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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Burning bandwagon?

If I’m trying to get people’s gut reaction on any issue from pop culture to Arizona basketball, I can always count on Twitter.

So after two surprisingly mediocre losses this weekend, the reaction to the Wildcats fell into two categories. Some fans thought No. 18 Arizona’s slip-ups were an anomaly and last week’s No. 10 ranking was a true mark of the Wildcats’ achievements.

“”@WildcatHoops … Were not over rated we had a couple bad games thats it!”” @TaylorRose14 tweeted at us during UCLA game.

Others left the weekend thinking the Wildcats are in big trouble.

“”@WildcatHoops Right now, I don’t see the Cats winning the PAC. UCLA peakin at right time,”” @thebellows wrote afterward.

Neither of these are the reality. The truth lies somewhere in between.

The Wildcats control their own destiny, one that if you take a step back and look at in perspective, shouldn’t cause you to hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband because Arizona is losing to everybody out here.

Arizona’s reality, as it was during the preseason, is a young team with a young star. The Wildcats will make the best of it.

In a Pacific 10 Conference dry of talent, or at least national respect, the Wildcats needed to run off a strong winning streak to even be considered for an NCAA Tournament berth, thanks to a weak schedule.

Check.

They’d need to win close to 75 percent of their conference games and reach the 25-win mark to do so, tasks that former head coach Lute Olson didn’t accomplish during three of his last four seasons in Tucson.

Almost check.

At 12-4 in the Pac-10 and holding strong with a No. 19 overall RPI, the Wildcats are still ahead of expectations. They can even afford dropping two in a row now, all thanks to the previous eight-game winning streak.

It shouldn’t be surprising, either.

Head coach Sean Miller said he saw a storm brewing in the Wildcats’ defensive execution well before Thursday. Youth means inconsistency, and while winning has made it appear as though UA is consistent, there’s still a ways to go.

This team can drop a close game to a troubled Oregon State squad or against current-No. 2 Kansas. The Wildcats can also get blasted by an unranked Washington or No. 3 BYU.

Sure, the way Southern California and UCLA manhandled Arizona in the paint this weekend wasn’t a good sign at all — steps backward never are.

But in the process of a growing young team, it was silly to think the streaking Wildcats, with three former USC commits and a number of Los Angeles-area members, would be “”Going Back To Cali”” without an ego the size of The Notorious B.I.G.

Human nature allowed success to catch up with a team who has no player with significant NCAA Tournament experience on the roster. No matter what Miller said, there was no way to stop the Wildcats’ heads from swelling like balloons and drifting high enough for the atmospheric pressure of the top 10 to pop them.

Well, nothing other than losing. Back down to Earth they go.

Though his coach said no loss is a good thing, forward Kevin Parrom said losing to USC might be a good thing, hinting the Wildcats needed to face some adversity before the postseason.

It’s not so bad though. Last time I checked, McKale Center is back, and against an Oregon Duck team that has found a groove and an Oregon State squad with nothing to lose, the Wildcats have two games left. In both, they have everything to lose, and, who knows, a little pressure might help them refocus.

Being among the last group of reporters to leave the old Pauley Pavilion Saturday, I tweeted a photo of the empty arena to my personal Twitter account.

“”Did they clean the Arizona bodies off the floor?”” replied @StatFreak101.

In fact, they did.

— Kevin Zimmerman is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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