WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (1-1 overall) has two more tough non-conference contests in a three-day span coming up after Thanksgiving.
The Wildcats hit the road again to play at UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m. PST in The Thunderdome. Arizona then returns to the friendly confines of the McKale Center to tip off a five-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP:
22 Veranda James F 6-3 Fr. 10.0 ppg 9.5 rpg 0.5 bpg 35 Krista Warren F/G 6-2 So. 10.0 ppg 5.0 rpg 1.0 spg 45 Elizabeth Pickney F 6-4 Jr. 12.5 ppg 6.5 rpg 1.0 bpg 10 Reshea Bristol G 5-10 Sr. 10.5 ppg 6.0 rpg 6.5 apg 33 Tysell Bozeman G 5-8 Jr. 10.0 ppg 3.5 rpg 3.5 apg
OFF THE BENCH: (in numerical order)
4 Candice Allen G 5-10 Fr. 3.0 ppg 2.0 rpg 13 Aimee Grzyb G 5-7 Fr. 9.5 ppg 2.0 rpg 14 Jen Chesney G 6-0 Fr. 0.0 ppg 1.0 rpg 50 LaKeisha Taylor C 6-4 Jr. 9.0 ppg 6.0 rpg 51 Michelle Mitchell C 6-4 Jr. 0.5 ppg 1.0 rpg
ABOUT ARIZONA: The Wildcats slipped to 1-1 on the season with 95-65 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame on the road Nov. 20.
Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is the team's top scorer, with 12.5 points per game. She is second in rebounding (6.5 rpg), behind freshman Veranda James' team-leading 9.5 rpg average. Senior guard Reshea Bristol is second in scoring (10.5 ppg), third in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and is tops on the squad with 6.5 assists per game.
James, junior guard Tysell Bozeman and sophomore wing Krista Warren are all tied for third in scoring, with averages of 10.0 points per game apiece. Freshman guard Aimee Grzyb is averaging 9.5 ppg, and junior center LaKeisha Taylor has a 9.0 ppg scoring average.
ABOUT UC SANTA BARBARA: Perennial powerhouse UC Santa Barbara is 1-1 overall after a win over Louisville (78-67) and a loss to host Nebraska (61-69) at the Time Warner Cable Classic in Lincoln, Neb., last weekend. The Gauchos play at USC on Friday night before entertaining Arizona on Sunday.
With 19.5 points per game, junior forward Kayte Christensen is leading UCSB in scoring, and she is second in rebounding, at 8.0 per game. Sophomore guard Jessica Hansen follows on the scoring chart, with 14.0 ppg, while senior forward Nicole Greathouse is the team's top rebounder (10.0 rpg) and is third in scoring (11.0 ppg).
Head coach Mark French (UC Santa Barbara, 1973) has a 258-130 mark in 14 years at the helm of his alma mater's program. He has a 365-230 record in 22 years as a head coach.
THE SERIES vs. UCSB: Arizona holds the 6-2 lead in the series with UC Santa Barbara, including a streak of three straight wins over the Gauchos.
The Wildcats won the last meeting with UCSB, 86-76, on Nov. 30, 1999. After abysmal shooting performances in their prior contest, the Wildcats connected on nearly everything in an upset of the then-15th-ranked Gauchos in Tucson.
The contest was close through the early portion of the first half, but aided by sizzling 75.9 percent shooting and a 16-2 late run, the Cats managed a 48-37 lead at the break.
The second half was another back-and-forth situation, with the Cats making runs that put them up as much as 16 points (68-52) midway through the period. A furious 24-12 rally by UCSB brought the Gauchos to within four points (80-76) at the 1:17 mark.
The UA stifled the Gaucho comeback when Reshea Bristol made a crucial steal with 24 seconds left and then hit a pair of free throws after being fouled in transition. A layup by Tatum Brown and two more free throws by Lisa Griiffith in the waning seconds of the contest gave the Cats the win.
