Top five stories of the school year

Now that the school year has been completed, here is a look back at the top five moments in Arizona athletics.

The conclusion of the school year has come and with it comes the end of the 2010-11 season of college sports. It was an interesting year for Arizona athletics that was filled with all sorts of dramatic events and memorable stories.

The biggest news worthy pieces came from the two biggest athletic programs – basketball and football. Here we will relive 10 of the more memorable moments – good and bad - from the two programs over the course of the 2010-11 school year.

This feature will focus on the top five stories from the school year, beginning with number five.

5. The 2011 recruiting class.

It started with forward Sidiki Johnson committing before the start of the 2009-10 school year. It stayed quiet on the recruiting front for a while but UA ended up landing three of the best players at their respective positions in the country following Johnson's commitment.

The Wildcats had targeted guard Nick Johnson for quite some time and he was one of the more highly recruited guards on the west coast. When UA ultimately landed him, it was one of the biggest gets for Miller up to that point.

Then came Josiah Turner. Most figured Turner would wind up at either Kansas or UCLA, but Arizona made a late push for his services and, surprisingly, made up a ton of ground over a short period of time. Even after late visits with other schools, Turner chose UA and it shot the value of the class through the roof.

Arizona wasn't done there either. The Wildcats targeted big man Angelo Chol, who wasn't really in the picture until late. UA was up against two powerhouses in Kansas and North Carolina, but Chol was impressed with Arizona to the point where he committed to the Wildcats on February 17th.

The top-tier class brought immediate optimism about the future of Arizona basketball and rightfully so.

4. Derrick Williams

Fans knew Williams was going to develop into one of the best players in the Pac-10, but not many were prepared for the season he ended up having. The forward put the team on his shoulders and carried it all the way to the Elite Eight. He displayed much more confidence, had a much more well-rounded game and became virtually impossible to guard.

Williams may have bolted early for the NBA, but his impact in Tucson will not be forgotten by any Wildcat fan any time in the near future.

3. Arizona basketball wins regular season Pac-10 title.

UA was supposed to contend for the conference crown, but many figured a team like Washington or even UCLA would be the top team in the conference over the course of the regular season. Instead, Arizona took care of business and used its youth and depth to propel itself to the conference championship.

Where the Wildcats really shined was down the stretch of the regular season where they won 10 of 12, overtook Washington for first place in the conference and never looked back.

2. Sean Miller stays put

In an unexpected turn of events, Arizona found itself in a peculiar position shortly after the end of the season. Sean Miller is one of the best young coaches in the country and with that comes a lot of attention from other schools.

Both North Carolina State and Maryland pursued Miller, but the Terps were the only legitimate contender of the two for his services. Miller was seriously considering the Maryland job and some assumed he was very close to accepting it.

UA saved itself though when it retained Miller. The public relations nightmare that would have ensued could have been a catastrophe of epic proportions, but instead, Miller's decision to say no to Maryland seems to have made Arizona basketball more popular than ever.

1. Arizona crushes Duke

It was tough deciding whether the Miller saga or Arizona's victory over Duke was the top story, but I have to go with an event that took place on the court.

Arizona basketball fans had a collective monkey on their backs for a decade when the Wildcats fell to Duke in the 2001 National Championship. UA went into its Sweet 16 matchup as underdogs to a team trying to defend its national title. Arizona struggled early despite Williams scoring 25 points in the first half alone.

The team ended up waking up in the second half and in a huge way. The Wildcats outscored the Blue Devils 55-33 in the second half, which included a 19-2 run that saw Arizona blow the game wide open.

It wasn't a national championship season for Arizona, but given what has transpired over the past two years and the expectations set for the team before the campaign began, a Sweet 16 victory over Duke – the defending champion – is something the fans can look back on to remember this school year in a positive fashion.

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