How would the voters react to an Arizona team that lost one of the biggest stars in college basketball? On Tuesday, the AP voters showed that they still thought the Wildcats were one of the best 25 women’s basketball teams in the country. Arizona debuted at No. 22 in the preseason AP Top 25.
The Wildcats will be a very different team this season now that Aari McDonald has moved on to the professional ranks. Head coach Adia Barnes doesn’t think that means they will be worse, though.
“I'm not saying ‘Cate, you have to score 21 more points a game,’” Barnes said. “I’m saying what can we do as a team to get better, and to me, we will be a really good team with balance. And we’re going to have a lot more balance this year. And I think if my goal would be to get four or five players in double digits, we can do that if Sam (Thomas) takes two, three, four more points. Cate (Reese) can take three, four more points. Koi (Love) can come in. Taylor (Chavez). Different people can step up. I think we filled that void.”
Arizona joins four other Pac-12 teams in the preseason poll. Last season’s national champions from Stanford were selected third. Oregon came in at 10th. Oregon State is ranked No. 14, and UCLA stands at No. 20. Washington State is also receiving votes.
It’s the second straight season that the Wildcats have been in the preseason poll after debuting at No. 7 last season. They ended the year at No. 11 in the AP poll before their run to the national title game.