Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Arizona Forward Ira Lee Had BAC of .215 When Arrested on Sunday Morning

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 11:33 AM

  • DepositPhotos
Details surrounding Arizona sophomore forward Ira Lee's arrest for Extreme DUI came to light Wednesday morning.

Lee, who averaged 2.4 points per game in 27 appearances as a freshman, was pulled over by a University of Arizona Police Department motorcycle cop just after 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19 near the intersection of Seventh Street and Warren Avenue, according to a UAPD report.

The 20-year-old student basketball player's 2017 Hyundai Sonata sedan nearly collided with an SUV as it turned from Sixth Street onto Warren, before driving the wrong way down Warren going southbound.

Lee was shirtless in a pair of overalls when he was pulled over, according to the report, telling the responding officer, "No, no, no," when asked if he'd been drinking that night.

The same UAPD officer noticed a strong odor of intoxicants, and Lee's red and watery eyes, with Lee telling the officer he left his registration at his house, according to the report.

Lee failed multiple field sobriety tests and had blood alcohol content readings of .215 and .198, resulting in the citations for DUI slightest degree, DUI above .08, extreme DUI (above .15), minor drive after drinking and super extreme DUI (Above .20), in addition to a citation for failure to yield in relation to his reckless turn on Warren Avenue. 

The University released a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 21, addressing Lee's arrest and the process that will decide his academic standing in Tucson.

“The incident has been referred to the Dean of Students for review under the University’s student code of conduct, and the Athletics Department is reviewing the incident for team consequences," the UA statement reads. "Students also have access to counseling and other support services.”

Lee is scheduled to appear in Pima County Consolidated Justice Court at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 10 for a criminal arraignment.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Arizona forward Ira Lee cited for Driving Under the Influence

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 at 2:44 PM

Ira Lee averaged 2.4 points per game as a freshman with the Arizona Wildcats. - LOGAN BURTCH-BUUS
  • Logan Burtch-Buus
  • Ira Lee averaged 2.4 points per game as a freshman with the Arizona Wildcats.
This story has been updated.

Arizona Wildcats sophomore forward Ira Lee was cited for driving under the influence in the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 19, according to a University of Arizona statement.

Lee, who averaged 2.4 points per game in 27 appearances as a freshman last year, may face repercussions from the school and team, depending on the course of a review by academic staff.

“The incident has been referred to the Dean of Students for review under the University’s student code of conduct, and the Athletics Department is reviewing the incident for team consequences," the UA statement reads. "Students also have access to counseling and other support services.”

According to Pima County Consolidated Justice Court records, Lee was cited for Failure to Yield, Minor Driving After Drinking and DUI Extreme BAC .20 or More at the intersection of 6th Street and Warren Avenue. 

Lee is scheduled for a criminal arraignment hearing on Sept. 10, according to the court's report.

The University's athletics department would not release any additional information regarding Lee's citation.

The Wildcats open the 2018-19 regular season with their Red-Blue intra-squad game on Oct. 14, with their first game on Wednesday, Nov. 7 against Houston Baptist.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Marcel Yates and Linebacker Tony Fields II Confident in Arizona's Future on Defense

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 2:54 PM

Jon Jacobs of Arizona goes through an offensive line drill during the Wildcats' practice on Tuesday, Aug. 7. - CHRISTOPHER BOAN
  • Christopher Boan
  • Jon Jacobs of Arizona goes through an offensive line drill during the Wildcats' practice on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Tony Fields II sees a bright future for the Arizona Wildcats’ defense, a year after being named to ESPN’s Freshman All-American team.

Fields, who had 104 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and an interception as a freshman last season, believes the team is in for a defensive renaissance this fall.

Part of his gushing confidence comes from the continuity he and his defensive brethren have in third year Defensive Coordinator Marcel Yates.

It also comes from the trio of dynamic linebackers that the Wildcats have, in Fields, Colin Schooler and Jacob Colacion, who combined for 206 tackles and 3 interceptions a year ago.

Fields admits that he made mistakes on defense as a freshman but believes that he’s in better shape and is better prepared heading into his sophomore campaign.

