COMING UP:The Arizona women’s basketball team plays its annual Red & Blue Game at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the McKale Center. The Blue Team will be coached in the first half by first-year assistant coach Lisa Griffith and in the second half by first-year assistant coach Todd Holthaus.
ROSTERS FOR THE RED & BLUE GAME:
Red (White Jerseys) Team
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
22 Ch?© Oh F 6-0 So. Seattle, Wash. (Seattle Prep)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (Previous School)
3 Kevin Bennett C 6-5 Tucson, Ariz. (Catalina HS)
4 Andrew Loeb G 6-0 Scottsdale, Ariz. (Horizon HS)
5 Alan Beneze G 5-10 Bullhead, Ariz. (River Valley HS)
14 Stephen Hardy F 6-2 Tucson, Ariz. (Salpointe HS)
15 Josh Jackson G 5-8 Lake Oswego, Ore. (Lake Oswego HS)
22 Colin Horstman F/C 6-3 Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins HS)
24 Devin Sree G 6-0 Phoenix, Ariz. (North Canyon HS)
32 Kevin Kikugawa G/F 6-2 Olympia, Wash. (Northwest Christian)
34 DJ Heltsey G 6-0 Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers HS)
44 Jessie Robinson G 5-10 Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Thunder Ridge HS)
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS:Arizona returns two starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s team that put together a 20-12 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
WHO’S BACK:The Wildcats will be led this season by senior Natalie Jones, who averaged 9.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a junior last year, and sophomore Jessica Arnold, the team’s other returning starter, who led the team in three-point and free throw shooting last year.
Ashley Whisonant, Ch?© Oh, Anna Chappell and Linda Pace are the four other returning letterwinners from last year’s squad. Junior Rachael Schein returns after redshirting last season with a torn ACL. Junior Shannon Hobson will redshirt the 2005-06 season after undergoing back surgery in the off-season.
ABOUT THE NEWCOMERS:After sitting out last season as a transfer from San Francisco, junior Joy Hollingsworth is expected to make significant contributions to the team this season.
The Wildcats also welcome freshmen Amina Njonkou, Whitney Fields and Kelsey Burns. Njonkou, a Cameroon native who played last season at West Memphis (Ark.) High School, will push for a starting spot. Fields averaged 14.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game and led her team to a state championship as a senior last year at Monsignor Pace (Fla.) High School. Burns, a guard, won state titles in swimming and track in addition to being a four-time all-conference selection in basketball.Malia O'Neal, a highly-touted point guard from Seattle, is awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse on whether or not she’ll be able to play this season.
WHO’S GONE:Four players from last year’s squad won’t be back this season. Dee-Dee Wheeler, Arizona’s second all-time leading scorer, Danielle Adefeso and Katrina Lindner exhausted their eligibility last year. Center Shawntinice Polk, a three-year starter, passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 26.
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 14 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.
Under Bonvicini’s tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 10 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history. During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.
Bonvicini’s success is mirrored in her players’ accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 21 All-Pac-10 honorees, 16 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 11 Academic All-Pac-10 selections.
Bonvicini holds a 258-160 (.617) mark at Arizona and is 583-231 (.716) in 26 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.
THE REST OF THE STAFF:Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983) enters her fifth season as an assistant with the Wildcats. Barney is the recruiting coordinator and is also responsible for scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Todd Holthaus (Grand Canyon, 1995) is in his first season with the Wildcats after serving as the head coach at Flowing Wells High School for the past seven years. He is responsible for post player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Lisa Griffith (Arizona, 2000), a four-year starter for the Wildcats from 1997-2000, joined the staff in August. Griffith is responsible for perimeter player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH SIXTH IN PAC-10:Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference, according to the Pac-10 preseason coaches’ poll. The Wildcats garnered 42 points, just one point behind fifth-place Oregon. Five-time defending conference champion Stanford was voted as the favorite to win this year’s Pac-10 title. The Cardinal received nine of 10 first-place votes, with USC receiving the remaining first-place nod. USC tallied 70 points to place second, while Arizona State was tabbed to finish third with 62 points, followed closely by UCLA with 60 points for the fourth-place slot. Oregon just beat out Arizona for fifth place with 43 points, while the Wildcats notched 42 points for sixth place. Rounding out the poll were Washington (36), California (30), Washington State (16) and Oregon State (10).
STACKED PAC:As a conference, the Pac-10 finished last season ranked as the third toughest conference in the nation after sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament.
TOUGH SCHEDULE:As always, the Wildcats have a challenging schedule this season, one that includes 12 games against eight teams (Arizona State, Maryland, Oregon, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, USC, Utah and Wisconsin-Green Bay) that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Of those teams, six advanced to the second round, while Arizona State made it to the Sweet 16 and Stanford to the Elite Eight.
GOING POLLING:Six of Arizona’s 2005-06 opponents (Stanford, Maryland, UCLA, USC, Utah and Arizona State) are nationally ranked in the various preseason polls. Pac-10 power Stanford is ranked as high as No. 8, while Pac-10 teams USC and Arizona State are ranked in both polls.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS:Senior Natalie Jones ranks eighth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.747) and three-point field goals attempted (249), and ninth in three-point field goals made (72).
GOOD BEGINNINGS:With Joan Bonvicini at the program’s helm, the Wildcats have won 11 of their 14 season openers. Last year, Arizona defeated Saint Mary’s 87-72 at home in its first game of the season in the Preseason WNIT.
UP NEXT:Arizona hosts Cal Poly Pomona for a 2 p.m. exhibition game next Sunday, Nov. 6, at McKale Center.