April 16, 2003
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2002-03 IN BRIEF: After two seasons of mediocrity, the Arizona women's basketball team burst back onto the national scene in 2002-03, racking up a solid 22-9 mark and earning the most victories for any team in three years. The Wildcats were 13-5 in Pac-10 play and finished in a tie for second place with Washington, equaling Arizona's best-ever finish in the league standings. The Cats received a No. 3 seed in the second annual Pac-10 Tournament and ran over Oregon State and Washington before falling by a narrow margin to powerhouse Stanford in the championship game.
Arizona earned an at-large bid in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, making the Big Dance for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. With just four juniors and seniors, the young and inexperienced Wildcat team lost in the first round of the tournament to a veteran Notre Dame club, but merely getting back into the tourney was a step in the right direction for an Arizona squad that will definitely make some noise in the next couple of years.
The 2003 Wildcats set or tied 52 school records this season, including most blocked shots (120), lowest opponent field goal percentage (.378) and most double-doubles (26). By herself, freshman phenom Shawntinice Polk set or tied 19 of those school records, a number that included new marks for single season rebounds (335), rebounding average (10.8 rpg), blocked shots (80) and freshman scoring (538).
Polk was named both an Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA honorable mention All-American and was the 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, marking the second straight season that Arizona featured the league's top rookie. Polk and sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler were named first team All-Pac-10, while Polk also received Pac-10 All-Freshman Team laurels. Fellow rookie Natalie Jones was an honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection. For the third time in the last six seasons, head coach Joan Bonvicini was named a finalist for the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award.
2002-03 IN REVIEW: Playing two top-10 opponents in their first three games, the Wildcats showed early in the 2002-03 season that this was going to be a great year for them. In the season opener on Nov. 22, the Cats took third-ranked LSU into overtime before falling, 78-71. Arizona bounced back quickly with a win at Pepperdine three days later, then the Wildcats returned home to hand No. 8 Georgia a 70-49 thumping on Nov. 30.
With wins over UC Riverside and Illinios, Arizona reclaimed the title of its own Fiesta Bowl Basketball Classic during the the first weekend in December. On Dec. 15, the Cats' momentum hit a speed bump when they lost big at Ohio State, but they recovered three days later to log a 70-61 win over New Mexico, a club that would eventually advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Arizona drilled UNLV, 101-73, on Dec. 22, then returned from a brief Christmas break for an 83-53 romp at California on Dec. 27 to begin Pac-10 play. Two days later, the Cats suffered their first conference loss, blowing a double-digit lead in the second half to fall, 82-74, at sixth-ranked Stanford. The Wildcats got right back on the winning track the next weekend, sweeping the Oregon schools at home by a couple of very large margins.
The Cats extended their modest win streak to three games with an 86-65 victory at Washington State on Jan. 9, but they again allowed a double-digit lead to slip away in the second half and were handed a one-point loss at Washington by a buzzer-beater shot on Jan. 11. A sweep of USC (79-76) and UCLA (80-61) at home the following weekend made it seem as though Arizona was once again back on track, but the Cats' road woes continued when they suffered a 73-58 loss at Arizona State on Jan. 23. In a game that was an extension of the ASU trip, the Wildcats slipped past Wisconsin, 62-55, in their final regular-season non-conference game on Jan. 26.
The four-game road swing continued for the Cats, as did their difficulty in winning away from home. On Jan. 30, Arizona suffered a 71-65 overtime loss at Oregon State, marking their second straight Pac-10 defeat. Fortunately, the Wildcats were able to avoid their first back-to-back losses of the season when they edged Oregon, 71-66, to open the month of February.
Returning home to the friendly confines of the McKale Center for the first time in three weeks, the Cats logged yet another sweep, with the Washington schools falling victim this time. The Wildcats drilled 20th-ranked Washington, 79-66, on Feb. 6, then handed Washington State an 80-50 defeat with Arizona governor Janet Napolitano on the bench as a guest "coach".
