Defining Moment

February 19, 2007

(USC 80, at UA 75)
(UCLA 81, at UA 66)


For the Wildcats it was a game of solid team play, clutch individual performances and an upset win over a ranked opponent.

That's right, it's baseball season!

The 2007 Bat Cats hit the road for the first time to take on Cal Sate Fullerton. You might remember the Titans (sorry) as the perennial top ten team that swept us in Tucson last season. To make matters worse we were facing the reigning national player of the year in the opener.

Arizona sophomore pitcher Preston Guilmet responded by shutting down CSF and allowing only a single unearned run in 7 2/3 innings of work. Add big hits by three Wildcat freshmen and you had an impressive 2-1 UA victory.

Yeah, we gave up nine runs in each of the next two games and ended up losing the series, but getting that first win was an improvement over last year and should give our young team something to build on.

The baseballers travel to UNLV this week, just in case you were looking for an excuse to spend a weekend in Vegas.

(Please don't make me talk about that other sport. Please? OK, fine. Jerks.)

January 27 was the worst home loss in Lute's Arizona career. February 10 was our best road win of the year to cap a three-game winning streak. February 17 was the second worst home loss in Lute's Arizona career.

in-con-sist-ent adj. Self-contradictory. Acting in variance with professed principles. The 2007 Arizona Men's Basketball Team.

The sweep of the Oregon Trail put us in position for a better seed. Now we're just hoping to get a seed. Everything that was gained in that three-point victory is long gone. From a confidence standpoint we may even be worse off than we were two weeks ago.

schiz-o-phre-ni-a n. A severe mental disorder characterized by intellectual deterioration, disorganized behavior, and delusions. The inability to perform fundamental tasks in consecutive basketball games.

There's not much to say about the UCLA game. Collison owns Shakur. They have (far) more clutch players than we do. They just don't lose any more, especially to us. Five in a row and counting.

It was the USC game that led to the throwing of many things. We had a 2-to-1 rebounding advantage in the first half, and were only up by three. We made our eighth three-point shot late in the second half, and only led by four. We shot 50% from the floor at home, and lost.

How do you commit 16 turnovers in your own building this late in the season? How does your senior point guard fail to execute a simple post-entry pass in a four-point game with less than two minutes to play? How can you look so bad at home when you looked so good on the road just five days earlier?

Marcus Williams leads the team with a scoring average of 17 points a game. Chase Budinger is second at 16 points per game. The problem is we can't seem to get the two of them to hit their average in the same game.

Against Oregon State Marcus had 23 points while Chase only scored four (and wasn't even on the floor at the end of the game). Versus Oregon Chase shoots 57% from the field but Marcus only shoots 40%. In the USC game it was Chase's turn to shoot 40% but Marcus out-stunk him with the seven turnovers. I guess that's what happens when you start two guys who play the same position.

As far as the upperclassmen, it's hard to believe Shakur and Radenovic's senior team is worse than the one they played on as freshmen in 2004. Remember how disjointed that team was, losing back-to-back Pac-10 games three different times? Remember watching Washington beat us three times in the same season? Remember the feeling of dread heading into the NCAA tournament before the unsurprising collapse in the first round?

Well, the 2004 squad never lost three games in row, the last two Washington losses were by a combined ten points, and they only lost two games at home. This year's team only lost two games at home…last week.

We keep hearing about all these ugly things that haven't happened since Lute's first year here in 1984. Well, that may have been Lute's only team to finish with a losing record in conference play (and overall), but the '84 Cats still finished in a tie for fifth place in the Pac-10. Olson's Wildcats have never finished lower than that. If you look at the loss column, this year's team is one game away from eighth.

I know it's good we had the long winning streak otherwise we'd be way out of the tournament picture. But part of me wishes this team had not gotten our hopes up. I wish they would have issued a statement saying, "Do not believe the hype. We will not be improving over the course of the year. We have no intention of trying on defense. Every time you start to think we have things figured out we will stun you with a new level of inadequacy. The plan is to do just enough to keep the March Madness streak alive, and then get to our summer vacation as soon as possible. See you next year."

The problem is we may be just one more untimely loss from not even keeping the streak alive. We do not want to be asking for favors as a 9-9 Pac-10 team. We do not want to be burning that eighth conference loss before the Stanford game on March third. We have to win these next two games.

And if you think this might finally motivate our sleepwalking squad, imagine how fired up our next hosts are going to be. ASU is on a longer winning streak than we are. They'll be playing in front of their only home sellout of the year. And on top of that they now have a legitimate chance to ruin our season.

Maybe the eight days between games will help. Maybe it'll be enough time to find some pride. Or maybe it'll be the last eight days before Armageddon.

But there is good news. The baseball team plays again on Friday.



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