Our longtime readers (do we have those?) will remember one of the Byrd Cage’s all-time greatest posts:
‘Speaking Sleeping With The Enemy’ a collaborative episode of tom-foolery with Georgetown University’s SBnation Blog – The Casual Hoya. This was a two-part post where each blog asked the other blog questions about their respective teams. Both blogs responded and posted their opponents answers.
This year we wanted to keep the brilliance rolling so we’ve teamed up with University of Arizona’s very own SBnation blog: Arizona Desert Swarm (our name is better) to get you the scoop.
What’s that you say? Yes. Yes, we are ripping off nearly everything about this Casual Hoya tradition – but hey, after the two merciless trouncings they administered to us in the tournament, the least we could do was wantonly steal from them on the internet, right? Right. But enough about those turds. We’ve got a new enemy to sleep with. Wait, what?
Kevin and his amigos at Arizona Desert Swarm graciously agreed to answer some questions for us. Some were legitimate questions some are completely asinine – as is our custom. Hopefully, you’ll laugh. Hopefully, you’ll learn something about the Wildcats. Hopefully, you are not neglecting work to read this.
BC = Byrd Cage
ADS = Arizona Desert Swarm
BC: Tell me about this Wildcat team? Who are the best scorers? Who are the best rebounders? Who is the guy that Belmont isn’t currently paying a lot of attention to but will end up ripping our hearts out?
ADS: Perhaps the reason this Arizona team is so hit-or-miss is because of its point guard play. While the roster as a whole is well-rounded talent-wise and also quite versatile, senior Mark Lyons (formerly of Xavier) is one of those guys who just makes you shake your head at times. While he’s an explosive scorer who can get into the paint, he’s often one to crank up out-of-rhythm three-pointers. In short, he’s a shooting guard in point guard’s role, and it’s one of the reasons the Arizona offense is suspect at times. As bad as he might play, he has the thick skin to make big plays down the stretch.
Lyons is joined by small forward Solomon Hill, who is the do-it-all type of wing who can shoot it, rebound and pass the ball. He’s the one to set the tone for the Wildcats.
Otherwise, the Wildcats are known for their freshmen big men of 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski, and forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. All three have come on of late. A quick look at Belmont’s size, and the Wildcats should have the edge in the rebounding department because of those three.
ADS: Because bunnies hop. Nick is the nephew of former NBA great Dennis Johnson, so he’s got some good bloodlines. Anyway, Johnson might be the most important player for Sean Miller’s team. He’s a freakish athlete who will make the biggest difference by defending the opponent’s best scorer -
– think a 6-foot-2 version of Victor Oladipo as far as his role is concerned.
(BC NOTE: Did he just compare. . . no. Just no.)
BC: This year, The Wildcats are 0-3 against teams called ‘The Bruins’ – how much does Belmont’s mascot species factor into this matchup?
ADS: Ha, good catch. As far as the logo is concerned, I dig Belmont’s level of ferocity. And the mascot gets brownie points by looking like a bear version of Ted Danson.
BC: What was the best win of the season for UofA? What was the worst loss?
ADS: I’d say the worst loss was to a sub-.500 USC team. That was the only one to a losing squad. As for the best win, it’s sort of a toss-up for me. But I think I have to go with a win against Miami in December. I don’t think the Hurricanes were anywhere near as good of a team as they are a few months later, but Arizona blew the now-No. 2 seed out 69-50.
BC: What kind of teams give UofA trouble? What kind of teams does UofA destroy?
ADS: Oddly enough, Arizona has actually struggled against smaller teams that can shoot the three, which appears to be exactly what the Bruins are. Sometimes the Wildcats are simply off in their three-point defense, and with such a big roster — the bigs are young at that — they can be vulnerable to such teams. Oh, and if Belmont runs any sort of zone, the lack of a pure point guard causes the ball to stick for the Wildcats.
BC: Apparently this Solomon Hill guy is pretty good. What team was most effective at containing him this year and how did they do it?
ADS: Honestly, I can’t remember a game where he was necessarily out of it. He is good at so many things that he can make an impact in any situation. He’s a very smart dude, and perhaps the one thing about him is that he can’t carry the offensive load. He takes what’s given to him. That said, it’ll be trouble for Belmont if he is getting wide open threes, as he’s not a great scorer, but he’s definitely a great spot-up shooter.
