Tucson was in a bit of an unnecessary state of panic on Friday morning. The Wildcats just dropped a big game to UCLA at McKale Center in front of a pumped up, white-out crowd. The local radio guys were talking about what a “huge hit this was to a Pac-12 title” and how the loss is a “devastating” blow to Arizona’s seed in the NCAA tournament. Here are just a few fan comments posted on the internet after the loss:
“Miller ain’t Olsen and we are not “Back.”
“ They better get that mojo workin’ or they are in trouble! This game, without question, exposed some large holes in this team.”
“This team looks discombobulated on offense. They will be one and done in the tournament.”
I can’t make this stuff up. One loss at home and fans were throwing in the towel. Don’t get me wrong, I was in attendance on Thursday night and I left completely disappointed in the result and the overall effort. The team did not show up and play Arizona Basketball. I also understand that this happens in college basketball. Louisville was the No. 1 team in the country but have now lost three straight games. Duke got trounced by Miami last week. Teams slip up. Guys have off nights. It’s not the end of the world. Arizona is a young team and still has a lot to learn but they are 17-2, have one of the best young coaches in college basketball and have remained in the top 10 in the country for months now. It’s not about the down game…it’s about how the team bounces back from the down game and Arizona did just that against USC on Saturday.
Saturday was a statement game for the Wildcats. A statement to those fans and critics that were throwing in the towel after the UCLA loss. There is still a hell of a lot of fight left in this team. They came out with intensity and fire in their eyes as they rolled to a 74-50 win against the Trojans…and it wasn’t even that close. The Cats played team basketball and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Brandon Ashley, Soloman Hill, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson all scored in double digits…compared to zero Trojans. Mark Lyons bounced back with 9 points, 3 assists and 2 steals. Contributions came from all over, including Gabe York coming off the bench for the first time since mid-December and tallying 7 points in eight minutes of action. Don’t lose faith Wildcat fans, this team is the real deal!
My Stamp of Approval for the USC game goes to freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski. The big man has been under fire all season for under-performing but he doesn’t let that get to him. He goes out and gives it his all and he understands that he is a work in progress. He’s averaging six points and six rebounds this season and he topped both those numbers on Saturday with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
“He’s not getting enough credit for how he’s rebounding,” Miller said. “Scoring is going to be part of his future. Maybe it’ll be part of this year’s future. But he’ll get better in that area.