What a difference one year makes! Last season, the Arizona Wildcats waltzed into Haas Pavilion as a heavy favorite to face the California Golden Bears. The girls from Berkeley were in the midst of a terrible season and the Cats were Pac-10 contenders. Well, things didn’t turn out well and Arizona was swept in the Bay Area.
Forward to 2006 and let’s experience a total reversal of roles. This season, the “post-less” Wildcats entered the same building to play a very different team. The Bears were flying high with 13 wins and a ton of young talent. Arizona left two starters on the bench with injuries, and certainly another loss awaited the Tucson contingent. But again, things unfolded in quite an unexpected manner.
The Wildcats showed courage and heart and played together like a scene from the movie “Hoosiers.” On shear grit and guts, the Cats outfought a taller and more talented team to earn an 80-76 victory. It was a proud moment for the Cats and it showed that hard work and courage can take a basketball team a long way.
If you have been off of the planet for five years you could possibly look at Arizona’s record and ask, “What’s wrong with this team?” After all, Arizona is just 3-6 at the Pac-10’s halfway point and will probably not end up playing postseason basketball. Take a closer look, though, and you see the real picture. Polkey is gone, Shannon Hobson is redshirting, Che Oh was out with a concussion and Amina Njonkou was sidelined with a sore foot. In other words, the Cats played Cal with no post players. But the guards got it done and that’s the real story.
The real story features a group of young ladies who are learning to deal with adversity and beginning to succeed. Arizona has won a modest two of their last four conference games, but they are getting better. They have never given up and didn’t give up Saturday, either.
What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Cats were disappointing, but this year they shined. Last year, there were a ton of expectations, but this year it’s “one game at a time.” The Cats had notched a Pac-10 win in a place where others said they didn’t belong. But they proved they belonged and they proved that they can beat good teams. It was a great feeling to fly home with a winning team. What a difference one year makes!
See you on the radio!
*Each Wildcat game can be heard live on 1330 AM KJLL.
*Don’t forget about the Joan Bonvicini Coaches Show, heard live each Monday night from 6-7 p.m.