Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 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.

Courtside Archives

March 20, 2004
March 15, 2004
March 11, 2004
March 2, 2004
Feb. 24, 2004
Feb. 17, 2004
Feb. 10, 2004
Feb. 5, 2004
Jan. 27, 2004
Jan. 20, 2004
Jan. 12, 2004
Jan. 5, 2004
Dec. 23, 2003
Dec. 11, 2003
Nov. 19, 2003
Oct. 20, 2003
2002-03 Archive
2001-02 Archive

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly some basketball fans jump off of the bandwagon of their favorite team. It seems that sports fans always want to know, "what have you done for me lately?" This season for the Arizona women's basketball team seems to be no different. After a disappointing loss to ASU on Sunday, some fans could be heard pulling the plug on this young team. Isn't it just a little bit too early to dig a grave? After all, the Cats are 1-2 in conference play. They are not 1-12, that's 1-2! Wow, they could still finish 16-2. Well, for all of you negative types, please let me use an example from last season to show that a season is never over, even when some give up on their team.

Let's go to Eugene, Oregon, and look at the 2000-01 edition of the Oregon Ducks women's basketball team. This is a story of survival, and a story to show that a season is never over, even when it seems all is lost. Oregon got off to a respectable 7-3 start. Their Pac-10 season began in good order, beating their first four opponents and everything was upbeat in the Willamette Valley. Then, the wheels fell off.

Off the court, a mutiny arose among Jody Runge's players. A public battle began that finally cost the successful, but abrasive, coach her job. On the court, things were not much better. The team lost 8 of its next 10 games to fall to 6-8 in conference play. Area newspapers spoke often of the inner feud that consumed the Oregon athletic department. Players openly criticized their coach, and wins were hard to come by. The experts gave up on the Ducks, but the fans did not. Somehow, the Oregon faithful stuck in there, even though a promising season turned into an impossible nightmare. The patience of the fans paid off. The team finished the season with four straight wins and an unlikely NCAA Tournament bid. What had looked to be a disaster became another in a long line of post-season appearances for the Oregon Ducks. The same thing can happen right here in Arizona.

Right now, the Cats are 1-2 in the Pac-10 and hold a 5-6 overall record. Both of their conference losses came to arguably the two best teams in the league, and the Cats have a home-heavy schedule toward the second half of the season. Even though things have not gone well on the court, the Cats have avoided the kind of off-court conflict that plagued last year's Oregon team. Arizona is hanging together, and when Candice Allen is cleared to play, good things could happen in a hurry. This weekend, the Wildcats visit the Oregon schools and could very possibly win both games. Then, they return home to face two beatable Washington teams. Things could look very different in two weeks!

Yes, Arizona's 2001-02 season has been disappointing so far. Yes, the team faces an uphill climb to respectability. No, the season is not over. There is always hope, especially this year when NCAA Tournament hopes will not fade until a team exits the Pac-10 Tournament. So, are you going to be a true fan and stay on the bandwagon, or are you going to jump off? Nearly 9,000 fans packed McArthur Court to see Oregon finish its troubled 2000-01 regular season. Will Wildcat fans be as faithful? Will you?

See on the radio!

Paul Johnson

  Women's Basketball


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