Feb. 20, 2004
WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (19-7, 11-4 Pac-10) will be looking for its fourth 20-win season in the last five years when the Cats take on Oregon in their home finale on Saturday, Feb. 21. The contest, which tips at 2 p.m., will be broadcast live in the Eugene area on the Oregon Sports Network. A win on Saturday would give the Cats a perfect 14-0 record at home this season and would make this squad the first Arizona team ever to go undefeated at home. The previous best home record was 14-1 by the 1997-98 team.
POLKEY POISED TO BECOME CAREER BLOCKS LEADER: With four blocked shots against Oregon State on Thursday night, Shawntinice Polk tied former Wildcat Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002) as Arizona's career leader in blocks, each with 147. One more blocked shot will make Polkey the new Wildcat career leader in that category, and she is just a sophomore.
Polkey has also moved into the No. 9 spot on the Pac-10 career blocked shots chart. She needs 15 more swats to move up to No. 8, a spot currently occupied by USC's Michelle Campbell (1994-97), with 162.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: Standing at 19-7 overall and 11-4 in Pac-10 play, the Wildcats used a big 77-54 win over Oregon State on Thursday to recover from their horrendous weekend in Los Angeles. Their victory moved the Cats into sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 standings, a full game behind Stanford (12-3) and a half-game ahead of USC (11-5). Arizona State is fourth with a 10-5 record.
The Wildcats have won 26 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and tied for the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 32 games before a Feb. 25 meeting with Baylor. Louisiana Tech, Utah and Western Illinois are all tied with Arizona, each sporting a 26-game streak.
Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.7 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.9 per contest.
Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 15.9 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 10.0 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.6 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.9 ppg. Jones and junior center Danielle Adefeso are tied for second on the team in rebounding, each averaging 4.5 per game.
HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 26: With their win over Oregon State on Feb. 19, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 26 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000. The Wildcats haven't lost a home game since suffering a close 78-71 overtime defeat by LSU on Nov. 22, 2002. Arizona has also won 18 straight Pac-10 games at home, with their last home conference loss coming to USC (71-64) on Feb. 16, 2002.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 35 of their last 42 home games and are 111-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 142-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 208-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Pac-10 teams have a combined 91-34 record at home this season. The top five teams in the standings have a combined 58-8 home mark for the year, including a whopping 37-4 record in home conference games. Only Stanford and Arizona are undefeated in home Pac-10 games, each standing at 8-0, and Arizona is the only team to remain undefeated at home for the entire season to date, with a perfect 13-0 mark.
ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 19, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (72.7 ppg), is first in field goal percentage (.462), second in scoring margin (+8.1 ppg), second in blocked shots (4.00 bpg), third in field goal percentage defense (.399), third in rebounding (38.1 rpg), third in rebounding defense (33.4 rpg) and third in rebounding margin (+4.7 rpg).
Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.58 bpg), is second in rebounding (10.0 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.562) and fifth in scoring (15.9 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.7 ppg), third in steals (2.69 spg), fourth in assists (4.85 apg), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25), seventh in field goal percentage (.480) and 10th in free throw percentage (.741).
ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATS: As of Feb. 16, Arizona was 18th in the nation in field goal percentage (.461) and 37th in scoring (72.5 ppg). Shawntinice Polk was 18th in blocked shots (2.5 bpg), 27th in field goal percentage (.561) and 30th in rebounding (9.8 rpg).
SCOUTING OREGON: With four losses in their last five games, the Ducks are 12-13 overall and 4-11 in Pac-10 play after being handed a 65-40 loss at Arizona State on Thursday night.
Averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, junior center Andrea Bills leads Oregon in both categories. Junior guard Brandi Davis follows at 10.2 ppg, with freshman forward Eleanor Haring standing in third at 8.5 ppg. Haring is the team's second-leading rebounder, with an average of 4.0 rpg.
In her third season with the Ducks, head coach Bev Smith (Oregon, 1982) holds a 46-42 record.
THE SERIES vs. OREGON: The Ducks have a solid 22-15 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Wildcats have won each of the last four meetings. Earlier this season, the Cats slipped past Oregon, 70-66, in Eugene on Jan. 22.
The Wildcats have an 8-10 all-time record when playing the Ducks in Tucson, including three wins in a row over Oregon in McKale. The Cats haven't lost to the Ducks at home since Mar. 4, 2000, a 75-71 defeat.
LAST MEETING WITH OREGON: Natalie Jones drained four crucial free throws in the final 16 seconds to ice the win for the Wildcats at Oregon, 70-66, on Jan. 22.
Arizona opened the game with a 15-8 run over the first seven-plus minutes, but the Ducks used their own 15-9 spurt to get to within one (24-23) at 7:09. Three minutes later, the Cats pushed back out to a 31-25 advantage and led, 38-30, at halftime.
The Wildcats quickly made the spread 10 points after the break, but Shawntinice Polk picked up her fourth foul of the game just 63 seconds into the second half. At 18:15, Arizona held a 13-point (44-31) lead, its largest of the game, and then the Cats went into a tailspin.
Oregon reeled off an 18-2 run to gain a three-point (49-46) edge with 12:07 to play. Over the next three minutes, the two teams traded buckets, then the Ducks gained the upper hand and went up by six points (64-58) with 5:04 left.
That would prove to be Oregon's final field goal of the game, as Arizona used its press to turn up the heat on the Ducks. At the other end, the Cats scored seven unanswered points to slip ahead by one (66-65) with 43 seconds remaining.
