It's not Rodeo Week yet in Tucson, but there's a lot of bull-riding going on, courtesy of the Arizona women's basketball team. In the midst of its best season in three years, the Cats have hopped on the back of their sensational sophomore guard, Dee-Dee Wheeler, and they are hoping to ride her all the way to the NCAA Tournament.
The numbers are staggering. When Wheeler scores over 20 points in a game, the Wildcats are 6-0. When she doesn't play well, the Wildcats have trouble scoring. She has become the key to the Wildcat offense. She is Arizona's unquestioned leader and playmaker. She is the Arizona offense.
You can talk to me all day about great players around the nation and even in the Pac-10. But right now, at this point in the season, you can't show me a better player than Dee-Dee Wheeler. She does it all. She rebounds, steals, shoots the three and provides gritty leadership on a team that can sometimes be regarded as soft. In short, without number 11, Arizona would be nowhere.
Let's take Sunday's game in Wisconsin for example. The Wildcats struggled in the first half against a taller and more physical Badger team. But there was Dee-Dee, making big shots, scoring in double digits for the millionth time in her career and making plays that made jaws drop in the spacious Kohl Center. That win in Wisconsin was all about Dee-Dee Wheeler. Yes, Julie Brase made some big shots, and Natalie Jones played well, but the Dunbar High School graduate whose real name is Desire, carried her team on her back.
This weekend, Arizona travels to the Oregon schools for two "must" wins. You won't have to turn on TNN to see the best rodeo action in the country. No, on the Oregon Trail the Wildcats will be riding the back of a true pure-bred bronco named Dee-Dee Wheeler. Just think about how good she'll be on Rodeo Weekend!
See you on the radio!
Upcoming broadcasts of Arizona women's basketball:
Monday, Jan. 27 = The Joan Bonvicini Coach's Show, 6-7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 30 = Arizona at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up
Saturday, Feb. 1 = Arizona at Oregon, 12:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up