May 30, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. -
As the school year comes to a close, most college students head home and prepare for a summer away from school. But the Arizona women’s basketball team has a different agenda.
The squad will return to campus on Sunday, June 2 to begin its summer training, which will last through the first week of August. For the first time ever, coaches will be able to be a part of the team workouts and the Arizona staff will take full advantage of this opportunity.
“This is the first time we have ever been allowed to work out with our teams,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “I’m excited for it. I think it’s going to be good for us, even though it’s a short period of time in terms of hours. I think we can accomplish a lot in that time.”
In addition to team workouts, the Wildcats will take summer school classes, go through strength and conditioning workouts and participate in community service.
With the exception of the new rule, summer training for college women’s basketball players has not differed much in years past.
“The concepts are still the same in terms of being there and working with the team,” Butts said. “You’re getting to spend time on the floor and you’re getting better. However, not having the coaches there makes it a little bit different, because you’re relying on your teammates, or the things that you’ve learned throughout the course of the year to get through those workouts. I think that having coaches’ instruction is going to make players better.”
The new rule causes coaches to reflect on their playing experiences, specifically in summer workouts.
“Everybody was always competitive,” Butts said. “Everyone always wanted to win, everyone’s end goal was exactly the same. We wanted to be the best. The whole atmosphere was very competitive in every aspect, but it was always very supportive as well.”
As a player at Tennessee, Butts enjoyed her summertime experiences.
“For me, it was an opportunity to go back to class, be around my teammates, be on campus and get back into the whole college experience,” Butts said. “I never looked at it in terms of how excited I was to get back to workouts. That stuff was second nature. It was just what we did.”
As the team returns, all of the coaches have high expectations for the incoming 2013-14 players.
“I think in summer, you have an opportunity to get more workouts in, because you don’t have the same responsibilities that you may have in a regular semester,” Butts said. “Summer is the time where you grow your game, it’s a time to get better.”
Arizona Women’s Basketball 2013-14 Season
The 2013-14 Wildcat team will feature four seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.
Despite losing Arizona seniors Davellyn Whyte and Cheshi Poston, the returning senior class comes in after making up 60 percent of Arizona’s scoring and 46 percent of rebounding in 2012-13 behind forwards Erica Barnes and Alli Gloyd and guards Carissa Crutchfield and Kama Griffitts.
In addition, junior standout Candice Warthen returns after sitting out in 2012-13 and part of 2011-12 with an injury. Layana White will join her in the junior class after averaging 17.0 minutes in 2012-13.
All three freshman in 2012-13 will return as well, including guards Farrin Bell will come in as a great addition to the sophomores as a 6-0 guard.
Arizona will welcome four freshman to the team, including one guard and three forwards. Ashley Merrill comes in as a 6-1 guard from Corona, Calif., Dezja James is a 6-1 forward from Elk Grove, Calif., LaBrittney Jones is a 6-1 forward from Cedar Hill, Texas and Breanna Workman is a 6-1 forward from Las Vegas.