Wildcat Women Off to ASU, Wisconsin This Week

Jan. 21, 2003

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The 19th-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (12-4 overall; 6-2 Pac-10) opens a four-game road swing and wraps up non-conference action this week. On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Wildcats will be looking for their first win in Tempe since 2000, when they face rival Arizona State at 6 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. From there, the Cats will travel up to Madison, Wis., to play at Wisconsin on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 1:30 p.m. CST in the Kohl Center.

#35 - Krista Warren (F/G, 6-2, Sr., Cloverdale, Calif.)
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, Fr., Hanford, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, So., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Jr., San Jose, Calif.)
#20 - Julie Brase (G, 5-10, Sr., Tucson, Ariz.)

OFF THE BENCH: (in numerical order)
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, Fr., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, Fr., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, Fr., Glengowrie, So. Australia)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, Fr., Anchorage, Alaska)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Jr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#31 - Robin Roberson (F/G, 6-0, So., Berkeley, Calif.)
#33 - Phakisha Peterson (G/F, 5-11, Fr., El Paso, Texas)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, So., Los Angeles, Calif.)

SCOUTING ARIZONA: With five wins in their last six games, the Wildcats are 12-4 overall and 6-2 in Pac-10 play after sweeping the L.A. schools at home last weekend. On Jan. 16, the Cats just slipped by USC, 79-76, but they recovered to hand UCLA its first conference loss of the season, 80-61, on Jan. 18. Eight of Arizona's 12 wins this season have been by 19 points or more. The Cats have moved up to third place in the Pac-10 standings, following Stanford (6-0) and UCLA (6-1). Washington is a very close fourth with a 5-2 conference mark.

The Cats moved back up to No. 19 in this week's Associated Press Top 25 and are No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll as well. They also jumped five spots to No. 16 in this week's WomensCollegeHoops.com Top 50. Arizona has been ranked in the AP Poll for eight consecutive weeks, their longest run in the rankings since staying among the top 25 during the entire 1999-2000 season (19 straight weeks).

With averages of 18.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, freshman center Shawntinice Polk continues to lead Arizona in both categories. With 12 double-doubles on the season, Polk already has the third-highest rebounding total (185) and the eighth-best point total (291) for any freshman in UA history.

Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in scoring, with 16.6 ppg, and is third in rebounding, with 5.1 rpg. Senior forward Krista Warren is second in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game, and is fourth in scoring (12.3 ppg). Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is third on the scoring chart (12.9 ppg), while senior guard Julie Brase leads the team with an average of 4.6 assists per game. Brase has already amassed a career single-season high of 73 assists-- her previous high was 70 assists in 27 games last year.

HOME WIN STREAK GOES TO EIGHT: The Cats have won eight games in a row at home. That's their longest home win streak since winning nine in a row at McKale from Nov. 18, 2000, to Jan. 13, 2001.

CATS IN THE PAC-10 STATS: As a team, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (78.5 ppg), field goal percentage (.504), three-point field goal percentage (.379) and assists (19.69 apg). Individually, Shawntinice Polk leads the league in rebounding (11.6 rpg) and is second in scoring (18.2 ppg), field goal percentage (.620) and blocked shots (2.12 bpg). Krista Warren is tops in field goal percentage (.645), Julie Brase is the conference leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.15), and Dee-Dee Wheeler leads the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage (.449).

CATS IN THE NATIONAL STATS: In this week's NCAA statistics, through games of Jan. 19, Krista Warren is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (.645), while Shawntinice Polk (.620) is 10th in the same category. Polk is also sixth in the nation in rebounding average (11.6 rpg), 28th in blocked shots (2.1 bpg) and 44th in scoring (18.2 ppg).

In the NCAA team stats, Arizona is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (.504), sixth in assists per game (19.7 apg), 15th in scoring (78.5 ppg), 27th in three-point field goal percentage (.379) and 29th in rebounding margin (+6.7 rpg).

WHEELER NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Jan. 20): Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler has been named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Jan. 13-19. Wheeler averaged 25.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while leading the Cats to a sweep of the Los Angeles schools at home last week. Wheeler shot 64.5 percent (20-of-31) from the field, including a blazing 70.0 percent (7-of-10) from 3-point range on the weekend.

