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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Women’s hoops plays 8 over break

    As cliché as it may sound, every player will be vital to the Arizona women’s basketball team heading into a six-game stretch over winter break.

    The team’s reserves on the bench, however, will be a little warmer this winter, getting more playing time as of late with the recent rash of injuries to key players.

    “”We have a deep team this year, so we try to utilize our depth,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

    Arizona has played 13 of the 14 players on its roster, with nine having at least one start.

    Forward Shannon Hobson earned her first start of the season last night.

    “”I’m just doing what my team needs,”” said Hobson, who’s averaged 13 points in Arizona’s last two games.

    Her team may need more of her in the next few games due to the absence of a number of injured teammates, including center Beatrice Bofia, who will miss will miss the entire season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during warmups of the Red-Blue Game on Nov. 1.

    Women’s Basketball over the Break

    • @ Utah Saturday, 3 p.m.
    • Long Beach State Tuesday, 7 p.m.
    • Fresno State Dec. 18, 7 p.m.
    • @No. 13 ASU Dec. 22, 7 p.m.
    • @No. 14 Stanford Dec. 28, 6 p.m.
    • @No. 16 California Dec. 30, 1 p.m.
    • Washington Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
    • Washington State Jan. 6, 2 p.m.

    Guard Jessica Arnold, who was knocked in the chin during practice last week, was back in action last night against No. 23 New Mexico, but the team is still waiting on guard Kelsey Burns, who has been battling sickness, Bonvicini said.

    Also, forward Rheya Neabors suffered a stress reaction – a weakening of the bone, not a break – in her foot in Sunday’s win over Louisiana Tech. Neabors will begin running in a pool next week and should be back in the next two to three weeks, Bonvicini said.

    With the team plagued with injuries, Arizona has shown how deep its bench is.

    Rheya’s twin, Rhaya, will take her sister’s place in the starting lineup until she heals.

    “”We’re getting a lot of young players in,”” Bonvicini said. “”The Neabors have played quite a bit.””

    Playing roster roulette, the winter schedule will be interesting for Arizona (5-4), to say the least.

    After playing Utah Saturday, the Wildcats will take on Long Beach State – where Bonvicini was head coach for 12 years before coming to Arizona – at home yesterday.

    This will mark the third time since the 1991-92 season that Arizona has faced Long Beach State under Bonvicini, with the Wildcats having won in the first two games.

    “”I have a great deal of respect for the people there,”” Bonvicini said. “”They always treated me really well. When I think of Long Beach, I think of a lot of good memories.””

    Familiar faces at Long Beach State will transition into more familiar faces later in the break in the form of instate rivals on Dec. 22 when the Wildcats take on No. 13 ASU to kick off Pacific 10 Conference play in Tempe, after hosting Fresno State Dec. 18.

    The Wildcats also play at No. 14 Stanford Dec. 28 and No. 16 California Dec. 30 and host Washington Jan. 4 and Washington State Jan. 6 before classes resume.

    With injuries taking their toll, the Wildcats will rely on the young players to step up during this period.

    “”We’re getting good performances from people,”” Bonvicini said. “”I still think we can be a little more balanced with our guards and posts. It’s crunch time, and we need to step it up.””

    Some of the elders of the team have stepped up to fill the gaps.

    “”We played with intensity late in the game (in last night’s loss to No. 23 New Mexico) and made them play the full length of the court,”” said guard Joy Hollingsworth, one of two seniors on the team. “”We should have played like that the whole game, and we need to play like that in future games.””

    Boncivini said she will isn’t concerned with conference play yet, but rather, she prefers to handle one game at a time.

    “”I’m looking toward Utah right now,”” Bonvicini said of Saturday’s game in Salt Lake City.

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