Loss good in the long run

The Wildcat basketball team is the deepest and most talented in the country, especially when they are healthy. Luke Walton and Salim Stoudamire are nursing injuries, and have been at the helm of excuses for the Wildcats' loss to LSU. Regardless of who or what is to blame for the collapse against an inferior opponent, the fact remains that the team's dream of a perfect season has been crushed, but it could be for the better.

A college basketball team needs confidence to succeed, but cannot be overconfident and achieve. The last time that an Arizona basketball team received this much hype they came within a step of their ultimate goal. Yet, that team, led by Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas had an air of confidence that possibly led to their demise. This current team never seemed to be overconfident, but in some ways the loss to LSU, and the resulting blow to the team's morale could be a good thing.

In an interview, Isaiah Fox once related that the team's internal goal for the season was to "not lose a game." As soon as I processed the remark, I realized that an undefeated season for a team this strong, with a schedule of average strength, could legitimately occur. As unlikely as it might be. I began to fear the fact that the team could go undefeated in the regular season, because if they did I could not imagine them running the table in the tournament. Teams that win in the tourney are not those that simply have dominated during the season without facing adversity. Last year is a prime example. Duke cruised through the regular season and was everyone's bet to take the title. Once it came tourney time though, Duke was prematurely disposed of and did not even make it to the Final Four, as most college analysts had predicted.

When the 'Cats won the tournament in 1997, they had not run off six consecutive wins all season, yet they were able to come together as a team at just the right time. Talent can only bring a team to a certain level, but it is the ability to overcome obstacles, and a cohesiveness as a group that makes a champion. This current Arizona team was the #1 team in the country and every media outlet in the country was on the team's bandwagon. Now the group is sure to fall from the top spot. As disappointing as it is for this team to no lose its top ranking, it will force them to face the fact that they are not invinceable. The Wildcats had been scared by SDSU, and is yet to - save the WKU game - entirely come together as a unit.

Hopefully this loss will be a constructive bump in the road, and the team will have an awakening. Young players must realize that nothing comes easy, while veteran players must refocus and dedicate to work on the little things.

This team can and has been beaten. Recognizing that on any given night they can lose is what will bring them together and not allow that to happen.


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