Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Opens Three-Game Road Swing with Trip to Oregon
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 20, 2004
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 20, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: This weekend the University of Arizona women's basketball team (14-4 overall; 6-1 Pac-10) begins a stretch that will see it play five of its next seven games on the road. The Wildcats open a three-game road swing at Oregon on Thursday, Jan. 22, then the Cats play at Oregon State on Saturday, Jan. 24. Game time is 7 p.m. PST on both dates.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Currently in sole possession of second place in the Pac-10, the Wildcats are 14-4 overall and 6-1 in Pac-10 play. The Cats are coming off a sweep of the L.A. schools at home last weekend, defeating USC (75-64) on Jan. 15 and UCLA (70-54) on Jan. 17.

Arizona's 6-1 conference record is the best mark ever through the first seven games of Pac-10 play. The Cats' 14-4 mark is the best record Arizona has had through the first 18 games of a season since the 2000-01 team went 14-4 over the same stretch.

The Wildcats have won 23 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. The only team currently with a longer streak is Texas, boasting 28 straight home wins heading into a Jan. 21 game against Oklahoma State. Utah is close behind the Cats with 22 straight home victories going into a home matchup with Air Force on Jan. 22.

Last weekend's sweep helped the Cats regain some votes in the Associated Press Top 25 this week. Arizona earned 16 votes, up from just seven votes last week. The Wildcats weren't as successful with the USA Today Coaches Poll, as they dipped to 22 votes from last week's 28.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 5.1 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.3 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.4 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.7 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 7.9 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.2 per game.

#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)

#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. 18, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.466), is second in scoring (73.3 ppg), second in scoring margin (+9.9 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.390), third in three-point percentage defense (.310), third in rebounding defense (33.4 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+4.8 rpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.39 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.61 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.4 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.574) and sixth in scoring (16.3 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.4 ppg), third in assists (5.11 apg), third in steals (2.50 spg), seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.30) and eighth in field goal percentage (.474).

Aimee Grzyb is eighth in three-pointers made per game (1.72 pg) and 15th in scoring (10.7 ppg), while Natalie Jones is third in free throw percentage (.796).

POLKEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Jan. 19): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 12-18. She averaged 19.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals in a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools. In two games, she shot an amazing 80.0 percent from the floor (16-of-20).

In the 75-64 win over USC on Jan. 15, Polk recorded 17 points, six rebounds and a career high-four steals, while shooting 7-for-9 from the field. In the 70-54 defeat of UCLA on Jan. 17, she notched her 28th career double-double and seventh of the season, with 21 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting. Polk's five blocks on the weekend brought her career total to 127, placing her second on Arizona's career blocked shots list. With nine more blocks, she will enter the Pac-10's career top-10 in that same category.

SCOUTING OREGON: Standing at 10-7 overall and 2-5 in Pac-10 play, the Ducks are currently tied for eighth in the league standings. Oregon earned a split at the Washington schools last weekend, falling at Washington (95-50) on Jan. 15 and winning at Washington State (60-50) on Jan. 17.

With averages of 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, junior center Andrea Bills leads Oregon in both categories. She is the only Duck currently averaging in double digits in scoring. Junior guard Brandi Davis is second in scoring, at 9.0 ppg, followed by freshman forward Eleanor Haring with 7.0 ppg.

Head coach Bev Smith (Oregon, 1982) has a 44-36 mark in her third season at the helm of her alma mater's program.

THE SERIES vs. OREGON: The Ducks hold a 22-14 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Cats have won three in a row over Oregon and four of the last six. The Wildcats defeated the Ducks, 71-66, in Eugene on Feb. 1 and 96-65 in Tucson on Jan. 2 last season.

The Cats have a 6-11 all-time record when playing in Eugene, with their victory there last season ending a short two-game losing skid at Mac Court. The Wildcats' last loss in Eugene was a sound 72-53 thumping on Jan. 4, 2002.

LAST MEETING WITH OREGON: Playing its fourth straight game on the road, then-No. 24 Arizona withstood two strong runs by Oregon to defeat the Ducks, 71-66, in Eugene on Feb. 1, 2003.

It looked good for the Cats early on, as they raced out to an 11-2 lead over the first two minutes of the contest. But over the next five minutes, Oregon went on a 19-3 run, while Arizona missed nine shots and committed three turnovers and three fouls.

With the Cats down by seven points (21-14), a lay-up by Shawntinice Polk stopped the bleeding at 12:02. Arizona used its own 18-10 spurt to regain a one-point (32-31) lead with just under six minutes left in the half. The teams traded buckets for the next few minutes, and the Cats had a tenuous one-point lead at the break, 37-36.

