Riley Moore headshot

Moore’s mane thing is no longer the main thing. Photo by Arizona Athletics

There are no more bushy, bushy blond hairdos on the Arizona baseball team.

Riley Moore’s walk-up song is still the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” but his long golden locks are long gone.

The Wildcats’ senior catcher is not alone in being shorn. The entire UA roster received a haircut in the offseason as part of coach Andy Lopez’s goal to leave last year far behind and return to winning ways.

Lopez warned us this was coming. At the end of last season he vowed to review everything about his program. He talked about the standard things – leadership, practice habits, etc. – but also mentioned the length of players’ hair.

Sure enough, the shagginess is gone for 2015.

I asked Lopez about it last weekend.

“I had never gone through a year like that in 38 years of coaching,” he said.

Excellent storyteller that he is, the Arizona coach then made reference to an Albert Einstein seminar that may or may not have happened. Lopez concluded by saying, “Anybody that continues the same thing over and over again with the same result should be identified as an idiot. I don’t want to be an idiot. I might not be the smartest guy in the world but I don’t want to be an idiot.

“You gotta make changes based off last year. You just have to. As hard as that is sometimes, changes have to be made.”

This particular change hasn’t slowed down Scott Kingery who was another of the longhaired Cats. The UA’s second baseman earned the season’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award for his work against Eastern Michigan.

It obviously takes more than a pair of clippers to turn around a 33-loss team but if you’re asking the players to look nothing like last season it makes sense to have them, well, look nothing like last season.

“That’s the mission right now,” Lopez said, “but changes have to be made in all areas. (Shorter hair) was just one of them. One of many.”

A performance like last year just won’t cut it at Arizona.

* * *

The BatCats are 5-0 on the young season, which is an improvement over last year, but the competition hasn’t been stout. That changes this weekend.

The Rice Owls come to town with a unanimous top-20 ranking and a string of appearances in the NCAA tournament stretching back two decades. The entire season doesn’t rest on this weekend, of course, but it’ll be a good test to see how far the roster has progressed in a few months.

A big-time team is coming to Hi Corbett Field. We’ll see if a big-time team is waiting for them.

* * *

WHAT: Rice Owls at Arizona Wildcats

WHERE: Hi Corbett Field in Tucson

WHEN: Fri. 3 p.m. Mountain/Arizona Time, Sat. 12 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.

WHITHER: All 3 games on Pac-12 Network

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