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Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/22/2004
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Feb. 17, 2004

All is not lost for the Arizona women's basketball team. Let's see if I can come up with some decent clich?s to make my point -- the roof has not caved in, the fat lady hasn't sung, the Cats are still breathing, etc.... In other words, being swept by the LA schools hasn't brought an end to the Wildcats' season. Here is why...

First, one must understand that it is not only Arizona that struggles on the road in this crazy conference. Only one team is over .500 in conference road play, Stanford at 4-3, and the Cardinal have lost three of their last four Pac-10 road games! In fact, the overall record of Pac-10 teams on the road in conference games is a mere 25-47. However, at home, the conference has two teams -- Arizona and Stanford -- that have not lost at home in Pac-10 play and two teams (ASU and USC) that have lost only once on their home courts in conference action. So, the Wildcats have plenty of schizophrenic company.

But the real reason the season is still very much alive for Arizona is that the Cats remain legitimate Pac-10 contenders, and their post-season hopes are rosy. This week will prove pivotal. While Arizona, riding a 25-game home winning streak, hosts two average Oregon teams, the first-place Cardinal face the red-hot LA schools in Maples Pavilion. If Arizona wins Thursday, the Wildcats will either be tied for first place or all alone in second place. Stanford and USC face off on Thursday as well, and they are the two teams ahead of the Cats. Even second place is not bad with only three games to play on the conference schedule. So, Arizona remains vitally alive for a coveted No. 1 or No. 2 seed heading into the Pac-10 Conference Tournament in San Jose at the beginning of March.

When it comes to Arizona's NCAA hopes, the picture is even prettier. University of Washington Senior Woman Administrator Marie Tuite, who also is a member of the women's NCAA Selection Committee, was a guest on Monday night's Joan Bonvicini Coach's Show. Tuite believes that the Pac-10 is stronger than it has ever been and could very easily get four or five teams into the "Big Dance", depending on how certain teams finish. When asked about Arizona, Tuite explained that the Cats are in a great position because each of their seven losses have come against teams being considered for NCAA Tournament bids. Near the end of our interview, I pinned her down and asked her about Arizona's chances. I offered this scenario, "If Arizona wins three of its last four (very possible because the Cats have OSU and Oregon at home and then play at WSU and UW) and enters the Pac-10 Tournament with 21 wins, are the Cats in good shape?" Her answer was simple but to the point -- "Yes."

So, Arizona will control its own fate, as we enter the final two weeks of the Pac-10 season. A No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament will provide Arizona with plenty of wins to gain a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament. It all begins this Thursday night with Oregon State, another team that has entered proverbial "bubble" status. If the Cats take care of business, then all is not lost for the Arizona women.

See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

All Arizona Women's Basketball Games are broadcast live on 1330 AM!

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