Dec. 31, 2003
WHAT'S HAPPENING: Riding a nine-game winning streak, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (10-2 overall, 2-0 Pac-10) will open 2004 with a pair of games against some tough competition this weekend.
On Friday, Jan. 2, the Wildcats will play host to rival Arizona State at 7 p.m. in McKale Center. A victory over ASU would allow the Wildcats to tie the school record for longest winning streak, at 10 games. Also, look for senior Aimee Grzyb to become the second Wildcat this season to reach 1,000 points in career scoring, as she is just three points away from that mark.
Sunday, Jan. 4, will see the Cats hit the road again, this time playing 17th-ranked Louisiana State at 12 p.m. CST in Baton Rouge. That contest will begin a three-game road swing for the Wildcats and will open a stretch during which Arizona will play six of its next eight contests away from the friendly confines of McKale Center.
CONNECTIONS: The game at LSU on Sunday will see Arizona's Shawntinice Polk reunited with two of her teammates from USA Basketball action last summer. Polk played with Tigers Seimone Augustus and Temeka Johnson on the U.S. squad that won the gold medal at the 2003 FIBA World Championship for Young Women in Sibenik, Croatia. In November, that team was also selected as the 2003 USA Basketball Team of the Year by the USA Basketball Executive Committee.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: Finishing the month of December with a perfect 7-0 record for the first time since 1995, the Wildcats are 10-2 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play after sweeping Washington (89-75) and Washington State (78-51) at home last weekend.
Winners of nine in a row, the Cats are on their longest winning streak since the 1999-2000 team opened that season with nine straight victories. At 10-2, Arizona is off to its best start since that 2000-01 team began the season with a 14-2 record. The Wildcats have also won 20 games in a row at home, the longest home win streak in the program's history.
For the first time in several weeks, the Wildcats have finally experienced an upswing in both national polls. After three weeks of just receiving votes for ranking, the Wildcats are ranked No. 25 in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll. In the Associated Press Top 25, the Cats earned 40 votes, a significant improvement over last week's 17 votes and the most since they received 47 votes the week of Dec. 1.
Sophomore All-America candidate Shawntinice Polk continues to lead Arizona in both scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg). Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second on the scoring chart, averaging 15.8 points per game, followed by senior guard Aimee Grzyb with 10.8 ppg.
Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 6.1 per game, and sophomore guard Natalie Jones is fourth in scoring at 8.0 ppg. Sophomore forward CoCoa Sanford is just behind Adefeso in rebounding, grabbing an average of 5.2 per game.
ARIZONA POSSIBLE STARTERS:
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, So., Hanford, Calif.)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, Jr., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Sr., San Jose, Calif.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, So., Anchorage, Alaska)
OFF THE BENCH:
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, So., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, So., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Sr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#50 - Shannon Hobson (F/C, 6-2, Fr., Perris, Calif.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, So., Glengowrie, Australia)
#10 - Linda Pace (G, 5-9, Fr., San Diego, Calif.)
#25 - Rachael Schein (G/F, 5-11, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is just three points away from becoming the 12th Wildcat ever to reach the 1,000-point mark in career scoring. She has 997 career points.
HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 20: With their win over Washington State on Dec. 29, the Wildcats extended their home winning streak to 20 games, a new school record for the longest home winning streak in the program's history. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.
TALK ABOUT HAPPY HOLIDAYS: The Wildcats finished the month of December with a perfect 7-0 record, going undefeated during the month for the first time since the 1996-97 team went 6-0 that December. This year's 7-0 mark is also the best record for the month since the Cats went 8-0 in December of 1995.
ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Dec. 29, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage defense (.293) and in turnover margin (+4.00 topg). The Cats are also second in scoring (74.6 ppg), second in scoring margin (+13.4 ppg), second in field goal percentage (.459), second in overall field goal percentage defense (.387), second in rebounding defense (32.7 rpg), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.04), third in rebounding (39.7 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+7.0 rpg) and third in assists (16.42 apg).
