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Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/22/2004
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March 15, 2004

Dear members of the 2004 NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Committee,

Having paid close attention to your invitations for this year's NCAA Tournament, I felt compassion for you. After all, it was very clear that no one has ever taken the time to teach you about the western half of the United States. Even more appalling, it appears that you have not had access to proper teaching on the type of basketball that is played west of the Mississippi. I hope that this letter makes your job easier in the future and eases some doubt or misconceptions that you may have about basketball in the west.

1. I broadcast games for a school called the University of Arizona. This university is located in a little dusty town called Tucson, Arizona. But it is important that you know that people do live here now.
2. The University of Arizona athletic teams are called the "Wildcats." That's because, west of the Mississippi, there are some wild animals still thriving.
3. We play in a conference called the Pac-10. This is a nickname for the real name of the conference, which is the Pacific-10 Conference. The word "Pacific" comes from the Pacific Ocean, the other ocean that many of you have never visited. It is big though, and it goes all the way to Japan!
4. It may surprise some of you to learn that the Pacific-10 Conference, or the Pac-10, is not a "mid-major" conference. We actually have real sports, and one of our football teams won a share of the National Championship this year. I'm not kidding!
5. We had two women's basketball champions this year. Arizona tied with Stanford for the conference crown, and you mistakenly gave Stanford a 6th seed and Arizona a 9th seed. I know that this was an honest mistake because you are just now learning that there is basketball played in the western time zones. Oh, just FYI... Stanford has a #18 RPI (Rating Percentage Index) and is ranked No. 8 in the current coaches poll.
6. It may be exciting for you to learn that other universities also play basketball in the western portion of the United States. You just forgot some of them, but that's O.K. because this is kind of like going to school. This is fun, isn't it? One team you forgot was Utah. They were ranked for most of the year, got to their conference championship game and have an RPI that is five places higher than Maryland, which you did invite to the tournament. Of course, many of you have heard of Maryland, but Utah is a neat state too! It's big and has a lot of mountains. You might even come and see it some time.
7. As part of your learning process you should know that you invited only three at-large teams from the western time zones. Whoops! That's O.K. We all mistakes, although some of us actually try to learn from them.
8. Did you know that our University of Arizona team won 24 games, finished tied for first in the Pac-10 (oh sorry, that's the Pacific-10... remember the ocean thing) and came within an eyelash of winning its conference tournament? You must have written down the wrong school when you penciled in the Wildcats to face 8th-seeded Michigan State and No. 1 seed Texas on the Longhorns' home floor. You must have forgotten to write "State" on the end of that name because that's what a bad team like the Sun Devils would have deserved.
9. Finally, try to do better next year. I know you really don't care that much, and many of you have never even seen a Pacific-10 team play. But, FYI... you can find box scores on the internet, and just because the game isn't listed in your paper doesn't mean it was called off. Now that you are educated, maybe next year you can do it right. It's only fair to the student-athletes who work so hard. It's just too bad you don't.

Sincerely,
Paul Johnson
Arizona (which is a state now and isn't owned by Mexico anymore) Radio

*All Arizona women's basketball games in the NCAA Tournament will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM!

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