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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fresh faces give women’s hoops a new look

    The new era of Arizona women’s basketball touts a fresh set of faces.

    Incoming freshmen and transfers enter the season with the ability to create a huge impact, according to UA head coach Joan Bonvicini – notably, a trio of touted talent in Sarah Hays, Tasha Dickey and Ify Ibekwe.

    “”Coming in as a freshman, it was really hard for me to adjust to the style of the game, new surroundings and things like that,”” said senior Jessica Arnold. “”Knowing that from my experience, hopefully, I can help them with the same that I’ve dealt with. I want to carry that down to them and make sure they’ll be fine in the coming years.””

    Dickey, a freshman guard from Sandy, Utah, was born to be a Wildcat, with a plethora of family blood in Arizona athletics. Her father, Charlie, played football from 1983-1984 and coached the Wildcats from 1992-2003. Her mother, Lisa Bradshaw, played basketball from 1983-1985.

    Dickey averaged 15.0 points and 12.0 rebounds as a junior in high school, before earning 2007 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year and 2007 Utah Ms. Basketball honors as a senior. With an athletic build and excellent ball-handling skills, Dickey can contribute immediately, while developing her game over the years in the tradition of a prosperous Arizona backcourt, Bonvicini said.

    “”We hope to make a big impact,”” Dickey said. “”The team’s really developed with tons of talent – we just hope to come in and be able to help the team step up and things like that.””

    Hays solidifies this season’s healthy backcourt. A 6-foot-1 transfer from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, she averaged 18.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game while earning junior college All-American status.

    Her strong, powerful left-handed post presence also gives her the opportunity to initially contribute, Bonvicini said.

    Center Beatrice Bofia describes Hays as “”really powerful”” and a player who will add depth in the post.

    “”I just hope to give them all I’ve got and just play great, and just help us win games,”” Hays said.

    Ibekwe also comes with high basketball expectations from family. Her brother Onyekachi played college basketball for Oklahoma State before earning a spot with the San Francisco 49ers. Her brother Ekene played basketball for Maryland and currently plays professional ball overseas, and sister Chinyere plays basketball for UCLA.

    The 6-foot-1 forward from Carson, Calif., brings a well-rounded, quick offense alongside excellent shot-blocking and rebounding skills. She averaged 21.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in high school, and was named the Marine League Most Valuable Player.

    “”I haven’t seen a freshman class come in so happy to be here with so much energy,”” said senior Shannon Hobson. “”That’s really infiltrated the entire team.””

    Hays and Dickey believe senior leadership from Arnold and fellow senior Ashley Whisonant tremendously improves the transition to Arizona.

    The seniors have “”helped me a lot,”” Hays said. “”I think they’ve got great senior leaders. It’s just really helped the whole team. We have people to look up to.””

    Dickey added: “”Jess and Ashley are great leaders on and off the court. As a team, as a whole, we’re always encouraging each other and always there for each other.””

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