WHAT'S HAPPENING: In the midst of a stretch that will see it play five out of six games on the road, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (9-2 overall) will receive a brief respite from travelling this week. The Wildcats return home to take on Kansas on Friday, Dec. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the McKale Center. The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP: 22 Veranda James F 6-3 Fr. Pomona, CA 16.2 ppg 9.7 rpg 1.3 apg 35 Krista Warren F/G 6-2 So. Cloverdale, CA 10.5 ppg 5.5 rpg 1.9 apg 45 Elizabeth Pickney F 6-4 Jr. Houston, TX 15.2 ppg 6.3 rpg 1.0 bpg 10 Reshea Bristol G 5-10 Sr. Omaha, NE 13.5 ppg 5.8 rpg 6.4 apg 33 Tysell Bozeman G 5-8 Jr. Riverside, CA 11.0 ppg 5.2 rpg 3.4 apg
OFF THE BENCH: (in numerical order) 4 Candice Allen G 5-10 Fr. Ontario, CA 6.0 ppg 2.0 rpg 1.2 apg 13 Aimee Grzyb G 5-7 Fr. San Jose, CA 8.5 ppg 2.0 rpg 2.4 apg 14 Jen Chesney G 6-0 Fr. Newberg, OR 1.3 ppg 1.3 rpg 50 LaKeisha Taylor C 6-4 Jr. Houston, TX 8.6 ppg 6.0 rpg 51 Michelle Mitchell C 6-4 Jr. Oregon City, OR 1.4 ppg 1.6 rpg
ABOUT ARIZONA: Winners of eight of their last nine games, the Wildcats moved to 9-2 on the season with a runner-up finish at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico last week. The Cats lost a close one (69-66) to ninth-ranked Auburn on Dec. 19, then recovered to pummel host team Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (105-41) and Nebraska (79-68). The Wildcats are not currently ranked, but they are receiving multiple votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. Freshman forward Veranda James, who missed the three games in Puerto Rico, still holds the team's top averages in both scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.7). Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is second in both, averaging 15.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Senior guard Reshea Bristol follows at 13.5 ppg and has a team-best 6.4 assists per game average. Junior guard Tysell Bozeman is registering 11.0 ppg and 5.2 rpg, followed by sophomore wing Krista Warren with 10.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg. Junior center LaKeisha Taylor is coming off a career weekend and has boosted her averages to 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Through games of Dec. 21, Arizona led the Pac-10 in scoring, scoring margin, rebounding, rebounding margin, assists and turnover margin. Individually, Reshea Bristol was leading the conference in assists, was third in steals and third in three-pointers made per game. LaKeisha Taylor was second in field goal percentage
ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks are 6-3 overall after snapping a two-game losing skid with a record-setting 116-34 pounding of Mississippi Valley State at home on Dec. 21. Kansas is not ranked but is receiving votes in the Coaches Poll. With 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, senior forward Jaclyn Johnson is leading Kansas in both categories. Fellow senior Brooke Reves is the only other Jayhawk averaging in double digits in scoring, standin second in both categories with averages of 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Kansas has five other players posting averages of 6.0 ppg or better. Kansas head coach Marian Washington (West Chester State, 1970) holds a 529-260 mark in 28 years at the helm of the Jayhawk program.
THE SERIES vs. KANSAS: The Jayhawks have the narrow 2-1 edge in the series with Arizona, including a win over the Wildcats last season in Lawrence. In that game, Arizona saw its school-record-tying 9-0 start come to an end on Dec. 21, 1999, with a narrow 71-68 loss to then-23rd-ranked Kansas. The Cats came out firing in the first half, running out to a 13-point (19-6) lead by the 11:53 mark. Kansas pushed back to within five, but then the UA exploded on a 12-2 run that spread the lead to 16 (36-20). Then Kansas finished the half on a 6-0 run that set up its momentum for the second period. Arizona scored the first bucket of the second half but then saw its lead dwindle to nothing as the Jayhawks went on a 21-9 spurt to tie up the game at 47-all at the 11;53 mark. Kansas gained its first lead of the night with just under seven minutes remaining and used a 14-4 run to put the Cats away for good. Reshea Bristol tallied 15 points and four rebounds off the bench, and Elizabeth Pickney had six points and three rebounds. The Cats committed 27 turnovers in the game, including 17 costly miscues in the second half alone.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: Forced to come from as many as 10 points behind, Arizona defeated Nebraska, 79-68, on Dec. 21 to finish as the runner-up at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. The two teams traded buckets early on, until Nebraska used a seven-point run to gain the 13-7 advantage. Arizona scrapped back to within one (25-24) at the 5:43 mark, then traded baskets with Nebraska until the Huskers ended the period with an 11-5 spurt over the final four minutes. NU took the 37-32 edge into the break. Nebraska opened the second half with a 14-9 run, pushing its lead out to its largest of the game at 10 points (51-41) with just over 13 minutes remaining in the contest. That's when Arizona turned its pressure up a notch and went on a 13-2 run to take the one-point (54-53) lead at the 8:41 mark. The Huskers then registered five unanswered points to push back out to a 58-54 lead. Arizona answered that mini-spurt by out-scoring the Huskers 25-10 over the remainder of the game. Elizabeth Pickney finished with five rebounds and 19 points, including a 9-of-12 performance from the charity stripe. Fueled by 10-of-14 shooting from the line, Reshea Bristol finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Candice Allen added 13 points, while LaKeisha Taylor contributed 10 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Taylor and Bristol were named to the All-Tournament Team.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Wildcats hit the road again next weekend to tip off Pac-10 play in the Bay Area. Arizona plays at California on Thursday, Jan. 4, then the Cats are at Stanford on Saturday, Jan. 6. Game time both days is 7:30 p.m. PST. The Stanford contest will be broadcast locally in the Bay Area on Bay TV. After their Bay Area trip, the Cats return home to face the Washington schools on Jan. 11 and 13.
