Feb. 6, 2009
Date: Feb. 7, 2009
Location: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.
TV: FSN Arizona (Jim Watson, Mary Murphy)
Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)
Tip Off Time: Arizona hosts its annual Pink Zone game on Saturday afternoon against Oregon.The game is part of a nationwide effort to raise breast cancer awareness by wearing pink in various ways on the uniforms. Oregon will wear pink uniforms while the game ball will also be pink and the Cats will have socks, headbands and other items that will be pink. The game wil be televised live on FSN Arizona with Jim Watson and Mary Murphy on the call.
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 30 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs.
Oregon State Recap: The Beavers knocked down shots from deep in the first half, then worked the free throw line in the second half to hand the Wildcats a 63-55 defeat for a season sweep over Arizona. The Beavers finished the game 8-of-16 from three-point range and outpointed the Cats at the charity stripe, 15-8. Courtney Clements led the Wildcats with 15 points while Ify Ibekwe chipped in with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
Head Coach Niya Butts: Not only has the Arizona playing roster seen its share of turnover, but the coaching staff is also entirely new for the 2008-09 season. On April 3, 2008, Niya Butts was named the 8th coach in the history of Arizona women’s basketball. Butts comes to Tucson after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.
Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).
Series Notes: Oregon leads the all-time series against Arizona, 28-20. The Ducks have stretched their lead over the Wildcats thanks to wins in 4-of-5 contests, including a 68-55 win over the Cats in Eugene last month. The Wildcats were victorious the last time the two teams met in McKale Center, a 65-60 verdict for Arizona. Ify Ibekwe and Amina Njonkou combined for 27 points and 14 rebounds in that contest to boost the Wildcats to the win.
Last Meeting: A three-pointer by Amanda Johnson with 2:22 remaining sparked a 13-0 game-closing run as Oregon pulled away from the Wildcats, 68-55, at McArthur Court. A jumper by Ify Ibekwe with 2:51 left made it a 55-53 game, but the Wildcats did not score again during the final three minutes of play. Ibekwe led all players with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the game while Amina Njonkou and Ashley Frazier each chipped in with 9 points apiece.
Scouting the Ducks: Oregon finished the first half of Pac-10 play with a 4-5 record, but dropped its second half lid-lifter to Arizona State on Thursday evening, 68-56. Leading scorer Micaela Cocks carried the load for the Ducks in the loss, tallying a team-high 16 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. The Ducks, however, committed 26 turnovers and could not overcome a 13-point halftime deficit. Oregon is another team that has faced its struggles on the offensive end, averaging just over 58 points per game while being outrebounded by 3.5 boards per game.
Future Cats: Head coach Niya Butts was happy to announce the signing of the first two players for the 2009 signing class earlier in the season. Senior guard Davellyn White of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix is the first prep player to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for Butts. Whyte, the daughter of former Major League Baseball veteran Devon White, averaged 18 points per game in her junior campaign, leading the Lady Knights to a 19-9 record and the 5A Desert Valley Region championship. She was an all-state selection and was the runner-up in the region player of the year voting.
Joining Whyte with three years of eligibility remaining is Brooke Jackson, who is currently a freshman at Mesa Community College. A 5’9” shooting guard, Jackson prepped at Mountain View High School and was a two-time East Valley Region Player of the Year and two-time all-state selection. She is the 5A all-time single-season leader in scoring after tallying 849 points as a junior. Jackson also holds state 5A records for free throws made in a game (18) and season (216) as well as career steals (482). A solid outside shooter, Jackson finished her prep career with a 41 percent mark from three-point range.
Injury Update: With all of their leg injuries cleared up, the Wildcats were forced to deal with dental issues on Thursday evening as Faihza Hill had two wisdom teeth removed early in the week. She was suffering both pain and some illness symptoms which bumped her from the starting lineup and limited her minutes against the Beavers.
Going the Distance: With a roster depleted due to injuries, the active and healthy Wildcats have seen their share of minutes this season. Thirty times this season an Arizona player has logged at least 40 minutes of action in a game. Ashley Frazier leads the way as she has played all 40 minutes in 15-of-21 contests, including a 53-minute log during the triple-overtime win against Loyola Marymount and all 45 minutes against USC, and is averaging a Pac-10 leading 39.7 minutes per contest. Reiko Thomas (35.0), Ibekwe (34.1), Amina Njonkou (32.0), and Courtney Clements (29.4) are also logging heavy minutes for the Wildcats.
Free Throw Findings: One place the Wildcats have shown an improvement in 2008-09 versus last season is at the free throw line. After connecting at a .652 clip one season ago, the Cats currently own a 70.7 percent free throw percentage as a team. Clements leads the team with a .923 mark while Thomas checks in at .795 and Frazier has earned a .732 tally. The Cats have also limited the opportunities of the opposition, making 42 more free throws (289) than the opposition has attempted (247).
To the Contrary: As much as that last statistic has helped the Wildcats this season, the opposite proved to be true against the Beavers in both contests this season. In the earlier game in Corvallis, the Beavers enjoyed a slight 11-10 edge at the line before knocking down 15 free throws on Thursday while the Wildcats connected on eight. Oregon State also combined for 15 more attempts than the Wildcats between the two games.
Wiping the Glass: The Wildcats continue to show their rebounding prowess as they have outrebounded the opposition in 12-of-21 contests thus far. The Cats are averaging 39.9 rebounds per game while allowing the opposition 36.4 rebounds each game. The 3.5 rebounding margin the Wildcats have enjoyed ranks the team 77th in the NCAA.
National Notables: Speaking of the NCAA statistics, Ibekwe is tops in the Pac-10 and is currently 7th in the NCAA in rebounds per game at 11.5. She is also 56th in blocked shots per game at 1.8, 94th in field goal percentage at .464 and 91st in scoring (15.6). With 15 assists over the past two games, Ashley Frazier has jumped to 92nd in assists at 4.3 per game. The Wildcats are 17th in the NCAA in fouls committed per game with just 14.4 violations per contest.
Care To Speculate: Sophomore Ify Ibekwe had an outstanding freshman campaign derailed for six games midway through the season after taking an elbow to the eye. She still managed to pull down 232 rebounds, good for 4th on the single-season list for freshmen. If she had been able to play in all 30 games and maintain her 8.0 average, she would have moved up to third position and would have recorded the 7th-best single season in school history for any class. Assuming Ibekwe played in 30 games for four seasons and kept her rebounding average the same, she would finish with 960 rebounds, a total that would make her the Wildcats’ all-time leading rebounder ahead of current record holder Adia Barnes at 921. This season, she has pushed that mark to 11.5 per game through 21 games, an average that would leave her at 333 through 29 games, leaving her just six boards shy of the single-season record set by Shawntinice Polk in 2003-04.
Up Next: Arizona hits the road to complete its season series against the two Southern California schools next week. The Wildcats will visit famed Pauley Pavilion on Thursday, February 12 to take on UCLA at 7 p.m. The Cats will then have two days off before taking on USC at the Galen Center with tip-off scheduled for 12 p.m. That game will be the last of three scheduled televised games for the Wildcats on FSN Arizona. Jim Watson and Mary Murphy will call the action.