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The wide world of UA sports

Shane Bacon
staff writer
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday April 30, 2003

It's been quite a tango this year.

Arizona had a football team that looked like it might as well be playing hopscotch instead of pigskin, a basketball team that was near-perfect at times and near-disastrous at others, and a women's basketball player who towered over the competition.

We saw a Wildcat making a move on the board at Augusta, a football player with so much pot in his car he would make Cheech step back, and a graduate student play Navratilova-like at times on the tennis court.

Freshman volleyball star Kim Glass earned All-American honors, quarterback Jason Johnson impressed pro scouts, and ballers Jason, Ricky and Luke ÷ a trio who doesn't need last names to be understood by Wildcat faithfuls ÷ left a mark on the hearts of Arizona fans they won't soon forget. To hell with the fact they didn't win it all.

Man (or woman in case Martha Burk picks up her Daily Wildcat), what a year to look back on.

Some seniors will be walking across the stage thinking about what might have been, while we freshmen are still confused at what that damn music is that plays at noon every day.

Looking back, what was the best sports story that our campus was graced with?

Well the best game, for lack of television coverage, would arguably be between the Arizona-Washington State football game ÷ when it looked like the Wildcats would grab their first Pac-10 win over quarterback Jason Gesser and that pesky Cougar offense ÷ and the second-round game between Arizona and Gonzaga that seemed like it would never end.

The game gave our brackets hope, and let tournament buffs like myself card the win under the "luck" category as all NCAA champions have to have to get through that disgustingly long Final Four road.

The best individual performance would have a lot of players thrown in the mix.

Bobby Wade was the only reason students cashed in their football tickets to go see a game, and seemed like the only person on the field that really wanted to win (and it didn't hurt that the Steel Curtain couldn't have tackled this guy in a trash can).

Shawntinice Polk, the first of a list of freshmen at UA who have climbed mountains this year, is the most decorated first-year player this program has ever seen. Polk was named Honorable Mention All-American and looked to take Arizona deep into the tournament before a disappointing first-round loss.

Glass led her volleyball team to a familiar place again this year as she bumped, set and spiked the Wildcats to the Elite Eight for the third straight year. Glass was also the first player in the history of Arizona to receive Freshman of the Year honors.

Erica Blasberg, Glass' roommate, has done more than make a name for herself in college golf. The top-ranked player in the nation has followed in the footsteps of players like Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as the latest great freshman to walk the fairways of Arizona National. Blasberg has finished top 10 six out of seven tournaments, along with two wins. Not only has she topped college golfers, but in her first LPGA event, Blasberg scorched the field with a 64 in the second round, and let people know that another Wildcat will be a force to be reckoned with when she decides to leave Tucson.

Want another golfer that has made noise this year? Senior Ricky Barnes has accomplished more away from school than when he has wearing the "A" on his sleeve. Barnes won the U.S. Amateur championship and has finished in the top 21 in both of his PGA tour starts, one being at the Masters, where he had his name in the top two of the leader board after the second day.

So what about the basketball players? Well, where do you start? Jason Gardner had a year to remember, leading the team when fellow senior Luke Walton was hurt, and helping bring the diverse group together with his court authority and senior leadership (not to mention one helluva jump shot).

Walton was the afterburner of the team, playing his best at the end of the year, and having one of the only half-decent games of anyone during the loss to Kansas.

So with that, let the year run down. Let the seniors graduate and the new kids come in so they can do this all over again, and hopefully do it better than the year before, because like my uncle always said, better is the only way to do it.

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