Nov. 2, 2001
WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team will face its first outside competition of the 2002 season when it entertains Team Concept on Monday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in an exhibition game in the McKale Center.
ABOUT ARIZONA: The Wildcats return seven letterwinners, including three starters, from last season's 20-12 squad. Five newcomers comprise a recruiting class that has been ranked as high as No. 9 nationally. The Cats will definitely be looking to improve upon last year's 9-9 record and fifth-place finish in Pac-10 play. They also have the ultimate goal of getting back into the NCAA tournament, which they missed out on last year after having earned four straight NCAA tourney berths.
ABOUT TEAM CONCEPT: Team Concept is an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team based in Portland, Ore. The club, which is coached by Kate Rue, features 11 former collegiate players. The roster sports several familiar names from some of the best programs in the nation, including Nicole Greathouse (UC Santa Barbara), Katryna Gaither (Notre Dame), Alisa Burras (Louisiana Tech) and Tonya Sampson (North Carolina).
After two different foreign teams were unable to come to the United States, Team Concept took over the seven-game tour that was arranged by Basketball Travelers, Inc. Team Concept will play at Northern Arizona on Saturday and at Arizona State on Sunday before taking on the UA on Monday.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: With a game-high 26 points from senior forward Elizabeth Pickney, the Red Team won the annual Arizona women's basketball Red & Blue Game, 78-64, in the McKale Center last Tuesday night.
The Red Team, which was made up primarily of current Wildcats, jumped on the Blue Team quickly, gaining a 15-point (28-13) lead at 8:37 in the first half. They pushed their spread to 19 points at 5:15, but the Blue Team, which was a combination of current Wildcats and male practice players, used a 13-4 run to cut the Red lead to 10 (40-30) at halftime.
Red stretched its lead again early in the second, going on a 19-6 run to gain a 23-point (59-36) advantage just seven minutes into the period. The Blue Team fought back through the waning minutes but never got closer than 12 points for the remainder of the game.
In addition to Pickney's 26 points, the Red Team got 14 points from senior center LaKeisha Taylor, along with a game-high-tying seven rebounds. Freshman forward Robin Roberson contributed eight points and six rebounds, while sophomore guard Aimee Grzyb added six points, six rebounds and six assists.
Former Wildcat Tatum Brown, who was participating as a practice player, led the Blue Team with 15 points on a 6-for-9 performance from the floor. Male practice players Michael Perkins and David Vallecorsa added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Playing alternately for both the Red and Blue teams, sophomore guard Candice Allen racked up a combined 13 points. Freshman Danielle Adefeso, who also played on both sides, pulled down six rebounds on the night.
CATS DEALT ANOTHER BLOW: After already losing one guard to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury before the season ever started, the Wildcats lost yet another guard to an ACL tear last Tuesday. Freshman Katrina Lindner, who is from Glengowrie, South Australia, tore her right knee ACL late in the first half of the Red & Blue Game on Oct. 31. She will have surgery some time late in November and will be redshirted for the season.
The Wildcats lost sophomore guard Jenn Chesney to an ACL tear during preseason workouts in September. She had surgery to repair the injury and will also be redshirting this season.
This is the third ACL injury the Wildcats have had in only seven months. The first was when then-sophomore Krista Warren suffered the same injury at Oregon in early March.
WHO'S BACK FOR THE CATS: Senior forward Elizabeth Pickney returns after ending last season as the Cats' leading scorer (16.4 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (6.3 rpg). She was also an All-Pac-10 honoree last year.
After redshirting last year following preseason wrist surgery, junior guard Julie Brase will be a much-welcomed presence on the floor this season. She averaged 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game during the 1999-2000 season.
A trio of sophomore guards also returns. Aimee Grzyb started 18 contests and averaged 7.8 ppg and 2.3 apg, while Candice Allen saw eight starts and registered averages of 6.1 ppg and 2.7 rpg. Jenn Chesney averaged 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds per game last year, but she will redshirt this year after suffering a torn ACL during preseason workouts.
WHO'S NEW: A group of five freshmen -- two posts, two guards and one wing -- have joined the Wildcat squad this year. Freshman forward Danielle Adefeso is from St. Monica High School in Los Angeles, while fellow forward Robin Roberson comes from Berkeley (Calif.) High School.
Guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is out of Chicago's Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. Another guard from Glengowrie, South Australia, Katrina Lindner is the first Aussie ever signed by head coach Joan Bonvicini at Arizona. Freshman wing Michelle Tibbetts is from Burnsville (Minn.) High School and made the squad as a walk-on.
WHO'S GONE: Three letterwinners are gone from last year's team.
Guard Reshea Bristol received her degree from the UA in May and was drafted by the WNBA Charlotte Sting in the fourth round as the 50th overall pick. She was released by the Sting because of injury in July, but she has since headed to Russia to play professionally there. Bristol was second in scoring (15.6 ppg) last season and ended the year as the Pac-10 leader in assists (7.6 apg).
After dealing with asthma complications, center Michelle Mitchell departed the team last spring. She had played in 31 games last year, in primarily a reserve role.
Forward Veranda James left the team in August for personal reasons. She was the team's top rebounder (8.2 rpg) and third-leading scorer (13.1 ppg) in 2001.
HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has nurtured the Wildcat program into an upward-rising powerhouse. In 10 years at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to six straight postseason appearances, including four NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.
