Feb. 10, 2009
Date: February 12, 2009
Location: Galen Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)
Tip Off Time: Arizona makes one of its final two road trips of the regular season this weekend, starting with a trip to Pauley Pavilion to take on UCLA. The Wildcats then have a rare two-day break between games before battling USC at the Galen Center on Sunday afternoon. The game against the Trojans will be televised on Fox Sports Net with Jim Watson and Mary Murphy calling all of the action.
Catch the Action: Entering his second season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women’s basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 30 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs.
Oregon Recap: The stars aligned, the moon was at its perfect place in the sky and the Wildcats played a near perfect game as they posted their most lopsided win of the season, a 68-44 triumph over the Ducks. Five Cats scored in double figures, led by Amina Njonkou with 16 points and a game-high 9 rebounds. Ashley Frazier added 10 points and matched her career-best with 8 assists while Ify Ibekwe had 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocked shots. The Cats had a season-high 13 steals while yielding just 11 turnovers for the game.
Head Coach Niya Butts: Not only has the Arizona playing roster seen its share of turnover, but the coaching staff is also entirely new for the 2008-09 season. On April 3, 2008, Niya Butts was named the 8th coach in the history of Arizona women’s basketball. Butts comes to Tucson after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.
Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).
Series Notes: UCLA has controlled the all-time series against the Wildcats, owning a 42-19 advantage. The Bruins have won the last three meetings and 6-of-7 dating back to the 2005-06 season. The last Arizona win, however, did come at Pauley Pavilion on February 15, 2007, a 66-63 triumph for the Wildcats. Joy Hollingsworth had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cats in that game.
Last Meeting: Despite a stellar defensive effort, Arizona could manage just 11 total field goals and 14 second half points in a 48-38 setback to the Bruins. Amina Njonkou had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss while Ify Ibekwe also added 14 points and 8 boards. Arizona trailed by just three points with 4:23 remaining, but UCLA finished the game on a 9-1 spurt to close out the victory.
Scouting the Bruins: UCLA is currently in 5th place in the Pac-10 with a 5-5 record, sitting one game behind crosstown-rival USC for 4th place. The Bruins enter the game in the midst of a three-game losing streak, most recently dropping a 87-76 verdict to the Trojans on Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center. Doreena Campbell is the only UCLA player averaging in double figures at 13.2 points per game, but eight other players contribute between 7.9 and 5.0 points per game. The Bruins are the best rebounding team in the Pac-10, holding a +9.5 margin over its opponents per game.
Future Cats: Head coach Niya Butts was happy to announce the signing of the first two players for the 2009 signing class earlier in the season. Senior guard Davellyn White of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix is the first prep player to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for Butts. Whyte, the daughter of former Major League Baseball veteran Devon White, averaged 18 points per game in her junior campaign, leading the Lady Knights to a 19-9 record and the 5A Desert Valley Region championship. She was an all-state selection and was the runner-up in the region player of the year voting.
Joining Whyte with three years of eligibility remaining is Brooke Jackson, who is currently a freshman at Mesa Community College. A 5’9” shooting guard, Jackson prepped at Mountain View High School and was a two-time East Valley Region Player of the Year and two-time all-state selection. She is the 5A all-time single-season leader in scoring after tallying 849 points as a junior. Jackson also holds state 5A records for free throws made in a game (18) and season (216) as well as career steals (482). A solid outside shooter, Jackson finished her prep career with a 41 percent mark from three-point range.
Injury Update: A nearly healthy Arizona team once again suffered from the jaws of the injury bug on Saturday as leading scorer Ify Ibekwe went down with a right ankle injury in the second half and did not return. However, she has had a quick recovery from the setback and is expected to be in the starting lineup against UCLA.
First Timers: For the fourth time this season, head coach Niya Butts will go toe-to-toe against a fellow first-year head coach. She opened the season against Tricia Cullop of Toledo, then three games later shared the sidelines with Lindsay Gottlieb of UC Santa Barbara. On Thursday, Butts will battle UCLA taskmaster Nikki Campbell for the second time after the teams battled in McKale Center on January 17.
Sister Act: The Ibekwe family will again have divided allegiances on Thursday evening as sisters Ify (Arizona) and Chinyere (UCLA) will goe head-to-head. The younger Ify tallied 14 points in the opening meeting, but older sister Chinyere got the upper hand as her squad posted the win. The two also played against each other once last season as Ify missed the first opportunity due to injury. Ify is still looking for her first win against her older sister.
National Notables: Speaking of the NCAA statistics, Ibekwe is tops in the Pac-10 and is currently 7th in the NCAA in rebounds per game at 11.3. She is also 59th in blocked shots per game at 1.9 and 96th in field goal percentage at .462. With 23 assists over the past three games, Ashley Frazier has jumped to 73rd in assists at 4.5 per game. The Wildcats are 19th in the NCAA in fouls committed per game with just 14.2 violations per contest.
Top of the Table: Ibekwe is among the Pac-10 leaders in a number of categories as the Wildcats reach the midway point of the season. Ibekwe leads the Pac-10 in rebounding, second in scoring and blocked shots, fourth in steals and 10th in field goal percentage. Among her rebounding prowess, she is top of the heap in both offensive and defensive rebounds. Joining her among the league’s elite is Ashley Frazier, who is second in assists, and Amina Njonkou, who is tied for 4th in rebounding at 8.0 per game. As a team, the Cats are 3rd in field goal percentage defense, and 4th in rebounding offense, blocked shots and free throw percentage.
Defending Their Home: The Wildcats have shown that the McKale Center will not be an easy place for visiting teams to come in 2008-09. In eight home contests thus far, the Wildcats are allowing a meager 55.6 points per game on Olson Court. The Cats have held the oppositon under 50 points on four occasions and allowed #9-ranked Texas A&M just 54 points while yielding only 56 to #6 California in a pair of hard-fought defeats.
Keep It Down: Arizona can look to its defense for ending its winless streak in Pac-10 play as the Wildcats held Washington and Oregon to an average of just 47.5 points per game. During its 7-game losing skid, the Wildcats had yielded 71.2 points per contest to the opposition. After allowing just 51 points in the victory over Washington, the defense put the clamps on Oregon and allowed a season-low 44 points. The Cats are 8-3 when allowing less than 60 points, but have yet to earn a regulation win when teams hit the 60-point mark.
Up Next: Arizona completes its season series against USC on Sunday, February 15 at the Galen Center with tip-off scheduled for 12 p.m. That game will be the last of three scheduled televised games for the Wildcats on FSN Arizona. Jim Watson and Mary Murphy will call the action.