“I feel like I need to develop a lot,” Fields said. “Obviously, I made a couple of plays, but I could have helped my team more and more if I worked on my craft a little bit more beforehand.”

Yates believes that Fields and Schooler will have big years this season, saying that the duo and the Wildcats revamped defensive line, including Derek Boles and PJ Johnson, can up their defensive fortunes.

“Our next step is to be a lot better against the run,” Yates said. “For me, I go back, and I look at when I was an assistant coach or a coordinator, I’d go back and look at what we’d do well. And usually, when we were doing well, we were able to stop the run. So, we’ve got to be better and filling our gaps and getting downhill, and we’re seeing that each day.”

Shoring up the defensive side of the ball will be key for Yates and Coach Kevin Sumlin, coming off a 2017 season where the Wildcats ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in points allowed (34.4) and yards per game allowed (471.2).

Their rushing defense ranked ninth in the conference, allowing 185.1 yards per game, with their pass defense ranking dead-last, at 286.1 YPG.

Fields believes the team’s biggest step towards righting their defensive deficiencies is in their improved depth and talent level.

He believes the team will have the talent in the secondary and at linebacker to stymie opposing offenses on the ground, while the secondary will ground opponent’s passing attacks. He believes the offseason work undertaken by safeties, like freshmen Dayven Coleman and Christian Young as well as senior Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, will help shore up their pass defense this year.

“The biggest difference this year is that we’ve got a couple more linemen, like PJ Johnson and Mykee Irving,” Fields said. “and we’ve got more linebackers to work with.”

The biggest improvement for the Wildcats this fall, according to Yates, is the on-field comfort level that players like Fields, Schooler and Flannigan-Fowles have with each other and with the system that the UA has had in place.

"All those guys they go from trying to learn the defense to trying to learn, ‘OK, how is the offense going to attack us,’ which is a huge difference,” Fields said.

Fields has a set of expectations laid out for his sophomore season that he would not disclose publicly but says fans will be in for a treat when their season kicks off on Sept. 1 against Brigham Young University in Tucson.

“Before the season, I sat down with my old high school coach and a few players and I set out goals for myself,” he said. “I said that I wanted to have 100 tackles and I wanted to be a Freshman All-American and it’s just a blessing that it actually happened. I worked as hard as I could to make it happen and it actually happened.”

He says his teamwide goal for the season is to hold opponents to 13 points per game, some 21 points lower than the 34.4 points per game they surrendered in 2017.

He believes that Sumlin and Yates are the right men to lead them forward and that the team’s brightest days lie ahead, starting with the Cougars some 23 days from now.

“We know exactly what we have to do because [Coach Yates] touches on everything,” Fields said. “He tells us when the corners messed up and things like that. So, we know everybody’s responsibility on the field now.”

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Marana Resident Scott Catt Developing South Sudan’s National Basketball Team

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Marana native Scott Catt has coached the South Sudanese basketball program for a year. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Marana native Scott Catt has coached the South Sudanese basketball program for a year.
The road to realizing Scott Catt’s lifelong dream of becoming a basketball coach took him from the sunny agricultural hotspot of Marana to the newest country on Earth.

Catt, 30, realized his dream a year ago when he was picked to lead the national team for the South Sudan Basketball Association. The Marana native, who played two seasons with the Tigers from 2005-07, is a basketball fanatic.

Those who know him best, like longtime Tigers basketball coach Joe Acker, remember a much younger Catt showing up to the Tigers summer camps as a toddler.

Acker, who won 497 games over the course of his MHS career, from 1973-2004, remembers Catt’s lifelong obsession with the hardwood. A self-described father figure to Catt, Acker remembers how the youngster would absorb everything he could about the ins and outs of the sport.

“He’s like a sponge about learning and picking up things,” Acker said. “He’s been around me since he was a little kid. He would sit behind the bench from when he was a little kid all the way through high school. So, he kind of absorbed everything.”

