[ {"id":"8861f724-106a-11e7-822b-478eaf4ab5c4","type":"article","starttime":"1490343480","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T01:18:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490345297","priority":45,"sections":[{"pascoe":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe"},{"basketball":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona-Xavier postgame: Trier has 'faith' in Miller after Sweet 16 loss","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/article_8861f724-106a-11e7-822b-478eaf4ab5c4.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/arizona-xavier-postgame-trier-has-faith-in-miller-after-sweet/article_8861f724-106a-11e7-822b-478eaf4ab5c4.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/arizona-xavier-postgame-trier-has-faith-in-miller-after-sweet/article_8861f724-106a-11e7-822b-478eaf4ab5c4.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"Sean Miller says it having his team play without confidence was \"the worst feeling you can have as a coach.\"","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats basketball","sean miller","lauri markkanen","allonzo trier"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37","description":"Arizona Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier (35) walks off the court after the University of Arizona Wildcats vs. Xavier University Musketeers Sweet 16 game in the NCAA Tournament at SAP Center, March 23, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. Arizona lost 63-61. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":2918,"hiresheight":2063,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/d7/bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37/58d4bbf4f24f4.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1075","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/d7/bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37/58d4bbf4efa04.image.jpg?resize=1075%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"71","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/d7/bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37/58d4bbf4efa04.image.jpg?resize=100%2C71"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"212","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/d7/bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37/58d4bbf4efa04.image.jpg?resize=300%2C212"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"724","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/d7/bd74659c-105a-11e7-95f3-bf708e854c37/58d4bbf4efa04.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C724"}}}],"revision":29,"commentID":"8861f724-106a-11e7-822b-478eaf4ab5c4","body":"

SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2013 After the Arizona Wildcats ended their season short of the Final Four again, Allonzo Trier was asked what he thought about the questioning Sean Miller might receive ahead.

He seemed puzzled, even as somebody appeared to be\u00a0updating Sean Miller\u2019s postseason record on Wikipedia\u00a0at about the same time.

\u201cUm. Questioning a guy who had a 32-5 basketball team?\u201d Trier said. \u201cThey probably don\u2019t know much if they\u2019re questioning him from that standpoint. Coach did what he thought was best for us to put us in the best position to win the game, and we\u2019re going to go out there and try to execute as well as we can as a basketball team. I totally have faith in my coach that he\u2019s knows what he\u2019s doing, not somebody else who doesn\u2019t.\u201d

The Sporting News\u2019 Mike DeCourcy also offered some perspective about Miller\u2019s track record.

FWIW, my Twitter notifications in the immediate few hours after the game included a \"Fire Miller,\" \"his teams are predictable,\" \"team's intelligence level unacceptable,\" \"what's up with his poor timeout management\" and \"Miller will never reach a Final Four.\"


Miller actually put a lot of the blame on himself during his podium interviews after Thursday\u2019s game. Miller spoke of the Wildcats\u2019 inability to defend well, especially down the stretch, and their lack of confidence against the zone, and talked about his role in it all.

\u201cEqually disappointed in myself,\u201d Miller said. \u201cYou know, our team never really ever established great confidence against the zone. And I think in some ways that was the reason, defensively, that we weren\u2019t as good as we usually are, because the game never really felt good, and that\u2019s on me.

\u201cYour job when you get to this area, when you get to this level of college basketball, your best players have to be confident. We have to get them shots. I don\u2019t care what defense they\u2019re playing \u2013 1-3-1, 2-3, man-to-man \u2013 I don\u2019t feel we did that tonight. And that\u2019s the worst feeling you can have as a coach.\u201d


Here's the full podium comments from Miller, Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Xavier's are here.


Sounded like Miller had a pretty uplifting postgame locker room talk, with virtually all of the players repeating his reminder that they did, after all, win the Pac-12 Tournament and (tie for) the Pac-12 regular season title, while winning 32 games.

\u201cWe had a great year,\u201d Rawle Alkins said. \u201cWe had an historical year.\u201d

Lauri Markkanen sat looking downbeat but tried to keep that in mind, too.

\u201cWe went through a lot this year, so of course we have to think about all the good things we did,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cIt\u2019s just sad the season ended so we can\u2019t go to Phoenix.\u201d

Allonzo Trier discussed that point at more length.

\u201cWe had a great year, a tremendous year,\u201d Trier said. \u201cA year that will have a lot of memorabilia and history that will be in McKale, on the walls and in the locker rom. It\u2019s just tough because we all had our sights on the Final Four.

\u201cThat was what we talked about and we believed it. We knew it was something we could do and then our journey kind of got cut short. We knew it wasn\u2019t going to be easy. We weren\u2019t going to walk there. Nobody was going to let us go to a Final Four just because it\u2019s in Phoenix. It doesn\u2019t work like that.\u201d


Markkanen and UA's other players who are considered potential early departures this spring all declined to comment on their plans or decision processes ahead. UA players are normally off-limits for the most part in the offseason so face immediate questioning after their last game.


Our full coverage is attached to this post as are the box score and final stats.

Thanks again for reading this season. The news isn't going to slow down for a while this spring, so please stick around ...

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SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2013 Given the best possible NCAA Tournament path to a home-state Final Four appearance, the Arizona Wildcats dropped the ball Thursday night.

