Arizona athletics A-Z

A — Aaron Gordon
The Wildcats newest freshman phenomenon, the 6-foot-8 power forward from San Jose, Calif., brings with him immense talent and immeasurable athleticism. While it might be a short stay in Tucson for ESPN’s No. 4 overall recruit in 2013, the high-flying Gordon should produce plenty of unforgettable moments in the upcoming season.

B — Butts, Niya
The women’s basketball coach has quite the job on her hands this season. The Wildcats finished 12-18 and lost guard Davellyn Whyte, who was one of Arizona’s best women’s basketball players ever. Whyte was the second-highest scorer in school history (2,059 points) and was drafted 16th overall in the WNBA draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars. Butts will be pressured to keep the team afloat.

C — Copper
Last year copper was introduced into the UA color scheme in honor of its important place in the state of Arizona’s history. But the new color wasn’t a one-hit wonder. The football team kept the copper helmet as part of an alternate uniform in 2013 and several other sports adopted the color as well. Copper helmets are here to stay.

D — Denker, B.J.
The spot for Arizona’s signal caller is still up in the air, but senior Denker holds the pole position entering fall camp. Even if the gregarious quarterback loses the starting gig, he’ll still have an important role as backup and a teacher for the Wildcats this season. Oh, and his self-branded nickname is Vanilla Vick — hard to beat that.

E — Estela Piñon
As a junior, Piñon posted a 12-8 record in her first regular season as a Wildcat. She threw eight complete games for Arizona’s softball team and struck out 98 while walking 59 in 116.1 innings pitched. She submitted the lowest earned run average (3.67) and opposing batting average (.234) out of all starters and will be key for Arizona this upcoming season.

F — Fowler, Kenzie
After having microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery last fall to repair a herniated disc in her back, ace softball pitcher Fowler decided to redshirt the 2012-13 season. The two-time NFCA All-American will join Shelby Babcock and Piñon to create a senior-laden rotation next season. Fowler should contribute offensively as well.

G — Gilbert (Trent) and Gibbons (Zach)
After winning the National Championship in 2012, the following baseball season was destined to be a let down. Still, two young hitters, second baseman Trent Gilbert and outfielder Zach Gibbons, developed into reliable options at the plate. The cavernous dimensions at Hi Corbett Field gives Gilbert, Gibbons and the rest of the Arizona offense a nice little boost as well as a fun atmosphere to catch a game.

H — Home Court Advantage
The historic McKale Center has been home to the men and women’s basketball team since 1973 and it packs quite a punch. McKale Center is the second largest stadium in the Pac-12 conference and is expected to receive a major face-lift in the near future. The basketball mecca helped lead the men’s team to a 14-2 record at home last year.

I — International
Ten of the 18 athletes on Arizona men’s and women’s tennis teams are international students from all across the globe. Unfortunately, the abundance of diversity didn’t equal wins as both teams finished below .500 and combined to go 19-28. But fear not tennis lovers, all 18 will return next season and better play is bound to come.

J — James Farris
Starting pitcher Farris, as well as the rest of the staff, didn’t live up to head baseball coach Andy Lopez’s expectations last season. But the rotation will return a lot of talent, including Farris and closer Mathew Troupe. Look for Farris to win the vaunted Friday night starter role.

K — Ka’Deem Carey
Junior Carey had the best season ever for an Arizona running back in 2012, becoming a consensus All-American after leading the nation in rushing (1,929 yards). The sophomore broke several school records, including yards, touchdowns (24) and single-game yardage (366). Of course, his offseason issues dampened the incredible season.

L — Lawi Lalang
The Kenyan cross country and track star has seen nothing but success in his time in Tucson. In his two seasons as a Wildcat, Lalang has been both an MPSF champion in the 3,000-meter race and the Pac-10/12 champion in the 1,500 meter race. In 2012, Lalang was also an NCAA Outdoor All-American in both the 5,000 meter and 1,500 meter races and was an Indoor Champion in the 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter races.

