4-2-88 Saturday. Alas, the season of a lifetime is over. The Arizona Wildcats were beaten by the Oklahoma Sooners in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, 86-78. I’m a bit surprised, and not a little disappointed, by this result. We played thirty-nine games this season, including an exhibition game with the Russian national team. We won thirty-six of them, losing only to New Mexico [the Lobos], Stanford [the Cardinal], and now Oklahoma (all on the road). Had we won this game, I’m certain that we would have beaten Kansas [the Jayhawks], the other semifinal winner. Kansas relies too much on one player, Danny Manning, while the Wildcats have played well as a team all year. Today, we ran into a chainsaw Oklahoma team. The Sooners were quicker, more aggressive, and took better shots than we did. I’ve never seen the Cats miss so many layups, dunk shots, and three-pointers. Steve Kerr had an off night in the last game of his collegiate career. Anthony Cook was stifled inside. Tom Tolbert didn’t score like he can. Only Sean Elliott, with thirty-one points, had a superb game, and even he missed some easy shots.
So that’s it. I’m not devastated, as I thought I’d be. Rather than dwell on the loss, I’m looking back on all of the great moments the Cats had this season. I lived and died with them, feeling good when they won and bad when they lost (though that was rare). If I see the players on campus, I’ll tell them how happy they made me this year, my last at Arizona. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Next year, with Sean Elliott and Anthony Cook back, the Cats should have another fine year. I would be surprised if they didn’t win the Pac-10 championship for the third time in four years, and with all of this experience behind them, they should do well in the NCAA tournament. Monday’s final game now pits two Big Eight teams, Oklahoma and Kansas. Kansas stunned Duke [the Blue Devils] this afternoon, 66-59. It should be a good game. I’ll be rooting for the Sooners. They played with class, unlike North Carolina [the Tar Heels], and I like their style of play: run and gun. It’s not often that I can turn around and root for the team that just defeated my favorite team.