WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (20-11 overall) continues its search for a second WNIT championship this weekend as the Cats head for Albuquerque, N.M. The Wildcats will play at New Mexico on Saturday, Mar. 17, at 7 p.m. MST in the second round of the 2001 Women's National Invitation Tournament.
ABOUT ARIZONA: After suffering a four-game losing skid late in regular season play, the Wildcats have recovered to win back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of February. Arizona improved to 20-11 overall with a resounding 85-65 win at home over Pepperdine in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday.
With that win on Thursday, the Wildcats have registered their fifth 20- win season in the last six years. The victory also gave head coach Joan Bonvicini the seventeenth 20-win season of her 22-year career.
With 16.5 points per game, junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is leading Arizona in scoring and ranks third in the Pac-10. She is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 6.3 per game.
Senior guard Reshea Bristol is second on the team in scoring, at 15.8 ppg, and is averaging 4.8 rebounds per game. She has been the Pac-10 assists leader all season and currently holds down that spot with an average of 7.6 dishes per game.
Freshman forward Veranda James is third in scoring at 12.9 ppg and has the team's top rebounding average at 8.2 per game. Junior center LaKeisha Taylor is fourth on the team in scoring, with 9.8 ppg.
Arizona finished in fifth place in the Pac-10 with a 9-9 league record, their lowest finish and worst Pac-10 record in six years.
As a team, Arizona finished regular season play as the Pac-10 leader in scoring, scoring margin, field goal percentage and assists. The Cats were second in three other categories -- rebounding, free throw percentage and field goal percentage defense.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: In its first game of the 2001 WNIT on Mar. 15, Arizona reeled off an 85-65 victory over Pepperdine to advance to the second round of play.
Pepperdine jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead in the first three minutes of the game. Arizona closed the gap to 12-11 with 14 minutes left in the half, but the Waves countered with a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to lead 28-13 at the 9-minute mark.
Pepperdine hit seven 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes, but Arizona took over with a 25-3 run over an eight-minute span. The Wildcats led 31-30 lead with three minutes left in the half and were up 45-35 at the break.
A 9-2 Arizona spurt put the Wildcats ahead, 69-51, at the 6-minute mark. The Waves, who shot 43 percent from the floor in the first half, slumped to 32 percent in the final 20 minutes and never provided another threat.
The 20-point spread was Arizona's largest margin of victory since defeating Washington State by 39 points at home on Jan. 11.
Reshea Bristol led all scorers with her 23 points and was credited with a game-high eight assists. Veranda James notched her fifth double-double of the season with 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Elizabeth Pickney added 16 points and a trio of blocks.
ABOUT NEW MEXICO: The Lobos lifted their record to 19-12 overall with a 72-49 victory over Houston at home Thursday in the first round of the WNIT. UNM has won five of its last seven games and is 13-4 on its home court this season. With averages of 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, sophomore center Jordan Adams is leading UNM in both categories. Senior forward Miranda Sanchez is second in both, with 13.4 ppg and 5.3 rpg.
THE SERIES VS. NEW MEXICO: Arizona holds the narrow 7-5 lead in the series with the Lobos. The Wildcats have won each of the last three meetings, including a 74-63 victory over UNM in Tucson last season on Nov. 27, 1999.
The series with New Mexico is the oldest in Arizona women's basketball history. UNM was the first team the Wildcats faced after women's basketball was declared a varsity sport at the UA. That first matchup came on Feb. 2, 1972 in Las Cruces, N.M., and resulted in a 73-36 Arizona victory.
RECORDS ARE FALLING: The Wildcats have already set or tied 33 school records this season. Among those are the team blocked shots record and most field goals made.
Depending on how things go during Saturday's game, at least four more school records could go down too. With 2459 points this year, the Cats are only 25 points away from breaking the single season scoring mark of 2484 set by last year's squad.
