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Arizona Looking to Extend Home Streak Against Bay Area Schools
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/04/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 4, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Returning to its home court for the first time in almost three weeks, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (16-5 overall; 8-2 Pac-10) will put its school-record 23-game home winning streak on the line this weekend when it plays host to the Bay Area schools. The Wildcats will face No. 7 Stanford on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., then Arizona takes on California on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR TO MAKE SPECIAL APPEARANCE SATURDAY: In conjunction with the celebration of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, Arizona governor Janet Napolitano will be a "guest coach" on the Wildcat bench at the home game against California on Saturday, Feb. 7.

As a guest coach, Governor Napolitano will sit on the Arizona bench during the game and will be in the locker room with the team both before and after the contest. She will also serve as the honorary Master of Ceremonies for the halftime celebration of National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

Napolitano previously served as a guest coach last season during the Cats' 80-50 blowout of Washington State on Feb. 8, 2003.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 16-5 overall and 8-2 in Pac-10 play following a 68-60 loss at Arizona State last Saturday. The defeat dropped the Cats into second place in the Pac-10 standings, just one-half game ahead of USC, which is 8-3.

The Wildcats have won 23 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 31 games before a Feb. 11 meeting with Texas A&M, followed by Utah and Western Illinois, each with 24 straight home victories. Utah's next home game is Feb. 12 versus Colorado State, while WIU's next home matchup is Feb. 14 against Oral Roberts.

The Cats received just 34 votes in this week's Associated Press Top 25, down from 52 last week. They earned only 17 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll, dropping from 30 in last week's polling.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.6 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.8 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 15.8 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.2 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.4 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.2 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.0 per game.

ARIZONA POSSIBLE STARTERS:
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, So., Hanford, Calif.)
#50 - Shannon Hobson (F/C, 6-2, Fr., Perris, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, Jr., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Sr., San Jose, Calif.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, So., Anchorage, Alaska)

OFF THE BENCH:
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, So., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, So., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Sr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, So., Glengowrie, Australia)
#10 - Linda Pace (G, 5-9, Fr., San Diego, Calif.)
#25 - Rachael Schein (G/F, 5-11, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 23: With their win over UCLA on Jan. 17, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 23 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 32 of their last 39 home games and are 108-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 139-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 205-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Jan. 31, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.459), is second in scoring margin (+8.9 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.397), third in scoring (72.1 ppg), third in three-point percentage defense (.319), third in rebounding defense (33.1 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+5.0 rpg), third in blocked shots (3.71 bpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.33 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.38 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.2 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.576) and sixth in scoring (15.8 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.6 ppg), third in assists (4.81 apg), third in steals (2.57 spg), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26) and seventh in field goal percentage (.479).

Aimee Grzyb is sixth in three-pointers made per game (1.71 pg) and 17th in scoring (10.4 ppg), while Natalie Jones is fourth in free throw percentage (.806).

SCOUTING STANFORD: Ranked No. 7 in both polls this week, the Cardinal are 18-3 overall and 10-1 in Pac-10 play after sweeping Washington (85-59) and Washington State (91-67) at home last weekend. Stanford has won 10 of its last 11 games, with the only loss in that stretch being a narrow 59-56 defeat at USC on Jan. 25.

Averaging 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, senior forward Nicole Powell leads Stanford and the Pac-10 in both categories. Junior forward Sebnem Kimyacioglu and senior guard Susan Borchardt are tied for second in scoring, each averaging 8.3 points per game. Freshman forward Kristen Newlin is the squad's second-leading rebounder, grabbing 6.1 per game.

In her 18th season at Stanford, head coach Tara VanDerveer (Indiana, 1975) holds a 441-113 record. She is 593-164 in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. STANFORD: The Cardinal have an impressive 36-11 lead in the series with Arizona, including six wins in the last seven meetings. Earlier this season, Stanford handed the Cats an 84-62 loss in Palo Alto on Jan. 10. It was Arizona's worst loss of the season to date and the Cats' worst loss since falling by 23 points (87-64) at Arizona State on Dec. 30, 2001. Last year, the teams met three times, with the Cardinal taking two.

Arizona is 7-15 all-time when playing the Cardinal in Tucson, including last season's 79-64 victory over then-No. 9 Stanford on Feb. 27, 2003.

LAST MEETING WITH STANFORD: Allowing the Cardinal to drain 15 three-pointers for the game, the Wildcats suffered an 84-62 loss at No. 7 Stanford on Jan. 10.

Wildcat Shawntinice Polk tweaked her knee on the very first shot of the game, just 28 seconds into the contest, and that seemed to send Arizona on an immediate tailspin. Stanford ripped off nine straight points before the Cats ever scored, then the Cardinal pushed out to a 17-2 lead by 12:41.

Although Polk returned to action with only five minutes off the clock, the Cats never did regain their composure. By 6:35, Stanford had gained a 34-7 advantage and finished the half with a 44-12 lead a the break. That was the largest halftime deficit ever for a Bonvicini team at Arizona, and the 12 points were the fewest scored in one half since 1978.