The problem was that the Cats had to go on the road again the next weekend. In what head coach Joan Bonvicini called "the worst game of any team I've ever coached," Arizona lost a brutally ugly game at UCLA, 48-47, on Feb. 14. Two days later, the Cats found themselves down by 12 points at USC early in the second half before the light bulb turned on, and they rallied back for a 78-64 victory over the Women of Troy.
That game proved to be something of the catalyst for the Wildcats, who would go on to extend their win streak to six games over the next few weeks. On Feb. 22, Arizona got revenge over the rival Sun Devils with a huge 72-52 win, the largest margin of victory over ASU in five years. The Cats followed that with an even more awesome performance to log a 79-64 win over No. 9 Stanford on Feb. 27, Arizona's biggest win over the Cardinal in 17 seasons. A win over Cal two days later gave the Wildcats their first sweep of the Bay Area schools in four years.
After being knocked off in the first round of last season's Pac-10 Tournament, the Wildcats were determined to have a much better showing in this year's tourney, and that they did. Earning a No. 3 seed, the Cats faced-off with No. 6 seed Oregon State in the first round on Mar. 8, and Arizona walked away with an easy 70-56 victory. The next day, the Wildcats put forth an impressive defensive effort to shut down the conference's top scoring team, drilling 25th-ranked and No. 2 seed Washington, 74-51, in semifinal action.
In the championship game on Mar. 10, Arizona's luck ran out against No. 1 seed and ninth-ranked Stanford, as the Wildcats found themselves down by 20 points early in the game and were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way. Arizona dropped a close 59-49 decision to the Cardinal, whom the Cats were facing for the second time in 12 days.
On Selection Sunday, Mar. 16, Arizona learned that it had made it back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Wildcats were given a No. 6 seed in the East Region and were sent to Manhattan, Kan., to take on No. 11 seed Notre Dame in the first round of the tournament on Mar. 23. Whether it was inexperience or sheer nervousness, the Wildcats were never able to get their offense going, and they fell to the Irish, 59-47, tying their lowest offensive output of the season. Notre Dame went on to defeat host and No. 3 seed Kansas State in the second round and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
INDIVIDUALLY IN 2002-03: With averages of 17.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, freshman center Shawntinice Polk led Arizona in both categories this year. Racking up a school-record 21 double-doubles on the season, Polk also set new school records for single-season rebounding (335), single-season blocked shots (80) and freshman scoring (538 pts). She became only the seventh player in the program's history to reach the 500-point mark in one season and became the first freshman ever to finish among the top 10 in the Pac-10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage.
Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler was second in scoring, with 16.2 ppg, and was third in rebounding, with 4.6 rpg. She logged 501 points for the season, making her just the eighth player to reach that mark in one year. It also marked the first time in the program's history that two Wildcats have reached 500 points in the same season.
Senior forward Krista Warren was second in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game, and was third in scoring (11.9 ppg). Junior guard Aimee Grzyb was fourth on the scoring chart, at 10.5 ppg.
CATS IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Arizona finished the season as the Pac-10 leader in field goal percentage (.468), field goal percentage defense (.378) and rebounding (39.8 rpg). The Cats were also second in scoring margin (+10.1 ppg), rebounding margin (+4.3 rpg), blocked shots (3.87 bpg), assists (16.97 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.91).
Individually, Shawntinice Polk was the conference leader in rebounding (10.8 rpg), field goal percentage (.609) and blocked shots (2.58 bpg). She was also fourth in scoring (17.4 ppg). Julie Brase led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.94) and was third in assists (4.13 apg). Krista Warren was second in field goal percentage (.587), while Dee-Dee Wheeler was sixth in steals (2.10 spg) and seventh in scoring (16.2 ppg).
CATS IN THE NATIONAL STATS: In the final NCAA statistics, Shawntinice Polk was eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.609), while teammate Krista Warren was 12th in the same category (.587). Polk was also 10th in rebounding (10.8 rpg) and was 13th in blocked shots (2.6 bpg). Polk was the only freshman among the top 20 rebounders in the nation. Polk's school-record nine blocked shots against Cal on Mar. 1 tied as the second-best single-game performance in the nation this year.
