Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is employed by the UA as the women's basketball play-by-play announcer. He has 21 years of sports broadcasting experience and is in his eighth season as the voice of Arizona women's basketball. Every Wildcat women's basketball game this year will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM, with Paul calling all the action.

Courtside Archives

Tucson, Arizona, is a "men's basketball town". There is electricity in the air when the hoops season arrives, and this desert dwelling comes alive again. This spirit was in evidence last Friday night during the team's annual Midnight Madness celebration. Over 12,000 fans turned out to cheer on Lute Olson's team and get a couple of cheap laughs from Tom Arnold. A great time was had by all….by all, that is, except the women's basketball team, who were treated rudely and without respect by many who call themselves "real" UofA fans.

It is important to note that Lute Olson's program has earned every single fan that attended Midnight Madness. Lute is one of the top three coaches in the nation, is in the Hall of Fame and wins 25 games every year. The event does, and should, revolve around his program. The slam dunk contest was fun…the women were cheering too. The three-point shooting contest was a positive thing, and it showed that the women could shoot as well as, if not better than, the men. But after these two events, things went sour.

Each team was to be given 15 minutes to scrimmage. Logic would say that the women would scrimmage first to give them some exposure, then be followed by the men. All 12,000 would still be there and probably would have enjoyed watching two Parade All-Americans make their debut on the McKale floor.

However, for some unexplained reason, the men went first and got their full 15 minutes. It was embarrassing and sad to see nearly every fan get up and leave their seats as the women gathered at center court for their scrimmage. The fans at McKale were rude, and there is just no other way to put it.

Not only did most of the fans leave like it was a fire drill, but apparently the on-court staff considered the night to be over too. The clock was not reset, so the ladies only scrimmaged for nine minutes, and the public address announcer was nowhere to be found.

Yes, most people were there for Lute and rightly so. He has the best program in the country. But no one should have to play in front of only 500 fans because of apparent ignorance and disrespect.

Next year, if the women are invited to be involved, then maybe you should stay and watch. If you call yourself a true Arizona fan, regardless of whether you like women's athletics or not, you should learn to respect all Wildcat athletes.

It would have only taken nine minutes of your time. See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

*Please join us all season long on 1330 AM KJLL. Our first broadcast will be on Tuesday, Nov. 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m. for the annual Red and Blue Game.