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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

The season has come to an abrupt end for the Wildcat women's basketball team. Even though the Cats couldn't muster even a 30% shooting performance and lost to an average Notre Dame team in the first round of the NCAAs, the Wildcats did some good things during the 2002-03 campaign. The squad won 22 games after grabbing only 14 victories last year, and attendance was at an all-time high. So, let's not forget the positive. Now, here is my look back at this season…

First, let me give out my "Random" awards:
1. Most Valuable Player = Dee-Dee Wheeler & Shawntinice Polk
When either one was on the bench, the Cats had trouble scoring.
2. Stepped Up Down the Stretch = Krista Warren
Krista played her best basketball when it counted. She was spectacular at the Pac-10 Tournament and was the only Wildcat to shoot the ball well against the Irish.
3. Smartest Player = Julie Brase No one in the history of Arizona women's basketball has done more things that don't appear in the box score than Julie.
4. Gym Rat = Aimee Grzyb
Aimee loves to play, and it is a pleasure to be around her.
5. Best Defensive Player = Shawntinice Polk
Dee-Dee Wheeler and Natalie Jones also get consideration here, but Polkey is simply the best post defender in the Pac-10.
6. Toughest to Lose = Krista Warren & Julie Brase & Denise Dove Ianello
Lost with the ending of the season are two popular seniors to graduation, along with Arizona's associate head coach. She simply was great, and we wish her well.
7. The Future Award = Shawntinice Polk & Dee-Dee Wheeler & Natalie Jones
This solid core will be starters next season along with the steady Aimee Grzyb and newcomer Shannon Hobson.

Second, let's move to good and bad of this recent season:
1. Good - Polkey was stunning in her freshman year.
2. Good - Dee-Dee Wheeler is getting better.
3. Bad - Finish second in the Pac-10 and get sent to the East Regional?
4. Bad - As always, there was only one Pac-10 team left standing after the first round - Stanford.
5. Good - Natalie Jones will be a star.
6. Bad - I can't imagine the Wildcats without Julie Brase and Krista Warren.
7. Good - Denise and Rob Ianello got a great situation.
8. Bad - Denise and Rob Ianello got a great situation, but it's in Wisconsin.
9. Good - Coach Bonvicini did a terrific job of coaching.
10. Bad - Coach Bonvicini was overlooked by her peers for Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

Finally, let me say that this group of young people were the best I have ever worked with. They were fun, respectful and tried very hard. I am proud of all of them.

My thanks go to Mindy Claggett, the team's sports information director, who makes me it seem like I know what I'm talking about. My thanks also go to Craig Haubrich, the team's coordinator of basketball operations, for taking care of me on the road, and thanks to all the coaches, players, administrators, and to you. You, the fans, are absolutely wonderful. Next year will be wonderful too. You just wait and watch. Only the best is ahead for Arizona women's basketball. Have a great summer!

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