Armed with boxes of free pizza and a microphone, Arizona coach Sean Miller implored about 300 Zona Zoo members to help the Wildcats win games - now and in the future.
"You are the heartbeat of the arena," Miller said. "The louder, more organized, and the more energy the Zona Zoo has, the rest of the arena will follow. Over Christmas, you could tell that you weren't here."
But it isn't just other McKale Center fans who can be impacted by the students, who should be in full force this weekend with school back in session, the way Miller spoke. It's also about guys like highly regarded high school standout Angelo Chol, who may watch tonight's game from home in San Diego. He will be on hand for Saturday's UA-USC game on a recruiting visit.
"The entire nation forms an opinion of what it's like to play basketball at Arizona when they're watching," Miller said. "Some of the people watching are the people we're recruiting the hardest, their parents and their coaches. … Let's kind of finish off these next four to six weeks in a way that will lead to future success, so people who watch say, 'That place is crazy. Did you see their student section?' "
After a 10-minute speech, Miller, his managers and UA cheerleaders ran through some organized chants, such as "Boink, boink, boink, pass," when an opponent dribbles the ball and "brick" when an opponent shoots it.
Miller also told the students that the Wildcats played before two particularly rowdy student sections last weekend at Washington and Washington State. UA forward Jamelle Horne said the Huskies have "by far" the best student section in the league, while Washington State isn't far behind.
No doubt Miller wants the Zona Zoo up there, too.
"At Washington State, their student section was half the building," Miller told the UA students. "They were loud and they were organized. When UCLA and USC come here, I hope you guys will do the same thing for us."