The horn had sounded and the two teams gathered along the sideline for congratulatory handshakes.
But when 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley of BYU and 6-11 Brian Williams of Arizona met there was more than a handshake. The two embraced.Williams had been the star of the show, scoring 24 points to lead the Wildcats past the Cougars, 76-61, in a second-round NCAA West Regional game at the Huntsman Center Saturday.
He didn't have to be told he was hugging a star of the future. It was a poignant moment and a fitting one to conclude the first year of the Shawn Bradley Era.
The second year will be put on a two-year hiatus while Bradley uses words instead of blocked shots and dunks to get his point across as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And Williams thinks the two-year break from hoops will be a big plus for Bradley.
"The big thing it (mission) is going to do for him is it's going to help him mature. Those two years away are going to allow him to fill out more, too," he said.
Williams also likes the way Bradley plays. "He plays hard and he enjoys what he's doing."
Bradley was equally complimentary about Williams - "He's a great player. He's intense and physical and he's a great guy too" - during postgame interviews. Both Bradley and Williams mentioned they had apologized to one another during the game when they hit each other with an inadvertent elbow.
Bradley said the Arizona experience - playing against Williams, 7-foot Ed Stokes and 6-10 Sean Rooks - will help him when he returns to play against top-caliber teams.
And, Arizona is definitely a top caliber team, he said. "I feel we played very well against Arizona. They're just a better ball club than we are. I think they're one of the best four teams in the nation.
"After I get off my mission I think we'll be able to put together a team of that caliber."When asked how many pounds he'd like to add to his slender 210-pound frame by the time he returns, Bradley responded, "40 to 50."
Added weight would seem to be a must for Bradley to become the dominant player basketball people are projecting him to be. His height and overall athletic ability allowed him to set an NCAA record for blocks for a freshman, but against the bulky Arizona triple towers he had trouble getting the ball down low. Williams at 240 pounds, Rooks at 250 and Stokes at 240 were all able to muscle him away from the basket, forcing him to score most of his 10 points Saturday on short to medium range shots instead of off the backboard like they were doing.
It's going to be tough "not being able to play ball for two years but I'm excited about going on a mission," Bradley said.
He's looking forward to the challenges of being a missionary. The toughest part about it, he said, "will not be being able to play with these guys again. We've become very close."
The impact of Bradley regarding other teams perhaps was stated best by Arizona Coach Lute Olson in the postgame interviews.
"They're (Cougars) going to have an excellent team once they get Shawn back from his mission. Hopefully we can get a series started with them once Shawn gets back from his mission."
That undoubtedly will be fine with Bradley and BYU Coach Roger Reid, particularly if Reid can surround Bradley with University of Arizona-caliber players.