It’s official: Rebuilding isn’t fun.

I know the Arizona Wildcats basketball team is young. We all know they’re young. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch the Cats lose. Not at home. Not to ASU.

We’re now up to a baker’s dozen losses on the season, including five at the McKale Memorial Center. The home losses include a sweep by the Pac-10 “States.” ASU, OSU and WSU all came to Tucson and left with a hoops victory. The same three schools that have combined for one Pac-10 basketball championship (and a co-championship at that) in the past 25 years.

Not fun at all.

We just can’t wrap our red-and-blue-loving minds around it. You still see “Arizona” on the front of the jerseys and you expect the team to pull out games at the end. Defensive stops. Big shots. Clutch free throws. That’s what UA basketball represents.

I believe in Sean Miller. I am still excited about the potential of the five freshmen. If we made it through Mackovic we can survive anything.

But patience isn’t fun.

Cat fans hoped the 52-31 second half in Tempe would carry over to this game. But when the score was 13-13 after ten minutes of play it was pretty easy to see who was dictating tempo. Arizona actually did worse in the second ten minutes of game, finishing with just 25 points at the break.

That said, the UA still had a four-point lead with just over two minutes before halftime. ASU was sitting on 21 points before a key stretch that turned momentum toward Sparky’s side. The Wildcats jacked up three shots from behind the arc and missed all three while the Devils drained two triples and converted a three-point play. The 9-0 run gave ASU a lead it held for almost the entire second half.

Ty Abbott was the hero but he needed a relief pitcher to close out the game. With 11 minutes to play Abbott had 28 points and Jerren Shipp had zero. Ty didn’t score another point while Jerren (e.g., the rowboat of the Shipp family) exploded for eight. Maybe the two of them switched uniforms.

Here are Jamelle Horne’s rebounding totals from the last six games: 1, 2, 2, 1, 14, 3. Is there such a thing as a 24-hour dose of desire?

Another thing that’s not easy is seeing ASU tied for first in the loss column with just two weeks left. Since Cal got hit with the Beaver-stink the Sun Devils control their own destiny for their first Pac-10 title. How’s that for an unlikely showdown? The guys who haven’t won the league in 50 years against the guys who wish they had a 50-year-old championship.

The Wildcats had a chance to knock the Devils out of the basketball Rose Bowl but couldn’t seal the deal at home. Now we’re left with having to helplessly root against ASU over the final four games.

Bitter? Possibly. Pitiful? Perhaps, but a rival’s gotta do what a rival’s gotta do.

To make matters worse, an Arizona win on Thursday directly helps ASU. If the Cats and Devils both win their next game Arizona State is alone in first place. Not fun at all.

So do we even want to beat Cal? Wouldn’t it be better for Arizona to lose so we can hold onto the “no Pac-10 championships” trump card?

Don’t even think about it. We’re tired, we’re frustrated, but let’s not get crazy.

Of course we want the Cats to win on Thursday. You have to stay focused on the big picture. Arizona winning a championship is better than ASU not winning one. We don’t get our next league title until this team gets better, and the best way for this team to get better is to play more games.

We’ve got to win as many games as possible to get some tournament somewhere to select Arizona. I don’t care if it’s the NIT, CBI, CIT or AEIOU&sometimesY. I want the Cats to win enough games to earn the opportunity to practice and play longer, so next year we can get back to our winning ways.

Now that would be fun.

– – – – –

As promised the Arizona baseball team started its season over the weekend. The result – a three-game sweep of Utah Valley – wasn’t a surprise, although the Cats needed a walk-off home run from The Jett to take the finale in 10 innings.

Beating the Wolverines was expected. UVU hasn’t had a winning season since 2006. The real story, however, was the performance of freshman pitcher Kurt Heyer on Friday night. Heyer made his collegiate debut by striking out 13 batters in six innings while only allowing one walk and one run. I don’t care if you’re throwing batting practice to Little Leaguers, accuracy is a big deal and a 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is impressive against anyone.

The name of the game this season is looking for hints of potential stardom and we got our first one opening night, in a big way.