Or, rather, couldn\u2019t shoot the ball well enough to keep from blowing an eight-point lead in the final four minutes.

Second-seeded Arizona was upset 73-71 by 11th-seeded Xavier in the West Regional semifinal on Thursday while allowing the Musketeers to shoot 52.8 percent and missing three key shots in the final minute that might have tied or won the game.

After Dusan Ristic missed a heavily contested 10-footer with 51 seconds left and Sean O\u2019Mara scored inside to give Xavier the final two-point lead with 22 seconds left, Kadeem Allen missed a 15-foot jumper and Allonzo Trier missed a three-pointer with eight seconds left at SAP Center.

Each of those shots was at least somewhat contested by Xavier\u2019s ever-changing defense, so it was the Wildcats\u2019 defense that stuck heavily in the mind of UA coach Sean Miller. Not only did the Wildcats struggle to defend the crafty Musketeers much of the game, but they most critically allowed 3-pointers by Trevon Bluiett and Malcolm Bernard in the final 3:25 that put Xavier back in the game.

\u201cWhen you have teams fighting to stay alive, you have to jump,\u201d Miller said. \u201cYou have to run at them. You have to close out with great effort. You have to make them miss.\u201d

They didn\u2019t. The Wildcats only missed their shots, surprisingly even getting the last miss from Trier, who was so hot in the middle of the second half that he scored 15 straight points after a cold first half.

But just getting the Wildcats in a position to take the eight-point lead, and maybe advance to the West Region final, wasn\u2019t enough for the hyper-competitive Trier. He was upset about the last miss, and the loss, and wasn\u2019t about to consider anything else.

\u201cWe just lost the game,\u201d Trier said. \u201cThere\u2019s no other way to put it.\u201d

The loss ended UA\u2019s season at 32-5, while Xavier moved to 24-13 and into a region final Saturday against Gonzaga for a spot in the Final Four. For the Musketeers, the win avenged their 68-60 loss to Arizona in the 2015 Sweet 16.

\u201cIt feels good just to be able to kind of get that revenge that we have been looking for,\u201d Bluiett said. \u201cAnd, two, just to make it to the Elite Eight. It\u2019s been a while since the program has done it. And just to get back there it\u2019s a surreal feeling.\u201d

It was only the third time Miller has ever lost to a lower seeded team in the NCAA Tournament, but the second straight year, after sixth-seeded Arizona was bounced by 11th-seeded Wichita State in the first round last season.

Bluiett led Xavier with 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting, scoring 18 of his points in the first half.

Trier finished with 19 points while Ristic had 17. Lauri Markkanen had nine points and eight rebounds but only took nine shots, many of which were closely guarded by Xavier\u2019s ever-changing defense.

\u201cThey played really well defensively,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cI did not get a good shot. They\u2019re a really good team.\u201d

Arizona built its eight-point lead with 3:44 remaining but a 7-0 run pulled Xavier into a 71-71 tie entering the final minute. After Ristic missed his 10-footer with 51 seconds left, Bluiett had the ball at the top of the key \u2013 but instead of driving or popping a 3, he sharply passed under the basket to O\u2019Mara who made what became the game-winning layup.

\u201cFortunately, Sean was able to catch a great pass by Tre and put it in,\u201d Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

UA had trouble at times throughout the game. The Wildcats trailed by two points entering the final seven minutes, but went on a 12-0 run to take a 67-61 lead, getting 3-pointers from Trier and Kadeem Allen during the run. Two free throws from Parker Jackson-Cartwright gave UA its eight-point lead before Xavier made its stretch-run comeback.

After Arizona took a two-point halftime lead, Xavier had gone on a 7-0 run early in the second half. The Musketeers hit 6 of 8 shots immediately after halftime, prompting Miller to call a timeout with 15:22 left.

UA went on a 7-0 run to take a 52-48 lead, but with 13 minutes to go, Allen and Bluiett were called for offsetting technical fouls after they had an animated conversation.

After the technicals, Bernard hit a 3-pointer and Quentin Goodin dunked to put Xavier back ahead 53-52 entering the final 11 minutes.

At the end of the first half, Rawle Alkins hit a 12-foot jumper just before the halftime buzzer to give Arizona a 37-35 halftime lead.

Alkins, who was playing with a broken index finger, missed his first four shots of the half.

He said the finger didn\u2019t bother him throughout the half, and tried to be upbeat afterward.

\u201cWe had a great year, and it just takes one loss for everyone to forget what we did all year,\u201d Alkins said. \u201cWe won the Pac-12 championship, the Pac-12 Tournament, and 32-5. We had a historic year for the team.

\u201cOf course we wanted more. But overall, it was a good season.\u201d

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SAN JOSE \u2013 The Arizona Wildcats won\u2019t be making a home-state visit to the Final Four next week, after allowing Xavier to shoot 52.8 percent in a 73-71 loss in the West Region semifinal on Thursday at the SAP Center.

UA wing Allonzo Trier, who heated up for 15 straight Arizona points in the middle of the second half after a cold first half, missed a potential game-winning 3 with eight seconds left. Kadeem Allen also missed a jump shot with 22 seconds left.

The loss ended UA\u2019s season at 32-5, while 11th-seeded Xavier moved to 24-13 and into a West Region final game Saturday against Gonzaga for a spot in the Final Four.

It was only the third time UA coach Sean Miller has ever lost to a lower seeded team in the NCAA Tournament, but the second straight year, after sixth-seeded Arizona was bounced by 11th-seeded Wichita State in the first round last season.

Trevon Bluiett led Xavier with 25 points.

Trier finished with 19 points while Dusan Ristic had 17. Lauri Markkanen had nine points and eight rebounds but only took nine shots, many of which were closely guarded by Xavier's ever-changing defense.

Arizona held an eight-point lead with 1:53 remaining but a 7-0 run pulled Xavier into a 71-71 tie entering the final minute. Ristic missed a heavily guarded eight-footer with 51 seconds left and, when Bluiett had the ball with 40 seconds left, instead of shooting it, he passed under the basket to Sean O'Mara who made what became the game-winning basket.

Trailing by two points entering the final seven minutes, UA went on a 12-0 run to take a 67-61 lead, getting 3-pointers from Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen during the run. But 3-pointers from Trevon Bluiett and Malcolm Bernard cut the Wildcats\u2019 lead to four points and two free thrwos from Bernard later pulled Xavier within 71-69.

After Arizona took a two-point halftime lead, Xavier had gone on a 7-0 run early in the second half. The Musketeers hit 6 of 8 shots immediately after halftime, prompting UA coach Sean Miller to call a timeout with 15:22 left.

UA went on a 7-0 run to take a 52-48 lead, but with 13 minutes to go, Kadeem Allen and Bluiett were called for offsetting technical fouls after they had an animated conversation.

After the technicals, Malcolm Bernard hit a 3-pointer and Quentin Goodin dunked to put Xavier back ahead 53-52 entering the final 11 minutes.

At the end of the first half, Rawle Alkins hit a 12-foot jumper just before the halftime buzzer to give Arizona a 37-35 halftime lead.

Alkins, who was playing with a broken index finger, missed his first four shots of the half.

Trevon Bluiett scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the first half for Xavier but didn\u2019t have to often face UA\u2019s top defender, Kadeem Allen, who played just five minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls.

The Wildcats allowed Xavier to shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half but outrebounded the Musketeers by six and gave up only three offensive rebounds. Xavier entered the game with the 29th best offensive rebounding percentage in Division I, grabbing an offensive rebound on 34.9 percent of its chances to do so.

It was the fourth straight game in which the UA defense has allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better for a half.

Arizona struggled with perimeter shooting, making just 3 of 16 3-pointers. The Wildcats shot 41.2 percent overall.

After Xavier pulled into a one-point lead midway through the half, the game stayed within one possession the rest of the half. UA took a 27-25 lead entering the final four minutes when Chance Comanche dunked in a missed 3-pointer by Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Bluiett had 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting to lead Xavier through the first 16 minutes. Arizona outrebounded Xavier 15-10 at that point and limited the Musketeers to just one offensive rebound.

Arizona went inside often early to Dusan Ristic as it has many times this season, building a 7-0 lead while Xavier missed its first three shots and had two turnovers in that stretch. Ristic finished the half with a team-high nine points while Lauri Markkanen had seven points and seven rebounds.

But Bluiett and RaShid Gaston helped Xavier take an 18-17 lead with 8:43 left. Bluiett hit a 3-pointer and a 15-footer during the drive, while Gaston made a three-point play and scored on a hook shot inside.

Through the first 12 minutes of the half, Xavier shot 53.3 percent from the field while Alkins and Allonzo Trier were both 0 for 3.

"}, {"id":"37b2dff2-d054-5218-9016-960707266182","type":"article","starttime":"1490333400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-23T22:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490344248","priority":44,"sections":[{"greghansen":"sports/greghansen"},{"basketball":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Greg Hansen: Emptiness, drought continue for star-crossed Wildcats","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/greghansen/article_37b2dff2-d054-5218-9016-960707266182.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/greghansen/greg-hansen-emptiness-drought-continue-for-star-crossed-wildcats/article_37b2dff2-d054-5218-9016-960707266182.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/greghansen/greg-hansen-emptiness-drought-continue-for-star-crossed-wildcats/article_37b2dff2-d054-5218-9016-960707266182.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Greg Hansen\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"UA struggles in final five minutes, ending any hope of a Phoenix Final Four.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#top5sports","#editorspick","#topread","#hansen","#column"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"75131"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55","description":"Arizona Wildcats guard Rawle Alkins (1) gets out-muscled for a rebound by Xavier Musketeers guard Trevon Bluiett (5) during the second half of the University of Arizona Wildcats vs. Xavier University Musketeers Sweet 16 game in the NCAA Tournament at SAP Center, March 23, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. Arizona lost 63-61. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1317,"hiresheight":1573,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/45/c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55/58d4b412be5b9.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"636","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/45/c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55/58d4b412bd7ed.image.jpg?resize=636%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"119","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/45/c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55/58d4b412bd7ed.image.jpg?resize=100%2C119"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"358","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/45/c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55/58d4b412bd7ed.image.jpg?resize=300%2C358"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1223","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/45/c4528e07-1937-5e41-a29f-39392e487a55/58d4b412bd7ed.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C1223"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"37b2dff2-d054-5218-9016-960707266182","body":"

SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2014

Arizona has been sent home by Sooie Pigs, Sooners, Shockers, Blue Devils, Badgers and Boilermakers, you name it, it all feels the same.

