October 20, 2003
Well, it's that time again, when college basketball programs all over the country are gearing up for another exciting season. This is a time of hope and optimism. In fact, everyone is a contender in October! Such is the case for the Arizona women's basketball team. For head coach Joan Bonvicini, her optimism seems to be justified and here is why:
First, the Wildcats have a player named Shawntinice Polk. This is reason enough for any team to feel as if it has a legitimate chance to contend in the Pac-10. Polkey is arguably one of the five best players in the nation and is coming off of a spectacular freshman season. Polk was the 2002-03 Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year and was an honorable mention All-American. She posted a healthy scoring average of 17.4 ppg and grabbed an average 10.8 rebounds per game. Her experience as a member of the USA team that competed overseas this summer will just make her better.
Second, the Wildcats have a guard named Dee-Dee Wheeler. Wheeler is fast becoming the best guard in the conference. The inside-out game she has developed with Polk makes them a dangerous combination that will be difficult to stop. Wheeler is a terrific defender and averaged 16.2 ppg last season. She has become the team leader, and she plays hard from tip-to-buzzer. If she stays healthy, Arizona will be a contender.
Aimee Grzyb, the talented senior guard, is also back. Aimee can score and is an experienced leader. Natalie Jones, the sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, will provide much-needed athleticism, as will Shannon Hobson, the newcomer out of Perris, Calif., who is the likely successor to Krista Warren at the four spot next to Polk.
If everyone stays healthy, the Cats will be very good. The coaches have picked Arizona to finish second in the Pac-10, behind Stanford. That could happen, but everyone will need to contribute, including players such as Anna Chappell, CoCoa Sanford and Katrina Lindner, who were all role players last season.
Yes, it is the time for optimism and joy. This time the Wildcats have earned a reason to be hopeful. When all is said and done, Joan Bonvicini could be celebrating her first-ever Pac-10 title. It should be fun!
See you on the radio!
* All games, home and away, will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM this season.