Nov. 19, 2003
It's finally time to tip off another college basketball season, and the Arizona women have a difficult row to hoe. With the 13th-most difficult schedule in the nation waiting for them, we'll know soon what the Wildcats are made of.
Arizona has one more bye-week as it starts the regular season on Saturday against an over-manned Northern Arizona team, but then things get hairy. The first test will be in beautiful Santa Barbara, where the plush green sloping hills and blue ocean waves are simply at trap intended to snare any unsuspecting women's basketball team. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara carry a No. 18 ranking and are nearly impossible to beat in the Thunderdome. The 22nd-ranked Wildcats will have to be nearly perfect to grab a win there. Then it's on to another tropical paradise, where possibly the best team in the country lies in wait at the Rainbow Wahine Classic, hosted by the University of Hawai'i. The Cats have drawn Virginia, who just missed being ranked in this week's AP poll. A win over the Cavaliers would most likely land Joan Bonvicini's squad smack dab in the middle of a battle with No. 2 Texas.
Back on the home front, Arizona will host its own tournament in early December. This will be an opportunity to get four quick wins as BYU (Dec. 12) and Texas State (Dec. 14) come in following the Fiesta Bowl Classic (Dec. 6-7). The Cats will face American and either UMass or Utah State in their own tournament.
However, after that brief respite, it's back into the rankings again with very difficult games at New Mexico (Dec. 20) and No. 12 LSU (Jan. 4), with Washington (Dec. 27), Washington State (Dec. 29) and Arizona State (Jan. 2) sandwiched in between. Then, Arizona will be off to the races in the deepest Pac-10 conference in recent memory.
What's the point of all of this? The point is that the Wildcats will have to be good early and often to have a successful 2003-04 campaign. There is not much time to find a power forward to play next to Polkey, and Joan Bonvicini will be pressed to quickly insert her new triangle offense. Playing a tough schedule is a credit to Joan and her staff. This is the way it should be. The best should play the best. One thing is for sure -- we'll know soon what the Wildcats are made of!
See you on the radio!
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