Arizona Basketball

Friday Fix: Desert Swarm defense deserves to be inducted into Arizona Sports Hall of Fame

Arizona’s Desert Swarm was featured in the 1994 Sports Illustrated College Football Preview issue. Shown in the picture (left to right, clockwise): Tedy Bruschi, Sean Harris, Jim Hoffman, Tony Bouie and Brandon Sanders.

The tragic loss of former Desert Swarm standout Chuck Osborne this week makes one wonder what is the appropriate way to honor a guy who led the UA with 11 sacks in 1994. To wit: The Wildcats as a team had only 10 last season. If the 1914 team deserves to be in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame — and it certainly merits that honor — so does Osborne and the Wildcats’ Desert Swarm defense. The 1914 team is responsible for Arizona earning the “Wildcats” nickname. During Arizona’s 14-0 loss to defending California champions Occidental that season, the “Varsity” as Arizona was called at the time, put up enough of a fight to cause Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry to write the most famous sentence that has appeared in print involving the Arizona athletic department: “The Arizona men showed the fight of wildcats.” Members of the Arizona student body read the report. By the end of that school year, the students put to a vote the idea of “Wildcats” as the new nickname for UA teams. Arizona’s nickname has been Wildcats since. The 1914 team was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Desert Swarm defense gave Arizona a national identity from 1992-1995, a stretch when the Wildcats beat six ranked teams (including No. 1 Washington in 1992), produced 12 All-Pac-10 first-team defensive selections and two Pac-10 Players of the Year (Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi). The Wildcats dominated No. 10 Miami in their biggest bowl appearance to date — the 1994 Fiesta Bowl — with a 29-0 victory, one in which Hurricanes coach Dennis Erickson said: “They just kicked the living tar out of us.” To this day, the Desert Swarm defense is referenced as one of the best defenses in the history of college football. The brainchild of former defensive line coach Rich Ellerson, now the head coach at Army, the Desert Swarm led the nation in rushing defense in 1993. They allowed only 331 yards on 368 carries, an incredible average of only 30.1 yards a game. … Anthony Gimino of covered Arizona football at the time of the Desert Swarm for The Arizona Daily Star. The strong heart-felt response of former Desert Swarm teammates following Osborne’s death on Tuesday prompted Gimino to tell me that the group shared an uncommon bond. They shared a brotherhood, an understanding of everybody’s role, without any pretense. Some skill was involved with Waldrop winning the 1993 Outland Trophy and Bruschi registering a school-record 55 career sacks, but that group got the most out of a “team of Joes”, which coach Dick Tomey called them. Unsung guys like Osborne, Ty Parten, Jimmie Hopkins, Jim Hoffman, Tony Bouie, Heath Bray and Brant Boyer, were at the heart of the Desert Swarm. It’s time that defense receives the honor for its distinction in college football and what it meant to the program with an induction into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. …

Sean Miler and his staff are pleased with how the talented freshmen have adhered to their standards

Louisville coach Rick Pitino suggested this week that Kevin Ollie was a “no-brainer” to replace Jim Calhoun at UConn, at least on a temporary basis. Arizona fans will cheer for two teams this season: The Wildcats and Connecticut. If the Huskies struggle under Ollie, expect rumors to fly about various candidates for the job on a permanent basis, including Sean Miller’s name. The Wildcats can ill-afford to have that kind of distraction in what looks to be a return to prominence this season. … By all accounts, the Wildcat coaching staff is impressed with how the highly-touted freshmen have responded to all of their demands from study hall to running sprints in practice. Don’t underestimate that kind of character when it comes to molding a winning team. Too often, especially in this day and age with the AAU circuit making stars out of players at too much of a young age, that team-first acceptance by freshmen is an important element to a team’s chemistry. Gabe York, a deft shooting guard, and promising big men Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski can emerge as the best recruiting class assembled at Arizona since the 1998 class that included Luke Walton, Rick Anderson, Ruben Douglas, Richard Jefferson, Traves Wilson and Michael Wright. Walton, Anderson, Jefferson and Wright were not only talented but they were also gamers who respected Lute Olson and Jim Rosborough and the rest of the coaching staff. York, Ashley, Jerrett and Tarczewski appear to be same type of young men, according to those who have been around the team to this point. … If you have not done so, please check out my compilation of Arizona’s recruiting classes since the Fred Snowden years. Other media outlets have used the list for their stories and have credited my work and that is appreciated. I will continue to update the list as the years go on. …

