2019 was certainly an up-and-down year for the Arizona Wildcats.
The year saw Arizona basketball, football, and volleyball have incredibly below average seasons. On the other hand, softball went back to the WCWS for the first time since 2010, soccer made its third consecutive NCAA tournament, and the Athletics department revealed some impressive renovations and constructions of facilities on campus.
Here are the top ten things all Arizona fans should be wishing for in 2020.
1. Arizona basketball makes a run in March
It’s always painful when Arizona basketball doesn’t make the tournament, and even with the stumble in Oregon, it appears the 2019-2020 squad is heading towards making the big dance come March. Arizona hasn’t been to an Elite Eight since 2015, and that should be the goal and hope for Wildcat fans. A Final Four, something Arizona hasn’t experienced since 2001, would be even sweeter.
2. Arizona softball goes back to the WCWS
Mike Candrea and his softball team finally broke the nine year long WCWS drought in 2019, and getting back to that spot should be the goal in 2020. This team has the potential to do so. Arizona brings back a plethora of talent from last year’s squad, including 2x All-American Jessie Harper and 2019 Pac-12 batting champion, Reyna Carranco. The Cats also bring in Oklahoma transfer pitcher Mariah Lopez, who along with returning Alyssa Denham, make the pitching staff one of the nation’s best. Even with Dejah Mulipola’s one year departure with the U.S. National Team, this Arizona squad should set its sights on a National Championship.
3. Arizona baseball makes the NCAA tournament
When coach Jay Johnson and the Arizona Wildcats baseball team made the National Championship game in 2016, expectations for Johnson’s tenure were set sky high. Unfortunately, the program has been in a slide backwards since that CWS run. Arizona has missed the past two NCAA tournaments, and while they’ve been competitive, it hasn’t been enough. The wish for the 2020 season has to be getting back to the tournament. If Arizona misses for a third year in a row, Johnson may be out of a job sooner rather than later.
4. Arizona women’s basketball makes the NCAA tournament
What can be said about the incredible Adia Barnes that hasn’t already been said. She has helped, almost single-handedly, turn Arizona Women’s Basketball around. After a 13-0 start, Arizona is looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005. With Aari McDonald leading the charge on the floor and Barnes on the bench, the Wildcats have a bright future ahead in 2020 and beyond.
5. Arizona football makes a bowl game
The 2019 Arizona football team was disappointing, to say the least. We’ve written a fair bit on this past season already, so I won’t rehash old wounds. All I will say is that Arizona better make it to a bowl game in 2020 if Kevin Sumlin and company want to keep their jobs into 2021. With Grant Gunnell, Colin Schooler, and a crop of talented receivers, Arizona should be better next year. Time will tell.
6. Arizona football attendance increases
If you saw images of the Arizona crowd from the last home game against Utah, you couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. Arizona football in 2019 had its lowest average attendance since 1975. Yes, there is a national trend of lower football attendance across various universities, but Arizona football attendance has never been at a lower point. Athletic director Dave Heeke and the Athletics staff can try as many gimmicks or stadium improvements as possible, but until the team starts putting a winning product on the field, butts will stay out of those seats.
7. Arizona soccer breaks through to the Sweet 16
Arizona soccer experienced heartbreak this past fall in their second round loss to Penn State in the NCAA tournament. Leading 2-0 at one point, Arizona eventually lost 4-3 in OT to the Nittany Lions, ending their season. The next step for Tony Amato and the Arizona soccer team is to make the Sweet 16 and compete with the likes of national powers Stanford and UCLA. Amato has done a fantastic job turning the soccer program around, but in order to elevate to that next level, the Cats must make the second weekend and start winning games against the top dogs of the conference.
8. Arizona women’s golf makes another run at a National Championship
Has there been a better moment in the past five years of Arizona Athletics than Haley Moore sinking a putt against Alabama to win a National Championship for Arizona in 2018? Probably not. In 2019, Arizona made it back to the semi-finals where they narrowly lost to the eventual National Champion Duke Blue Devils. Now in 2020, Arizona is primed for another deep run in the NCAA’s. Currently ranked 5th, Coach Lauren Ianello leads a talented, but young, squad into the second half the season.
9. Arizona volleyball gets back on track
Dave Rubio and Wildcats volleyball had another uncharacteristically down year, finishing only 15-17 on the season and 5-15 in conference. This makes two of the past three seasons the Cats have finished with a losing record. Arizona fans have to hope for a return to the NCAA’s in 2020 in what will be Rubio’s 29th season in Tucson.
The Wildcats will have a young, but talented team.
10. No scandals
The last wish that should be on every Arizona fan’s mind is for NO SCANDALS. Please. No FBI nonsense or coach mishaps or player drama. For one year, in 2020, it would be fantastic if Arizona Athletics could go without a single scandal or piece of drama. This probably won’t happen, but it’s nice to think about.