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Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/22/2004
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Jan. 12, 2004

In the midst of a slaughter, sometimes it is easy to lose perspective. When the ship is taking on water, one tends to only think of the negative. Such was the case on Saturday as the University of Arizona women's basketball team ventured into the unfriendly confines of Maples Pavilion on the campus of Stanford University. It is within this building that the 7th-ranked Cardinal regularly beat up on opponents, and Saturday's game with Arizona was no exception. The Cats fell behind early and ended up 22-point losers. However everything is not lost, and in fact, the Cats remain a true contender for the Pac-10 title!

As the Wildcats lick their wounds this week, they must not forget that one loss should not cost you a Pac-10 title. Last year, it took four losses to end up in second place, and this year may be no different. To add to their hope, the Wildcats are looking at five straight very winnable games before their rematch with Stanford on Feb. 5.

First, this week, the L.A. schools invade -- USC on Thursday and UCLA on Saturday. These are both very good teams, but neither is as good on the road. The Trojans, at 4-1 in the Pac-10, sit in a second-place tie with Arizona. USC is coming off of a sweep of the Washington schools in which neither game was closer than 20 points, and they are scary on paper. However, USC is not the same team on the road. The Trojans are 1-3 away from Los Angeles. Granted, two of those losses came at Minnesota and New Mexico, but Chris Gobrecht's club also lost at Oregon State. This means that a high-flying Arizona team that has won 21 straight home games has an excellent chance to win.

Meanwhile, the UCLA Bruins are in a similar situation as their cross-town rivals. The Bruins are 3-2 in conference play and have posted a suspect 2-4 record in opposing arenas. Again, if the Cats play their game, they can and should win. If, and yes it is a big "if", Joan Bonvicini's team wins both games, the Wildcats could open up some room between themselves and the rest of the conference.

After these two extremely important home games, (by the way, some fans showing up at McKale Center would really help!) Arizona will visit the Oregon schools, both of which are traditionally tough to beat at home. This season, Oregon is down and Oregon State showed exposed some holes in a loss to the Ducks last weekend. Arizona can win both of these games. Then, the Cats must play at ASU, and this will certainly be a tough game. Arizona is better than ASU, though, and can win in Tempe too.

If, and again I say "if" with a trembling voice, this scenario plays out, Arizona could be 9-1 within the conference as they get ready for a rematch with Stanford. The Cats will have plenty of motivation in this game, especially after Saturday's drubbing in Palo Alto.

So, all is not lost. All of these upcoming games are games that Arizona can win! Whether they will or not depends on how they recover from a good old-fashioned whipping at the hands of Stanford. Oh, by the way, a few people at McKale Center wouldn't hurt either... Did I mention that before?

See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

All Arizona Women's Basketball Games are broadcast live on 1330 AM!

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