If feels like you\u2019ve been embalmed.

On Thursday night the Wildcats went slip-slidin\u2019 away, sent home by the Musketeers. The names don\u2019t seem to matter. Xavier. Wichita State. Purdue. To Arizona, unable to reach the Final Four for 16 years, it has become a Paul Simon song.

The nearer your destination, the more you\u2019re slip slidin\u2019 away.

By the time the Wildcats get to Phoenix it\u2019ll be 2018. It\u2019ll be in Tempe, not Glendale. It\u2019ll be too late.

Over the last 78 years, there have been more than 624 Sweet 16 games played in the NCAA Tournament. Of those 624 winners, none had more losses than Xavier did entering Thursday\u2019s game. Xavier was 23-13.

Let that sink in.

Arizona\u2019s last five possessions were almost chaotic. It shot 0-for-5. It was out of timeouts. It had non-shooting Keanu Pinder on the court. It lived and died with Allonzo Trier\u2019s free-lancing.

Arizona\u2019s basketball season expired at 9:57 p.m.

At exactly 10:13, Sean Miller climbed the stairs to a podium at the SAP Center and said that Xavier not only outplayed the Wildcats, but outsmarted them too.

He spoke the truth. His team was flummoxed by Xavier\u2019s zone defense, as had been an issue much of the year with any team from A to Z.

\u201cI\u2019m equally disappointed in myself,\u201d said Miller. \u201cOur team never did establish great confidence against the zone. The game never really felt good. That\u2019s on me. The job when you get to this level of college basketball \u2014 I don\u2019t care what defense they\u2019re playing \u2014 you have to get them shots, and I didn\u2019t feel like we did that tonight.

\u201cThat\u2019s the worst feeling you can have as a coach.\u201d

His former team, his former assistant, put a checkmate on Arizona that stopped it in its Nikes.

Xavier coach Chris Mack began his postgame comments with a bolt of perspective, saying \u201cany team that can get through the eye of the needle to get to the Elite Eight. \u2026 \u201d

He didn\u2019t need to say much more. Since 2001, Arizona has found the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament like trying to squeeze an elephant through the eye of a needle. It is a recurring nightmare for the Wildcats and their fans.

One year it\u2019s an inconceivable collapse against Illinois, another it\u2019s Wisconsin playing the game of its life, and on Thursday it was Arizona failing to score on its final five possessions.

It led 69-61. It lost 73-71.

Trier slumped onto the court at the SAP Center after his potential game-winning 3-point shot teased the rim, jigging in and out. It was SAP, all right. Sorrow. Agony. Pain.

Miller spoke of \u201cthe promised land\u201d and how that \u201cit\u2019s on me.\u201d And he spoke bravely about the journey, but it\u2019ll be a bit before anyone in Tucson wants to hear it.

\u201cIt\u2019s never easy when it ends, especially when you\u2019ve had a great team or a great season,\u201d said Miller. \u201cWe define our own success and if you\u2019re a team that is 32-5 and won both the Pac-12 regular season and Pac-12 Tournament and the journey ends in the Sweet 16, it\u2019s hard to look at that as not getting it done, or failure.\u201d

The words don\u2019t matter. Failure. Loss. It all adds up to an exit few saw coming, especially after punching out Oregon and UCLA at the Pac-12 tournament, teams with superior forces to the Musketeers, who, after all, were missing their most talented player, injured point guard Roland Sumner.

Xavier shot 53 percent from the field. Only Gonzaga shot better than that against Arizona this season.

Xavier\u2019s defense was so impenetrable that it forced Arizona to shoot 27 3-point shots, its most of the season and 11 more than its average.

Arizona is not a 3-point shooting team. Xavier turned the Wildcats into one, a bad one; the Wildcats missed 20 of them.

\u201c(Mack) had his way with us tonight,\u201d said Miller, who had a double-meaning message. Not only couldn\u2019t the Wildcats find a good shot, it kept giving Xavier too many.

\u201cWe could not guard them. We had as hard a time defending them as any team we played this season. We had no answers. They did a better job of that than I did.\u201d

The Musketeers ran the old-fashioned pick-and-roll that your eight-grade PE teacher taught. It gave Arizona fits. There were dunks and bunnies. At times it was like Route 66 the hoop, with no stop lights all the way across New Mexico.

And yet Arizona still had the last shot, an in-and-out 3-ball from Trier, that would\u2019ve won the game and made it all go away.

After a game like that, after examining Xavier\u2019s r\u00e9sum\u00e9, you wonder; how did the Musketeers lose 13 games? How did they lose six straight games from Feb. 15 to March 1? How did it get blown out by 25 at Villanova, 22 at Marquette, 15 at Baylor?

Why, in the year\u2019s most important game, did Arizona\u2019s defense turn to burnt toast?

Can you simply write it off to the Madness? It\u2019s not the first time Arizona exited a season that days earlier was primed, poised and gleamed with possibilities.

