The Arizona women’s basketball team is the talk of Tucson right now.
Record crowds have been flocking to McKale Center to cheer on the Wildcats as they’ve made a run to the WNIT championship game, where they will host Northwestern on Saturday at noon.
Leading up to the game, the team has received an overwhelming outpour of support from Arizona coaches and notable alumni on social media (the videos can be watched below).
UA players are noticing.
“I think it just shows the culture we have at the University of Arizona and how we all kind of back each other,” said freshman forward Cate Reese. “And I know if any other team out there was going to a national championship we would back them too, and I think it’s just great to have all the support not only from the community but from the teams and it means a lot for us.”
“It does,” added head coach Adia Barnes. “It’s like former NBA players that I didn’t even go to college with. Some I don’t even know that well. Our alumni are stepping up. I think for a long time there’s been a big disconnect with alumni. Even I wasn’t here for a long time. I was playing overseas.
”So my goal and what I aspire to do is connect and have people coming back. Have big alumni events like we had last year. I want alumni to talk to our players to send the message that they hear from me all the time, but you don’t have to hear from your coach. And I think you’re seeing that community, you’re seeing that bond. This is a special place. Special people come here and we want to just kind of build on that tradition.”
Arizona cracked the 10,000 attendance mark in Wednesday’s win vs. TCU and now hope to sell out McKale Center on Saturday.
“This place will sell out. I’m pretty confident,” Barnes said Friday afternoon. “We’re already over 11,000 (tickets sold). I think the problem is going to be, and this is a good problem to have, is something some people aren’t going to buy them early, and there’s going to be a line and some people disappointed outside. Because we’re way ahead of where I thought we’d be. But it’s extremely meaningful. It’s extremely special. If you would have told me in your third year you guys are going to go to the WNIT finals and draw 40,000 people, I would have said you’re a jerk and that’s not funny. ... But now you see (the attendance) is up every game, everybody’s excited. People have not been excited about women’s basketball like this in probably 20-plus years.”
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is partnering with a New York City Wildcat Alumnus and donating 500 tickets for military use for Saturday's WNIT Championship Game between @ArizonaWBB and Northwestern. Call 621-CATS for more info. #BearDown | #MadeForIt pic.twitter.com/wFTjo2865N— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) April 4, 2019