In a time of renewed hope for the Arizona women's basketball program, there is good news and better news for Wildcat fans. The good news is: the Cats will be very good. The better news is: there has never been a more difficult or entertaining home schedule. Get your tickets now because this is going to be fun!
Joan Bonvicini has outdone herself this time. This 21st-year head coach knows what it is like to play the best, and her team will do just that this season at McKale Center. After three exhibition match-ups to ready a young team, things get very serious. According to a WomensCollegeHoops.com composite poll of eight other ranking services, the first two opponents for the Wildcats are ranked in the top 10.
First it's LSU at No. 3. The Tigers come in on November 22, making it the most attractive home opener in my seven years of broadcasting for the team. Sue Gunter's team was ranked No. 22 in both the AP and USA Today polls at the end of last year and returns top scorer Aiysha Smith (15.9 ppg). The Tigers also landed the top recruit in the nation last season in freshman guard Seimone Augustus.
There is no breather for Arizona, who must then travel to No. 35 Pepperdine to play a good team in Malibu, and then it's back home for more. In what could be the game featuring the largest crowd ever to watch women's basketball at McKale Center, No. 8 Georgia comes calling. Coach Andy Landers returns three big scorers in Kara Braxton (16.3 ppg), Ebony Felder (8.6 ppg), and Christi Thomas (10.4 ppg). Throw in home games against Illinois, No. 5 Stanford, No. 26 Oregon, and No. 32 Washington, always tough USC and ASU, and the stage is set for the most entertaining season ever.
The Wildcats themselves figure to be a much better team this year. Seniors Julie Brase and Krista Warren lead a talented cast that includes juniors Aimee Grzyb, Candice Allen and Svjetlana Papcevic; last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in sophomore Dee-Dee Wheeler; and Parade All-Americans Natalie Jones and Shawntinice Polk. Arizona finally has depth and talent to spare. Depth is important in a Joan Bonvicini system, because she will pressure the ball all night if she can. With young and talented bodies galore, the visitors may find McKale Center to be more than what they bargained for.
So, if you are a Wildcat fan, this is your chance to experience women's basketball at its best. The good news is: the Arizona home schedule is terrific. The better news is: so is Arizona. The stage is set. Get your tickets now!
See you on the radio!
Please join us all season long on AM 1330 KJLL with each game broadcast beginning one half-hour before tip-off. November's schedule includes:
- Tuesday, Nov. 5 - Red & Blue Game = 6:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up
- Monday, Nov. 11 - Arizona vs. TJ MUS CZ Strakonice (Exh.) = 6:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up
- Sunday, Nov. 17 - Arizona vs. Team Concept (Exh.) = 1:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up
- Friday, Nov. 22 - Arizona vs. LSU = 6:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up
- Monday, Nov. 25 - Arizona at Pepperdine = 7:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up
- Saturday, Nov. 30 - Arizona vs. Georgia = 3:30 p.m. for Wildcat Warm-Up