In the NCAA team stats, Arizona was 10th in the nation in field goal percentage (.468) and was 21st in assists per game (17.0 apg).
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: With its worst shooting performance in more than 20 years, sixth-seeded Arizona fell to 11th seed Notre Dame, 59-47, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Mar. 23.
The Wildcats struggled right from the start, missing nine of their first 10 shot attempts and committing three fouls and three turnovers in the first four minutes. Notre Dame didn't fare much better from the outset but still held a 10-6 lead at 12:39.
Arizona used an 8-2 spurt to gain a narrow two-point (14-12) edge four minutes later, until the Irish drained two buckets to regain a 16-14 lead. The Cats out-scored Notre Dame, 7-1, over the next five minutes to go up by four points (21-17) with 2:58 left in the half. The lead didn't last for long, as the Irish ended the period with six unanswered points to hold a 23-21 advantage at the break.
The first seven minutes of the second half was close, with three ties and five lead changes during that stretch. Arizona held a 37-34 edge with 13:00 left in the game when the wheels came completely off. Notre Dame ripped off a 15-0 run over the next nine minutes, and during that time, the Wildcats missed 13 straight shots and coughed up the ball five times.
Arizona didn't score again until 4:25, when Shawntinice Polk hit a free throw. A Polk layup one minute later got the Cats back to within nine points, but Notre Dame responded with a bucket of its own 30 seconds after that and then shot 8-for-9 from the line down the stretch to ice the win.
Polk finished the game with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, marking her 21st double-double of the season. Krista Warren logged her third double-double of the year with a team-leading 17 points and 13 rebounds. The rest of the Wildcat team combined for just 16 points.
As a team, the Wildcats shot a miserable 23.3 percent (17-73) from the floor for the game, including a horrendous 8.0 percent (2-25) from three-point range. The field goal percentage was the worst performance from the floor since the school record was set at 19.4 percent on Feb. 8, 1980.
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 12 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to seven post-season appearances, including five NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.
After wrapping up her 12th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 214-139 (.606) mark at Arizona and is 539-210 (.720) in 23 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-15 in NCAA tournament play and has lost in the first round only once 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.
COME DANCING: Seven of Arizona's regular-season opponents 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 won 17 of its 22 victories by a margin of 12 points or more... The nine losses were by an average margin of only 8.8 points per game... The Cats hit five or more three-pointers in 20 games this season... Arizona had 15 or more assists in 20 games... The Cats had 10 or more steals in 12 games... Arizona forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 13 contests... The Wildcats had at least 1 blocked shot in every game this year... Arizona shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 13 games this year and had an 11-2 mark in those contests.
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 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 really stepped up her production over the final six contests of the season, averaging a solid 14.5 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 beat 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 was ranked in the AP poll for 15 of the last 16 weeks of regular season play and stood at No. 22 in the final regular-season poll. The Wildcats were 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 was ranked for 15 straight weeks and didn't drop out until the final poll, where the Cats received 61 votes. Arizona's 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 to No. 22 heading into the NCAA Tournament.
CATS REGISTER BEST HOME ATTENDANCE EVER: With an average of 2,867 fans per game for home contests this year, the Wildcats saw the best home attendance average in the program's history. That average was up by more than 700 fans per game over the 2001-02 average, and it eclipsed the previous best average of 2,556 set during the 1999-2000 season.
HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT THIRTEEN: The Cats have won 13 games in a row at home, tying the second-longest home win streak in the program's history. The last time the Wildcats won that many consecutive home games was when they logged 13 straight home victories from Nov. 18, 2000, to Feb. 18, 2001. The school record for longest home win streak is 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 42 of their last 52 home games and are 84-15 on their home court over the last five seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 12 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 129-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 195-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Arizona's numbers at home were simply outstanding this season. Not only were the Cats 13-1 in home contests this season, they out-scored opponents by an average of 16.5 points per game and out-rebounded opponents by an average of 5.9 boards per game. Arizona hit 48.9 percent (431-882) of its shots from the field in home games, including a solid 34.2 percent (75-219) from three-point range. The Cats averaged 77.6 points, 41.2 rebounds and 18.2 assists per game in McKale this season.
LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 12 of its last 18 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games last season but were just 6-6 on TV this year.
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.
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 has become the first freshman in Pac-10 history to finish in the league top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. She is also just the second freshman ever to lead the conference in rebounding and is 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 was for the final three months of the season. Over the Cats' last 13 wins of the year, 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 was 9-0 when Dee-Dee Wheeler reached the 20-point mark.
In the Wildcats' final six losses, Wheeler averaged only 12.2 ppg and 4.0 rpg. She shot just 31.3 percent (31-99) from the field and a mere 20.5 percent (9-44) from beyond the arc.
LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: The Wildcats were 16-4 this season when out-rebounding their opponents... They were 5-5 when being out-rebounded... The Cats were 21-6 when holding their opponents to 73 points or less... Arizona was 20-2 when scoring 70 or more points... The Cats were 22-3 this year when shooting better than their opponent from the floor but were 0-6 when shooting worse... Arizona was 14-2 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring but was only 8-7 when three or fewer players got to double figures... The Wildcats were 11-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
CATS BREAK SCHOOL BLOCKS RECORD: As a team, the Wildcats set a new school record for single-season blocked shots, with 120. That eclipsed the old record of 102 set by the 2000-01 squad.
DON'T LIKE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE: The Wildcats had a rough time in road games this season, especially after 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 really struggled from the free throw line this season. They shot a paltry 63.3 percent (329-520) from the stripe and shot better than 60 percent in only 15 games.
This is unusual for a Bonvicini-coached team at Arizona. This is the first UA team ever to shoot below 65 percent since Bonvicini's arrival in 1991-92. Last year's team drained a sizzling 74.0 percent of its charity shots.
BUT WE DID GET 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 hit 67.9 percent (199-293) of their free throws over the final 16 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 tallied 26 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: Seven of the 19 opponents that Arizona played during the 2002-03 season were either ranked or received votes for ranking in the final polls of the season.
In the final regular-season Associated Press Top 25, LSU was ranked No. 3, Stanford was No. 9, Georgia was No. 19 and Ohio State was No. 20. Washington and New Mexico were among teams that received votes for ranking.
In the final WBCA/ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, LSU was No. 5, Georgia was No. 11, Stanford was No. 14, Notre Dame was No. 21 and New Mexico was No. 23. Ohio State and Washington both received votes for ranking.
CURRENT CATS ON THE UA CAREER LISTS: Wildcat senior Julie Brase is fourth on the UA career list in three-pointers made (125), fourth in three-pointers attempted (345), fourth in three-point percentage (.362), tied for seventh in career games played (118) and is eighth in total minutes played (2987).
Senior forward Krista Warren is fifth in career rebounding average (5.7 rpg), fifth in total rebounds (644), fifth in field goal percentage (.513), tied for seventh in career games started (81), tied for eighth in double-doubles (9) and is 18th in career scoring (923 pts).
Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in career three-pointers made (148), third in three-pointers attempted (415), fifth in three-point percentage (.357) and fifth in minutes-played average (30.8 mpg). She needs just seven more points to join Arizona's top 20 all-time leading scorers' list.
Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in career three-point percentage (.366), third in career scoring average (14.4 ppg), tied for third in minutes-played average (31.0 mpg), is seventh in three-point field goals made (89) and seventh in three-pointers attempted (243).
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 out-rebounded their opponents by 20 boards or more in three games this season... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 374-428 (.466) all-time record, however it is 178-92 (.659) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 208-112 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: The Wildcats were 13-1 in home games, 7-6 on the road and 2-2 in neutral contests this season. Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.
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.
RECAPPING THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT: In the second annual 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.
