The University of Arizona Men’s Basketball program has been on one hell of a rollercoaster ride over the past week They literally went from the pit of misery (Dilly, Dilly), to Pac 12 Champions, and one of the favorites to win a national championship. Who would have thought that after the shit storm Zona b-ball has been through this season and this past week, this is where they would be now?
The pre-season: Man, everything was looking up for the Cats at this point. They had one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, star guard’s Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins decided to come back after Wildcat Nation assumed they would bounce for the NBA, and they were ranked #3 in the preseason polls. If you had the pleasure of talking to any Wildcat fans before the season started you probably wanted to punch them in the face because they were so damn cocky. I mean they did have some clout, and they have been waiting to go back to a Final Four since the days of Lute, so who could blame them for being excited? Only if they knew what was to come…
Two months before play was supposed to start, the FBI dropped a report on coaches, managers and brand reps who were involved in a bribery and corruption scheme. One of those names… Emanuel “Book” Richardson. I’m not going to go into the details on the case, but let me tell you… it’s not good when the FBI is involved in anything that you are connected with.
Four assistant basketball coaches were charged as part of the indictments: Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson, Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans and University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland.
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) November 8, 2017
Both Miller and the U of A denied knowing anything about the scheme and “Book” was arrested, and Wildcat fans moved on. What they didn’t know is how important “Book” was to the Cats. He was known as a players coach, someone the guys actually loved played for. This was a huge blow to the Cats and they didn’t realize it until the Bahamas. Zona came into the Bahamas ranked #3 but left unranked. Without Book, Ayton was able to show the guys around his home nation and who knows what they got into… because it sure as shit wasn’t basketball.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller on the three losses in Bahamas tournament: “Nobody around here is walking around happy about it.”
— Anne Ryman (@anneryman) November 28, 2017
As the season rolled on, the FBI report was brushed under the table and Miller was free to coach. All was fairly good in Wildcat Country. The Cats proceeded to win out their non-conference games and played well in the Pac 12. Yes, they lost some Pac 12 games, but that was expected. The Pac 12 has always been known for beating the shit out of one another… Stop Pac 12 on Pac 12 crimes! Then, in the last week of February, shit completely hit the fan.
Allonzo Trier was suspended by the NCAA for traces of a banned substance coming back from last year, and the biggy… Sean Miller was caught on tape supposedly discussing paying Ayton $100,000 to commit to the U of A. Everyone and their mothers were against the Cats at this point, including some former players.
@APlayersProgram BearDown it’s time to clean house and bring home our own bloodlines to carry on Lutes Legacy. We have too much pride, too much tradition to allow outsiders to tear down what we built.
— Jason Terry (@jasonterry31) February 24, 2018
But Book got the cuffs…
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) February 24, 2018
With the loss of Trier and the report on Miller, most Arizona Faithful lost their faith. Then came the news conference heard around the Wildcat and NCAA basketball world. While most speculated that Miller would be fired or step down, the opposite happened. Miller gave ESPN a big F.U and rather than getting fired, lit a fire under the asses of not only his players, but also the fans. Then just a few hours later, the news was announced that Trier had been reinstated to play. BOOM!
All is well in Tucson. Alonzo Trier is back. Sean Miller is back. Beat Stanford. Just forget everything else. The NCAA says so.
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) March 2, 2018
ALL of Wildcat Country is now sufficiently pissed off, and if you thought they were annoying at the beginning of the season, look at them now. The fans, the players and the entire community now have a chip on their shoulder heading in to the Pac 12 tourney. The Cats took all of the negative energy and turned it into Michael Jordan’s Secret Sauce. Look out, the Cats are coming in to both the Pac 12 and NCAA tourney fired up and ready to crush the world. With big Mo on their side, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be considered a favorite to win the NCAA tourney, or at the very least… reach the Final Four for the first time since 2001. I know what you’re thinking, even if they win a title it may be vacated. All I have to say about that is… Rick Pitino still has a National Championship tattoo from 2013 and that shit is permanent.