Even Wilbur T. Wildcat is fired up about Arizona’s basketball adventure, which begins Monday with an exhibition against Augustana.

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

I was sitting down to dinner in July when I saw a flock of Spocks.

Seven of them, all dressed the same from (pointy) ears to toes, filed into the downtown San Diego gastropub where I was celebrating, of all things, a friend’s bachelor party.

Then came the Spidermen and the Batmen and the Steampunk dudes and Chewbacca, and the “Evil Dead” guy and the girls dressed like Tinkerbell.

And the Shatners. So many Shatners.

The Comic-Con superfans would have fit right in at McKale Center.

Passion drives everything we do in life. It motivates us to wait in line for tickets, dress up, read up — and cheer.

In Tucson, we go nuts for basketball.

UA fans shove themselves, sausage-like — beer-guts-into-dri-fit-casings — into basketball jerseys carrying the numbers of past players. (Boy, Michael Wright has really let himself go.) Others cut, stitch and tape Zona Zoo T-shirts into mini-dresses worthy of “Project Runway.”

“Cats-Con” has its superheroes, too. “Bear Down Bear” is a UA student who dresses in a full furry costume for each game. Doug Tepper, the “Red and Blue Guy,” writes cheers onto a portable whiteboard. And Bodysuit Man, well, wears a giant bodysuit.

The “Three Blind Refs” totter around McKale Center, their collapsible white canes in hand. The Ooh Aah Man dresses in layers, then removes one at a time. Phyllis Goodman becomes someone else entirely — Phyllis the Superfan — when she dons her trademark beret.

These are passionate people, and our 2013-14 college basketball guide is written for them. And you.

Inside this 64-page monster, you’ll find incomparable coverage from our Bruce Pascoe, who explains that this year’s team is the result of years of stellar recruiting by coach Sean Miller. Pascoe also profiles guard Nick Johnson, who has become a one-man recruiting machine since arriving at the UA two years ago, and manages — somehow — to make sense of the Wildcats’ unbalanced schedule.

Jon Gold, the newest member of the Star’s coverage team, profiles UCLA coach Steve Alford and USC coach Andy Enfield and introduces you to the Bruins’ Kyle Anderson and Stanford’s Dwight Powell. He also explains why Arizona State’s Jahii Carson is out for revenge during what’s sure to be his final season in college.

Prefer pop-culture references to tales of reprisal? Check out our capsules of every Pac-12 team.

No insider’s look into Arizona basketball would be complete without Greg Hansen. The Star’s legendary columnist explains why — and how — the Pac-12 Conference has changed over the years, and gives you everything you need to know with his fan’s guide.

So get reading. “Cats-Con” starts Monday.

Contact sports editor Ryan Finley at 573-4312 or rfinley@azstarnet.com or. On Twitter


The sports editor of the Arizona Daily Star.