Arizona Basketball

Chester, Pa., interested observers of Arizona Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Elite Eight game

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan comes from his hometown.

Well-deserved considering the stature of the program and what Arizona and Tucson get out of this kind of exposure.

More of an honor to be considered this way than to be humiliate given that Sean Miller is only 45. Bo Ryan is 66.

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

The pride of Chester, Pa.? There are many candidates. Tyreke Evans. Jameer Nelson. Bo Ryan. Remember Joe Klecko of the New York Jets? The Four Aces, which sang “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”, hail from Chester.

Arizona basketball has its share of Chester natives, including freshman standout Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Two of Fred Snowden’s most notable players hailed from Chester: Herman Harris and Len Gordy.

Herman Harris

Herman Harris

Harris had what I contend is the best individual performance in Arizona’s NCAA tournament history with 31 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in the Wildcats’ 104-109 overtime win over UNLV in the 1976 Sweet 16.

Thirty-eight years later, Hollis-Jefferson is doing Chester proud again with the Wildcats in the postseason. Along with fellow freshman Aaron Gordon, he has played his best basketball in the NCAA tournament victories over Weber State, Gonzaga and San Diego State.

Hollis-Jefferson has the opportunity today to play against Ryan, who is from his neck of the woods approximately 2,707 miles from Anaheim, Calif., site of today’s game.

“I saw him earlier,” Hollis-Jefferson said when asked if he ran into Ryan in Anaheim. “I was like, ‘What’s up ‘Bo-by’? That’s my guy.”

Gordy, who became an assistant coach at Towson and Clemson after his playing and coaching days at Arizona, is in his ninth year at Creighton serving as the diversity and inclusion officer for athletics. He also works in Creighton’s Multicultural Affairs Office on campus.

Harris is a longtime City Hall employee at Downtown Tucson.

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Players must also adjust to playing in the limelight with a lot of fanfare. That’s not always an easy thing to accomplish.

How many earthquake references will be made during today’s game?

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ESPN commentator Jay Bilas says Wisconsin will top Arizona today

ESPN commentator Jay Bilas says Wisconsin will top Arizona today

ESPN’s Jay Bilas predicted yesterday that Wisconsin will top Arizona tonight because of the Badgers’ abundance of shooters and the matchup problems with 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, who will extend Kaleb Tarczewski and other post defenders because of his versatility.

Bilas has liked Wisconsin since the brackets were announced on Selection Sunday.

“I think this is the Badgers’ year,” Bilas said during that show. “They’ve had better teams but I like their draw.”

Bilas’ colleague Jay Williams agreed that Wisconsin will oust Arizona today.

“I love the way this Wisconsin team passes the ball,” Williams said. “The Badgers, with their veteran guards and Frank Kaminsky down low is going to be a handful.”

Arizona followers don’t fret: Bilas and Williams picked Louisville to make the Final Four. The Cardinals were eliminated last night by rival Kentucky.

Digger Phelps, the guy who predicted Oklahoma State would go to the national title game, is overflowing with excitement over Wisconsin’s chances over Arizona.

“Arizona, when they lost to UCLA in that championship game of the Pac-12, that was a signal that OK there’s some weaknesses there,” Phelps said. “One of those weaknesses to me, San Diego State got 18 points off of 18 offensive rebounds (in Thursday’s Sweet 16 loss to Arizona).

“Wisconsin’s going to get on the paint and get those missed shots, especially if they are missing their three’s. If they’re making their threes that’s one thing, but watch Kaminsky and company make things happen that way, in terms of getting second-chance points.

“I like Wisconsin’s defense. I think they really smother you and they know how to shut you down in key situations, which to me is going to be key for Arizona. Nick Johnson is Nick Johnson but I think the other guys like Aaron Gordon, it’s going to be a big game for him because I think Wisconsin’s front line has the edge and it’s going to be the difference in this game. I give the edge to Wisconsin.”

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.



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