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Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/22/2004
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Paul Johnson is employed by the UA as the women's basketball play-by-play announcer. He has 20 years of sports broadcasting experience, including the last six years as the voice of Arizona women's basketball. Every Wildcat women's basketball game this year will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM, with Paul calling all the action.

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March 20, 2004
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2002-03 Archive
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Sometimes, in the midst of a long basketball season, things change. It is not uncommon for a team to experience various injuries, problems with grades, turmoil within the ranks and under-achievement. It seems that every team encounters these problems to varying degrees, and it is when they are overcome that a team goes from being average to being very good!

You see, when all else fails, it is time to turn to the age-old remedy -- pure hard work and guts. Over the past two weeks, the University of Arizona women's basketball team has discovered this truth and is playing from the "inside." They have rediscovered a "work ethic" and are finding success through adversity.

Let's go back just three weeks. The Wildcats were blown out in two games at the Oregon schools and posted a dismal 1-4 record to start Pac-10 play. When the team returned home, it faced a winnable game against Washington State, but a win versus Washington seemed out of reach.

That's when the guts kicked in. The Cats ran both opponents off the McKale floor. They exploded for 107 points against the Cougars and won easily over the Huskies. Then, just two days later, a tired Arizona team hit another bump in the road. It lost at home to UC Santa Barbara, and once again, the team's back was firmly planted against the proverbial wall. Not only did the Wildcats possess a losing overall record, but four straight Pac-10 road games awaited them. It seemed that all was lost, until some blood and guts finally began to leak from Arizona pores.

They say that sometimes you are good, and sometimes you are just lucky. Well, the Cats found a little of both in Los Angeles. They arrived at the downtrodden Sports Arena and discovered that three top USC players would miss their game because of suspensions or injuries. The door was wide open, and Arizona walked through, coming away with a victory over the Trojans. At UCLA, the Cats overcame a recent house of horrors, named Pauley Pavilion, and trounced a bad Bruins team. So, the Cats swept USC and UCLA in Los Angeles for the first time in three years. All was good, right? Wrong, because Stanford and Cal were next!

At Stanford, Arizona did not play its best game. The Cats lost to the third-ranked Cardinal and faced a must-win situation at California. Some wondered if they would take the Bears seriously enough to get a key road win. Well, they did. They played hard, gathered loose balls and coasted to a win that once again evened their record.

All of the sudden, Arizona was 6-5 in the Pac-10, and new optimism began to creep in between the locker room doors. Now, with 5 of 7 games remaining at home, maybe this season could be salvaged and maybe, just maybe, post-season play is no longer just a dream. We will soon find out.

This weekend, two of the teams that are currently in front of Arizona in the Pac-10 standings will invade McKale Center. Oregon State is surprising everyone, and Oregon has been....well....Oregon. Both teams lead the Wildcats by just one game, and things could look vastly different with two wins by the home team. It seems that there is a good chance of that happening.

You see, the Wildcats are discovering that you don't win on hopes and dreams. You do not win on talent alone. You win when you are focused and you play hard. Joan Bonvicini has done a marvelous job of keeping her ship afloat, but she can only do so much. This weekend, each Wildcat must look inside of herself and dredge up something called pure hard work and guts. If that combination is left on the McKale Center floor come Saturday night, all will be well again in Wildcat land!

See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

  • Thursday, Jan. 31 vs. Oregon State - 6:30p.m. KJLL 1330 AM
  • Saturday, Feb. 2 vs. Oregon - 3:30p.m. KJLL 1330 AM


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