Yes, the Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team has fallen two games off the pace in the early going of the Pac-10 season. No, the Cats are still not out of the race and here is why --
Let's begin by taking a closer look at Arizona's schedule. The Cats have been on the road for much of this season and have their two toughest trips out of the way. Their conference losses have come at Stanford and at Washington, in close games, both of which they should have won. After spending another four games away from home in January, things swing in their favor during the month of February, where just a trip to the L.A. schools awaits. In other words, every contender still must come to Tucson, beginning with Saturday's showdown with UCLA.
Meanwhile, the Bruins, the Pac-10 surprise team of the year at 5-0, have played only two conference games on the road. They beat both Oregon schools and still have dates left at Arizona, Washington, and Stanford, as well as a tough game at their cross-town rival USC. There is no doubt that UCLA's toughest challenges are still to come.
Stanford has also played just two conference games away from home, and they too, swept the Oregon schools. The Cardinal still must travel to play Arizona, Washington and UCLA. Tara VanDerveer's team also will play four of its last six games on the road, including trips to Washington and Arizona. Throw in a home game against UCLA, and Stanford still has the toughest part of its schedule remaining.
Washington has played three games on the road, but one of them was against the Pac-10 "doormat" Washington State. They have played the L.A. schools away and lost at UCLA. The Dogs must still play in Tucson and at Stanford. Four of Washington's last seven games are on the road, and one of their home games is against Stanford. So, the Huskies still have a very difficult row to hoe.
What does all of this mean? It means that Arizona is still very much in the conference race. All three teams who sit above the Cats in the standings must play in the Desert. Washington and UCLA must still play Stanford twice, and Arizona will only face the Cardinal one more time, here at McKale.
However, all of this will be useless information if Arizona does not take care of business at home this week. USC visits on Thursday, and then the undefeated Bruins are in on Saturday. The Cats must win both in order to keep their title hopes alive. Anyone who has seen Arizona play this season knows they belong at the top of the conference, but they must find a way to win the "must" games. Both games this week are "must" wins. So, yes, the Cats are two games out of first place, but no, they are not out of contention. In fact, they are very much in contention, and it all starts this week against USC and UCLA. Be there!
See you on the radio!
Upcoming broadcasts of Arizona women's basketball on KJLL radio include:
Monday, Jan. 13 = The Joan Bonvicini Coach's Show, 6-7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 16 = USC at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up
Saturday, Jan. 18 = UCLA at Arizona, 1:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up
Monday, Jan. 20 = The Joan Bonvicini Coach's Show, 6-7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 23 = Arizona at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up
Sunday, Jan. 26 = Arizona at Wisconsin, 12 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-up
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