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Commentary: '04 already 'what could have been'


By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
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When the 2003-2004 sports season wound down this year, most Wildcats fans had to search far and wide to find a successful sports story.

Football? Softball? Women's basketball? The always-dependable men's basketball team?

Hell no, let's not even talk about it, ehhh and blah, respectively.

Wildcat football suffered its worst season off the field in a number of years.

The softball team was ranked No. 1 throughout the entire season before bowing out in the NCAA Regionals, losing to a rather mediocre Sooner team from Oklahoma.

The Arizona women's basketball team had arguably the most successful season ever, but for the second straight year lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. As for the men's basketball team, well, let's just say a 6-year-old with a couple of test tubes and a Bunsen burner had more chemistry than that group of talented basketball players.

Putting the Arizona baseball team (the Wildcats made their first College World Series in 18 years) aside, last year could be summed up in one word - disappointment.

For 2004-2005, are we headed for another diminishing blow in athletics?

In May, are we all going to look back and simply sigh, "What could have been?"

With total respect to head coach Mike Stoops and his entire coaching staff, nobody expected much from this year's football team.

In a Hollywood twist, director Stoops decided he'd draw his audience in for the suspenseful tearjerker.

After a mediocre first half against Northern Arizona, the team came out firing and walked away 1-0, with a record equal to that of Southern California, Louisiana State and Oklahoma.

Then came No. 17 Utah, the rising action of our documentary.

The refs forgot to tell anyone in Arizona Stadium, but for laughs they dipped the game balls in WD-40 before the game and nobody could hold onto the ball.

Four fumbles later and Arizona is 1-1.

When the climax came to an end, the Wildcats were 1-2 and wondering how they lost to a Wisconsin team they beat nearly across the board.

For last weekend's loss to Washington State, I only hope our running backs are sleeping with the football this week, never letting that thing leave their hands.

What could have been?

What sport is going to save Wildcat athletics this year?

Is men's basketball going to be the team that keeps UA fans hopeful come late March?

It sure would have a better chance if now-Philadelphia 76er Andre Iguodala had stayed around with buddy Hassan Adams for his junior season.

With Iguodala on the roster with the likes of freshmen Jawann McClellan, Daniel Dillon and Mohamed Tangara, Arizona would rival the 2001 Final Four team as one of the most talented ever to run the floors of Lute and Bobbi Olson Court.

Don't think I'm being pessimistic, this team has the talent and finally the depth (thank God) to go all the way, but it wouldn't be bad to have Andre and Hassan jumping through each other on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" as the No. 1 team in the nation.

Women's golf could have helped reinvigorate the UA sports scene.

But this summer, Erica Blasberg decided to turn professional, forgoing her final two years in the sunny desert of Tucson.

With the hole it left the women's golf team, Arizona could have used Blasberg's scholarship for another recruit, but anybody who could make an impact had already signed with another school. Sun Devil Louise Stahle is included among those who were already decided.

The sad part is that Stahle was very interested in the program head coach Greg Allen was running in Tucson.

But no scholarship space led the Swedish sensation, who finished second in her first tournament, to opt for that other university up the interstate.

What about women's basketball, soccer, or softball? We'll see.

Wildcat Nation is going through a slump right now,

looking for some sport to step up.

The only question that can be asked: Does anybody have a Gymcats schedule?

- Shane Bacon is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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