Arizona’s game with Washington tomorrow night is not receiving as much national attention as it should, but then again what do you expect from two 3-3 teams who are actually 2-3 against FBS competition? In my latest Lindy’s college football blog, Arizona and Washington are rated as the top two no-shame teams in the nation. Each is 1-3 against top-flight competition with Arizona beating Oklahoma State and Washington upsetting Stanford. The Wildcats lost on the last possession against Oregon State and Stanford, while Washington has not come closer than 10 points in losses to LSU, Oregon and USC. Arizona hosts Washington in what is a must-win for the Wildcats if they want to keep their hopes alive of playing in a bowl. This is also the third time that Arizona is playing an opponent it should beat. The Wildcats took care of Toledo and South Carolina State and must continue to take constructive steps under Rich Rodriguez by defeating Washington. … A rarity at this point of the season: None of the FBS teams Arizona and Washington have played have a losing record against FBS competition. Arizona’s FBS opponents: Toledo (5-1 vs. FBS teams), Oklahoma State (2-2), Oregon (5-0), Oregon State (5-0) and Stanford (4-2). Washington’s opponents: San Diego State (3-3), LSU (5-1), Stanford (4-2), Oregon (5-0) and USC (5-1) …

Kim Glass underwent vocal-chord surgery last month

Former Arizona volleyball player Kim Glass, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, is making her rounds in Hollywood premier events. She also plays professionally overseas for Rabita Baku, an Azerbaijani team. Last month, Glass provided details of her vocal-chord surgery on her blog: The Kim Glass Blog. She underwent surgery in Boston. Laryngeal surgeon Dr. Steven Zeitels performed the surgery. Zeitels has also performed vocal-chord surgery on Adele, Julie Andrews, Steven Tyler, Cher, Joe Buck, Dick Vitale, Lionel Richie and Roger Daltrey, to name a few. “If you know me, you know I lose my voice a lot, and when it’s not completely gone, I battle chronic hoarseness,” Glass writes in her blog. “This has been going on for quite some time, almost seven years. Some called it sexy. I called it a pain in my ass.” … Glass is the Sean Elliott equivalent to the Arizona volleyball program, its career leader in kills with 2,151 and third all-time in the Pac-12 in the same category. …

Speaking of Elliott, who will be in attendance at the Red-Blue scrimmage Sunday at McKale Center, he ranks fifth all-time in games played for the San Antonio Spurs (669 games). Manu Ginobli, 667 games, is about to pass him on that list. True to his form of being a community leader, Elliott played in a San Antonio golf tournament last week that benefited the Kids Sports Network. Current Spurs players and coaches also participated. Elliott, who is 44 if you can believe that, continues to be a Spurs broadcaster. … Steve Kerr and Elliott will be honored along with the 1987-88 Final Four team at the Red-Blue Scrimmage. Kerr, who has evolved into a national TV personality, recently told David Aldridge of that he had unique ways of handling a shooting slump. “I definitely had moments every season when I felt like I couldn’t make anything,” Kerr told Aldridge. “I probably wouldn’t say anything to most of the guys, but I might to my best buddies on the team. Late in my career (in San Antonio) I was working with Chip Engelland (now a Spurs assistant coach), but he wasn’t on staff at the time, and that was good for me. I could bare my soul to him and not worry about any repercussions. I think everybody is afraid to tell the coach, because then the coach isn’t going to play him.” … “I remember growing a goatee one time,” Kerr continued. “It sounds crazy, but I grew a goatee. I wrote the letters F.I. on my shoes, for (bleep) it. I went out there and said I’m going to shoot every time. I probably wasn’t as confident as other guys. A guy like (Michael) Jordan, I don’t think he ever had a problem with something like that. Most mortals, you’ve got to train your mind just like you train your body.” … If you see the initials “F.I.” on shoes in Tucson going forward, you know the source. Also, Kerr with a goatee? Didn’t know he could actually grow one of those. …

Andre Iguodala ranks No. 26 among current NBA players in a list published by Slam online. Interesting to note that he ranks ahead of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ginobli, Amare Stoudamire and Paul Pierce on this list. … Prized Class of 2013 recruit Aaron Gordon, younger brother of former UCLA post player Drew Gordon (who transferred to New Mexico), is visiting the Arizona campus this weekend. Gordon, of San Jose Archbishop Mitty, is a 6-8 power forward who would bolster the Wildcat front court next year and make it the best unit in the nation. This is’s assessment of Gordon’s skills: “A versatile and unique four-man, Gordon is a very good defender, who specializes in rebounding and starting the break by pushing the ball up the court. He’s got a very good frame that should make him a strong player in college and is a terrific athlete who competes every possession. He’s an adept scorer/shooter from midrange and in, although he could improve his outside shot.” Gordon is visiting the UA this week after visiting Kansas last week. He is to visit Kentucky. He has also visited Oregon, Cal and Washington. Winning over such a high-profile recruit like Gordon not only benefits a program, but it gives a coaching staff the bragging rights that it can recruit the west coast successfully. Miller and Co. have more than held their own in that regard with the recruitment of York, Jerrett, Ashley and Nick Johnson, etc., but a staff is judged on its last recruiting effort. More misses than hits results can mean the difference between finishing fifth in the Pac-12 instead of finishing on top and feeling comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner

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