ABOUT RICE: Best remembered for upsetting UC Santa Barbara on its own court in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament, the Owls stand at 2-1 on the year after a 67-60 win at Texas-Pan American on Nov. 17. Rice will play a pair of games at the UNC Greensboro Tournament this weekend before travelling to Tucson for Tuesday's game with the Cats.
Junior forward Aarika Florus is the Owls' top scorer, with 10.7 points per game. Freshman guard Kate Beckler is second with 9.3 ppg, followed by freshman guard Lindsey Maynard and junior guard Jennifer Rigg with 7.0 ppg each. Senior forward Kenya Tuttle and junior center Daneesh McIntosh are tied for the top spot in rebounding, averaging 5.7 rpg apiece.
In her eighth year at the helm of the Rice program, head coach Cristy McKinney holds a 118-87 mark. She has a 145-115 record in 10 years as a head coach.
THE SERIES vs. RICE: Tuesday's game marks a first-ever matchup between Arizona and Rice.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: Arizona suffered a 95-65 loss at No. 5 Notre Dame during the Cats' first road game of the year on Nov. 20.
The Irish opened the contest with a 16-5 run and never looked back, pushing out to a 28-point (57-29) lead at the half. The Cats struggled at the start of the second, as Notre Dame opened the period with a 19-4 spurt that pushed the lead to 43 points (76-33) at 14:07.
Arizona was finally able to stop the bleeding by outscoring the Irish, 32-19, over the remainder of the contest, but the Cats never came any closer than 25 points in those final minutes.
Sophomore wing Krista Warren led the UA with 13 points and tied freshman forward Veranda James for the team lead in rebounding, with eight each.
Senior guard Reshea Bristol added 12 points and a career-high 10 assists, while junior forward Elizabeth Pickney contributed 10 points of her own. The Cats also got nine points apiece from James and junior center LaKeisha Taylor.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Wildcats continue their five-game homestand with a contest against UNLV on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. After that, Arizona plays host to Fresno State and Bowling Green for the 10th annual Arizona Basketball Classic on Friday, Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 10.
GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program's helm, the Wildcats have won six straight season openers and eight in the 10 years she has been at the UA.
SEASON TICKETS: Arizona women's basketball season tickets are on sale now. The tickets are $65 each for the general public or $55 each for senior citizens, youth and UA faculty and staff. For more information, call the UA Athletic Ticket Office at (520) 621-2287.
ARIZONA IN THE RANKINGS: Although the Wildcats are not currently nationally ranked, they did receive votes for ranking in both the Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN polls. In the Nov. 20 A.P. poll, the Cats earned 15 votes, while they picked up 44 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: In her 10th year at the helm of the Arizona women's basketball program, head coach Joan Bonvicini has collected an unparalleled list of accomplishments, both for the university and for her career.
Bonvicini has posted a 160-106 (.602) mark in 10 seasons at Arizona and has more wins at the UA than all six of the previous Wildcat coaches combined. In 22 years as a collegiate head coach, Bonvicini has a 485-177 (.733) career record. She also has a 23-14 mark in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game in 14 appearances.
Prior to taking over at the UA, Bonvicini led Long Beach State to 10 consecutive NCAA appearances, including two trips to the Final Four. She registered a 325-71 mark in 12 seasons with the 49ers.
APPROACHING A MILESTONE: Joan Bonvicini is only 15 wins away from reaching the 500-victory mark for her career.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach two years ago, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1991) is in her ninth year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and a perimeter coach. Third-year assistant coach Karen Caires (Cal State Northridge, 1990) works with the perimeter players, assists with scouting and recruiting and directs the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp. In his second year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved with scouting and with coaching the post players.
DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 85-77 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 51-21 league mark over the last four seasons combined.
INJURY BUG STRIKES EARLY: The Cats have been afflicted with a rash of early season injuries. Junior guard Julie Brase had right wrist surgery late in September and will be redshirting this year. Freshman guard Jen Chesney had left ankle surgery in August and finally saw her first action at Notre Dame on Nov. 20.
CRASHING THE BOARDS: The Wildcats are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 10.0 boards per game this year. The best rebounding margin of the season so far was at Notre Dame on Nov. 20, when the Cats out-rebounded the Irish by 15.
