Ryan Hansen , A.K.A. ˇ?Ryno,ˇ± is beginning his fourteenth year with the UA department of athletics.? He served as Video Coordinator for the menˇ?s basketball team from 1993?97, Coordinator of Basketball Operations from 1997-05, Business Development Manager in 2005-06, and is currently Assistant Director of Development and Donor Services.? Additionally, he takes a seat next to Brian Jeffries as the full-time color commentator for the Arizona Radio Network covering Arizona Basketball.? It is his fourth season in that capacity.? Prior to 2004-05, he had been the color commentator on UA road games since 1997-98.
Friday, August 17, 2007
As the ˇ?Title Yearˇ± moved into the Pac-10 portion of the schedule, the games got even tougher.? The home conference opener was against the Bay Area Schools.? Both Cal and Stanford ended up in the Sweet Sixteen later that year, so you would not be surprised to know that it took buzzer beater shots in both games for us to win.?
A few weeks later, Miles Simon was cleared to play.? He started off with a bang against ASU and then played well on the road trip to Los Angeles when he played in front of his hometown crowd.? However, we were swept on the road.? Just another instance of the roller coaster season we were riding.?
The next month we looked great in a lot of the games but also lost at home to UCLA.? We were going through the growing pains necessary to establish our identity.? Then came the last road trip of the year to the Bay Area.
Ironically, both games ended in buzzer beaters with Stanford and Cal coming out on top.? I have often thought back to the games against Cal and Stanford and wondered what would have happened had we lost the first two games at home along with the two games on the road.? Would we have even made the NCAA Tournament?? Thankfully, that is always a fleeting thought.
Along with the win over North Carolina in the season opener, I think those four games against Cal and Stanford proved to be the most important games of the season leading up to the NCAA Tournament.?
The win over North Carolina showed us we could play with and even beat the best teams in the country.? The two wins at home in January over Cal and Stanford gave us an opportunity to learn how to get it done at the end of games.? The two losses on the road to finish the regular season created a thirst for winning that could not be quenched.?
From that point on we refused to lose.? The 1997 Arizona Wildcats had established their identity.? Now, onto the NCAA Tournamentˇ?
My blog will culminate this weekend with the Lute Olson All-Star Classic, August 18-19.? On Saturday, August 18th, you can dine with the 1997 team members at La Paloma as we stroll down memory lane with the 1997 team ˇ?On the Road to The Final Four.ˇ±? All of the stories will be told straight from the members of the team.?
On Sunday August 19th, you can watch as many of the Arizona legends will play in an exhibition basketball game at McKale Center.?
I hope to see you at La Paloma and McKale Center the weekend of August 18-19 as we commemorate the only menˇ?s basketball championship team.
I was just thinking the other day, ˇ?I cannot believe it has been 10 years since the Title Year.ˇ±??
T uesday, August 14, 2007
At the end of the fall semester of the ˇ?Title Year,ˇ± the team felt pretty confident.? We were 5-1 with victories over North Carolina, Utah, and Texas.? We were hoping Miles Simon would be eligible to play in the next game considering the semester had come to a close.? So needless to say, we were flying high going into the December 21st contest with undefeated #4 ranked Michigan.
That is when we the ˇ?Pre-Christmas Game Jinxˇ± arrived.? Prior to leaving for Detroit, we received word from the University that Miles would not be eligible to play until Arizona State on January 11th following completion of a Winter session course.?
It does not end there.? The next plan was to pull Justin Wessel out of his red-shirt in order to have an extra player available to us.? However, Justin broke his ankle in an off-court accident.? Coach Olson was so upset with Justin that he sent him home to Iowa from Detroit because he could not help us in the game.
The coaching staff met in the hotel the morning before the game and tried to find a solution.? The plan was to fly Jason Lee (walk-on) up to Detroit from Tucson and use him as a reserve in the Michigan game.? One problem, no one could find Jason.? He had left early that morning on his way home to Los Angeles.? We never did get in touch with Jason as he was stuck in El Centro with a bad radiator.???
As you can predict, we did not end up winning the game at The Palace of Auburn Hills against Michigan.? Jason Terry had two shots at the end of overtime bounce off the rim.? We sure could have used an extra body as Terry and Davison each logged 43 minutes and Dickerson tallied 38 minutes.? Bibby and Harris both fouled out.?
The loss brought us back to earth.? Coach O gave the team four days off for Christmas to think about where we wanted the season to go.? Practice on December 26th ended up being a rough one.? The coaches were definitely fired up and got the team ready for the annual Fiesta Bowl and subsequent start of Pac-10 play.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The ˇ?Title Yearˇ± sure did start off with a bang when we beat North Carolina in Springfield, MA at the Hall of Fame Tip ?COff Classic.? The win served as a benchmark for the season.? For a team whose label at the beginning of the year read ˇ?Has Potential,ˇ± that win gave everyone the feeling we just might be good enough to make a run at the National Championship.?
