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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA closes exhibition slate

The Arizona women’s basketball team handily defeated Western State College 73-56 in Wednesday’s first exhibition game despite a sluggish first half, and it will try to work out the rest of the kinks when it faces Grand Canyon University on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Though these first two contests are exhibitions, head coach Niya Butts said there’s much to be learned in playing outside of practice.

“I count exhibitions,” Butts said. “To me they’re all opportunities to play against someone who is not affiliated with Arizona.”

Against Western State, the Wildcats committed 28 turnovers and shot a lowly 17-of-32 from the free throw line. Those are a few stats that certainly can’t recur going forward.

“I think a little more than half of those were unforced. We were just making careless errors with the basketball,” Butts said. “Our turnovers, they killed us, and our free throw shooting … that’s a lot of points we’re leaving on the board.”

Butts said that without all of those mistakes, the Wildcats could have scored as many as 100 points, and if the team can cut back on the turnovers and make its shots from the charity stripe, they will be better off.

“We should knock down free throws, and we should take better care of the basketball and if we do that we’re going to be OK,” Butts said.

Davellyn Whyte, the team’s leading returning scorer from last season, struggled with foul trouble in the first game and was unable to make a huge impact. Butts said she didn’t want to overwork her star player because there’s a long season ahead.

“We don’t need anybody to force anything, and we weren’t going to try and leave her in and make her play the whole second half just because she missed the first half,” Butts said. “We understand we have another exhibition on Sunday, and her body takes a lot of pounding and we’re gonna need her throughout the year.”

As for highly touted freshman center Aley Rohde, who tallied a double-double in her first game with 11 points and 10 rebounds, there is still room for improvement.

“There was a lot of things I could’ve done better. For a first game I got the feel of the game and it’s just uphill from here,” Rohde said.

Rohde said that, going forward, she needed to work on “consistency, a strong base in the post and my defense, gambling and getting the right position on the post player.”

Butts did not believe that the 6-foot-5 starting center performed as well as she could have, and coaches are emphasizing to Rohde that she needs to start using her height to her advantage.

“We’re telling her, ‘You are huge. You’re going to be able to alter some things if you just play your position and stay low and keep your hands high,’” Butts said.

Behind Rohde, Butts believes that one of the team’s biggest strengths will be rebounding, which is something they showed on Wednesday when Arizona outrebounded Western State 53 to 34.

“We almost outrebounded them by 20,” Butts said. “Cheylene Harper got in and got four offensive rebounds just like that and that was good. We were able to get those rebounds to get another offensive opportunity. We gotta continue to do that the remainder of the season.”

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