COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team plays its annual Red & Blue Game at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the McKale Center.
ROSTERS FOR THE RED & BLUE GAME:
No. Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (Previous School)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (Previous School)
* Players may switch teams at halftime
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona, which is ranked as high as No. 20 nationally in the preseason polls, returns four of five starters from last year’s squad that won the Pacific-10 regular-season title for the first time in program history and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
WHO’S BACK: The Wildcats will be led by junior center Shawntinice Polk, a two-time honorable mention All-American, and senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler, a two-time All-Pac-10 selection. Polk and Wheeler are two of 31 players named as preseason candidates for the Wade Trophy, given to the nation’s top player.
Another returning starter is junior Natalie Jones, who averaged 8.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a sophomore in 2003-04. Sophomore Shannon Hobson, an honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection last year, rounds out the group of starters that return for the Wildcats.
Danielle Adefeso, Katrina Lindner, Linda Pace and Anna Chappell are the four other returning letterwinners from last year’s squad. Sophomore Rachael Schein will miss the 2004-05 season with a torn ACL, which she suffered last week in practice.
ABOUT THE NEWCOMERS: Jessica Arnold, a freshman from Tucson, should see playing time and could even start. The guard didn’t play her senior season in high school due to a shoulder injury. An all-conference and All-Tucson pick in 2002-03, she averaged 18 points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds per game as a junior.
Another freshman that could possibly start is forward Chari Smith, who will play either the three or four position and will definitely see playing time.
Ashley Whisonant will play either the one- or two-guard. She was a member of one of the top high school programs in the country at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. The final freshman is forward Ch?© Oh, who played on a state championship team at Seattle Prep.
Rounding out the group of newcomers is junior Joy Hollingsworth, who transferred from San Francisco and will have to sit out the year due to NCAA transfer rules.
WHO’S GONE: Three players from last year’s squad won’t be back this season. Starter Aimee Grzyb and guard Jessica Duger exhausted their eligibility last year. Forward CoCoa Sanford was released from the program during the summer.
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 13 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided Arizona to eight postseason appearances, including six in the NCAA Tournament two in the WNIT.
Entering her 14th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 238-148 (.617) mark at Arizona and is 563-219 (.720) in 25 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-16 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost in the first round only twice in 14 appearances.
Prior to taking over at the UA, Bonvicini led Long Beach State to 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Final Four. She registered a 325-71 mark in 12 seasons with the 49ers.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983) enters her fourth season as an assistant with the Wildcats. Barney is the recruiting coordinator and is also responsible for scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Shimmy Gray (Michigan, 1994) is in her second season with the Wildcats. She is involved with recruiting, scouting and on-floor coaching of both guards and post players. She also assists in the operations of the Joan Bonvicini Basketball Camp.
The newest member of the staff is first-year assistant Toriano Towns (Saint Mary’s, 1998), who came to Arizona from Gonzaga. Towns works with the Wildcats post players, and is also heavily involved in recruiting and scouting.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH FIRST, SECOND IN PAC-10: The Wildcats were selected to finish tied for first in the Pac-10 with Stanford in the preseason poll of the media, while the coaches tabbed Arizona to place second. Arizona and Stanford finished with identical 14-4 records last season to share the Pac-10 women’s basketball title, the first such crown in Wildcat history.
The media poll marks the first time ever that the Wildcats have been picked to finish first. The Cardinal garnered eight first-place votes in the poll, while Arizona received the remaining seven. Both teams totaled 140 points. It marks the first time there has been a tie for the first-place spot since the poll’s inception in 1997-98. The Wildcats’ highest previous projection was second in 1997-98. The Pac-10 media poll has correctly predicted the Conference champion in six of the last seven seasons.
In the coaches poll, Arizona received 72 points and one first-place vote. Stanford was tabbed to win the title with eight first-place votes and 79 points. This is the fifth year in a row that Stanford has been favored by the coaches to win the conference title since the poll’s inception in 1998-99.
POLK NAMED TO WOODEN AWARD WATCH LIST: Junior center Shawntinice Polk was one of 30 players named to the 2004-05 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-American Team, composed of 30 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early front-runners for the trophy. In mid-January, the committee will release a midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the official ballot, consisting of the top 10-15 players. The 2005 award ceremony will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 9, 2005 and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast.
WHEELER, POLK ON WADE TROPHY WATCH LIST: Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler are two of 31 preseason candidates for the 2004-05 State Farm Wade Trophy, given to the Division I Player of the Year. Arizona was one of seven schools with two or more players on the prestigious list. The candidates were selected by a vote of the national awards committee, which is comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists, and basketball administrators. Players are selected based on game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.
HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 27: The Cats have won 27 games in a row at home, tied with Western Illinois for the third longest streak in the nation behind Texas (36) and Louisiana Tech (28). The last time the Wildcats were defeated at home was Nov. 22, 2002, when they lost in overtime to Louisiana State, 78-71. Arizona then won its final 13 homes games during the 2002-03 season, and all 14 games last year.
GOING POLLING: Five of Arizona’s 2003-04 opponents (Georgia, Maryland, Stanford, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara) are nationally ranked in the various preseason polls. In addition, Duke, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Middle Tennessee State, all potential opponents in the Preseason WNIT, are ranked in the Top 25.
Georgia, which Arizona faces on Dec. 12, is ranked as high as No. 4, while Pac-10 foe Stanford is ranked in all five polls, ranging from No. 6 to No. 11. UCLA is in three of the polls, Maryland appears in two and UC Santa Barbara in one.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in minutes played average (32.2), third in scoring (1,402), field goals made (546) and field goals attempted (1,185), fourth in scoring average (15.2), steals (214), three-point field goals made (134), three-point field goals attempted (373) and three-point field goal percentage (.359), seventh in games started (87), eighth in free throw percentage (.739) and 10th in total minutes played (2,960) and assists (332).
Junior Shawntinice Polk is first in double-doubles (37), blocks (160), rebounding average (10.5) and field goal percentage (.590), fourth in total rebounds (674), sixth in field goals made (448), eighth in free throws attempted (340) and 11th in scoring (1,087).
GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program’s helm, the Wildcats have won 10 of their 13 season openers. Last year, Arizona defeated Northern Arizona 89-67 at home in its first game of the season.
UP NEXT: Arizona hosts Play Mode Sports for an exhibition game at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 2, at McKale Center.