WHAT'S HAPPENING: In the midst of a six-game homestand, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (21st A.P./23rd USA Today) will seek to continue its perfect start to the season when it faces Colorado State at home on Monday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in the McKale Center. This contest opens a stretch which will see the Wildcats play four games in 10 days.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP: 45 Elizabeth Pickney F 6-4 So. Houston, TX (14.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg) 53 Tatum Brown F 6-4 Sr. Tacoma, WA (13.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) 20 Julie Brase G 5-9 So. Tucson, AZ (8.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg 2.0 apg) 22 Monika Crank G 5-7 Sr. Page, AZ (7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 apg) 23 Felecity Willis G 5-7 Sr. Apple Valley, CA (8.6 ppg, 6.2 apg, 1.8 spg)
OFF THE BENCH (listed alphabetically): 33 Tysell Bozeman G 5-8 So. Riverside, CA (0.7 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg) 10 Reshea Bristol G 5-10 Jr. Omaha, NE (4.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.2 spg) 3 Lisa Griffith G 5-6 Sr. Portland, OR (8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.0 apg) 34 Angela Lackey F 6-0 Sr. Louisville, KY (12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 spg) 51 Michelle Mitchell C 6-4 So. Oregon City, OR (1.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) 21 Jamie Sturdivant G 5-7 Fr. Simi Valley, CA (0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg) 50 LaKeisha Taylor C 6-4 So. Houston, TX (3.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg) 35 Krista Warren G 6-2 Fr. Cloverdale, CA (2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
ABOUT ARIZONA: The 21st-ranked Wildcats maintained their perfect mark this week, moving to 5-0 with an 86-76 upset of 15th-ranked UC Santa Barbara at home on Tuesday night. As of Dec. 1, Arizona was one of only 35 Divison I women's basketball teams remaining undefeated on the season.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney is leading the Cats in scoring, with her 14.6 points per game, and is second in rebounding at 5.4 per game. Senior forward Tatum Brown is a very close second in the scoring category, averaging 13.8 ppg, and is the team's top rebounder at 5.8 per game.
Senior forward Angela Lackey is third in both scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (4.5 rpg). Three other players -- senior guards Felecity Willis (8.6 ppg) and Lisa Griffith (8.2) and sophomore guard Julie Brase (8.4) -- are all averaging better than eight points per game. Willis is leading the squad in assists (6.2 apg), while junior guard Reshea Bristol is tops in steals, with 2.2 per game.
GREAT START: Arizona's perfect 5-0 start by far outweighs last year's 3-2 beginning and ties the 1997-98 team's start of 5-0. The best start in the program's history was 9-0 by the 1995-96 team.
ABOUT COLORADO STATE: On a four-game win streak, the Rams improved their record to 4-1 on the season after a 73-67 win over Colorado at home on Wednesday night. Colorado State, which just wrapped up a season-opening five-game homestand, will play at Northern Arizona on Saturday before facing the Cats on Monday. Although the Rams are not ranked right now, they did receive votes for ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this week.
Three Rams are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by junior forward Heather Haanen with 14.6 points per game. Senior guard Jacque Johnson is averaging 12.6 ppg, and freshman forward Ashley Augspurger is posting 10.6 ppg and is the second-leading rebounder, at 5.4 per game. Sophomore forward Angie Gorton is CSU's top rebounder, with 6.4 rpg.
Ram head coach Tom Collen (Bowling Green, 1977) holds a 61-10 record in his third year at the head of the CSU program.
THE SERIES VS. COLORADO STATE: Arizona holds a 5-2 lead in the series with Colorado State. The Cats fell to CSU, 80-70, in Fort Collins on Dec. 27 last year, ending a streak of five straight Arizona victories in the series.
A HISTORY LESSON: Arizona has a 3-4 all-time record in games played on Dec. 6. The UA last played on that date last year, an 85-72 loss to then-2nd-ranked Louisiana Tech in the championship game of the 1998 Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: After abysmal shooting performances in their prior contest, the Wildcats were connecting on everything in an 86-76 upset of 15th-ranked UC Santa Barbara at home on Nov. 30.
The contest was very close through the early portion of the first half, but aided by sizzling 75.9 percent shooting and a 16-2 late run, the Cats managed a 48-37 lead at the break.
The second half was another back-and-forth situation, with the Cats making runs that put them up as much as 16 points (68-52) midway through the period. A furious 24-12 rally by UCSB brought the Gauchos to within four points (80-76) at the 1:17 mark.
The UA stifled the Gaucho comeback, though, when guard Reshea Bristol made a crucial steal with 24 seconds left and then hit a pair of free throws after being fouled in transition. A layup by Tatum Brown and a couple of free throws by Lisa Griffith in the waning seconds of the contest gave the Cats the win.
Brown hit 9-of-12 from the floor en route to a career- and game-high 21 points, while pulling down a team-best seven boards. Julie Brase ran off 14 points and grabbed four rebounds, while Bristol came off the bench to add a season-high 10 points and a game-high four steals.
UCSB is the highest ranked team the Cats have defeated since they garnered a 91-90 victory over 11th-ranked Stanford on Jan. 12, 1998.
LOOKING AHEAD: On Dec. 10 and 12, Arizona will host the ninth annual Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic. Indiana and Middle Tennessee State will play in the first game at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, followed by Arizona and Texas Southern at 8 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 12, the consolation game will be played at 1 p.m., with the championship game following at 3 p.m.
SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT: The Cats shot a school-record 75.9 percent (22-29) from the floor in the first half of the UCSB contest on Nov. 30. For the game, they shot 63 percent (34-54), the highest field goal percentage for any team since the school record was set at 64.3 percent (36-56) against Drake on Nov. 25, 1990.
HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: In nearly a decade at the helm of the University of Arizona's women's basketball program, head coach Joan Bonvicini has collected an unparalleled list of accomplishments, both for the university and for her career.
Now in her ninth year at the UA, Bonvicini has posted a 139-98 (.586) mark and has a 464-169 (.733) record in 20 years as a collegiate head coach. She also has a 22-13 mark 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.
BONVICINI VS. COLORADO STATE: Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini has 1-1 career record against Colorado State.
RACKING UP THE WINS: Joan Bonvicini needs only 20 more victories at the UA to collect as many wins as the six previous Wildcat coaches combined.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach during the summer of 1998, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1991) begins her eighth year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and the perimeter coach. Second-year assistant coach Karen Caires (Cal State Northridge, 1990) works with the perimeter players, assists with scouting and recruiting and directs the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp. In his first year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved primarily with scouting and with coaching the post players.
WEDDING BELLS AND BASKETBALLS... AND FOOTBALLS: Associate head coach Denise Dove married UA football recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach Rob Ianello on July 3 this past summer.
DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 72-72 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 38-16 league mark over the last three seasons combined.
GOIN' DEEP: The best evidence that the UA is a deep squad this season? Lots of people playing lots of minutes. Currently, seven different Wildcats are averaging more than 20 minutes a game, and two more are seeing over 10 minutes a contest. That's nine players averaging more than double digits in playing time.
ARIZONA'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Here is the upcoming practice schedule for the Wildcats...
Thurs. Dec. 2 2-4:20 p.m. McKale, lifting after Fri. Dec. 3 4:30-7 p.m. McKale Sat. Dec. 4 9-11:30 a.m. McKale, lifting after Sun. Dec. 5 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. McKale Mon. Dec. 6 vs. Colorado State, 7 p.m. McKale Tues. Dec. 7 OFF Wed. Dec. 8 4:30-7 p.m. McKale Thurs. Dec. 9 2-4 p.m. McKale, lifting after Fri. Dec. 10 Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic Sat. Dec. 11 3:30-5 p.m. Bear Down Sun. Dec. 12 Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic
BENCH CONTRIBUTIONS: The UA bench has been quite productive already this season, contributing an average of 29.0 points per game. The highest point total from the bench so far this year was 37 of the Cats' 86 points at Hawai'i on Nov. 21.
STRONG SCHEDULE: There are a lot of quality teams which stand between the Wildcats and a fourth straight NCAA appearance in 2000. This year's slate features eight teams which earned NCAA berths last season, including two schools -- UCLA and Colorado State -- that played one another in the Sweet Sixteen.
Pac-10 foe UCLA is ranked fifth in this week's A.P. poll, while Oregon is 13th, UC Santa Barbara is 15th, Kansas is 18th and Stanford is 20th. Hawai'i received votes for ranking this week.
In this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, UCLA is No. 5, UC Santa Barbara is No. 9, Oregon is No. 15, Kansas is No. 18 and Stanford is No. 21. Colorado State, Louisville, Hawai'i and Oklahoma all received votes.
DUALLY SUCCESSFUL: Eleven schools have both their men's and women's basketball teams ranked among the A.P. Top 25 this week. They are Arizona, North Carolina, Stanford, Connecticut, Kansas, Auburn, UCLA, Illinois, Duke, Tennessee and Purdue.
WE CAN HANDLE THE CLOSE ONES...: Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Cats have gone 23-16 in games settled by five points or less, including a 7-4 mark in games settled by one or two points.
...BUT WE REALLY PREFER THE BLOWOUTS: Over the last nine seasons, Bonvicini's Arizona teams have won 46 games by spreads of 20 points or more.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted an 82-38 mark in McKale Center, including a 51-10 record over the last five seasons combined. Arizona has a record of 149-146 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
KEYS TO THE WIN: This season, Arizona is... 4-0 when out-rebounding its opponent... 5-0 when shooting better than 40% from the field... 5-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 5-0 when three or more players reach double digits in scoring.
80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Seems that the 80-point mark almost always means adding another to the "win" column for the Wildcats. In the 28-year history of Arizona women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 112-15 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 72-8 when topping that 80-point plateau.
ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 2-0 at home this season, 1-0 in road games and 2-0 in neutral contests. Arizona posted an 11-3 mark at home, was 5-8 on the road and notched a 2-0 record in neutral contests last year.
ARIZONA ON THE TUBE: The Wildcats are currently scheduled to make television appearances for four more games...
Tues. Dec. 21 at Kansas Sunflower Cablevision*, 7:05 p.m. CST Sat. Jan. 22 USC Fox Sports Net 2 p.m. Sun. Jan. 30 Arizona State Fox Sports net 2 p.m. Sat. Feb. 19 at UCLA Fox Sports Net 1 p.m. PST (* broadcast in Lawrence, Kan., area on taped-delay basis)CAT SCRATCHES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 14 of its last 17 games... The Cats are forcing opponents to commit an average of four more turnovers per game than the UA... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 298-389 (.434) all-time record, however it is 102-53 (.658) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 162-86 career record against Pac-10 teams.
RECORD WATCH: Lisa Griffith is Arizona's career leader in both three-pointers made (221) and attempted (594). She recently moved up to the #12 spot on the UA's top-20 all-time leading scorers' list, and with 956 career points, she needs only four more points to move into the #11 spot.
Griffith is also on the career top-10 list for games started, coming in at #4 with 86 career starts. She stands at sixth on the career assists list, with 364, and ninth on the career steals chart, with 166.
Felecity Willis is seventh in career three-pointers attempted (150) and eighth in three-pointers made (40). She is holding down fifth place on the all-time assists chart, with her 403 career dishes putting her 16 out of fourth place.
Willis is also on the verge of breaking into Arizona's all-time top 20 scoring list. She has 762 career points, needing only 11 points to join the ranks of the UA's all-time leading scorers.
As only a sophomore, Elizabeth Pickney has already entered the UA's top 10 list for career blocked shots. She stands in seventh place with 44 career blocks.
PICKNEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Nov. 29): Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Nov. 15-28. Pickney averaged 16.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game in the UA's four straight victories to open the season. She shot a team-high .575 (23-40) from the field and .720 (18-25) from the line during that stretch.
Pickney was named the Tournament MVP at the Hawaiian Regent Wahine Classic, leading Arizona to the team title with three wins. In the tourney, she averaged 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
The Player of the Week honor is the first of Pickney's career and the 16th all-time selection for Arizona.
SULTANS OF SWAT: The Wildcats racked up nine blocked shots in the contest against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 20. That is the highest single-game block total since the 1985 squad collected 10 at Tennessee-Chattanooga on Jan. 5, 1985. Elizabeth Pickney had five of the UA's blocked shots against Tennessee Tech, a career high for her.
As a team, Arizona collected 20 blocks over the first four game of the year, the highest block total ever over that stretch in any season.
CATS TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HAWAIIAN REGENT WAHINE CLASSIC: The Wildcats swept through three games in Honolulu on Nov. 19-21 to take the title at the Hawaiian Regent Wahine Classic, hosted by the University of Hawai'i.
Arizona garnered victories over Oklahoma (75-59), Tennessee Tech (87-71) and host team Hawai'i (86-73) to open the 1999-2000 season with a perfect 3-0 mark. Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney averaged 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Cats and was the overwhelming favorite for tournament Most Valuable Player laurels. Senior guard Felecity Willis and senior forward Tatum Brown were named to the All-Tournament Team, as well.
GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program's helm, the Wildcats have won five straight season openers and a total of seven in the nine years she has been at the UA.
In the 28 years of Arizona women's basketball, the Wildcats have won 15 season openers. The UA went on to post winning records in eight of those first 14 seasons.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: For the third year in a row, the Wildcats earned a preseason national ranking. The Cats were ranked 25th in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25, and they were 24th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Preseason Top 25.
The Wildcats were ranked among the top 25 teams in five different "unofficial" preseason polls this fall. The UA's highest ranking in these polls was 13th by Women's Basketball magazine and the lowest was 22nd by both Street & Smith's and the Basketball News Report.
Senior forward Angela Lackey earned preseason third team All-America honors from Lindy's College Basketball and honorable mention All-America laurels from Street & Smith's College Basketball.
FUTURE WILDCATS: On the first day of the early signing period (Nov. 10), Arizona inked a trio of high school recruits from the state of California. The signees were 5-10 guard Candice Allen (Ontario, CA/Ayala HS), 5-7 guard Aimee Grzyb (San Jose, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS) and 6-3 forward Veranda James (Pomona, CA/Ganesha HS). Arizona still has three more scholarships to give for the 2000-2001 season.
WHAT THE COACHES THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's coaches...
1. UCLA 6. Washington 2. Oregon 7. USC 3. Stanford 8. Oregon State 4. ARIZONA 9. California 5. Arizona State 10. Washington State
WHAT THE MEDIA THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's women's basketball media members...
1. UCLA 6. Arizona State 2. Oregon 7. USC 3. Stanford 8. Oregon State 4. ARIZONA 9. California 5. Washington 10. Washington StateTHE CATS AND THE NCAA TOURNEY: Arizona made its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1997, receiving a No. 7 seed in the West Region. The Cats defeated 25th-ranked Western Kentucky in the first round, then went on to scare host and sixth-ranked Georgia (80-74) in the second game.
The 1998 season saw the Cats enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the East Region. The UA swept through the first two games, picking up wins over Santa Clara and Virginia, and made it into the Sweet Sixteen, only to fall to then-third-ranked Connecticut.
Last year, the Cats earned a #6 seed in the Midwest Region, defeating 11th-seeded Florida, 87-84, in overtime to nab yet another first-round win. Arizona fell to #3 seed and ninth-ranked Rutgers, 90-47, in the second round of the tourney.
Arizona has been placed in a different region in each of its three years of NCAA tournament competition.
1998-99 IN REVIEW: Despite losing the squad's only two seniors before the season ever started, the very young 1998-99 Wildcats held their own and came up with an 18-11 overall record. After being picked by both the coaches and the media to finish in fifth place, the UA finished fourth in the Pac-10 with a 12-6 mark.
The Cats faced a rough non-conference schedule that featured three teams which spent most of the season among the top four in the national rankings. Arizona went 5-4 against those non-conference opponents, with quality losses to Purdue, Louisiana Tech and Colorado State and a big road win over UC Santa Barbara.
That tough early slate prepared the Cats for a season of Pac-10 play which showed more parity than it has in years. After getting off to a rocky 1-3 start in league play, the Cats rebounded to finish the season 11-3, with wins over Pac-10 co-champion Oregon and over perennial power Stanford.
The Wildcats then received their third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament, earning a #6 seed in the Midwest Region. The Cats travelled to Piscataway, N.J., for the first- and second-round games, hosted by #3 seed and ninth-ranked Rutgers.
Arizona faced NCAA tourney veteran Florida in the first round of play and defeated the Gators, 87-84, in overtime to move on to the second round for the third straight year. The Cats then took on host Rutgers, only to end the season on a sour note, falling to the Scarlet Knights, 90-47.
For the season, Arizona had its most balanced offense in five years, with four players averaging in double digits in scoring, and ended its season by winning 12 of its final 16 contests. The Cats broke or tied 13 school records this year, including setting new marks in single season free throws made (520) and blocked shots (88).
The Wildcats finished the year as the Pac-10 leader in free throw percentage (.721) and in assist/turnover ratio (0.86). The Cats were second in offense (74.2 ppg), assists (16.59 apg) and turnover margin (+3.79 tpg).
With 14.4 points per game, Angela Lackey led four Wildcats averaging in double digits in scoring. Felecity Willis came in second with her 12.1 ppg scoring average, followed closely by Elizabeth Pickney at 11.4 ppg. Pickney was the team's top rebounder, with 5.8 per game, while Willis was the team's assists leader, averaging 5.5 apg. Lackey was second in rebounding with 5.4 rpg, and Reshea Bristol posted 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.