Explore Arizona Athletics from A to Z
*Editor's Note: This article appeared in the Daily Wildcat's 2017 Orientation Guide.
Seven-foot power forward DeAndre Ayton will be making a lot of noise come basketball season. The freshman will enter the program as the highest-rated signee in Arizona men’s basketball history and head coach Sean Miller went as far as to say that Ayton is a “once in a generation” player.
The UA’s motto can be heard at every game and even most days just walking around Tucson. The battle cry originated in October 1926 by John “Button” Salmon, UA’s then-student body president, varsity quarterback and baseball catcher. Head coach at the time, J.F. “Pop” McKale visited the athlete in the hospital after a car accident. McKale said Salmon’s last words before his death were, “Tell them ... Tell the team to Bear Down.”
The UA has a statue located in front of the Arizona football stadium in honor of the Salmon and the school’s official slogan.
Softball head coach Mike Candrea won his 1,500th game in March of 2017 making him the winningest softball coach in NCAA Division I history. He was also inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in April.
In January of 2017, former Arizona baseball legend Terry Francona pledged a $1 million donation to the baseball program. The money will be put towards an indoor hitting facility that will be named the Terry Francona Hitting Facility. Each year many alumni donate money to Arizona Athletics.
Under head coach Sean Miller, Arizona reached the Elite Eight in the 2011, 2014 and 2015 seasons, but lost all three times. The Wildcats were close to advancing to the Elite Eight in 2017 but lost to Xavier in the Sweet 16.
Say this phrase to any Arizona fans and it will get them excited and make them shudder at the same time.
Arizona has had four Final Four appearances in the basketball program’s storied history, but none since 2001 where they lost to the Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA Championship Game.
Will this be the year the Wildcats finally break through?
Whether you’re out tailgating on the mall on a Saturday afternoon or pitching a tent outside the entrance to the McKale Center, game days are an experience that everyone can enjoy. Arizona Wildcat fans are some of the most passionate around, especially in March, and there’s no better feeling for a fan than hearing “U of A” chants at every major sporting event.
Dave Heeke became Arizona’s new athletic director on April 1st after Greg Byrne accepted the same position with the University of Alabama. Heeke was the former athletic director for Central Michigan University for the last 11 years.
He is currently in the first year of his five-year contract with Arizona, a job that will pay him a minimum of $500,000 yearly.
Arizona football dealt with numerous injuries to some of their most important players last season. These players included quarterbacks Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins as well as running backs J.J Taylor and Nick Wilson among others. With Solomon transferring to Baylor, the health of Dawkins, Taylor and Wilson will be needed if the Wildcats are to compete for a bowl appearance.
JJ and JC
J.J Matijevic and J.C Cloney are two of the top baseball players for the Wildcats. Matijevic is the team’s best offensive threat and one of the Pac-12’s leaders in batting, while Cloney is the ace of the pitching staff who threw 16 scoreless innings in last year’s College World Series.
Softball player Katiyana Mauga had a senior season for the ages. The power slugger broke Arizona’s all-time home run record on April 22nd with her 88th career blast against the Oregon Ducks. The record was previously held by Stacie Chambers, a catcher for the Wildcats during the 2008-2011 seasons.
Can’t afford tickets to the big game? Lucky for you, you can hear play-by-play man Brian Jeffries call every football, basketball and baseball game on the local radio. The veteran broadcaster has been the voice of the Wildcats for the last 30 years and has called some of the school’s most historic games. All you have to do to be a part of one, is listen.
With a capacity of over 14,500, the McKale Center plays host to several UA sports such as volleyball and gymnastics, but it is synonymous with men’s basketball. Arizona men’s basketball has the highest attendance total in the Pac-12 for 32 seasons in a row making the center a premier sporting venue.
It’s every college basketball player’s dream to be drafted into the NBA and the University of Arizona has churned out several high profile picks in recent years such as Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson. In the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft, Lauri Markkanen, Kobi Simmons, and Chance Comanche are potential picks with Markkanen being a possible top-10 selection.
Under the direction of first year head coach Jay Johnson, Arizona baseball reached the College World Series in Omaha in 2016 before eventually losing to Coastal Carolina in the Championship Series. Johnson and his team are off to another strong start in 2017 and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them back in the College World Series this summer.
Both UA softball and baseball have some of the strongest pitching staffs in the Pac-12. The baseball squad includes the junior left-hander Cameron Ming who threw two complete games during the 2017 regular season. On the other side is Taylor McQuillin for the softball team. She struck out 17 batters in a game in February.
Arizona football will enter the season with a 3-man quarterback competition. Brandon Dawkins was the start for the majority of the 2016 season but dealt with rib and concussion injuries which caused Khalil Tate to have his redshirt removed. The new face in the mix will be 26-year-old freshman Donovan Tate, a former first-round MLB draft.
Football head coach Rich Rodriguez had his streak of four straight seasons with a bowl appearance snapped in 2016 after the team finished with a 3-9 record.
After winning 10 games in the 2014 season, the Wildcats have only managed 10 wins in the last two seasons combined. He looks to lead his team back to a bowl game in 2017.
The Territorial Cup is one of the fiercest rivalries on the west coast. The Wildcats had a successful 2016 season against their arch-nemesis, beating the ASU Sun Devils in football, men’s basketball, softball and baseball. You can always expect a heated game when these two schools collide.
Men’s basketball player Allonzo Trier announced in April he will be returning for his junior season. The 6’5” guard led UA in scoring with 17.2 points per game despite missing the first 19 games due to a failed performance-enhancing drug test. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the Pac-12 tournament in 2017 and will be the one of the top players for Arizona next season.
University Blvd. is the student hot spot to watch Arizona road games during football and basketball seasons. Students are offered an array of restaurant options, each packed with a dozen or so televisions making for a perfect destination for watching the game with your friends and family.
Men’s basketball player Rawle Alkins announced in May he will be returning for his sophomore year of school after initially declaring for the NBA Draft without an agent. During pre-draft workouts, NBA teams told Alkins that he was a “versatile player” who could be “unstoppable” if he developed a better jump shot.
Wilma and Wilbur Wildcat can be spotted across campus and at nearly every Arizona sporting event.
The pair got married on November 21, 1986 before the annual UA-ASU rivalry football game. Before Wilbur came along in 1959, the UA’s mascot was Rufus, a live bobcat.
Arizona was knocked off by Xavier University in the Sweet 16 round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats had a 7-point lead with under three minutes to go in the game but Xavier came back to win by a final score of 73-71. Allonzo Trier missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
Arizona GymCats head coach Tabitha Yim is one of the most dedicated gymnastics coaches you will find. The former Stanford gymnast teaches her athletes core values that extend just beyond the sport. She helps instill values of passion, commitment, balance, beliefs and family to her team.
ud and proud, UA’s student section is comprised of more than 10,000 enthusiastic student Wildcat fans. ZonaZoo is the largest student section in the Pac-12 and can be heard from the other end of the field or court. Members can often be found lining up for games six hours early, decked out in red and blue paint.
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