One of the team members did not need to be convinced.? In fact, he proclaimed to the team as early as August 18, the very first team meeting of the year, we were going to win the National Championship.? He also told every single player that he would be available morning, noon, and night to help rebound for anyone who wanted to work on his game.? In my estimation, his contributions were as important as Mike Bibbyˇ?s three-pointers, Jason Terryˇ?s steals, or Miles Simonˇ?s up-and-unders.? The person I am referring to is Josh Pastner.?
I omitted him from the roster in my initial blog because nobody involved in Arizona Basketball views Josh as a player.? From Day 1, he has always been a staff member with a motor that just will not quit.? All four of the backcourt players took Josh up on his offer to help rebound.? Almost every night of the season, Bibby, Dickerson, Simon, and Terry would come back to McKale to get up some extra shots with Josh.? In fact, Dickerson and Pastner rang in the New Year together in McKale making sure Michaelˇ?s jump shot was pure.
I better stop with all the love for Josh.? I have to be truthful.? The other reason I left him off the roster in my last blog was because we, the staff, refer to Josh as the ˇ?Worst Walk-on in the History of Division I College Basketball.ˇ±? Normally, we let Bill Walton make comments referencing the best or worst of all time, but in this case, I am positive we are correct.
Thursday, August 01, 2007
1997 ?C I simply refer to it as ˇ?The Title Year.ˇ±? It is the bench mark for almost every basketball memory I have.? When I recount stories from my time with The University of Arizona, I seem to always start with, ˇ?The year after The Title Yearˇ?ˇ± or ˇ?Oh, that game was two years before The Title Year.ˇ±? In fact, even my personal memories include the same phrase, ˇ?My wife and I went on our first date during The Title Year.ˇ±
On that historic night at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, the Arizona Wildcats etched their name in college basketball history.? That is the end of the story.? Not unlike a good book, the 1996-97 Arizona Basketball season had plenty of ups and downs.
Going into the 1996-97 season, I was beginning my fifth year with the basketball program as Video Coordinator.? I was responsible for gathering all of the video tape of opposing teams.? I also assisted in editing the tapes for scouting purposes and other duties to help the coaches with their daily jobs.
I was with the team for everything from training table at the Plaza Hotel in Tucson to steak dinner at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, WA.? Ironically, Mike Bibby wanted to eat the same thing at both places: chicken strips and French fries.
I was on the road with the team in Corvallis, OR and Springfield, MA.? We played in front of virtually no one at Oregon State and had a chance to meet Dean Smith, John Havlicek, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Most importantly, I had a seat on the bench for an almost first round flame-out against South Alabama and the National Championship over basketball powerhouse Kentucky.? In both games I wanted to throw-up in the trash can at the end of the benchˇ?but for drastically different reasons.
In order to fully appreciate the accomplishment of this team, I must set the table in regards to our roster prior to the season.? As the summer of 1996 drew to a close, the basketball staff began to analyze the roster.? Here is where we stood:
Michael Dickerson Returning starter
Miles Simon? Returning starter
Donnell Harris Spot minutes as red-shirt freshman in 1996
A.J. Bramlett Averaged 8.4 minutes/game as a freshman
Jason Terry Averaged 9.8 minutes/game as a freshman
Jason Lee Walk-on
Jason Stewart Walk-on
John Ash Walk-on from Salpointe Catholic
Mike Bibby McDonaldˇ?s All-American
Bennett Davison Junior College Transfer
Eugene Edgerson Top 75 in his Senior Class
Stephen Jackson McDonaldˇ?s All-American
Quynn Tebbs Utah H.S. player coming off 2 year mission
Justin Wessel Mr. Basketball in Iowa
From the looks of it, we had potential.? This is the nice way of saying, ˇ?Oh boy, it could be a difficult year.ˇ±? With only two proven players in Dickerson and Simon, the staff was leaning heavily on the heralded incoming class that included Bibby and Jackson.? We felt that group of four players could be pretty good.? Bad news - Jackson never was admitted into school and Simon was academically ineligible for the fall semester.
We were now going to go primarily with a seven man rotation that included one returning starter, three seldom used sophomores, and three newcomers that had not played 1 minute of Division I basketball.? But it gets better, if we got into foul trouble, we could throw in a walk-on or another newcomer who had never seen the court.? By the way, the season opener was against a highly ranked North Carolina Tar Heel roster that included 4 returning starters: two of them named Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.
Our team appeared to be surprisingly optimistic in the lockerroom before tip-off.? It was the consummate ˇ?quiet confidenceˇ± that you hear about in sports.? Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson sat expressionless waiting to take the court.
Then Eugene Edgerson broke the silence and proclaimed, ˇ?So this is big-time college basketball!ˇ±
The team erupted and sprinted out of the lockerroom.? As the game progressed, we settled into what would become our M.O. ?C ˇ?Great Guard Play.ˇ±? Bibby and Dickerson seemed unfazed by the powder blue jerseys of North Carolina and proceeded to put up 53 of our 83 points.? I should have known from that point on our guard play would be the difference for the entire season.
Over the next two weeks I will be reflecting back ten years to the National Championship season.? I hope you tune in to read my remembrances.? I am sure you will conjure up a few of your own.