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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball has returned

You chose a school that calls itself — still calls? once called? — Point Guard U, but what did you have to show for it before this weekend? A Facebook photo album from the pre-game? A few rally towels dabbed by nacho cheese dip?

All you ever hear about was how it used to be here:

There used to be All-Americans and double-digit domination.

It used to be loud in McKale Center.

Good used to be “”Arizona good.””

Aside from a few flash-in-the-pan wins against top-10 teams, there was little sustained success and a lot of the Cardiac Cats grinding out way-too-close wins against far inferior opponents like NAU.

So when I asked our Twitter followers if students should rush the court for the Pacific 10 Conference title, the overwhelming backlash caught us by surprise:

“”Nope, gotta act like we have some tradition which Arizona does,”” someone wrote.

The emphasis had been on act like we have some tradition. The ZonaZoo era of students have certainly respected Arizona’s tradition, but it’s not easy when today’s UA seniors never saw Lute Olson coach a single game.

Still, you insisted the program never left. This season’s rallying campaign wanted to change perception through a few T-shirts and — as everyone does in 2011 — a hashtag: #weNEVERleft.

The players use it, fans used it and students used it — although as a student, did you know what it really meant?

Because if you didn’t, now you do. Finally.

Arizona is back atop the Pac-10 as league champions and you didn’t have to piss off generations of fans by rushing the court to celebrate, either.

The team came rushing to you in the ZonaZoo. After the Wildcats and Ducks shook hands, Momo Jones had the idea of dragging the team up and down the student section.  

You high-fived, hugged and cheered in the mob that looked like 15 rockstars had just captured it all. Head coach Sean Miller just stood there and watched the entire time, soaking in the scene with a smile.

“”You really learn to cherish when these moments happen,”” Miller said. “”There’s no guarantee they (will) happen (again)anytime soon.””

The celebration in McKale Center felt as special as any celebration in the past four years — even topping the 2009 magical run to the Sweet 16. (“”Sure that was fun, but who’s going to coach next season?””)

For the first time, there were no uncertainties, what-ifs or doubts in anybody’s mind that Miller has exceeded all expectations and will continue that trend for years ahead.

Stability felt like it never left.

“”It’s the reason why I came here,”” Derrick Williams said. “”That’s the reason we all came here.””

So take the league title for what it’s worth: a reason to buy a new “”league champions”” T-shirt and build hype surrounding the rise of a program — because it’s a milestone, not a final destination.

Especially for a school that calls itself Point Guard U.

— Bryan Roy is an interdisciplinary studies senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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