Against USC Jan. 16, Wheeler shot 10-for-16 from the floor on her way to a game-high 23 points as the Cats edged the Women of Troy, 79-76. She pulled down six rebounds in the game and scored 16 second-half points. During USC's 15-4 run in the final four minutes, Wheeler scored Arizona's only four points, back-to-back, and provided UA with the cushion to win the contest.

Wheeler knocked down 10 of her 15 shot attempts Jan. 18 against UCLA, including a 6-of-8 mark from 3-point range, to score a game-high 27 points in Arizona's 80-61 win over UCLA. The victory snapped the Bruins' seven-game win streak and gave them their first Pac-10 loss on the year. Wheeler also recorded a career-high-tying nine rebounds in the contest and was key in stopping a comeback by UCLA. When the Bruins cut UA's lead to six points midway through the second half, Wheeler nailed her sixth 3-pointer of the game and added a lay-up immediately after that to put the Cats ahead by 11 points. UCLA never came closer than eight points the rest of the way.

The Player of the Week honor is the first for Wheeler, the 2002 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and the 27th all-time selection for Arizona.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: After opening the season with an 8-1 record, the Sun Devils have gone 3-5 since to stand at 11-6 overall and 3-5 in Pac-10 play. ASU was swept by the L.A. schools at home last weekend, falling to UCLA (60-58) on Jan. 16 and then to USC (58-53) on Jan. 18. Arizona State is 8-3 in home games this season.

With 15.1 points per game, freshman guard Jill Noe leads three Sun Devils averaging in double digits in scoring. Freshman forward Kristen Kovesdy and Amy Denson are tied for second, each averaging 11.2 ppg. Kovesdy is the team's top rebounder, averaging 6.7 per game, followed closely by Denson's 6.6 rpg.

ASU freshman forward Jenny Thigpin played basketball for three years with Arizona's Shawntinice Polk at Hanford (Calif.) High School. The two also played together for one season during middle school.

In her seventh year at the helm of the Arizona State program, head coach Charli Turner Thorne (Stanford, 1988) has a 101-92 record. She is 141-132 in nine seasons as a head coach.

THE SERIES vs. ARIZONA STATE: ASU has a 35-27 lead in the series with the Wildcats and has won four of the last five meetings with Arizona. The Cats won just one of the teams' three meetings last year, a 72-66 victory at home on Mar. 23, 2002. Arizona has a 12-18 all-time record when playing at Arizona State and hasn't had a win in Tempe since a 72-61 victory there on Feb. 26, 2000.

The Cats' series with Arizona State is the UA's second-oldest, as ASU was the second opponent the Wildcats played during their inaugural 1972-73 season. Arizona won that matchup, 50-39, on Feb. 2, 1973, at the District Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.

LAST MEETING WITH ARIZONA STATE: Scoring only four field goals in the second half, sixth-seeded Arizona was given an early exit from the inaugural State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament by rival and No. 3 seed Arizona State, 66-58, in Eugene, Ore., on Mar. 2, 2002.

Things looked promising for the Wildcats in the first half. The two squads began the contest by exchanging buckets, then Arizona used an 8-0 run to gain an eight-point (14-6) advantage five minutes into the game. ASU responded with a 9-2 spurt that cut the deficit to one (18-17) with 9:06 left in the first. The Wildcats managed to go back up by seven (26-19) three minutes later, only to see the Sun Devils tie the game at 26-all with 3:27 to play in the period. Arizona finished the half on a 10-0 run that gave it a 36-26 lead at halftime. The Cats shot 51.7 percent in the first half to ASU's 30 percent.

Arizona started the second half with three consecutive fouls, enabling the Sun Devils to score five unanswered points to begin the period. An Aimee Grzyb three-pointer, the only one of the contest for the Cats, at 15:40 in the second gave Arizona its last decent lead in the game, at eight points (41-33). Then the Cats went totally cold from the floor.

Over the next eight-plus minutes, Arizona committed five fouls and scored only seven points, while the Sun Devils put up 15 points and tied the game at 48-48 with 7:01 left. The Wildcats scrapped back out to four-point leads twice more in the waning minutes, but their sputtering offense never got back on track, as they made their last field goal of the game with 4:36 to play.

Candice Allen hit 8-for-10 from the floor on her way to a game-high 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Aimee Grzyb tallied 15 points, while Elizabeth Pickney had 10 points and seven rebounds as the only other Wildcat to reach double digits in scoring.

SCOUTING WISCONSIN: The Badgers are 3-12 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten action. On Jan. 19, they ended a seven-game losing skid and got their first conference win of the season with a 69-59 victory at home over Illinois. Wisconsin has a busy week lined up, playing at Iowa on Tuesday and at Indiana on Friday before facing the Wildcats on Sunday.

Only two UW players are averging in double digits in scoring, led by junior center Emily Ashbaugh's 10.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Stephanie Rich is a close second with a 10.0 ppg scoring average, and five other Badgers are averaging six points or more per game. Junior center Lello Gebisa is the team's top rebounder, at 6.5 per game.

Wisconsin head coach Jane Albright (Appalachian State, 1977) has a 157-98 record in nine years with the Badgers. Previously head coach at Northern Illinois University, Albright has a career mark of 345-208 in 19 seasons. Current Arizona associate head coach Denise Dove Ianello played for Albright at Northern Illinois from 1987-1991.

THE SERIES vs. WISCONSIN: Arizona and Wisconsin have met just once before on Nov. 24, 1984, at the Nebraska Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. The Wildcats won that matchup, 67-64.

RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND'S ACTION: The Wildcats extended their home win streak to eight games last weekend with a sweep of the L.A. schools. The two victories also helped the Cats move up a spot to third in the conference standings.

On Jan. 16, Arizona survived a late surge by USC to slip past the Women of Troy, 79-76. Down by three (16-13) at 10:53 in the first half, the Wildcats went on an 18-3 run over the next seven minutes to gain a 12-point (31-19) advantage with 3:48 left in the period. The Trojans managed to cut the lead to eight twice, but Arizona still led by 10 points, 37-27, at halftime.

USC used a big run midway through the second half to chop into the Wildcats' lead, but Arizona recovered for a 15-5 streak to gain a 14-point (75-61) advantage with 4:18 to play, the Cats' biggest lead of the game. Still leading by 13 with 2:36 left in the game, the Wildcat defense went to sleep, allowing USC to score 10 unanswered points and cut the spread to just three (79-76).

The Trojans intentionally fouled Aimee Grzyb twice in the final 25 seconds of the game to stop the clock. In shades of the Washington game, Grzyb missed all four of her free throw attempts. Fortunately for the Cats, USC missed a three-point attempt in the waning seconds, and Arizona hung on for the win.

Dee-Dee Wheeler led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the field. Shawntinice Polk finished the contest with 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season.

On Jan. 18, a 19-point halftime lead gave the Wildcats the cushion they needed to hand UCLA its first conference loss of the season, 80-61. Arizona opened the game with a 13-2 run over the first six minutes, then expanded that lead to 14 points (20-6) by 11:55. The Wildcats had a 42-23 lead at the break, their largest halftime advantage of the season to date.

UCLA came at the Cats hard to start the second half, and as the Bruins climbed back to within six points (53-47) at 11:26, Dee-Dee Wheeler drained a three-pointer, then made a layup right after that to send the Cats back up by 11 points (58-47). The Bruins were still within striking distance, down only eight points (65-57) with 4:11 to go, but the Wildcats finished the game on a 15-4 run that gave them their 19-point win.

Wheeler finished with a game-high 27 points, including a 10-for-15 performance from the floor. She also tied her career high with nine rebounds. Polk got her 12th double-double of the season, with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has nurtured the Wildcat program into an upward-rising powerhouse. In her previous 11 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini guided the Wildcats to six post-season appearances, including four NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

Now in her 12th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 204-134 (.604) mark at Arizona and is 529-205 (.721) in 23 years as a head coach. She is 23-14 in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game 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.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next week, the Wildcats continue their four-game road swing in Oregon. Arizona will begin the second round of conference action at Oregon State on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. PST, and then the Cats play at Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 12 p.m. PST in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

The Cats return home briefly for games against Washington (Feb. 6) and Washington State (Feb. 8) the following weekend, then they head for L.A. for the final road trip of regular season play.

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, or at least that's the way it's been for the last two weeks. Over the Cats' last three wins, Dee-Dee Wheeler averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game and shot 63 percent (29-46) from the field, including 66.7 percent (8-12) from three-point range. In the last two weeks, the only game where Wheeler was 'off' (just 11 points and 28.6 percent shooting from the floor) was the contest at Washington, which the Cats lost. On the season, Arizona is 5-0 when Wheeler reaches the 20-point mark, and she has hit better than 50 percent of her shots from the field in eight of the last nine games.

ARIZONA'S RECORDS THROUGH THE FIRST ROUND OF PAC-10 PLAY: With a current conference mark of 6-2, the Wildcats still have a chance to equal their best record ever through the first round of Pac-10 play, which was 7-2 in both the 1998 and 2000 seasons.

POLKEY GETS SOME 'LOVE' FROM S.I.: In the Jan. 20 issue of Sports Illustrated, Shawntinice Polk was listed as one of five collegiate women's basketball players who are 'Elevating the Game,' raising the level of play in the sport. The list included Polkey, UConn's Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard from Duke, Laurie Koehn at Kansas State and Stanford's Nicole Powell. Polkey was the only freshman on this very elite list.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: The Wildcats are 10-1 this season when out-rebounding their opponents... They are 1-3 when being out-rebounded... The Cats are 11-1 when holding their opponents to 73 points or less... They gave up 78 points or more in three of their four losses... Arizona is 9-0 when scoring 75 or more points... The Cats are 12-2 when shooting better than their opponent from the floor but are 0-2 when shooting worse... Arizona is 10-1 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring but is only 2-3 when three or fewer players get to double figures.

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 31-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 147-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 107-14 when topping that 80-point plateau.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 37 of their last 47 home games and are 59-15 on their home court over the last five seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 12 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 124-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 190-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

POLKEY RACKING UP THE DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Shawntinice Polk has tallied 12 double-doubles on the season, becoming the first player since Adia Barnes in 1996-97 to reach that total.

FREE THROW WOES: The Wildcats have really struggled from the free throw line this season. They are shooting a paltry 58.3 percent (141-242) from the stripe and have shot better than 59 percent in only four games so far.

This is unusual for a Bonvicini-coached team at Arizona. No UA team has ever shot below 65 percent since Bonvicini's arrival in 1991-92, and the Cats hit 70 percent or better from the line in three of the last four seasons. Last year's team drained a sizzling 74.0 percent of its charity shots.

A MATCH MADE ON THE COURT: On Dec. 30, senior forward Krista Warren became engaged to Nathan Luckow, who is in his third season as a manager for the UA women's basketball team. The two plan to marry on May 31 of this year.

DOUBLING UP: As a team, the Cats have tallied 16 double-doubles already this season. That's the highest team double-doubles total since the 2000-01 team had 21 for the year.

CHECKING THE RPIs: In the Jan. 20 WBCA/Summerville RPI listings, Arizona's RPI rank was No. 13, and its strength of schedule rank is No. 22. Six of the Cats' opponents this season are in the top 50 in the RPI rankings -- Stanford (No. 7), LSU (No. 8), Illinois (No. 19), Georgia (No. 24), Ohio State (No. 40) and Washington (No. 42).

GOING POLLING: Nine of the 18 opponents on the Cats' 2002-03 schedule were either ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

In this week's Associated Press Top 25, Stanford is ranked No. 5, LSU is No. 6 and Georgia is No. 24. Ohio State, Washington, Illinois and New Mexico were all among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, Stanford is No. 5 and LSU is No. 6. Georgia, Ohio State, Washington, Illinois, New Mexico, Pepperdine and UCLA all received votes for ranking.

LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won eight of its last 11 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games last season and are 2-3 on TV this year.

CAT SCRATCHES: In Pac-10 play, Arizona is giving up an average of 13.5 more points per game in the second half than in the first... The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by 20 boards or more in three games this season... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 364-423 (.463) all-time record, however it is 168-87 (.659) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 199-108 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 8-1 in home games, 4-3 on the road and 0-0 in neutral contests this season. Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.

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