RESHEA THE THIEF: Senior guard Reshea Bristol has not only set a new school record in steals this year, but she has also broken the Arizona career steals record. With 93 thefts on the season, she has eclipsed the previous record of 86, which was set by Keisha Anderson in 1993 and was tied by Bristol's former teammate, Adia Barnes, in 1997. With 257 career steals, Bristol has broken yet another of Barnes' records, which was 256.
ARIZONA'S REGULAR SEASON IN REVIEW: Arizona certainly saw its share of ups and downs during the 2000-01 season. The Cats started the year with a short squad of 12 players, only two of whom were starters at the end of the 2000 season. Through a variety of injuries, player departures and academic issues, the Wildcat roster has been decimated, and the team is currently down to only eight active players.
With all the distractions and the prevailing inexperience of this year's squad, the Wildcats finished regular season action with a 19-11 overall record. They were 9-9 in Pac-10 play and finished in fifth place, their lowest finish since 1995.
There certainly have been "ups" to go with those "downs", however. The Wildcats wrapped up regular-season non-conference play this year with a 10-2 mark. Their only two losses were to Notre Dame and Auburn, which were ranked fifth and ninth, respectively, at the time the UA played them.
With their 14-2 start to the year, the Wildcats tied the 2000 team for the best record ever through the first 16 games of the season. The Cats' 4-0 start in Pac-10 play this year was their best start in conference action.
The Cats struggled down the stretch, losing nine out of their final 14 regular season games and, for the first time since the 1990-91 season, dropping each of their final seven road games.
THE CATS IN POSTSEASON PLAY: This is Arizona's sixth appearance in postseason play. The Wildcats made their first-ever postseason appearance in 1996 by earning a bid to the WNIT. They then swept through three games in the tournament to claim the WNIT championship.
In 1997, Arizona received its first NCAA tournament berth and played in the tourney again in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The Cats made it to the second round of play in each of their four NCAA appearances and were in the Sweet Sixteen during the 1998 tourney.
Arizona has a 9-4 all-time record in postseason play.
THE CATS AND THE WNIT: Arizona has made only one previous appearance in the WNIT. The Wildcats participated in the 1996 WNIT, their first-ever postseason play, and won the tournament championship. Between Mar. 21-23, Arizona defeated Western Kentucky (80-72), Arkansas (80-77) and Northwestern (79-63) to claim the title.
GONE DANCIN': Seven of Arizona's opponents this season earned NCAA tournament berths, by virtue either of winning a conference title or earning at-large bids.
Notre Dame, Oregon, Louisville, Arizona State, Washington, UC Santa Barbara and Stanford all made the "Big Dance" this year. The UA went 5-6 against these opponents this season, with wins over all of them except Notre Dame and Arizona State.
WHO'S IN THE NIT?: Three of this year's opponents are in the WNIT as well. Oregon State, Brigham Young and UNLV all earned NIT berths. The Cats were 3-1 against these teams this year.
UA TEAM HONORS: At the team banquet on Mar. 11, the UA announced its annual team awards. Reshea Bristol was named as both the team's Most Valuable Player and the Defensive Player of the Year. Veranda James was the Freshman of the Year, and Candice Allen was the Most Improved Player. Julie Brase was named Most Inspirational Player, and Krista Warren received the Hustle Award.
The Academic Achievement Award went to Elizabeth Pickney. Aimee Grzyb received the Free Throw Percentage Leader Award, Veranda James received the Rebounding Leader Award, and Reshea Bristol was given the Assists Leader Award.
PAC-10 HONORS: For the first time in each player's career, Reshea Bristol and Elizabeth Pickney were both named to the All-Pac-10 team this year. Arizona was one of only two league teams, along with Arizona State, to place more than one player on the All-Pac-10 team this season. Veranda James was chosen to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team.
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 179-116 (.607) 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 504-187 (.729) 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.
