McKale Center is a tough place to play. Everyone in their right mind knows that.
But after the Arizona Wildcats swept the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes to open the home portion of their Pac-12 slate, it was still interesting to hear how positive those teams were about those losses of ten and nine points, respectively.
“I realize there’s not any red ribbons for second place, but our guys didn’t quit,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak explained. “We had a lot of positive things happen. You miss shots. I can’t go in there and chew ass for the most part. We just didn’t hit a shot...I want our guys to play that way. I liked a lot of what we do.”
“We only had eight turnovers tonight, and we felt pretty good about that,” Utah forward David Collette added on Thursday. “It’s tough coming into this place, and to take care of the ball like that is a huge improvement. We’re definitely making progress.”
Collette actually didn’t realize at the time that Utah doesn’t host Arizona this year.
“We don’t play ‘em at home again?” he asked. “Oh, I didn’t know that. I was actually sitting there on the bench thinking when we get ‘em at home we’re gonna get ‘em. So next time when they come, we’re gonna get ‘em.”
The positivity from the teams that lost in McKale continued on Saturday.
“I was pretty happy with our effort and our intensity for the 40 minutes that we played,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “We didn’t play well for 40 minutes; we hit a scoring drought there in the first half, but that’s gonna happen.”
“I can still sleep good tonight because we competed hard and had a lot of effort in this game,” CU guard George King added. “That’s all you can ask for as a player. We’re not mad, obviously we’re upset, but it’s not as bad as some of the losses we’ve had in the past just because we competed hard.”
“We’re not happy with the loss, but it’s something we can learn from,” Derrick White tacked on. “Our energy wasn’t a problem. We just gotta start playing smarter. I think we did some good things this game.”
“I’ll take the effort we had against Arizona State and the effort and competitiveness we had tonight night in and night out,” Boyle continued. “Now we have to play better. We have to finish games. And we have to take care of the ball better.”
“Losing to Arizona at Arizona is not a character flaw. Shoot, there’s a lot of teams that lose here. But in order to win here, your margin for error is not zero, but it’s very, very thin.”
Boyle attributed the loss to two things.
“I was pleased with everything except the free throw disparity and the turnovers. There’s a lot of things we can build on, it’s just those two areas, that margin of error is too thin to get away with 15 turnovers.”
Colorado actually outrebounded Arizona on Saturday, which is something the Buffs’ head coach was extremely happy about.
“We’ll take this rebounding effort,” said Boyle. “You outrebound Arizona by six in their building shows you something, because they’re difficult with their size and their toughness.”
It was interesting how positive the teams were after losses in Tucson, especially Colorado, since they had dropped to 0-3 in conference play. But the reality is that only Oregon has come to McKale and won a game the last four years, so losses by ten and nine aren’t really that bad in the grand scheme of things.