BY THE NUMBERS: Seven of Arizona's wins this year have been by a total of 10 points or more... Four of those wins have been by spreads of 30 points or more... The Cats have hit four or more 3-pointers in nine games... Arizona has had 15 or more assists in seven games... The Cats have had 10 or more steals in six games... Arizona has forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in seven contests.
HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: In her 10th year at the helm of the Arizona women's basketball program, head coach Joan Bonvicini has collected an unparalleled list of accomplishments, both for the university and for her career. Bonvicini has posted a 168-107 (.611) mark in 10 seasons at Arizona and has more wins at the UA than all six of the previous Wildcat coaches combined. In 22 years as a collegiate head coach, Bonvicini has a 493-178 (.735) career record. She also has a 23-14 mark in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game in 14 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.
COUNTDOWN TO 500: Joan Bonvicini is only seven wins away from reaching the 500-victory mark for her career.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach two years ago, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1991) is in her ninth year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and a perimeter coach. Third-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 second year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved with scouting and with coaching the post players.
DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 85-77 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 51-21 league mark over the last four seasons combined.
ARIZONA'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Here is the upcoming practice schedule for the Wildcats...
Sat. Dec. 23-Mon., Dec. 25 - OFF Tues. Dec. 26 7-9:30 p.m. McKale Wed. Dec. 27 4:30-7 p.m. (lifting after) McKale Thurs. Dec. 28 3-5:30 p.m. Bear Down Fri. Dec. 29 vs. Kansas, 6:30 p.m. Sat. Dec. 30 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Bear Down Sun. Dec. 31 OFF Mon. Jan. 1 3-5:30 p.m. (lifting after) McKale Tues. Jan. 2 3-5:30 p.m. McKale
WHAT A GAME!: During the Dec. 20 contest against UPR-Mayaguez at the San Juan Shootout, Arizona set a new school record for margin of victory by defeating the Bulldogs, 105-41, a margin of 63 points. That surpassed the previous record if 56 points (99-43) set only 12 days earlier against Bowling Green on Dec. 8. Arizona's 105 points in that contest is its highest offensive output since scoring 105 points against Sacramento State at home on Dec. 17, 1994. The 41 points scored by the Bulldogs is the best defensive effort since the Cats allowed Cal Poly-SLO to score only 39 on Jan. 9, 1996, in Tucson. The Cats also out-rebounded the Bulldogs by 24 (46-22), the best rebounding margin since the UA out-rebounded Sacramento State by 31 (59-28) during that Dec. 17, 1994 game.
BREAKING IN: Against UNLV on Dec. 6, Wildcat senior guard Reshea Bristol broke into the UA's all-time top 20 scoring list. She currently stands in 16th place with 911 points, needing just 14 points to move into the No. 15 spot. Bristol is only 89 points away from becoming the ninth Wildcat to reach the 1,000-point mark in career scoring. Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is the most recent addition to the UA's top 20 scoring list, joining that elite group during the Nebraska game on Dec. 21. With 912 career points, she has bumped former teammate Angela Lackey out of the No. 20 spot and needs only 57 points to move up into the No. 19 position.
TOUGH EARLY GAMES: The season is still young, but the Wildcats have already played six teams which competed in last year's NCAA tournament. Still ahead on the non-conference slate is one more NCAA tourney team -- Kansas. Both of Arizona's losses this year have come at the hands of top-10 teams. The Cats lost to No. 5 Notre Dame (95-65) on Nov. 20, then fell to No. 9 Auburn (69-66) on Dec. 19.