Entering her 11th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 179-117 (.605) mark in 10 years at Arizona and is 504-188 (.728) in 22 years as a head coach. She is 23-14 in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game 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 94-85 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 60-29 league mark over the last five seasons combined.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach in 1998, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1992) enters up her 10th year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and a perimeter coach. Fourth-year assistant coach Karen Caires (Cal State Northridge, 1990) works with the perimeter players and assists with scouting and recruiting. In his third year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved with scouting and with coaching the post players and is the director of the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
NEW WILDCAT ON THE WAY: Associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello and her husband Rob, who is the UA football recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, are expecting their first child in April 2002.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Wildcats will play one more exhibition game, against the NWBL USA Elite team on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. in the McKale Center. After that, the Cats officially tip off the 2002 season against Pepperdine at home on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m.
STRONG SCHEDULE: Of the 19 opponents on the 2001-02 schedule, 13 saw postseason play last year. That number includes the champions of both postseason tournaments. Some big names on the schedule include defending NCAA champion Notre Dame, defending WNIT champion Ohio State, WNIT runner-up New Mexico and NCAA Elite Eight participant Washington.
INAUGURAL PAC-10 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: The first-ever Pac-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament will be held on Mar. 1-4, 2002, at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore. The winner of the tournament will receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Including a 15-2 record last 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.
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.
ITALY TOUR 2001: On May 18 through June 2, the Wildcats went to Italy for the program's third foreign tour. The tour began in Venice then advanced to Verona, Como, Milan, Lucca, Pisa, Florence and commenced in Rome. The Cats went 5-1 against club teams in many of these cities and visited a multitude of historical sites along the way.
Elizabeth Pickney was the team's second-leading scorer (21.7 ppg) and third-leading rebounder (6.2 rpg). LaKeisha Taylor was the second-leading rebounder (7.5 rpg), and Candice Allen finished the tour as the third-leading scorer, with 11.7 ppg.
Seeing her first action since March 2000, Julie Brase averaged 10.5 ppg and 5.5 apg. Aimee Grzyb posted 9.2 ppg and 4.0 apg, while Jenn Chesney averaged 4.7 ppg and 3.8 rpg. Krista Warren went with the team on the trip, but was unable to play because she was still rehabilitating from an ACL injury suffered last March.
2000-01 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 was decimated, and the team was down to only eight active players by season's end.
Despite all the distractions and the prevailing inexperience of last year's squad, the Wildcats finished the year with a 20-12 overall record, their fifth 20-win season in the last six years. They were 9-9 in Pac-10 play and finished in fifth place, their lowest finish since 1995.
For the first time since 1996, Arizona failed to earn an NCAA tournament berth, but it did receive a Women's National Invitation Tournament slot. The Wildcats downed Pepperdine, 85-65, in the first round of the WNIT but fell, 75-62, at New Mexico in the second round to end their season. The WNIT berth gave the Wildcats their sixth straight postseason appearance, the third-longest active postseason streak in the Pac-10.
The team set or tied 39 school records last year, including most home victories (15), most points scored in a season (2,521) and highest single season scoring average (78.8 ppg).
Arizona finished the year as the Pac-10 leader in scoring offense (78.8 ppg), scoring margin (+9.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.470) and assists (16.59 apg). The Cats were second in both free throw percentage (.700) and rebounding (39.8 rpg) and were third in field goal percentage defense (.400) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.86).
ON THE INDIVIDUAL FRONT: Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney ended the season as the Cats' leading scorer, with 16.4 ppg, and second-leading rebounder (6.3 rpg). Senior guard Reshea Bristol was second in scoring, with 15.6 ppg, and ended the year as the Pac-10 leader in assists (7.56 apg).
Despite missing 11 contests through the year, freshman forward Veranda James was still the team's third-leading scorer, averaging 13.1 points per game. She also had the team's top rebounding average, at 8.2 per game.
In addition to leading the Pac-10 in assists, Bristol was second in steals (3.0 spg), fifth in scoring and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.34). Pickney was third in the league in scoring, fourth in blocked shots (1.47 bpg), sixth in field goal percentage (.505) and ninth in rebounding. Taylor was second in field goal percentage (.587).
DOUBLING UP: The Wildcats collected a total of 21 double-doubles last season, the program's highest double-double total since the 1995-96 team tallied 21. Of Arizona's 21 double-doubles during the year, eight belonged to guard Reshea Bristol, and all of hers were points-assists double-doubles. Six different Wildcats logged double-doubles during the season.
BY THE NUMBERS: Sixteen of Arizona's 20 wins last year were by a total of 10 points or more... Five of those wins were by spreads of 30 points or more... Nine of the UA's 12 losses were by spreads of 10 points or less... The Cats hit four or more 3-pointers in 22 games... Arizona had 15 or more assists in 18 games... The Cats had 10 or more steals in 13 games... Arizona forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 14 contests... The UA scored 80 points or better in 15 games.
KEYS TO THE WIN: Last season, Arizona was... 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 reached double digits in scoring... 15-2 when leading at halftime... 13-4 when forcing more turnovers than it committed... 19-3 when scoring 70 points or more... 14-5 when opponents scored 71 points or less.
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.
CAT SCRATCHES: The Wildcats ended last season's road play with eight straight losses away from McKale... The Cats haven't won a road game since a 68-65 victory at Stanford on Jan. 6, 2001... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 338-405 (.455) all-time record, however it is 142-69 (.673) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 184-98 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: Last season, the Wildcats were 15-2 at home, 4-9 in road games and 1-1 in neutral contests.
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.