Sports: The good, the bad, and the goats

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Tyler Baker | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne celebrate together after Arizona's surprising 31-24 win against Oregon in Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Oct. 2, 2014. The Wildcats upset then-No. 5 Oregon to provide the season's signature win.

The Good

  • In one of the best wins in school history, Arizona football beat No. 2 Oregon on the road 31-24 on national television. The only higher-ranked team the Wildcats have beaten on the road was No. 1 USC in 1981. Linebacker Scooby Wright secured the upset by stripping Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
  • Arizona gymnastics had its bumps in the road, but overall, the season should be declared a positive one. The Wildcats reached their 29th consecutive regional appearance, had underclassmen step up and placed first in their session at the Pac-12 Conference  tournament.
  • For the second consecutive season, Arizona basketball remained in the top 10 of national rankings all year and advanced to the Elite Eight. The Wildcats have one of the most talented lineups in college basketball and gave Sean Miller back-to-back 30-plus win seasons. Regardless of how they finished, it was a great year for Arizona basketball.
  • Naoki Takeda had an excellent season that resulted in him beating the No. 5 player in the nation, Dominik Koepfer from Tulane, in the No. 1 spot. Takeda beat Koepfer 6-2 and 6-0. Takeda got hurt in his right arm but came back to make the NCAA Tournament as a single.
  • Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea captured his 1,400th win this season against UTEP on Feb. 27 and further etched his name in the program record books. Few UA coaches have made a lasting impact as big as Candrea has, and his 1,400th win was just the icing on top of his many accomplishments.
  • Arizona women’s golf had an extremely successful season in 2015 by winning three of its final four tournaments, including the Pac-12 Championship. The Wildcats also won the PING/ASU Invitational by finishing ahead of many top-ranked Pac-12 teams, as well  as defending national champion Duke. Arizona also finished the year ranked No. 4 in the country.


The Bad

  • When Arizona baseball was swept by Cal in late April, it snubbed all hopes of the team’s chance to return to Omaha. The unranked Golden Bears handed the Wildcats their only shutout of the season, and that same game ended utility player Bobby Dalbec’s 39-game streak for reaching base safely.
  • Losing against ASU is never acceptable at Arizona, so you can imagine how losing at ASU in back-to-back seasons would irk Sean Miller and the Wildcats. While last season’s game at least had a controversial ending, Arizona was just plain horrendous in this year’s rivalry matchup.
  • The UA’s return to a major bowl didn’t go as planned, as No. 21 Boise State upset the No. 12 Wildcats in Arizona in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl 38-30. The Wildcats found themselves down 21-0 to open the game and couldn’t catch up. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez’s bowl record at the UA fell to 2-1.
  • After 25 years with the program, Arizona coach Bill Ryden resigned and left the program in need of a replacement. Ryden had loads of postseason experience and knowledge to calm his athletes in high-pressure moments. Any time you have to replace a coach, there will be a tough transition, but Ryden meant so much to the program.
  • For the second straight season, Arizona men’s basketball had its season end at the hands of Wisconsin in the Elite Eight in Southern California. This time, Arizona was the two seed and Wisconsin the one, with the Badgers hitting 10 of 12 3-point attempts in the second half.
  • Arizona women’s basketball hasn’t seen much success lately, but the team’s Jan. 8 88-41 shellacking at the hands of ASU was bad even for its standards. While some games are over by halftime, this game was over by the 10-minute mark of the first half. That’s half of the first half, for those keeping score.


The Goats

  • Everyone knew Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker was talented and had the potential to torch the Wildcats. But with Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the wings, Dekker wasn’t as big of an issue as Frank Kaminsky. Boy did Dekker prove everyone wrong, as he went off for 27 points in the UA loss.
  • Samajie Grant had a little too much fun after the Wildcats defeated ASU in Arizona Stadium. Grant was cited with suspicion of driving under the influence and failed a sobriety test. Grant was punished by not being able to start during the Pac-12 championship game against the Oregon Ducks.
  • It didn’t turn out to be as big as it seemed at the time, but when Arizona kicker Casey Skowron missed the game-winning field goal attempt against USC on Oct. 11, a perfect season escaped the Wildcats, and frustration brewed throughout Arizona Stadium. Luckily for Skowron, he bounced back from that low point.
  • Excitement surrounds new ASU men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley. He comes at the expense of losing Wildcat killer Herb Sendek. For the second straight season, the Sun Devils beat a top-six UA team, and Sendek won three of his last four in Tempe against the UA, going 5-4 against Arizona at home.


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