Best of 2003

What a great year! There were some amazing performances from Wildcat athletes. We take a look at the best 2003 had to offer. The following are my awards for the best (and worst) Wildcat performances of 2003.

These awards for the calendar year of 2003 are up for debate. The awawds includes the end of last basketball season and the start of this one. It also eliminated Kim Glass from Rookie of the Year consideration since her entire freshman year was in 2002.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Erica Blasburg finished 3rd at the NCAA Championships and is yet another dominant woman golfer at the UA. Blasburg finished her first season with a 72.36 stroke average. She had nine consecutive top-10 finishes while being name Pac-10 Conference Player and Freshman of the Year.
Runners Up: Kim Glass (Volleyball), Shawntinice Polk (Basketball), Alicia Hollowell and Lovie Jung (Softball)

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Jason Gardner. Gardner averaged 14.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 4.9 apg. He was named 2003 male Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner as the best senior 6-foot and under. He was also named to the Wooden All-American team plus the AP and NABC 2nd team.
Runners Up: Simon Burnett (Swimming), Brian Anderson (Baseball), Luke Walton (Basketball), Ricky Barnes and Chris Nallen (Golf).

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
TIE Alicia Hollowell, Blasburg and Shawntinice Polk. All Hollowell did was fill the shoes of Jennie Finch and lead the Wildcat back to the College Softball World Series. She was 40-5 with a 0.94 ERA. Polk became the most decorated basketball player in school history. She averaged 17.4 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike Candrea. All Candrea did was replace his entire pitching staff and a ton of offense to return to the College World Series. On the arm of a true freshman, Candrea's team was ranked in the top-5 all season, won the Pac-10 and held the nation's top ranking for six weeks.
Runners up: Andy Lopez (Baseball), Lute Olson (Mens Basketball).

GAME OF THE YEAR
Arizona's 96-95, two-overtime win over Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

BEST PERFORMANCE
TIE Mike Bell rushes for 226 yards and three scores behind a patchwork offensive line in the Wildcats' 27-22 win over Washington.
Swimming's Simon Burnett comes from nowhere to win the 200y at the NCAA Championships.

MOVE OF THE YEAR
Arizona hires Mike Stoops to be the new head football coach.

MIXED EMOTIONS
Wildcat fans have to be pleased that Mike Candrea will coach the United States Olympic team, but they aren't thrilled with the 15-month leave of absence.

BEST TEAM
Men's basketball finishes the year 28-4, 17-1 in the Pac-10 and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They advance to the West Regional Final and come within one shot of advancing to the Final Four.

BEST ALUM
Annika Sorrenstam. Not only did she dominate the LPGA but she had a classy showing at the Colonial and won some big bucks in her appearance at the Skins Game.
Jim Furyk wins the U.S. Open.

RETURN TO GLORY
Andy Lopez gets the Wildcat baseball team back into the NCAA Tournament.

STORY OF THE YEAR
The football coaching saga. Jim Livengood fires John Mackovic and hires Mike Stoops two months later.

ALMOST WILDCATS
The baseball and basketball programs each lost recruits to the professional draft. Ndudi Ebi, the nation's top power forward prospect was a late first-round selection of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Delmon Young and Jeff Allison were both taken in the first round of the MLB Draft. Young was taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

ROLLER COASTER RIDE
Ricky Barnes was a collegiate All-American, won the US Amateur and had a great run at the Masters before struggling at the end of the year. Barnes used sponsor exemptions to try to earn his tour card but came up short. He then failed to earn it at Q School and will have to wait at least one more year.

WORST LOSS
No. 1 seed men's basketball team falls to No. 8 seed UCLA in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament.

DÉJÀ VU
Men's and Women's Basketball and Baseball all faced Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. Only Olson's team prevailed.

WORST LUCK
The basketball team lost four post players in the course of seven months. Dennis Latimore transferred, Ndudi Ebi went pro, Chris Dunn was academically ineligible and Isaiah Fox was injured. The good news is that Arizona was able to add Ivan Radenovic in December.

SO CRAZY IT MAY JUST WORK
Olson moved Hassan Adams from shooting guard to power forward. The 6-4 player responded and is among the team leaders in points and rebounds.

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT SPORTS
Being able to witness the comeback at Kansas and the Gonzaga game in person.

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT NON-SPORTS
Getting married this past August.

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!

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