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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-10 Tournament Preview: Women’s Basketball

X-factor

Shanita Arnold

Junior guard Shanita Arnold could be the key to Arizona making a run in the Pac-10 Tournament. When she gets a feel for the tempo of the game, Arizona is tough to beat — especially when she’s knocking down outside shots. Arnold tries to push the tempo too much sometimes, which can lead to too many turnovers. But when she’s clicking, she makes defenses extend out to the 3-point line, which opens up the inside for Ibekwe and Lucet — a key against bigger teams like Southern California or Stanford.

Why Arizona will win

Head coach Niya Butts said that Arizona is playing the best basketball in the conference right now, and she may be right. The Wildcats have won six of their last seven, with the lone loss being a heartbreaker to No. 7 UCLA. On top of that, Arizona’s bracket starts off favorably with a game against ninth-seeded Oregon, although playing Stanford in the semifinal is daunting.

Why Arizona will lose

No one on Arizona’s roster has been in this position before; including head coach Niya Butts — at least as a coach. Right now, the Wildcats are probably on the outside looking into the NCAA Tournament bubble. But if Arizona can find a way to get to the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament semifinals and put a scare into No. 1 seed Stanford, there’s a good chance it will be in the Big Dance for the first time since the 2004-2005 season. There’s no doubt seniors Ify Ibekwe, Soana Lucet and Amanda Pierson want to get in, but Arizona’s running out of time to make its case.

— Alex Williams

Team with most to gain

UCLA

No. 7 UCLA has been playing second fiddle to No. 2 Stanford’s dominance for the past few years.

In this year’s tournament, the Cardinal and the Bruins are positioned next to each other as the number one and number two seeds, respectively, and will most likely be the match up for the title at the end of the tournament.

The Cardinal dominated in the regular season, beating the Bruins in both of their meetings, and Stanford is already almost guaranteed a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.

UCLA will also have a tournament bid, but an upset victory over Stanford could set them up with the confidence and momentum needed to propel them through the first couple rounds of the tournament.

Team with most to lose

ASU

Far behind UCLA in terms of season record is ASU, which will be gunning for the tournament title to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

If the Sun Devils fall in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament, the season is lost and it’s time to focus on preparations to get an NCAA Tournament bid for next season.

X-factor

Jeanette Pohlen

It’s hard to argue against Pac-10 Player of the Year Jeanette Pohlen, whose 15 points per game have been the greatest contributor to the Cardinal’s success.

She will make clutch shots when her team needs them and could easily punish opposing offenses with her tenacious defensive abilities.

Winner

Stanford

It’s starting become a cliché, but nobody else in the conference comes in with as much consistency as the Cardinal.

— Dan Kohler

 

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