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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Depth is key for W-hoops

Erich Healy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Womens Basketball Presser
Erich Healy
Erich Healy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Women’s Basketball Presser

Last year’s Arizona women’s basketball team saw only six players log over 12 minutes per game, but head coach Niya Butts expects that to change in the 2010-2011 season.

“”Last year, it was depth,”” Butts said. “”It wasn’t necessarily the effort, or lack thereof. We ran out of gas a lot. I think with the new additions to our team, our returners are going to feel like they can go out there and really give everything they have.””

During games isn’t the only place where a lack of depth shows up. It affects how hard a team can practice and can even limit the types of drills being run.

“”We can do a lot more drills now that we have more people,”” said sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte. “”Last year, we didn’t even have enough people to do simple drills. Now we can do them faster, and the depth gives us more competition in practice.””

Competition is something that a team, especially one as young as Arizona, can never get enough of. It challenges players to rise to the occasion every day in practice, which leads to them being more prepared in games.

“”The competition level is off the charts because we have people competing at every position,”” Butts said. “”They bring that fire and that energy, and they’re challenging each other. It’s so refreshing for a coach not to have to do that every single second.””

That depth, and the competition that results from it, has led to practices being run at a much higher pace this season compared to last.

“”It’s a lot faster this year. Everything is just so much quicker,”” said junior guard Reiko Thomas. “”We’re a lot faster because of our conditioning. We’re all pretty fast and athletic, so (practice) just kind of goes with our game.””

That speed and athleticism isn’t the only thing contributing to Arizona’s quicker pace this year. Familiarity with how practices are run is also playing a big role.

The newfound athleticism on the Wildcats’ roster isn’t something that happened overnight. Butts raved over the speed and athleticism that freshman guard Candice Warthen brings to the table.

“”We’re more athletic for sure, I think the point guard position is much more athletic,”” Butts said. “”Especially the point guard position when you think about Candice Warthen, a newcomer, a young kid, but what she can do athletically, we just can’t teach it. You either have that or you don’t.””

Another thing that comes with familiarity in a program is more vocal leadership, which is something that senior forward Ify Ibekwe might have been lacking at times during her career at Arizona.

“”I kind of see myself stepping outside my limits and communicating more,”” Ibekwe said. “”That helps the team, to have a senior leader talking and being there.””

To find an example of how different players have stepped up as leaders for the Wildcats this year, look no further than practice. Players have started policing themselves, which takes the weight of the world off of Butts’ shoulders. A far cry from years past.

“”Coach isn’t going to see everything we do wrong,”” said senior forward Soana Lucet. “”We see one of our teammates not touching the line, we’re going to tell them. This is for us. This is for the team.””

 

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