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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

It’s full speed ahead for W-hoops senior guard

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat womns basketball media day lohse room in mckale center tuesdat october 18 2011

“Shanita, slow down.”

This is something new women’s basketball assistant coach E.C. Hill often says to Shanita Arnold, the Wildcats’ senior leader.

“Sometimes she goes really, really fast,” Hill said.

The 5-foot-5 point guard attributes her energetic personality to her upbringing. She was raised with eight other siblings — all boys.

“Every day was kind of like a practice, you just have to go out there and compete, whether it’s for the last cereal bowl or it’s for the last drink,” Arnold said. “It just keeps me in that mind frame that I do this every day, so going out there every day is just like living at home.”

Arnold’s positivity and energy is a big part of what makes her a leader, and her sense of humor helps to keep the team loose.

“She is always happy, always making jokes, just livening up everything and everyone,” said junior guard Davellyn Whyte.

Other teammates also were keen to point out Arnold’s surprisingly adept rapping skills.

“She’s a really good rapper,” said sophomore guard Candice Warthen. “I mean she’s just a cool person to be around. She always jokes and is funny. She’s always in good spirits.”

Busting out rhymes like Nicki Minaj, however, is not what makes Arnold so important to the Wildcats. It is her leadership and skills at the point guard position that will lead Arizona to whatever success the team may have this season.

“Our goal is for her to give us some leadership, some consistency at that position,” said head coach Niya Butts, who expects Arnold to be “someone who is going to be able to direct our team, calm us down when we get a little scattered and understand the game a little bit better.”

The general sense around the team is that it only will go as far as its point guard takes it.

“She’s like the head of the snake for us,” Warthen said. “Shanita is our leader on the floor. She is the person that makes us go. Whenever the ball is in her hands you can expect something good to happen.”

Whyte, who led the team in points scored last season, starts alongside Arnold in the backcourt. Whyte credits her point guard for giving her scoring opportunities.

“When she gets to the basket (the defense has) to help and if they don’t, that leaves me open,” Whyte said, adding that if she could take one skill from any of her teammates, she would steal Arnold’s court vision.

Arnold wasn’t always a Wildcat. She started her career off back at home for the Arkansas Razorbacks before transferring to Arizona. According to Arnold, it was a decision that, looking back, she would never change.

“It’s a little different, it’s a different conference (the Pac-12),” Arnold said. “I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”

Arnold is doing her best to leave a lasting impression on her teammates and the Arizona program long after she graduates.

“Playing with a point guard that actually wants to look for you and actually gets you involved in the play makes a person like me want to play a lot harder and makes me want to post up more,” said 6-foot-5 freshman center Aley Rohde. “There have been guards that just overlooked me all the time and it came to the point that (I thought) ‘Why am I even working hard?’”

Arnold has also made an impact with her backcourt mates.

“She has taught me a lot,” Warthen said. “(She taught me) to always push the ball and relax and always look for the open pass. Just be under control.”

Once the season ends in March, Arnold will have to move onto the next stage of her career. She said she might play overseas, but she’s not thinking about graduating. She’s thinking about winning.

“You know what I really want to do?” Arnold asked. “Cut down those nets at the end of the conference (tournament).”

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