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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona athletics from A to Z

    Air Zona – the nickname for the Wildcats’ passing attack, implemented by UA football offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. Quarterback Willie Tuitama excelled with the new offensive spread, averaging 309 passing yards per game last season.

    Bear Down – the official UA motto that served as an inspiration for the UA fight song, “”Bear Down, Arizona!”” John “”Button”” Salmon made the battle cry popular in 1926, when the football quarterback and student body president told his team to “”bear down”” from a hospital. It was his last message before dying of a severe spinal cord injury following an automobile accident.

    Chase Budinger – the junior forward opted to return as a Wildcat after testing the NBA Draft waters. After debuting as the Pacific 10 Conference Freshman of the Year, Budinger averaged 17.1 points per game in his sophomore campaign. He will provide upperclassman leadership with teammates Nic Wise and Jordan Hill in the 2008-09 season.

    Dave Rubio – the volleyball head coach, who brought the Wildcats to 10 straight NCAA tournaments before 2006. Rubio, who has made five Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights and one Final Four, looks to get back to the tournament after missing the last two NCAA tournaments after having done so 10 consecutive years prior.

    Eight National Championships – UA softball head coach Mike Candrea has led the Wildcats to a school-best eight national championships during his 22-year tenure in Tucson. Most recently, Candrea coached Arizona to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007.

    Frank Busch – put swimming and diving on the map in Tucson. Most recently, Busch’s teams won both men’s and women’s swimming national championships during the 2007-08 season. Both teams captured their first NCAA titles after finishing second and third in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

    Gronkowski, Rob – the true freshman scored six touchdowns and hauled in 28 passes for 525 yards last season. The tight end looks promising as a prominent offensive starter this upcoming season.

    Hot Corner – the nation’s best college baseball student section resides in Tucson. Beginning in 2003, the Hot Corner now consists of about 50 rowdy students at each home baseball game in sections 12, 13 and 14. Their motto, “”Swimming in your dome,”” reflects their immense heckling abilities during the baseball season.

    Injuries – The women’s basketball team endured an overwhelming amount of injuries last season – the Wildcats finished a tumultuous season with 10-20 record, the teams’ third straight year finishing below .500. Head coach of 17 years Joan Bonvicini was fired on March 24 and replaced by former Kentucky assistant Niya Butts.

    Jordan Hill – rounds out a trio of juniors with Budinger and Nic Wise to begin the 2008-09 men’s basketball season. Hill, in only his fourth year of playing organized basketball, led the Wildcats’ big men with 13.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season. This year, Hill will pair up with incoming freshman Jeff Withey to create one of the Pac-10’s best front lines.

    King, London – One of only four seniors on this year’s Arizona soccer team, King started 15 games last season and led the team in goals with four and shots with 21. A 2007 Pac-10 Honorable Mention player, King will be a veteran leader of a young 2008 Arizona squad.

    Lopez, Andy – The skipper of the baseball team and one of only three coaches in NCAA Division I history to lead three separate teams – Florida, Pepperdine and Arizona – to the College World Series. Lopez led the Wildcats to the Super Regionals last season and saw two of his pitchers drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

    McKale Center – Named after J.F. “”Pop”” McKale, the most prominent figure in Arizona athletics from 1914 to 1957. The venue opened in 1973, and hosts basketball, volleyball and gymnastics events. With a capacity of 14,545 spectators, it’s the largest men’s basketball arena in the Pacific 10 Conference in terms of capacity. Kanye West seemed to like it, too.

    Niya Butts – The new head coach of the women’s basketball team, expected to turn around the struggling program, which has not seen a winning record in three years. The Georgia native comes to Arizona with an impressive background, including being a player on a pair of Tennessee National Championship teams under head coach Pat Summitt.

    Olson, Lute – The legendary men’s basketball coach who is not only the face of Arizona Athletics but of Tucson as well. Nicknamed the Silver Fox, Olson is coming off a yearlong break during which he dealt with personal issues, but looks to lead Arizona to its NCAA-leading 25th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

    Palmer, Ronnie – A key leader of the Arizona defense on this year’s football team from the middle linebacker position. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior started every game last season and recorded 83 tackles while also collecting one fumble. Keep an eye out for No. 33 to have a big year.

    Quick – This word can only mean one thing: Arizona swimming. Last season the Wildcats blazed through the water en route to both the men’s and women’s national championships. With the program losing only 10 swimmers total, Arizona should be in the mix yet again in 2009. Also look for 13 current or former Wildcats in the Olympics beginning Aug. 8.

    Rita Hillenbrand – Hillenbrand Stadium is the home of Arizona softball and therefore the home to eight national championship banners that adorn the outfield wall. The stadium first opened in 1993 and has made winning a tradition, thanks in large part to head coach Mike Candrea. The left field bleachers are typically where Zona Zoo calls home.

    Stoffel, Jason – When ACDC’s Hells Bells can be heard, it’s all over because this Arizona baseball closer is lights out. The junior recorded a Pac-10-leading 13 saves in 2008. Due to a potential pitching shortage, however, Stoffel could be looking at a possible starting role in 2009. Either way, the draft looms close for this Arizona pitcher.

    Tuitama, Willie – No. 7 and the starting quarterback for Arizona this fall. The senior made his impression as a freshman with a 52-14 upset win on Homecoming over No. 7 UCLA. He’s been placed on the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Award watch lists for the 2008 season, but his biggest task is to lead Arizona to its first bowl game since 1998.

    Underachieve – 2007-08 was an uncharacteristic year for Arizona sports, as many of the Wildcats’ normally powerful programs struggled. The most painful part of the year for many Arizona fans was watching ASU defeat the Wildcats at least once in every sport, aside from swimming and gymnastics. But don’t expect more of that this year, as those losses will surely motivate these Wildcat athletes.

    Valenzuela, Raphael – This early season pinch-hit threat earned himself a starting job throughout the baseball team’s postseason Super Regional run in 2007 as a freshman. The left fielder should be a future staple on a youthful Wildcats team which saw eight freshmen put to use last season.

    Wise, Nic – Small, yet powerful. This Arizona basketball junior has a big responsibility this year as the Wildcats’ leading point guard after star recruit Brandon Jennings chose to bypass Arizona for Europe. Wise held the duties last season when since-drafted Jerryd Bayless was injured and averaged 9.2 points per game, along with 4.4 assists.

    Xiong, Xuehan?– Say that name 10 times fast (or how about once). Pronounced Shree-hung Zhung, the Arizona sprinter is not only impressive on the track, but also in the classroom. The senior was named an ESPN Magazine First Team Academic All- American in June after maintaining a 4.0 GPA in computer sciences through his junior year.

    Youth – After graduating only three players from last year and with only six seniors on the squad this year, the Arizona soccer team will be anchored by eight sophomores and seven incoming freshman as the team tries to turn the tide after finishing the 2007 season with only six wins.

    Zona Zoo – Arizona’s raucous student section, rumored to be one of the largest in the Pac-10. From creating a sea of red at Arizona Stadium to waiting outside McKale Center hours before a basketball game, members of this proud fraternity will do anything to support their team. So sign up, wear red, be loud and Bear Down!

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