UA basketball: Seen & heard at McKale Center

2012-11-16T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:12:59Z UA basketball: Seen & heard at McKale CenterPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Counting

Greg Byrne sits with famous sports folks all the time.

On Thursday, though, he took his turn with one of the rock world's biggest sports fans.

Cal alum Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows, sat with the athletic director in his top-of-the-lower-bowl seats across from the UA bench.

Counting Crows has a show at AVA tonight.

Duritz is no stranger to Pac-12 sports.

We spotted him at the 2010 Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center and at the UA's 2008 home football game against the Golden Bears.

Duritz actually lived in El Paso as a kid before moving across the street from the Berkeley campus.

Byrne had the perfect response when asked his favorite Counting Crows song.

"Omaha," he said of the 1994 hit. "Especially last June."

Corey on TV

When the Pac-12 Networks didn't pick him as a color analyst, Corey Williams wondered what was going to happen to his television career.

The former UA player had done Fox Sports Net's Wildcats broadcasts with Dave Sitton from 2009 until the Pac-12's new media rights deal took effect this fall.

"When the season drew near, everyone asked, 'Are you going to do games?'" he said. "It was a bit disappointing to not catch on with the (Pac-12) network."

Williams had hired an agent in the spring.

"It was the best move I ever made," he said Thursday, "because I didn't think about it much.

"Having an agent allows you to focus on doing your job."

Williams was named a color commentator for Fox Sports Net earlier this week.

"I am on cloud nine," he said. "I'm extremely excited about the opportunity."

He'll do five Pac-12 national broadcasts for Fox Sports Net, starting Jan. 6 with Oregon/Oregon State, and including the UA's Jan. 19 game against the Sun Devils in Tempe.

"It will be a real special game," he said. "I'm very familiar with both programs. It's the biggest basketball game in the state."

Williams will work for ESPN, too, calling games online for ESPN3 during next week's Las Vegas Invitational.

Texas, Western?

UTEP's team jumped on a bus at 5 p.m. Wednesday and headed for Tucson.

The Miners' cheerleaders and mascot drove to McKale Center, too. (Too bad there was no pep band: Did you know the Miners' fight song is to the tune of Marty Robbins' "El Paso?")

And what's not to love about a mustachioed cowboy-hat-and-UTEP- belt-buckle-wearin' mascot named Paydirt Pete?

In the first half, Pete and Wilbur T. Wildcat mugged at midcourt during a timeout. Wilbur took his pickax and dropped it on the ground. Don't worry, though: The mascots hugged it out afterward.

Quotable

"Did you say No. 13? Oh, No. 11?"

An official, playfully, to a Wildcats fan screaming for a travel call on a UTEP player

Zumba?

One of the Wildcats' game sponsors Thursday was a gym that offers classes in Zumba, a Colombian dance fitness exercise craze.

So at halftime, of course, a dozen or so people stood at midcourt and, with dance music blaring, did some Zumba.

There was an instructor and what appeared to be random fans.

It was, um, strange.

Big coach

To prepare for the Wildcats' beefy frontcourt, the Miners could have utilized one of their own assistant coaches.

Former NBA center Greg Foster, all 6 feet 11 inches of him, sat on the UTEP bench Thursday.

In May, 17 years after leaving UTEP, Foster returned to get his degree in interdisciplinary studies.

The 13-year NBA veteran and 2001 world champion (with the Los Angeles Lakers) first took classes online at University of Phoenix, and then joined coach Tim Floyd as an undergraduate assistant.

The 44-year-old father of three was promoted to assistant coach before this season.

The big number

4 - Times in the last 15 years UTEP won its first road game of the season, most recently in 2010 against New Mexico State

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