Oct. 16, 2003
Arizona Women's Basketball
2003-04 Media Day
Head Coach Joan Bonvicini Quotes
Opening comments --
"I think the thing about this team is that we are very hungry. We wanted to get back into the NCAA tournament, and we achieved that. We were disappointed in the outcome; we felt like we were better than that. That's no disrespect to Notre Dame or any of the other teams...
"We feel like we have something to prove this year. I like the chemistry of the team. I like the experience coming back, and I like knowing that we're still pretty young.
"I think there are a number of question marks right now. The biggest one is who will play alongside Polkey (Shawntinice Polk) and take Krista Warren's spot. I think that there are a number of people who could do that. It could be by committee, it could be a freshman, it could be a returning player.
"The second question mark is whether Natalie Jones is ready to step up as a starter and be consistent. We'll see. I think she will have the opportunity, or it will be one of the younger players.
"The third thing, which I believe is really critical, is that we need to have really good contribution from our bench, and be consistent. The way to start all of this is to have great practices. We are going to find out right away which players are ready to show from the get-go that they're ready to play, and I know they have worked very hard in the off-season.
"Our freshmen were here for five weeks over the summer and took two classes, and they were able to work out. I just want to say we have some smart freshman. All of them are at a 4.0 right now. These kids work hard. They have high expectations for themselves.
"We are cautiously optimistic. This season is a marathon, not a sprint. We are going to be tested from the very beginning, so it is important that we get out on a positive note and do that in practice."
Do you think the biggest goal this year is finding someone to complement Polkey?
"I don't know if that's the biggest thing, but I think that it is an important ingredient. I think it is important that we have someone. We don't have a real slasher. We have some good talent. It is early. We are going to have some opportunities to see who is ready to step up. We have people who work very hard. Shannon Hobson is pretty good."
What has changed since last year?
"Things have changed offensively. We are going with more of a triangle offense. We know Polkey is going to get double-, maybe triple-, teamed. She is a very good passer. It is going to give her more of an opportunity to get the ball. I think it would be tougher for people to double-team her. It will also create more movement not only on the strong side but also on the weak side."
How much did last year's experience affect the team?
"It definitely helped; the players got a taste of NCAAs. They were obviously disappointed we didn't do better. They want to go back, and we feel like we have something to prove, but that is the end. You have to do all the things between now and March, and the season is long before you get to that point. We have an awfully difficult schedule, by design. I have never been shy about playing a good team."
"I think we know Polkey is going to get a lot of attention. We have a lot of good players alongside her. It will give other players opportunity to play with her. The difference between a good player and a great player is that a great player will make those around her better, and Polkey does that. She is unselfish. She wants so much attention for her team. When she steps on the floor, the only thing she cares about is the team winning. She does not care how we get there, she just wants the team to win. The other thing is practicing against her everyday. I've really talked to her about raising the bar and letting others play to her level. The level of improvement is amazing; she has improved tremendously. "
"Polkey has also matured (from a year ago). She is still very much a team player. Her experience this summer with Team USA and her experience over the course of the last year have all contributed. I think she has improved tremendously. I think all those things have helped the team mature and grow. She has a lot of expectations for herself, and those are good things. I don't think she thinks about those things selfishly -- all she does is care about the team."
" Dee-Dee Wheeler is a great player in her own right. I think she gets overlooked a little bit because of Polkey. They are a tremendous inside-outside combination, maybe one of the best in the Pac-10, if not one of the best in the country. We've got a legit player inside who is able to make, with Dee-Dee, great passes. It is pretty exciting."
What's the team's strong suit?
"We have a legitimate great player on the inside and two very experienced guards in the backcourt with Dee-Dee and Aimee Grzyb, who are good shooters. We have a very quick team. We're good athletically, we're a good rebounding team and a good shooting team."
"If we want to win games, we have to play defense and we have to rebound. One of the things we have to do better is make our free throws. We have to be a better free throw shooting team. We have to be better in the clutch. A lot of that comes with leadership and experience. Having Dee-Dee and Aimee a year older I think will help."