Jan. 2, 2010
Date: January 3, 2010
Time: 2:00 p.m. (MT)
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.
Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)
Tip Off Time Arizona will be looking to pick up its first conference win of the season when the Wildcats face off with USC on Sunday afternoon at McKale Center. The two teams will meet again at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on the final weekend of the regular season before both squads will be back at the same location one week later for the 2010 Pac-10 Tournament, slated to be held March 11-14 on the USC campus.
Catch the Action: Entering his second season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.
Last Time Out: Despite a 19-0 first-half run that helped erase a 7-0 deficit, Arizona ran into fatigue and a suddenly hot-shooting UCLA team and dropped its Pac-10 opener to the Bruins on Friday afternoon, 67-58. The Bruins hit 12-of-19 shots to finish the game and tallied 33 points over the final 11 minutes of play to battle back from a 7-point second half deficit. Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte led the way for Arizona with 16 points while junior forward Ify Ibekwe posted 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds in the loss. Doreena Campbell led all scorers with 20 points for UCLA while Darxia Morris tossed in 18 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Series Notes: The Women of Troy lead the all-time series over the Wildcats, 45-18. The teams split their two meetings last season with each winning on the home floor of the other. After dropping a 77-71 overtime decision to USC in McKale Center back on January 15, the Wildcats returned the favor at the Galen Center a month later with a 74-61 triumph. Arizona is 10-20 in McKale Center all-time against the Trojans.
Not So Sweet Home: Over the last two seasons, both Arizona and USC have played the spoiler on the home floor of the other in their series. Last season made it back-to-back years in which the road team won both meetings in the series. Arizona also at USC during the 2007-08 campaign, a 64-62 decision, and is 3-1 all-time at the recently-opened Galen Center after picking up a 79-72 victory over Washington State in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on the USC campus last season.
Not So Nice New Year: The month of January has provided a mixed bag for the Wildcats since its first contest during the opening month of the year back in 1975. The Wildcats won that game on January 17, 1975 against Utah, 46-36, but are 104-178 all-time in the month of January. Arizona posted a 32-46 record during the 2000's in the month of January, but finished it with a four-year run going just 6-28 dating back to the 2005-06 campaign. The last winning month of January for the Wildcats came in 2004-05, a 31-day stretch that saw the Cats go 5-4.
Scouting the Trojans: USC brings a 7-5 record into today's game after winning its Pac-10 opener at Arizona State on Friday afternoon, 60-56. The Women of Troy battled back from a 9-point deficit with five minutes to play as Heather Oliver hit a trio of three-pointers to help spark a 13-3 run to claim the victory. Briana Gilbreath led the way for USC with 16 points while Oliver tossed in 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Hailey Dunham tallied 12 points and 8 rebounds as the Trojans tallied 22 points off 23 Sun Devil turnovers. Former Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Sparks head coach Michael Cooper is in his first season in charge of the USC program.
Championship Coaches: Both Arizona head coach Niya Butts and USC head coach Michael Cooper boast resumes that include multiple championships. Butts won a pair of NCAA titles during her collegiate playing days at the University of Tennessee while Cooper won five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s before capturing back-to-back WNBA crowns as the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.
Preseason Picks: Arizona was picked to finish 9th in both the Coaches and Media polls that were released last week. In each vote, the Wildcats were picked to finish ahead of just Washington. Nine-time defending champion Stanford was picked to add another crown to its mantle in both polls. Junior forward Ify Ibekwe was one of five players named to the Preseason All-Pac-10 team after earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and All-Defensive First Team honors last season.
Youth is Served: With just four returning players with Pac-10 experience plus one year of service from Tasha Dickey, Arizona is the fourth-youngest team in all of NCAA Division I. Both Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee Tech return just four seasons of top-level experience while Central Arkansas brings back only five seasons of play. Rounding out the top five was Monmouth, which claims eight seasons.
By The Numbers: Despite their relative youth, the Wildcats still returned a fair amount of its production from the 2008-09 season. On a percentage basis, the Wildcats have brought back 57.8 percent of their scoring, 44.5 percent of the rebounds and 70.3 percent of the assists.
Looking Ahead: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoining the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members recently achieved an impressive career milestone. Candice Warthen, a guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her prep career after tallying 29 points in a win for the Screaming Devils against rival Thomson. She also had eight rebounds, six steals and four assists in the game. Warthen is currently averaging 29.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.6 steals and 2.8 assists per game for the 7-4 Devils. Most recently, she tallied 39 points, 10 steals, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in a 75-35 win over Glascock County. Last season, she scored a school-record 743 points while averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 4.0 assists per game as a 1st-team all-state honoree.
Defending Their Turf: The Wildcats have continued to make it quite difficult for opposing teams to put the ball in the basket since head coach Niya Butts took over prior to the 2008-09 campaign. Visiting teams averaged just 56.9 points per game while shooting a paltry .375 from the field last season. The Cats allowed 70 or more points only twice, one of those coming in an overtime game, and held the opposition under 59 points in over half of their contests that included four sub-50-point allowances. This season, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 63.5 points per game after limiting Nevada and Alabama A&M to .294 and .266 shooting percentages, respectively.
