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The Daily Wildcat

 

    Productive offseason improves Njonkou

    Forward Amina Njonkou works around Vanguards Molly Pfohl in a 76-70 Wildcat win in McKale Center on Monday night. UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said the junior Njonkou is capable of averaging a double-double this season.
    Forward Amina Njonkou works around Vanguard’s Molly Pfohl in a 76-70 Wildcat win in McKale Center on Monday night. UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said the junior Njonkou is capable of averaging a double-double this season.

    Before the Arizona women’s basketball season, UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said she believes forward Amina Njonkou is capable of averaging a double-double this season.

    During Monday night’s 76-70 exhibition win over Vanguard, a revamped Njonkou accomplished the first step of that achievement, scoring 16 points and grabbing a team-high 13 rebounds.

    Fresh off a successful offseason of rigorous training and conditioning, the 6-foot-1 junior finally took the role as Arizona’s powerful post player this season with a new sense of confidence, having evolved into a crucial piece to this team’s puzzle.

    “”Last year, people gave me a lot of jump shots, and I couldn’t take it because I wasn’t confident,”” Njonkou said. “”This year, you give it to me – I’ll knock it down.””

    Njonkou averaged 8.4 points and 6.7 rebounds last season in starting all 32 games. Despite leading the team with four double-doubles, she described the year as “”not good.””

    The offseason addition of UA assistant coach Bernard Scott impacted all aspects of her game, so much so that she was initially speechless when asked about Scott’s importance to this team.

    He completely revamped her shot, she said, adding a dangerous threat to her strong, physical post play.

    “”She’s capable of playing the way she played (Monday) night every night,”” Scott said. “”She’s that kind of player. So she’s no surprise to anyone inside this program, but we told Amina that she needs to do that every night so the people outside of the program can know how good she is.””

    The Cameroon native came one point away from her career high against Vanguard and tied her career high in rebounds – the biggest factor in Arizona’s 48 points in the paint.

    Bonvicini has granted Njonkou a starting position with the belief that she can emerge as one of the team’s leading scorers.

    As one of 22 siblings, Njonkou certainly understands the concept

    of teamwork.

    “”She’s quicker, stronger, faster and, I think more than anything, has a confidence,”” Bonvicini said.

    Njonkou credited the team’s 6 a.m. offseason conditioning practices for giving players the athleticism to better run its fast-paced shuttle offense. Arizona’s historically talented guards now have an easier time moving the ball down to an array of new faces in the post, including junior Sarah Hays and freshman Ify Ibekwe.

    “”I think they’re going to impact right away,”” Njonkou said of the newcomers.

    Bonvicini hopes Njonkou can average 10-12 points with close to 10 rebounds.

    “”She’s going to have one of her best seasons,”” said senior guard Jessica Arnold. “”Watching her, she’s understanding and developing into a great player.””

    – Bobby Stover contributed to this story

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