Schu Strings: November Notes

Not surprisingly, at this time of the year there's plenty going on with Wildcat sports. As a result, it's a good opportunity for November notes and nuggets.

On a couple occasions during the course of the year, college sports overlap. November is one of those times. It's a time for reflection, a time for excitement and a time for new hope.

From the reflection file, there's UA football, which this weekend will almost certainly endure a rather unpleasant pounding in Los Angeles. That said, getting a Pac-10 win for the second consecutive season against Washington feels good in light of a seven-game losing skid that put the dampers on Mike Stoops' initial campaign. There's a strong possibility Arizona will wrap up the season with the same number of wins as a year ago, and against similar competition, yet there's a 180-degree attitude difference between 2003 and 2004.

Last year at this point, Stoops was one of a number of names discussed as a possible head coaching option. That aspect overshadowed Arizona's performance on the field, a season highlighted, or low-lighted, by numerous blowout losses. While the UA has come up short, there's no question it played with more fervor this year, and with a couple breaks could have been in position to talk about bowl possibilities this late into the season. Still, there remain two standout umbrella areas of natural frustration: naturally that Arizona will likely finish the season with two wins for the second year in a row, marking the most significant low-point in school history, and that it actually appears to have regressed since putting together hard-fought efforts against Utah, Wisconsin and Washington State.

While things look much better, Arizona still has holes to fill in terms of talent in its effort to become a legitimate Division I program, but in the short term it has to do the little things that will give itself a better chance to win. Basic things like cutting down on penalties and turnovers and just generally playing smart. The UA was better in those regards in games two through four than it has been since…

…From the excitement file is UA soccer. Since its inception a decade ago, this program was the university's bottom-feeder, but in Dan Tobias' second season, Arizona has made a meteoric rise of outhouse to penthouse proportions. Second-season success is nothing new at the UA. It's happened with Lute Olson, Andy Lopez and Tobias. Is Stoops next?

The co-Pac-10 champion soccer team battles Colgate in the first round of the NCAA tournament…

…From the new hope file, say hello to another season of Arizona men's basketball. The UA opens the season Tuesday in round one action of the preseason NIT against San Diego. By all accounts, Arizona was disappointing last year, but still managed a 20-win season. If rebounding, defense and team chemistry improve, the UA figures to be in the national title mix by the time the smoke clears.

In terms of attitude, here's hoping the seemingly annual Isaiah Fox misstep is out of the way. Fox is enduring the ire of the coaching staff and serving a brief suspension as a result. He's looked upon as a team leader. Perhaps this is another reminder of what's required. On-court, there's no question his presence is critical to Arizona's overall success.

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