GETTING TO THE LINE: Arizona has made a hefty 75 trips to the free throw line already this season. The down side is that the Cats have connected on only 49 of those attempts (65.3 percent).
WILDCAT DEPARTURES: The Cats lost five impact players at the end of the 2000 season. Guards Lisa Griffith, the Pac-10 career three-point leader, and Felecity Willis were fixtures in the Wildcat backcourt for four years. Junior college transfers Tatum Brown, last year's leading rebounder and an All-Pac-10 selection, and Angela Lackey, last season's top scorer, have exhausted their eligibility as well. The Cats also lost the defensive prowess and steadiness of guard Monika Crank.
STRONG SCHEDULE: Several of Arizona's 2001 opponents have been listed in the preseason rankings.
In Monday's Associated PressTop 25, Notre Dame was No. 5, Oregon was No. 14, Stanford was No. 18 and Auburn was No. 20. Nebraska, UC Santa Barbara, USC, UCLA and Kansas were among teams receiving votes for ranking.
In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, Notre Dame was No. 5, Oregon was No. 17, Auburn was No. 18 and Stanford was No. 22. UC Santa Barbara, Kansas, Nebraska and USC were all among the teams receiving votes.
CHECKING THE RECORD BOOK: Senior guard Reshea Bristol is seventh on the Arizona career list in free throws attempted (325), eighth in free throws made (235), eighth in three-pointers attempted (150), tied for ninth in three-pointers made (44) and is 10th in assists (242). She needs only 22 more points to break into the UA top-20 all-time leading scorers list. With 166 career steals, she also needs only four more to join that career list as well.
Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is tied for fourth on the career list in blocked shots (68).
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 93-41 mark in McKale Center, including a 62-13 record over the last six seasons combined. Arizona has a record of 159-149 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
WE CAN HANDLE THE CLOSE ONES...: Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Cats have gone 26-19 in games settled by five points or less, including a 9-4 mark in games settled by one or two points.
...BUT WE REALLY PREFER THE BLOWOUTS: Over the last 10 seasons, Bonvicini's Arizona teams have won 50 games by spreads of 20 points or more.
80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: It seems that the 80-point mark almost always means adding another to the "win" column for the Wildcats. In the 29-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 121-16 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 81-9 when topping that 80-point plateau.
ON LOCATION: Arizona has a 1-0 mark at home this year, is 0-1 on the road and is 0-0 in neutral games. The Wildcats were 12-3 at home last season, 9-4 in road games and 4-0 in neutral contests.
CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 319-396 (.446) all-time record, however it is 123-60 (.672) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 175-91 career record against Pac-10 teams.
LAST SEASON BY THE NUMBERS: Twenty of Arizona's wins last year were by an average of 10 points or more... Each loss was by an average of only 8.9 points per game... The Cats hit five or more 3-pointers in 19 games... Arizona had 20 or more assists in 13 games... The Cats had 10 or more steals in 19 games... Arizona forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 20 contests.
KEYS TO THE WIN: Last season, Arizona was... 21-5 when out-rebounding its opponent... 20-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the floor... 22-6 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 21-2 when scoring 70 points or more... 18-2 when committing fewer turnovers than the opponent... 19-6 when three or more players reached double digits in scoring.
WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Cats are currently scheduled to make television appearances for four different games...
Dec. 29 Kansas Fox Sports 6:30 p.m. Jan. 6 at Stanford Bay TV 7:30 p.m. PST Feb. 10 at Washington St. Fox Sports 1 p.m. PST Feb. 18 USC Fox Sports 2 p.m.
The Mar. 3 contest at Oregon and the Mar. 10 contest against California have been selected as potential TV games. The television status of each contest will be determined approximately 12 days before the specified dates.
