Calling out the Cats

Uh, guys. Yeah, you all. You know, the Wildcat men's basketball program. The guys who were selected to carry on the proud tradition. The guys who were recruited by a Hall Of Fame coach to play "Arizona Basketball". Yeah, you. It's time to look in the mirror. Fellas, I hate to say this but it is gut check time.

I am going to be blunt, you guys are too good to be playing like this. I know, I know, you are facing adversity, but what great team doesn't?

You need to rally. You need to step up, show some guts and get it done. I realize there are holes in this team. I know that there are things to fix. I get it. I'm not asking for you all to make a run to the Final Four. Right now you guys are in danger of missing an NCAA Tournament for the first time since any of you have been alive.

Frankly, you are too good for that.

You have indeed faced some adversity. Jawann McClellan was first academically ineligible, then he was lost for the year with a wrist injury.

Jesus Verdejo transferred out of the program mid year.

And let's not even talk about the Chris Rodgers debacle.

Sure that's three talents who are no longer suited up. Their departure is a huge blow to the team's depth.

I know, I know the post position is not strong as it should be. Kirk Walters did not get his redshirt. Isaiah Fox has never been right since the knee injury. The back injury Mohamed Tangara suffered last year has really slowed his progress.

We all realize that the post position was dealt a blow with the loss of Ndudi Ebi and Chris Dunn, but those guys have been gone for two years now.

It's time to put this behind you and play basketball…Wildcat basketball. You know, unselfish, hardworking, fundamental basketball.

We all know that you have a young coaching staff. We know Miles Simon and Josh Pastner are young guys, but Pastner has been coaching for several years and Simon has been involved within the program as a student coach for a couple of years as well.

I know they are still learning their craft, but these guys know the game. Besides, Lute Olson and Jim Rosborough are still around and those guys have forgotten more about basketball than most of us will ever know.

It's not like other teams have not faced adversity. Anyone remember 2001? Now, that was adversity.

The hardest thing to swallow is that you guys are close. You guys are talented. Your ability to make a run late in game shows you can play. You just need to do it for 40 minutes. Heck, 30 minutes would get it done against most teams.

You have almost no margin for error. You can't lose many more games and hope to keep the consecutive NCAA Tournament streak alive. In some ways part of Lute Olson's legacy is in your hand. Get in and the Wildcats should eventually eclipse North Carolina's record of consecutive appearances. Guys, it starts on Saturday. Beat UCLA and suddenly things get a little easier. You'll get five of seven at home. You can get revenge against the Oregon schools and continue to dominate ASU.

It starts with Hassan Adams. I hate to put it all on you, but when you play well, the team plays well. We all know that opposing teams will throw everything they have at you. I expect them to start to check you when you get off the bus.

You have to be better. You have to find a way to get it done. Like a true leader, the rest of the guys feed off you. You have fun, you play well and the team follows.

Mustafa, you have played some of your best basketball, but you need to keep it up. You need to get it done defensively and keep it up on offense. You need to protect the ball and get guys involved.

This is your last stand. The margin for error is slim. You are 13-8 with at least nine games left. You probably need to win seven to get a bid. 19 wins may get you in, but 20 should be safe. In fact a win or two in the Pac-10 Tournament may be even safer.

We wouldn't care if we didn't think you guys were better than this. You are great players. You are WILDCAT players.

Your time is now, because there may not be a tomorrow.


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