Feb. 17, 2004
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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (18-7, 10-4 Pac-10) plays its final home games of the 2003-04 season when it faces the Oregon schools this weekend in McKale Center. The Wildcats will take on Oregon State on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. All tickets for that game are just $4, and all fans in attendance that night will receive a gift certificate to the new Metro restaurant, "Smokin'", after the contest.
Arizona's last home game of the year will be against Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. That contest will be broadcast live in the Eugene area on the Oregon Sports Network.
SENIORS TO BE HONORED ON SATURDAY: Wildcat seniors Aimee Grzyb and Jessica Duger will be honored with a brief ceremony immediately following Saturday's game against Oregon.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 18-7 overall and 10-4 in Pac-10 play after being swept in Los Angeles last weekend. The Cats were handed a devastating 87-66 loss by UCLA on Feb. 12, then they were edged by USC, 68-66, on Feb. 15. The losses extended Arizona's road losing skid to three games and marked the first time since early in the season that the Cats have lost back-to-back games.
After entering the weekend in sole possession of first place in the league standings, the Cats slipped to third with their 10-4 mark, a full game out of first place. Stanford (11-3) is back in first place after a win over Cal, and USC vaulted the Cats to move into second place with an 11-4 record, just a half-game out of first.
The Wildcats have won 25 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the fifth-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 tied for second with 26 straight home wins, followed by Arizona with a 25-game streak.
Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 18.0 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.7 per contest.
Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 15.8 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.8 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.4 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.9 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 4.6 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 25: With their win over California on Feb. 7, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 25 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 17 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 34 of their last 41 home games and are 110-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 141-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 207-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Pac-10 teams have a combined 88-33 record at home this season. The top five teams in the standings have a combined 55-8 home mark for the year, including a whopping 34-4 record in home conference games. Only Stanford and Arizona are undefeated in home Pac-10 games, each standing at 7-0, and Arizona is the only team to remain undefeated at home for the entire season to date, with a perfect 12-0 mark.
ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 15, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (72.5 ppg), is first in field goal percentage (.461), second in scoring margin (+7.5 ppg), second in blocked shots (3.88 bpg), 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 (2.52 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.8 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.561) and fourth in scoring (15.8 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (18.0 ppg), third in steals (2.60 spg), fourth in assists (4.68 apg), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.21), eighth in field goal percentage (.480) and ninth in free throw percentage (.741).
Natalie Jones is second in free throw percentage (.804), while Aimee Grzyb is seventh in three-pointers made per game (1.60 pg) and 17th in scoring (10.4 ppg).
ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATS: As of Feb. 16, Arizona is 18th in the nation in field goal percentage (.461) and 37th in scoring (72.5 ppg). Shawntinice Polk is 18th in blocked shots (2.5 bpg), 27th in field goal percentage (.561) and 30th in rebounding (9.8 rpg).
SCOUTING OREGON STATE: On a three-game win streak, the Beavers stand at 14-9 overall and 8-6 in Pac-10 play after sweeping the Washington schools at home last weekend. Oregon State slipped past Washington, 62-59, on Feb. 12, then handed Washington State a 65-55 loss on Feb. 14. The Beavers are currently in sixth place in the Pac-10 standings.
Since becoming eligible to play in January, transfer Shannon Howell has dominated offensively for the Beavers and currently leads OSU with a 16.0 ppg scoring average. Senior center Brina Chaney is second in scoring, at 11.0 ppg, and is second in rebounding as well, averaging 5.6 rpg. Fellow senior Krystal Turner is the club's top rebounder, grabbing 6.0 per game.
OSU head coach Judy Spoelstra (Oregon State, 1983) holds a 124-129 mark in her ninth season at the helm of her alma mater's program. She is 222-197 in 15 seasons as a head coach.
THE SERIES vs. OREGON STATE: The series between Arizona and Oregon State is tied at 19-19 after the Cats' 65-54 victory in Corvallis earlier this season on Jan. 24. The Cats have won three of the last four meetings with the Beavers, but Arizona hasn't swept OSU since the 1999-2000 season.
Arizona is 12-6 all-time when playing Oregon State at home, including a huge 72-44 win over the Beavers in McKale last season on Jan. 4, 2003. The Wildcats last lost to OSU in Tucson on Jan. 31, 2002, a narrow 88-85 defeat in overtime.
LAST MEETING WITH OREGON STATE: Holding the Beavers to just one field goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Wildcats logged a 65-54 win at Oregon State on Jan. 24.
Arizona got off to what seemed a good start, scoring four quick points early in the game. Then OSU went on an 11-4 run to take a three-point (11-8) edge at 14:14 in the first.
The Wildcats held a tenuous one-point (17-16) edge at 11:10, when the Beavers used a 15-7 run to jump out to a seven-point (31-24) advantage with just over two minutes left in the period. OSU held the 35-31 lead at the break.
The Cats opened the second half with a 14-5 run that gave them a five-point (45-40) lead with 14:18 to go. Five minutes later, Arizona stretched that advantage to 11 points (52-41), and the Beavers never came closer than eight points for the remainder of the game. The Wildcats scored their final field goal with 4:55 to play, but they hit 7-for-8 from the free throw line down the stretch to pull out their first win in Corvallis since 2000.