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Arizona’s Jeremy Springer is Out to Make the Wildcats’ Special Teams Great

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Arizona junior Khalil Tate leads the Wildcats through practice on Tuesday, Aug. 7. - CHRISTOPHER BOAN
  • Christopher Boan
  • Arizona junior Khalil Tate leads the Wildcats through practice on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Jeremy Springer took a deep breath and let loose a torrent of football jargon after practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Springer, 29, is in his first season with the Wildcats, coaching the special teams unit for Arizona this fall.

The native Texan, whose brother, Justin, works as a strength and conditioning coach with the Wildcats, is tasked with building a core unit of kick and punt coverage and return team players.

His task isn’t simple, but is a labor of love, with Springer enjoying the early work he’s put in with the units.

He’s thrilled with the two-man kicking competition between rising senior Josh Pollack, who converted 11-of-15 field goals a year ago (and 23/29 in his two-year tenure) and rising sophomore Lucas Havrisik.

Springer was rather tight-lipped about the status of the competition, saying both have what it takes to excel this fall.

It’ll be hard to deny Havrisik, who showed off his rocket-powered right leg in spurts as a freshman—hitting 3/4 field goals, including a 57-yard bomb.

Springer wants one man to handle the team’s kicking needs this fall, unlike last year, when the two split reps depending on the distance needed.

He is impressed by the effort that each player has shown in spring and fall camp, with Havrisik exhibiting strong potential, while Pollack has honed his workman-like attitude toward the craft.

Havrisik believes he’s done everything he can to win the job ahead of the team’s opener against Brigham Young in Tucson on Sept. 1.

The Riverside, California native says he’s been working hard on the field and in the weight room over the offseason—getting his weight up from 163 to 188 pounds since the end of the season.

He’s also worked on his form, trying to eliminate any stutter-steps that derail kicking form in games.

His offseason routine has also included extra yoga and stretching work with Justin Springer, which has paid dividends already, according to the sophomore.

He believes that his steadfast approach to kicking will earn him a leg up on Pollack in their friendly competition for the starting job.

“[My focus is on] staying consistent and staying disciplined,” Havrisik told the media on Tuesday. “Keep doing your own thing. I mean, I’m still kicking great, but [Josh] is doing good too. So, I just have to stay disciplined and trust myself.”

Havrisik said the two-man battle for the starting kicker role has remained friendly, with each kicker doing their best to learn what they can from each other.

He believes their camaraderie will help come the regular season, as they’ll be able to talk with each other when things are going well and commiserate when they’re not.

“We’re really good friends,” Havrisik said. “[Josh] is a great guy. I don’t think the competition really gets in between us. I mean, we’re both competitive, but we’re good friends, so it’s pretty good.”

Havrisik believes that the addition of Springer as a full-time special teams coach can help the unit tap into its fullest potential this season.

“I think it’s huge, because offense and defense, that’s one-third and two-thirds of the game,” he said. “The third-third is special teams and that can play a huge role with the kickoff return. If you have a great kickoff return, kickoff coverage team, punt team—all of that, it’s just huge.”

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Arizona Football: Noel Mazzone and Shun Brown break down Arizona's fall camp progress

Posted By on Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 11:07 AM

Members of the Arizona Wildcats football team go through practice on Saturday, Aug. 4. - CHRISTOPHER BOAN
  • Christopher Boan
  • Members of the Arizona Wildcats football team go through practice on Saturday, Aug. 4.

A lone cumulus cloud billowed over the horizon as the Arizona Wildcats football team scurried its way through a late summer practice on Saturday night.

The storm cloud never threatened the practice itself but served as a proper allegory for a squad coming off a tumultuous offseason.

That offseason, which included the dismissal of Coach Rich Rodriguez and the hiring of former University of Houston and Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin, could forever alter the landscape of Wildcats football.

The first glimpse of the Wildcats’ future came last weekend, when the team held the first of its two-week-long fall camp practices.

The pad-less practices allow coaches to see how their players look in executing their assignments, while giving players a chance to earn a start in the Wildcats starting lineup.

Sumlin did not address the media after the team’s Saturday practice, though first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone did.

Mazzone, who previously served the same capacity at Texas A&M with Sumlin, has coached since 1980—when he took his first gig as a graduate assistant at his alma mater (the University of New Mexico).

