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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Injuries shorten Arizona bench

    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily WildcatArizona sophomore Jessie Robinson, a former intramural basketball player in Colorado, was forced into action Saturday, playing a career-high seven minutes. The Wildcats may yet again need Robinson, as only six scholarship players are available to play in the Wildcats 8 p.m. game at Oregon
    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
    Arizona sophomore Jessie Robinson, a former intramural basketball player in Colorado, was forced into action Saturday, playing a career-high seven minutes. The Wildcats may yet again need Robinson, as only six scholarship players are available to play in the Wildcats’ 8 p.m. game at Oregon

    Concussed, contused and cut, one would think the Arizona women’s basketball team is emerging from a heavyweight fight.

    When the Wildcats head to Eugene, Ore., to play the Ducks at 8 tonight, as many players will be unavailable due to injury as those available to play.

    “”In all my years of coaching, which is a lot, I’ve never had to deal with this,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”But you just learn how, and you move forward.””

    On top of season-ending injuries suffered by junior guard Linda Pace and redshirt sophomore guard Rachael Schein during the year and medically redshirting junior center Shannon Hobson’s injury before the year started, a trio of Wildcats with concussions – sophomores forward ChǸ Oh and guard Jessica Arnold as well as freshman backcourt mate Malia O’Neal – are out for tonight’s game.

    While it’s possible that Arnold and O’Neal may return to the court for Saturday’s game at Oregon State, Oh didn’t make the trip and hopes to return next week when the Bay Area schools visit McKale Center.

    “”It’s all Ashley’s fault,”” O’Neal said jokingly of sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant, whose elbow accidentally did the damage to her head during Saturday’s 90-64 loss to UCLA. “”She told me if it made me feel any better, her elbow’s sore.””

    Though concussions are something new to O’Neal and Arnold, the concussion sustained against Washington State Jan. 28 was the third this season for Oh, and it was the second in as many weeks.

    “”I’m kinda on a roll right now,”” she said with a smile. “”I’m going to try to not have any for a while.””

    The injuries leave Arizona with just seven players, or as junior guard Joy Hollingsworth calls them, the “”Super Seven.””

    “”On Saturday, it was like the Elite Eight (they had only eight players available in a loss to UCLA), but after Malia went down, it’s been the Super Seven,”” she said. “”It’s like nothing else can go wrong – we’ve started joking about the ‘Final Four’ as being down to four people.””

    Said Bonvicini: “”You know, it takes five. We play with five on the court, and we’ve handled a lot of adversity, and we’ll handle this.””

    There will be a slight change in the five who Bonvicini starts, with red-hot freshman guard Kelsey Burns replacing freshman forward Whitney Fields in the starting lineup.

    It’s something that Bonvicini said Burns, who has averaged 13 points in the past two games, has earned.

    “”We always knew that she’s a great shooter, she just needed to get the light on,”” Bonvicini said. “”Before, I think she was more trying not to make a mistake and hesitated, and now, she’s playing a whole lot more confident.””

    “”She can shoot the ball,”” Hollingsworth said. “”Obviously as a freshman, you’ll have your ups and downs, but she’s started peaking at the right moments.””

    Though the Wildcats have struggled somewhat on the road this season – their lone win came 80-76 at California Jan. 21 – they can take some confidence in the fact that they beat Oregon already this season, 81-72 in McKale Center Jan. 14.

    “”I think (the win earlier in the season over Oregon) gives us confidence, and I think in a lot of ways Oregon’s the same team,”” senior forward Anna Chappell said. “”We might have our own struggles, but I think they’re still beatable.””

    For Chappell, it will mark the last time she ever makes a regular-season road trip outside the state as a member of the Wildcats and her coach said she thinks she and senior teammate Natalie Jones, a guard, are beginning to realize this is the home stretch of their careers.

    “”They don’t say it. You can see it in their actions,”” Bonvicini said. “”They’re well aware that it’s their senior year and it’s winding down.

    “”It’s not … (a year) that we hoped for or expected, but I’m really proud of them, their leadership and how hard they’ve played.””

    Bonvicini said she hopes to get Hollingsworth going against Oregon after she was shut out in the scoring column in the first half of both games last weekend against the Los Angeles schools before rebounding with strong second halves.

    Calling it an issue with rhythm once the game gets started, Hollingsworth said that “”usually the first shot, free throw, (or) even just a good pass”” will get her going.

    “”Or I’ll feed off someone else like Kelsey Burns lighting it up,”” she said. “”I’ll feed off of anybody.””

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