“Awarding a Stamp of Approval in a losing effort is not a fun job, but somebody has to do it.”
This was the first line of my blog as I began writing with one minute left in Arizona/Florida showdown on Saturday night. The Wildcats were down by six against one of the better defenses in the country and the athletics program had used there miracle earlier in the day in an epic finish to the New Mexico Bowl as the Wildcats rallied to beat Nevada in the final two minutes.
Little did I know that I was in store for another, just as insane, finish to cap off one of the craziest and greatest days in Arizona Athletics. Sean Miller dialed up the press defense and the Wildcats forced consecutive turnovers on in-bounds plays, pulling within one point. After a missed free throw by Florida, it was Arizona’s ball, down one with about 14 seconds left. At this point, I was quite alright if I had to change my blog…I wasn’t in the mood to write a sulky, bitter blog anyway. Back to the thriller…with no “Derrick Williams type of beast” to get the ball to and lock up the victory, I thought to myself, “Who is going to have the cojones to take this shot?” Well, before I could worry too much, transfer point guard Mark Lyons took the ball down the court, drove to the basket and hit a very tough, contested layup to give Arizona a one-point lead with 7 seconds left. McKale Center erupted louder than it had been in years and Florida was flustered as they inbound the ball, eventually fumbling the ball away and heaving up a wild three-pointer as time expired. Wildcats Miracle Part II was complete. I jumped up in joy, hugging my six-week old daughter like Grant Jerrett was hugging that little walk-on player. Christmas came early for Wildcat fans across the country.
My Stamp of Approval goes to Mark Lyons. That confidence and drive is something the Wildcats lacked last year. That last shot is up there as one of the greatest in McKale. I know it’s only December and it’s a non-conference game but that win is so much more than just their 8th win of the season. That win will do so much for the Cats down the road and the excitement and hope that is in the Tucson air right now…it doesn’t get much better. Bear Down!