Coming into the 2011-12 women's basketball season for the Arizona Wildcats, sophomore Candice Warthen was supposed to be one of the squad's best players.
May 10, 2012
By Adam Gonzales
Coming into the 2011-12 women's basketball season for the Arizona Wildcats, sophomore Candice Warthen was supposed to be one of the squad's best players. She proved the expectations correct and put together a strong start to the season.
Warthen was red hot, averaging approximately 16 points per game through the first nine contests of the season, including a 36-point effort in the second game of the season against Georgia State, which was somewhat of a homecoming for her. Warthen is a native of Warrenton, Ga., and Georgia State is about a two-hour drive from Warrenton.
With seven of her first nine games scoring in double digits, Warthen was one of the main reasons the Wildcats started off the season with an 8-1 record.
Unfortunately, Warthen sustained a foot injury in a practice that would eventually sideline her for eight-straight games. Once she returned, she never really got back to the level she was playing at, which was a challenge for Warthen.
"It was very frustrating because I am so used to being healthy," Warthen said. "I've never had to experience an injury in my entire career, including high school, so it was very frustrating because I could only watch, especially because I was playing so well before the injury."
It was no coincidence that once Warthen was unavailable to play, the Wildcats struggled a bit. They lost three of their first four Pac-12 games and clearly needed her presence back on the court. Once she did come back, it was very difficult for Warthen to get back into the flow of the game.
"That was the most difficult part," Warthen said. "I learned a lot watching the team when I was injured, and I tried to apply everything I learned to my game as much as possible. I had to get back into my rhythm after being off my feet for so long, but I never really found it until the last couple of games. I tried to stay as positive as I could throughout the season, though."
While Warthen was hurt, her main job was to be a student of the game by watching what was going on during the games, and seeing what she can do for the team when she would eventually return to the court.
"I was supposed to learn from all the mistakes I saw," Warthen said. "I was just watching and helping my teammates out as much as I could, as well as myself."
Warthen is trying to rebound from her frustrating season last year by being the best she can be and by staying healthy all year. She also has a very good feeling about this upcoming season, and that the Wildcats will improve a lot in the 2012-13 season.
"I'm actually feeling really good about next season," Warthen said. "June and July are always the months where I get the most work in, so I'm really excited. I can't wait."
The main goal of Warthen for her team is to bring back a winning mentality to the Wildcats. She also wants to improve their record from last year, which was 15-17.
"I just want to have a winning, and successful season," Warthen said. "I want to be above .500, and I really want to get to the tournament, that is my main goal. That is all I want."
Warthen has proven to her teammates that she is a very talented player. Even with missing nine games last season, she had the second-highest scoring average with 11.7 points per game only trailing Davellyn Whyte. For 2012-13, Warthen has her eyes on the Arizona record books.
"Since I have been here, I haven't really accomplished much of anything," Warthen said. "I just want to do as much as I can and play as hard as I can. I just want to accomplish something in my career."
Warthen has had somewhat of a personality change since she became a Wildcat. She was quiet and reserved when she got here, but that Candice is now long gone, especially when she took her visit to Tucson three years ago.
"I have always been a shy and reserved person," Warthen said. "When I got here, I would smile a lot and talk a lot. I just got a great vibe from the coaches, and that is why I wanted to come here."
Warthen is going to have to take on a bigger role this upcoming year, especially with the departure of guard Shanita Arnold. Along with fellow upperclassmen Whyte and Erica Barnes, Warthen is looking to lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament and help her team contend for the Pac-12 title.