Individually, Polkey is second in the conference in rebounding (8.9 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.580), second in blocks per game (2.33 bpg) and fourth in scoring (17.0 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in assists (5.42 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.81), sixth in scoring (15.8 ppg) and tied for eighth in steals (2.00 spg).
Aimee Grzyb is currently leading the Pac-10 in three-pointers made per game (2.00 pg) and is 13th in scoring (10.8 ppg), while Danielle Adefeso is 16th in rebounding (6.1 rpg). Natalie Jones stands seventh in assists (3.33 apg) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.43).
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: On a three-game win streak, the Sun Devils are 8-3 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 after sweeping Washington State (68-61) and Washington (84-81 overtime) at home over the weekend. ASU has won six of its last seven games, with the only loss in that stretch coming at No. 1-ranked Connecticut (81-55) on Dec. 18. Arizona State is not ranked but did receive three votes for ranking in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll.
Although only two Sun Devils are averaging in double digits in scoring, seven different players are posting five points or more per game. Junior wing Betsy Boardman leads ASU in scoring, averaging 11.7 ppg, closely followed by junior guard Kylan Loney with 10.4 ppg. Sophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy is ASU's top rebounder, at 6.5 per game, followed by fellow sophomore Amy Denson's 5.2 rpg.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne (Stanford, 1988) holds a 114-103 record in her eighth year with the Sun Devils. She has a career record of 154-143 in 10 seasons as a head coach.
THE SERIES vs. ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils have a 36-28 lead in the all-time series with Arizona, including five wins in the last seven meetings between the two teams. The squads split two games last season, with ASU winning on its home court (73-58) on Jan. 23 and the Wildcats winning in Tucson (72-52) on Feb. 22.
Arizona has a 13-16 all-time record when playing Arizona State at home. The Cats last lost to the Sun Devils in McKale on Feb. 24, 2001, a 70-67 defeat in overtime. Arizona's only two wins over ASU in the last three seasons were both in Tucson.
LAST MEETING WITH ARIZONA STATE: A 23-2 run midway through the first half propelled then-No. 25 Arizona to a 72-52 win over Arizona State at home on Feb. 22, 2003.
With a start that was reminiscent of the two teams' meeting one month earlier in Tempe, Arizona State jumped on the Wildcats immediately, running out to a 16-7 lead in the first eight minutes of the contest. This time, however, the Cats recovered from a bad start to put on a 23-2 run over the next eight minutes, gaining a 12-point (30-18) advantage with 4:03 to play in the half.
ASU got back to within eight points (34-26) with 16 seconds left in the period, but Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler nailed a three-pointer with three seconds remaining to give her team a 37-26 lead at the break.
The Wildcats didn't let up in the second half, opening the period with an 18-9 run that pushed their lead out to 20 points (55-35) at 12:01. The Sun Devils scrapped back to within 17 points (59-42) with 8:05 left, but that was the closest they would come for the rest of the game.
Wheeler finished with a game-high 18 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Shawntinice Polk earned her 18th double-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high five assists.
The Wildcat defense forced ASU into committing 27 turnovers and kept all five Sun Devil starters in single digits in scoring.
SCOUTING LSU: Ranked No. 17 in this week's AP Poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Coach's Poll, LSU holds an 11-2 record after handing Tulane a 65-42 loss in New Orleans on Tuesday night. After opening the season with a 1-2 record, the Tigers have won 10 games in a row.
Four Tigers are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by sophomore guard Seimone Augustus with 16.0 ppg. Senior guard Doneeka Hodges is second, at 14.4 ppg, followed by fellow senior Temeka Johnson with 13.8 ppg. Johnson is also the squad's top rebounder, grabbing an average of 5.7 per game.
In her 22nd season at LSU, head coach Sue Gunter (Peabody College, 1962) has a 426-215 record with the Tigers. She is 692-302 in 40 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
THE SERIES vs. LSU: The series between the Wildcats and the Tigers is tied at 1-1. During last year's season opener, Arizona took LSU into overtime before falling, 78-71, in Tucson. Arizona's lone victory over the Tigers was by a 71-62 margin on Dec. 2, 1994, in Tucson.
