The phone call that brought Ristic's top sign to Arizona
LAS VEGAS -- What started as an inside joke has now become the calling card of seven-foot center Dusan Ristic. The infamous top sign the Serbian senior makes after a big play has suddenly become a regular appearance for one of the Pac-12’s top low-post scorers.
“It started from nothing and now it’s like my trademark or something,” Ristic said after posting a 16 point, 11 rebound stat line to propel Arizona to a 83-67 win over Colorado in the quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Four years ago, Ristic was on the phone with his friend from Serbia prior to playing in one of his first nationally televised games on ESPN with the Arizona Wildcats. Ristic recalls talking about about a sign from back home they’d make during games.
“If you make a big play, if you make a three or if you dunk, just show like a top. That was our sign,” Ristic said.
That tradition eventually made its way to Tucson. Shortly after getting off the phone, Ristic had a chance to unleash his sign.
“That game, I hit a three and I showed the top and that’s how everything started,” Ristic said.
Now, Ristic has been able to show the sign on a regular basis. Each game, the center figures more and more into Arizona’s gameplan and Ristic’s efficient productivity in conference play led him to being named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. In fact, the Serbian product scored in double figures in 15 of Arizona’s 18 conference games.
His latest impact came in the form of 12 second half points that were very much needed with fellow seven-footer Deandre Ayton in foul trouble and struggling to find shooting rhythm.
“I’m trying bring the energy to the court. When somebody doesn’t play well, I’m trying to help,” Ristic said.
Four years after the phone call, the sign is mirrored from players and fans alike whenever Ristic makes an impactful play. It’s the simple act of forming the top that has allowed the international player to bond with the Arizona basketball community in a way few could imagine.
The collective Arizona fans yell "DUUUUSSS" every time the seven-footer scores now which is something that wasn't heard in McKale at the beginning of the year. Ristic even revealed a "Dusan Loves Tucson" shirt during senior night last weekend.
The next time Ristic raises his hands over his head, it’ll be an inside joke that Arizona fans understand too.
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