The 1997 Arizona Wildcats National Championship team was one of my favorites squads of all time. Miles Simon’s story of his team overcoming the odds in 1997 to take the championship is exactly the type of underdog story that inspired POWERADE’S “Power Through” campaign.
We had an opportunity to speak with Simon about this years March Madness and reflect back on that Arizona’s run.
Now that we are down to the Sweet 16 who is your favorite for the 2012 National Championship?
I had North Carolina and Kentucky in the Finals, but this was before Marshall was injured. Kentucky now is the heavy favorite, but there are a lot of top heavy teams left in the tournament. I hope Marshall can play and I am going to stick with Kentucky and North Carolina, but I now lean to UK.
Speaking of guards how important are they when you are in a one and done situation like March Madness?
It is huge that you have someone who can create and get their own shot. Especially in the college game where there are multiple defensives and there is such a reliance on three point shot. There isn’t as much post up and pick and roll in college. A lot of times when the shot clock is coming down you need that one guy who can make something happen off the dribble and that is why a lot of championship teams have dynamic guard play.
Speaking of dynamic guards you and Mike Bibby were the tandem that lead Arizona to the National Championship. You are doing work with Powerade and their Power Through campaign. Can you explain a little how that team “power through” when they were heavy underdogs?
No one expected us to do much in 1997. We finished 5th in the Pac-10 and was coming into the Tournament on a losing streak. We believed though and it wasn’t a fluke as we beat three #1 seeds. With Powerade it is the same thing, you have to believe and power through even if others don’t.
How often do you hear about the 1997 team?
A lot during this time of year. Especially from fans of teams that we beat.
Speaking of Twitter, how do you think social media has changed the way fans see the game, have the ability to communicate with the players and express their feelings in general.
I think it is great. I interact with fans and when I can’t see a game I can always get on Twitter to follow along what is going on. Players really seem to like it and I am sure they will love it even more if they win the championship.
Give us a player and a team that we should look out for going into the weekend that many might not be aware of?
DJ Cooper of Ohio is a beast. He has an opportunity against North Carolina to put himself and Ohio on the map with a big game. Watch out for Xavier after the brawl they were a little down, but they have experience and will be very dangerous.