Time now for a new and exciting version of Courtside Conversations! This week’s edition features the fabulous, though mostly incorrect, prognostications of women’s basketball radio icon Paul Johnson. Sit back and relax, but please don’t wager, and enjoy knowing the truth of the future regarding Pac-10 women’s basketball! The teams will finish in this order:
1. Stanford - What can you say about the Cardinal that hasn’t already been said? Yes, the Cats have what it takes on paper to win the conference but the Cardinal get it done year after year! Before you breath a sigh of relief because of Nicole Powell’s departure, get ready for the next sensation ?- Candace Wiggins (6-0, Fr., G, La Jolla, Calif.). Some say she will be the best player ever to wear a Stanford uniform. Ouch!
2. Arizona - The Cats will have to prove they belong among the nation’s elite by capturing a second consecutive Pac-10 crown. Arizona features two of the nation’s finest players ?- Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler ?- and has added depth with a fine freshman class. The key for Joan Bonvicini’s club will be to stay healthy and find enough scoring to replace the departed Amy Grzyb. If Polkey gets some help down low it could be celebration time in Tucson.
3. UCLA - The Bruins made a late run last season to earn a NCAA berth and nearly beat Minnesota in the first round of the tournament. However, it is time for something more than a close finish in Westwood. Coach Kathy Olivier is in her 12th season and hasn’t finished higher than third in the conference race since 1998-99. This team is loaded with three young stars ?- Nikki Blue, Noelle Quinn, and Lisa Willis. But UCLA will need other contributors in order to move up the ladder.
4. Oregon - The Ducks haven’t proven anything under head coach Bev Smith, who took over during a mutiny in 2001. She is just four games over .500 since then and that’s not good enough in Eugene. However, this year could be different. Oft-injured Cathrine Kraayeveld should be healthy and Andrea Bills isn’t bad. Throw in the advantage that comes with Mac Court and Oregon could be back in the NCAA Tournament field.
5. ASU - Coach Charli Turner Thorne talks a good game but will need to get it done on the floor this season. Led by senior Betsy Boardman and the feisty Kylan Loney, the Devils will have to score points to go along with their fine defense.
6. Washington - No Mendiola sisters this season could spell doom for June Daugherty.
7. USC - New coach Mark Trakh (199-123 in 11 years at Pepperdine) will find that life in the Pac-10 is just a little different than competing in the West Coast Conference.
8. Oregon State - Book a hotel. The Beavers are headed for the post-season WNIT...again!
9. California - Can the Bears score more than 50 points per game?
10. Washington State - The Cougars will win two games at home. Optimism will run rampant in Pullman!
See you on the radio!
Each Wildcat Game is broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM.