Arizona Media Day Quotes

Oct. 26, 2007

Head Coach Joan Bonvicini

Opening Statement...

'We are very excited to get the season underway. We have been preparing for this season since the first day after our season ended last year. What I mean by that is that we have been changing the mindset of our players at working hard, making each day better, and improving everyday.'

'We ended the season on a high note and had a great showing in the Pac-10 Tournament. Having the trip to Italy I definitely think helped in so many ways in continuing to get practices, getting a new experience for our players, being successful and I think it was great for our camaraderie and team chemistry.'

'Getting ready for the season has been excellent, but it is really about now. I am very pleased with the intensity of our practices. Our team is healthy, and we have new players who I think will definitely contribute. Our returning players are also improved.'

On Arizona's returning players...

'Ashley Whisonant is a better player than she was a year ago. She is poised to have her best year yet. Jessica Arnold had successful shoulder surgery this offseason and is finally healthy. I think having two senior guards in the backcourt will help this team.'

'Amina Njonkou had an excellent offseason and preseason. I think you'll see her not only start but also have a chance to be our leading scorer. She is quicker, stronger, and faster, and I think more than anything has more confidence.'

'Rheya Neabors is finally healthy. We saw glimpses of what she is capable a year ago, but had a stress fracture in her foot.'

'Beatrice Bofia is healthy too. She is 100 percent. I think with her it is just the confidence of trusting her knee, but she is doing great.'

'Our other players who came off the bench last season are ready to contribute more this season.'

Comments on Arizona's newcomers...

'Sarah Hays, who was a junior college All-American, is a strong, power lefty who has the talent to contribute right away for us.'

'Tasha Dickey, a lot of people in Tucson might be familiar with that last name. Her father (Charlie Dickey) was the offensive line coach here for years and is now the offensive line coach at Utah. He also played football here, and her mother also played basketball here in the early 1980s. She's been destined to be a Wildcat since she was born and is a great athlete, and I think is going to contribute and will be a very good player down the road.'

'Ify Ibekwe is a 6-foot-2 forward out of Los Angeles and has a lineage of basketball in her genes. Her older brother played at Oklahoma State, her other brother just finished his career at Maryland, and her sister is a junior at UCLA. She is living up to some great genes and will have a chance to contribute to our team.'

'We are very excited about this season. But the bottom line for us is that we need to get better, and get better every day.'

'How do you do that? You do it by having an attitude of working hard, and it starts on the defensive end and with rebounding. When you have an attitude of being aggressive defensively and rebounding, you have a chance to be in every game.'

'I do think we are much improved defensively and will be much improved offensively. The prognosticators put us at eighth, and I would probably put us at eighth too. But we don't plan on finishing there; we plan on finishing a lot better. But it is not about what we say, it is about what we do.'

'Team chemistry is as important as anything on this team, and that is something we work on everyday too. I think we are going to have great team chemistry. In order to do that, we need to have great team leadership, have everyone together, and focus on giving up for one another, and that is what it will take to be a great team.'

On the Arizona's past injuries...

'I definitely think we had the injury bug the last two years and that contributed to having a poor record. A year ago, after Polkey (Shawntinice Polk) passed away, emotionally that had an impact on us. It really had more of an impact I think than the public realizes. We are ready to move on, and you could really see a sparkle in everyone's eyes the last month of the season last year, and we are ready to shine and go back to what we are destined to do and what everyone came here to do, and that is to be successful.'

'I don't want to talk about winning games. I think it is about doing the little things that put you in position to be successful. Because if you do those things, success will follow. Success is an attitude, and I think being healthy is a big part of that too.'

On having a veteran backcourt...

'It is going to really help. As I said, Jessica Arnold is finally healthy, and Ashley Whisonant is a very talented player who will have to play a bigger role with bigger minutes this year. Jess Arnold will back Ashley up, and at times Rhaya Neabors will play a little bit of point guard too. She can do that, and actually likes to. So at times, we are going to have a bigger lineup.'

'When we recruited the Neabors twins, we knew they liked playing together and when they do play together they have a sixth sense when the other one is there. So at times we will be bigger in the backcourt.'

'Tasha Dickey gives us a great deal of athleticism and quickness, so we will be at times quick, and we will be able to put in some schemes offensively and defensively we haven't been able to do the last couple of years. Now we have some experience, we are more athletic, and we have more depth.'

On Arizona's goals this season...

'We want to be successful. I showed our team a video prior to practice a few weeks ago. It was a video off a player's camcorder when we went to the NCAA Tournament in 2005. It was pretty neat to see the excitement, and to see Jess and Ashley in that video as freshmen, and that is where we want to be again. There are a lot of things to do between now and then, but I know that's where they want to be and to solidify their senior year with some success.'?'We have had to go through some things that I wouldn't wish on anybody, but I think that makes you a stronger person. I think they have grown individually, as people and as players, and that makes you definitely more hungry.'

On the addition of assistant coach Bernard Scott...

'I really like him. I think he is a great person. He is a coach who is caring, experienced, and he is respected by his peers around the country and is an excellent recruiter. He has solidified our post, and I think you will see a significant improvement in our post. You will see that in scoring, rebounding and defensively. He has been working hard with our post and I think he has great communication skills.'

What she is expecting to see at the Red & Blue game...

'I'm looking to see what kind of condition our players are in, where we are defensively, who rebounds well, and what kind of unit we have and to see who works well with other teammates. I want to see where we are at offensively as far as our decision making and with our scoring. I think it is a great opportunity for everyone. When you put your uniform on and the lights go on, I think players really step it up and I want to see how our players perform under pressure.'

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