BONVICINI GAINS WIN No. 500: Wildcat head coach Joan Bonvicini earned her 500th career victory against Oregon State on Feb. 3. She is one of only 17 active Division I women's basketball coaches to reach that 500-win mark.
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 94-85 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 60-29 league mark over the last five seasons combined.
CATS SET NEW BLOCKS RECORD: With 98 blocked shots this year, the Wildcats have smashed the old school record of 88 previously held by the 1998-99 squad.
DOUBLING UP: The Wildcats have collected a total of 21 double-doubles this season. Of Arizona's 21 double-doubles this year, eight belong to guard Reshea Bristol, and all of those are points-assists double-doubles. Six different Wildcats have logged double-doubles this year.
SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT: The Wildcats have shot 50 percent or better from the floor in nine of their last 17 games. In those nine games, Arizona's record was 7-2.
MUSICAL LINEUPS: Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini has used 11 different starting lineups this year. She has used six of those differing combinations over the last eight games. Seven of the eight active Wildcats have started six games or more this season.
GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK: Freshman forward Veranda James has averaged 11.6 points and 8.0 rebounds over the last eight games since returning from her second concussion of the season.
Against Arizona State on Feb. 24, she ran off 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, her best overall performance since she notched season highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds against Rice on Nov. 28.
AMONG THE ELITE: On Mar. 8, junior forward Elizabeth Pickney surpassed the 500-rebound mark for her career and became only the fourth Wildcat ever to tally both 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in her career. She is part of an elite company of former Wildcats that includes Adia Barnes, Dana Patterson and Kim Conway.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Including a 15-2 record this year, the Wildcats have won 20 of their last 23 home games and are 42-8 on their home court over the last three seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 10 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 107-43 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has a record of 173-151 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
ROAD WOES: In contrast to their stellar 15-2 home record this year, the Wildcats were only 4-8 in road games this season, their worst road game record since the 1994-95 team went 2-10. They averaged only 73.8 points and 38.2 rebounds per game on the road.
GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: The Wildcats are averaging 19.5 turnovers per game for the season, committing 20 or more in 15 games. Over the last 15 games, of which the Cats lost nine, their turnover average has been 20.9 per game. The Wildcats committed a season-high 31 turnovers, the highest single-game turnover total in more than three years, twice during that 15-game stretch.
KEYS TO THE WIN: This season, Arizona is... 13-4 when out-rebounding its opponent... 18-6 when shooting better than its opponent from the floor... 11-2 when shooting 50% or better from the field... 16-3 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring... 15-2 when leading at halftime... 13-4 when forcing more turnovers than it commits... 19-3 when scoring 70 points or more... 14-5 when opponents score 71 points or less.
HOW TO AVOID A LOSS: According to the season's trends, the best way for Arizona to avoid losing this season might be to lead at the half, shoot better from the floor than the opponent, commit fewer turnovers than the opponent and score 70 points or more.
The Cats are only... 5-9 this year when tied or trailing at halftime... 2-5 when shooting worse from the field than the opponent... 6-7 when committing more turnovers than the opponent... 1-3 when shooting below 40% from the floor... 1-8 when scoring 69 points or less... 4-8 when three or fewer Wildcats reach double digits in scoring.
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 134-18 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 94-11 when topping that 80-point plateau.
GETTING TO THE LINE: Arizona is averaging 17.8 points per game from the free throw line this season. The Cats have made it to the free throw line 788 times over 31 games, for an average of 25.4 attempts per contest. The Wildcats have connected on 552 of those attempts (70.1 percent).
STRONG SCHEDULE: Several of Arizona's 2001 opponents were listed in final regular season national rankings.
In the Associated Press Top 25, Notre Dame is No. 2 and Arizona State is tied at No. 25. Stanford, Washington and UC Santa Barbara received votes for ranking.
In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, Notre Dame is No. 2 and Arizona State is No. 25. Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Louisville were all among the teams receiving votes.
