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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The Frequent Fliers

    Arizona guard Tasha Dickey tosses the ball to the hoop in the Wildcats 65-60 win over Oregon in McKale Center on Jan. 31. Since the season started, the UA womens basketball team has traveled over 20,000 miles for competition.
    Arizona guard Tasha Dickey tosses the ball to the hoop in the Wildcats’ 65-60 win over Oregon in McKale Center on Jan. 31. Since the season started, the UA women’s basketball team has traveled over 20,000 miles for competition.

    Most travelers recognize the giant letters “”AA”” on Boeing 747 airplanes as a trademark for American Airlines. But after the Arizona women’s basketball team concludes its coast-to-coast 2007-2008 schedule, some might associate the airborne red and blue “”AA”” logo with Arizona Athletics’ most-traveled team.

    The Wildcats have traveled over 20,000 miles since the season’s beginning in November, and with their summer trip to Italy (an estimated 6,500 miles), the Travelcats have burned enough fuel to travel the Earth’s circumference of 24,902.4 miles.

    “”It was just difficult at the beginning (of the semester), dealing with basketball and school at the same time,”” said UA guard Ashley Whisonant. “”It’s very tough, you’ve just got to stay focused.””

    Arizona began the season on the road in nine of its first 15 games, which included two rigorous East Coast trips to Penn State’s WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic and NC State.

    Other non-conference games in Green Bay, New Mexico and Long Beach, Calif., prepared the Wildcats for the Pacific 10 Conference’s brutal home-and-home series schedule. Despite becoming familiar with fellow conferences’ foes, one thing Pac-10 teams aren’t familiar with is home.

    Arizona’s season-long home stand took place from Jan. 12 to Jan. 19 – a three-game stretch against ASU, Stanford and California.

    This weekend, Arizona flies to No. 6 Stanford (841 miles) and No. 9 California (38.4 more). After the season’s conclusion at USC and UCLA, the Wildcats will have traveled a grand total of almost 30,000 miles.

    “”Players are resilient and I think the tough thing in the Pac-10 is you don’t have real long home stands,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”What it means is you have to win on the road.

    “”We knew it was going to be hard, because it’s always hard (on the road).””

    The two trips to Long Beach State and New Mexico gave Arizona its first back-to-back road wins for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

    With 8,813 raucous fans at “”The Pit”” in New Mexico on Dec. 15, Arizona snapped the Lobos’ 13-game home winning streak and unbeaten season (7-0) with a 44-36 win.

    “”(New Mexico) was supposed to be the loudest crowd, but I wasn’t hearing much of anything,”” Whisonant said. “”I think that more so when we’re away, we’re more together because you don’t have fans cheering for us. When we’re away, that’s exactly what we need to do.””

    Said Bonvicini of the win at New Mexico: “”I think the best thing you can do as a player when you’re playing at an opponent’s home court is when you play well and silence the crowd.””

    From new time zones to multiplication tables, student athletes are required to manage a healthy balance between practice and class. Difficulties increase, though, when teams spend weekdays and extended weekends traveling.

    In an effort to stay ahead academically and manage time wisely, Arizona brings an academic counselor on all away games.

    “”Sometimes you think you’re on vacation and you don’t have to do homework,”” Whisonant said.

    Said Bonvicini on the challenge of traveling during the semester: “”The first thing you learn as a student athlete is how to budget your time and time management. It’s difficult but they know how to do it.””

    Bonvicini does see one big advantage to being on the road – the team remains together and revolves around a structured schedule without distractions.

    “”In a lot of ways, it’s sometimes easier, because we’re in control,”” Bonvicini said. “”I know where all the players are all the time. We control study table, what time they go to bed, what they eat.

    “”In some ways, there’s less distractions.””

    Road Warriors

    The steady flow of road trips keeps the Arizona women’s basketball team packed and ready to go.

    Favorite place traveled this season:
    “”Going back to California (Long Beach State). I love going back.””
    – Bonvicini, who coached for 12 seasons at Long Beach State

    “”I’ve got to say Penn State because my family was there. I think that was our first trip, so we were pumped about the season and I think we had a lot of fun.””
    – Whisonant

    Most crucial carry-on item
    “”My iPod – I’m always listening to it. I think the other thing is my computer because I’m always watching (game) tape or DVDs.””
    – Bonvicini

    “”My Sidekick (cell phone).””
    – Whisonant

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