Editor's note: This story first appeared Sunday as an exclusive for our print readers.
Pueblo's Fat Lever, CDO's Mike Redhair and Sahuaro's Adrian Brown didn't attend Point Guard U. Instead, they left Tucson to play basketball at Arizona State.
Lever became an NBA All-Star and is now director of player development for the Sacramento Kings. Brown blew out a knee while playing for the Sun Devils and transferred to Eastern Kentucky. He works in private business in Phoenix where his son, Jalen Brown, a sophomore-to-be safety at Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School, projects as an elite-level Pac-10 football prospect
Only Redhair, the former ASU single-season assists leader (an attorney in an Oro Valley firm with his father, former UA football lineman Jack Redhair), knows what it's like to live the Territorial Cup rivalry in "enemy territory."
"I haven't gone to one of the games for nine or 10 years and I probably won't watch it" tonight, he said. "I just don't enjoy the atmosphere it creates. There's too much yelling and screaming on both sides. There's too much anger. It's not healthy."
Mike Redhair was recruited to ASU by Steve Patterson, played for Bill Frieder and went 0-8 against the Wildcats in his college career. He likes what he sees from Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek.
"I hope they give him time; he runs a classy program and gets a lot out of the talent he has," Redhair says. "He just doesn't have a go-to player right now."
Redhair officiates about 30 high school basketball games a year. He is scheduled to work the Class 4A-II state championship game on Feb. 26 in Glendale.
"Maybe I've grown up, I don't know, but I was such a whiner when I played for ASU," he says. "Now I've got a pretty long leash with coaches when I officiate. I've been there. It's a better game when everybody just calms down - fans, players and coaches."
Overtime: UA-Cal Revisited
Bay Area trip was impressive, but Cats have had bigger sweeps
Last week's Arizona-Cal triple-overtime game was so absorbing that Fox Sports Net Arizona did not cut away for a commercial in any of the overtimes. That's almost unprecedented.
"We had two cameramen with hand-held cameras - very bulky and heavy - and they almost collapsed," said play-by-play announcer Dave Sitton. "It was like a PBS show. Nothing but programming."
Two things about the 107-105 game: It wasn't the longest game involving Pac-10 teams. Cal and Oregon played a five-OT game in 1977. There have been several four-OT games, dating as far back as a Stanford-USC game in 1923.
Nor was the Cal-Stanford sweep close to the most impressive Pac-10 road sweep in UA history. In 1994, Arizona swept that trip when the Bears, ranked No. 18, had Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray and Stanford finished 17-11. Arizona's top Pac-10 road sweep ever was likely the 2001 Stanford-Cal visit when Stanford was ranked No. 1 and Cal was a 20-win, NCAA participant.
Sitton won't call tonight's UA-ASU game. He'll be the analyst on NBC in a 2 p.m. telecast of the HSBC Sevens World Series of Rugby in Las Vegas, part of the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics. My call: Sun Devils will play slow and ugly and win in the final minute.
Ex-Sabino, UA lefty happy to bring N. Dakota St. here
Arizona opens its baseball season Friday at 6 p.m., against North Dakota State but don't expect NDSU coach Tod Brown to complain if it's a bit chilly by Tucson standards. The ex-Sabino and UA left-hander (and UA assistant coach) is coming home and bringing his baseball team with him. The Bison have practiced indoors in Fargo, N.D., for three weeks. "It was minus-15 with a wind-chill of minus-35 when I took my kids to school this morning," Brown said last week. "My players might be swimming in the hotel pool if it is above 50 degrees in Tucson." … In Bismarck, N.D., former Flowing Wells basketball star Chris Ayer had the most productive game of his NBA D-League career Friday night. The 6-foot-11-inch center scored 20 points for the Dakota Wizards in a loss at the Iowa Energy. Ayers, who played collegiately at Loyola Marymount, began the season in the Japanese Basketball League. … Emily Pohl, who hit .396 to help Cienega win the state 4A-I softball title last spring, made her college debut Friday with Colorado State. She batted cleanup and started at first base for the Rams, who lost at New Mexico State. … Jordan Trujillo, the ACCAC Player of the Year at Pima College last year at 29-4, made a successful major-college debut Thursday for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She was the winning pitcher against Loyola-Chicago, giving up one run in six innings. Trujillo is the likely starting pitcher Friday night at 6 when her team faces Arizona in the home opener at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Arcadia may be obstacle as No. 1 Amphi starts run