Now you wait. You slog through the weeks ahead asking yourself why Lauri Markkanen didn\u2019t get more touches, why Xavier was tougher than Oregon and UCLA, and will Arizona ever get through this long shutout from the Final Four.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2014 The biggest star on Arizona\u2019s roster, a 7-footer with size and personality, Lauri Markkanen flew under the radar on a sullen Thursday night.

Arizona was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, and in all likelihood, it was the Finnish freshman\u2019s last game in an Arizona uniform. It shouldn\u2019t be a matter of if, only a matter of when he leaves for the NBA.

A 7-footer with a shot like that?

But Markkanen hid in the corner of Arizona\u2019s locker room, head down, silence all around, as the media stampede poured through the locker room doors. Markkanen positioned himself a few lockers to the right of Allonzo Trier, who missed Arizona\u2019s final shot attempt of the season.

Markkanen slumped into his chair, his legs practically tripping reporters angling to ask Trier about his late-game decision making.

This is a player who was declared a first-round pick before he ever stepped on the floor, and despite a late-season slump, scouts have been swooning for a big man with Markkanen\u2019s range of skills all season, cultivating in an all-around performance in a second round win against Saint Mary\u2019s.

So of course, the question had to be asked. It always is for Arizona\u2019s presumed one-and-done talents.

In so many words, \u2026 you gone?

In the last few years, Aaron Gordon, Stanley Johnson and Trier all said \u201cno comment.\u201d Trier came back, the other two did not.

\u201cI\u2019m not answering that,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cI just need to take my mind off this right now.\u201d

He was asked the question four more times throughout Arizona\u2019s post-game availability, and always said the same thing.

Not right now.

\u201cI\u2019m not commenting on that,\u201d he said.

Markkanen attempted a 3-pointer at the 11:12 mark of the second half. It missed.

It was his last shot of the game, of the season, and probably, of his Arizona career.

He finished with nine points, and only scored two in the second half.

This is Arizona\u2019s best scorer, and Xavier wouldn\u2019t even let him get the ball.

\u201cOf course I was looking for the shot, but Xavier did a really good job taking my shot away,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cI think my teammates were in better position to have the ball so I made the passes.\u201d

Markkanen has never been one to show frustration. He never wavered through a late-season slump, and he bounced back just in time for the postseason.

His teammates were frustrated for him.

\u201cOf course it was\u201d frustrating, center Dusan Ristic said. \u201cHe\u2019s one of our main weapons and they did a great job of defending him the last 10 minutes of the game.\u201d

Added Trier: \u201cWe got it to him one time in the post, we swing baseline and then he got under the basket where he couldn\u2019t shoot it so he had throw it far out. So he tried. Just, I guess, it was the way the game was working.\u201d

If this was his last game, it\u2019s not how Markkanen wanted it to go. But all he wanted to talk about after was his teammates. When Trier put his jersey over his face at the end of the game, Markkanen was one of the first teammates to greet him, to prod him up.

It was a bad ending, but not a bad season. Markkanen was an All-Conference selection, an All-Freshman selection and one of the best offensive performers of the Sean Miller era.

\u201cI\u2019m disappointed,\u201d Markkanen said. \u201cIt\u2019s sad that this ended right now. We had the chance to go a lot further but I\u2019m proud of these guys. They played their hearts out. That\u2019s sports.\u201d

As the locker room cleared out, Markkanen reached for his large, red, Nike shoes and put them in his drawstring Arizona backpack, his Arizona jersey crumpled on the floor next to an open Powerade bottle.

A spill would leave a stain.

The bottle didn\u2019t budge, Markkanen put the jersey in his bag, and leaned back in his chair.

For 30 seconds, he stared into space, listening to Trier talk about how he \u201cjust wants to be great.\u201d

The Xavier loss will be a stain on Markkanen\u2019s college resume.

But boy, was it a good resume.

\u201cThis time,\u201d he said, \u201cit didn\u2019t work out.\u201d

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SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2014 They say you live by the 3 and you die by the 3, and judging by the sunken, pale faces in the Arizona locker room in San Jose\u2019s SAP Center, it was clear which team\u2019s season died on Thursday night.

And like a crane falling from above, the Wildcats never saw it coming.

There are goals for the Arizona basketball program, and there are expectations, and there is a difference between the two, a difference so thin that the Wildcats could not see between the two after a 73-71 loss to the Xavier Musketeers in Thursday\u2019s Sweet 16 matchup.

The goal was simple: Get Sean Miller to his first Final Four.

The expectations were that Xavier would but a blip on that journey. The latest, if anything.

Instead, Dusan Ristic sat in the Arizona locker room shaking his head, staring at a future he could not even fathom.

\u201cI never thought about this before,\u201d he said. \u201cGoing into this game, we had so much confidence in our team. We had five days to prepare for Xavier, and we did a good job. They just played better. That\u2019s it. I never thought this could be our last game. It feels really weird right now.\u201d

This was a spring monsoon in Tucson, a flash flood without a warning.

The players didn\u2019t have time to grab umbrellas.

Now they\u2019re left looking up at a Final Four just a bus-ride away, underneath a rain cloud that will take a while to dissipate.

A year after a first-round exit against Wichita State, they go home with unfulfilled dreams. Last year, they knew they were lacking. This year, they thought they had the goods.

