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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chemistry in basketball?

The end of last season for Arizona women’s basketball was a messy situation.

After posting a 12-19 record in her first season as head coach, Niya Butts learned that four of the freshmen on the 2008-2009 team were leaving the program, in addition to the three seniors who were graduating.

“”It was a mutual decision from both parties and in the interest of both parties,”” Butts said of the departure of Malia Nahinu, Courtney Clements, Jhakia McDonald and Amani Butler.

Butts was faced with a difficult situation — the transferring of players was a problem for Arizona. The Wildcat bench had only five players who would return for Arizona in the next season. Both during the season and in the off-season, Butts and the Wildcat coaching staff were actively recruiting players to fill the void.

But transferring players have also been Arizona’s saving grace. The five transfers who put on Wildcat uniforms this season not only deepened UA’s bench, but also pumped new blood into Arizona’s program.

With one Division I transfer and four junior college players now signed, the only question that remains is the cohesiveness of the team. Do the remaining five players mix well? Does a common goal unify different players from all over the country?

“”If you want to win, you have to have team chemistry. Usually when you have five or six people try to come into a team that was already there, it’s hard,”” said senior Ashley Frazier. “”The new players have come in and gelled with the returners … it’s crazy. From the jump, from the summer time, the chemistry (was) just there — the posts, the guards, we’re all on the same page.””

The bonding started early in summer workouts. In order for the team to be productive in the season, the team chemistry had to spark from the get-go.

“”This summer was really helpful because by the time school came around we all knew each other and we were ready to go,”” said junior transfer Amanda Pierson. “”We knew what we had to do and how hard we had to work. It was just really good.””

The coaching staff has seen the immediate impact of the new players’ energy. Players who were recruited were all chosen for a specific purpose, Butts said. The personnel changes have helped to implement a new uptempo style of offense.

“”The energy level is so much higher,”” said sophomore Reiko Thomas. “”We just have a positive bond. Everyone loves each other, we’re sisters. When you have that off the court, you have that on the court.””

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