Cats Open L.A. Road Trip at USC
March 2, 2010
Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m. (PT)
Location: Galen Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)
Tip Off Time: The Wildcats hit the road to complete the 2009-10 regular season as they visit the Galen Center, host of the 2010 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament, on Thursday, March 4 to take on Southern California at 7:00 p.m. (PT)
Catch the Action: Entering his third season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.
Coaches Show: The Niya Butts Show aired its final broadcast this past Monday evening on the flagship station for Arizona women's basketball, KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson, starting at 7:00 p.m. Play-by-play man Derrick Palmer hosted the show and asked questions to Arizona's 2nd-year head coach about the most recent games as well as the upcoming opponents and get her opinions about the play of the Wildcats. All episodes of the Niya Butts Show are archived on the University of Arizona website and can be viewed through the All-Access Player located in the top right-hand corner of the main athletics page at www.arizonaathletics.com.
Series Notes: Arizona trails the all-time series against Southern California by a 46-18 count dating back to the first-ever meeting on December 10, 1977. The teams have split the last four meetings with the road team winning on each occasion. Earlier this season, the Women of Troy escaped McKale Center with their second-straight overtime win in Tucson, a 81-78 verdict. Arizona came back from a 32-10 first half deficit to claim a 56-43 lead, but was unable to hold off the visitors on the opening weekend of Pac-10 play. Arizona is 8-23 all-time in road games against USC, but are 2-1 against the Women of Troy at the Galen Center since its opening during the 2006-07 campaign.
Scouting the Women of Troy: USC is currently in 4th place in the Pac-10 under first-year head coach Michael Cooper with a record of 16-11, 10-6 in conference play. Sophomore guard Ashley Corral leads the Trojans in scoring at 15.1 points per game while Briana Gilbreath also tallies in double figures at 13.1 points per contest while also leading the squad on the glass with 5.9 rebounds per game. Corral and Heather Oliver are two of the league's top long-range bombers, combining to hit 122 three-point shots on the season and shooting a combined .368 from beyond the arc. After losing five-straight games, USC brings a 3-game winning streak into Thursday night's game.
Head Coach Niya Butts:Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.
Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).
Last Time Out: Despite playing the #2-ranked team in the nation even for almost 25 minutes, Arizona could not keep up the pace for a full 40 minutes and dropped its final home game of the 2009-10 season to Stanford, 75-48, Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. The Wildcats trailed by just five points at halftime, but the Cardinal hit 7-of-13 three-point attempts in the second half while the Wildcats were just 8-of-29 from the field after the break. Kayla Pedersen hit 4-of-8 from distance to lead all scorers with 26 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Ify Ibekwe led the way for Arizona with 15 points and 12 rebounds, her second-straight double-double, while Davellyn Whyte added 13 points and 5 rebounds while hitting a trio of three-pointers. The Wildcats committed a season-low 10 turnovers, but the Cardinal had just four miscues and used a 43-33 rebounding advantage to couple with hitting 11-of-13 free throw attempts.
Last Time Out for USC: Heather Oliver came off the bench to hit 4-of-5 three-point attempts and finished with a game-high 18 points as the Women of Troy outlasted host Oregon State, 53-50, on Saturday afternoon at Gill Coliseum. Though the Trojans attempted just 45 shots and committed 17 turnovers, they limited the Beavers to just 24.2 percent shooting for the game and made a 9-point halftime advantage stand up. Ashley Corral added 8 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds while Christina Marinacci tossed in 9 points and pulled down 7 rebounds.
Statistical Comparison: Arizona and USC are nearly identical in the scoring columns as the Wildcats averaging just 1.6 points per game more than the Trojans, but USC allowed 2.1 points per game fewer to its opposition. Arizona posts better overall field goal percentage numbers on both ends of the floor, but USC is nearly 40 points better from three-point range and almost 50 points higher at the charity stripe. Both teams are near the bottom in terms of rebounding as each squad is outrebounded by its opponents on average.
