For a basketball team that plays in the desert, the term “snakebit” seems to be a perfect way to describe the Arizona Wildcats right now.
The term refers to someone, or a particular situation, that is unlucky… “prone to misfortune.”
And, after Kevin Parrom broke his foot in Saturday’s game with Washington, it’s beginning to look like this entire season has been snakebit.
When C.J. Wilcox drained a pair of free throws with five seconds left to give the Huskies a 69-67 win, it became the third game in two weeks that the Cats have lost on a game-deciding final basket. To make it worse, two of the three were on their home court.
The Washington game was a “White Out’ night that was televised on national television. Before that, they dropped a squeaker to Colorado, 64-63, in Boulder and, a couple of games before that, Oregon rolled in to McKale Center and escaped with a 59-57 win.
Sounds like a good reason for being considered snakebit.
And it hasn’t just been a recent issue. Arizona finished last year ranked No. 9 in the nation after going all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before losing by two points to UConn, which eventually won it all. They were ranked No. 16 entering this season amid high expectations.
However, they are currently 14-8 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 – which puts them in a three-way tie for fifth place.
But the Saturday mishap was so much more impactful because Arizona lost Parrom for the season when he fractured a bone in his right foot near the end of the first half. Surgery is planned.
The injury is particularly devastating because the 6’6” guard/foward from the Big Apple has been trying to recover from a gunshot wound he received on a visit home in September. He returned to the court after missing the first few games of the season, but has seen limited playing time and was only just now working his way back to being at full-strength.
Parrom was a reserve forward on last year’s team that went deep into the NCAA tournament, and head coach Sean Miller was hoping he would have a break-out year this season. He has averaged just five points a game, but has been the team’s emotional leader. His team bio calls him the “glue guy” because it’s his enthusiastic, positive attitude that helps hold the team together.
To make matters worse, this isn’t the first injury to plague the junior’s career at the University of Arizona – which got off on the wrong foot, so to speak. He suffered a foot stress fracture in his freshman season that kept him out of 10 games.
But it hasn’t all been physical challenges. There has also been emotional turmoil this year that has contributed to what will now be a lost season. His mother, whom he had gone to visit in the hospital in September, when he was shot in the leg, has since passed away from the cancer she was fighting.
Talk about snakebit! When checking out the meaning of the word in the dictionary, you’d expect to see a picture of Parrom next to the definition.
Prior to this latest career-killer, Parrom had explained how he was hoping to use basketball as a means to help him recover mentally from all that’s happened this year. That’s why he was so anxious to get back on the floor after the shooting.
And it had been working. Miller acknowledged that his recent contributions off the bench have given the team a boost, and he was on the verge of cracking the starting lineup – which is probably where he would have started the season, had it not been for the shooting injury.
Now he no longer has that therapy available to him.
And the team no longer has its glue guy at a time when things are beginning to show signs of coming apart.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)