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Women's Basketball: NCAA Tournament Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/18/2003
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 18, 2003

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Earning its first NCAA tournament bid since the 1999-2000 season, the 22nd-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (22-8 overall) has earned the No. 6 seed in the East Region and will play in a sub-regional hosted by seventh-ranked Kansas State.

Arizona will travel to Manhattan, Kan., to take on 11th-seeded Notre Dame (19-10) on Sunday, Mar. 23, at 6 p.m. CST. The second game of that doubleheader will feature host and No. 3 seed Kansas State (28-4) against 14th-seeded Harvard (22-4) at approximately 8:30 p.m. CST. The second-round game will be played on Tuesday, Mar. 25; the game time will not be announced until Sunday.

Sunday's Wildcat contest will be broadcast live on a regional basis on ESPN2, with Dave O'Brien and Nancy Lieberman on the call. Tuesday's game will be aired on either ESPN or ESPN2.

All Wildcat games through the duration of the tournament will be broadcast live in Tucson on KJLL 1300 AM, with Paul Johnson calling all the action. The radio broadcasts are also available over the internet via the official UA athletics web site, www.arizonaathletics.com.

ARIZONA'S PROBABLE STARTERS:
#35 - Krista Warren (F/G, 6-2, Sr., Cloverdale, Calif.)
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, Fr., Hanford, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, So., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Jr., San Jose, Calif.)
#20 - Julie Brase (G, 5-10, Sr., Tucson, Ariz.)

OFF THE BENCH: (in numerical order)
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, Fr., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, Fr., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, Fr., Anchorage, Alaska)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Jr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#31 - Robin Roberson (F/G, 6-0, So., Berkeley, Calif.)
#33 - Phakisha Peterson (G/F, 5-11, Fr., El Paso, Texas)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, So., Los Angeles, Calif.)

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 22-8 overall after falling in the championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament, 59-49, to No. 1 seed and ninth-ranked Stanford on Mar. 10. That loss ended a six-game win streak for the Cats, who have won nine of their last 11 games. The Cats are No. 22 in both polls this week.

Arizona has logged its first 20-win season since 2000-01, and this is the first time the Cats have reached 22 wins since the 1999-2000 squad won a school-record 25 games.

With averages of 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, freshman center Shawntinice Polk continues to lead Arizona in both categories. With a school-record 20 double-doubles on the season, Polk has also set new school records for single-season rebounding (319), single-season blocked shots (77) and freshman scoring (524 pts). She has become only the seventh player in the program's history to reach the 500-point mark in one season.

Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in scoring, with 16.5 ppg, and is third in rebounding, with 4.7 rpg. She has 497 points on the season, putting her just three points away from that 500-point plateau. That would make her just the eighth player to reach that mark, and it would be the first time in the program's history that two Wildcats have reached 500 points in the same season.

Senior forward Krista Warren is second in rebounding, averaging 7.0 boards per game, and is third in scoring (11.8 ppg). Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is fourth on the scoring chart, at 10.8 ppg.

ARIZONA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This is Arizona's first appearance in the NCAA tournament in three years. The Wildcats have a total of four NCAA appearances, all coming consecutively from the 1996-97 season through the 1999-2000 season. Arizona, which was seeded into a different region in each of its first four appearances, is 5-4 all-time in NCAA tournament games and has never lost in the first round. The deepest the Cats have ever advanced was the Sweet Sixteen in 1997-98. The Wildcats have been seeded anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8, with that 1997-98 team earning the No. 3 seed.

Arizona's last NCAA appearance came in 2000, when the Cats were the No. 8 seed in the Mideast Region. They traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., and defeated No. 9 seed Kent, 73-61, in the first round before falling to No. 1 seed and second-ranked Tennessee, 75-60, in the second round. The Lady Vols went on to finish as national runner-up that year.

