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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

W-Hoops returns to the court

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona women’s basketball held its media day in McKale Center on Friday and ushered in a new team that has been rebuilt during the off-season. The Wildcats, along with head coach Niya Butts, talked about rebuilding the program and where they will find motivation this season.

“”We want to get out and be uptempo this season,”” Butts said. “”Last year we tried to do that somewhat but weren’t very successful just because of our personnel. We’ll be looking to push the ball frequently this year.””

Butts addressed the media about the new additions in the off-season and how the Wildcats are looking to turn the program around.

The Wildcats added six new players in the off-season, including four junior college transfers and former Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year Davellyn Whyte.

“”We got a brand new core of girls that are going to be ready to take the floor,”” Butts said.

That core will give the returning players time to rest and provide the talent to build a competitive program in the Pacific 10 Conference.

“”Even though we have new players, they’re not just new players,”” said junior forward Ify Ibekwe. “”They’re new players that can contribute, they’re new players that have that spark and energy. We’re all together. We’re all expecting to have an amazing season. We found a chemistry.””

The new additions to the Wildcats’ roster will help reboot what proved to be a depleted bench last season. The players talked about how this season will be different and how the preparation has paid off with less than two weeks until the beginning of the season.

“”Everyone is much more uptempo. The energy level is just so much higher,”” sophomore guard Reiko Thomas said. “”Everyone is always talking, and it makes things so much easier and you’re excited going into practice.””

Butts also expressed her personal interest in changing the culture of Arizona basketball, both on and off the court.

“”The tone of workouts was very, very different from last year,”” she said. “”They know what we want. They know what we expect.””

In addition to the change in team dynamic, Arizona also adjusted its pre-conference schedule. The Wildcats will travel to New York to participate in the Iona College Tip-Off Tournament, something that players expressed a great longing for.

“”East Coast teams, it’s just a different type of play out there,”” Thomas said. “”It’s just going to be different, and it’s going to be a challenge for us, especially since those are our first couple road games.””

In addition to the start of the season looming on the horizon, the Wildcats have found another source of inspiration for their last few practices. After being ranked ninth in the Pac-10 preseason coaches’ poll, returning and new players are motivated to make their presence known in the conference.

“”The rest of the coaches in the Pac-10 don’t think we’re going to be that good, but that’s motivation for us,”” Butts said. “”Our team was not real happy about that, so now we have something to work for and something to prove. I like that.””

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