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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s basketball’s Crutchfield adjusting well to Arizona

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Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Carissa Crutchfield sat surrounded by reporters at the Women’s Basketball Media Day.

Almost a year ago, her former coach at Oklahoma State, Kurt Budke, died in a plane crash on a recruiting visit.

Now, wearing an Arizona Wildcats jersey, the junior transfer point guard needed to pause and take a breath while fielding questions from the media.

“Coach Budke was a really, really good coach and we had a great relationship,” Crutchfield said. “It’s still a tough subject to talk about.”

Entering the 2011-2012 season, the Cowgirls were considered a promising young team sitting just outside of the top-25 rankings.

Following their first game against Rice on Nov. 13, in which the Cowgirls were victorious and Crutchfield logged 12 minutes of playing time, Budke and recruiting coordinator Miranda Serna were in a plane crash while on their way to Little Rock, Ark., that killed them and the other two passengers on the single engine plane.

Following the accident, OSU postponed its next two games and named associate head coach Jim Littell the interim head coach of the women’s basketball team.

The Cowgirls won their next seven games, but struggled to stay consistent in Big 12 conference play, finishing with a mediocre 8-10 conference record. However, they did earn a ride to the WNIT, where they would put together a late season surge and win the 64-team postseason tournament.

“The season was tough, but we came together as a team and got back to the core of things towards the end and did it for coach Budke and Serna,” Crutchfield said.

Due to the team’s circumstances, OSU players were granted the opportunity to transfer without penalty. Wanting a fresh start, Crutchfield, along with a few other Cowgirls, decided to leave the OSU program following the 2011-12 season. Arizona head coach Niya Butts approached Crutchfield and offered her a spot on the Arizona team and the opportunity to replace point guard Shanita Arnold, who had graduated.

“Carissa [Crutchfield] is a mature and wonderful person first and foremost,” Butts said. “When I sat down with Carissa and her mother, I could tell she was someone who would be perfect for this program.”

Crutchfield chose Arizona because of Butts and the coaching staff.

She said she believes there are many similarities between the Arizona and OSU staff.

“I’m really comfortable here with coach Butts and the rest of the coaches and the players here,” Crutchfield said. “Both Butts and Budke are great coaches and player coaches too, which is nice.”

After losing Arnold, who led the UA in assists last season, Crutchfield brings the Wildcats much-needed talent at the point guard position.

Crutchfield will not fill the role of captain this season, but she will be looked upon to use her prior experience and her basketball skills at point guard to push the offense and set a positive change in the overall culture of the Wildcats’ program.

“Since KB [Kurt Budke] and MS [Miranda Serna] and that whole incident I don’t take anything for granted now,” Crutchfield said.

“I mean that’s a common thing to say after you lose someone close to you, but I can really tell that I’ve been taking everyday more and more serious. I go hard everyday in practice and look to really improve everyday.”

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