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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bonvicini 500 games into Arizona career

    Joan Bonvicini
    Joan Bonvicini

    There are few coaches in UA history who have résumés as full as Arizona women’s basketball head coach Joan Bonvicini.

    After turning her first team, Long Beach State, into a perennial powerhouse for 12 years, Bonvicini brought her outstanding coaching and recruiting abilities to Tucson where her impact could not be denied.

    Bonvicini wasted no time in raising the Wildcats from mediocrity to a Pacific 10 Conference and a national power, as well as improving recruiting and attendance.

    Now in her 17th

    She’s been around the game so long she knows it very well. Even though we’ve been struggling, she’s been doing very well coaching us and keeping our confidence up.

    – Ashley Whisonant,
    UA guard

    season at Arizona, a few of Bonvicini’s accomplishments include becoming the winningest coach in the program’s history, taking the Wildcats to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and leading her team to a Women’s National Invitation Tournament Championship in 1996.

    Tonight, Bonvicini will coach her 501st game from the Arizona sideline as the Wildcats (7-13, 1-8 Pac 10) take on Oregon (10-10, 4-5) at 7 in McKale Center. Bonvicini coached in her 500th game for Arizona Saturday in a 74-59 loss at Washington.

    “”There have been incredible highs,”” Bonvicini said of her time with the Wildcats. “”I’ve worked with great people, had great players. I have really experienced some great things.

    “”But I’ve also experienced some of the lowest lows in my career too.””

    The deepest low of Bonvicini’s career came in 2005 when the sudden death of three-time honorable mention All-American Shawntinice Polk sent shockwaves through the program.

    That year, Arizona went on to finish with its worst record in Bonvicini’s tenure at 8-22.

    Since then, the Wildcats have struggled, missing the NCAA Tournament two years in a row and are currently sitting ninth in the conference standings.

    Despite Bonvicini’s and Arizona’s current struggles, the well-decorated coach said her love for coaching the game she loves has never wavered.

    “”There’s never been a question about my passion,”” she said. “”It’s just hard because I don’t want to lose and the team doesn’t want to lose.””

    While the Wildcats continue to struggle through their current season, the players continue to remain faithful to their accomplished coach.

    “”She’s been around the game so long she knows it very well,”” said guard Ashley Whisonant. “”Even though we’ve been struggling, she’s been doing very well coaching us and keeping our confidence up.””

    Earlier in the week, in an effort to get Arizona’s season back on track, Bonvicini held meetings for every player and coach on her staff to discuss strategies and plans for the rest of the season.

    “”The first thing I’m doing is listening to what they think,”” Bonvicini said. “”I’m giving them feedback and my expectations of their roles.

    “”It’s been really good.””

    The Wildcats will have their first chance at turning their season around tonight when they begin their second time through the Pac-10 schedule with the Ducks.

    In their last bout, the Ducks fought off a second-half rally by Arizona to escape with a 59-53 win.

    Not helping the Wildcats’ cause was a meager first-half effort as Arizona shot a mere 25 percent from the field while leading scorer Whisonant (16.0 points per game, fourth in the Pac-10) managed only three points.

    Slow starts have been a recurring theme for Arizona as the Wildcats have not held a lead at halftime in six outings.

    Guard Tasha Dickey said overcoming the team’s first-half shortcomings will be a large point of emphasis for the Wildcats.

    “”We need to just come out early and attack them,”” she said. “”We need to be ahead at halftime.

    “”If we can go in (to the half) ahead we’ll come out ahead in the end.””

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