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UA Women's Basketball Faces Tough Competition in Opening Weekend
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/19/2002
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Nov. 19, 2002

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (0-0 overall, 0-0 Pac-10) will play two games in four days against some very tough competition to open the 2002-03 season. On Friday, Nov. 22, the Wildcats will officially tip off the season with a home game against No. 3 Louisiana State at 7 p.m. in the McKale Center. Three days later, the Cats will be on the road for the first time this season, playing at Pepperdine on Monday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m. PST.

POSSIBLE 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.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, Fr., Anchorage, Alaska)

OFF THE BENCH: (in numerical order)
#4 - Candice Allen (G, 5-10, Jr., Ontario, Calif.)
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, Fr., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, Fr., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#20 - Julie Brase (G, 5-10, Sr., Tucson, Ariz.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, Fr., Glengowrie, So. Australia)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Jr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) - not eligible until January
#32 - Svjetlana Papcevic (F, 6-2, Jr., Sarajevo, Bosnia)
#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 won both their exhibition games by an average of 25 points per game. They defeated TJ MUS CZ Strakonice, 90-69, on Nov. 11, then pounded Team Concept, 100-72, on Nov. 17 to prepare for the start of the season.

During exhibition play, the scoring was evenly distributed, with five Wildcats averaging in double digits. Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler led Arizona with an average of 22.0 points per game. Redshirt freshman center Shawntinice Polk averaged 16.0 ppg and had a team-best average of 13.0 rebounds per game. Senior forward Krista Warren was third in scoring (14.5 ppg) and was second in rebounding (8.5 rpg).

Junior guard Aimee Grzyb averaged 14.0 ppg in the two exhibitions, while freshman guard Natalie Jones posted 10.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg. Freshman forward Phakisha Peterson had averages of 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, and fellow freshman CoCoa Sanford registered 4.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg.

The Wildcats return seven letterwinners, including four starters, from last season's 14-14 squad. Two redshirt freshmen, two transfers and four true freshmen comprise this year's class of eight newcomers. Such an infusion of "new blood" should bode well for the Cats, who remain in the hunt for a return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

ARIZONA'S RECENT HISTORY vs. RANKED TEAMS: The Wildcats beat three of the last six nationally ranked teams they played. Their last win over a ranked team came on Nov. 24, 2001, when the Cats slipped past then-No. 15 Notre Dame at home, 72-70. Stanford was the only other ranked team Arizona faced last year, and the Cats lost both matchups. The highest-ranked team the Wildcats have ever beaten was then-No. 7 Washington on Jan. 10, 1998. Themselves ranked No. 10 at the time, the Cats drilled the Huskies, 93-62, in that game.

SCOUTING LOUISIANA STATE: Ranked No. 3 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 4 in the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll, LSU returns eight letterwinners and all five starters from last year's squad that went 18-12 overall and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers are coming off exhibition wins over a Czech team (113-60) on Nov. 8 and over the Houston Jaguars (90-45) on Nov. 14.

Averaging 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, senior center Aiysha Smith led LSU in both categories last season. Junior guard Doneeka Hodges was the Tigers' second-leading scorer, with 15.3 ppg, followed by junior guard Temeka Johnson with 11.1 ppg. Johnson, who was an honorable mention All-American in 2002, also averaged 7.7 assists per game. Freshman guard Seimone Augustus was widely regarded as the best high school player in the nation last season.

In her 21st season at LSU, head coach Sue Gunter (Peabody College, 1962) has a 385-209 record. She is 651-296 in 39 years as a head coach.

THE SERIES vs. LSU: Arizona won the only previous meeting with LSU, 71-62, on Dec. 2, 1994, in the first round of the Wildcats' own Copper Bowl Classic in Tucson.

SCOUTING PEPPERDINE: The Waves received votes in this week's AP poll and in the preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll, and they were ranked as high as No. 22 (Street & Smith's) in other preseason polls. Pepperdine also logged wins in its exhibition games against The Masters College (102-68) on Nov. 2 and against Love & Basketball (86-64) on Nov. 16. The Waves will face Xavier at home in their season opener on Friday before taking on the Wildcats on Monday.

Pepperdine returns 10 letterwinners, including three starters, from a 2002 team that went 23-8 overall and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Senior guard Damaris Hinojosa is the Waves' top returning scorer, with an average of 13.6 ppg. Junior guard Shandrika Lee averaged 10.2 ppg last year, and senior guard Tamara McDonald posted 8.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg.

Waves head coach Mark Trakh (Long Beach State, 1981) brings a 160-102 record into his 10th season at the helm of the PU program.

THE SERIES vs. PEPPERDINE: Arizona has a 4-2 lead in the series with Pepperdine, including a streak of four straight wins. The Wildcats haven't lost to the Waves since Jan. 8, 1985, when Pepperdine logged a 79-73 win in Tucson. The first four games of the series were all played between 1982 and 1986, so it was 15 years before the two teams faced one another again on Mar. 15, 2001. The Cats won that game, 85-65, during the first round of the WNIT in Tucson.

LAST MEETING WITH PEPPERDINE: Five Wildcats reached double digits in scoring as Arizona slipped past Pepperdine, 81-77, in the season opener at home on Nov. 18, 2001.

The Cats jumped out to a quick 22-8 lead in the first seven minutes of the game before Pepperdine responded with 10 unanswered points, cutting the lead to four (22-18) at 10:08. Arizona out-scored the Waves, 27-14, over the remainder of the half and took a 49-32 lead into the break.

Arizona stretched its lead to 24 (56-32) within the first minute-and-half of the second, then seemed to go cold from the floor as Pepperdine put on a massive 41-16 surge and took a one-point (73-72) lead at 1:25. Julie Brase nailed a three-pointer for the Cats with just a minute remaining to give the UA a 75-73 edge.

Pepperdine answered with a bucket of its own, tying the game at 75-all with just 45 seconds to go. The Waves put Krista Warren at the line, where she nailed both her free throws to send Arizona ahead by two (77-75). Pepperdine then put Wildcat Dee-Dee Wheeler at the line, and the freshman coolly drained a pair of free throws to give the UA a four-point (79-75) lead with only 16 seconds left in the game.

The Waves notched another basket with just eight seconds remaining, then sent Elizabeth Pickney to the charity stripe with five seconds left. She hit both her attempts to give the Cats the final four-point spread.

Brase led all scorers with her 18 points and seven assists. Wheeler nailed 15 points off the bench, and Pickney had 12 points and six rebounds. Warren grabbed 11 rebounds while contributing nine points. Guards Aimee Grzyb and Candice Allen had 10 points each, with Grzyb collecting six rebounds and Allen snagging four steals.

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION: Leading the Cats with 22 points for the second straight game, sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler propelled Arizona to a 100-72 win over Team Concept in an exhibition game at home on Nov. 17.

Getting off to a slow start, the Cats found themselves down by three (6-3) after more than three minutes of action. They responded with a 15-2 run that sent them ahead by 10 points (20-10) at 12:36. Team Concept scrapped back to within seven points midway through the period, then Arizona exploded with a 27-8 run to gain a 26-point (49-23) lead with 2:43 to go in the half. The Wildcats took a 51-30 advantage into halftime.

Arizona opened the second half with a 14-5 spurt, going ahead by 30 points, but then entered a lull where Team Concept cut the lead to 20 points at 12:17 and again at 10:55. The Wildcats turned up the pressure and out-scored Team Concept, 27-15, over the next nine minutes to gain a 32-point (99-67) lead with 1:45 to play. Freshman forward CoCoa Sanford hit a free throw with five seconds left in the game to send the Cats over the century mark.