ABOUT THE SUBREGIONAL: Notre Dame - The No. 11 seed, Notre Dame is 19-10 overall and went 10-6 in Big East action this year. Winners of four of their last five games, the Irish are coming off a 50-39 loss to Villanova in the Big East Championship quarterfinals on Mar. 9. Averaging 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, sophomore forward Jacqueline Bateast leads Notre Dame in both categories. UND isn't nationally ranked but did receive one vote in this week's Coaches' Poll.

Kansas State - No. 3 seed and eighth-ranked Kansas State stands at 28-4 overall and had a 14-2 mark in Big 12 play. The Wildcats opened the year with the Preseason WNIT title and are a perfect 18-0 on their home court this season. They have lost two of their last three games, but prior to that stretch, they were an impressive 27-2 in their first 29 contests. Sophomore forward Kendra Wecker leads K-State in scoring, with 19.2 ppg, while junior Nicole Ohlde is the team's top rebounder, averaging 9.0 per game. The wildcats are ranked No. 7 in this week's Coaches' Poll.

Harvard - The Ivy League champion this season, No. 14 seed Harvard is 22-4 overall and had a perfect 14-0 record in conference action. On a 16-game win streak, the Crimson haven't lost a contest since falling at Rutgers, 79-40, on Dec. 21. Posting averages of 21.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, junior forward Hana Peljto tops Harvard in both categories. The Crimson are not ranked but did get five votes in this week's Coaches' Poll and one vote in the AP Poll.

THE SERIES vs. NOTRE DAME: The Irish hold a 2-1 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Wildcats won the last meeting between the two teams last season. Prior to that matchup, Notre Dame handed the Cats a solid 95-65 thumping in South Bend on Nov. 20, 2000. The Irish won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, 85-81, on Dec. 3, 1988, in Charlottesville, Va.

LAST MEETING WITH NOTRE DAME: Senior forward Elizabeth Pickney nailed a layup at the buzzer to lift unranked Arizona to a 72-70 upset win over defending national champion and then-15th-ranked Notre Dame on Nov. 24, 2001.

The teams traded buckets early until Arizona used a 15-5 run midway through the first half to gain a 23-16 lead. Notre Dame answered with its own 12-5 run to tie the game at 28-all with just over three minutes left in the period. The Cats and Irish were tied, 35-35, at halftime.

Notre Dame came out firing in the second, opening the period with a 14-6 run to take a eight-point (49-41) lead at 15:42. The Wildcats surged back on a 13-5 spurt, with Pickney scoring all 13 UA points, to knot the game at 54-54 at 8:56. Both squads made small stabs at each other through the remainder of the game, but neither gained more than a three-point advantage, as there were seven lead changes in the final eight minutes of the game.

With the contest tied at 68-all, the Cats put Notre Dame's Le'Tania Severe at the line. She drained both free throws to give the Irish a two-point (70-68) lead with 50 seconds left. Arizona's Krista Warren dropped a layup with 24 seconds remaining to tie the game again, then freshman Dee-Dee Wheeler picked off a Notre Dame in-bounds pass to set up the play that led to Pickney's gamewinning layup at the buzzer.

Pickney, who scored 21 of Arizona's 43 second-half points, finished the night with a game-high 27 points, including a perfect 11-for-11 performance from the free throw line. She also had a game-high eight rebounds. Wheeler came off the bench for 18 points that included a 7-for-7 performance from the stripe.

As a team, Arizona set a new school record by hitting a perfect 20-for-20 from the free throw line. The Cats shot only 33.8 percent from the floor, their lowest shooting percentage since hitting only 32.8 percent in a loss at Notre Dame the season before. Notre Dame's loss was its first to a Pac-10 team since the 1992 season.

ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: Never able to fully recover from a 20-point first-half deficit, the 22nd-ranked Wildcats fell to No. 9 Stanford, 59-49, in the Pac-10 Tournament championship game on Mar. 10.

Stanford came out of the gates on fire, immediately jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes. Arizona managed to get back to within six (13-7) at 14:23, then the Cardinal blew the game open with a 20-6 run that gave them a 20-point (33-13) lead with 3:17 to play in the first half. The Wildcats out-scored Stanford, 11-2, over the remainder of the period, but they still trailed the Cardinal, 35-24, at the break.