The start of the second half wasn't much better, as the Cardinal drained back-to-back treys to open the period and stretch their lead to 38 points (50-12). At 15:37, Stanford was ahead by 42 points (58-16), and by 12:18, the Cardinal had their largest lead of the game at 47 points (69-22).

The Wildcats finally started producing on offense, and they used a 33-10 run over the next 10 minutes to get back to within 24 points (79-55), the closest they had been since early in the game. The final deficit of 22 points was Arizona's worst loss to the Cardinal since falling by 24 points (81-57) on Dec. 19, 2001.

Dee-Dee Wheeler led all scorers with 19 points, including 13 in the second half alone. Freshman Shannon Hobson came off the bench for 11 points, while Natalie Jones contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Polk grabbed a team-best eight rebounds but was held to just six points, missing the double-digit mark in back-to-back games for the first time in her career.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears stand at 9-11 overall and 2-9 in conference action after being swept at home last weekend by Washington State (64-59) and Washington (72-67). After starting the year with an 8-2 mark, the Bears have won just one of their last 10 games and are currently on a seven-game losing skid. Cal will play at Arizona State on Thursday before heading to Tucson for Saturday's game.

Senior guard Nihan Anaz is Cal's top scorer, averaging 16.0 points per game, followed by junior forward Leigh Gregory at 11.4 ppg. Gregory is also the Bears' leading rebounder, grabbing 5.4 per game. Senior guard Latasha O'Keith is third in scoring, at 9.8 ppg, while fellow senior Olga Volkova is second in rebounding, pulling down 5.8 per game.

Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer (Santa Clara, 1984) holds a 29-58 record in her fourth season with the Bears. She has a career record of 250-182 in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. CALIFORNIA: Arizona has a solid 26-13 lead in the series with California, including a streak of 17 straight victories and 20 wins in the last 21 meetings. The Cats haven't lost to the Golden Bears since falling, 94-66, on Feb. 11, 1995, in Berkeley.

The Wildcats are 14-4 all-time when facing the Bears in Tucson. Arizona has won 10 games in a row over Cal in McKale Center. The Cats haven't lost a home game to Cal since an 81-74 defeat on Mar. 4, 1993.

LAST MEETING WITH CALIFORNIA: Dee-Dee Wheeler scored the game-winning bucket with five seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 70-68 win at California on Jan. 8.

Missing their first four shots and turning the ball over twice in the first three minutes, the Cats allowed California to run up an 8-0 lead early in the game. An 8-5 Arizona spurt tied the score at 13-13 with 12:34 to go in the first. Over the next 11 minutes, the Cats stayed in the game but could never gain a lead. Down six (32-26) with 1:22 left in the half, Wildcat Aimee Grzyb scored five straight points to make the score 32-31 in favor of Cal at halftime.

Arizona opened the second half with 15-5 run to gain a nine-point (46-37) lead at 15:11, but a 22-8 spurt by Cal gave the Bears a five-point (59-54) advantage with 6:01 to go. One minute later, the Cats tied the game at 59-59.

Over the next four minutes, neither team was able to gain any kind of control of the game, then Wheeler drained her second trey of the contest, and Natalie Jones knocked down a pair of free throws to put Arizona back up by five (68-63) with 53 seconds remaining. Cal scored quickly on its next possession, but during the ensuing in-bounds play, a sloppy pass by Wheeler resulted in a Cal three-pointer, and the Bears tied the game at 68-68 with 25 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats then ran a play to get the ball into Wheeler's hands, and she atoned for her earlier miscue by connecting on a left-handed lay-up with only five seconds on the clock. With just two seconds remaining, the Cats were whistled for a foul, but Cal's Nihan Anaz missed the front end of a one-and-one, which Wheeler promptly rebounded and assured her team of its 17th straight win over the Bears.

Wheeler finished with a game-high-tying 24 points, her third straight performance of 20 points or better, and snagged a season-high five steals. Grzyb shot 8-for-14 from the floor on her way to a career-high-tying 19 points.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Joan Bonvicini: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 13 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to seven post-season appearances, including five NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

Entering her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 230-144 (.615) mark at Arizona and is 555-215 (.721) in 23 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-15 in NCAA tournament play and has lost in the first round only once in 13 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.

DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 125-101 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 101-53 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend will see the Cats hit the road again, this time heading for Los Angeles. Arizona will play at UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. PST, then the Wildcats will play at USC on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 12 p.m. PST. That contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

The following week, the Cats will play their final home games of the season when they play host to the Oregon schools. On Thursday, Feb. 19, Arizona faces Oregon State at 7 p.m., then the Wildcats will take on Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. in a contest that could be selected for airing nationally on Fox Sports Net.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- at Arizona State (Jan. 31): With four starters hobbled by foul trouble midway through the first half, the Wildcats saw their modest four-game win streak come to an end with a 68-60 loss at Arizona State on Jan. 31.

