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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Remembering the Pac-10


The Pacific 10 Conference officially became the Pacific 12 Conference on July 1, adding Utah and Colorado. Since ASU and Arizona joined the conference in 1978, the conference had played with 10 member schools. The Arizona Summer Wildcat takes a look at some of the top performers, memories and coaches during the Pac-10 era:


Top Arizona athletes

1. Jennie Finch, softball

In her four years at Arizona and her time spent on the U.S. Olympic team, Finch became the face of softball. Finch was a three-time All-American at pitcher and first base, and set an NCAA record of 60 consecutive wins. In her junior season, Finch went 32-0.

Finch led Arizona to a national championship in 2001, earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor. She led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic games.


2. Sean Elliott, basketball

Elliott is the only player to have been named Pac-10 Player of the Year twice, and was a two-time consensus All-American selection. He also won the 1989 Wooden Award, given to the nation’s top player each season.

When he left Arizona, he left as the conference’s all-time leading scorer, racking up 2,555 points during his career. Elliott also led Arizona to the school’s first Final Four in 1988.

3. Tedy Bruschi, football

At Arizona, Bruschi was a two-time consensus All-American in 1994 and 1995. A defensive end, Bruschi was the winner of the 1995 Morris Trophy, given to the Pac-10’s best defensive lineman, and tied the NCAA Division I-A sack record with 52 career sacks.

In the NFL, Bruschi won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots before his retirement prior to the 2009 season. Bruschi was named the 2005 Comeback Player of the Year after returning midseason following a mild stroke that occurred after the 2005 Pro Bowl.


4. Amanda Beard, swimming

Beard won two silver medals and one gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games when she was 14 years old, making her the second-youngest Olympic medalist in American swimming history. Beard has won a total of seven medals in her Olympic career: two gold, four silver and one bronze medal.

While swimming at Arizona, Beard captured an individual NCAA National Championship in 2001. Beard won gold at the 2004 Olympic games in the 200-meter breaststroke, and was named a co-captain of the US Olympic women’s swimming team for the 2008 games. Beard has earned the American Swimmer of the Year award twice.


5. Lorena Ochoa, women’s golf

Ochoa was the NCAA Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, finishing runner-up in the NCAA National Championships both years. Ochoa won the Pac-10 Women’s Golf Championships in 2001 on her way to being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and first-team All-Pac-10 in 2001 and 2002.

She set an NCAA record by winning the first seven events she entered her sophomore season, and set the NCAA scoring record at 71.33 as a freshman, only to average 70.13 as a sophomore. Ochoa went on to win 27 times on the LPGA Tour.


Top Pac-10 athlete

Phil Mickelson, ASU, golf

During his time at ASU, Mickelson won three Haskins Awards, given to most outstanding college golfer each season. In 1990, Mickelson won the U.S. Amateur title, making him the first left-hander to win the event.

Mickelson was a three-time national champion and four-time All-American. He also won a PGA Tour event while still an amateur, the 1991 Northern Telecom Open held at Starr Pass Golf Club, and is still the last amateur to win a Tour event.


Top Arizona moments


1. Kerr goes off

Four years after his father, Malcolm Kerr — president of American University of Beirut — was killed by Islamic terrorists in early 1984, Steve Kerr and the Arizona basketball team headed to Tempe to battle ASU on Feb. 25, 1988. Kerr was met with chants of “”Go back to Beirut,”” and “”Where’s your dad,”” but the senior guard got the last laugh. Kerr scored 20 points in the first half en route to 22 points for the night, and Arizona took down ASU, 101-73.


2. Clean sweep

In 2008, both the men’s and women’s swim teams brought a national championship back to Tucson. The women’s team won the school’s first swimming national championship on March 23, setting up the men for a chance at a dual national championship for the first time in the school’s history.

The men also delivered on March 29, claiming the men’s national championship by 94 points over second-place Texas. The Arizona men dethroned Auburn, which had won five straight national championships at the time.


3. Lute shows the Devils the score

In the 2004 version of the Duel in the Desert basketball game held in Tempe, Arizona held a huge late-game lead when a few Sun Devil students started taking jabs at Arizona coach Lute Olson and his late wife, Bobbi. Olson decided to take the heckling incident into his own hands, pointing at the scoreboard late in the game, reminding the ASU fans about the 93-74 beating that their team was taking.


4. It’s not over till it’s over

On Nov. 21, 2009, Arizona got the closest that it’s been to the Rose Bowl since the school joined the Pac-10. Taking on Oregon, the Wildcats held a late game lead when some over-zealous students decided to start the partying a little early, and did it on the sidelines of Arizona Stadium.

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli led Oregon on a game-tying drive at the end of regulation, and the Ducks went on to win 44-41 in a double-overtime thriller. Oregon went on to lose to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, 26-17.


5. The collapse

Taking on Illinois in the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Arizona seemed well on its way to the school’s third Final Four, leading the Fighting Illini by 15 with just four minutes to play. But the Illini went on a 20-5 run, sending the game to overtime, where they were able to outscore Arizona 10-9, sending Illinois to the Final Four with a one-point victory.


Top Pac-10 moment

The band is on the field

In November 1982, rivals Stanford and California were locking horns at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. The Cardinal trailed 19-17 with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, but was in field goal range thanks to a drive led by quarterback John Elway.

