistry for long periods of time. You have to work at it.”
Miller made no mention of Victor’s status in his Tuesday afternoon session.
Victor, from New Orleans, averaged 7.4 minutes per game and played five minutes in Sunday night’s victory over Arizona State. He averaged 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds a game. He arrived at Arizona as a four-star recruit out of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, rated as the nation’s No. 8 power forward by Scout.com.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Apparently time does heal all wounds. Former Arizona All-American Jason Terry is having his No. 31 jersey retired after year’s of debate whether it should be or not.
But Arizona athletics announced on Saturday it will retire his jersey.
Jerry was named National Player of the Year in 1999 and was a member of the 1997 national championship team.
The jersey will be retired on Feb. 19 when UA plays host to USC.
“I am extremely blessed and honored to have my jersey retired,” Terry said in a statement released by Arizona. “It is not only a tribute to what I accomplished as a student-athlete at UA, but to all the people who helped me on my journey. I want to extend special thanks to President Hart, Greg Byrne, Lute Olson, Jim Rosborough, Jennifer Mewes, the Pac-12 Conference and all Wildcat fans. Bear Down!”
Terry is currently a member of the Houston Rockets. He was a key member of the Dallas Mavericks’ title run in 2011.
Men’s basketball student-athletes who have been received a major national “athlete of the year” honor are eligible to have their jerseys retired. Rather than retire individual numbers, Arizona Athletics retires jerseys with the number and the name of the player.
His qualifications have never been in doubt, however, UA has long made it a policy to not retire jersey numbers for those athletes who had violated NCAA rules. He accepted money from agents in his senior year, causing Arizona to vacate its NCAA tournament appearance.
In 2000, Terry repaid UA $45,363 (the amount of the tournament appearance for forfeited tournament revenues).
It’s long been known Arizona has attempted to honor his jersey retirement, but had been voted against at least once. It had to be approved by the Pac-12 and then the NCAA and that has happened.
Terry, last summer, earned his degree in Social Behavior and Human Understanding from Arizona.
TUCSON, Ariz. – So this is what third-ranked Arizona looks like when all things are clicking.
One. Tough. Team.
Descriptions like “super focused,” “locked in” and “next step” were used from Arizona’s players and coach after the Wildcats‘ 80-53 shellacking of Michigan. Wolverines coach John Beilein went one step further and called the Wildcats a “premier” team.
“Over the years, we have been able to see some great teams,” Beilein said. “They’ve come to the Chrysler Center, we’ve played them in the NCAA Tournament and we’ve played them on the road.”
Saturday was a road of woes for Michigan as Arizona won its 29th consecutive home game and 37th consecutive non-conference game. Michigan lost its third straight for the first time since 2011.
So just a week after nearly losing to then-No. 9 Gonzaga, the Wildcats used their next marquee game as a stage to show what it can do when everything works.
Beilein was so impressed with Arizona’s performance that he told Wildcats coach Sean Miller he hoped Arizona (10-0) can stay healthy because “they have a chance to be as good as anybody this year. Today, Arizona showed they really have it all.”
Freshman Stanley Johnson led five Arizona players in double figures with 17 points. He also had seven rebounds, as did Kaleb Tarczewski, who added 15 points.
It was an afternoon at McKale Center where everything meshed and mixed like a team playing in late February and March. Arizona’s offense had a flow it had shown only in glimpses this season. Miller called the game “our best performance of our season.”
Defense? Check. Michigan was held to 35 percent from the field (27 percent from the 3-point line).
Offense? Check. Arizona sank 58 percent of its shots.
Rebounds? Double check. Arizona allowed just six offensive rebounds and outrebounding Michigan 40-26.
“We showed better offense, improved offense,” Miller said. “We love to use our defense to create transition opportunities. We’re getting a little more efficient.”
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TUCSON, Ariz. — The Scooby Wright and Rich Rodriguez mystery machine continues to roll.
Why not add mystical and magical in describing Arizona’s improbable ride to 10-2 and a Pac-12 Conference South championship after the Wildcats defeated Arizona State 42-35 Friday in a sold-out Arizona Stadium.
The win arguably could be the school’s biggest because of the magnitude.
No. 11 Arizona faces No. 2 Oregon on Dec. 5 in Santa Clara, Calif., for the Pac-12 title. Arizona handed the Ducks their one-and-only loss, 31-24.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Rodriguez, who has never faced an opponent twice in a season. “It’ll be a very tough task but our confidence (will be high) because we played them well the last two times.”
But winning has become the new normal for Arizona under Rodriguez, who has won 26 games and lost 12 in three years.
“If I didn’t think it could happen, I never would have (come) here,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been fortunate to be at (some) successful programs (so) I thought we could win here and win big here. But we had to have some big things happen.”
Voila! They have.
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TUCSON, Ariz. — The second most perplexed person in the Rose Bowl on Saturday — behind Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez — may have been Tony Dews.
Who would argue? His group of wide receivers — considered by many to be the best in the west as a collective group — dropped anywhere from seven to 10 passes against UCLA in a game the Wildcats played close enough to win.
What’s the point of having a nice car if it’s running on bad gas? Or not operating at all? Arizona’s offense sputtered in part because its pass-and-catch portion was missing one part of the pass or the catch.
“Some (drops) can be questionable,” Dews said, “but if they are in your area or touch your hand you should catch it.”
Clearly, Saturday’s were passes the receivers hadn’t dropped all year, Rodriguez said.
“You’re frustrated, disappointed a little bit,” Dews said. “Give UCLA credit, they are a good group and physically strong. They had something to do with it. Yes, we had some uncontested drops that you’re certainly not happy about.”
When reviewing the game the next day, the players had a unified reaction, receiver Nate Phillips said: “Who is that (team) out there?”