ARIZONA IN THE RANKINGS: Although the Wildcats are not currently nationally ranked, they did receive votes for ranking in both of the most recent polls. In the Dec. 18 AP poll, the Cats earned 26 votes, their highest vote total of the season so far. They picked up 42 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
CRASHING THE BOARDS: The Wildcats are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 7.4 boards per game this year. The best rebounding margin of the season so far was against UPR-Mayaguez on Dec. 20, when the Cats out-rebounded the Bulldogs by 24. Individually, freshman Veranda James grabbed a team season-high 16 boards against Rice on Nov. 28. That's the highest individual single-game rebound total for any player since then-freshman Adia Barnes pulled down 18 against Arizona State on Jan. 7, 1995.
GETTING TO THE LINE: Arizona is averaging 20.2 points per game from the free throw line so far this season. The Cats have made it to the free throw line 324 times over 11 games, for an average of 29.5 attempts per contest. The Wildcats have connected on 222 of those attempts (68.5 percent).
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 11 of their last 12 home games and are 29-6 on their home court over the last three seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 10 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 98-41 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has a record of 164-149 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
STRONG SCHEDULE: Several of Arizona's 2001 opponents were listed in last week's national rankings. In the Dec. 18 Associated Press Top 25, Notre Dame was No. 3, Auburn was No. 9, Stanford was No. 14 and Oregon was No. 23. Oregon State and USC were among teams receiving votes for ranking. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, Notre Dame was No. 3, Auburn was No. 12, Stanford was No. 19 and Oregon was No. 21. Kansas, Oregon State and USC were among the teams receiving votes.
CHECKING THE RECORD BOOK: Senior guard Reshea Bristol is fourth on the Arizona career list in free throws made (266), fourth in steals (198), fourth in free throws attempted (374), sixth in three-pointers made (61), sixth in three-pointers attempted (193) and 10th in assists (299). She is in the No. 16 spot on the UA's all-time scoring list, with 911 career points, and needs 14 points to move into the No. 15 spot. Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney is fourth on the career list in blocked shots (77), fifth in free throws made (245), seventh in scoring average (11.3 ppg) and eighth in free throws attempted (326). She just joined the UA all-time top-20 scoring list, currently holding down the No. 20 spot with 812 career points. She needs 57 points to move to No. 19.
WE CAN HANDLE THE CLOSE ONES...: Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Cats have gone 26-20 in games settled by five points or less, including a 9-4 mark in games settled by one or two points.
...BUT WE REALLY PREFER THE BLOWOUTS: Over the last 10 seasons, Bonvicini's Arizona teams have won 54 games by spreads of 20 points or more.
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 127-16 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 87-9 when topping that 80-point plateau.
KEYS TO THE WIN: This season, Arizona is... 7-2 when out-rebounding its opponent... 8-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the floor... 8-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 8-1 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring... 7-0 when leading at halftime... 7-1 when forcing more turnover than it commits... 9-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 8-1 when opponents score 71 points or less.
ON LOCATION: Arizona has a 6-0 mark at home this year, is 2-1 on the road and is 1-1 in neutral games. The Wildcats were 12-3 at home last season, 9-4 in road games and 4-0 in neutral contests.
CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 327-397 (.452) all-time record, however it is 131-61 (.682) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 175-91 career record against Pac-10 teams.
WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Cats are currently scheduled to make television appearances for five different games...
Fri., Dec. 29 Kansas Fox Sports Net 6:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 6 at Stanford Bay TV 7:30 p.m. PST
Sat., Feb. 10 at Washington St. Fox Sports Net 1 p.m. PST
Sun., Feb. 18 USC Fox Sports Net 2 p.m.
Thurs., Mar. 1 at Oregon State Fox Sports Northwest (taped delay)
The Mar. 3 (at Oregon) and Mar. 10 (California) contests have been selected as potential TV games. The television status of each contest will be determined approximately 12 days before the specified dates.
OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION: For the first time in the program's history, the Wildcats had four consecutive games of 90 points or more. Arizona defeated UNLV (91-74) on Dec. 6, Bowling Green (99-43) on Dec. 8, Fresno State (92-55) on Dec. 10 and Louisville (90-60) on Dec. 17 to put together the first-ever string of four straight games with offensive outputs of 90+ points.
PICKNEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Dec. 11): Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 4-11. She averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game while leading the Wildcats to a 3-0 record for the week. In the three home victories, she shot a combined .489 from the floor (23-for-47), .824 from the line (14-for-17) and hit her first career three-pointer. This is Pickney's second career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor and Arizona's 20th Player of the Week honor all-time.
