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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Top stories of 2009-10

The Streak is over

It lasted only a quarter century.

It was the second-longest streak in NCAA men’s basketball history. The Arizona Wildcats didn’t miss the NCAA Tournament for 25 years, all but two years of which came under the leadership of Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson.

With first-year head coach Sean Miller asked to rebuild a team suffering from a lack of recruiting over two previous tumultuous seasons, the quest to reach the tournament ended with a Pacific 10 Conference Tournament loss to UCLA.

With five freshmen forced to play significant roles, the Wildcats went through a rollercoaster of a year, winning in last-minute buzzer beaters and losing in equally painful ways.

The final game put Arizona’s record at 16-15 and 10-8 in the conference, etching Olson’s legacy in cement and marking the beginning of the Miller era.

— Kevin Zimmerman

 

GameDay Weekend

For at least one day the Arizona football team was at the center of the college football world. With Old Main in the backdrop, hundreds of UA students packed the UA Mall starting as early as Friday night while ESPN did its thing on stage. GameDay anchor Lee Corso put on the Oregon Duck head and although he was right, the Wildcats and the

then-No. 11 Ducks duked it out for one of the most exciting games of the season. Oregon won 44-41 in double overtime. 

—Tim Kosch

 

Holiday Bowl disappointment

The stage was set for the Wildcats: a second-place finish in the Pacific 10 Conference and a second straight bowl appearance for an up-and-coming team that was starting to catch national attention. That is until they ran into Ndamukong Suh and a Nebraska defense that suddenly resembled the 1985 Chicago Bears. Arizona couldn’t get anything going on either side of the ball and left a bad taste at the end of an otherwise impressive season.

—Tim Kosch

 

Sean Miller’s first year

Stability finally yielded some traction to the Arizona men’s basketball program.

Sean Miller’s first year in Tucson brought eight players in a 12-month period. Two seasons of interim coaches and uncertainty finally came to an end when the ex-Xavier coach inked a five-year deal worth $2 million annually.

While Miller never set high expectations from the get-go — but rather, reiterated the realistic odds at missing the NCAA Tournament — certainly his second year at the helm will become the first benchmark of success.

— Bryan Roy

 

Byrne replaces Livengood as AD

In a surprising move, 16-year Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood skipped town, taking control of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ athletic department.

UA President Robert Shelton announced during a Dec. 17, 2009 press conference that associate athletic director Kathleen “”Rocky”” LaRose would move into the vacant position until a replacement was found, keying on keeping up with Vision Arizona, the facilities expansion project.

That replacement came in the form of 38-year-old ASU graduate Greg Byrne, who held the athletic director position at Mississippi State University and took the reins in May 2010.

— Kevin Zimmerman

 

Freshmen play key role in new era

Arizona basketball head coach Sean Miller’s first season was an obvious rebuilding stage in the program, and with a rebuilding stage comes a youth movement. Miller and his coaching staff signed five strong recruits: Derrick Williams, Kevin Parrom, Momo Jones, Solomon Hill and Kyryl Natyazhko. The freshmen brought fans electrifying dunks, buzzer beaters and “”No Easy Buckets.”” Though this freshman class will carry the burden of not making the tournament for the first time in 25 years, they showed signs that Arizona could have something special for the future. Led by Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Williams, this class could bring future success that will make Arizona fans forget the end of the streak.

— Vincent Balistreri

 

The emergence of Nick Foles

The biggest storyline entering the 2009 season was the quarterback competition between Nick Foles and Matt Scott. Scott, a highly touted recruit who was expected to take the baton from Willie Tuitama, won the battle at first but struggled in his three starts. Enter Nick Foles. The transfer from Michigan State won his first start at Oregon State and the rest was history. He finished the season with 19 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 125.56.

— Tim Kosch

 

Norovirus halts swim team

The men’s swim had been dominating all season long and they looked to be the frontrunner for the national championship. Then they were taken down for the first time all season by the norovirus just two days before the NCAAs were set to begin. Nine of the 18 men’s swimmers were hospitalized by the virus. Despite the long odds facing them, the Wildcats rallied together to produce two individual national championships and place third overall as a team. “”I couldn’t be more proud of this team,”” said coach Frank Busch. “”This is one of the greatest performances in the history of this program.””

— Derek Lawrence

 

Gronkowksi misses season, goes to NFL anyway

When four-star tight end high school prospect Rob Gronkowski committed to Arizona it was considered a major victory for Mike Stoops and the UA football program. After just his sophomore year he was already the Wildcats’ career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for a tight end. Gronkowski’s junior year was supposed to be a finishing touch on a prolific career, but it didn’t go quite as planned. Gronkowski injured his back in the offseason and never played a down in 2009. He decided to declare for the NFL Draft anyway and was chosen by the New England Patriots in the second round.

— Tim Kosch

 

Soccer coach leaves

After eight seasons at the helm of Arizona women’s soccer, former head coach Dan Tobias stepped down on October 12, 2009, amidst the departure of nine players from the program.

“”It is with great sadness that for personal reasons I am stepping down from the head coach position,”” Tobias said.

The nine departures took place between the 2008-09 season. 

Tobias earned the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award in addition to leading the Wildcats to a 2004 conference championship. 

After the success of his first two seasons, however, Tobais’ record at Arizona fell to 26-43-3. 

— Nicole Dimtsios

 

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