The Arizona Wildcats ended their seven-day run as an undefeated top-10 team. Who replaces them as Oregon’s top challenger? And what did ASU’s win at Washington do for their bowl chances?
Posts Tagged ‘Nic Wise’
The Lute Olson Era has finally ended.
We thought it ended March 16, 2007, the date of Olson’s final game as coach. Or maybe you preferred March of 2009 when the last of Lute’s former assistants said goodbye. But it turns out the true final day of Lute Olson’s direct influence on Arizona Wildcat Basketball was July 29, 2010, the day the NCAA handed out punishment for the violations committed beginning in 2006.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Where’s a Niq Wise senior day rewrite when you need one?
That certainly wasn’t what we had in mind. The Cats scored the first basket on Thursday then never led again. The game looked a lot like last week’s UCLA game for the first 27 minutes but there was no McKale crowd (and Kyle Fogg 3s) to turn things around.
Our young team gave us one last memory of inconsistency. How do you get out-rebounded and fail to get back on D every other possession?
Ben Howland had his guys in the perfect defensive position all afternoon. The Bruins knew exactly where Derrick Williams would try to go with the ball when faced with a double-team. They knew which lanes to step into when an Arizona player got caught in the air or trapped on the baseline. Of course, it would help if the Cats didn’t self-trap themselves but that’s a discussion for one of our many offseason days.
And so the moment we’ve been dreading is here. Selection Sunday will come and go without any selecting of the team from Tucson. Will you be able to watch?
Personally, I don’t know what I’m going to do on Sunday. Part of me wants to watch to get some closure and see what we hope Sean Miller is building toward. But I know it’s going to hurt.
The thing is, it’s completely understandable that we don’t know how to react. The last time an Arizona fan went through missing the tournament we weren’t “Arizona.” We were coming off a season with our third coach in three years. Back then “the streak” was the UA missing the tournament seven straight years. This is brand new for all of us.
But life goes on. And so might the games. The streak is over but the season may not be. Yes, an NIT bid is possible and, yes, I want it. I hope the Cats get invited, I hope they accept, and I hope the team plays well. The more games our freshmen play the better.
How funny would it be if ASU just stole our NIT bid when they also lost in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament? Even though I hope the Wildcats’ season continues sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. ASU and the NIT belong together.
For one sad year, Arizona hopes to join them.
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The BatCats bounced back nicely from their rough week. Arizona punctuated its 2-1 series victory over top-25 Cal State Fullerton with a 10-1 victory last Sunday. Daniel Workman went six innings without giving up an earned run to secure his first win of the year and guarantee he’ll be in the starting rotation again this weekend.
Next was the age-old college baseball tradition of warm weather teams beating up on their chilly visitors from the north. This week’s victim was St. Joseph’s as the Cats swept the two games by a combined score of 29-5.
As a result our guys are sporting some gaudy offensive numbers. Arizona is hitting a cool .334 as a team highlighted by five players above .350. The highlights of the highlights are Steve Selsky at .446 with a .492 on-base percentage, and Jett Bandy with his video game .490 average, .559 OBP and .863 slugging percentage.
On deck are the Northern Colorado Bears who sit at 3-5 on the year. The UA looks to build another three games’ worth of momentum before top-25 Wichita State pays a midweek visit.
Game times for the UNC series are 4 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The WSU games are Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 6 p.m.
Perhaps on Sunday you can select some baseball and let the ping of leather meeting aluminum sooth your Wildcat soul.
Streak or Die: All energy should be focused on getting the Arizona Wildcats into the NCAA tournamentMonday, March 8th, 2010
Now we can talk about the streak.
Twenty-five glorious years. The second-longest NCAA basketball tournament run of all time. And the Arizona Wildcats have a chance to make it 26.
All season long the message has been to let go of the streak and prepare for it to end. I still maintain that was the proper mindset…for the first 30 games of the season.
Now it’s time to give in to four months of built-up anxiety. Arizona’s beloved March Madness streak ends if the Cats lose this week! Dwell on it, obsess about it, and hope our team plays like it.
This week isn’t about foundation-building and long-term thinking. This week Sean Miller needs to do all he can to win three games and get into the Dance.
Whatever it takes. Gimmicks. Tricks. Junk defenses. Hack-a-Boateng. You name it, it should be in play.
The best players get all the minutes they can handle this week. You can develop other players next week. Just win. No excuses. No distractions.
The streak is on life support. But it’s not dead yet.
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Nic Wise. Dominique “Niq” Wise. How often do you get four chances at a storybook ending on your senior day after playing for four coaches in four years?
Dribble it off your foot down one at the end of regulation. Miss two free throws up four with 49 seconds left (then your coach draws up the next in-bounds play to get someone else to the line). Miss a jumper at the end of the first overtime. But Niq got his rewrite and the fourth time was the charm for #13.
How does Kyle Fogg go from 0-for-9 against Oregon (and 28% from the field over a five game streatch) to raining seven threes on UCLA and making the most intense three free throws possible against USC? Let’s hope Kyle hasn’t used up his cool guy points.
Note to the McKale Center technical staff: Before next season you may want to adjust the scoreboard closed captioning so it no longer credits the occasional basket to “Bobo Jones.”
You have to bench Jamelle Horne for the UCLA game, don’t you? After floating around for nine rebounds in three games Horne sat for the opening tip last Thursday and responded with 16 boards over the weekend. Mind games should certainly be in play this week.
It took Kevin O’Neill 31 seconds to call his first timeout on Saturday. Ah, the memories.
So how much does KO hate the University of Arizona right now? He gets run out of town after being named Lute’s successor, then he takes over at USC after the UA has pillaged his recruiting class. In this game you had the shot clock violation (no way Fogg got that shot off), the three-point foul (hardly ever called), and the game-winner where Wise may or may not have travelled (I don’t think he did). The Tucson Visitors Bureau should probably cross O’Neill off the list of potential spokespeople.
The longest regular season in the past 25 years didn’t want to end but the postseason is finally here. How on earth are the Cats going to win the Pac-10 tournament? I’m glad you asked.
Arizona has been trailing at the half in each of its last six games (and the margin has been at least five every time).
If someone is Fogg-like from beyond the arc, so be it. But don’t launch up three after three while you wait for someone to get hot. Get into the lane and make things happen. Niq and MoMo – a.k.a. Wise and Otherwise – need to keep the pedal down.
Feed the big man.
Derrick Williams is our best offensive player. Give him the ball. I don’t care if they’re playing a zone. Move the ball, dribble-penetrate, and create lanes for #23 to get clean touches.
Big man, feed yourself.
Williams made 63% of his free throws in his first 12 games. It then jumped to 80% over his next 12 games, but now he’s back down to 57% over his past six games. I’ve never heard of a streak free-throw shooter, but it would help a lot to have the good streak come back.
Win on Thursday.
Just don’t lose to UCLA in the first round. Please? If Cal’s big three all hit their shots and you exit in round two, so be it. But don’t kill the 25-year tournament streak by losing to the worst UCLA team since Steve Lavin and his exercise bike were involved.
Bottom line, is it possible? In a word, yes. If you could hand-pick a year to try and steal the Pac-10’s automatic bid this is it. Six of the nine teams in the tournament are 16-14 or worse. This is the time to be thankful for conference mediocrity.
The Wildcats could have quit any number of times this year. But they didn’t. They could have been defeated in each of the past three games. But they weren’t. Now they might end the most impressive achievement in the history of UA athletics.
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.