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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


W-Hoops to take on GCU

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
UofA vs Nevada womens basketball
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UofA vs Nevada womens basketball

With a month of practice under its belt, the Arizona women’s basketball team finally takes to the McKale Center floor in an exhibition contest against the Grand Canyon University Antelopes tonight.

Now firmly planted in Arizona basketball, head coach Niya Butts plans to start her third year with the program with the right attitude.

“”(I like) our overall focus, our overall intensity, our energy, what everybody’s willing to bring to the table,”” Butts said. “”We want to win. That’s our overall theme.

“”The other day, the girls told me at practice that they want to be a hard-nosed, scrappy team. That’s what they want (the fans) to see when they watch us play, so I’m looking forward to it myself.””

With a bevy of returning players already in place, the Wildcat coaching staff is looking forward to see what the first contest will mean for the fresh faces.

Junior guard Shanita Arnold, who redshirted the 2009-10 season after transferring from the University of Arkansas, is excited to take on a physical role on the floor for the Wildcats.

“”Practices have been great,”” Arnold said. “”My teammates have been going for speed getting ready, even though it’s an exhibition game. We don’t want to take it lightly.””

Although the Wildcats are looking to take it day by day, they are hoping that the tonight’s game will give them a clear vision of what they need to work on for the rest of the season.

“”(We’re) just getting a feel to see exactly where we’re at and what we need to work on,”” Arnold said. “”It’s just giving us a bar to set ourselves and see what we need to come in later on in the week and work on for our (next) game on Sunday.””

The Antelopes, who finished with a 19-8 record last season, are looking to come into Tucson to get their season on the right start as well. The Wildcats can bet that senior guard Samantha Murphy, last year’s Pacific West Conference’s Player of the Year and Grand Canyon’s all-time leading scorer, will be looking to test the Wildcats on both sides of the ball.

But with a new season comes a new chain of command within the team, and Butts and her staff are most excited about the new facets of leadership opening up for their team.

“”Last year we were searching for leaders,”” Butts said. “”The coaches were more of the leader. I think now Shanita Arnold has really stepped up, Ify Ibekewe’s stepped up, Davellyn (Whyte’s) stepped up. So many of our kids have taken on that responsibility that we feel a lot better about it as a staff.””

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