Looking Ahead: With just two regular season games remaining for 2009-10, Arizona is still battling for an all-important bye in the opening round of the 2010 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be staged at the Galen Center on the USC campus from March 11-14. The Wildcats are currently one game behind Oregon in the league standings. The top six teams in the final standings get an extra day of rest and have just three games to win to capture the championship. However, the 7th place finisher must play on Thursday evening against the 10th place team, adding an extra game and fatigue to an already daunting task.
Milennium Milestone: With a 17-foot jumper at the 2:20 mark of the first half on February 6 against Washington, junior forward Ify Ibekwe became the 16th player in Arizona history to record 1,000 career points. She currently sits in 15th place with 1,054 points and will move into 14th position ahead of Kim Conway with seven points against the Golden Bears on Thursday night. The last player to join the 1,000-point club was Ashley Whisonant, who reached that career milestone against Oregon State in the semfinal round of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament.
Selective Company: Ibekwe became the 9th active player in the Pac-10 and 7th player this season to achieve 1,000 points for her career with her 17-point performance against Washington. Kayla Pedersen of Stanford, Danielle Orsillo of Arizona State, Sami Whitcomb of Washington, Talisa Rhea of Oregon State and both Taylor Lilley and Micaela Cocks from Oregon have also joined the 1,000-point club during the 2009-10 campaign after Alexis Gray-Lawson of California and Jayne Appel were holdovers from the previous season.
At Home at the Galen Center: Arizona has played its best basketball of the season at home in McKale Center, but the Wildcats have also played well at the Galen Center on the USC campus, the new home of the Women of Troy that opened in October of 2006. Arizona has a 3-2 record in all games played at the Galen Center, including a 2-1 record against the Women of Troy. The Wildcats have won each of their past two encounters against the Trojans on their home floor, including a 74-61 victory last season. The Cats also posted a 1-1 mark in the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament that was staged in the Galen Center.
Changing of the Guard: After fielding the same starting lineup in 18-of-19 games to start the season, Arizona head coach Niya Butts has changed things for each of the past eight contests, inserting sophomore guard Reiko Thomas in place of fellow sophomore guard Brooke Jackson. Looking to both reward Thomas for excellent play of late as well as give Jackson a chance to energize the team as a reserve, Thomas has averaged 8.9 points in those eight games, grabbing double-digit rebounds against both Washington State and Cal State Northridge while connecting on 27-of-32 free throw attempts.
Action Jackson: A shift to the bench is not always a bad thing as Brooke Jackson has demonstrated since exiting the starting lineup on February 4 against Washington State. Jackson had been mired in a 12-for-55 (.218) slump from three-point range after making 15-of-30 (.500) over the first seven games of her Arizona career. Since then, however, she has made 12-of-28 (.429) from beyond the arc, including a 4-for-5 performance against Washington. Despite seeing fewer minutes per game, Jackson is still averaging 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game over that span.
Scoring Punch: Junior forward Soana Lucet has been one of the most consistent scoring threats for the Wildcats this season. She has seen her scoring average rise to 13.1 points per game as she has tallied in double figures in 18 games and scored at least 8 points in all but two games. She also has four 20-point games to her credit, including a season-high 28 point performance in the record-breaking victory over Oregon on January 16.
Turnover Turnaround: With every possession holding great value, Arizona produced two of its lowest turnover numbers of the season last week against California and Stanford. The Wildcats committed just three miscues in the first half against the Golden Bears and finished with 13 for the game whlie tallying a season-low 10 turnovers two days later against the Cardinal. Prior to those two games, Arizona had yielded at least 18 turnovers in six-straight contests. When the Wildcats commit fewer turnovers than the opposition, they are 3-0 on the season.
