Arizona basketball: Sidelines

2013-02-06T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:25:01Z Arizona basketball: SidelinesBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Happy birthday, McKale

Coniel Norman poured in 37 points to lead the Wildcats to an 87-69 win over Wyoming on Feb. 1, 1973, the first game played at McKale Center.

As Arizona celebrates the 40th anniversary of the arena tonight, evidence suggests things haven't gotten much easier for visiting teams. UA is 505-101 at McKale, an 83.3 winning percentage.

"Life at McKale Center hasn't been very fun for our opponents. … for me, that's what really stands out," UA coach Sean Miller said.

Miller said his experience playing for Pittsburgh in McKale was a selling point for him to take the UA job.

And he said UA is fortunate to have a student section that is the "heartbeat" of the arena as well as educated and longtime, loyal fans.

Good timing

Turns out, guard Nick Johnson didn't need those little bags tucked behind the tray table when UA made its charter flight home from Lewiston, Idaho, late Saturday.

Miller said Johnson started feeling better from his stomach virus after the UA-WSU game. Miller said Johnson threw up before and during the game, and "it wasn't easy" to watch him play 31 minutes. "But obviously, he didn't put himself at further risk. It wasn't like he was violently ill on the way home," the coach said.

Mixed emotions

Ray Lewis and the Stanford basketball team made a surprise bond last season after Lewis sent the Cardinal a motivational video before their NIT championship.

But when Lewis closed out his Ravens' career in the Super Bowl against the 49ers and former Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh, Cardinal basketball coach Johnny Dawkins had to hold back a bit.

"I'm sad for the 49ers because of where I live," Dawkins said, "but I'm happy for Ray Lewis and the way he was able to go out as a champion."

More sadness

An off day Sunday meant freshman forward Brandon Ashley could watch the Super Bowl, but that wasn't easy to do. He's a diehard 49ers fan born in San Francisco who played three years of high school ball in Oakland.

"The first half was ridiculous," Ashley said. "I was watching us get destroyed out there. The lights saved us (by going out), and we made a huge comeback. It was tough. But it was a good game to watch."

They need the rest

Good thing for Cal that it has three days between its game Thursday at ASU and Sunday at Arizona.

The Bears used just seven players in its 58-54 upset of Oregon on Saturday, partly because Missouri transfer Ricky Kreklow has played only five games with foot issues.

Asked if he was OK with the rotation, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said: "All I got. Not OK. It's all I got."

Long, strange trip

Pac-12 TV commentator Bill Walton will make his Pac-12 tour stop in Tucson today at 10 a.m. in UA's Bio Sciences West, Building 301. Walton, set to work tonight's UA game on ESPNews, has said there are "no limits" to what can be asked.

Stress relief?

Considering Miller's work ethic and intensity, maybe it's no surprise that what little down time he has can be … intense.

Miller's son, Austin, wrote Monday on Twitter about his dad's prowess at Madden football video games:"I swear @UAcoachMiller practices madden at night. I can hear him playing with the steelers from down the hall. He is getting good."

When told about Austin's tweet, Miller smiled. "What do you want me to say?" he said.

Stanford at No. 7 Arizona, 7 p.m. today, ESPNews, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

He said it …

"Dwight Powell is playing like the Player of the Year. He's athletic, has size, can shoot. He's very reminiscent to Derrick Williams his sophomore year. He plays the five, so that's why he's a matchup nightmare. Josh Huestis has become much better playing a different (power forward) role. They're shooting it better. I think they're playing almost better than anyone right now."

Book Richardson, Arizona assistant coach who scouted the Cardinal

Cal at No. 7 Arizona, 5 p.m. Sunday, Pac-12 Arizona, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

He said it …

"Mike Montgomery is a Hall of Fame coach, and to me, from an offensive standpoint one of the best in America. He prepares his team so well they can counter however the defense plays you, and to me that's the mark of an incredible coach. (The perimeter players) take the most shots, and the post players are good at playing off the perimeter players."

Joe Pasternack, Arizona assistant coach who scouted the Bears

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