Stanford connected on the field goal, taking a 20-19 lead with four seconds to play. But the Cardinal drew a celebration penalty after the kick, and was forced to kick off from the 25-yard-line instead of the 40-yard-line.

After Cardinal kicker Mark Harmon squibbed the kickoff, the Golden Bears were able to connect on five laterals, but several Stanford players and the Stanford band had taken the field, thinking that the game was over. California’s Kevin Moen dodged and ran over several band members on his way to a touchdown and a 25-20 California victory.


Top Arizona teams


1. 2001 softball

The Mike Candrea-led 2001 Arizona softball team was a dominant one. The Wildcats won the Pac-10 championship for the first time since 1997, going 19-2 in conference, and advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the 14th straight year.

But what they did in the WCWS is what puts this team on top of this list. Arizona won its first national championship since 1997, and its sixth overall. The roster featured Jennie Finch, who went 3-0 in the WCWS and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.


2. 1997 men’s basketball

Arizona’s improbable run in the 1997 basketball tournament ended in the school’s first, and only, basketball national championship. The Wildcats didn’t win a single game by double-digits in the tournament, and their biggest margin of victory was eight points against South Alabama in the opening round and North Carolina in the Final Four.

Arizona won 84-79 in the championship game, and Miles Simon was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after scoring 22 points per game in the tournament.


3. 2008 swim and dive

Both the men and women’s teams brought home the first-ever national title for each of their teams, and combined to win the first and only dual swimming national championship in school history. Annie Chandler, Ana Agy, Hailey Degolia and Lacey Nymeyer, comprising the women’s team, set an American and U.S. Open record in the 400-meter medley relay with a time of 3:29.06.

On the men’s side, Cory Chitwood set a school record in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 1:41.34. The men’s team won five events in the three-day competition, including the 400-meter medley relay and the 800-meter free relay.


4. 2001 men’s basketball

The 2001 season was one with much higher expectations than Arizona dealt with during its 1997 run to a national championship. Arizona entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, and dismissed Michigan State in the Final Four by 19 points.

But No. 1 overall seed Duke proved to be too much for Arizona to handle in the championship game, handing Arizona an 82-72 loss.


5. 1998 football

If not for a stumble against UCLA, the 1998 Arizona football team may have won the first football national championship in the school’s history. Arizona went 12-1 overall and 7-1 in conference, with the only loss coming at the hands of UCLA, 52-28.

Arizona took down ASU in a 50-42 shootout, and beat Nebraska 23-20 in the Holiday Bowl. The defense featured cornerback Chris McAlister, who was taken in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens.


Top Pac-10 team

UCLA softball, 1988-1990

Overall, UCLA won 11 national titles during the Pac-10 era, and won three straight from 1988-1990. To go along with the 11 championships, UCLA finished second in the WCWS seven times.

UCLA also produced a number of Olympian medalists during its time in the Pac-10, including Lisa Fernandez and Dot Richardson.


Top Arizona coaches


1. Mike Candrea

Candrea has been the Arizona softball head coach since 1986. Since then, Candrea has coached eight national championship teams and earned four National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Coach of the Year awards.

Candrea has won nine Pac-10 titles and 10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards, and the softball team has gone to the Women’s College World Series in 22 of the last 24 seasons, including eight straight championship game appearances from 1991 to 1998.


2. Frank Busch

Busch was Arizona’s swimming and diving head coach for 22 seasons and resigned in 2011 to become USA Swimming’s National Team director. Throughout his time at Arizona, the program flourished into a consistently successful entity, consistently producing the strongest teams and swimmers in the country.

This year alone, the men’s team finished in fourth place and the women’s team finished in fifth place at the 2011 NCAA National Championships. Busch had a distinctive training program unlike any other Pac-10 school, not to mention his unbeatable relationship with his swimmers.


3. Lute Olson

Olson led Arizona to its first Pac-10 title in 1986, just three years after his arrival in Tucson. In 1988, Arizona made the school’s first Final Four. Olson won four Pac-10 tournament championships and 11 regular-season Pac-10 championshps.

His only national championship came in 1997, and his 2001 team lost in the championship game. Olson was a two-time national coach of the year, and seven-time Pac-10 coach of the year.


4. Rick LaRose

In his 33rd year at Arizona, LaRose has turned the school into one of the nation’s top college golf programs. His teams have won 76 tournaments since 1978, and he has produced 11 Pac-10 players of the year, 66 All-Americans, and 103 All-Pac-10 performers.

Coaching both the men’s and women’s teams, his teams have won two NCAA titles, seven NCAA regional championships and four Pac-10 titles.


5. Dave Rubio

Rubio is approaching his 20th season as Arizona’s head volleyball coach. Throughout the last 10 seasons, Rubio has coached his teams to five Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights and to Arizona’s first-ever Final Four in 2001.


Top Pac-10 coach

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford, women’s basketball

In her time at Stanford, VanDerveer has won 674 games, including 18 Pac-10 championships. She is a three-time national coach of the year, and 10-time Pac-10 coach of the year. VanDerveer holds a 22-2 all-time record in Pac-10 Tournament play, and served as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1996 games.

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