On Arizona Wildcat Basketball

university of arizonaWhen Arizona faces Connecticut in the Elite Eight today there will be much made of Derrick Williams and what he does for the Wildcats. It is true and it is fair. Williams deserves whatever accolades are heaped upon him.

I believe there is something more to the story.

It is widely accepted that Arizona has been in the midst of a rebuilding situation. They were fantastic for nearly three decades and then they slipped — a minor misstep by the standards of most programs, but a huge fall for a noted blue blood like Arizona. It was understandable. You don’t lose the likes of legendary coach Lute Olson without skipping a beat. The fans were, relatively, patient.

Patient, but antsy. Also understandable. Arizona fans don’t beware the ides of March, they crave them.

This is where I expand on a theory.

There has been much made of Derrick Williams. Coach Sean Miller cannot open his mouth without mentioning Derrick’s name, and that’s okay. Coach Miller understands.

Even Lute Olson has chimed in about Williams, and has compared him to past Arizona greats, most notably Andre Iguodala, who is, obviously, awesome. However, it is my opinion that Williams should be mentioned in the same breath as another Arizona great, and if Olson can’t make himself say it, then I, with all due respect, will: Williams reminds me of Sean Elliott.

Only Arizona fans will appreciate how bold of a statement that is.

Derrick Williams is to Sean Miller as Sean Elliott was to Lute Olsen. Both coaches entered an Arizona program with high hopes. They both found quick success, and both of them found it in a player that, for lack of a better word, they lucked into. Elliott was a local kid and Williams was a last minute addition picked up from the sinking USC ship. Both players are around the same size. Both possess a beautiful outside shot and a first step that leaves defenders picking their athletic equipment up off of the floor.  Both are a symbol of Arizona’s rise (or in Miller’s case, return) to national power.

And while Sean Elliott had the luxury of Arizona’s other favorite son, Steve Kerr (Steeeeeeeve Kerrrrr) Williams has his own platoon of players that can support him when called upon or carry him when needed. There is something special about both teams, and both have put Arizona squarely on the basketball map.

I don’t know what the rest of the season holds, and I don’t know if Derrick Williams will return to Arizona for another year of college ball. I only know that the school, the program and the Wildcat fans, owe him a place in our red and blue hearts that few others will ever know. And for that we cannot thank him enough.

Bear Down, Arizona.

Videos after the break.

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