Jones went to the line four times in the waning seconds and cooly drained all four charity shots, as the Cats hung on for their fourth straight win over the Ducks.
Dee-Dee Wheeler shot a blazing 9-for-13 from the floor, finishing with a game-high 22 points that included 13 in the first half alone. CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for nine points, while Jones, Aimee Grzyb and Danielle Adefeso each pitched in eight points. Polk led the Cats with eight rebounds but was held to just seven points, her fourth single-digit scoring performance of the season.
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.
Now in her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 233-146 (.615) mark at Arizona and is 558-217 (.720) in 25 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 127-103 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 103-55 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.
LOOKING AHEAD: Arizona will close out regular-season action on the road next weekend. The Cats will play at Washington State on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. PST, then they take on Washington on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. PST. That contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.
The following weekend, all 10 of the conference teams will journey to San Jose, Calif., for the third annual State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament on Mar. 5-8. The bottom four teams will face off in two play-in games on Friday, Mar. 5, then action begins for everyone else on Saturday, Mar. 6.
RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- OREGON STATE (Feb. 19): Holding Oregon State to just 20 first-half points, the Wildcats ripped off a 77-54 win over the Beavers at home on Feb. 19.
Arizona opened the game with a 14-5 spurt in less than five minutes, then used a 13-6 run to gain a 16-point (27-11) lead at 11:31. Oregon State countered with five unanswered points to get back to within 11 (27-16) with 8:17 to go in the first, then the Wildcat defense kicked into high gear. Allowing the Beavers just one field goal in the final eight minutes of the half, the Cats out-scored OSU, 18-4, over the remainder of the period to take a 45-20 lead at the break.
The Wildcats began the second half with a 21-11 run to go up by 35 points (66-31), their largest lead of the game, at 13:21. When head coach Joan Bonvicini began emptying her bench, OSU took advantage of the opportunity to go on a 16-4 run that brought the Beavers back to within 23 points (70-47) with just over four minutes left in the game. Arizona quelled the comeback attempt, though, and rolled to its 26th consecutive home victory.
Shooting 8-for-14 from the floor, Shawntinice Polk led all scorers with game highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Aimee Grzyb hit 6-for-9 from the field on her way to 15 points and four rebounds, while Dee-Dee Wheeler just missed a double-double with 12 points and a career-high nine assists. Shannon Hobson added 11 points and five rebounds.
POLK ON PACE TO BE FASTEST TO 1,000 POINTS: With 951 points through the first 57 games of her career, Shawntinice Polk is on pace to be the fastest Wildcat ever to reach the 1,000-point mark. She also could become the first Wildcat to break that plateau as a sophomore. If she maintains her current scoring average, Polk could reach that mark during the final regular-season game at Washington on Feb. 28, which would be a total of 60 career contests.
Former Cat and all-time leading scorer Adia Barnes (1995-98) currently has the distinction of being fastest to score 1,000, reaching that mark in 61 games, the first contest of her junior season. Dee-Dee Wheeler is currently the second-fastest, gaining that mark in just 70 career games.
LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.5 three-point field goals per game this season. While the Cats limited nonconference opponents to just 28.3 percent (54-191) shooting from beyond the arc, they have allowed Pac-10 teams to make 38.0 percent (115-303) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.
With three games left in regular-season conference action, the Wildcats have already set a new school record by allowing opponents to hit 115 three-pointers in Pac-10 play. The previous record was 106, set by the 2001-02 team.
CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.2 percent of their charity shots for the season, they have been hitting them when it counts the most. In the final two minutes of action during this season's games, the Cats are shooting 73.2 (52-71) 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 19.0 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.
BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 10.7 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action.
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 16 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 16 contests, she has averaged 19.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.2 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 50.4 percent (125-248) of her shots over the last 16 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in eight of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 12 of the last 16 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 10.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She is also shooting a solid 44.6 percent (50-112) from the floor and 79.2 percent (57-72) 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.
DON'T LIKE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE: The Wildcats have had a rough time in road games this season, especially since the start of Pac-10 play. Arizona is just 3-4 on the road in conference action and has lost its last three Pac-10 road contests.
Struggling on the road has become a disturbing trend for the Arizona program over the last few seasons. Since the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats are just 21-28 when playing on the road, including a paltry 13-21 mark in Pac-10 road games. The last time the Cats had a decent road record was in 1999-2000, when they were 9-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 away games.
STUFF THIS: With 147 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk has tied former Wildcat Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002) as the program's career leaders in blocks.
The total also ties Polkey for the No. 9 spot on the Pac-10 career list in blocked shots. She would need 15 more swats to move into the No. 8 spot, which is currently held by USC's Michelle Campbell (1994-97), with 162.
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 14-6 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 33-11 when she scores 15 points or more.
LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 18-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 15-1 when tied or leading at the half... 17-2 when giving up 69 points or less, but 2-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 15-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 17-3 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 14-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.
WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 74 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts happened last season alone, and the Cats have logged six more 20-plus wins 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 154-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 114-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.
GOING POLLING: Five 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. 10 and LSU is No. 15. USC and UC Santa Barbara were among teams receiving votes for ranking.
In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 10, and LSU is No. 14. Arizona State and USC both received votes for ranking.
CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 393-438 (.473) all-time record, however it is 183-81 (.693) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 219-116 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 13-0 record at home, are 5-6 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.