Shawntinice Polk led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Cats out-rebounded the Beavers, 50-27, for the contest. Aimee Grzyb added 13 points, all in the first half, while Dee-Dee Wheeler had 12 points, all in the second half. Shannon Hobson contributed 10 points and eight rebounds, and Natalie Jones pulled down eight rebounds to go with seven points.
SCOUTING OREGON: With three losses in their last four games, the Ducks are 12-12 overall and 4-10 in Pac-10 play. Oregon split with the Washington schools last weekend, easily handling Washington State (74-52) on Feb. 12 but falling to Washington (67-56) on Feb. 14. The Ducks will play at Arizona State on Thursday before heading to Tucson for Saturday's game.
Averaging 11.7 points and 8.3 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 3.8 rpg.
In her third season with the Ducks, head coach Bev Smith (Oregon, 1982) holds a 46-41 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.
Entering her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 232-146 (.614) mark at Arizona and is 557-217 (.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 126-103 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 102-55 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 -- at USC (Feb. 15): A late three-pointer by Trojan Jessica Cheeks proved to be the Cats' undoing, as Arizona fell to USC, 68-66, in Los Angeles on Feb. 15.
There were three ties and five lead changes through the first 13 minutes of the game, with neither team gaining more than a four-point advantage. The score was tied at 20-20 with 6:56 left in the first, when the Cats used a 6-1 mini-spurt to go up by five points (26-21) at 2:48. The Women of Troy got back to within one point twice, but Arizona held on for a 30-27 edge at halftime.
USC opened the second half with five unanswered points to take a two-point (32-30) lead at 19:03. The teams traded buckets for the next three minutes, then a 7-2 spurt gave the Women of Troy a six-point (43-37) advantage with 14:36 to play. Over the next eight minutes, the Cats scrapped back to a two-point deficit several times, but could never regain the upperhand. A Dee-Dee Wheeler jumper at 6:22 brought Arizona to within two points (54-52), then the Cats missed three shots and committed three turnovers as USC scored seven unanswered points to push its advantage to nine points (61-52) with 3:27 left.
The Wildcats rallied to chop the lead to just one point (61-60) with 1:26 to play, only to allow Cheeks to drain her third 3-pointer of the game with just 57 seconds remaining. Arizona made a couple of buckets down the stretch but was forced to foul to stop the clock. USC drained four free throws in the last 14 seconds to go up by five, and Wheeler hit a trey as time expired for the final spread of two.
Wheeler led all scorers with 20 points, followed by Natalie Jones with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Shawntinice Polk racked up 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds before fouling out with just over nine minutes left in the contest.
At UCLA (Feb. 12): Despite a season-high-tying 25 points from Dee-Dee Wheeler, the Wildcats suffered an 87-68 loss at UCLA on Feb. 12.
Arizona scored the first two points of the game, but that would prove to be the Cats' only lead of the game, as UCLA quickly jumped out to a 13-6 advantage at 14:25. The Wildcats used an 11-6 spurt to get back to within two points (19-17) six minutes later, but the Bruins reponded with an 11-1 run that gave them a 12-point (30-18) edge with 4:03 left in the half.
The Cats then scored 11 unanswered points to chop the deficit to just one point (30-29) with 1:18 left in the first, but the momentum swung back in UCLA's favor and the Bruins held a 35-29 lead at halftime.
Out-scoring Arizona 18-9 over the first six minutes of the second half, the Bruins gained a 19-point (57-38) advantage. The Wildcats scrapped back to within 14 points (57-43) at 12:00, but that was the closest Arizona came for the remainder of the game. With just under three minutes left, UCLA gained its largest lead of the game at 24 points (84-60) and rolled on to hand Arizona its second straight road loss.
In addition to her team-high 25 points, Wheeler racked up five assists. Shawntinice Polk logged 13 points and a game-high-tying 10 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Natalie Jones added eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
POLK ON PACE TO BE FASTEST TO 1,000 POINTS: With 933 points through the first 56 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 reach 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 6.4 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 37.1 percent (106-286) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.
With four games left in regular-season conference action, the Wildcats have already allowed opponents to hit 106 treys, tying the school record for most three-pointers allowed in conference play.
CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.4 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 74.1 (83-112) percent from the free throw line, including a solid 75.4 (46-61) 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 19.4 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 10.6 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action.
POLKEY JOINS ARIZONA SCORING LEADERS: With her 14 points at USC on Feb. 15, Shawntinice Polk broke into the list of Arizona's top 20 all-time leading scorers. She now stands at No. 19 with 933 career points.
Polk was already among the career leaders in rebounding, currently standing at No. 6 with 581 career boards.
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 15 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 15 contests, she has averaged 19.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 50.4 percent (119-236) of her shots over the last 15 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 15 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 11.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She is also shooting a solid 44.2 percent (46-104) from the floor and 80.3 percent (57-71) 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 143 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 four swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147.
Polkey is already among the Pac-10 career leaders in blocked shots as well, currently standing in the No. 10 spot with 143. She will need to surpass Pickney's numbers to move up to No. 9 on the Pac-10 list, the spot that Pickney's performance currently holds.
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... 17-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 14-1 when tied or leading at the half... 16-2 when giving up 69 points or less, but 2-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 14-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 16-3 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 13-2 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 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 392-438 (.472) all-time record, however it is 182-81 (.695) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 218-116 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 12-0 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.