Power Surge: After struggling through a three-game losing streak that saw the Wildcats score an average of just 54 points per game, the team exploded for 86 points in Tuesday evening's win over Alabama A&M. The Cats set season-highs in field goal percentage, field goals made and assists while matching the 10-game best for blocked shots. The .635 shooting mark was the 4th-best for a single-game in program history, falling .024 behind the school record of .659 set against USC in January of 2004. The Wildcats have won all three games this season when scoring 80 or more points and is 4-0 during the Niya Butts era when eclipsing the 80-point plateau.
Conference Standouts: Following games played on December 30, Ify Ibekwe continues to lead the Pac-10 in rebounding at 11.6 per contest while Soana Lucet is 9th at 7.1. Davellyn Whyte is 7th in the league in scoring at 14.6 per contest while Lucet is 17th at 12.4 per game. Ibekwe is also 2nd in steals with a 2.9 average and 3rd in blocked shots with 1.7 while Brooke Jackson is 7th in 3-point field goal percentage at .391. As a team, the Wildcats are 5th in scoring defense at 63.1 per game, 3-point field goal percentage at .325, 3-point field goals made with 50 and field goal percentage defense at .367. Arizona is also tied for 5th with the Bruins with a .678 free throw percentage. A .425 shooting percentage is good for 3rd in the Pac-10 while the Cats check in at 4th in blocked shots at 4.3 per outing.
Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.
Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.
Perfect Ten: In just 64 career games, Ibekwe has pulled down at least 10 rebounds on 34 different occasions. After accomplishing the feat 10 times during her freshman season, she pulled off double-digits 17 times in the 2008-09 campaign. Her 17-rebound effort against UCLA gave her 7 for this season in just 11 games played.
All-American Girl: Her impressive numbers also landed Ibekwe on the Associated Press All-America honorable mention list. She became just the 7th player in Arizona history to be named to one of the All-America teams and the first since Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk earned the honor following the 2004-05 campaign. Ibekwe was also a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the best player in collegiate women's basketball and was chosen to attend the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Trials over the summer.
Double Trouble: Ibekwe is currently in third place in the Arizona record books with 29 double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 7-of-11 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She is currently 7 double-doubles behind second-place Adia Barnes while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe could pass this season if she can post the double digits in 9 of 10 games on average the rest of the way.
Milennium Milestone: With a total of 819 points for her career, Ibekwe is on track to become the 16th player in Arizona history to amass 1,000 points. She would need to average just over 10 points per game to accomplish the feat by the end of the regular season. She is currently averaging 11.1 points per game after tallying 15.7 per contest last season. Ibekwe is 148points from entering the Top 20, a spot held by Felecity Willis at 967 points.
Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte logged 44 minutes in her Arizona debut, tallying a game-high 27 points while adding 8 rebounds in the 75-70 overtime win against Iona. She then scored 11 points against Miami (Ohio) and finished the weekend shooting almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 14.7 points per game while shooting .366 from three-point range, .455 from the field and grabbing 4.2 rebounds per contest.
Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.
Twenty Twenty Vision: After Ibekwe tallied nine 20-point games last season, Whyte is one third of the way toward matching that output as she tallied 20 points against UC Riverside and 21 points in the win over Alabama A&M. Whyte leads all freshmen in the Pac-10 in scoring while also leading all 1st-year players and sitting tied for second overall in the league with 2.4 three-point shots made per contest.
Three For All: After connecting on just 95 three-pointers last season, Arizona has already dialed long distance 56 times through the first 11 games for an average of five per game. With Jackson and Whyte combining to shoot almost 37 percent from threedom, the Cats have increased their clip from distance by almost 50 percentage points from last season after shooting only 27.9 percent.
More About The Three Ball: The Cats are hoping to challenge the 1996 season, the best statistically in program history in regards to three-point shooting. That team hit 176 for the season and connected at a .382 clip. If the current Wildcats average six made three-pointers through the season and play 31 games like last season, the team would finish with a school-record 186 treys..
Long Way From Home: The Wildcats have had a number of players in the program from foreign countries in recent years, but none has had to come further to Tucson than junior forward Soana Lucet. The transfer from the College of Southern Idaho is a native of New Caledonia, a collection of islands located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. The non-self-governing nation is a territory of France and is approximately half the size of Taiwan at just over 7,100 square miles. Lucet is the first female from New Caledonia to play collegiately in the United States and was named her country's best Under-18 player two years ago. Lucet had her best game with the Wildcats against San Diego with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting and is averaging 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Family Ties: Several members of the Wildcats have ties to either other Arizona teams, other colleges or professional clubs. The father of Tasha Dickey is currently an assistant football coach at Kansas State while Devon White, the father of Davellyn Whyte, is on staff with the Washington Nationals and was a Major League Baseball all-star during his career. Brooke Jackson welcomed younger sister, Cami, to the Arizona track and field team this season.
Up Next: Arizona makes its first Pac-10 road trip this coming weekend when the Cats head to the Evergeen State, first taking on Washington State on Thursday, January 7 at 6:00 p.m. The team will then head across the state to Seattle to battle Washington in an afternoon matinee on Saturday, January 9 with tip-off slated for 12:00 p.m.