Regular season finale to be emotional day for basketball seniors
Saturday afternoon, seniors Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill will lace up their sneakers at McKale Center one last time. At 2:30 p.m., the lights will dim and the fellow four-year Wildcats will be introduced over the loudspeakers for the final time before they take the court against rival ASU in the regular season finale.
Several of Parrom’s family members will be in attendance as he, Hill and the rest of the Arizona seniors — guard Mark Lyons and reserves Max Wiepking and Quinton Crawford — are honored for senior night.
But in addition to Parrom’s father, aunt and brother, someone else will be there in his heart: His mother.
“I’m just going to try and do the best I can to get this win on Saturday,” said Parrom in Thursday’s press conference, as his eyes started to water. “I know she doesn’t like us losing. I remember when she was alive, she’d be like, you know, ‘Kev, what are you guys doing losing all these games? I didn’t send you across the country to lose.’
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
“So I’m going to try and make sure I [win] my last game for her.”
Parrom’s mother, Lisa Williams, died from cancer in October 2011. Her memory lives on with the senior guard, making an already emotional day even more poignant.
“We are going to win,” he said. “I can’t lose on my last game. I can’t. I can’t accept that; I know [Hill] can’t accept that; Coach isn’t going to accept that; nobody’s going to accept it.
“Especially to ASU.”
That might seem like an easy task after No. 18 Arizona (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12) routed the Sun Devils the first time they met. The Wildcats left Tempe with a 17-point blowout, and now with ASU (20-10, 9-8) on a three-game skid, senior night is set up to be a walk in the park.
But Hill feels the Sun Devils are a talented and dangerous team, and he’s right. Guard Jahii Carson is a leading candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year — along with UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad — and ASU possesses both size inside, with 7-footer Jordan Bachynski, and talented scoring on the wings.
Arizona’s biggest threat, though, is senior Carrick Felix.
The hybrid forward leads the Sun Devils in rebounds (8.4) and is second in points (14.0). Arizona head coach Sean Miller picked Felix as his Most Improved Player in the Pac-12, and considering he played his worst game of the season the last time the two teams met, he’s bound to present more of a challenge this time around.
The Wildcats held Felix to 1-of-8 shooting and seven turnovers, a show of defensive effort that’s disappeared as of late, with Arizona losing four of its last seven.
It’s crucial that the Wildcats return to a similar intensity on defense as the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments loom.
“We want to find the team that was in McKale when we played Florida, when we played the beginning of our schedule, when we were a tougher defensive team,” Hill said. “I think if we get back to the team that we were, we’ll kind of have the same figures we had early on in our season.”
Hill doesn’t have as deep of an emotional attachment to this game as Parrom does, but with six family members in attendance to watch his final game in McKale, he also wants to cement his legacy one final time in Tucson.
While a win would be the perfect conclusion, Hill wouldn’t mind a little something extra in his last home game — namely, dunking on Bachynski.
“Anything that anybody could look back on and remember me from this game would be something great, no matter what it is,” Hill said.