Arizona opened the second half with a 15-8 run that sliced the Cardinal's lead to just four points (43-39) at 14:09. Stanford answered with a 9-4 spurt that gave them a nine-point (52-43) advantage with 9:23 to play. The Cats made another run at the Cardinal but could get no closer than five points for the rest of the game, as Arizona saw its six-game win streak come to an end.

Dee-Dee Wheeler led the Cats with 13 points, while Krista Warren and Aimee Grzyb added 10 points apiece. Shawntinice Polk grabbed a game-high nine rebounds but was held to a season-low five points.

COME DANCING: Seven of Arizona's opponents this season earned NCAA tournament berths. Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico, Washington, Pepperdine, Ohio State and Stanford all made the "Big Dance" this year. The Wildcats went 7-4 against these opponents this season, including victories over all of those teams except for Ohio State.

BY THE NUMBERS: Arizona has won 17 of its 22 victories by a margin of 12 points or more... The eight losses have been by an average margin of only 8.4 points per game... The Cats have hit five or more three-pointers in 20 games this season... Arizona has 15 or more assists in 20 games... The Cats have had 10 or more steals in 11 games... Arizona has forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 13 contests... The Wildcats have had at least 1 blocked shot in every game this year... Arizona has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 13 games this year and has an 11-2 mark in those contests.

ARIZONA 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 her previous 11 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini guided the Wildcats to six post-season appearances, including four NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

Now in her 12th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 214-138 (.608) mark at Arizona and is 539-209 (.721) in 23 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 118-100 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 84-45 mark against conference teams over the last six seasons combined.

DENISE DOVE IANELLO TO DEPART PROGRAM: After 11 seasons as a member of the Arizona women's basketball staff, associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Denise Dove Ianello will be leaving the program at the end of the season. Her husband, Rob Ianello, has taken a position with the football staff at Wisconsin, and the couple will be moving with their 11-month-old son Zachary to Madison in a few weeks. Rob Ianello leaves after nine years with the Arizona football coaching staff.

LOOKING AHEAD: If the Cats win their first two tournament games, they will advance to the East Regional in Dayton, Ohio, at the University of Dayton Arena. Games will be played on Sunday, Mar. 30, and Tuesday, April 1.

RECAPPING THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT: In just the second-ever Pac-10 Conference Tournament in San Jose, Calif., Arizona advanced to the championship game before falling to No. 1 seed Stanford. That's a vast improvement over their performance in last year's tourney, where the Cats were knocked off in the first round.

In the first round on Mar. 8, the No. 3-seeded Wildcats overcame a slow start to roll to a 70-56 win over No. 6 seed Oregon State. Fending off the pesky Beavers for most of the game, Arizona used a 13-2 run late in the first half to hold a 36-26 edge at the break.

The Beavers hung around in the second, but came no closer than seven points for the remainder of the game. OSU began fouling the Wildcats in the final 1:45, and Arizona responded by hitting 9-for-10 from the free throw line down the stretch.

Krista Warren put up a game-high 20 points, and the Cats got 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds from Shawntinice Polk, her 20th double-double of the season.

On Mar. 9 in the semifinals, Arizona used a stifling defense and shot 53.6 percent from the floor to drill No. 25 Washington, 74-51. Finding themselves down, 14-9, midway through the first half, the Cats put on a massive 22-5 run over the remainder of the period and held a 31-19 lead at the break.

The Cats didn't let down at the start of the second half, either. They opened the period with a 10-3 spurt that extended their lead to 19 points (41-22) with 15:47 to play. UW got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way, as the Cats went on to log their biggest win over Washington since 1999.

Shawntinice Polk shot a blazing 10-for-13 from the floor on her way to a game-high 22 points and six rebounds. Krista Warren added 14 points and six rebounds, and Dee-Dee Wheeler had 15 points and a game-high-tying seven boards.

