It’s been another successful year playing at home for the Arizona basketball team, with the Wildcats dominating the Pac-12 at McKale Center.
It says something about the fan base when a team consistently wins at their home. And over the past few decades, the Arizona basketball team has been really fortunate to have a real advantage on campus, no matter who coaches them.
Back in the early ’90s, whether I was attending the game or working at the Flandrau Planetarium in the evening across the mall from McKale Center, after the men’s college basketball game at the Arizona Wildcats, there was pure jubilation as McKale fans left. And dare I say, a hint of arrogance too.
That’s what happens when the Cats, led by Hall of Fame coach Lott Olson, win 71 games in a row at home. Of course, it was UCLA, led by the infamous Don McClain, that broke the streak on January 11, 1992. (McLean was the player who broke the record set by Sean Elliott in the Pac 10. He was the proverbial cactus needle in Arizona . the side).
As I worked at the planetarium gift shop that night, I vividly remember how eerily silent the campus was as fans marched desperately to their cars and dorms, respectively.
McKale, as trite as it sounds, is a special place. This is not the personal opinion of some fans, which I admit, I can make this statement!
Recently, Arizona has had the longest winning streak at home once again, this time under Shaun Miller. This time around, it was the treacherous Oregon Ducks, who seemingly supplanted UCLA as the ultimate cat foe for the Pac-12 supremacy, who cut off Arizona’s 49-game winning streak on Jan. 28, 2016. Leading Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, in my mind There with Don MacLean as the best Wildcat killer.
It’s impressive that the basketball program has not one, but two of the longest winning home streaks ever, but Arizona has had three.
Trained by the longest-serving coach in Arizona men’s basketball history, Fred Enke, and playing at the venerable Bear Down Gymnasium, from 1945 to 1951, Arizona racked up a stunning 81-game winning streak, currently the fifth longest winning streak over the She landed her in NCAA men’s college basketball history.
As of now, the Wildcats are riding a 19-game winning streak at home dating back to Miller’s final year. Coach Lloyd’s side didn’t lose a single game in McAleigh last season, losing 17-0.
Call me a forever optimist, but here’s my hope that this new iteration of basketball for the Arizona Wildcats will eventually secure their fourth time to distinguish between having the longest winning streak on their home soil, under a different coach. If it’s not the coach itself, and the players change year after year, it must be the fans who generate the magic of Tucson!