It’s hard to believe, but the next home game for the Arizona women’s basketball team is their Pac-10 opener! Whatever happened to holiday magic where one could enjoy time with the family under the Christmas tree before engaging in treacherous Pac-10 play? Well, those days are gone and the “real” season is here. And wouldn’t you know it, the opponent is Arizona State!
On Thursday, Dec. 22, the Sun Devils will bring, to Tucson, a hard-hitting outfit that looks like the best team in the Pac-10. Charli Turner-Thorne has rebuilt Arizona’s archrivals and the recent series between the two clubs has been an indication of escalating hostilities. For the past few seasons it has been split city. Last year is an excellent example. The Cats won at home, the Devils in Tempe. Now, the rivalry returns to Tucson but things look a whole lot different.
The Wildcats are reeling under the weight of injury and tragedy. If anyone believes that college students can “get over” the loss of Shawntinice Polk in three months they are crazy. These kids are still grieving, trying to find themselves, and dealing with injuries that have left the post position as exposed as Polar Bear napping on a floating piece of ice at the South Pole. But they are fighting, and a large and supportive crowd on Dec. 22 could make a huge difference.
Arizona has yet to draw 2,000 fans to a home game. Let’s change that. It’s time to show these young ladies that the community still cares. You see, they felt the warmth and prayers from all of Tucson during the days following Polkey’s death, but the arena has been empty since her memorial. The players must be wondering, “Where are all of the people that said they would support us?”
You would think that the Titanic was sinking the way people see this program now. Hold on to the anchor and here is the truth: The Cats are 4-3 and could very well finish the non-conference campaign at 7-3. Help is on the way. Malia O’Neal, the state of Washington Player of the Year, has been cleared to play and she is, as one player put it, “scary good.” Amina Njonkou is coming back soon from a stress fracture and she will add some power to the post. So, all is far from being lost.
So, when Arizona returns home on Dec. 22, make your plans to be at McKale Center, painted red and with bells on. This team needs you more than ever before. Because wouldn’t you know it, their first Pac-10 opponent is Arizona State!
See you on the radio!
* All women’s basketball games are heard live on 1330 AM KJLL.