In the championship game on Mar. 10, the Wildcats dug themselves an unfortunate 20-point hole early in the game and fell to top seed Stanford, 59-49. The Cardinal started the game with a 33-13 burst that gave them all the cushion they needed for the win. The Cats managed to get to within four points midway through the second half, but they never quite made it over the hump. Wheeler led the Cats with 13 points in the game.

Krista Warren, Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk were named to the All-Tournament Team.

HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 68 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts have happened this season alone.

GETTING IT DONE: After a 12-game mid-season stretch that saw her average just 8.9 points per game, Krista Warren has really stepped up her production over the last five contests, averaging a solid 14.0 points per contest. Against Oregon State on Mar. 8, she reached the 20-point mark for the first time since scoring a career-high 25 points at Stanford on Dec. 29.

TAKING DOWN THE RANKED TEAMS: The Wildcats have beaten four ranked teams this season, the most wins over Top 25 teams since beating four ranked squads in 1997-98.

CATS IN THE RANKINGS THIS YEAR: Arizona has been ranked in the AP poll for 15 of the last 16 weeks and currently stands at No. 22 in that poll. The Wildcats have been ranked as high as No. 18 (Jan. 6) this season, and the only time they dropped out was the week of Feb. 3, after their split at the Oregon schools the previous weekend.

In the WBCA/ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, Arizona has been ranked for 15 straight weeks, currently holding down the No. 22 spot. Its highest ranking in this poll was No. 18 in the Jan. 6 edition. The Cats held steady in the Coaches' Poll at No. 24 for three straight weeks from Feb. 17 through Mar. 3 before rising two spots last week.

LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 12 of its last 17 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games last season but are just 6-5 on TV this year.

THE SIX-GAME WIN STREAK: From Feb. 16 to Mar. 9, Arizona won six games in a row, the Cats' longest win streak of the season and the longest streak the UA has had since winning seven in a row midway through the 2000-01 season. The Wildcats won each of those six games by spreads of 14 points or more, with an average margin of victory of 17.2 points per game. The Cats also outscored opponents, 101-54, from the free throw line during that six-game stretch, making an average of almost eight more free throws per game than their opponents.

WILDCATS WIN PAC-10 AWARDS: Shawntinice Polk was named the 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, marking the second year in a row that a Wildcat has earned that award. Polk was also named to the All-Pac-10 Team and to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. Dee-Dee Wheeler was selected to the All-Pac-10 Team for the first time in her career, and Natalie Jones was honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.

CATS IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Arizona is leading the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.477), field goal percentage defense (.380) and blocked shots (3.87 bpg). The Cats are second in scoring (73.6 ppg), scoring margin (+10.8 ppg), rebounding (39.4 rpg), assists (17.20 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.93).

Individually, Shawntinice Polk is leading the league in rebounding (10.6 rpg), field goal percentage (.622) and blocked shots (2.57 bpg) and is third in scoring (17.5 ppg). Julie Brase is the conference leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.95) and is third in assists (4.17 apg). Krista Warren is second in field goal percentage (.590), and Dee-Dee Wheeler is sixth in scoring (16.5 ppg) and in steals (2.10 spg).

CATS IN THE NATIONAL STATS: In the NCAA statistics through games of Mar. 10, Shawntinice Polk was eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.622), while teammate Krista Warren was 13th in the same category (.590). Polk was also 12th in blocked shots (2.6 bpg) and 13th in rebounding (10.6 rpg). Polk was the only freshman among the top 25 rebounders in the nation. Polk's school-record nine blocked shots against Cal on Mar. 1 has tied as the second-best single-game performance in the nation this year.

In the NCAA team stats, Arizona was seventh in the nation in field goal percentage (.477) and 21st in assists per game (17.2 apg).

TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE PAC-10 STATS: In conference action only, Arizona was the top team in the league in scoring defense (61.7 ppg), scoring margin (+11.9 ppg), field goal percentage (.481), field goal percentage defense (.373) and blocked shots (4.17 bpg). Arizona was the only team in the Pac-10 that held conference opponents under 40 percent shooting in league play for the season.

