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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona women’s basketball looks ahead

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts talks with media members after the first practice of the year in Richard Jefferson Gymnasium on Wednesday. Butts spoke on moving on from last season and newfound depth.

The Arizona women’s basketball team officially began practice on Wednesday, and one theme was consistent from head coach Niya Butts and the returning players.

Last year is in the past.

“It’s over,” Butts said. “It takes a crazy person to trip over what’s behind you, so we always want to move forward.”

Injuries, a lack of depth and plain bad luck resulted in the Wildcats finishing the 2013-14 season 5-25 overall and 1-17 in conference play.

This season, Butts welcomes in a group of freshmen considered to be the most talented class in recent history, as well as the return of a couple key contributors, like redshirt senior Alli Gloyd.

After missing the entire 2013-14 season due to a torn right knee ligament, Gloyd is back healthy and will be counted on for her scoring and senior leadership.

“It’s such a relief,” Butts said. “Practice is a bit louder, she talks on defense, she talks on offense. She is constantly communicating with her teammates, what we have to [have] more of and less of.”

Gloyd and redshirt senior guard Cadice Warthen are the only two seniors on what is otherwise a young team.

While it will take time for the underclassmen to get on the same page, Warthen believes that the greater depth makes a significant difference in practice.

“It’s a whole lot better as opposed to having girls out all the time,” Warthen said. “It’s fun to get after each other. [The freshmen] are the best group I’ve seen since I’ve been here. They’re all about business. They want to work, they want to get better and they’re engaged in what we’re trying to do here.”

When the season begins, a major piece of that freshman class may still be on the sidelines.

Taryn Griffey, a highly touted freshman point guard out of Seattle, is still recovering from an ACL injury and said there is no current timetable as to when she’ll fully return.

“I haven’t really looked at it as, ‘Oh, I’m hurt, I’m going to pout about it,’” Griffey said. “I’ve looked at it as it’s time for me to grow up and attack my injury head on and not back away from it.”

While Griffey’s recovery no doubt slows down the team’s overall progress, Butts believes the adversity of last season will help the team overcome such setbacks.

“It was pretty tough last year, injury after injury, but I think it also made us stronger,” Butts said. “We appreciate the fuller roster we have now, and I think everybody’s coming together a little bit more. That’s what it’s all about.”

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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