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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Michael Schwartz, basketball writer 2005-2008”

     As the UA basketball dynasty crumbled toward mediocrity during my years as a Daily Wildcat hoops writer, there was always The Streak.

    Barring a miracle in the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, those days are over.

    My earliest memory of The Streak as a UA student came during the 2005 run to the Final Four and the Illinois game. Salim Stoudamire’s shot to beat Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16 had so many freshmen celebrating outside the dorms that I thought someone pulled the fire alarm.

    I will never forget the Illinois game: four minutes from the Final Four with a 15-point lead only to see Deron Williams and the Illini come storming back to win in as heart-wrenching of a way possible.

    That night there was a sickening chill over campus, but I thought to myself that I’m only a freshman, there will be much more NCAA Tournament magic to celebrate.

    Little did I know the Wildcats would only win one more measly tourney game (against mediocre Wisconsin in 2006) during the rest of my academic career. Hell, I covered twice as many Purdue NCAA Tournament games during my two years as UA beat writer because the Boilermakers played in the same city as UA in 2007 and 2008 and won both their games.

    The 2007 squad did not want it was much as Carl Landry and a group of hungry Boilermakers, bowing out without much of a fight in what turned out to be Lute Olson’s last game. Watching that disheartening loss play out, I never thought that could be it for the Silver Fox.

    The 2008 squad featured three future pros (Jerryd Bayless, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill) as well as Nic Wise and solid senior Jawann McClellan. They played through the season from Hell with Olson’s leave of absence and Kevin O’Neill’s insistence on zone defense and set plays on offense, not to mention 3 a.m. runs as punishment.

    That team showed flashes and obviously had all the talent in the world, but they never could put it together. As the curtain dropped on their season, they just looked too worn down from a year nobody signed up for to make a dent in the tourney. In a sense, they seemed relieved for it to be over.

    The Streak was something to be proud of during these past few years even when Arizona wasn’t exactly Arizona. If this really is it, we should remember all the good times over this past quarter century and look forward to what promises to be another winning quarter century of Arizona basketball.

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