Mazzone’s main task is making sure that rising junior quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Khalil Tate is ready to go for the team’s opener against Brigham Young University on Sept. 1.

Mazzone expressed confidence in the California gunslinger, saying Tate is further along in his development than he expected.

“[Khalil’s] done a good job the first two days right now. But like any quarterback, you’re looking for consistency and he’s shown that so far,” Mazzone said on Saturday. “But then it’s only been two days. So, I’m excited at where he’s at with him.”

The junior quarterback will look to one-up his gaudy statistics from a year ago, when he threw for 1,591 and ran for 1,411 yards with 14 passing and 12 rushing touchdowns for the Wildcats.

Mazzone believes that Tate has the right demeanor to do just that, working hard through summer and fall camp to improve his game.

“He’s a pretty grounded kid and I know that he knows where he’s at with this football team and in his career,” Mazzone said. “I think he just comes out every day to get better and help this football team win.”

Building depth

A key for Mazzone and the Wildcats this season will be their ability to build depth, so the team can cycle in players without missing a beat.

He’s encouraged by what he’s seen from the team’s wide receivers and tight ends so far, praising senior wideouts Shun Brown and Shawn Poindexter in particular for the efforts in practice. Mazzone knows that both seniors will be crucial in Tate’s development as a passer, providing sure-handed targets downfield to open up running lanes for the junior.

“I feel really good about those guys right now. We’ve got some good competition on the outside,” Mazzone said. “…It’s like any camp, what you’re always looking for is competition because competition builds good football teams.”

Mazzone said he’s thrilled with Tate’s willingness to work on making his game more versatile, working hard on his passing skills to compliment his athleticism.

“He's a dynamic runner and I think what he's trying to do now is become a rounded quarterback where he can also play the play the position the other way too in the pocket,” he said. “And that's what I think he's been working hard on.”

Brown expressed confidence in his ability to carry the Wildcats passing game this fall, saying his work over the offseason should propel him further than in year’s past.

The Louisiana native is thrilled with Mazzone’s pass-heavy offense so far, believing he’ll have more opportunities to make plays at receiver, a year after leading the team in receiving yards (521) and yards per catch (18.0).

Brown is confident in this year’s receiving corp, saying the veterans and young guys share a hunger to succeed not found in years past.

“I feel like those guys, when they came in, they're hungry. They ask me questions, they always want to throw, do extra stuff,” he said. “And I believe they want to win. So, that right there speaks for itself.”

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Unveils Game Day Details

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 1:17 PM

Members of the New Mexico State and Utah State Aggies duke it out at the third annual NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, held at Arizona Stadium on Dec. 29, 2017. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Members of the New Mexico State and Utah State Aggies duke it out at the third annual NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, held at Arizona Stadium on Dec. 29, 2017.
Addressing a crowd of Tucson locals (and a few journalists) Wednesday afternoon, Ali Farhang had plenty of news to share about the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. The event’s founder and former chair, Farhang spoke to more than two dozen men and women at the AC Marriott downtown.

Last December’s matchup between New Mexico State and Utah State brought in just over 39,000 attendees to Arizona Stadium. NMSU, which played in its first bowl game since 1960, took home a 26-20 overtime victory.

It’ll be tough to one-up such a contest this December, with the game scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Arizona time on Saturday, Dec. 29, but Farhang said he believes that the community has the willpower to do just that.

“We’re going to pack Arizona Stadium,” he said. “This is Tucson’s game. It’s for us, by us, with all net proceeds going to charity and all the good work that we do. There is no reason why Arizona Stadium can’t have over 50,000 in the stands this year.”

Farhang said last year’s game raised $200,000 for local charities, and $2.8 million in the event’s first three games, thanks to 100 percent of the gate receipts going to local nonprofits.

That generosity, in combination with the 13,000 tickets that Tucsonans donated to first responders, military members, underprivileged kids and teachers, shows the heart that the community has.

