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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tall twins have Cats hungry for next year

    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman forward Amina Njonkou gets fouled while driving to the basket over Arizona States Jill Noe during Saturdays 81-45 loss in Tempe.
    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat Freshman forward Amina Njonkou gets fouled while driving to the basket over Arizona State’s Jill Noe during Saturday’s 81-45 loss in Tempe.

    Women’s Basketball Season Recap

    They had been a part of postseason play nine of the past 10 years, including three straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, but this season was a different story for the Arizona women’s basketball team.

    Now, as the team hopes to return to its familiar stomping grounds, winning must begin in April.

    “”When we come back in the spring … its going to be very difficult, I mean very tough conditioning, because we need to set the tone and we need to raise the bar,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”Realistically, these kids right now want to do well.

    “”We definitely have something to prove,”” she said. “”And a lot of the players have talked about to go back and remember, go back and get all these teams back (that beat them this season).””

    While revenge may help the Wildcats in finding motivation, Bonvicini said it will take much more to get the team ready to play.

    “”I think that’s great motivation, but I also think that it’s in … our preparation to be successful, and I think that starts right away.””

    The attitude of winning through preparation has been met with very positive attitudes by Bonvicini’s players.

    “”In April, it’s probably going to suck for a lot of us,”” said sophomore guard Jessica Arnold, “”but I think overall, it’ll just get us more tough-minded, and physically just tough.””

    “”It’s only going to make us better,”” said junior guard Joy Hollingsworth. “”Now I’m a little scared though, I’m not going to lie. Wouldn’t you be scared?””

    Though the team loses two seniors in guard Natalie Jones and forward Anna Chappell, it will gain five freshmen, including two sets of twins. All five come from one very common background: winning.

    “”The players that are coming in … it’ll be like adding reinforcements,”” Hollingsworth said.

    One of them actually dunked. You know, I kind of egged ’em on, too: ‘You’re (6-foot-7), you better be able to dunk.’

    – Joy Hollingsworth, junior guard

    Rheya (“”Re-ah””) and Rhaya (“”Ray-ah””) Neabors (like the kind that live next door) from Chino, Calif.’s Troy High School are so flexible that next year fans may see them anywhere from the point to the post. Currently, the pair on the nation’s No. 4 team are in California’s state regionals.

    “”We’ve recruited and watched (the Neabors) for some time,”” Bonvicini said. “”They’re very successful, versatile, smart, just real winners.””

    Bonvicini’s next set of twins, Beatrice and Suzanne Bofia (“”Bo-fee-ah””) from Illinois Central College, are good friends with current Wildcat and fellow Cameroonian Amina Njonkou, a freshman forward. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, the Bofias are literally the world’s tallest set of twins.

    Though officially listed at 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6, respectively, Bonvicini said that in reality, they’re both nearly an inch taller than listed.

    Recently, Bonvicini made the trip to assess the duo, who will be in Phoenix March 15-18 for the NJCAA’s National Tournament.

    “”Suzy only played 15 minutes,”” Bonvicini said, pausing for a moment as her smile widened, “”but she had four blocks and five rebounds and maybe eight points. Just the intimidation.””

    “”Teams are going to be scared,”” said Hollingsworth. “”6-5, 6-6? Teams are going to look over and be like, ‘What?’ There’s definitely some intimidation.””

    To help clarify exactly what it is they’ll bring to the team next season: Beatrice dunked before a pickup game while in Tucson on her recruiting trip last year and her sister Suzanne was named an NJCAA all-American this season.

    “”One of them actually dunked,”” Hollingsworth said. “”You know, I kind of egged ’em on too: ‘You’re (6-7), you better be able to dunk.’ (Sophomore forward) ChǸ (Oh) actually had (the video) on her phone.””

    As good as it sounds, Bonvicini said she believes it is even better.

    “”The best way to describe it? It’s like if you ever get described something good, and then you find it’s 10 times better than what you heard, that’s how it is,”” she said.

    While both sets of twins are identical, it will be easier next season to tell the Bofias apart, as Beatrice is about an inch and a half taller than Suzanne. The Neabors, however, are a different story.

    “”The Neabors twins … I mean I can’t tell them apart except one’s righty and one’s lefty,”” Bonvicini said. “”So they’re going to have to have their full names on their uniform. There’s only one vowel different.””

    Said Hollingsworth: “”With Rhaya and Rheya, I’m going to have no idea.””

    Not to be overlooked is Marie McGee from Las Cruces, N.M.’s Mayfield High School. The 5-foot-8 McGee can play both the point and shooting guard positions and should provide depth to those two spots in the loss of Jones. McGee recently led her team into New Mexico’s state championship game.

    All five will be on campus this summer, with the Bofias and McGee arriving at the onset of summer school, and the Neabors joining them midway through for the second session. They are allowed to work out with the team and plan to do so.

    “”It’s going to be awesome,”” Arnold said. “”We’re actually going to have some kind of a post presence.””

    The freshmen – especially the twins – will likely be the identity of the team next season.

    “”I think that’s one thing that we’ll develop, but we’ll have a different look,”” Bonvicini said with a laugh. “”We’ll be a lot different.

    “”My first thing is to get us back to … the NCAA Tournament, and the other goals? We’ll just wait on those.””

    Considering her newfound dual sets of identical twins, one of those goals may have just emerged: Keep everyone’s names straight.

    Would nametags help?

    “”Maybe, I don’t know, we’ll see how that works,”” Arnold said. “”I don’t know which one is which, I just know their names.””

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