BC: I saw that you guys played one of our exes this year. . . did they mention us at all? Not that we care . . . but seriously what did they say???
ADS: Not good things. And I don’t like to gossip.
BC: Give us a brief history of your games against Mid-Majors. Did any Mid-Majors give you any problems? Why?
ADS: This year’s roster is pretty new in comparison to the past few seasons considering the influx of the young guys and also the addition of Lyons, who transferred after playing at Xavier. As far as the NCAA tournament goes, Arizona hasn’t lost to any Mid-Majors in the last few appearances. However, last year’s disappointing season saw Bucknell roll into Tucson in the first round of the NIT to embarrass the Wildcats.
And by the way, this team called Charleston Southern gave the Wildcats a run (they’re one of those small ball teams) in the first game of this season. Arizona won 82-73.
BC: Using a GIF, please capture your initial reaction to learning that UofA would be playing Belmont in the NCAA Tournament.
ADS: Because I feel like it’s not the wooorst matchup, but there’s also a bit of worry all of UA’s issues that have presented themselves this season will pop up again. That said, I also don’t know a whole lot about Belmont and there’s a chance they come out gunning and pull the upset.
BC: For the sake of our great state, tell us a little about Tucson. I think most people in Tennessee think Tucson is a weird lookin’ Korean car.
It’s a pretty weird place. Close to Mexico, a lot of retired people, hipsters and the university. The university is fast-paced, partying is required and there’s a lot of Cali influx in the student body.
Experiencing the city as a student doesn’t happen because, well, it’s a lot slower paced. I believe the metro area is larger than Atlanta (35th in the nation or so) but there isn’t a single major freeway system that goes through the city.
BC: Nimbus Brewery’s Old Monkey Shine is one of my all time favorite beers. What’s your favorite thing about Nashville?
You guys have that out there?! I have personally never been to Nashville, but I understand it’s important to all those musics, and I like musics and history.
(BC Note: NO THEY DON’T. Also . . . MUSICS????)
BC: What happens in Tucson if Belmont wins?
That West Coast mentality of not caring unless a team is good is pretty true in Tucson. Basketball is big, but students won’t go crazy and tear down the town unless it gets to the Final Four or so (see 2001, when a national championship loss resulting a quite the riot). The feeling about this team despite it being pretty dang good is that nobody trusts them … so it wouldn’t be like the end of the world or a big surprise if the Bruins pulled it off. Just a guess, but there will probably be drinking. Duh.
BC: How do you see this game playing out?
ADS: I feel like Arizona has been playing pretty well over the past three games, so I’m pretty confident they won’t come out flat. But no matter a top-five team or a Belmont, they never rarely will pull out a big rout. I see a high-scoring, well-played game from both teams.
BC: Seeing as this matchup is in Salt Lake City – there will be next to no Belmont fan’s there. What do you expect the UofA turnout to be like?
ADS: Arizona has traveled pretty well. I literally just walked in the door after watching the Wildcats out in Vegas, and they easily had the biggest group of fans there. Like you said, Vegas is quite a different atmosphere than SLC, but we travel pretty well.
BC: Final score prediction time! Do you think the game will be close? Blowout? What is the final score?
ADS: Let’s call it 75-68, Wildcats.
BC: Finish this sentence: Arizona is to Green Chile Sauce as Nashville is to________
ADS: JACK DANIELS! I think there is a distillery there? Quick story. One time there was a Jack Daniels’ green label fifth on sale for $10 and I DROPPED IT ON THE SIDEWALK AFTER I BOUGHT IT. Worst moment of my life. Anyway…
(BC NOTE: Worst moment of your life . . .until Belmont beats UA in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament!)
ADS: It went pretty poorly. He stayed a little past his time, kind of wasn’t recruiting at all, and though he’s greatly revered [he] left the team in the dumpster (relatively) for a few years. Also, I remember watching internet boards as a kid while refreshing on a DSL connection for updates until my eyes went bloodshot.
Sean Miller was luckily a great grab, but it was a nervous time before then. Also there were TWO interim head coaches … Also, they almost hired Tim Floyd. So that was pretty scary.
Cheers to the good guys over at Arizona Desert Storm. Who knows what they will make us answer later today . . .
-Kyle and Bert