SEEN AND HEARD

Arizona Wildcats basketball: Seen & heard at the Diamond Head Classic

2012-12-26T00:00:00Z Arizona Wildcats basketball: Seen & heard at the Diamond Head ClassicBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Optimistic scheduling

Curiously, Arizona's tipoff time was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, even though there was a third-place game between Miami and Indiana State set for 5:30 - and teams are guaranteed 20 minutes to warm up on the court between games.

Then it became worse when the Hurricanes and Sycamores went into overtime and did not finish until 7:51.

Arizona's game did not tip off until 8:15 p.m., 45 minutes after it was scheduled to start.

Gentlemanly offer

When he was told UA coach Sean Miller had high respect for him and San Diego State's program, Aztecs coach Steve Fisher responded:

"I think he's saying that because I offered his freshman son (Austin Miller) a scholarship when he came to our team camp," Fisher said. "He appreciated that. I don't know if he truly believes (how good SDSU is), but I know he believes we're good. He has respect for our team."

Then, when Miller was told Fisher offered Austin a ride, Miller smiled. Austin is now a junior at Catalina Foothills.

"Where is it?" Miller said. "If that's the case, he accepts."

Engaged

Word spread among UA staffers that former Wildcats Luke Walton and Bre Ladd became engaged on Christmas Day.

Walton, who played for UA from 1998 to 2003 (redshirting as a freshman) is now playing for the Cavaliers after a nine-year stint with the Lakers. Ladd was a standout for the Wildcats volleyball team from 2002 to 2005 and still has the fourth-highest block total (466) in school history.

Ladd, a Canyon del Oro High grad, was a freshman during Walton's senior year at UA, and the two began dating afterward.

Where's George?

UA basketball fan George Kalil visited Lubbock, Texas, and Clemson, S.C., this season while accompanying the Wildcats on their road trips, as he almost always does. But he was nowhere to be found in Hawaii.

Well, the distance was a major factor. UA had to bus to Phoenix and take a six-plus hour flight to Honolulu, then stay for six days.

"He was just being cautious," UA trainer Justin Kokoskie said.

Make room

Fans traveling to next season's Diamond Head Classic may have to make way for a presidential motorcade.

Oregon State and coach Craig Robinson, otherwise known as the first brother-in-law, will appear in the 2013 event, which coincides with President Obama's annual Christmas-time retreat to Honolulu. A noted basketball fan, Obama has seen the Beavers play on the East Coast but not in Corvallis or elsewhere.

Other teams who committed to the 2013 event include George Mason, Iowa State, Saint Mary's, South Carolina and Hawaii. Two more teams will be added to the eight-team field.

Balancing act

The way Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy viewed it, Ole Miss took something of a necessary risk Monday by visiting Pearl Harbor.

Kennedy wanted his players to see the USS Arizona Memorial but, like all coaches, didn't want them to spend too much time on their feet. So they did it carefully.

"We tried to be efficient," Kennedy said. "We have a good operations director, and we got in early and did it in about 2 1/2 hours and got out. And we did it in the morning, so by the afternoon they were rested. And we didn't pound them at practice."

Kennedy made one other strategic move later Monday: He did not schedule the team for any kind of fancy Christmas Eve dinner.

"If you get too sentimental, guys start thinking about wanting to go home," said Kennedy, whose team responded by beating Hawaii 81-66 in the fifth-place game Tuesday.

Arizona also played it carefully, eating at a cook-your-own restaurant for lunch Monday and having a quiet team dinner with a "Secret Santa" gift exchange on Christmas Eve.

Big number

10

Years since San Diego State had faced a team as highly ranked as No. 3 Arizona - and that was No. 2 UA on Dec. 7, 2002. UA won 89-81.

Quotable

"It's a big deal for us, too."

Hawaii's Vander Joaquim, on how the Rainbow Warriors view the Diamond Head Classic, which provides a road trip that is often a highlight of other teams' seasons.

On StarNet: Find out what fans had to say during the game by reading the transcript of StarNet's UA-San Diego State Live Fan Chat at live.azstarnet.com

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