Found March 22, 2013 on Fox Sports Arizona:
SALT LAKE CITY Mark Lyons wears No. 2 on his uniform because that was his age when he lost his father. When he was 12, his aunt was murdered in the home Lyons and his mother shared in Schenectady, N.Y. His mother, a hospital worker, began every day at 6 a.m. and made sure her sons did the same. Lyons gets his work ethic from his mom and his toughness from experiences better left shielded. While smooth Harvard point guard Siyani Chambers will be a challenge when Lyons and Arizona meet the Crimson in the NCAA West subregional on Saturday, it will hardly be his first. He was the man of the family at an unfairly early age. He does not talk about it much, and who can blame him? As he said once, Im just a kid who overcame the problems of the ghetto. Lyons special bond with UA coach Sean Miller and assistant coach Book Richardson brought him to this point, his final college stop. He turned down Kentucky last summer, when he decided to transfer from Xavier, because he felt much more at home in Millers system, and it showed with his 23-point game in an 81-64 victory over Belmont on Thursday that was every bit as lopsided as the score made it seem. He has been a real father figure for me. A lot of the coaches here are like father figures, said Lyons, a senior whose every next game could be his last at the college level. Richardson was first on Lyons after seeing him at age 13 or 14, and Richardson tried to get Lyons to play for his AAU program, the New York Gauchos, who were made up of primarily players from New York City, about three hours away from Schenectady. That is how much Richardson liked Lyons, who was known as Cheeks back then. A few years later, Miller offered Lyons a scholarship to Xavier after seeing him at an AAU tournament in Rhode Island. It was during a period of transition in Lyons life. He left Schenectady High before his junior year when things soured on the court and played at two prep schools in two years. He rejoined Miller at Xavier, although he was forced to sit out his first season as a partial qualifier. I remember it like it was yesterday, Lyons said of his meeting with Miller in Rhode Island. He has always been in my corner, somebody I can really trust. Richardson has established a trusting relationship through common life experiences, and he has seen Lyons mature along the way. My mother used to say, 'Whatever I dont teach you, the streets will,'" Richardson said, and she could have been speaking directly to Lyons. The challenge is to channel that inner toughness, and it has been a work in progress. Lyons and his Xavier teammates got into a brawl on the floor during a game against inner-city rival Cincinnati two seasons ago. A Bearcats player threw a punch, and he was not going to get away with it. At the end of the day, if somebody put their hands in your face or tried to do something to you, where were from, youre going to do something back. Were not going to sit and get our face beat in. Were not going to let that happen, Lyons said at the time. Those are the kinds of things that have made Lyons seem hard, unapproachable. But teammate Kevin Parrom said it is more the New York way, a style more direct than those in the West are used to. Fellow senior Solomon Hill and Lyons play one-on-one after practice, battling hard, not giving an inch, and the aggressiveness of the competition make both better. Richardson said Lyons is a most considerate teammate. Some people might consider him a hired gun brought in for one season, but nothing could be further than the truth. He is so sincere in his approach. Hes given his last. Hes the one guy that is always encouraging, Richardson said. I wish we had him another year. Miller embraces the bond that started with Lyons years ago, as he does with the Wildcats other senior starters, Hill and Parrom. These guys mean a lot to us -- to me, because a long time ago, when we ventured out to Arizona, we needed people to believe in us without a lot of evidence, said Miller, who left Xavier for Arizona for the 2009-10 season. Mark had a lot of choices last spring. He could have joined a lot of teams. He chose us. I believe thats part of the strong bond that I hope can continue to let us play. Clearly, we started this process a long time ago. It all builds toward this tournament, but I believe this relationship, you can feel it in moments like this.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Wildcats bring Harvard's run to end

Arizona put an emphatic end to Harvard's March Madness success story Saturday with a 74-51 win over the Crimson. Mark Lyons matched his career high with 27 points to lead the sixth-seeded Wildcats (27-7). Arizona sprinted to a 30-9 lead, as the Crimson (20-10) missed 20 of its first 22 shots. Lyons led Arizona to the program's 15th appearance in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats...

Lyons scores 27 to help Zona bash Harvard

Pressure is simply part of the package at Arizona. How the Wildcats handle it when March rolls around makes the difference between the good seasons and the great ones. They're off to a fine start this year. Mark Lyons matched a career high with 27 points to lead the sixth-seeded Wildcats to a 74-51 victory over 14th-seeded Harvard on Saturday, a win that defined the not-so...

Lyons, Arizona roll past Belmont

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mark Lyons scored 23 points and the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats rolled past No. 11 seed Belmont 81-64 Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked...

Arizona's mentality contributes to win

Arizona went into Saturday's game making sure it was not taking Harvard lightly. Read on to see how that contributed to the win, who Mark Lyons credits for his performance, and more.

Arizona dominates vs. Belmont

Mark Lyons scored 23 points and the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats rolled past No. 11 seed Belmont 81-64 Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot...

Arizona sends Harvard home, reaches Sweet 16

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- For Arizona, it's on to Los Angeles. And for Harvard -- well, it's time to head back to class. Clearly unfazed by their Ivy League opponent's plucky brand of Smartball, the Wildcats showed how a real basketball school does it Saturday. Mark Lyons matched his career high with 27 points in Arizona's wire-to-wire 74-51 blowout of the Crimson...
College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.