The Cats were out of sync offensively right from the start and led by only four points (11-7) eight minutes into the game. ASU guard Kylan Loney drained back-to-back three-pointers to send her team up by two points just one minute later. Arizona stayed with the Sun Devils, and the contest was tied at 21-21 with just over eight minutes to go in the half.

Another Loney trey at 5:42 triggered what would become a 20-5 ASU run to close the first stanza. With starters Shawntinice Polk, Dee-Dee Wheeler and Aimee Grzyb all on the bench in foul trouble, the Cats didn't score at all in the final three minutes of the period and found themselves down by 15 points (41-26) at the break.

The Sun Devils scored eight unanswered points to open the second half, stretching their advantage to 23 points (49-26) less than three minutes into the period. Over the next 13 minutes, the Wildcats valiantly fought back from the deficit, going on a huge 27-8 run that sliced ASU's lead to just four points (57-53) at 4:45.

That's when Loney drained her fifth and most damaging three-pointer of the game, sending the spread back to seven points (60-53). Arizona would come no closer than five points for the remainder of the contest, losing its fourth straight game in Tempe.

Dee-Dee Wheeler led the Cats with 22 points, while Natalie Jones shot 10-for-13 from the free throw line to finish with 14 points. Jones and Danielle Adefeso grabbed a team-best six rebounds apiece, while Wheeler had five boards.

Picking up three fouls in the first 11 minutes of the contest, Shawntinice Polk was limited to only 11 points, all scored before her third foul. She was also held to a career-low two rebounds.

CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.6 percent of their charity shots for the season, they have been hitting them when it counts the most. In the final five minutes of action during this season's games, the Cats are shooting 73.6 (67-91) percent from the free throw line, including a solid 75.0 (30-40) percent in Pac-10 action.

GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: Since entering Pac-10 play, the Wildcats' turnover average has gone through the roof. After averaging just 15.9 miscues per game in non-conference action, Arizona's average has gone up to 19.8 per contest in Pac-10 games. The Cats committed a season-high 36 turnovers in their win over USC at home on Jan. 15, the highest turnover total for an Arizona squad since the Wildcats had 36 at Arizona State on Jan. 17, 1998.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: The Cats are averaging eight more points in the second halves of this season's games than in the first halves. The Wildcats have been posting a first-half average of just 32.0 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 40.1 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 1.2 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.6 ppg in the second half of play.

BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 11.0 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action. Dee-Dee Wheeler is leading the conference with 3.3 steals per game in Pac-10 play.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Dee-Dee Wheeler's numbers through the first 10 games of this season were certainly nothing to scoff at. She posted averages of 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game, while shooting 43.7 percent (59-135) from the floor.

Yet, over Arizona's last 11 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 11 contests, she has averaged 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a blazing 51.1 percent (90-176) of her shots over the last 11 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in seven of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in nine of the last 11 games.

JONES-ING FOR THE PAC-10: Sophomore guard Natalie Jones' numbers have gone up significantly since the Cats started Pac-10 play. Against conference opponents, she is averaging 10.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game. She is also shooting 46.3 percent (31-67) from the floor and 80.4 percent (41-51) from the line in Pac-10 action.

By contrast, Jones' averages against non-conference opponents were 6.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and she made just 27.2 percent (22-81) of her field goal attempts.

STUFF THIS: With 130 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk is already in second place on the UA career list in that category. She should become Arizona's all-time blocked shots leader before this season is over, as she needs just 17 swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147. Polkey will join the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots even before taking over as Arizona's career leader -- she needs just six more blocks to tie for 10th on the conference career list (136).

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, or at least that's the way it has seemed since her arrival at Arizona. During Dee-Dee Wheeler's career, the Wildcats have gone 14-4 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 31-9 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 16 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and has hit 52.1 percent (112-215) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' five losses, Wheeler has the same scoring average (17.6 ppg), but she has shot a miserable 38.5 percent (37-96) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 16-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 0-5 when shooting worse... 12-0 when tied or leading at the half... 15-1 when giving up 69 points or less, but 1-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 12-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 14-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 11-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 73 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts happened last season alone, and the Cats have logged five more 20-plus wins already this year.

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 32-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 153-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 113-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.1 three-point field goals per game. The positive is that, although opponents are nailing that many treys, the Cats are still among the top teams in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage defense. Opponents are shooting just 31.9 percent from beyond the arc and are averaging a whopping 19.3 attempts per game.

GOING POLLING: Four of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 7 and LSU is No. 14.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 7, and LSU is No. 16. Arizona State and USC both received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 390-436 (.472) all-time record, however it is 180-79 (.695) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 216-114 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have an 10-0 record at home, are 5-4 on the road and 1-1 in neutral contests. Last year, Arizona was 13-1 at home, 7-6 on the road and 2-2 in neutral games.

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