CATS INK EARLY SIGNEES: The Arizona women's basketball program signed four players on the first day of the early signing period last week. Forwards Danielle Adefeso (Santa Monica, CA/St. Monica HS) and Shawntinice Polk (Hanford, CA/Hanford HS) and guards Robin Roberson (Berkeley, CA/Berkeley HS) and Dee Dee Wheeler (Chicago, IL/Dunbar HS) will all join the Wildcats for the 2001-02 season
PAC-10 APPROVES CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS: The Pacific-10 Conference Chief Executive Officers have approved the establishment of men's and women's post-season basketball tournaments.
The men's tournament will be an eight-team event to be staged at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The women's tournament will be a 10-team event hosted on campus by one of the Pac-10 members. Both tournaments will begin in March 2002. In each case, the winner of the Tournament will earn the Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
The Conference previously conducted a men's tournament following the 1987 through 1990 seasons. It has never sponsored a similar event for women.
OREGON TO HOST FIRST TOURNAMENT: Oregon has been selected as the first school to host the Pac-10 women's basketball tournament. The historical event will take place in March 2002 on the UO campus.
WHAT THE COACHES THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's coaches...
1. Stanford t6. UCLA 2. Oregon t6. Washington 3. USC 8. Oregon State 4. ARIZONA 9. California 5. Arizona State 10. Washington State
The Pac-10 women's basketball media members picked Arizona to finish fourth, as well.
BUT WE CAN DO BETTER: In each of the previous three years, Arizona has equalled or bettered the Pac-10 coaches' pick for its finish... 2000 - picked fourth, finished tied for second; 1999 - picked fifth, finished fourth; 1998 - picked second, finished tied for second.
1999-2000 IN REVIEW: After returning 10 letterwinners and all five starters from the previous year's squad, the 1999-2000 Wildcats utilized their depth and experience to roll to a 25-7 overall mark, setting a new school record for most wins in a season. The Cats garnered a 13-5 record in Pac-10 play, finishing in a tie for second with Stanford.
Arizona opened the season with a nine-game win streak and went on to register an 11-1 mark in non-conference action. By winning their first Pac-10 game to improve to 12-1, the Cats tied the school record for the best start in the history of the program.
Pac-10 play brought about several historical moments as well. With wins at Washington State and Washington during the second weekend of January, the Cats earned their first-ever road sweep of the Washington schools. They repeated the feat during the final weekend of the regular season, recording their first-ever road sweep of Stanford and California.
The Wildcats earned their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament berth, ending up as the No. 8 seed in the Mideast Region. Arizona travelled to Knoxville, Tenn., where it downed No. 9 seed Kent, 73-61, in the first round of the tournament. The Cats faced No. 1 seed and eventual national runner-up Tennessee in the second round and put up a valiant fight, only to fall, 75-60.
The UA set or tied 23 school records during the season, including most wins in a season (25), highest winning percentage (.781), most three-point field goals made in a season (162) and most points in a season (2,484). The Wildcats were ranked 21st in the final Associated Press Poll of the year and were 20th in the last USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
Arizona finished the year as the Pac-10 leader in scoring (77.6 ppg), scoring margin (+9.9 ppg) and assists (17.94 apg). The Cats were second in three-point field goal percentage (.379), rebounding margin (+4.3 rpg), steals (10.31 spg), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.89) and three-point field goals made (5.06 per game).
ON THE INDIVIDUAL FRONT: With 12.7 points per game, forward Angela Lackey finished as Arizona's leading scorer for the second straight year. She was second in rebounding, at 5.3 per game. Fellow forward Tatum Brown was second in scoring, with 12.4 points per game, and was the team's top rebounder, with 7.7 boards per contest. Forward Elizabeth Pickney was third in both categories, averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Guards Lisa Griffith (8.9 ppg), Reshea Bristol (8.6 ppg), Felecity Willis (7.8 ppg) and Julie Brase (6.1 ppg) followed on the scoring chart. Willis was the team's assists leader, at 5.3 per game, while Griffith had the highest steals average, at 2.1 per game.
Tatum Brown ended the season as the Pac-10 leader in field goal percentage (.590) and was third in rebounding (7.7 rpg). Felecity Willis was third in the league in assists (5.28 apg), and Lisa Griffith was fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.420).