The second half was a virtual repeat of the first. Arizona opened the stanza with an 11-2 burst to gain a 10-point (48-38) lead, its largest of the game, at 16:40. The Ducks out-scored the Cats, 14-3, over the next four minutes to reach a one-point (52-51) advantage with 10:20 to play.

Arizona's Krista Warren hit one of her two free throw attempts, and Aimee Grzyb drained a three-pointer to put the Cats back up by three (58-55) two minutes later. Over the next eight minutes, Oregon tied the score twice. Arizona never relinquished the lead, but it did get quite a scare during the waning seconds of the game.

The Cats were up just four points (67-63) with 52 seconds remaining, when Oregon's Carolyn Ganes converted on a tip-in and was fouled by Warren. Ganes nailed the ensuing free throw to bring the Ducks back to within one point (67-66) with 33 seconds left.

Oregon resorted to intentional fouling and grabbed Dee-Dee Wheeler, who calmly drained both her free throw attempts with 24 seconds left. The Ducks then fouled Natalie Jones, who also converted both her free throws with seven seconds remaining to seal the win for the Cats.

Shawntinice Polk shot 10-for-15 from the floor on her way to game highs of 23 points and 15 rebounds, her 15th double-double of the year. Warren, Grzyb and Jones all finished with 12 points apiece.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: With 10-6 overall and 4-3 Pac-10 marks, the Beavers are tied for fourth in the conference after splitting a pair of games in Washington last week. OSU logged a 62-51 win at Washington State on Jan. 15 but lost, 87-74, at Washington on Jan. 17. Oregon State will entertain Arizona State on Thursday before facing the Wildcats on Saturday.

Since becoming eligible to play at the beginning of the month, junior transfer Shannon Howell has been averaging a team-best 22.6 points per game, including a 40-point performance during the Beavers' loss at Washington last weekend. Senior forward Hollye Chapman is second in scoring, at 9.9 ppg, followed closely by junior center Brina Chaney (9.4 ppg) and senior guard Leilani Estavan (9.1 ppg). Senior forward Krystal Turner leads the Beavers in rebounding, grabbing 6.2 per game.

In her ninth season at the head of her alma mater's program, head coach Judy Spoelstra (Oregon State, 1983) has a 120-126 record. she is 218-194 in 15 years as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. OREGON STATE: The Beavers have a narrow 19-18 lead in the series with Arizona and have won four of the last six meetings with the Wildcats. Arizona had the upper hand last year, winning two of the season's three matchups. The Cats logged a 72-44 win over OSU in Tucson on Jan. 4, but Oregon State returned the favor with a 71-65 overtime win in Corvallis on Jan. 30. Arizona then notched a 70-56 victory over the Beavers in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on Mar. 8 in San Jose.

Arizona is 5-12 all-time when playing in Corvallis. The Cats have lost three in a row at Gill Coliseum, with their last win there coming on Feb. 6, 2000, by a score of 65-49.

LAST MEETING WITH OREGON STATE: Krista Warren went off for a game-high 20 points to lead No. 3 seed and then-22nd-ranked Arizona to a 70-56 win over No. 6 seed Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on Mar. 8, 2003.

The Beavers opened the game with six unanswered points and still led by five (10-5) at 15:09 before the Cats could get on track offensively. Arizona then scored nine unanswered points to take a four-point (14-10) edge at 13:09.

Oregon State hung around, however, and never led the Cats expand their lead more than that four points for the next nine minutes. The Beavers tied the score at 21-all with 5:17 left in the first half, then Arizona used a 13-2 run over the next four minutes to gain an 11-point (34-23) advantage. The Wildcats led 36-26 at the break.

Within the first four minutes of the second half, Oregon State cut the Cats' advantage to seven points (40-33), then Arizona went on a 9-2 spurt to go back up by 14 points (49-35) with 13:21 to play. The Beavers came no closer than eight points for the remainder of the game, although that was how close they were to the Cats with 1:45 to go in the game. OSU began fouling the Wildcats, and Arizona responded by hitting 9-for-10 from the free throw line down the stretch.

In addition to Warren's 20 points, the Cats got 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds from Shawntinice Polk, her 20th double-double of the season. Dee-Dee Wheeler added 14 points and four steals, while Julie Brase and Aimee Grzyb put up eight points apiece.

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 228-143 (.615) mark at Arizona and is 553-214 (.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 123-100 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 99-52 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Cats will wrap up their three-game road swing and will begin the second round of Pac-10 play with a show-down at Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m. in Tempe.

Arizona returns home during the first weekend in February to entertain the Bay Area schools. The Wildcats will take on Stanford on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., then they will face California on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- USC (Jan. 15): In a game that saw a combined total of 66 turnovers, the Wildcats survived a physical battle with USC and came out on top, 75-64, at home on Jan. 15.