Power Outage: For the third-straight game, Arizona failed to reach the 60-point mark on the scoreboard, which has been a bit of a benchmark for the team's success this season. Arizona is winless in six games when scoring 59 points or less. If Arizona can score at least 60 points, it has posted a record of 13-5.
Doing It With Defense: For the 19th time this season and sixth time in a seven game span, Arizona limited the opposition to a field goal percentage under 40 percent after allowing California to shoot just 36.8 percent last Thursday evening. The Wildcats accomplished that feat in all four of its February wins after setting that standard in each of the first six games of the campaign. Arizona has posted a 12-7 mark this season when holding the opposing team under the 40 percent mark.
Bright Future: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members earned national recognition. Candice Warthen, a senior guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, was named the ESPN RISE girls basketball player of the week for the Southeast region after tallying a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 68-27 win over Evans. Rated the #20 point guard in the 2010 class by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Warthen also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark this season and is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 steals and 4.0 assists for the 24-4 Screaming Devils. Last Saturday, the Screaming Devils won their opening game in the GHSA Class A State Tournament, a 62-36 triumph over Bacon County, and will battle Calvary Day on Wednesday, March 3 in a 2nd round game.
Conference Standouts: Arizona continues to have several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe leads the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.6 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 88.7 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 6th in the league in scoring at 16.1 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.3 per contest and 7th in 3-point field goal percentage at .359. Soana Lucet joins Ibekwe on the glass with 6.6 per outing, good for 10th place. Ibekwe is also 4th in steals with 2.2 per game, 6th in blocked shots with a 1.2 average and 7th in field goal percentage at .478. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th field goal percentage (.428), 3rd in field goal percentage defense (.379), and 5th in scoring (66.7), free throw percentage (.681) and 3-point field goals per game (5.0).
National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in field goal percentage (52nd, .428), personal fouls per game (63rd, 15.6) and field goal percentage defense (85th, .379). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 5th in the nation in rebounding at 11.6 per contest, 13th in double-doubles with 16 and 68th in field goal percentage at .478 while Soana Lucet is 97th in shooting percentage at .451. Davellyn Whyte is 80th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.3, 96th in scoring at 16.1 per game and 84th in 3-point field goal percentage at .359.
Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.
Double Trouble: With her 14-point, 11-rebound performance last Thursday evening against Cal, Ibekwe moved into second place in the Arizona record books, no owning 38 career double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 16-of-27 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest single-season total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She passed Adia Barnes for the second spot while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe would more than likely pass early on next season.
Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte shot almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438) in wins over Iona and Miami (Ohio). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 16.1 points per game while shooting .359 from three-point range, .438 from the field and grabbing 4.0 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch during Pac-10 play, averaging 17.6 points to go along with 3.6 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 80.9 percent from the free throw line.
Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.
Rewriting History: The Wildcats lone freshman began flirting with history early on in her debut season before finally making it as she tallied a school-record 39 points against Oregon on January 16. She finished 12-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and connected on 10-of-12 free throws. She bested the previous single-game scoring record of 35 points held by three different players. At the time, it was the most points scored by a Pac-10 player in 2009-10 and is still the 2nd-highest total of the season.
Freshman Phenom: Whyte has squarely taken aim on the Arizona record books with just 24 games under her belt. Prior to her record-setting performance against Oregon, Whyte tallied 34 points on January 3 against USC. That performance matched the single-game freshman scoring record set by Joanne Ineman in the 1983-84 season. She also equaled the 2nd-most points in a single game for any player, a mark most recently achieved by Ashley Whisonant exactly two years prior at Oregon State. With six three-pointers made, she became the 5th player to achieve that feat, putting her one make off the school record owned by two players.
Well Seasoned: As Whyte adds her name to list after list in the Arizona record books, another milestone that is within her grasp is the single-season freshman scoring record. Whyte currently has 436 points on the season, good for 3rd place all-time. She sits just 28 points behind Adia Barnes in second place. Shawntinice Polk holds the personal mark with 538 points.