Arizona hockey head coach Sean Hogan has spoken frequently about his first Arizona recruiting class, but a junior who missed pretty much all of last year may be No. 17 Arizona’s biggest addition this season.
Junior defenseman Michael Basist missed nearly all of the 2011-12 season with a separated right shoulder, torn labrum and torn rotator cuff. According to Hogan, Basist was impressive during his first game playing under coach Hogan. “Bringing him in this year is almost like having a new player to add to the mix, and he’s done a great job for us,” Hogan said.
According to Hogan, Basist is a smart, offensive and aggressive player, has good on-ice vision and is a good leader.
“He’s working on not taking penalties, because he plays an aggressive style,” Hogan said. “Sometimes that gets the best of him, but for the most part, he’s one of our better defenseman for sure.”
The San Clemente, Calif., native is fourth on the team in points and highest among defensemen, despite only playing 14 of Arizona’s 17 games so far this season.
Assistant coach Dave Dougall, who coaches defensemen, said the experience Basist brings to the table is important. Arizona has eight freshmen this year.
“He’s been a key for us. This is his third year,” Dougall said. “He brings good on-ice vision. As far as being able to move the puck up, he sees the ice well.”
Basist injured his shoulder in Arizona’s first game of the season against ASU.
“I got hit, kind of from behind, and it separated my shoulder,” Basist said. “I played the second game and then found out like a week later that I had the tears.”
Basist has five assists and a game-winning goal this year. In the 2010-11 season, he had 11 points.
Basist said his shoulder has been 100 percent this year but he is “battling a little bit of a right knee problem right now.”
“He’s also aggressive offensively,” Dougall said. “As a defenseman, a lot of of guys aren’t always as aggressive, they kinda stay home more. So he takes some opportunities there and he’s been a key for us on the power play, being able to move the puck around. And like I said, he’s able to see the ice well, so he’s able to distribute.”
At the beginning of the season, the Wildcats elected Basist and junior forward Andrew Murmes as assistant captains.
“It was awesome,” Basist said. “Honestly, it was a tremendous feeling, knowing that the guys voted me assistant captain even though I missed the year before. I really appreciated them recognizing me.”
According to Basist, getting the “A” for assistant captain on his sweater was a great honor.
“I take a lot of pride in wearing the ‘A,’” Basist said. “It means a lot when your teammates select you to be a leader. You definitely want to lead those that you can and represent them well.”