LAST MEETING WITH LSU: Then-third-ranked Louisiana State needed overtime to edge Arizona, 78-71, in the season opener in Tucson on Nov. 22, 2002.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start, opening up a five-point (7-2) lead in the first 1:20 of the game. LSU responded with six unanswered points to take a one-point (8-7) edge just two minutes later, then the Cats used an 11-4 spurt to gain a six-point lead (18-12) at 11:49. The Tigers out-scored the Wildcats, 21-8, over the next nine minutes to push out to a seven-point (33-26) cushion with just over two minutes remaining in the half. LSU led by six, 38-32, at the break.
Arizona opened the second half with its own 21-10 run to eke out a five-point (53-48) edge at 13:52 in the period. LSU scored 10 unanswered points over the next four minutes to regain a five-point (58-53) advantage. The Tigers still had a meager four-point (65-61) lead with 2:57 left in regulation, then Arizona's Aimee Grzyb nailed a lay-up with 2:39 left to cut the spread to two.
LSU turned the ball over and committed a foul, giving the Cats the chance to tie the game with a Dee-Dee Wheeler lay-up at 2:01. In the last two minutes, Arizona had three more opportunities to seal the win, but none of the shots would drop, sending the game into overtime.
The Cats opened the overtime with a Shawntinice Polk bucket, and the two teams traded baskets through the first two-and-a-half minutes on the clock. LSU gained a two-point (71-69) edge with 2:08 to play, then sent their lead to four (73-69) at 1:30. Arizona scored its final bucket of the game at 1:13 to get to within two (73-71), but the Cats were unable to make any other shots and were forced to foul down the stretch to stop the clock. LSU nailed three of its four free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the win.
Polk finished the game with an astounding 13-for-16 performance from the floor, racking up a game-high 29 points to go with 11 rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots in the best debut ever for an Arizona freshman. Senior Krista Warren had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Wheeler added 14 points and a trio of steals.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 29 of their last 36 home games and are 105-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 136-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 202-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.
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 13 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to seven post-season appearances, including five NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.
Entering her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 224-141 (.614) mark at Arizona and is 549-212 (.721) in 23 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-15 in NCAA tournament play and has lost in the first round only once 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.
DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 119-99 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 95-51 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.
LOOKING AHEAD: Pac-10 action continues for the Wildcats next weekend, as they remain on the road, playing in the Bay Area. Arizona takes on California on Thursday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. PST in Berkeley, then the Cats play at Stanford on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. PST.
Arizona returns home the following weekend to face USC on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. The Wildcats will play host to UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 4 p.m. in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION -- WASHINGTON STATE (Dec. 29): Despite a sluggish start, the Wildcats used a 16-0 run in the second half to put away the game and handed Washington State a 78-51 loss in Tucson on Dec. 29.
Neither team led by more than four points through the first 10 minutes of the game. The contest was tied at 11-11 at the 10:40 mark when the Wildcats ripped off six straight points to take a 17-11 lead at 8:35. Barely a minute later, WSU was back to within one (17-16). Arizona responded with a 10-3 spurt to gain an eight-point (27-19) advantage with 3:57 left in the half. The Wildcats held a 30-22 lead at halftime.
The Cats began the second half with a 9-4 spurt that pushed their lead to 13 points (39-26). Then Washington State went on a 9-2 run and slashed Arizona's edge to just six (41-35) with 13:38 to go. Over the next four minutes, the Cats capitalized on seven WSU turnovers and used a 14-0 run to go ahead by 20 points (55-35). The Cougars came no closer than 15 points for the rest of the game as Arizona won its 20th straight home game.
Reaching her fourth double-double of the season before halftime, Shawntinice Polk finished with game highs of 19 points and 17 rebounds, just one board off her career high. Dee-Dee Wheeler ripped off 19 points, 15 coming in the second half, and was credited with a game-high six assists.
