Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Arizona Wildcats came to play ‘for Tucson’ after Giffords shooting

CREDIT: TucsonCitizen.com
CAPTION: Sean Miller starts his postgame interview by addresing the Tucson shooting.

The Arizona Wildcats wore black ribbons on their jerseys. They observed a moment of silence before Sunday’s game against Stanford.

It was just a basketball game.

But it was a basketball game that Arizona played, in part, to lift the spirits — if only in a fleeting way — of the community, which has made Arizona basketball the area’s No. 1 diversion for a quarter century.

The Wildcats beat Stanford 67-57 in front of a season-high crowd of 14,374 at McKale Center.

“We came here to play hard today and, in a sense, play for Tucson,” coach Sean Miller said.

“Thank you to the crowd and our great fans for being here in full force, and hopefully we reciprocated in some form or fashion by getting a hard-earned win today.”

The game has been scheduled for Saturday, but officials from both schools agreed to postpone the game after the shooting in Tucson on Saturday morning that critically injured U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six.

“We all understand,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said of the postponement.

“That’s way more important than what we do. We could have postponed it to the next day or whenever they wanted; we just wanted to make sure we respected the process of what happened and the people who lost their lives and family members.”

Miller said he met with team Saturday to try to “paint the picture of the reality of what happened.”

Part of that reality for them was to play Sunday.

“Our players love our fans and they love playing here at McKale, more than you realize,” Miller said.

“Honoring the people that support them was very easy for all us of acknowledge. We wanted to beat Stanford and, sure, there was a backdrop that we wanted to play and allow everyone to feel good about what they saw for just a brief moment.

“I think we were in line with everyone in Tucson that our priorities and our thoughts are with the people who really need our thoughts right now.”

Sophomore forward Solomon Hill was asked if he felt the crowd was looking for a lift.

“I really do think that,” he said.

“It was about coming out and playing hard and giving the fans something to get up and clap for. It would have been terrible if we had lost today.”

Search site | Terms of service