“That says a lot about us. That’s a testament about the kind of people that we are in Tucson and Southern Arizona,” Farhang said. “And as happy as we are about the giving, we are also gratified about the economic impact we had.”

Last year’s game drew 87 percent capacity at city hotels on game day, and close to 70 percent capacity the week of the game.

Farhang also introduced his successor, Kym Adair, who touched on the game’s unique crowd-centric nature. The Arizona Bowl comes with a downtown block party, which Adair said will take place Friday, Dec. 28, and called it a key to the game’s unique nature.

“We have surpassed all expectations of a bowl our size and we’ve done it in three years and we’re proud of that,” Adair said. “But it’s not enough and this is why 100 percent of our net proceeds go to charity.”

Adair implored the community to buy seats to this year’s game, even if they can’t make the game, so that they can give as much money to charity as possible. Every empty seat in Arizona Stadium symbolizes dollars that could have gone directly back to support needy children, homeless veterans and teachers in the community, Adair said.

“We’ve got to get more dollars back into our community,” she said. “This game has tangible results for Southern Arizona. So, Tucson, it’s time to recognize that this is our game.”

On the road to selling more tickets this year, Farhang believes the bowl’s city-centric advertising approach will help out, even if a bowl-starved program like NMSU is not invited.

“The energy’s got to resonate from our community,” he said. “And as difficult as it is for me as a high school football coach to admit this, it’s about more than just football. So, if we build a tradition of weeklong events that shows the best of our community, then it really shouldn’t matter what teams are playing.”

One thing that Adair and Farhang hope will boost attendance is an agreement they’ve struck with New Mexico State—who departed the Sun Belt Conference to play football as an independent this fall. The agreement, announced on Aug. 1, allows the Aggies to play in Tucson, should the Mountain West and Sun Belt (the bowl’s two contracted conferences) not have enough teams to send a representative to the Old Pueblo.

Adair is thrilled about the possibility of having NMSU back in future games, given the energy that their fans brought last December.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us to bring back New Mexico State University should one of our conference not be able to give us a team this year,” she said. “The enthusiastic fans that came to Tucson last year from Las Cruces created remarkable energy in Arizona Stadium. We would enthusiastically welcome them back if one of our bowl conferences can’t produce that team.”

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

You can now drink beer (and wine) at Arizona Stadium!

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Soon you and your friends will be able to drink adult beverages in this fine, fine venue. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Soon you and your friends will be able to drink adult beverages in this fine, fine venue.
Fans of watching college athletes duke it out under the blinding lights of Arizona Stadium will now be able to enjoy a cold one in the stands.

That's because the University officially announced its intention to sell both beer and wine inside the stadium, starting with the Wildcats' home opener against Brigham Young University on Sept. 1.

The move, which comes in the months after the University's announcement of beer and wine sales at nearby McKale Center, will allow loyal Wildcat fans to buy their favorite beverages inside the stadium.

Arizona Stadium already sold both beer and wine, but only in the reserved club sections. The beverages will now be available to all 21+ fans.

Arizona is the fourth Pac-12 Conference school, after ASU, Oregon State and Washington State to sell beer and wine at sporting events.

Now the venue, which opened its doors in 1928, joins baseball's Hi Corbett Field and McKale as a full-scale outlet of alcoholic vending, a move that Director of Athletics Dave Heeke believes will boost fan turnout this fall.

The other improvements, which include additional in-game performances by the Pride of Arizona marching band and the $25 million renovation of the lower east side of the stadium, are among the first wave of investments made in the venerable venue.

Other revelations, such as the acceptance of credit cards at all concession stands in Arizona Stadium and the addition of new public address announcer Jeff Dean were revealed in the University's release on Thursday.

The Wildcats will show off their new digs, alcohol and all, against the Cougars at 7:45 p.m. Arizona time on September 1.

Tickets can be purchased for the BYU contest online, or by phone at 621-2287.  

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Staff Pick

Faculty Reading: Farid Matuk and Jane Miller

We are proud to present UofA faculty readers Farid Matuk and Jane Miller, who will read from… More

@ UA Poetry Center Thu., Sept. 20, 7 p.m. 1508 E. Helen St.

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