The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

80° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Ibekwe eager for ASU

    Arizona freshman forward Ify Ibekwe tries to post up in the Wildcats 65-60 win over Oregon Jan. 31 in McKale Center. Ibekwe expects to return to normal form after suffering an eye injury that only allowed her to play 18 minutes in the Wildcats game against ASU Jan. 12.
    Arizona freshman forward Ify Ibekwe tries to post up in the Wildcats’ 65-60 win over Oregon Jan. 31 in McKale Center. Ibekwe expects to return to normal form after suffering an eye injury that only allowed her to play 18 minutes in the Wildcats’ game against ASU Jan. 12.

    There’s nothing iffy about Ify when she’s in a groove.

    After patiently waiting four weeks to return to full force after an eye injury, forward Ify Ibekwe rediscovered her groove just in time for the Arizona women’s basketball team’s rematch with ASU tonight at 7 in Tempe.

    Ibekwe was poked by an unknown teammate in practice Dec. 14.

    The eye injury forced her to miss six games, but when Ibekwe returned to limited playing time (18 minutes) in the 75-65 loss to ASU (15-7, 9-2) Jan. 12, she realized the road to recovery would become much longer than initially expected.

    Now with her marginal comeback in terms of both her eye issues and on-court presence, Ibekwe knows the second half of Pacific 10 Conference play will be different for the Wildcats (9-13, 3-8 Pac-10).

    “”It takes a while to get your groove back if you sit out for a month and miss six games and practices,”” Ibekwe said. “”My first game coming back it was different – you have to get use to it again.””

    Ibekwe simply exploded in nonconference play earlier this season, averaging a team-high 13.8 points and 10 rebounds in the six games prior to the injury that put a halt on the freshman’s first taste of the Pac-10.

    As UA head coach Joan Bonvicini gradually granted Ibekwe more playing time, the 6-foot-1 forward slowly recaptured her early-season form.

    Ibekwe returned with a huge impact over the last two games against the Oregon schools – her first two games back at full health – scoring a combined 30 points and 19 rebounds in her two starts.

    In the span of games Ibekwe wasn’t at full strength Arizona went 2-9. The Wildcats are 7-4 – a record that includes Ibekwe’s first two games, both losses, as a college athlete.

    “”My motivation to get back wasn’t looking at what I did in non-conference, it was just in the fact that I had to be patient – that was the big thing,”” she said. “”One thing for me being back, even though I had to be patient to get my groove back. I had to give as much effort as I did before I got hurt.””

    Ibekwe got her first taste of the ASU rivalry in her first game back, although she was not proud of her performance afterward – four points and one rebound – and noted an intensity level above her lingering injury.

    With her first

    That little (ASU fan) section was louder than our fans, screaming and yelling. But I think it’s going to be more intense over there (in Tempe).

    – Ify Ibekwe,
    forward

    taste of the Duel in the Desert, Ibekwe called the Sun Devils the most aggressive team the Wildcats have played and extends that label to the hostile fans who invaded McKale.

    “”That little (ASU fan) section was louder than our fans, screaming and yelling,”” she said. “”But I think it’s going to be more intense over there (in Tempe).””

    In Arizona’s two wins over Oregon and Oregon State, the Wildcats scored a combined 80 points in the paint. Forward Amina Njonkou, who averages 13.7 points per game – second only to guard Ashley Whisonant – believes strong post play over the past two games is the key to Arizona’s success.

    “”Our coaches always told us we can’t win games if post players don’t produce,”” Njonkou said. “”By saying that, we as post players have to do something in order to win.””

    Njonkou expects the second swing at ASU to differ from the Jan. 12 loss in Tucson.

    “”The first game we came out not really believing,”” she said. “”This time, people have a different mindset. We’re not going there to have fun … we’re going to win.””

    Bonvicini is well aware of the emotion that comes from a rivalry game, and believes her team is much improved since the last meeting.

    With so much emphasis on Arizona’s post players over the past two games, Bonvicini will run an inside-outside offense in effort to stretch ASU’s defense out when collapsing on the post.

    “”Obviously you play a rivalry game, there’s a whole kind of emotion. We’re a better team that we were at that point,”” Bonvicini said.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search