GOOD CONFERENCE SEASON: The Cats' 13 conference wins this year is their highest Pac-10 victory total since the 1999-2000 team got 13 league wins. Arizona finished regular-season Pac-10 action in a tie for second place with Washington, matching its best league finish ever. The Wildcats previously tied for second in both the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 seasons. Arizona also finished the year with a perfect 9-0 mark in conference play at home for the first time in school history.
POLKEY IS PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK ONCE AGAIN (Mar. 3): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 24-Mar. 2. She is the first freshman in the history of the conference to be named Player of the Week four times in the same season. Polk averaged 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.0 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while leading Arizona to its first home sweep of the Bay Area schools in four years. The Player of the Week honor is the fourth for Polk and the 29th all-time selection for Arizona. This is the first time ever that Arizona has had five Pac-10 Players of the Week in the same season. The previous high was four during the 1999-2000 season.
IT WAS A VERY GOOD MONTH: The Cats had a very good February, logging a 6-1 record during the month's action. That's Arizona's best record for the month of February since the 1998-99 team went 6-1 in the same month.
LINDNER SUFFERS SECOND ACL INJURY: Freshman guard Katrina Lindner tore her left knee ACL during practice on Feb. 7 and missed the remainder of the season. She had surgery to repair the injury during the last week of February. Lindner had to redshirt last year after tearing her right knee ACL during the team's annual Red & Blue Game in Oct. 2001.
POLKEY GETS THIRD PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR (Feb. 10): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 3-9, becoming the first Wildcat since Adia Barnes in 1997-98 to receive the honor three times in one season. Polk averaged 21.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in just 21.5 minutes per game while leading Arizona to a sweep of the Washington schools. She shot a blazing 73.1 percent (19-of-26) from the floor on the weekend.
GOVERNOR MAKES GUEST APPEARANCE AT WSU GAME: Governor Janet Napolitano was a "guest coach" at the home game against Washington State on Saturday, Feb. 8. She joined the team in the locker room during the pre-game chalk talk, at halftime and post-game and was on the team bench during the contest.
MORE "LOVE" FOR POLKEY: During a "Midseason Report" that was released on Jan. 30, WomensCollegeHoops.com named Polkey as one of its five Freshman All-Americans.
POLKEY GETS SOME "LOVE" FROM S.I.: In the Jan. 20 issue of Sports Illustrated, Shawntinice Polk was listed as one of five collegiate women's basketball players who are "Elevating the Game," raising the level of play in the sport. The list included Polkey, UConn's Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard from Duke, Laurie Koehn at Kansas State and Stanford's Nicole Powell. Polkey was the only freshman on this very elite list.
WHEELER NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Jan. 20): Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 13-19. Wheeler averaged 25.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while leading the Cats to a sweep of the Los Angeles schools at home. Wheeler shot 64.5 percent (20-of-31) from the field, including a blazing 70.0 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range on the weekend. The Player of the Week honor was the first for Wheeler and the 27th all-time selection for Arizona.
SOLID DEFENSE: In the first half of the Oregon State game on Jan. 4, Arizona allowed the Beavers to score just 15 points. That's the lowest point total in one half for any Wildcat opponent since Weber State registered just 15 points in the first half of a 92-46 loss to the Cats on Dec. 10, 1995.
Even more amazing, though, is the fact that the 15 points is the lowest point total the Cats have allowed a Pac-10 opponent in one half since the 1984-85 season. That season, Stanford scored just 15 points in the first half of a 57-49 loss at Arizona on Feb. 16, 1985. Of course, that was technically "pre-Pac-10," when both schoools were part of the Western Collegiate Conference.
BONVICINI GETS WIN No. 200 AT ARIZONA: With a 96-65 victory over Oregon on Jan. 2, 2003, Joan Bonvicini earned her 200th win as Arizona's head coach. It was her 525th career victory as well.
A MATCH MADE ON THE COURT: On Dec. 30, senior forward Krista Warren became engaged to Nathan Luckow, who was in his third season as a manager for the UA women's basketball team. The two plan to marry on May 31 of this year.
