Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE
Remembering the 2012 year in Arizona Wildcat athletics is difficult, simply because there were so many successful storylines to talk about.
The 2012 year was a memorable one for Arizona Wildcat fans. Maybe we'll end up writing that every year, but in this one especially, it was easy to come up with 10 storylines that will stay with us for a long time. Some stories made us smile. Others made us throw up our arms, shake our heads and sigh. Some made us laugh, while others made us cry. Here they are: Our most memorable stories from the 2012 year in Wildcat nation.
No. 10 ... Trouble at Point Guard U
Maybe this lands on the list only because it's Point Guard U. Sean Miller earned his first star point guard recruit in Josiah Turner, and the expectations were high as usual. Not only did Turner give an underwhelming and often drifting performance throughout his one and only college season, but he made us forget that we ever thought Mustafa Shakur was an overhyped talent. Where Shakur's problems were on the court, Turner's came off of it. Suspension after suspension, a DUI arrest, a transfer to SMU, professional play in Poland, then Canada, it's clear that it never would have worked. The good news that came out out out it? Mark Lyons, whether a point guard or not, transferred and plays as if he's the point guard. So far, he's been frustrating yet spectacular, and a big reason why the Wildcats are ...
No. 9 ... 12-0 start to start the hoops season
Not much to say other than Sean Miller's efforts are paying off. The Wildcats' nonconference season was perfect, and though that means little if they fizzle in the postseason, it's already good enough to make this list. The Mark Lyons' shot to beat Florida? The Nick Johnson block to beat San Diego State? Something special is brewing in Tucson, and at the very least it's evidence that Arizona basketball is back.
No. 8 ... Year of Gronk
Though it's more about the individual, a day doesn't go by when Rob Gronkowski's name isn't mentioned in the mainstream media. He's pure, simple and true, and he's also an Arizona Wildcat. Gronkowski might raise eyebrows, but his genuine nature makes him something special in sports -- give a normal dude the richest contract to an NFL tight end, and you'd think he'd handle it like Gronkowski. That's what makes him so ... Gronk. This year, he got rich, danced like a fool (many, many times), got creative in his business endeavors, and even acted as an activist.
No. 7 ... Kevin Parrom's battle
This is where the whole sports thing is thrown out the window. Forward Kevin Parrom went through a hellacious year in 2011, but 2012 represents never giving in. Whether it's will power, faith, what have you, Parrom's handling of the death of his grandmother and mother, then being shot only acts as a reminder for everyone. If it's a "treat every day as your last" or "don't take things for granted" -- or any other saying that makes you remember that you don't have it so bad -- Parrom still being on the court is a reminder how one can overcome.
No. 6 ... RichRod's success
Rich Rodriguez's first season at Arizona wasn't supposed to go this well. In a Pac-12 full of surprise successes, the Wildcats won eight games and arguably were close to winning 10 despite having new schemes, a lack of defensive personnel, and an injury-plagued year. Now, whether he set the bar a little too high thanks to the play of a few superstars on offense, it's a little too soon to say. But as it stands, the 2012 football season was one that made Arizona football, as Rodriguez himself put it, relevant.
No. 5 ... Ka'Deem Carey's entry to superstardom
Carey was one of the aforementioned stars that led Rodriguez's Wildcats to success. The NCAA's leading rusher was a consensus All-American, but it was his history in the city of Tucson that made it even more special. It wasn't a surprise or a fluke. It was a leaping over of expectations that were already seemingly thrust upon the Canyon Del Oro star before he arrived that made his sophomore season one to remember.
No. 4 ... The Wildcats at the London Olympics
Arizona swimming always makes its name known in the Olympics. Former swimmers like Nick Thoman and Alyssa Anderson medaled in the pool. Andre Iguodala brought home gold on the basketball court. But perhaps it was the Wildcats in the track and field events that received the most hoopla. Brigetta Barrett, unknown to most outside of Arizona, took home the silver medal in the women's high jump and hurdler Georganne Moline placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles but got a lot of media attention because ... well ...
No. 3 .. Arizona basketball recruiting
This is probably grouped in with the 12-0 start, but it's worth mentioning once again. This is a basketball school after all. Sean Miller brought in a monster recruiting class, and it's safe to say that it's going to turn out a little better than last year's impressive haul. Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley were somehow sold on the hoops program -- together -- and made one unique recruiting class that is dominating in size. While none of the three -- Gabe York, we'll talk about you in years to come, probably -- have shown signs of being ready to become one-and-dones or even two-and-throughs, they're the main reason why the Wildcats have been able to defend and rebound with any team in the nation so far. Of course, it's another sign that Miller's teams will be among the nation's elite into the foreseeable future.
No. 2 ... Breaking the quarterback curse
Nick Foles survived -- physically, even -- a disappointing 2011 football season at Arizona and with the Philadelphia Eagles became the first Arizona quarterback to throw a pass in an NFL game in 40 years. Sure, while Willie Tuitama might have broken the curse of Wildcats who could hardly move an offense, Foles was the hardest working, strongest-armed son-of-a-gun to roll through Tucson in quite some time. His work paid off. And behind him, Matt Scott showed that Foles wasn't a one-hit wonder behind center. After waiting his turn behind Foles, Scott remained loyal and despite his deficiencies led the Wildcats to an improbable win against USC and an amazing finish in the New Mexico Bowl to beat Nevada.
No. 1 ... Arizona baseball wins NCAA championship
What else would be No. 1? Andy Lopez's baseball team was perfect in the postseason and ground through incredible opposition to win the 2012 College World Series against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Wildcats owned Omaha, using timely hitting, mistake-free defense and deadly pitching to irk out victory after victory. Their emotions never wavered, and the move to Hi Corbett Field looked like a major reason as to why the momentum built so quickly. And in the long term, 2012 marked the return of Arizona's baseball relevance. The team hadn't won a championship since 1986, but it appears they're back on the map.