Natalie Jones drained five of her six shot attempts, tallying 13 points and a game- and career-high five steals. Rookie Shannon Hobson was 4-for-5 from the floor on her way to a season-high 11 points.
WASHINGTON (Dec. 27): Featuring a well-balanced offense, the Wildcats logged a big 89-74 win over Washington at home to open Pac-10 play on Dec. 27.
The Huskies scrapped to an 8-4 lead at 17:24, which Arizona promptly tied at 8-8 just one minute later. The two teams traded buckets for the next five minutes, until the Wildcats scored 10 unanswered points to go ahead, 28-18, with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half. The closest Washington came for the remainder of the period was eight points, as Arizona finished the half on a 13-4 run to take a 46-29 lead into the break.
The Wildcats began the second half with a 5-0 spurt to stretch their lead to 22 points (51-29) at 18:38. Four minutes later, the Huskies had cut the lead to 16 (55-39), but the Cats used an 18-7 run to go back up by 27 points (73-46), their largest lead of the game, at 9:13.
Over the next five minutes, Arizona allowed Washington to hit five 3-pointers, as the Huskies mounted a comeback attempt and cut the lead to 14 points (80-66) with 4:08 to play. After an Arizona timeout, the Cats rebounded a missed Husky shot and converted it into an Aimee Grzyb three-pointer to stop Washington's momentum. The Wildcats out-scored the Huskies, 9-8, down the stretch to extend their streak of wins over UW in Tucson to nine.
Five Wildcats reached double digits in scoring, led by Shawntinice Polk's 19 points and game-high 15 rebounds, her third double-double of the year. Dee-Dee Wheeler finished with 19 points and six assists, while Aimee Grzyb and Natalie Jones added 17 points apiece. CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for 11 points, all in the first half, and grabbed six rebounds.
BEYOND THE ARC: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain an average of 5.8 three-point field goals per game, more than any other team in the Pac-10. Yet, the Cats are leading the conference in three-point percentage defense. Why? Because Arizona opponents are having to attempt an average of 19.9 three-pointers per game just to get those five to go down. No other Pac-10 team is facing that kind of a barrage -- the closest is UCLA, whose opponents are attempting an average of 16.2 three-pointers a game. Each of Arizona's last three opponents have thrown up 25 or more three-point attempts.
NICE WEEKEND: Sophomore guard Natalie Jones had a big weekend for the Cats as they opened Pac-10 play with a sweep of the Washington schools. In the first two conference games of the season, Jones averaged 15.0 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds per game. She also shot a blazing 71.4 percent (10-14) from the floor and 83.3 percent (10-12) from the line.
AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, or at least that's the way it has been for the last two years. Over the last two seasons, Arizona has posted a perfect 10-0 mark when Dee-Dee Wheeler reaches the 20-point mark. During Wheeler's career, the Wildcats have gone 28-5 when she scores 15 points or more.
In the Cats' 10 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 16.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and has hit 50.4 percent (66-131) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' two losses, Wheeler averaged only 11.0 ppg and shot a miserable 28.1 percent (9-32) from the floor.
LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 10-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field... 9-0 when tied or leading at the half... 9-0 when giving up 69 points or less... 7-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 8-1 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.
WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 72 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts happened last season alone, and the Cats have logged four more 20-plus wins already this year.
80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: It seems that the 80-point mark almost always means adding another to the "win" column for the Wildcats. In the 32-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 152-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 112-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.
GOING POLLING: Eight of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either nationally ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.
According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 9 and LSU is No. 17. UC Santa Barbara, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and California were among the teams that received votes for ranking.
In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 7, and LSU is No. 18. UC Santa Barbara, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, California and Arizona State were all among teams that received votes for ranking.
LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to the 2001-02 season, Arizona has won 12 of its last 18 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games during 2001-02, but were just 6-6 on TV last year.
CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 384-433 (.470) all-time record, however it is 174-76 (.696) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 210-112 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 7-0 record at home, are 2-1 on the road and 1-1 in neutral contests. Last year, Arizona was 13-1 at home, 7-6 on the road and 2-2 in neutral games.