BY THE NUMBERS: Sixteen of Arizona's 20 wins this year have been by a total of 10 points or more... Five of those wins have been by spreads of 30 points or more... Nine of the UA's 11 losses have been by spreads of 10 points or less... The Cats have hit four or more 3-pointers in 22 games... Arizona has had 15 or more assists in 18 games... The Cats have had 10 or more steals in 12 games... Arizona has forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 14 contests... The UA has scored 80 points or better in 15 games.
ON LOCATION: Arizona has a 15-2 mark at home this year, is 4-8 on the road and is 1-1 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 338-404 (.456) all-time record, however it is 142-68 (.676) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 184-98 career record against Pac-10 teams.
BIOGRAPHY OF A LOSING SKID: Arizona ended regular season road play with seven straight losses away from McKale. The Cats didn't win another road game after a 68-65 victory at Stanford on Jan. 6. That losing skid is the longest since the 1990-91 team lost its final 10 road games.
During this year's losing skid, the Cats averaged only 71.1 points and 34.6 rebounds per game. They were out-scored by an average of 7.2 ppg and were out-rebounded by 6.5 rpg. They averaged a whopping 21.6 turnovers per game to the opponents' 17.4 per game, and they allowed opponents to hit an average of 7.0 three-pointers per game.
CATS LOSE WARREN FOR REST OF SEASON: In a season that's seen its share of adversity, the Wildcats were dealt yet another blow on Mar. 3 when sophomore wing Krista Warren went down with a right knee ACL tear. She will miss the remainder of the season and is expected to have surgery on Mar. 22. Warren started 27 of the her season's 28 games for the Cats, averaging 29.0 minutes, 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
JAMES RETURNS TO ACTION: After suffering her second concussion of the season during an accidental fall on Jan. 24, freshman forward Veranda James returned to action on Feb. 15 for the first time in more than three weeks.
Due to the most recent concussion, a previous concussion suffered on Dec. 6, and some academic issues, James played in only 12 of Arizona's first 23 games of the season.
PICKNEY REACHES 1,000 POINTS: At the 17:32 mark in the second half of the Washington State game on Feb. 10, junior forward Elizabeth Pickney became the 10th Arizona women's basketball player to reach the 1,000-point mark in career scoring. With teammate Reshea Bristol scoring her 1,000th career point in January, Pickney is the second Wildcat to reach that plateau this season.
BOZEMAN DISMISSED FROM TEAM: Junior guard Tysell Bozeman was dismissed from the team on Feb. 5 for failure to comply with team policies. She had previously been suspended for two weeks early in January for related reasons.
Bozeman played in 16 games for the Wildcats this season, starting 12. She averaged 9.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
PICKNEY NAMED NATIONAL STAR OF THE WEEK (Feb 5): After leading the Cats to home sweep of the Oregon schools, junior forward Elizabeth Pickney was named the WomensCollegeHoops.com "National Star of the Week" for Jan. 29-Feb. 4.
PICKNEY EARNS SECOND PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS (Feb. 5): Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 29-Feb. 4. She averaged 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while leading the Wildcats to a home sweep of the Oregon schools. On the week, Pickney shot 56.3 percent (18-of-32) from the floor and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the line. The Player of the Week honor was the third of Pickney's career, her second this season and the 22nd all-time selection for the Wildcats.
BRISTOL HITS 1,000: At the 17:03 mark in the second half of the game at USC on Jan. 18, senior guard Reshea Bristol drained a three-pointer and became only the ninth Wildcat women's basketball player to reach the 1,000-point mark in career scoring.
NICE START: With their 14-2 start, the Wildcats tied the 1999-2000 team for the best record ever through the first 16 games of a season. The Cats' 4-0 start in Pac-10 play this year is their best start ever in conference action.
DISHING IT OUT: Against Washington on Jan. 11, senior guard Reshea Bristol racked up a career-high 16 assists. That also tied the school record set by former Wildcat Brenda Pantoja against San Diego on Dec. 28, 1995.
