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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Lance Madden, basketball writer 2007-2009”

     Closing schools in Tucson because of snow is never a consideration. National championships, however, create a different topic of discussion.

    When I was in third grade and the UA men’s basketball team made an improbable NCAA Tournament run, the entire city rallied to the occasion. Every street corner, it seemed, housed a pop-up tent where red Final Four T-shirts could be purchased. Grocery stores set up shirt-and-cap stands that practically slapped you in the face when you walked through the sliding-glass doors, and cashiers listened to games on portable radios.

    UA basketball consumed the city.

    Then it happened.

    Arizona made it to the national championship game, and in dramatic fashion upset No. 1-seed Kentucky.

    When the Wildcats came back from Indianapolis, there was a reception at Arizona Stadium and a parade. Everything that was televised—most of it was—kept Tucson residents’ full attention. It sure had a hold of all of the teachers at my elementary school.

    Several teachers brought their respective groups of students into a classroom and we watched the parade and clips from the championship game on a relatively small TV in the corner of the classroom.

    Reading and writing and arithmetic took a backseat to beating and fighting all odds. I still remember seeing MVP Miles Simon waving to the crowd on a sunny afternoon, and the ear-to-ear grin from Lute Olson, with Bobbi right by his side, mirroring her would-be Hall-of-Fame husband’s emotions.

    That was my first real memory of the UA men’s basketball team, though I was born and raised in Tucson and Olson coached the Wildcats for my entire lifetime up until the first season I covered the program for the Daily Wildcat.

    On Thursday afternoon I felt an odd sort of déjà vu, with a twist. I found myself on campus, sitting on a green couch with two Daily Wildcat sports reporters in our newsroom watching the Wildcats fall prey to UCLA in the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament on a relatively small TV in the corner.

    But this time there were no ear-to-ear smiles, no Lute Olson, and Miles Simon was dressed in a pinstriped suit, serving as a color commentator for Fox Sports.

    School certainly won’t be cancelled for this.

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