M — Miller, Sean
Arizona men’s basketball head coach led the team to the Sweet Sixteen in 2013 and his savvy recruiting snagged Arizona another top-five recruiting class. Miller remains a popular Tucson celebrity and has a large fan base, even though certain Pac-12 officials don’t appreciate his sideline behavior.

N — North end-zone
Arizona Stadium isn’t a top-tier football complex, but the north end-zone project brought some much needed improvements. In addition to turning the 83-year-old stadium into a bowl, the project also added top-of-the-line locker and weight rooms for the football team.

O — Olson, Lute
As the former Arizona men’s basketball head coach, Olson is like a godfather to the program. During his time in Tucson, Olson turned Arizona into an elite program by reaching four Final Fours and winning a national championship in 1997. Olson retired from coaching in 2008 but still lives in Tucson and can be seen at most Wildcat basketball games.

P — Pac-12 Conference
Arizona was a proud member of the “Conference of Champions” since it was added in 1978 with rival ASU. As of late though, things have turned sour. Tensions rose between the UA athletic department and commissioner Larry Scott over an officiating controversy and the Pac-12 Network is still not available for DirecTV customers.

Q — Quarterbacks
UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said he likes to collect quarterbacks and he has plenty to choose from to replace 2012 starter Matt Scott. Senior B.J. Denker, ex-USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins, and highly-touted true freshman Anu Solomon will battle it out for the starting gig.

R — Rich Rodriguez
After thriving in West Virginia and failing at Michigan, Arizona football head coach Rodriguez led the Wildcats to a surprising 8-5 record and New Mexico bowl victory. This success came in spite of the Wildcats fielding zero 2013 NFL draft picks and an olé defense in Rodriguez’ first season.

S — Swim
Arizona swim remains one of the top programs in the nation, even under the guidance of second-year coach Eric Hansen. Much of that credit goes to junior Kevin Cordes who was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year as a sophomore and won two individual national championships with record-breaking times in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke.

T — Tarczewski, Kaleb
The 7-footer from Claremont, N.H., returns to the UA as the anchor of the Wildcats’ frontcourt and provides the Wildcats with a huge size advantage in the paint. As a freshman, Tarczewski averaged a team-high 6.1 rebounds and started every game. He’ll be joined by sophomore Brandon Ashley and freshman Aaron Gordon to produce one of the best frontcourts in the nation.

U — Unranked
For the first time in program history Arizona softball fell out of the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 rankings last season. The Wildcats rebounded to make regionals and have a talented pitching staff returning. Head coach Mike Candrea has won eight national championships at the UA and should have Arizona back to being a powerhouse.

V — Volleyball
Athletic Director Greg Byrne announced in January that the UA will add sand volleyball and will officially start competing in spring of 2014. Arizona also features an indoor team that went 16-15 last season and brings back some skillful players, including junior Madi Kingdon.

W — Wilbur and Wilma
Don’t be alarmed if you see a big furry creature wandering around football games in a hat, it’s just Wilbur Wildcat. He and his wife Wilma are the official mascots of Arizona.

X — Xenophobia
If you’re afraid of change or new faces, Arizona basketball is not for you. Miller has brought in Top-10 recruiting classes the past three seasons, but the program has also seen a lot of talent leave as well. After Grant Jerrett declared for the NBA and Angelo Chol decided to transfer to San Diego State, seven players have left as underclassmen during Miller’s four seasons in Tucson.

Y — York, Gabe
Part of the solid freshman class on the men’s basketball team, York averaged 2.4 PPG in his first season. So maybe he just stayed on the bench … but hey, there’s always next year. Also, York and fellow guard Nick Johnson love to jump and will throw down at least a few memorable dunks for the Wildcats.

Z — ZonaZoo
It’s not an Arizona football game unless ZonaZoo has been cut in half by the fourth quater. In fact, the ZonaZoo section for football had shrunk so much by the end of the season that the marching band was moved into the section to make it appear more full. It’s time for that tradition to change.