The Pac-10 is getting better! Women’s basketball played within the conference of champions has never been more intense and the upcoming conference race promises to be a fan’s delight.
Conference teams have been taking the respect word seriously lately and have come up with huge non-conference wins. Stanford has beaten Texas Tech, UCLA got by Purdue and stunned Texas, ASU won on the road in Georgia, Oregon is undefeated, and even lowly Washington State has four wins ?- most recently over San Diego State. So, how will this all effect the conference race? It means that at least four teams are legitimate contenders for a title and at least that many teams will be invited to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Early season predictions had Stanford and Arizona going one-two in the Pac-10. However, that picture is most certainly changing faster than President Bush is changing cabinet members. UCLA has emerged as a contender. The Bruins have a ton of young talent and if Coach Kathy Olivier doesn’t mess things up, Westwood could enjoy its first championship since 1998-99. ASU has proved it can play with the nation’s best. The Devils lost a close game at No. 1 LSU and beat then-No. 6 Georgia in Athens. Their punishing defense could be enough to bolt them to the top. Oregon is better than most people thought they would be and if the Ducks can stay healthy, look out. Stanford is as good as ever and that No. 2 ranking might hold.
As for the Wildcats, Joan Bonvicini’s team must prove it can beat a good team on the road. Arizona has already lost to Ohio State and Georgia away from McKale Center and will get tested again in Seattle when they open the conference campaign against a hungry University of Washington team. Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler figure to keep the locals in the hunt but the freshmen must stop playing like freshmen or a second-consecutive conference title could slip away.
All in all, it looks like the Pac-10 is stronger than ever. The race for the top spot will boil down to three things: 1) The winner will protect its home court. Here is where Arizona can win this thing. That 32-game winning streak at home is no joke and when you win in your own building you have accomplished half the battle. 2) The winner will be a better than average road team. Arizona needs to improve here. 3) The winner will not lose a game that it shouldn’t lose. This will be important this season because the conference figures to be a list of haves and have-nots. The team at the top will topple the latter.
It should be fun. Don’t miss it. The upcoming Pac-10 women’s basketball season promises to be a fan’s delight!
See you on the radio!
All Arizona women’s basketball games are broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM.