WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (No. 17 AP/No. 16 USA Today) will close out its six-game homestand this week with a contest against Northern Illinois on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. in the McKale Center.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP: 45 Elizabeth Pickney F 6-4 So. Houston, TX 13.5 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.3 bpg 53 Tatum Brown F 6-4 Sr. Tacoma, WA 17.5 ppg 7.5 rpg 0.5 bpg 20 Julie Brase G 5-9 So. Tucson, AZ 9.5 ppg 3.1 rpg 2.3 apg 22 Monika Crank G 5-7 Sr. Page, AZ 5.9 ppg 3.8 rpg 2.6 apg 23 Felecity Willis G 5-7 Sr. Apple Valley, CA 7.9 ppg 5.8 apg 1.4 spg OFF THE BENCH (listed alphabetically): 33 Tysell Bozeman G 5-8 So. Riverside, CA 2.0 ppg 0.8 rpg 0.2 apg 10 Reshea Bristol G 5-10 Jr. Omaha, NE 4.9 ppg 3.0 apg 2.5 spg 3 Lisa Griffith G 5-6 Sr. Portland, OR 8.6 ppg 2.5 rpg 3.5 apg 34 Angela Lackey F 6-0 Sr. Louisville, KY 12.3 ppg 4.9 rpg 1.4 spg 51 Michelle Mitchell C 6-4 So. Oregon City, OR 1.7 ppg 2.0 rpg 21 Jamie Sturdivant G 5-7 Fr. Simi Valley, CA 0.0 ppg 0.3 rpg 50 LaKeisha Taylor C 6-4 So. Houston, TX 2.1 ppg 2.2 rpg 0.5 bpg 35 Krista Warren G 6-2 Fr. Cloverdale, CA 2.2 ppg 2.1 rpg 0.5 apg
ABOUT ARIZONA: The 17th-ranked Wildcats improved to 8-0 on the year after garnering victories over Texas Southern (96-46) and Indiana (87-70) to win their own Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic last weekend. The Cats have extended their home win streak to 13 games, the longest home win streak in UA women's basketball history. Arizona, one of only 11 teams in the nation remaining undefeated on the season, moved up two spots in this week's AP poll from No. 19 last week.
With 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, senior forward Tatum Brown remains the UA leader in both categories. Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney is second in both, with 13.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg, and senior forward Angela Lackey is third in both at 12.3 ppg and 4.9 rpg.
As a team, Arizona is leading the Pac-10 in scoring offense (85.0 ppg), scoring margin (+18.4 ppg), field goal percentage (.502), three-point percentage (.406), assists (19.88 apg) and defensive rebounds (26.63 drpg). Junior guard Reshea Bristol is tied for first in the Pac-10 with 2.50 steals per game, and senior guard Felecity Willis is tops in assists (5.75 apg). Tatum Brown has the best field goal percentage, at .691.
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS: The Huskies have struggled so far this season, standing at 1-6 on the year after a 63-48 loss at Western Illinois on Sunday. NIU lost its first five games of the year before earning a 67-55 win over Montana State at home on Dec. 3.
Two Huskies are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by junior center Michelle Johnson with 16.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Charbea Haller is averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 2.3 assists per game, while freshman guard Kristan Knake is second on the squad in rebounding, at 5.0 per game.
NIU head coach Carol Hammerle (Northern Michigan, 1970) is in her second year of rebuilding the Huskie program after posting a very successful 25-year stint at Wisconsin-Green Bay. She has an 11-22 record in two seasons at NIU and holds a 468-249 record in her 27th year as a head coach.
THE SERIES: The series between Arizona and Northern Illinois is tied with one win apiece. Northern Illinois took the last meeting between the two teams, 92-86, in DeKalb on Dec. 22, 1994.
CONNECTIONS: UA associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello played for Northern Illinois from 1987-91 and remains one of the top players ever to come out of the NIU program. Eleven of the school records she set while there still stand.
HISTORY LESSON: The Cats have played on Dec. 15 only twice before and won both games. Arizona last played on that date in 1990, a 68-58 win over Northern Arizona at home.
ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: Senior forward Tatum Brown hit 11-of-15 from the floor and racked up her second double-double (26 pts., 11 reb.) of the year while leading the Cats to an 87-70 win over Indiana in the championship game of the Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic on Sunday. The game was close early until the Cats used a 22-7 run that gave them a 12-point (30-18) lead midway through the first half. The UA pushed the lead out to as much as 18 (48-30) late in the period and took a 13-point (52-39) advantage into the break. Indiana made a small run at the Cats that brought the Hoosiers to within nine (52-43) early in the second, but that was as close as IU would get. The UA stretched the lead back out to 24 points twice in the second half and snagged the win. Brown's 26 points led all scorers, and fellow senior forward Angela Lackey was the only other Wildcat to reach double digits in scoring, tallying 11 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. Julie Brase and Reshea Bristol had nine points each for the Cats, while Lisa Griffith and Felecity Willis had eight apiece.
WILDCATS CLAIM TITLE OF INSIGHT.COM BOWL BASKETBALL CLASSIC: After falling in the championship game of the 1998 tournament, Arizona re-claimed the title of its ninth annual Insight.com Bowl Basketball Classic with victories over Texas Southern (96-46) and Indiana (87-70) last weekend.
The UA's Tatum Brown was unanimously voted the Tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 20.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals over the two games. Angela Lackey was named to the All-Tournament Team, as well.
Arizona has made it to the championship in each of the nine tournaments and has claimed the title in four of the last five tourneys.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Cats open a three-game road swing at Kansas on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. CST. After Christmas break, the UA wraps up non-conference play at the Seelbach Cardinal Classic in Louisville, Ky., on Dec. 28-29.
THOUSAND WATCH: Senior guard Lisa Griffith is only 16 points from becoming only the eighth player in Arizona women's basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in scoring.
BREAKING THROUGH: Senior guard Felecity Willis is the latest addition to Arizona's all-time top 20 scoring list. She has 782 career points, which puts her in the #20 spot, bumping former teammate DeAngela Minter off the list (773 pts.). Willis needs just 16 points to slide up into the #19 spot.
A GREAT START: Arizona's perfect 8-0 start this season by far outweighs last year's 5-3 beginning and is the best start since the 1995-96 team began its season with a school-record 9-0 mark.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Arizona is currently riding a 13-game home win streak, dating back to Jan. 4, 1999. This is the longest home win streak ever in the history of UA women's basketball. The previous long streak was a string of 10 games midway through the 1997-98 season.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, PART DEUX: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted an 85-38 mark in McKale Center, including a 54-10 record over the last five seasons combined. Arizona has a record of 151-146 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: In nearly a decade at the helm of the University of Arizona's women's basketball program, head coach Joan Bonvicini has collected an unparalleled list of accomplishments, both for the university and for her career.
Now in her ninth year at the UA, Bonvicini has posted a 142-98 (.592) mark and has a 467-169 (.734) record in 20 years as a collegiate head coach. She also has a 22-13 mark in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game 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.
RACKING UP THE WINS: Joan Bonvicini needs only 17 more victories at the UA to collect as many wins as the six previous Wildcat coaches combined.
BONVICINI VS. NIU: Head coach Joan Bonvicini has a career record of 1-1 against Northern Illinois.
THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach during the summer of 1998, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1991) begins her eighth year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and the perimeter coach. Second-year assistant coach Karen Caires (Cal State Northridge, 1990) works with the perimeter players, assists with scouting and recruiting and directs the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp. In his first year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved primarily with scouting and with coaching the post players.
DOVE IANELLO AMONG TOP ASSISTANTS: In a survey of women's basketball head coaches conducted by the Women's Basketball Journal last fall, Arizona associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello received votes for consideration as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.
DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 72-72 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 38-16 league mark over the last three seasons combined.
ARIZONA'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Here is the upcoming practice schedule for the Wildcats...
Tues. Dec. 14 3:30-5:30 McKale Wed. Dec. 15 vs. Northern Illinois, 7 p.m. McKale Thurs. Dec. 16 3-5 p.m. Bear Down Fri. Dec. 17 OFF Sat. Dec. 18 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Bear Down lifting after Sun. Dec. 19 2-4 p.m. McKale Mon. Dec. 20 depart for Kansas Tues. Dec. 21 at Kansas, 7:05 p.m. CST Wed. Dec. 22 Players depart from Kansas for Christmas break Dec. 22-25 Christmas break Sun. Dec. 26 Team meets in Louisville, Ky.
BENCH CONTRIBUTIONS: The UA bench has been quite productive already this season, contributing an average of 30.0 points per game. The highest point total from the bench so far this year came on Dec. 10 against Texas Southern -- a whopping 47 of the Cats' 96 points came from the subs.
GOIN' DEEP: The best evidence that the UA is a deep squad this season? Lots of people playing lots of minutes. Currently, seven different Wildcat regulars are averaging more than 20 minutes a game, and two more are seeing over 10 minutes a contest. That's nine players averaging more than double digits in playing time.
GOIN' DEEPER: Joan Bonvicini made very good use of her bench against Texas Southern on Dec. 10. Eleven players saw 10 minutes or better in playing time during the contest.
STRONG SCHEDULE: There are a lot of quality teams which stand between the Wildcats and a fourth straight NCAA appearance in 2000. This year's slate features eight teams which earned NCAA berths last season, including two schools -- UCLA and Colorado State -- that played one another in the Sweet Sixteen.
Pac-10 foe UCLA is ranked sixth in this week's A.P. poll, while Oregon is 15th, Kansas is 20th and UC Santa Barbara is 23rd. Stanford and Hawai'i both received votes for ranking this week.
In this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, UCLA is tied for No. 8, Oregon is No. 14, Kansas is No. 18 and UC Santa Barbara is No. 22. Stanford, Colorado State, Hawai'i and Louisville all received votes for ranking.
DUALLY SUCCESSFUL: Eleven schools have both their men's and women's basketball teams ranked among the A.P. Top 25 this week. They are Arizona, Connecticut, Auburn, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Illinois and Purdue.
WE CAN HANDLE THE CLOSE ONES...: Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Cats have gone 23-16 in games settled by five points or less, including a 7-4 mark in games settled by one or two points.
...BUT WE REALLY PREFER THE BLOWOUTS: Over the last nine seasons, Bonvicini's Arizona teams have won 47 games by spreads of 20 points or more.
80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Seems that the 80-point mark almost always means adding another to the "win" column for the Wildcats. In the 28-year history of Arizona women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 115-15 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 75-8 when topping that 80-point plateau.
CAT SCRATCHES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 17 of its last 20 games... The Cats are forcing opponents to commit an average of 5.0 more turnovers per game than the UA... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 301-389 (.436) all-time record, however it is 105-53 (.665) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 162-86 career record against Pac-10 teams.
KEYS TO THE WIN: This season, Arizona is... 7-0 when out-rebounding its opponent... 8-0 when shooting better than 40% from the field... 8-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 7-0 when three or more players reach double digits in scoring.
RECORD WATCH: Lisa Griffith is Arizona's career leader in both three-pointers made (227) and attempted (607). She recently moved up to the #8 spot on the UA's top-20 all-time leading scorers' list, and with 984 career points, she needs just 16 more points to move into the #7 spot.
Griffith is also on the career top-10 list for games started, coming in at #4 with 87 career starts. She stands at sixth on the career assists list, with 377, and ninth on the career steals chart, with 169.
Felecity Willis is seventh in career three-pointers attempted (151) and eighth in three-pointers made (41). She is holding down fifth place on the all-time assists chart, with her 418 career dishes putting her just one out of fourth place.
Willis is also the latest addition to Arizona's all-time top 20 scoring list. She has 782 career points, which puts her in the #20 spot.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney has already entered the UA's top 10 list for career blocked shots. She stands in seventh place with 45 career blocks.
ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 5-0 at home this season, 1-0 in road games and 2-0 in neutral contests. Arizona posted an 11-3 mark at home, was 5-8 on the road and notched a 2-0 record in neutral contests last year.
ARIZONA ON THE TUBE: The Wildcats are currently scheduled to make television appearances for four more games...
Tues. Dec. 21 at Kansas Sunflower Cablevision* 7:05 p.m. CST Sat. Jan. 22 USC Fox Sports Net 2 p.m. Sun. Jan. 30 Arizona State Fox Sports net 2 p.m. Sat. Feb. 19 at UCLA Fox Sports Net 1 p.m. PST (* broadcast in Lawrence, Kan., area on taped-delay basis)
RECORDS FALLING ALREADY: Tatum Brown's 11-of-12 shooting performance against Colorado State on Dec. 6 tied the UA single-game record for field goal percentage (.917). It is also a new McKale Center record, breaking the previous mark of 84.6 percent (11-13) set by former UCLA player Denise Curry on Jan. 17, 1981.
Arizona also set a new school record by hitting a sizzling 75.9 (22-29) percent in the first half against UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 30.
BROWN NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Dec. 6): Senior forward Tatum Brown was named the Pacific-10 Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Nov. 29-Dec. 5. Brown scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to lead No. 21 Arizona to an 86-76 upset over No. 15 UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 30. In just 26 minutes of action, she shot 9-for-12 (.750) from the field and 3-for-4 (.750) from the line.
The Player of the Week honor is the first of Brown's career, and the 17th all-time selection. Brown's honor followed Elizabeth Pickney's Player of the Week laurels the previous week, marking the first time in school history that the Wildcats have had back-to-back Pac-10 Players of the Week.
BETTER SUCCESS WITH RANKED TEAMS: After earning a mere 1-7 mark against nationally ranked teams last year, the Cats have already equalled that win total against ranked teams this season. On Nov. 30, the UA earned an 86-76 upset of No. 15 UC Santa Barbara, the highest ranked team the Cats have defeated since they garnered a 91-90 victory over 11th-ranked Stanford on Jan. 12, 1998.
SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT: The Cats shot a school-record 75.9 percent (22-29) from the floor in the first half of the UCSB contest on Nov. 30. For the game, they shot 63 percent (34-54), the highest field goal percentage for any team since the school record was set at 64.3 percent (36-56) against Drake on Nov. 25, 1990.
PICKNEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Nov. 29): Elizabeth Pickney was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Nov. 15-28. Pickney averaged 16.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game in the UA's four straight victories to open the season. She shot a team-high .575 (23-40) from the field and .720 (18-25) from the line during that stretch.
Pickney was named the Tournament MVP at the Hawaiian Regent Wahine Classic, leading Arizona to the team title with three wins. In the tourney, she averaged 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Player of the Week honor was the first of Pickney's career and the 16th all-time selection for Arizona.
SULTANS OF SWAT: The Wildcats racked up nine blocked shots in the contest against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 20. That is the highest single-game block total since the 1985 squad collected 10 at Tennessee-Chattanooga on Jan. 5, 1985. Elizabeth Pickney had five of the UA's blocked shots against Tennessee Tech, a career high for her.
As a team, Arizona collected 20 blocks over the first four game of the year, the highest block total ever over that stretch in any season.
CATS TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HAWAIIAN REGENT WAHINE CLASSIC: The Wildcats swept through three games in Honolulu on Nov. 19-21 to take the title at the Hawaiian Regent Wahine Classic, hosted by the University of Hawai'i.
Arizona garnered victories over Oklahoma (75-59), Tennessee Tech (87-71) and host team Hawai'i (86-73) to open the 1999-2000 season with a perfect 3-0 mark.
Elizabeth Pickney averaged 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Cats and was the overwhelming favorite for tournament Most Valuable Player laurels. Felecity Willis and Tatum Brown were named to the All-Tournament Team, as well.
GOOD BEGINNINGS: With Joan Bonvicini at the program's helm, the Wildcats have won five straight season openers and a total of seven in the nine years she has been at the UA.
In the 28 years of Arizona women's basketball, the Wildcats have won 15 season openers. The UA went on to post winning records in eight of those first 14 seasons.
FUTURE WILDCATS: On the first day of the early signing period (Nov. 10), Arizona inked a trio of high school recruits from the state of California. The signees were 5-10 guard Candice Allen (Ontario, CA/Ayala HS), 5-7 guard Aimee Grzyb (San Jose, CA/Archbishop Mitty HS) and 6-3 forward Veranda James (Pomona, CA/Ganesha HS). Arizona still has three more scholarships to give for the 2000-2001 season.
WHAT THE COACHES THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's coaches...
1. UCLA 6. Washington 2. Oregon 7. USC 3. Stanford 8. Oregon State 4. ARIZONA 9. California 5. Arizona State 10. Washington State
WHAT THE MEDIA THINK: Here is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-10 this season, according to the league's women's basketball media members...
1. UCLA 6. Arizona State 2. Oregon 7. USC 3. Stanford 8. Oregon State 4. ARIZONA 9. California 5. Washington 10. Washington State
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: For the third year in a row, the Wildcats earned a preseason national ranking. The Cats were ranked 25th in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25, and they were 24th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Preseason Top 25.
The Wildcats were ranked among the top 25 teams in five different "unofficial" preseason polls this fall. The UA's highest ranking in these polls was 13th by Women's Basketball magazine and the lowest was 22nd by both Street & Smith's and the Basketball News Report.
Angela Lackey earned preseason third team All-America honors from Lindy's College Basketball and honorable mention All-America laurels from Street & Smith's College Basketball.
1998-99 IN REVIEW: Despite losing the squad's only two seniors before the season ever started, the very young 1998-99 Wildcats held their own and came up with an 18-11 overall record and went 12-6 in the Pac-10 to finish in fourth place.
The Cats faced a rough non-conference schedule that featured three teams which spent most of the season among the top four in the national rankings. Arizona went 5-4 against those non-conference opponents, with quality losses to Purdue, Louisiana Tech and Colorado State and a big road win over UC Santa Barbara.
That tough early slate prepared the Cats for a season of Pac-10 play which showed more parity than it has in years. After getting off to a rocky 1-3 start in league play, the Cats rebounded to finish the season 11-3, with wins over Pac-10 co-champion Oregon and over perennial power Stanford.
The Wildcats then received their third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament, earning a #6 seed in the Midwest Region. In Piscataway, N.J., Arizona faced NCAA tourney veteran Florida in the first round of play and defeated the Gators, 87-84, in overtime to move on to the second round for the third straight year. The Cats then took on host Rutgers, only to end the season on a sour note, falling to the Scarlet Knights, 90-47.
For the season, Arizona had its most balanced offense in five years, with four players averaging in double digits in scoring, and ended its season by winning 12 of its final 16 contests. The Cats broke or tied 13 school records on the year, including setting new marks in single season free throws made (520) and blocked shots (88).
With 14.4 points per game, Angela Lackey led four Wildcats averaging in double digits in scoring. Felecity Willis came in second with her 12.1 ppg scoring average, followed closely by Elizabeth Pickney at 11.4 ppg. Pickney was the team's top rebounder, with 5.8 per game, while Willis was the team's assists leader, averaging 5.5 apg. Lackey was second in rebounding with 5.4 rpg, and Reshea Bristol posted 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.