Wheeler finished with her game-high 22 points and added four steals and a trio of assists. Freshman center Shawntinice Polk had a double-double by halftime and spent much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble, but she still finished with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Senior forward Krista Warren logged a double-double as well, with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Aimee Grzyb added 14 points and three rebounds, while freshman forward Phakisha Peterson had nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. Sanford finished the game with seven points and four rebounds, and junior forward Svjetlana Papcevic contributed eight points.

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

Just beginning her 12th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 193-131 (.596) mark at Arizona and is 518-202 (.719) 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 103-94 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 69-39 league mark over the last six seasons combined.

THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach in 1998, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1992) is in her 11th year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and a perimeter coach. In his fourth 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. Assistant coach Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983) was just added to the Wildcat staff last February, and her duties include recruiting, scouting and floor work with the players.

THE LITTLEST WILDCAT: Associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello was certainly busy during the off-season! On April 9, 2002, she gave birth to Zachary Robert Ianello, the first child for Denise and her husband Rob, who is the UA football recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach.

LOOKING AHEAD: After Thanksgiving, the Cats will face No. 8 Georgia at home on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 4 p.m. in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net. The Wildcats will remain at home to play host to Illinois, North Texas and UC Riverside for the 12th annual Fiesta Bowl Women's Basketball Classic on Saturday, Dec. 7, and Sunday, Dec. 8. Game times both days will be 1 and 3:30 p.m.

CALL HER POLKEY: At her request, Shawntinice Polk would appreciate being called "Polkey" (single-name reference only) as much as possible.

GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program's helm, the Wildcats have won seven straight season openers and nine in the 11 years she has been at the UA.

CATS SIGN TWO DURING EARLY PERIOD: On the first two days of the early signing period, the Wildcats signed a pair of post players to National Letters-of-Intent. Forwards Rachael Schein (Las Vegas, Nev./Centennial HS) and Shannon Hobson (Perris, Calif./Perris HS) will join the Wildcats for the 2003-04 season.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Arizona has a pretty tough slate on tap for this season. According to the preseason WBCA/Summerville RPI, Arizona's non-conference schedule alone ranks 13th out of the 324 women's basketball teams nationwide. The Cats' overall schedule strength, including Pac-10 games, ranks 49th.

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

In the Associated Press Top 25, LSU was ranked No. 3, Stanford was No. 5 and Georgia was No. 8. USC, Washington, Oregon, Ohio State, New Mexico and Pepperdine were all among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, LSU was No. 4, Stanford was No. 6 and Georgia was No. 9. Oregon, Washington, Ohio State, USC, New Mexico, UNLV, Pepperdine and Arizona State all received votes for ranking.

LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Arizona garnered a perfect 6-0 record in televised games last season. During those contests, the Cats averaged 84.5 points per game, out-scored their opponents by an average of 16.3 ppg and shot 46.5 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from three-point range and 82.8 percent from the free throw line.

That should bode well for the Cats this year, as they have at least five contests already scheduled for broadcast and have the potential for two more to be picked up by television before the season is over.

CHECKING THE RECORD BOOK: Wildcat senior Julie Brase is third in on the UA career list in three-point percentage (.369), tied for sixth in career three-pointers made (83) and is seventh in three-pointers attempted (225).

Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is fourth in career three-point percentage (.362), fourth in three-pointers made (100) and fourth in three-pointers attempted (276).

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Although the McKale Center has historically been kind to the Cats, they logged six losses at home last season, their most losses in McKale since the 1994-95 team dropped seven home games.

The Wildcats have won 29 of their last 38 home games and are 51-14 on their home court over the last four seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 11 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 116-49 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 182-157 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

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 30-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 140-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 100-14 when topping that 80-point plateau.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 352-419 (.457) all-time record, however it is 156-83 (.653) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 194-107 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.

THE CATS AND PAC-10 OPENERS: Under Joan Bonvicini, Arizona has a 7-4 mark in Pac-10 openers and has won its first conference contest in seven of the last nine years.

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