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Former PG replaces Hansen at the mic

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Former broadcaster Ryan Hansen sits at his media table courtside at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix during a Dec. 14, 2008, game against Gonzaga. Hansen was replaced by former UA point guard Matt Muehlebach this year as broadcaster.

On March 13, 1993, Ryan Hansen sat in the stands in McKale Center and witnessed the UA men's basketball team crush UCLA 99-80.


Since that blowout, he has sat courtside at every single game in McKale — on the bench as a team manager and coordinator of basketball operations, or at the media table as a radio color commentator.

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Hansen has traveled in a working capacity to all but one Wildcat away game since 1995.


But this fall the Canyon Del Oro High School and UA graduate won't travel with the team. Instead, he will find himself in the stands for home games for the first time since that senior day in 1993.


At the conclusion of last season, athletics director Jim Livengood asked Hansen to step away from his radio duties to focus full-time on his fundraising role as the assistant director of athletics for development.


Former Wildcat point guard Matt Muehlebach (1988-91), now a local attorney, will be replacing Hansen on the air, working alongside play-by-play man Brian Jeffries.


""It's going to feel very weird,"" Hansen said. ""And what will probably be just as weird will be seeing (UA head coach) Sean Miller in the house. The transition from that point won't be that weird because it will be a whole new program, a whole new deal for me.""


After Livengood asked Hansen to step down from his radio job, Jeffries searched for former players in Tucson, and, this summer, presented Muehlebach with a chance to audition for the spot.


Then Muehlebach called Hansen.


Though their times with the team never overlapped, Muehlebach and Hansen became good friends years ago. In fact, Hansen used to house-sit for Muehlebach when he'd go out of town.


Needless to say, there weren't any hard feelings from Hansen during what was certain be become an awkward situation.


""He picked my brain a little bit and wanted to make sure I was in a good position with my job, and I am,"" Hansen said. ""We talked about the job and what it entails, and the pitfalls and excitement and all the things that go along with it.""


The next step was for Muehlebach to audition.


The UA player who won the most games ever — going 117-21 and never losing in McKale — came to the arena with his arms full of notes, and was led to a studio where he was outfitted with a headset and seated in front of a big TV. Last season's Arizona-UCLA game was played without sound, and Brian Jeffries took the play-by-play reins.


Despite not having any radio experience, Muehlebach impressed as an analyst.


""He was exceptionally well prepared,"" said associate athletic director of event operations Suzy Mason, who was part of the hiring committee. ""He really had an outstanding interview process, and he's very articulate. His basketball IQ and the fact that he's an (alumnus) was huge.""


Muehlebach said that his law practice wouldn't be affected, even when he travels with the team out of town.


""This day and age, with palm cell phones, the Internet, e-mail and all that, you're really not very far away at all,"" he said.


Muehlebach's first away game will be Nov. 23, when the Wildcats play the University of Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational. Coincidentally, Hansen's first away game as a radio analyst was on Nov. 24, 1997 against Boston College at the Maui Invitational.


""(Muehlebach) will be in similar shoes, no question,"" Hansen said.


Besides being familiar with his surroundings, Muehlebach's transition will be facilitated by the fact that he has a history with Miller. When he played for Arizona, the Wildcats went 1-1 against Pittsburgh, where Miller was a star point guard.


""It's really an exciting time for the whole program, so I'm really excited to be part of that,"" Muehlebach said. ""It's going to be a lot of fun.""


Meanwhile, Hansen will work more with the Wildcat Club to generate revenue for the athletics department. He will also watch — from the stands — as this upcoming season unfolds. It is the last one for which he is in charge of scheduling the team's non-conference games, which he has done since 2001.


""I'm slowly stepping away from that inner circle I've been in for so long,"" Hansen said. ""It is going to be a new year for me.""


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