The much anticipated 2012/2013 Arizona Basketball season is underway. The Wildcats opened their regular season with a win against Charleston Southern on Sunday afternoon. As they say, a win is a win but fans in Tucson may need to reel in their National Championship expectations…or at least give it some time. This game was with four or five points for the first 37 minutes of action. Charleston Southern came out ready to take down Goliath and it wasn’t until the last few minutes that the Cats put them away. This team is very young and is clearly a work in progress. Coach Miller is still tweaking his lineups and deciding who will get what minutes. These guys showed a lot of passion and when the chemistry, minutes and timing get ironed out this team can clearly be in the top 10 and be a legitimate contender.
Sunday was Veterans Day and coincidentally, my Stamp of Approval for game one goes to one of the veteran’s on the team, Mark Lyons. The senior transfer from Xavier had me a worried mess in the first half. I know the importance of Lyons for this team and his transition could be the key factor for the team’s success this year.
I went into this game wanting to watch Lyons closely and monitor his progress. Is this guy Point Guard U material? Can he be a leader as a newcomer? Will he put the team first or is he solely focused on an “NBA tryout” type of season? After the first half, the Wildcats had a slim four point lead and Lyons was 0-3 from the floor with two points. I didn’t see the leadership or a guy demanding respect from his guys. I didn’t see the confidence or that killer instinct. I was in panic mode.
“Wow. I may have been off about Lyons,” I told my wife at halftime. “His performance is worrisome to say the least.”
I grabbed my phone and began texting my buddy a message: “This guys does not seem like Arizona Basketball to me ” Yes, I was distraught enough to include the smiley face emoticon. Before hitting send, the second half started and I thought to myself…”Calm down, Matt. It’s a little too early to be judging and overreacting like this.” I deleted the text and got comfortable and plugged in for the second half. “This was my one-week old daughters first Cats game and they were not going to lose it…Lyons will turn it around,” I thought.
No sooner, Lyons hit a shot and it’s like something turned on in him. He dominated the second half, finishing as the leading scorer with 17 points (15 in the second half). He also finished with six assists and zero turnovers. He also converted a huge three-point play that helped the Wildcats pull away towards the end of the game. He was a leader that the freshman needed and he was a big reason the Cats pulled out this win. He was Arizona Basketball!