If Dick Enberg worked an Arizona basketball game, it was of significant ramifications.
Arizona defeated Connecticut at McKale Center last night on the same day Enberg, a sports broadcasting giant, passed away at the age of 82. Enberg called the Jan. 26, 2002, nationally featured non-conference matchup with Billy Packer between the Huskies and Wildcats at McKale Center. UConn won that game 100-98 in overtime.
Little-known fact: Enberg was the broadcaster along with Bill Raftery for Lute Olson’s last game at McKale Center, when the Wildcats hosted UCLA on Feb. 17, 2007. Arizona lost 81-66 to the seventh-ranked Bruins.
Enberg was there at the Meadowlands with Al Maguire in 1989 when Sean Elliott led Arizona over Duke and Danny Ferry in a marquee non-conference matchup in February, late in the conference season.
Enberg called the action of one of Arizona’s greatest victories over Illinois and the program’s most forgettable loss against the Illini.
Enberg managed to get a word in edgewise working with Bill Walton during Arizona’s victory over Illinois in the the 2001 Midwest Regional Final in San Antonio, enabling the Wildcats to reach their last Final Four appearance.
Walton and Enberg spoke a great deal about the loss of Lute’s wife, Bobbi Olson, during the broadcast.
He and Jay Bilas were the broadcasters in Arizona’s historic meltdown against the Illini in 2005 in the Chicago Region finals. Illinois rallied from 15 points down with 4 minutes remaining to force overtime and eventually knock off the Wildcats for the right to go to the Final Four.
Enberg said “Oh, my” — his patented phrase — a few times in that one while Arizona fans were saying, “Oh my God!”
Arizona’s basketball program has become of the most traditionally successful in the nation. Along with all the victories, conference championships, Final Four appearances and the national title in 1997, is the fact that Enberg worked some of the Wildcats’ most significant games.
That alone is an achievement and shows the magnitude the program.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.