Campus Guide '17: Arizona’s proud basketball tradition

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Allonzo Trier (35) and Kadeem Allen (5) after the Wildcats' win against the Arizona State Sun Devils on March 4. Trier scored 19 points for Arizona as they defeated the Sun Devils 73-60.

There’s basketball and then there’s Arizona basketball.

The Old Pueblo is home to a rare breed of college basketball where there is a never-ending fountain of optimism, no matter how the season may wind up.

Arizona basketball boats one of the proudest traditions on the West Coast. Anchored by a large community that remembers watching the 1997 championship and bolstered by a rabid student fan base known as the Zona Zoo, UA basketball is cherished in a similar manner as SEC football is in the South.

It has been over 20 years since Arizona won a national championship and 16 since the program last went to a Final Four. By now, it would be easy to assume that fan support has wavered after two decades without a championship. But instead, it’s the opposite and the fan base remains as strong as ever.

Arizona has maintained the Pac-12’s highest home game attendance rate for 33 years in a row and the program shows no signs of relinquishing that distinction.

There are very few places that are better to watch a college basketball game than McKale Center. The arena, which underwent a $30 million renovation before the 2014 season, is heralded as one of the premier sporting venues in the Pac-12.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona's Kadeem Allen motions for a teammate during the Pac-12 quarterfinals against Colorado in Las Vegas on March 9.

On game days, fans of all ages crowd the arena and rarely is there an open seat. Prior to the UCLA vs Arizona game on Feb. 25, 2017, around a thousand students packed McKale Center at 6:00 a.m for ESPN’s College Gameday. Many students even camped outside overnight. The same game set the Arizona record for ticket prices as some fans paid over $1,000 apiece.

The excitement of Arizona basketball during the month of March creates a frenzy that is hard to beat, because each year it seems like the team is positioned to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.

Under head coach Sean Miller, the program hasn’t yet gotten over the hump of getting back to a Final Four, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time. Arizona has reached the Sweet Sixteen three of the last four years, and the Elite Eight two of those four years.

This year, Arizona will once again have one of the best teams in the country, headlined by junior Allonzo Trier and the nation’s No. 1 recruit, DeAndre Ayton.

The season is still a few months away but Arizona basketball will be in full swing starting in October when the annual Red/Blue game takes place. Expect Wildcat basketball pride to be everywhere once that happens.


Follow Alec White on Twitter.



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