TUCSON, Ariz. (Sept. 13) -- The University of Arizona women's basketball team will play another top-notch schedule for the 2000-2001 season, announced head coach Joan Bonvicini on September 13. This year's slate features twelve opponents who saw postseason action last year, and four of them were nationally ranked at the end of the season.
The Cats open the season with four difficult non-conference games. Arizona officially tips-off the new year on Saturday, Nov. 18, with a contest at home against Brigham Young, an NCAA tournament participant last season.
Following that are a pair of tough road games. The UA plays at Notre Dame, a Sweet Sixteen team in 2000, on Monday, Nov. 20. Then the Cats play at UC Santa Barbara, which finished the year ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, on Sunday, Nov. 26.
Arizona returns home to face Rice on Tuesday, Nov. 28. The Owls were responsible for upsetting UC Santa Barbara in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament. Another home game with UNLV follows that.
The Wildcats play host to Fresno State and Bowling Green for the 10th annual Arizona Basketball Classic on Friday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 10. The Cats wrap up their five-game homestand against Louisville on Dec. 17.
Arizona makes a first-ever trip to Puerto Rico this year for the San Juan Shootout on Dec. 19-21. Other participants include Nebraska, Auburn and the host team, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. The Cats will be seeking revenge for last year's loss in Lawrence when they play host to Kansas in their final non-conference contest of the season on Dec. 29.
"We have an outstanding schedule this year," said Bonvicini. "We have some very difficult road games and home games. Our tournament, as always, should be very good, and the tournament in Puerto Rico will definitely be challenging."
Pac-10 Conference play will be competitive again this year. Four league teams, including Arizona, made the NCAA tournament last season, and two others - Arizona State and USC - participated in the WNIT.
"The Pac-10 is going to be tough, as it always is, but I think the conference as a whole needs to make a stronger stand nationally," Bonvicini said. "Oregon, since they're the defending champs, should be a favorite this year, but Stanford could do very well also.
"UCLA will still be good, despite its losses to graduation, and USC is the team that, talent-wise, should be most improved. They had a great second half of last season and made a strong showing in the NIT. ASU should be in the mix as well, with its good recruiting class and the return of some redshirts."
Conference play begins for the Cats on Jan. 4 and 6 at California and Stanford, respectively. Arizona plays its first home conference games on Jan. 11 and 13 against Washington State and Washington. The Wildcats wrap up regular-season play at home on Mar. 8 and 10 against the Bay Area schools.