Never has .500 looked so good.
When you’re on your fourth week of bad basketball you don’t turn down any wins. A bank shot from 16 feet? I’ll take it. Having the lead for exactly one second in the second half? Sign me up. Members, fans, friends and distant relatives of the Arizona Wildcats basketball program needed a win in the worst way and the dynamically young duo of Derrick Williams and Lamont Jones delivered.
(By the way, you thought for sure I was going to stick a play on “MoMo” in the headline, didn’t you? But I’m not going to make the Bad Sports Pun Hall of Fame without mixing it up.)
((Oh, and can we get the official word on the MoMo syntax? I’ve seen Momo, Mo Mo, and Mo-Mo. I even saw a MeauxMeaux once, but that was in a Louisiana paper.))
When you go from up 11 to down seven in a six-and-a-half-minute stretch you have to be happy to have a shot at the end. It’s also nice when the guy you forget to guard misses a wiiiiide open three from the corner with a minute left.
Derrick Williams has had a lot of great plays this year but the best one might just have been the spin, foul, left-hand-off-the-wrong-foot-as-he’s-landing shot he hit with two minutes to go (you can see it at the 7:50 mark here). The three point play got the Cats within one and set up the heroics in the final 30 seconds.
And the UA is back to +1 in the buzzer-beater department. This Stanford game joins Lipscomb and NC State on the good side and outweighs WSU and OSU on the negative side of the ledger. You definitely want to have the final possession when you play these Wildcats.
I would like to take a moment to thank the California Golden Bears for their 33-16 second half against ASU. But the Devils’ dreams haven’t yet been completely crushed. ASU still has a chance to back into a share of the regular season championship. We either need ASU to drop a game at home this week or we need Cal to maintain focus and win at Stanford. Let’s put our rooting powers to work one last time
I would not like to thank whoever designed Stanford’s home uniforms. One of the few teams in the country named after a color and the Cardinal comes out in gray. Thanks for nothing, Oregon.
MoMo’s increased confidence and competence are coming at the right time since Nic Wise is running out of gas. There were moments in the second half when Nic passed up open threes, like he wasn’t comfortable taking a shot. He just looks like a guy who has been asked for four years to carry a burden heavier than his frame can bear. It was great to see him jump off the bench to join the dogpile with a big smile on his face, and I hope the McKale faithful give him plenty of thanks in his final two home games.
Considering how bad the team looked in December we should be happy with an even record. In fact, a really cool guy once said:
[I]f we can keep splitting each weekend and split against ASU that would put us at 14-14 / 8-8 heading into the final home games against UCLA and USC. That wouldn’t be a bad place for this young team to be.
So why have we been feeling disappointed? The problem isn’t the record but how we got here. If the team had just stayed at .500 all year we would have been OK with 8-8 (although a lot of people would have tuned out due to boredom).
Maybe Sean Miller’s only mistake was winning the first Cal game. Swap that one for an Oregon State win and nobody gets their hopes up or down.
But I’m glad we had the winning streak, even if it was immediately followed by a losing stretch. Those four games, highlighted by the Cal and ASU wins, give us something to think about over the summer. They keep the ceiling on this young roster nice and high.
Obviously it would have been best to save the wins over ASU and Cal for February and storm into Staples Center as the team to beat. But with freshmen you take your victories where you can get them.
Of course, sitting on a one-game win “streak” with two home games left, this team does still have a chance to build a little momentum before the Pac-10 tourney.