Through the first seven minutes of the game, there were three ties and six lead changes before the Cats finally gained control of the contest with a 7-0 spurt that gave them a nine-point (24-15) edge at 9:57. Five minutes later, USC's own 13-6 run cut the Cats' lead to just two points (30-28) with 4:16 to go in the half. Arizona then scored 14 unanswered points to end the period and took a solid 44-28 lead into the break.

The Wildcats stretched their advantage to 19 points (49-30), their largest lead of the game, early in the second half, but the Trojans went on a 10-2 run that brought them back to within 11 (51-40) at 14:42. Arizona kept at least a double-digit lead through the next nine minutes, going ahead by as many as 16 at one point.

The Cats had a 14-point (69-55) lead with 5:05 to play, then committed nine turnovers as USC capitalized on the miscues and scored nine unanswered points to chop the lead to just five (69-64) with 1:12 to play. Arizona made two free throws and a pair of lay-ups down the stretch to preserve the victory, its 22nd in a row on its home court.

Dee-Dee Wheeler posted a game-high 20 points, with 17 coming in the first half, and snagged a team-best five steals. Shawntinice Polk shot 7-for-9 from the floor for the game, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Aimee Grzyb and Natalie Jones each added 11 points, with Jones tying her career-best by pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.

UCLA (Jan. 17): A 20-5 second-half run propelled the Wildcats to a 70-54 win over UCLA at home on Jan. 17.

Both teams played an abysmal first half, with neither team gaining the upperhand through the first seven minutes of action. With the score tied at 12-12, UCLA used an 8-2 run to earn a seven-point (20-13) advantage with 11:30 to play. The Cats responded with their own 8-2 run to get back to within one point (22-21), then they went completely cold from the floor.

Over the final nine minutes of the half, Arizona shot a miserable 1-for-10 from the field and went the last 6:06 without scoring at all. UCLA held just a 27-23 lead at the break.

The Cats quickly erased their deficit at the start of the second half by scoring six unanswered points to take a 29-27 edge at 18:28. Arizona couldn't seem to shake the Bruins, though, and neither team led by more than three points over the next five minutes.

With the Wildcats holding onto a one-point (41-40) lead at 12:21, guards Katrina Lindner and Aimee Grzyb drained back-to-back three-pointers to fuel what would become a 20-5 run over the next seven minutes. The Cats took a 16-point (61-45) lead with 5:13 to play, and UCLA came no closer than 13 points for the rest of the game.

Shawntinice Polk finished with game highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. Dee-Dee Wheeler added 14 points and a game-high seven assists, while Grzyb contributed 13 points, with 11 coming in the second half.

WHEELER CANDIDATE FOR NATIONAL POINT GUARD OF THE YEAR: Dee-Dee Wheeler is among 22 women's basketball players under consideration for The Nancy Lieberman Award as the top point guard in the nation for the 2003-04 season. The award, presented by the Rotary Club of Detroit, honors the nation's top collegiate point guard in women's Division I basketball. In looking for the finest point guard, the criterion for the award will be the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman during her career. Sportswriters from across the country will nominate the finalists and eventual winner.

The list of this year's candidates includes Wheeler, last year's winner Diana Taurasi (Connecticut), Jamie Carey (Texas), Erin Grant (Texas Tech), Temeka Johnson (LSU), Laurie Koehn (Kansas State), Kelly Mazzante (Penn State), Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota). Wheeler is the only Pac-10 player on the list.

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 20.7 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 nine 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 32.1 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 41.2 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 2.1 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.9 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 11.1 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action. Dee-Dee Wheeler is leading the conference with 3.43 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 eight games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last eight contests, she has averaged 20.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.3 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a blazing 51.1 percent (67-131) of her shots over the last seven games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in five of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in seven of the last eight games.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.2 three-point field goals per game. The positive is that the 111 treys the Cats have allowed opponents to hit so far this season is still a lower number than this time a year ago. Through the first 18 games of last season, Arizona opponents had drained 115 three-pointers.

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 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game. She is also shooting a hot 52.0 percent (26-50) from the floor 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 127 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 20 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 nine 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 13-3 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 30-8 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 14 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and has hit 52.4 percent (99-189) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' four losses, Wheeler averaged 16.5 ppg and shot a miserable 35.1 percent (27-77) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 14-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 0-4 when shooting worse... 11-0 when tied or leading at the half... 13-0 when giving up 69 points or less, but 1-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 11-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 13-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 10-1 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.

GOING POLLING: Two of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were ranked in this week's polls. According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 6 and LSU is No. 12. In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 6, and LSU is No. 13.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 388-435 (.471) all-time record, however it is 178-78 (.695) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 214-113 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have an 10-0 record at home, are 3-3 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.

WB Welcome Coach Barnes