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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Senior Day brings back memories

    Psychology senior Aleasha Brown wears a look of shock after the Arizona basketball teams loss to then-No. 4 UCLA. Arizonas seniors were honored following the game during the Wildcats annual Senior Day.
    Psychology senior Aleasha Brown wears a look of shock after the Arizona basketball team’s loss to then-No. 4 UCLA. Arizona’s seniors were honored following the game during the Wildcats’ annual Senior Day.

    Schwartz on Sports

    It would be impossible to know what was going through Jawann McClellan’s head during Senior Day festivities.

    He must have reflected on his four years and all the intense highs and lows, which have been revisited at length this week.

    Although nobody has meant as much to the Arizona basketball program or gone through as much as McClellan over the last four years, a whole host of senior fans cheered in the student section for the final time as a collegian played their last notes in the pep band or, in my case, wrote their last story from McKale Center for the Wildcats (well, unless – god forbid – they make the NIT).

    It’s been quite an interesting four years, with the enduring memory being the exhilarating Elite Eight run, where fans celebrated Salim Stoudamire’s game-winner against Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16 and watched in horror as Illinois came back from a 15-point deficit with four minutes to go in the Elite Eight.

    Back in my days of fandom before becoming the beat writer, I remember watching the game in agony with some friends in my dorm, one of whom immediately walked out of the room prophetically muttering the Wildcats would collapse when Deron Williams hit the first 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 12.

    By the time the collapse became official when Hassan Adams missed a jumper at the buzzer, the dorm went quiet and everybody was emotionally drained, but little did we know that would likely be our only chance to watch a Final Four run while in college, unless this year’s version makes an unexpected push.

    My senior class

    My senior class also got to watch some UA squads that set a number of low-water marks in the Lute Olson era, be it last year’s North Carolina disaster, UCLA Senior Day blowout or sweep at the hands of Washington State, or this year’s team.

    also got to watch some UA squads that set a number of low-water marks in the Lute Olson era, be it last year’s North Carolina disaster, UCLA Senior Day blowout or sweep at the hands of Washington State, or this year’s team starting 1-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference and losing more than seven conference games.

    But enough bad memories – Senior Day should be about all the good memories, so here’s my list of the top-five games played in McKale Center during the senior class’s four years at the school:

    The Salim game – Jan. 15, 2005 – Salim Stoudamire explodes for 24 of his 32 points in the second half, capped by hitting a game-winning 3-pointer – legend has it – from the cactus to beat UCLA in a game where the Wildcats trailed by as much as eight in the second half.

    Ironically, this could be called the game where the tide was turned; the Wildcats won later in the year in Los Angeles, the Bruins have since won seven in a row against Arizona.

    Revenge on Washington – Jan. 27, 2005 – After losing all three meetings with the Huskies the year before, the Wildcats bounced back with a 91-82 win on their way to a 15-1 home record. Arizona went on to beat out Washington for the Pac-10 title that year.

    The A&M comeback – Dec. 2, 2007 – Things looked bleak for Arizona trailing by 20 in the first half, but Jerryd Bayless scored 26 points to lead the comeback victory over the nation’s No. 9 team at the time.

    The Washington State blowout – Jan. 24, 2008 – The Wildcats played arguably their best game of the year and led by as much as 19 in a 76-64 win over then-No. 6 Washington State.

    Hassan’s dunk game – Dec. 11, 2004 – You’ve got to be a dedicated fan to remember this one, as students filed in just before its early 11 a.m. tipoff. An eventual 29-6 Utah team led much of the contest, but Hassan Adams’ follow dunk with 37 seconds left put Arizona up four and ahead for good.

    The big games in McKale have left UA fans mostly in heartbreak in recent years.

    After all, the Wildcats have lost their last three Senior Day games, including close calls two years ago against a very good Washington team led by Brandon Roy and Sunday’s game against the then-No. 4 Bruins, and most of the big games have gone the other way.

    But still in the stands, on the court or on press row, seniors have enjoyed their share of good basketball memories in McKale.

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