Coach Ben Hurley's Amphitheater boys basketball team (25-2) begins 4A-II state tournament play this week. The Arizona Republic ranks the Panthers No. 1 of all Arizona schools, any classification. The Panthers are 80-10 over the last three seasons, but twice were eliminated in the state playoffs by Terrell Stoglin's Santa Rita teams. The big hurdle this year is likely to be Phoenix Arcadia (25-1), winners of 22 straight games and led by USC-bound Larry Lewis, who is averaging 23.9 points. Hurley's team will have to prove it can win the title minus departed standout Malcolm Millner, who scored 27 points in last year's 4A-II state title loss to Santa Rita. … When perennial state title contender CDO begins its softball season this week, it will have a familiar face on the coaching staff. Ex-UA and CDO catching star Callista Balko is coaching the Dorados' junior varsity. … Mountain View High School has yet to hire a head football coach to replace Justin Argraves, but it has interviewed two well-known football players in Tucson: ex-Mountain Lions all-state tailback Kevin Schmidtke and ex-Sabino and USC tight end Doyal Butler. Schmidtke is the best player in MVHS history, leading the club to a 14-0 state title in 1993. It would be fascinating to see if Schmidtke could restore Mountain View to power. He is, after all, a full-time dentist. … At its first scheduled baseball practice of the season last week, Santa Rita players laid flowers at each base and on the pitcher's mound to honor their ex-coach, Dan Moore, who died Monday of a heart attack. He was 57. Moore coached Santa Rita to the 1986 state championship and also reached the state title game in 2000. He was part of Hal Eustice's remarkably successful baseball program at Sahuaro High School in the 1970s, and one of the titans of baseball coaching in Tucson history. The Santa Rita baseball field was named after Moore last May.
More SHort Stuff
Livengood at helm of UNLV's upgrade
Former UA athletic director Jim Livengood, who made the initial plans for an $85 million football facility at Arizona, has gone one up on that at UNLV. The Rebels announced plans to build a $300 million facility to play football and basketball games, and also to house student residences and provide retail shopping. That's a big difference between Tucson and Las Vegas - the number of wealthy boosters willing to spend. Livengood also has scheduled a home-and-home series with Arizona. The Wildcats are expected to open the 2013 football season at UNLV, with the Rebels returning a game in Tucson in 2014. It's unlikely the 40,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas would be completed in time for the 2013 game. … To qualify for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship - the world's top 64 rankings will be made final tonight - last year's quarterfinalist Sergio Garcia needs to play well in Dubai today. Sergio is ranked No. 79 in the world. Also in trouble is 81st-ranked Vijay Singh, who has played all four years in the Marana Match Play event. … No chance for ex-UA All-American Ricky Barnes to be part of this year's field; he remains sidelined by a back injury, ranked No. 89. Tiger Woods is likely to commit to the field before Friday's 3 p.m. deadline. … Former UA distance running All-American Robert Cheseret placed 11th last week in the USA Cross Country Championships, earning a spot on the USA team for the 2011 North America/Central America/ Caribbean championships in Trinidad. Ex-Pima College standout Craig Curley, who was 16th in the race, is also part of Team USA for next weekend's race. … Sad to learn of the death of ex-UA linebacker Abe Johnson. He led the Wildcats with 99 tackles in 1966. A knee injury prevented Johnson from playing his senior season at Arizona in 1967. Johnson was 64.
My Two Cents
Diamondbacks moving leaves a personal effect
Pitchers and catchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks begin workouts Monday at the club's new Salt River Fields spring training facility in Scottsdale. We've known about this for years.
The finality of the D-backs move hit me when I learned that longtime Tucsonan Bob Bensinger cleaned out his Tucson residence and moved to Scottsdale two weeks ago. He is the coordinator of the Diamondbacks spring training facility.
Bensinger moved to Tucson from upstate New York 30 years ago and began a career in the UA athletic department as an equipment manager.
He subsequently moved to Kino Sports Complex where he managed D-backs grounds facilities. He was also part of the grounds crew at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
In those three decades, Bensinger became Mr. Wildcat. He had season tickets in football and basketball and was a regular at UA and Tucson Sidewinder/Toros baseball games.
But now Bensinger is gone and so is the greed-driven spring training industry. I think I'll miss Bensinger more.