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Fatherhood: full of bumps but well worth the ride
Somewhere in heaven, likely on some plush softball field free of bad hops, my dad is having a knee-slapping good time at my expense.
He’s having a “¿Quien te trae?” (Spanish for, “Who has you here?”) moment when it comes to me being a father.
You know what they say about paybacks. I’m living it, breathing it with every sunrise. But I was warned. Some 25 or 30 years ago, I’d often hear my dad’s refrain: “Just wait until you have kids!”
I do – two boys – and boy was he right. I’m living his life. Ugh!
And I’m raising an ant and a butterfly.
The oldest, Cameron (the ant), is much like me – a diligent but petulant type who insists on arguing over moot points. The other, Trey, is a carefree, fly-to-the-next-flower type.
I wasn’t much of a curveball hitter, but every day I’m thrown a couple by the duo. They’ve turned me into a combination of Al Bundy (“Married with Children”), Dagwood Bumstead and George Lopez (“The George Lopez Show”).
I’m Mr. Chopped Liver, feeling like the guy picked last in the annual NFL draft – Mr. Irrelevant.
Mom’s tops – likely even on Father’s Day come Sunday.
The kids have no trouble traveling to the ends of the Earth with their mother but must be bribed to go to Sonic to get a Slushie with me.
Go figure. Isn’t fatherhood grand? I can hear the chuckles coming from heaven right now.
On the night my wife, Lynda, (now ex-wife) gave birth to our Cameron, just more than nine years ago (18 years ago now), I drove home thinking, “What the hell did I just do?” in creating a family with a plethora of responsibilities. Fatherhood has been a work in progress. Every day is an adventure.
And apparently, I’m not passing with flying colors.
To wit, just recently I got a card stating I’m passing in love, understanding, intelligence (debatable, but go along), sense of humor, helpfulness and wisdom. But I’m not doing so well in allowances (C), kindness (D) and patience (F).
But hey, I’m a sportswriter (that explains the allowances). As for the other two, they’ve never been my best qualities and someone needs to say “No.” You know what they say about kids and drunks – at least they’re honest.
Unfortunately, mine are too honest when it comes to my faults – and appearances.
After viewing some old photos, they dubbed me “Harry Potter,” when they saw a photo of me with thick glasses and straight hair.
Somewhere on that field my father is laughing, saying, “I told you so.” And he’s right – as usual.
During the school year, when my youngest son was asked what I did for a living, the teacher found out all I do is sit on the couch in front of the television and watch sports (picture Al Bundy with the remote). And when I’m not doing that, I’m yelling at my laptop computer because it rarely works.
The next day she offered her condolences to my wife, feeling sorry for a women whose husband does nothing around the house.
Little did Mrs. Discenza know that watching games and sitting in front of a computer is what I do for a living. Just depends on the venue.
Then came the time when I arrived home from a five-day trip while covering the University of Arizona men’s basketball team. I received this ditty from my then 5-year-old Trey: “Dad, maybe you should have had a girl.
“Maybe she would have loved you because no one here really does.” He laughed.
Dad is doubling over with laughter.
But that was my own undoing. Just two months earlier, in jest, I told my kids that they were lucky I didn’t have a girl because she would have been “daddy’s little girl and would have gotten all the attention.”
At least the young one has a good memory. Note to self: Fewer presents to the younger one come Christmas.
As for Cameron, he no longer thinks I have an office at McKale Center or get everywhere by airplane. It wasn’t long ago he’d wave to the passing planes saying goodbye to daddy because he was headed to work.
That all said, life is good as a father, perhaps the toughest job I’ll ever have. It’s always a work in progress with life’s thrills, loves and headaches because of the kids.
But as my father always told me, no one promised me a rose garden. But if you get one, try to make the most of it. Thankfully, I’ve got one. It just needs some fertilizer and water from time to time. The kids supply the former, and I’m in charge of the latter.
Happy Father’s Day to those lucky enough to be dads.
The rematch turned out to be a repeat.
Benny “El Hijo” Madrid made quick work of of Joe “The Rottweiller” Torrez on Saturday night at AVA Theater at Casino del Sol.
Again – and it enabled Madrid to retain his Lightweight Title.
In May, Madrid defeated Torrez in Phoenix pretty much under the same circumstances – a first round victory. On Saturday (June 30) it was referee stoppage after Madrid dominated Torrez from the start.
“They said I got lucky,’’ Madrid said, referring to the first fight between the two. “I thought it could have gone either way; he did get a good kick in. But it is what it is. Thank God I didn’t get knocked out and I didn’t get hurt by the kick.”
This time, however, the quick start and quick finish was the key.
“I’m an aggressive fighter but I’m not sure why I didn’t come out that way in the last one,’’ said Madrid. “That was my plan, to get in there and try to hurt him and test him out. People don’t know I have a good standup (game).’’
It showed on Saturday night. What’s next? He’s not completely sure but he was told there were individuals from another organization to possibly set him up for another fight. What’s clear is he’s on the road to possible success. The Phoenix-area fighter is optimistic he won’t let anyone down.
“Tucson has put me on the map,’’ he said, in thanking the local crowd. “I’ve have got a dream. I’d be either dead or in jail (if not for his ability in the ring). I have beaten the odds and I’m here.’’
And ready to fight another day.
As is, Adam “A Bomb” Padilla, who defeated Carlos Flores in the first round. Padilla recovered from being a tough situation early, but was able to get the victory.
“He’s a tough guy,’’ Padilla said. “There are no sissies in this thing. Training at Fight Ready I knew what to do. I had the desire to get up – after getting in my mind to ‘Get Up, Get Up.’ It’s what you do. You don’t quit. He’s got to knock me out to win.’’
Flores didn’t and Padilla left to Globe, Ariz., the champion of the heavyweight title.
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