BONVICINI MISSES FIRST GAMES OF HER CAREER: Poised to gain win number 200 at Arizona, head coach Joan Bonvicini missed both games in the Bay Area at the end of December. Her brother passed away on Dec. 25, and she remained in Connecticut with her family until Dec. 31. Associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello ran the team in Bonvicini's absence.
POLK'S DOUBLE-DOUBLES STREAK ENDS AT EIGHT: Shawntinice Polk registered a double-double in each of the season's first eight games, becoming the first player in UA history to have eight double-doubles in a row. The previous high was four in a row by Adia Barnes midway through the 1996-97 season. Polk's streak came to an end on Dec. 27 at California, when she scored 17 points but was held to just six rebounds.
THE CATS AND PAC-10 OPENERS: Under Joan Bonvicini, Arizona has an 8-4 mark in Pac-10 openers and has won its first conference contest in eight of the last 10 years.
ALLEN LEAVES PROGRAM: In mutual agreement with the coaching staff, junior guard Candice Allen has left the Wildcat program for personal reasons. Allen took some time away from the team following the Wildcats' game at Pepperdine on Nov. 25, and she never returned to active status. She scored just 2 points while seeing limited action during the Cats' first two games of the season.
POLKEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN (Dec. 23): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Dec. 16-22, her second such honor in her young collegiate career. Polk averaged 21.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 3.0 assists in the Wildcats' two wins over New Mexico and UNLV. For the week, Polk shot 65.5 percent (19-of-29) from the field, including a 70.0 percent clip (7-of-10) against the Lady Rebels. In the 101-73 win over UNLV, Polk scored 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half, and notched season-highs in rebounding (18) and blocked shots (6).
WILDCATS RECAPTURE FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC TITLE: On Dec. 7-8, Arizona recaptured the crown of its own Fiesta Bowl Women's Basketball Classic. The Cats defeated UC Riverside (95-66) in the first round to advance to the title game, where they slipped past a strong Illinois squad (75-73) to take their eighth title in the 12-year history of the tournament.
Dee-Dee Wheeler was named to the All-Tournament Team for the second year in a row, and Shawntinice Polk was selected the Tournament Most Valuable Player.
POLKEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Dec. 2): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Nov. 25-Dec. 1. Polk averaged 13.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 blocks in the Wildcats' two wins over Pepperdine and then-No. 8 Georgia, the highest-ranked team an unranked Wildcat squad has ever beaten. For the week, Polk shot 50.0 percent (10-of-20) from the field and 75.0 percent (6-of-8) from the free throw line.
The Player of the Week honor was the first of Polk's career and the 25th all-time selection for Arizona. Polk became the first freshman to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors since Stanford's Nicole Powell in 2000-01, and the first Wildcat freshman to receive such distinction since Lisa Griffith in 1996-97.
CATS GET SECOND-BEST ATTENDANCE EVER: After a special "Pack the House" promotion, the Wildcats drew 5,096 fans for the game against Georgia on Nov. 30. That's the second-largest crowd ever to view a women's basketball game in McKale. The program attendance record is 5,272 set on Mar. 4, 2000, against Oregon.
CATS HAVE BEST OPENER ATTENDANCE IN THREE SEASONS: The 2,651 fans that attended the Nov. 22 game against No. 3 LSU marks the largest attendance figure for a home opener since the Cats drew 2,901 against New Mexico on Nov. 27, 1999.
POLKEY MAKES BEST ROOKIE DEBUT EVER: Shawntinice Polk's 29 points and 11 rebounds against LSU on Nov. 22 ranks as the best debut ever by a Wildcat freshman. The previous best was 19 points and five rebounds by Anne McFadden against Arizona State on Nov. 24, 1978. Polkey's 29 points was also the most scored by any Wildcat freshman since former UA star Adia Barnes tallied 31 points against Arizona State on Jan. 7, 1995.
GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program's helm, the Wildcats have won nine of their 12 season openers. They had a streak of seven straight season-opening wins snapped with a close 78-71 loss to No. 3 LSU in overtime to begin this season.