DISHING IT OUT: Against UNLV on Dec. 6, senior guard Reshea Bristol racked up a career-high 14 assists. That was the highest single-game assists total for any individual since former Wildcat Brenda Pantoja -- who was on UNLV's bench for that Dec. 6 game as an assistant coach -- collected 14 against Washington State at home on Feb. 29, 1996.
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.
BRASE TO REDSHIRT: Wildcat junior guard Julie Brase will redshirt for the 2000-2001 season after having wrist surgery before the start of the season. Brase played in all 32 games last year, starting 19, and averaged 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
WHAT THE COACHES THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's coaches... 1. Stanford, 2. Oregon, 3. USC, 4. ARIZONA, 5. Arizona State, t6. UCLA, t6. Washington, 8. Oregon State, 9. California, 10. Washington State.
The Pac-10 women's basketball media members picked Arizona to finish fourth, as well.
BUT WE CAN DO BETTER: In each of the previous three years, Arizona has equalled or bettered the Pac-10 coaches' pick for its finish... 2000 - picked fourth, finished tied for second; 1999 - picked fifth, finished fourth; 1998 - picked second, finished tied for second.
CATS INK EARLY SIGNEES: The Arizona women's basketball program signed four players on the first day of the early signing period last week. Forwards Danielle Adefeso (Santa Monica, CA/St. Monica HS) and Shawntinice Polk (Hanford, CA/Hanford HS) and guards Robin Roberson (Berkeley, CA/Berkeley HS) and Dee Dee Wheeler (Chicago, IL/Dunbar HS) will all join the Wildcats for the 2001-02 season.
PAC-10 APPROVES CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS: The Pacific-10 Conference Chief Executive Officers have approved the establishment of men's and women's post-season basketball tournaments. The men's tournament will be an eight-team event to be staged at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The women's tournament will be a 10-team event hosted on campus by one of the Pac-10 members. Both tournaments will begin in March 2002. In each case, the winner of the Tournament will earn the Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. The Conference previously conducted a men's tournament following the 1987 through 1990 seasons. It has never sponsored a similar event for women.
OREGON TO HOST FIRST TOURNAMENT: Oregon has been selected as the first school to host the Pac-10 women's basketball tournament. The historical event will take place in March 2002 on the UO campus.
1999-2000 IN REVIEW: After returning 10 letterwinners and all five starters from the previous year's squad, the 1999-2000 Wildcats utilized their depth and experience to roll to a 25-7 overall mark, setting a new school record for most wins in a season. The Cats garnered a 13-5 record in Pac-10 play, finishing in a tie for second with Stanford. Arizona opened the season with a nine-game win streak and went on to register an 11-1 mark in non-conference action. By winning their first Pac-10 game to improve to 12-1, the Cats tied the school record for the best start in the history of the program. Pac-10 play brought about several historical moments as well. With wins at Washington State and Washington during the second weekend of January, the Cats earned their first-ever road sweep of the Washington schools. They repeated the feat during the final weekend of the regular season, recording their first-ever road sweep of Stanford and California. The Wildcats earned their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament berth, ending up as the No. 8 seed in the Mideast Region. Arizona travelled to Knoxville, Tenn., where it downed No. 9 seed Kent, 73-61, in the first round of the tournament. The Cats faced No. 1 seed and eventual national runner-up Tennessee in the second round and put up a valiant fight, only to fall, 75-60. The UA set or tied 23 school records during the season, including most wins in a season (25), highest winning percentage (.781), most three-point field goals made in a season (162) and most points in a season (2,484). The Wildcats were ranked 21st in the final Associated Press Poll of the year and were 20th in the last USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Arizona finished the year as the Pac-10 leader in scoring (77.6 ppg), scoring margin (+9.9 ppg) and assists (17.94 apg). The Cats were second in three-point field goal percentage (.379), rebounding margin (+4.3 rpg), steals (10.31 spg), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.89) and 3-point field goals made (5.06 per game).
ON THE INDIVIDUAL FRONT: With 12.7 points per game, forward Angela Lackey finished as Arizona's leading scorer for the second straight year. She was second in rebounding, at 5.3 per game. Fellow forward Tatum Brown was second in scoring, with 12.4 points per game, and was the team's top rebounder, with 7.7 boards per contest. Forward Elizabeth Pickney was third in both categories, averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Guards Lisa Griffith (8.9 ppg), Reshea Bristol (8.6 ppg), Felecity Willis (7.8 ppg) and Julie Brase (6.1 ppg) followed on the scoring chart. Willis was the team's assists leader, at 5.3 per game, while Griffith had the highest steals average, at 2.1 per game. Tatum Brown ended the season as the Pac-10 leader in field goal percentage (.590) and was third in rebounding (7.7 rpg). Felecity Willis was third in the league in assists (5.28 apg), and Lisa Griffith was fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.420).