The University of Arizona women's basketball team (1-0) travels to College Park, Md., to play in the BTI Classic hosted by the University of Maryland. The Wildcats will play three games in three days, starting Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. (EST) against No. 25 George Washington (2-0). UA will then play defending champion and top-ranked Maryland (2-0) on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. (EST), and TCU (0-0) on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. (EST).
NICHOLLS STATE RECAP:
Sophomore Amina Njonkou finished with team-highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead Arizona (1-0) to a win over Nicholls State (0-1), 83-41, in the season opener on Tuesday night in McKale Center before a crowd of 2,290.
Njonkou was one of five Wildcats to score in double-figures. Senior Joy Hollingsworth posted 12 points and eight rebounds, and junior Jessica Arnold tallied 11 points. Sophomore Whitney Fields and freshman Rheya Neabors chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Arizona shot 45 percent from the field (34-76), including a 4-of-13 mark from three-point land, and shot 55 percent (11-20) from the free throw line. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Colonels 56-22, and collected 21 assists, and 11 steals off of 25 Nicholls State turnovers.
The Wildcats opened the game shooting 3-of-9 from the field, and led NSU 9-7 at the 15:39 mark. Arizona built a 20-10 lead on a layup by junior Suzy Bofia at 12:32, before finishing the first half on a 22-6 run to lead 42-16 at halftime.
Arizona shot 50 percent from the field in the first half (19-38), while limiting Nicholls State to just 6-of-22 shooting (27 percent) from the floor.
UA scored the first five points of the second half to take a 47-16 lead at 18:19, and finished the half with a 9-3 run to win by 42 points, the Wildcats' biggest advantage of the game.
ABOUT THE COLONIALS:
The George Washington University Colonials (2-0) enter Friday's matchup with Arizona ranked No. 25 in the nation. GW has collected wins against Maryland-Baltimore County (72-58), and Coppin State (63-53). As a team, GW shoots 45 percent from the field (48-106), 46 percent from three-point range (11-24), and 63 percent (28-44) from the free throw line. GW has out-rebounded its opponents 77-59 in its first two games. Junior guard Sarah-Jo Lawrence leads the Colonials in scoring at 17.0 ppg, and junior guard Kimberly Beck adds 11.5 ppg. Head coach Joe McKeown is in his 18th season at the helm of the GW program.
ABOUT THE TERRAPINS:
The University of Maryland Terrapins (2-0) enter the weekend as the unanimous top team in the land, after winning it all last season. The Terps own wins over Middle Tennessee State (80-76) and George Mason (99-43), and will play TCU on Friday before facing UA on Saturday. As a team, Maryland shoots 64 percent (68-107) from the field, 48 percent (15-31) from beyond the arc, and 70 percent (28-40) from the charity strip. The Terps out-rebounded their first two opponents 73-58, and dished out 39 assists. Five Terrapins average double-figure points led by junior center-forward Crystal Langhorne with 15.0 ppg. Former Arizona Wildcat Brenda Frese is in her fifth year at the helm of the Maryland program.
ABOUT THE LADY FROGS:
The TCU Horned Frogs (0-0) open their regular season on Friday against Maryland, and play George Washington on Saturday before squaring off with UA on Sunday. TCU beat Lake Truck Lines, 76-70, in an exhibition game on Nov. 5. TCU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, posting a 19-12 overall record with an 11-5 Mountain West mark. TCU returns 10 letterwinners from last season, including four starters, highlighted by junior guard Adrianne Ross who averaged 12.2 ppg and 3.0 apg in 2005-06. Head coach Jeff Mittie is in his eighth season at the helm of the TCU program.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON-ARIZONA SERIES:
Friday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between Arizona and George Washington on the hardwood.
THE MARYLAND-ARIZONA SERIES:
Maryland leads the all-time series with Arizona with a mark of 2-0, as the teams will meet for the third-consecutive season. The Terps defeated Arizona, 84-77, in overtime in McKale Center on Jan. 29, 2005, and ran away with a 92-67 win over the Wildcats last season on Dec. 11, 2005.
THE TCU-ARIZONA SERIES:
Sunday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between Arizona and TCU on the hardwood.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS:
Arizona returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's team that went 8-22 and 3-15 in the Pac-10. The Wildcats feature five newcomers to the lineup, including two sets of twins.
The Wildcats will welcome back a group of experienced players that accounted for 76 percent of its scoring and 78 percent of its rebounding from a year ago. Arizona returns senior Joy Hollingsworth, the team's leading scorer and rebounder from last season at 14.4 ppg and 6.0 rpg. Junior Ashley Whisonant returns at the point after posting 13.7 points and 3.4 assists per game in 2006.
Junior Jessica Arnold, and sophomores Whitney Fields, Kelsey Burns, Malia O'Neal, and Amina Njonkou return to this year's lineup, as does senior Linda Pace, who has recovered from season-ending knee injury. Junior Shannon Hobson returns to the post after a redshirt season.
ABOUT THE NEWCOMERS:
Arizona features a talented group of newcomers, headlined by two sets a twins and a talented guard from Las Cruces, N.M. Junior college transfers Beatrice and Suzy Bofia will add much needed size to the Wildcat line up this season standing at 6-7 and 6-6 respectively.
Beatrice and Suzy, from Yaound?©, Cameroon, spent the last two seasons at Illinois Central College. Beatrice averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 2004-05, and 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds last season, as Illinois Central won the NJCAA Division II national championship.
Suzy posted impressive numbers in her two seasons at Illinois Central College. In 2004-05, she average 9.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game and was named to the all-tournament team at the NJCAA Division II national championships after averaging 10.0 points and 11.7 rebounds. Last season, she averaged 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds a game for the national championship squad, and was named a Kodak honorable mention All-American while setting school records for rebounds in a season (328) and rebound average (9.6).
Rhaya and Rheya Neabors are also twins from Fullerton, Calif., who size in at 6-foot-1 apiece, and will add more options for the Arizona lineup in the post and on the wing. Freshman guard Marie McGee completes the group of newcomers, standing at 5-7, and will vie for playing time in the UA backcourt.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI:
The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 15 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.
Under Bonvicini's tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 10 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history. During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.
Bonvicini's success is mirrored in her players' accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 21 All-Pac-10 honorees, 16 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 11 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 267-182 (.595) mark at Arizona and is 592-253 (.701) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just eight wins to become the 13th coach in NCAA history to reach 600 career wins. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.
THE REST OF THE STAFF:
Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983): Enters her sixth 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.
Todd Holthaus (Grand Canyon, 1995): Enters his second season with the Wildcats after serving as the head coach at Flowing Wells High School for seven years. He is responsible for post player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Jonelle Streed (St. Cloud State, 2003): Enters her first season as assistant coach after having spent the previous two seasons as the program's graduate assistant video coordinator. She is responsible for perimeter player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
After an impressive preseason, sophomore forward Amina Njonkou kept her monstrous play in the paint going in the Wildcats' season opener against Nicholls State. Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with career-highs (and game highs) of 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Foumban, Cameroon native was 7-of-12 from the floor, 3-for-3 from the free throw line, collected six offensive rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 19 minutes of action.
LOOK'N FOR A DIME:
Arizona collected 21 assists in the season opener against Nicholls State off of 34 field goals (62 percent), to combat 18 turnovers. Sophomore Malia O'Neal accounted for a team-high seven assists in the game.
Sophomore Whitney Fields proved to be a valuable player off the bench for the Wildcats in the season opener. In just eight minutes, Fields posted 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, with five rebounds, an assist, and a team-high two blocked shots.
RUN IT, RUN IT:
Arizona showed a tendency of putting together some killer scoring runs during its two preseason games, and kept the trend going against Nicholls State on Tuesday. After trailing 7-6 to the Colonels in the first half, UA put together a 30-5 scoring run over 12:50 midway through the first to take a commanding 36-12 lead. In the second half, Arizona finished the game on an 18-6 run in the final 7:50 to win by 42 points, the Wildcats' biggest advantage of the night.
Arizona's post play powered the Cats to their 83-41 win over Nicholls State. The Arizona post, led by Amina Njonkou's 17-point performance, accounted for 50 of the team's 83 points, which translates into 60 percent of the scoring production. Arizona finished the game with 48 points in the paint.
ON THE REBOUND:
Arizona controlled the boards significantly against Nicholls State, out-rebounding the Colonels 56-22 in the game. The Wildcats also pulled down 24 offensive boards, which helped lead to 25 second-chance points
The Wildcats were very successful at picking the pockets of the Colonels in the season opener. Arizona registered 11 steals, while forcing 25 turnovers. Arizona was able to register 27 points off of the 25 turnovers by Nicholls State.
Arizona scored 20 fast-break points in the season opener against Nicholls State, compared to just two fast-break points for the Colonels.
Arizona reserves combined for 32 points off of the bench in Tuesday's win, led by 10 points from sophomore Whitney Fields and freshman Rheya Neabors.
GOTTA HAVE IT:
If there is one area for improvement from the Cats' season-opener, it is from the charity stripe. Arizona shot 55 percent (11-20) from the free throw line against Nicholls State. Arizona shot 69 percent (390-565) from the free throw line last season.
Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it. In the season opener, eight players registered double-figure minutes, with 13 players getting at least five minutes of playing time.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH SEVENTH IN PAC-10:
The University of Arizona women's basketball team was selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conference's head coaches on Oct., 16. The Wildcats garnered 32 points in the poll, as defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this year's Pac-10 title.
The Cardinal received nine of 10 first-place votes and 81 points, as Arizona State received the remaining first-place nod and tallied 70 points to place second. USC was tabbed to finish third with 63 points, followed by California and Washington with 53 points for a tie for the fourth-place slot. UCLA grabbed 46 points to place sixth, followed by Arizona (32), as Oregon (22), Washington State (16) and Oregon State (14) rounded out the poll.
Arizona was also selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Media Poll released Nov. 7.
Like every season, Arizona competes against some of the toughest competition in the nation. This year will be no different. The Wildcats will face a strong non-conference slate to go along with the always-difficult Pac-10 Conference season. Arizona will play 20 games this season against 12 teams that participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will face defending national champion Maryland and NCAA Tournament teams George Washington and TCU in the first week of the season. Arizona also hosts NC State, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico, and travels to Texas A&M and Utah. After the brutal non-conference slate, Arizona must throw blows with its Pac-10 Conference foes, including Arizona State, California, Stanford, Washington, USC, and UCLA, all tournament teams from a year ago.
Arizona's tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this year's preseason rankings. In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top-25 Poll, nine of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the season. Defending champs Maryland tops the list at No. 1 in the nation, followed by No. 4 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 20 New Mexico, No. 21 California, No. 22 USC, No. 23 UCLA, and No. 25 Washington. Additionally, five other Arizona opponents (George Washington, Utah, TCU, Louisiana Tech, and NC State) received double-digit votes in the poll.
Last season, the Pacific-10 Conference placed six teams in the NCAA Tournament (Stanford, Arizona State, California, USC, UCLA, Washington) the most ever fielded in one postseason in conference history. Those same six teams from the Pac-10 are listed in the Top-25 rankings.
Arizona is 35-16 (.686) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of November, including a 23-9 (.718) mark in the month since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
Arizona will return home to host North Carolina State on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.