\u201cI remember last year was awful too, and I don\u2019t remember how long the feeling lasts,\u201d Ristic said. \u201cIt\u2019s a terrible feeling, one of the worst in basketball.\u201d

Added guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright: \u201cIt\u2019s going to take a couple days, maybe a couple weeks. Last year, we had to watch the rest of the whole tournament. You get this far, and you have high expectations. We expected to survive. To come up short is extremely tough.\u201d

And that\u2019s what happened to so many of Arizona\u2019s outside shots on Thursday \u2014 they came up short. Arizona shot 7-for-27 from 3-point range, but the players defended their shot selection after the game. Allonzo Trier, whose last-gasp 3-point attempt rimmed out, believed he had good looks all night, even if he went 3-for-10 from behind the arc. Rawle Alkins, who managed just four points in 31 minutes, put the blame on everything, everything but Arizona\u2019s preparation.

\u201cUpsets happen all the time,\u201d he said. \u201cWe came in prepared. We didn\u2019t come in thinking they were an 11-seed and we can\u2019t lose.\u201d

Ultimately, the perennially under-seeded Musketeers proved that under Chris Mack and playing in the Big East, they deserve far better.

So did Arizona players on Thursday.

\u201cI don\u2019t have a sense for this,\u201d Ristic said. \u201cI can\u2019t imagine our season is done. When you play for a program like Arizona, you have the highest possible expectations and goals. And when you don\u2019t fulfill those goals, there\u2019s a funny feeling. You feel empty.\u201d

One locker room over, the Xavier locker room was filled with joy. Players who believed in themselves all year, but couldn\u2019t believe their fortune.

The Musketeers are still dancing.

\u201cThis is madness,\u201d Xavier center Sean O\u2019Hara said. \u201cOnce you\u2019re in this, you never know what\u2019s going to happen.\u201d

For one team, yes, it\u2019s March Madness.

For the other, March Sadness, and they just hope the rain cloud goes away before April.

"}, {"id":"193918f6-0ff1-11e7-8dd8-2b3294ddcecf","type":"article","starttime":"1490317200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-23T18:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490322535","priority":45,"sections":[{"pascoe":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe"},{"basketball":"sports/arizonawildcats/basketball"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona-Xavier pregame: Mack, Miller face emotional matchup","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/article_193918f6-0ff1-11e7-8dd8-2b3294ddcecf.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/arizona-xavier-pregame-mack-miller-face-emotional-matchup/article_193918f6-0ff1-11e7-8dd8-2b3294ddcecf.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/pascoe/arizona-xavier-pregame-mack-miller-face-emotional-matchup/article_193918f6-0ff1-11e7-8dd8-2b3294ddcecf.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona may have another shot at Las Vegas big man Chase Jeter, who is transferring from Duke.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats basketball","sean miller","chris mack"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c","description":"Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller, right, lights up as he catches up with Xavier Musketeers head coach Chris Mack's wife Christi, left, and their two daughters Lainee and Hailee. Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":2452,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/14/214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c/58d31780ca760.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"930","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/14/214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c/58d31780c8090.image.jpg?resize=930%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/14/214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c/58d31780c8090.image.jpg?crop=1592%2C895%2C0%2C63&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/14/214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c/58d31780c8090.image.jpg?crop=1592%2C895%2C0%2C63&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/14/214d9544-0f60-11e7-b23f-93b6a3f1b02c/58d31780c8090.image.jpg?crop=1592%2C895%2C0%2C63&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":34,"commentID":"193918f6-0ff1-11e7-8dd8-2b3294ddcecf","body":"

SAN JOSE, Calif. \u2013 If Chris Mack and Xavier pull off an upset tonight over Arizona, he\u2019ll have mixed emotions.

Same will happen if he loses, because Sean Miller is on the other bench.

\u201cI don\u2019t think it\u2019s enjoyable or difficult. It just is what it is,\u201d Mack said of playing his longtime friend and former boss. \u201cI don\u2019t have feelings on way or another. After the game, I\u2019m gonna be either sad for him or happy for him. That\u2019s just sort of how it works.\u201d


Eight years removed from leaving Cincinnati, Miller said he still watches Xavier as often as he can.

\u201cA big, big fan. Love that place,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThe friendships that my family and I have, we still have today. I don't get back to that area very often, only because it's not easy to being that we now live in Arizona.

\u201cBut, first of all, Chris Mack has led Xavier to four Sweet 16s in the last eight years. There aren't many coaches that can say that. And our players, and I'm sure you got this when you talked to them, they know that Xavier has been to 11 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments. They know that a year ago Xavier was a No. 2 seed; that right now they're closer to being in, like, three or four Sweet 16s in a row than they are any other way.\u201d

Having received plenty of praise for the way he steered UA through an adversity filled year, Miller heaped it on Mack, too.

\u201cChris Mack is one of our game's bright coaches, great coaches. He's not my former assistant. He stands on his own two feet and his record and what he's done speaks for itself,\u201d Miller said. \u201cI don't know if I've seen a coach take a team that had lost a number in a row and lost such a terrific player, and now flip it and have them playing at such a high level.

\u201cWe're playing against one of the hottest teams that's remaining in the tournament. And if last weekend is any indication of where they're at, it's scary for anybody that's going to play against them.

