Editorial: Women's basketball worth the watch

Daily Wildcat image logo

Welcome back, Wildcats! As a new year and semester get going, Spring, or what passes for it here in Southern Arizona, is in the air. Here at the University of Arizona, that usually signals the start of Tucson’s favorite pastime not involving a rodeo: March Madness.

However, this year, things are playing out differently. In place of a men’s squad who usually reps the ‘Cats in the Associated Press poll of the best teams in America, it’s the women’s squad that’s garnering votes — and eyeballs.

The team drew a crowd of 5,006  during the student-less holiday break that saw the ‘Cats pull off an upset victory against in-state rival Arizona State, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Sun Devils. The crowd was the largest to watch a women’s game in over 10 years.

Speaking after the victory, head coach Adia Barnes explained how her team went about toppling the No. 17-ranked Devils, and with them, expectations placed on the team.

“I have a plan. If we were getting crushed in the non-conference, we wouldn’t have played like this,” Barnes said. “It was a part of the plan because we’re about to play about eight ranked teams in the next couple of months.” 

Barnes’ team then bested a 10-2 University of Colorado squad on Jan. 2 and before losing to a tough Utah squad on the road Jan. 6. The Wildcats’ season record now stands at 12-2 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, the best start for the squad since the 2011-2012 season. 

Now that the holiday break is over and students are roaming the Mall once again, it’s time for the student body to get behind the UA’s best current team. With a home stretch this weekend against perennial Pac-12 powers Stanford and California, the level of play should be top-notch.

On top of that, the Wildcats boast a legit scoring dynamo, with Aari McDonald, a star-in-the making redshirt sophomore averaging nearly 25 points a game, making her the second leading scorer in NCAA Division I. 

After the ASU game, Barnes’ said that she “didn’t know anyone in the country that can guard her off the dribble.” 

That sort of skill led the Pac-12 to name McDonald Player of the Week twice already this season. National and NCAA accolades are sure to follow McDonald’s play at the end of the year.

It’s not just McDonald that should have BasketCat fans excited. Freshman forward Cate Reese, the first McDonald’s All-American to play for the UA women’s squad, has also been out-performing expectations.

Averaging close to a double-double each night, Reese pulled down 8.7 rebounds and put up 12.8 points per contest in her first dozen games at UA, while clogging the lane with her 6-foot-2 frame.

The men’s team has seemingly recovered from a lethargic set of showings in December, the women’s team is rounding into form right before the most important stretch of games of the season.

On top of Stanford and Cal, Pac-12 opponents UCLA and USC visit McKale Center in January, promising a slate of important games against schools most of UA’s significant California-based student body is familiar with. 

This isn’t to say you should ignore or stop watching Sean Miller and his men’s team. We at the Daily Wildcat encourage you to get out and enjoy all of the UA’s varsity sports, but especially this once-in-a-generation Wildcat Women’s Basketball team.

Bear Down, and see you in McKale Center soon.Welcome back, Wildcats! As a New Year and semester, get going, Spring, or what passes for it here in Southern Arizona, is in the air. Here at the University of Arizona, that usually signals the start of Tucson’s favorite pastime not involving a rodeo: March Madness.

However, this year, things are playing out differently. In place of a men’s squad who usually reps the ‘Cats in the Associated Press poll of the best teams in America, it’s the women’s squad that’s garnering votes — and eyeballs.

The team drew a crowd of 5,006 — during the student-less holiday break — that saw the ‘Cats pull off an upset victory against in-state rival Arizona State, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Sun Devils. The crowd was the largest to watch a women’s game in over 10 years.

Speaking after the victory, head coach Adia Barnes explained how her team went about toppling the No. 17-ranked Devils, and with them, expectations placed on the team.

“I have a plan. If we were getting crushed in the nonconference, we wouldn’t of played like this,” Barnes said. “It was a part of the plan because we’re about to play about eight ranked teams in the next couple of months.” 

Barnes’ team then bested a 10-2 University of Colorado squad on January 2 and before losing to a tough Utah squad on the road Jan. 6. The Wildcats’ season record now stands at 12-2 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, the best start for the squad since the 2011-2012 season. 

Now that the holiday break is over and students are roaming the Mall once again, it’s time for the student body to get behind the UAs best current team. With a home stretch this weekend against perennial Pac-12 powers Stanford and California, the level of play should be top-notch.

On top of that, the Wildcat’s boast a legit scoring dynamo with Aari McDonald, a star-in-the making redshirt sophomore averaging nearly 25 points a game, making her the second leading scorer in NCAA Division I. 

After the ASU game, Barnes’ said that she “didn’t know anyone in the country that can guard her off the dribble.” 

That sort of skill led the Pac-12 to name her player of the week twice already this season. National and NCAA accolades are sure to follow McDonald’s play at the end of the year.

It’s not just McDonald that should have BasketCat fans excited. Freshman forward Cate Reese, the first McDonald’s All-American to play for the UA women’s squad, has also been out-performing expectations.

Averaging close to a double-double each night, Reese pulled down 8.7 rebounds and put up 12.8 points per contest in her first dozen games at UA, while clogging the lane with her 6’2” frame.

While the men’s team has seemingly recovered from a lethargic set of showings in December, the women’s team is rounding into form right before the most important stretch of games of the season.

On top of Stanford and Cal, Pac-12 opponents UCLA and USC visit McKale Center in January, promising a slate of important games against schools most of UAs significant California-based student enrollment is familiar with. 

This isn’t to say you should ignore or stop watching Sean Miller and his men’s team. We at the Daily Wildcat encourage you to get out and enjoy all of the UAs varsity sports, but especially this once-in-a-generation Wildcat Women’s Basketball team.

Bear Down, and we will see you at McKale Center soon.


Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter



Share this article