April 28, 2010
Redshirt junior Shanita Arnold has waited a long time to make her University of Arizona debut in McKale Center. Though she still has several months until that chance arrives, she sat down to give her thoughts on basketball, the Pac-10 and being a point guard.
What made you decide to come to Arizona after choosing to leave your hometown team at Arkansas?
"As soon as I got off the plane here in Tucson, I thought the weather was perfect and I was hoping the coaches and the school were just as good. The more time I spent, the more I felt like the coaching staff and the team were a perfect fit for me."
How hard was it to sit for an entire season and be forced to watch?
"When you're playing all the time, you never get to sit back and watch and see how the game has changed and what things I need to work on. I got the chance to look at things and see how I can get better to progress for the future."
What did you learn from watching the team last season?
"Coming from the SEC, the style of play is a little different. You look at everyone at every school and compare yourself to all of those players. I looked at each game to see what I can bring to the team to help makes us better."
As a point guard, how do you envision your role both on and off the floor?
"The major key for me is that I want to be a leader both on and off the court. I want to lead in practice, in the games, in the classroom or just out in public. I know I just have to be a leader and bring that aspect to the team."
What kinds of things have you heard from the coaching staff about your role on the team?
"From day one, the reason I left Arkansas was that I wanted to be the point guard and a team leader. I feel like I can lead the team to conference championships. That's something we all want to achieve. The coaches have stayed on me and I've grown a lot as a player and all-around as a person."
What is the key to leadership in your mind?
"To me, it's all about respect. As a leader, you have to earn the respect of everyone around you. I know I have to give 100 percent all the time, even through fatigue. If Coach Butts says to get on the line, then you have to do it. I want the team to be able to look up to me and see me give that effort and know that they can do it too."
Changing gears a little bit...who do you model your game after?
"If I'm picking a men's player, it would definitely be Allen Iverson. He always kept the game spicy and gave people something to look forward to. Whether it was a pass or a shot, he always gave the game a lot of energy. On the women's side, it would be Ivory Latta from North Carolina. Being the same size as her, she had the biggest heart. No matter if the other players were bigger or faster, I know my heart will help me beat them every time."
If you could lead the team into the NCAA championship game, who would you want to face for the title?
"If we could face anyone, of course I would want it to be UConn. When there is competition on the line, I always like to show up and show the team that if we go in against anyone, we can fight and only the strong survive at the end."
If you weren't a baller, what sport would you want to play?
"I can't think of another sport I would want to play. I think I was born for this sport. But, another sport I think that's amazing is soccer. I'm not a big fan of running and those kids have unstoppable stamina. The just go, go, go forever. If I had stamina like that, I'd probably play soccer."
What's one thing that people probably don't know about you?
"If I didn't decide to pursue basketball in college, I probably would have gone to culinary school. I love to cook and do it all the time. My go-to dish would have to include some southern collared greens. They can always win someone's heart."
If Arizona and Arkansas were going head to head in another sport, who are you cheering for?
"If I was watching a game with some Arizona fans, I would wear an Arizona t-shirt with the big "A" on the front. But on the back, I'd put a small "A" on the top of my shirt for Arkansas to represent my home."