\u201cSo I give a lot of credit to Chris and his staff, their team and players, but also Xavier. It's a special place who loves college basketball. And it just seems like they bring out the best in everybody.\u201d


Las Vegas has Arizona a 7.5-point favorite while Kenpom gives the Wildcats a 65 percent chance of winning. However, here\u2019s one forecast that\u00a0picks the Musketeers.


Looks like tickets for the West Sweet 16 may be overpriced, especially considering that no participating team is from within an easy drive: There were nearly 1,300 tickets still available through the NCAA channel as of late morning but they were $151 plus fees for upper-deck seating. StubHub listed prices for lower corner seats that were under $200.


Couple of compelling Sweet 16 matchups to watch before UA tips off: Oregon-Michigan (4:09 p.m. on CBS) and Gonzaga-West Virginia (4:39 p.m. on TBS).


While talking about the blue-collar work ethic he wants to instill in the Huskies, new Washington coach Mike Hopkins predictably lost Michael Porter Jr. from his 2017-18 roster.

Big man Matthew Atewe also said he's taking off.

Looks like Hopkins is trying to lure assistant Jason Hart over from USC but the Trojans are countering.


Tyson Alger of the Oregonian has a good look at how Dillon Brooks has learned to live in the spotlight since the \"Coach K incident\" last season.


A year after UCLA fans were calling for his head, Steve Alford appears to be in a pretty good position with Indiana appearing to be interested in him.


Arizona Desert Swarm has a long look at the Arizona-Xavier matchup. Daily Wildcat staffers weigh in on keys to the game.


UA could be back in the mix for Chase Jeter, who announced he is transferring from Duke.


With six staffers here in San Jose (by far the most of anybody, I believe), we have gobs of coverage on our Wildcats page and if you're able to get a print edition today, we have a Sweet 16 special section, too.

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Twelve former Wildcats are expected to participate in Arizona\u2019s pro day Friday. They include the following 10 members of the 2016 team:

Also scheduled to participate are offensive lineman Cayman Bundage, a three-year starter from 2013-15; and Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea, who played at Arizona in 2012 and \u201913 before transferring to Hawaii.

Three Arizona senior starters from last season will not participate in pro day. Defensive lineman Sani Fuimaono and receiver Nate Phillips have elected to retire from football. Linebacker Michael Barton is recovering from shoulder surgery. He continues to train in hopes of landing a pro tryout later this year or next year.

Arizona\u2019s pro day, which runs from about 10 a.m.-noon, is closed to the media. Players will be available for interviews after their workouts.

"}, {"id":"00b185cb-fedb-59e8-b1ec-7e7607bd22a2","type":"article","starttime":"1490313600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-23T17:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490315825","priority":35,"sections":[{"baseball":"sports/arizonawildcats/baseball"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats\u2019 series at Oregon State pits nation\u2019s best offense against top pitching staff","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/baseball/article_00b185cb-fedb-59e8-b1ec-7e7607bd22a2.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/baseball/arizona-wildcats-series-at-oregon-state-pits-nation-s-best/article_00b185cb-fedb-59e8-b1ec-7e7607bd22a2.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/baseball/arizona-wildcats-series-at-oregon-state-pits-nation-s-best/article_00b185cb-fedb-59e8-b1ec-7e7607bd22a2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The Cats rank first in the nation in runs per game, batting average and OBP; the Beavers are tops in ERA, WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74993"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"f841cbd7-e015-5bf0-8a06-8c5af7fdfb3e","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"360","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/84/f841cbd7-e015-5bf0-8a06-8c5af7fdfb3e/573fe6e28457f.image.jpg?resize=640%2C360"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/84/f841cbd7-e015-5bf0-8a06-8c5af7fdfb3e/57128b791d145.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/84/f841cbd7-e015-5bf0-8a06-8c5af7fdfb3e/573fe6e28457f.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/84/f841cbd7-e015-5bf0-8a06-8c5af7fdfb3e/573fe6e28457f.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"00b185cb-fedb-59e8-b1ec-7e7607bd22a2","body":"

The Arizona Wildcats\u2019 series at Oregon State this weekend isn\u2019t merely a matchup of top-10 teams.

It\u2019s No. 1 vs. No. 1.

The Wildcats (16-4, 2-1 Pac-12) have the most prolific offense in the nation. The Beavers (17-1, 3-0) have the stingiest pitching staff.

\u201cObviously, something\u2019s working for them,\u201d UA junior outfielder Jared Oliva said. \u201cIt\u2019s going to be fun. It\u2019s going to really test our game plan, our approach, our scouting reports.

\u201cIt\u2019s going to come down to who can execute \u2014 who\u2019s going to get the big hit. I don\u2019t think we\u2019re going to put up 10 runs. It might happen with our offense, but it (also) might be a one-, two-run ballgame.\u201d

Arizona is averaging just over 10 runs per game, best in the nation entering Thursday. The Wildcats also pace the country in batting average (.352) and on-base percentage (.441).

Oregon State leads the nation in ERA (1.06), WHIP (0.81) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.28). The Beavers limited Arizona State to one run and nine hits in a three-game sweep last week, Oregon State\u2019s first road sweep against the Sun Devils since 1966.

Oregon State has allowed 25 runs in 18 games. Arizona scored that many against Hartford on March 11 and has reached double figures nine times this season.

