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The Arizona Wildcats football team has a big home matchup against No. 7 Washington on Saturday night.
The basketball team holds its Red-Blue Showcase Friday night at McKale Center.
Since basketball is never far from the minds of Arizona fans, let’s talk a little hoops. That’s what I did with former Wildcats guard Matt Muehlebach – I just call him Mr. Triple-Double – as we touched on Tommy Lloyd’s 2023-24 team and other topics.
Hopefully, it’s not just me, but I have been curious about Matt’s broadcasting future. He worked with play-by-play man Brian Jeffries on Arizona radio for three seasons before becoming an original 2012 member of the Pac-12 Networks broadcasting lineup, serving as a game color commentator and in-studio analyst. What now for him as the Pac-12 is blipped out of existence?
But first, some hoops, as he was able to watch practices before the team’s August trip to the Middle East and even had a chance to address the team. Let’s start with sophomore point guard Kylan Boswell (hey, did y’all know he was 17 years old all of last season?? Crazy!):
What do you expect from Boswell as he moves into a much bigger role this season?
“The irony is we talked about his age so much last season. But the reality is, I don’t think we talk about it enough. He’s still so young, basketball-wise. I think guys normally make that jump (from freshman to sophomore seasons), but I think he will even more so because of his age. And I think him making the (Under-19) USA Team says a lot.”
Can you promise right now that when you’re broadcasting a UA basketball game to never say, “Hey, did you know he’s an 18-year-old sophomore?”
“You know what? I’m going to try to go the whole year without saying that and/or saying any basketball cliches. I’m just going to go with all baseball or football cliches. My favorite football cliché today is ‘the room.’ The quarterback room. The receiver room. I’m going to be all over the ‘guard room’ at Arizona. The guard room is really deep this year.”
Arizona is playing an unbelievable nonconference schedule. Your Arizona teams always played great nonconference schedules. What did that do for you guys to have that kind of preparation?
“I think a couple of things. One, just the coolness of it. As a player, you dream of playing in that prime-time matchup of two ranked teams with all the hype. That’s what it is all about as a player. When we had those games, it meant everything. The reality, too, is that it gets you battle tested because you play great teams and you play really different styles. And I love that. I think that’s one reason we did so well in the Pac-10 is that we were battle-tested when we got to conference.”
(Muehlebach notes that in 1990 Arizona played at UNLV on a Sunday, played conference games at Cal and Stanford on Wednesday and Friday, and then traveled across country to play Duke on the Sunday. UNLV and Duke, of course, ended up playing for the national title that year.)
Which newcomer are you most excited to see?
“Caleb Love. I think he’s incredibly dynamic. I love the fact that he had this unbelievable success two years ago at North Carolina, and then according to a lot of the media, didn’t meet expectations, whatever those were. I feel he’s going to have a gigantic chip on his shoulder. So, it’s going to be fun to watch that.”
The offseason theme seemed to be all about adding toughness.
“Totally agree. I thought they got tougher, more athletic, a lot more physical. I think it’s going to be a really fun team to watch because of that. And deeper. They ended the season playing seven guys last year. I’ve been to practice. It seems to me that 10 or 11 can play. And I feel that is a great thing to have. It’s going to be a war in practice.”
What caught your eye when you had a chance to watch practice?
“The thing that stood out was the physicality they played with, the athleticism they played with, and when I look around, there are just big dudes everywhere. If you go to maybe 90 percent of practices around the country, you don’t see that size. It’s really, really abnormal to have that much size at the college level. And good players at that size. They’re all good.”
With the Pac-12 ending, what becomes of Matt Muehlebach the broadcaster?
“Certainly, that’s an issue because I have done most of my work with the Pac-12, but I have done a number of FOX games. The hope is that I can do the same thing but do it with the Big 12. There is obviously going to be a big Pac-12 presence with the two Arizonas and the mountain schools. My hope is to be doing some of the Big 12 through either FOX or ESPN.”
Who is a better studio partner – Don MacLean or Kevin O’Neill?
“The only studio I’ve done with Don is during the Pac-12 tournament, and we’ve had some awesome interactions. But because I knew KO and KO is much crazier, let’s just say I had to be on my toes. I’ll tell you what, I have probably had the most response from people 1 for the things Don and I have done about UCLA and Arizona. The trash talking back and forth.
“We did a segment two years where we showed an old video of Don and me. We had an awesome back and forth. I think I played against him eight times or something, and the video we showed was the one time I outscored him. We made a big point of saying I outscored him. He got all over it, ‘Let’s see the rest of the box scores.’ It was hilarious. It was great stuff.
“And I told Don this; you are like the perfect anti-hero. You’re one of the biggest villains in McKale history, but I think Arizona fans have grown to like him because he is who he is. He’s not afraid to be the villain. And those rivalries were authentic rivalries. They weren’t made up. They were real-deal games with teams that had like 12 NBA players between them. Some pretty cool stuff about working with him.”
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