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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

As Whyte struggles, Arizona struggles

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Entering the season, junior guard Davellyn Whyte was expected to take on the leadership and go-to scoring role that former Wildcat Ify Ibekwe left behind. The two-time All-Pac-10 player had found success at the college level from the minute she stepped on campus.

But now the Wildcats are reeling. With seven losses in their last nine games after starting the year 11-1, Arizona has reached its low point of the season. In those recent seven losses, the Wildcats’ margin of defeat has been an average of 11 points per contest.

Strange as it may sound, it’s in these losses that the Wildcats have discovered just how important production from their leading scorer is to whatever success they have.

“I just think when things aren’t going well, typically players put a lot on their shoulders and I think (Whyte) is no different,” head coach Niya Butts said. “She’s trying to do what she can to help us win, and I think sometimes when you do that, the harder you fight, the more you struggle.”

Whyte is second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 18.2 points per game, but recently her all-around numbers haven’t been so rosy. In the last three games — all losses — Whyte has averaged 9.7 points per game, four turnovers, shooting 25 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.

In Arizona’s eight losses on the season, Whyte has averaged 17.1 points, — just 15 points excluding a 32-point game against Utah — and 4.5 turnovers per game, coupled with 29.9 percent shooting both overall and from long range.

In 11 of Arizona’s 13 wins — excluding low-scoring affairs in blowouts against Long Beach State and BYU-Hawaii — Whyte averaged 21.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.2 turnovers and shot 43.6 percent from the field, in addition to shooting 3-pointers at a 42.7 percent clip.

To go along with the idea that Arizona goes as Davellyn Whyte does, in games where Whyte scores 20 points or more, the Wildcats have a 7-2 record. In those games, she averages 24.7 points, shoots 46.4 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range.

“More than anything, it’s a lack of focus offensively and defensively that’s hurting everybody, but Dav in particular because she knows she has a big responsibility on this team,” Butts said.

It’s unreasonable to expect Whyte to come out every night and score 25 to 30 points. But if she can so much as score 20 points per contest the rest of the way, Arizona will be better off.

But, even with Whyte’s struggles, a team can’t turn the ball over 23 times, as the Wildcats did against Washington State and Washington, and expect to win. A team, a 3-point shooting team at that, can’t shoot 1-of-13 from long range, as it did against Colorado, and expect to win.

Still, Butts said she’s confident in her team going forward.

“There is a lot of season left to play and I wouldn’t be a very good coach if I wasn’t optimistic about what we can do moving forward,” Butts said. “I’ve seen this team before at a higher level, we just gotta get back to that and the first thing is just taking care of the basketball.”

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