\u201cThey\u2019re just really complete,\u201d UA coach Jay Johnson said of the Beavers, the preseason favorites in the Pac-12. \u201cWhat an opportunity. I\u2019m so excited for our players.

\u201cIt\u2019s supposed to rain up there. We can\u2019t control that. But we can control our competitiveness. We\u2019ve got to figure out a plan to scratch it out against a really good pitching staff and a really good team.\u201d

Arizona swept Oregon State at Hi Corbett Field last year. They finished tied for third in the conference with 16-14 league records.

The series, which starts Friday, is the Wildcats\u2019 second in a row on the road to begin Pac-12 play. Arizona came within an out of sweeping UCLA last weekend. Despite Sunday\u2019s one-run loss, the Wildcats have already won as many Pac-12 road series as they did all of last year.

\u201cThese guys have been tested, but each game presents a new challenge,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cThey\u2019ve earned the wins that they\u2019ve had. It\u2019s not getting any easier. They know that.\u201d

Arizona\u2019s probable Game 1 starter is senior-left hander JC Cloney (5-0, 1.12 ERA), who pitched four innings last Saturday after the previous night\u2019s game was suspended because of fog.

Oregon State\u2019s usual Friday starter is junior left-hander Luke Heimlich (4-0, 0.25). He is one of four Beavers starters with an ERA of 2.14 or better.

Inside pitch

Arizona is ranked ninth by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com. Oregon State is second and first, respectively.

Oregon State was No. 2 in RPI entering Thursday; Arizona was No. 4. Two of the Wildcats\u2019 four losses have come against teams ranked in the top 10 in RPI (Cal State Fullerton, No. 5; Texas Tech, No. 7).

Arizona senior shortstop Louis Boyd, out since Feb. 26 because of a left-arm injury, began hitting off a tee this week. Johnson said Boyd is ahead of schedule in his rehab. He originally was projected to be out six weeks. Kyle Lewis has been filling in at shortstop, batting .367 with 13 RBIs.

Arizona\u2019s Alfonso Rivas (.441) and Oregon State\u2019s Nick Madrigal (.426) ranked 1-2 in the Pac-12 in batting average entering Thursday. Rivas and teammate Cal Stevenson were tied for second in walks (17 apiece). Madrgial had a league-high eight stolen bases in eight attempts.

Oliva and teammate JJ Matijevic were tied for second in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in doubles (12 apiece) entering Thursday.

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The last time the Arizona Wildcats played a series at Hillenbrand Stadium, they swept Texas.

Eleven games \u2014 and 11 wins \u2014 later, the Wildcats will face another tough out. Washington will visit Arizona this weekend for the Wildcats\u2019 first home series in Pac-12 play.

Arizona (29-1, 3-0 Pac-12) is ranked fifth nationally; Washington is No. 6. But the stakes are, UA players say, exactly the same as always.

\u201cWe\u2019re going to come out and play Arizona softball,\u201d said Jessie Harper, who was named Pac-12 freshman player of the week for the second consecutive week, and player of the week for the first time this season. \u201cI\u2019m so excited for these games.\u201d

Harper hit two home runs in Game 2 of last weekend\u2019s sweep at Oregon State. The freshman has belted 10 homers this season, tied with the Wildcats\u2019 Katiyana Mauga for most in the Pac-12. Arizona leads the country with 44 dingers as a team.

\u201cWe have been feeding off each other,\u201d Harper said. \u201cDejah (Mulipola) hits one then Mo (Mercado) will hit one. Katiyana hits one, then I\u2019ll hit one. The home runs keep coming.\u201d

Mauga has 77 career home runs, and is on track to break some records this season. She is 10 from the UA record held by Stacie Chambers, 13 from the Pac-12 record held by UCLA\u2019s Stacey Nuveman and 18 from the all-time NCAA record owned by Oklahoma\u2019s Lauren Chamberlain.

The way Harper is hitting, however, Mauga might not be the only Wildcat to assault the all-time mark.

Harper is 18-for-34 with five doubles, five homers and a 1.17 slugging percentage over her last 11 games.

This weekend, she\u2019ll match up against Washington\u2019s Samantha Manti. The Huskies\u2019 ace is 5-0 with a 1.31 ERA this season; she pitched both games of a doubleheader against No. 21 Arizona State last weekend, and won both.

Harper and Manti have squared off against each other before in travel ball.

\u201cIt\u2019ll be interesting to see how she has adjusted to college softball and having the same pitching coach every day,\u201d Harper said. \u201cShe had a curveball and screwball with movement. We\u2019ll have to see if these have more movement and are faster.\u201d

The series is also a matchup of two similarly balanced teams. Consider:

Washington (26-3, 3-0) has won 12 straight games. Still, Wildcats coach Mike Candrea likes the mindset of his team after last Sunday\u2019s 7-4, come-from-behind victory.

\u201cI like the way this team competes,\u201d said Candrea, who needs three wins to join Michigan\u2019s Carol Hutchins as the only coaches with 1,500 career victories. \u201cIt\u2019s the sign of a true team to get behind and not panic. They have the confidence they can get things done.

\u201cThis will be a true test for us, playing against Washington. The stands will be packed, these games are televised and it\u2019s one of the top matchups. Even though it\u2019s early, it will have postseason implications.\u201d

"} ]