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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s Basketball Analysis

Womens+Basketball+Analysis

After starting the season 11-2 including a competitive nine-point loss to No. 6 Texas A&M, the Arizona women’s basketball team has sputtered — losing seven of the last nine games, including a current four-game skid.

Here are the five biggest factors for Arizona’s skid.

 

1. No supporting cast

Davellyn Whyte and Ify Ibekwe have still gotten their numbers, as was expected entering the season. The thing that has disappeared has been support from the rest of Arizona’s rotation. Everyone has shown glimpses, but no one has been able to step up night-in and night-out and add a consistent third option to the Wildcat offense. Both Brooke Jackson and Shanita Arnold have gone through stretches where their shots were falling, but someone needs to separate herself from the rest of the pack and make an impact.

 

2. Lacking aggressiveness

After both of Arizona’s home losses during the weekend — its first two of the season — head coach Niya Butts talked about how the Wildcats need to be more aggressive and take the ball to the basket instead of settling for 3s. The Wildcats took 23 3-pointers per game over the weekend, five more than their average of 18 per game. To compound the problem, Arizona only hit 25 percent of its 3s during the weekend, compared to 30 percent the rest of the season. If the Wildcats are going to pass up an opportunity to get the ball inside, they need to start hitting the shots.

 

3. Mental fatigue

Losing streaks are tough on everyone — players, coaches and trainers — and it was obvious that everyone was frustrated over the weekend. It just looked like everyone was exhausted mentally. Simple plays that should be made in the players’ sleep — like inbound passes — were botched. Bad calls were (understandably) questioned, but it seemed like Arizona was waiting for something good to happen instead of making something good happen.

 

4. Youth

If any team is going to be prone to high peaks and low valleys, like Arizona has been this year, it’s going to be one as young as the Wildcats. There are two seniors in the starting lineup, but five of the mainstays in Arizona’s rotation are either freshmen, sophomores or in their first year in the program playing at Arizona after a transfer. The tough part for Butts is going to be getting everyone to step back and take things one game at a time instead of letting the streak snowball out of control.

 

5. Better competition

This is the clear and most likely answer to Arizona’s struggles. Three of the seven losses have come against top-10 teams, and the other four losses were against teams that are ahead of Arizona in the current Pacific 10 Conference standings. The only team currently ahead of Arizona that the Wildcats have beaten is Washington State — with a 7-16 overall record. All three of Arizona’s other conference wins have come against the bottom-feeders of the Pac-10, with an 8-25 combined conference record.

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