In Pac-10 games, Shawntinice Polk was the conference leader in rebounding (9.8 rpg), field goal percentage (.639) and blocked shots (2.78 bpg).

STUFF I STOLE FROM THE PAC-10: Shawntinice Polk is on pace to become the first freshman in Pac-10 history to finish in the league top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. She could also become just the second freshman ever to lead the conference in rebounding and should be the first freshman in six years to top the league in field goal percentage.

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, at least that's the way it's been since January. Over the Cats' last 13 wins, Dee-Dee Wheeler averaged 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and shot 48.4 percent (92-190) from the field, including 38.5 percent (20-52) from three-point range. On the season, Arizona is 9-0 when Dee-Dee Wheeler reaches the 20-point mark.

In the Wildcats' last five losses, Wheeler averaged only 13.2 ppg and 4.2 rpg. She shot just 35.4 percent (28-79) from the field and a mere 23.5 percent (8-34) from beyond the arc.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: The Wildcats are 16-3 this season when out-rebounding their opponents... They are 5-5 when being out-rebounded... The Cats are 21-5 when holding their opponents to 73 points or less... Arizona is 20-2 when scoring 70 or more points... The Cats are 22-3 this year when shooting better than their opponent from the floor but are 0-5 when shooting worse... Arizona is 14-2 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring but is only 8-6 when three or fewer players get to double figures... The Wildcats are 11-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

CATS BREAK SCHOOL BLOCKS RECORD: As a team, the Wildcats have set a new school record for single-season blocked shots, with 116. The old record was 102 set by the 2000-01 squad.

DON'T LIKE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE: The Wildcats have had a rough time in road games this season, especially since the start of Pac-10 play. Arizona went just 4-5 in Pac-10 road games and lost four of its last six road contests in conference action.

Struggling on the road has become a disturbing trend for Arizona over the last few seasons. Since the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats are just 16-22 when playing on the road, including a paltry 10-17 mark in Pac-10 road games. The last time the Cats had a decent road record was in 1999-2000, when they were 9-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 away games.

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 31-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 148-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 108-14 when topping that 80-point plateau.

FREE THROW WOES: The Wildcats have really struggled from the free throw line this season. They are shooting a paltry 62.7 percent (318-507) from the stripe and have shot better than 60 percent in only 14 games.

This is unusual for a Bonvicini-coached team at Arizona. No UA team has ever shot below 65 percent since Bonvicini's arrival in 1991-92, and the Cats hit 70 percent or better from the line in three of the last four seasons. Last year's team drained a sizzling 74.0 percent of its charity shots.

BUT WE'RE GETTING BETTER...: The positive is that, after shooting just 57.3 percent (130-227) from the line over the first 15 games of the season, the Wildcats have hit 66.8 percent (177-265) of their free throws over the last 14 contests. The Cats shot a season-high 85.0 percent (17-20) from the line when they played at USC on Feb. 16.

DOUBLING UP: As a team, the Cats have tallied 24 double-doubles this season, setting a new school record for most double-doubles in a season. The old mark was 22 double-doubles, set by the 1981-82 squad.

GOING POLLING: Nine of the 19 opponents on the Cats' 2002-03 schedule were either ranked or received votes for ranking in the most recent polls.

In this week's Associated Press Top 25, LSU is ranked No. 3, Stanford is No. 9, Georgia is No. 19 and Ohio State is No. 20. Washington and New Mexico were among teams that received votes for ranking.

In this week's WBCA/ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, LSU is No. 3, Stanford is No. 9, Georgia is No. 20 and Ohio State is No. 23. New Mexico, Washington, Pepperdine, Notre Dame and UCLA all received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: In Pac-10 regular-season play, Arizona gave up an average of 8.3 more points per game in the second half than in the first... The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by 20 boards or more in three games this season... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 374-427 (.467) all-time record, however it is 178-91 (.662) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 208-112 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 13-1 in home games, 7-6 on the road and 2-1 in neutral contests this season. Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.

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