Oct. 7, 2010
TUCSON - Head coach Niya Butts, senior Ify Ibekwe and sophomore Davellyn Whyte, members of the University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team, met with members of the media on Thursday to discuss the start of preseason practice on Mon., Oct. 4. Below is a brief transcript of the press conference.
Niya Butts - Head Coach
On the direction the program is heading:
"From a competitive standpoint, you want to win and you want to win at a high clip. From where I was and the team was at the beginning to where we are now, I do think we a progressing at a good pace. That's not only from a coaching side, an academic side, and a playing side but I think the fans will see it from a competitive side. You will see that we are not only getting to the top of the mountain but climbing over it."
"Starting Monday, it was everybody bringing that energy. Everybody is really on board with wanting to win. This team is committed to winning."
On what to expect from some of the new players:
"Shanita Arnold is one you didn't see play with us last year but she was practicing with us. She will make an immediate impact on the team from the guard spot. Taylor Dalrymple, a junior college transfer, is going to bring physical play to our inside game. Candice Warthen from Georgia, she's super quick."
"Erica Barnes is another one who will make an impact. Ify Ibekwe is one of the best post players I have ever had the honor of working with and Erica challenges her every day in practice. We have competitiveness at each position and that gives us a lot of depth."
On the impact of the newcomers and what it means to the veterans:
"Having Shanita come in at the point guard spot means that Davellyn Whyte doesn't have to do that. And Shanita can score, too. She's a good shooter; she can get the ball to her teammates. She's going to be a good scoring threat from the point and that takes a lot of pressure of Dav and Ify. Our core is going to be an exciting group and allow (Davellyn and Ify) to be able to take a step back, not from an aggressive standpoint, but allowing them to not have to play as many minutes."
"I think our guard position is pretty solid but I also feel that way about the post position. If Ify comes in and is not giving us what we need for her -not that I think that's going to be much of an issue - we have players that are not going to be liabilities. That's the nice thing about having depth and having talent at each position."
Ify Ibekwe - Senior Forward
On what to expect from this year's team:
"There's so much potential. The coaches have been recruiting and recruiting and trying to bring in the best here. I think people are going to be surprised."
On being leaders:
"We are just working on coming to practice and having a positive attitude and constantly talking. We want to be keeping that up all the way to May and hopefully everyone can catch on."
Davellyn White - Sophomore Guard
On changes from last season:
"From the first practice of last year to the first of this year, there is a big difference. We are transitioning through drills faster, and that might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The newcomers are learning really quickly. We just started well right off the bat and I think we're ready to go."
On filling the leadership position:
"Having a year under my belt, I knew what was expected from me. Knowing that Ify is getting ready to leave, I need to step up this year so that when she does, I can step in and there's not too much of a transition. I know it's a hard role but I'm ready to take it. I feel honored that it's just my second year and the coaches are willing to put me in this position."
On the team's depth:
"It helps us get rest but also allows us to compete now. We know that if we aren't doing our job on the court then we have a deep bench (of players) now and we are going to come out. It makes us work harder to stay in there."
The Wildcats began practice on Mon., Oct. 4 with the first exhibition game scheduled for Nov. 2 against Grand Canyon. The regular season will begin with a contest at Wichita State on Nov. 11. For tickets to the Arizona Wildcat women's basketball games, call 800-452-2287.