The Wildcat women’s basketball team is alive! After a loss to USC in the Pac-10 Tournament, the pundits basically said: “See you next year.” Well gang, we’re back quickly and look out for the Cats in Knoxville.
Now, you can argue that it is a huge stretch to say that Arizona, the No. 9 seed in the Chattanooga Region, has any chance of advancing to the Sweet 16 with No. 1 seed LSU in their path and you may be right. But once a team hits the floor anything can happen and here is why:
- For the first time in years Arizona can actually play good teams on a neutral floor. It’s first game (Sunday at 9:30 a.m. MST on KJLL 1330 AM Radio) pits Arizona (19-11) against a very good team in Oklahoma ?- the region’s eighth seed. The Sooners (16-11) are fortunate to be in the tournament and Arizona can beat them. Then, LSU will most likely be waiting. This will be quite a different story. But the Tigers (the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament) will not have the advantage of playing at home, so some of the edge is taken away.
- Arizona will presumably be healthier than it has been all year. Two weeks off will make Polkey more mobile and allow everyone else to heal. This will be the healthiest Arizona team, barring any injuries in practice, that we have seen since opening night. A healthy Arizona team is a very good team.
- This is Dee-Dee Wheeler’s last chance. She knows it’s her time to shine. If she gets hot, the Wildcats can beat anybody.
- There is Wildcat Karma at work. In 1997, the men’s team finished fifth in the Pac-10, which is exactly where the women ended up this season in the conference tournament seeding. Arizona got hot in the Big Dance and beat three No. 1 seeds on their way to a national championship. Again, these things are decided on the floor and not on paper.
- It’s about time. Arizona has bowed out in the first round for two straight seasons and Joan Bonvicini is too good a coach for that to happen a third time.
The point I am trying to make is don’t assume anything. The Wildcats are alive and back in the tournament. As is the case with Oklahoma, Arizona will feel no pressure. Neither team was supposed to be here. All of the pressure is on LSU. Can the Tigers handle it? Yes, they probably will advance. But, you never know. And as for me, I can’t wait to get started!
See you on the radio!
All NCAA Tournament games will be broadcast live on KJLL Radio, AM 1330 AM. Sunday’s game between No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 9 Arizona can be heard beginning at 9:30 a.m. (MST).