BRISTOL NAMED NATIONAL STAR OF THE WEEK (Jan. 8): After leading the Cats to a road sweep of the Bay Area schools, senior guard Reshea Bristol was named the Womens-CollegeHoops.com "National Star of the Week" for Jan. 2-9.
BRISTOL NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN (Jan 8): Wildcat senior guard Reshea Bristol was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Jan. 2-8. She averaged 22.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 steals, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while leading the Wildcats to a road sweep of the Bay Area schools. She shot 90.9 percent (10-11) from the line, 66.7 percent (4-6) from three-point range and 46.9 percent (15-32) from the floor. That was the second straight week that Bristol earned the Player of the Week honor. The Player of the Week honor was the third of Bristol's career, her second this season and the 22nd all-time selection for Arizona.
BRISTOL NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Jan. 1): Wildcat senior guard Reshea Bristol was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 18-31. She helped lead Arizona to a 3-1 mark during that time frame, including all-tournament acclaim as the Cats earned runner-up honors at the San Juan Shootout. In wins over Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Nebraska and Kansas and a narrow loss to then-No. 9 Auburn, she averaged 16.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in 123 total minutes of play. The Player of the Week honor was the second of Bristol's career.
THE CATS AND PAC-10 OPENERS: Under Joan Bonvicini, Arizona has a 7-3 mark in Pac-10 openers and has won its first conference contest in seven of the last eight years.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: The Wildcats wrapped up regular season non-conference play this year with an outstanding 10-2 mark. Their only two losses were to No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 Auburn. During its 10 non-conference wins, Arizona averaged an astounding 86.8 points per game and out-scored opponents by an average of 24.9 points per game. Arizona has recorded a 60-14 mark against non-conference opponents over the last six years combined.
WHAT A GAME!: During the Dec. 20 contest against UPR-Mayaguez at the San Juan Shootout, Arizona set a new school record for margin of victory by defeating the Bulldogs, 105-41, a margin of 63 points. That surpassed the previous record if 56 points (99-43) set only 12 days earlier against Bowling Green on Dec. 8.
Arizona's 105 points in that contest is its highest offensive output since scoring 105 points against Sacramento State at home on Dec. 17, 1994. The 41 points scored by the Bulldogs is the best defensive effort since the Cats allowed Cal Poly-SLO to score only 39 on Jan. 9, 1996, in Tucson. The Cats also out-rebounded the Bulldogs by 24 (46-22), the best rebounding margin since the UA out-rebounded Sacramento State by 31 (59-28) during that Dec. 17, 1994 game.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: For the first time in the program's history, the Wildcats had four consecutive games of 90 points or more. Arizona defeated UNLV (91-74) on Dec. 6, Bowling Green (99-43) on Dec. 8, Fresno State (92-55) on Dec. 10 and Louisville (90-60) on Dec. 17 to put together the first-ever string of four straight games with offensive outputs of 90+ points.
PICKNEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Dec. 11): Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 4-11. She averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game while leading the Wildcats to a 3-0 record for the week. In the three home victories, she shot a combined .489 from the floor (23-for-47), .824 from the line (14-for-17) and hit her first career three-pointer. This was Pickney's second career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor and Arizona's 20th Player of the Week honor all-time.
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.
BRASE TO REDSHIRT: Wildcat junior guard Julie Brase will redshirt for the 2000-2001 season after having wrist surgery before the start of the season. Brase played in all 32 games last year, starting 19, and averaged 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
WHAT THE COACHES THOUGHT: Here was the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's coaches... 1. Stanford, 2. Oregon, 3. USC, 4. ARIZONA, 5. Arizona State, t6. UCLA, t6. Washington, 8. Oregon State, 9. California, 10. Washington State.
The Pac-10 women's basketball media members picked Arizona to finish fourth, as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.