Memo to fans of 'outclassed' Wildcats: Be patient

2009-12-29T00:00:00Z Memo to fans of 'outclassed' Wildcats: Be patient Opinion by Greg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 29, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Someone goofed up the pre-game protocol Monday night at McKale Center because BYU's starting lineup wasn't introduced. The Cougars weren't given a few moments for some polite applause or even some leftover boos from the WAC days.

So they introduced themselves, beat Arizona by 30, and had such a run of the place that in the quiet of the final five minutes you could plainly hear UA coach Sean Miller ask BYU's Jimmer Fredette to "just pass, no more shooting."

By then Miller was teasing, much the way BYU teased the Wildcats. Fredette had already scored 40-something on his way to a McKale and BYU record 49.

"I had 47 in a high school game once but didn't play the fourth quarter," Fredette said. On Monday, it seemed like he had 47 before halftime.

The missing opposition introductions probably broke an NCAA streak of forever. But at least BYU's initials were put on the scoreboard so we could be sure it wasn't, say, Lipscomb again.

For that matter, for the first time since - ever? - Arizona didn't have a pep band or any cheerleaders in the arena. Maybe the Wildcats were hoping they could say it was a practice game and not count it on the win-loss record.

It might have been the best strategy against the 13-1 Cougars and Fredette, who could probably beat anybody in a game of H-O-R-S-E, including former UA stars Salim Stoudamire and Steve Kerr.

But the day is coming, possibly as early as 2012, that it probably won't be possible for BYU to win at McKale. Once Miller gets his guys and settles in, once he has time to gather reinforcements, the Cougars won't likely be able to win here.

I don't care if BYU shows up with Kresimir Cosic, Dick Nemelka and that tall dude with red hair and freckles, Shawn Bradley, a non-conference visitor at McKale will soon face some serious hell.

Oops. Didn't mean to offend a team whose best player is named Jimmer.

But Monday night at McKale Center, the Cougars were so good and Arizona so bad that it occurred briefly that Fredette could beat the Wildcats by himself.

Remember those Stanford shooters, Todd Lichti and Casey Jacobsen, who broke the hearts of some top-10 Arizona teams? Fredette is in that class even though you've never heard of him and even though, shockingly, BYU is unranked.

"Because BYU isn't ranked," Miller said, "it gives no credibility to the rankings."

No one saw Monday's debacle coming more clearly than Miller. He said a week ago that BYU was "the best team we'll play this year." Now we know that he meant it.

The coach should be thankful there isn't a return game in Provo this year and that the Wildcats aren't in the Mountain West Conference, which appears to have three teams - BYU, UNLV and New Mexico - that could win the Pac-10.

The immediate dread following the Cougars' 99-69 victory is that Arizona won't break .500 this season and might not even qualify for, gulp, the NIT. The Wildcats are 6-6 and you've got to be on some mind-altering medication if you think Arizona is going to suddenly play like a veteran team and do anything close to 9-9 in the Pac-10.

In its current form, Arizona has one player, Nic Wise, who could start for BYU. But by the time the Cougars assumed a 39-16 lead in the first half, Wise was scoreless, and Fredette had already swished four three-point shots.

I couldn't exactly read Miller's lips during one of the three timeouts he called in the first 6:39, trailing 27-7, but it was probably something like "who's got Jimmer?"

Nobody had Jimmer; he had 24 at halftime. He would get better.

"They outclassed us tonight," said Miller. "That's how it feels."

This bottom-scraping moment (Arizona hasn't been at .500 entering conference play in 27 years) isn't the end of the basketball world. Miller's brother, UA assistant coach Archie Miller, was at the scene of a similar elite-team-gets-humbled moment at North Carolina's Dean Dome in January 2002 .

Archie scored 21 points for rival North Carolina State that night as the Wolfpack routed the Tar Heels 77-59. It was UNC's sixth straight loss, dropping it to 5-11 in the fallout of Dean Smith's retirement.

Three years later, the Tar Heels went 33-4 and won the national championship. Moral to the story: patience.

How's this for patience: at halftime Monday, Cameron Miller, Sean's son, swished a couple of long bombs to beat a handful of adults in an "Are you better than a fifth-grader" competition.

Cameron Miller is 10. Long before he is eligible to suit up for his dad, the Wildcats should have the power restored at McKale and be able to forget Jimmer Fredette.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Latest Hansen Video

More videos

Greg Hansen's Video Notebook

Arizona Daily Star sports editor Ryan Finley and sports columnist Greg Hansen discuss University of Arizona…



Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...

Video