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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball notebook: Cate Reese’s health, UNLV’s ties to Arizona and more

Nathanial Stenchever

University of Arizona is set to host the first and second round basketball games for the women’s March Madness bracket. University of North Carolina vs. Stephen F. Austin State University and University of Arizona vs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas games will be played in McKale Center on March 19.

With the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament starting on Friday, Assistant Sports Editor Asher Bookspan writes about a few storylines ahead of Arizona’s match-up with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday

How much will Cate Reese play? 

In Arizona’s match-up against Washington State, Cate Reese dislocated her shoulder and was sidelined for two weeks. Arizona struggled offensively without her, especially in the Pac-12 Tournament, losing to the University of Colorado Boulder 45-43. 

Arizona head coach Adia Barnes confirmed today that Reese is fully healthy and ready to play but could play fewer minutes than normal. 

“I would say minute-wise overall, I would say 30 minutes. I’m not going to play her the whole game,” Barnes said. 

Teammate Lauren Ware is excited to share the floor with Reese again as both have dealt with injuries this season. 

“Getting her back on the floor and in practice and stuff, it helps us out a lot and it helps me out a lot as well just because I learn a lot from her, and she makes me a better player. So we’re just really excited to have her back,” Ware said 

Lauren Ware’s confidence is back

After dislocating her knee early in the season, Ware has had two of the best games in her career after a shaky return from injury.

“I think it definitely took me a while to kind of get back into the groove of things. But I definitely feel like I’m a hundred percent now and I’m feeling comfortable on the court,” Ware said. 

As one of the emotional leaders of the team, Ware’s improved play as of late will only continue to help the team as they enter tournament play. 

RELATED: Arizona WBB lands UNLV in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and will host the first and second rounds in Tucson

UNLV has multiple ties to the University of Arizona 

While one of the most popular storylines for Arizona’s first-round match-up has been that sisters Sam and Jade Thomas get to play each other, UNLV has a few other ties to Arizona.

UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque revealed that former Arizona head coach Lute Olson was her godfather and that her father played for Olson when he was coaching at Long Beach City College 

“Some of my earliest basketball memories are here in McKale Center, you know, being with coach and the teams and watching them. And every year my dad would bring us for a week, and we’d watch practice and hang out,” La Rocque said. 

She also has ties to the men’s basketball team as she was babysat and coached by assistant coach Jack Murphy. 

“He’s just, he’s family. And so I’m lucky to have not just many kind of pseudo big brothers like that, mainly through obviously my father being a high school coach and a lot of different things, but [that was] definitely one of them,” La Rocque said. 

The team has one other tie to Arizona in star player Khayla Rooks. Her father, Sean Rooks played for Arizona from 1988 to 1992.

“My grandma’s excited that I’ll be able to play in my dad’s gym. So I think overall they’re super excited and super happy for me that I get this opportunity,” Rooks said. 

Adia Barnes expects a better shooting performance than against Colorado

Head coach Barnes said she expects to see a zone defense from UNLV which was effective for Colorado in their win over the Wildcats. She also expects to have a better offensive output from her team. 

“I do think I anticipate being zoned tomorrow, not a ton, but I anticipate the zone press and zone. But I am okay with that because our personnel and I wouldn’t mind that at all, and we will not shoot 2-24 [from three] ever again,” Barnes said. 

Barnes felt that against Colorado that the team got good looks off but the shots simply were not falling. She also thinks having Reese back in the paint and on the glass will be helpful to the team against UNLV’s defense. 

Is Sam Thomas afraid of the dark?

According to Jade Thomas, her older sister is afraid of the dark which got a kick out of Sam Thomas. 

“Well, I shared a room with Jade my whole life, and she’s always the one that wanted the night light, so that’s all I have to say about that,” Sam Thomas said. 

Arizona plays UNLV in McKale Center in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. 

Follow Asher Bookspan on Twitter

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