The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

48° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Team reflects on season

    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Junior forward Joy Hollingsworth shoots around Arizona States Kristen Kovesdy during Arizonas 81-45 loss on Saturday in Tempe. Hollingsworth had a team high 14 points during the teams final game of the regular season.
    Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat Junior forward Joy Hollingsworth shoots around Arizona State’s Kristen Kovesdy during Arizona’s 81-45 loss on Saturday in Tempe. Hollingsworth had a team high 14 points during the team’s final game of the regular season.

    Ed. Note: This is the first in a two-part series on the Arizona women’s basketball team. Tomorrow’s story addresses what’s next for the Wildcat women, detailing the recruiting class coming to Tucson in the fall.

    They entered the season knowing it was going to be unlike anything they’d ever experienced, but none of them could have imagined just how different it was going to be.

    For the Arizona women’s basketball team, it was a season that started with the news of the death of star senior center Shawntinice Polk; a season that from all outside accounts ended as a disappointment, but internally with a sense of success.

    “”You look at success and how it’s measured – in sports, you’re generally measured … by your record and your postseason accomplishments and how far you go,”” said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”Well, you look at our record this year, and say, ‘Well, you had a terrible year,’ and to me by far this is the worst record I’ve ever been around – I’ve ever had.

    “”I mean, you look at all my other achievements as a team, my career has been very successful,”” she continued. “”But success is measured in different ways, and this year, as far as the things we’ve overcome, I’d have to say we’ve been successful.””

    Players echoed the sentiments of their coach.

    “”Personally, this has probably been one of the most emotional times of my life,”” said sophomore guard Jessica Arnold in reference to the loss of Polk as well as the many injuries that plagued the team throughout the season. “”Everything … has been really frustrating and hard, but I think as a team, we’ve definitely grown. We’re all better people because of this, and we’re all so much closer.””

    To the team, just getting through the year was something to be proud of.

    “”I’m happy that we got through the season with all the stuff that happened this season, injuries and things like that,”” said junior guard Joy Hollingsworth. “”I think it was just an accomplishment for us (to finish the season).””

    Though the team finished 8-22 overall and 3-15 within the Pacific 10 Conference’s regular-season play, the attitude displayed by members of the team each week in practice – upbeat, smiling and joking –

    I’ve always thought I’ve had a pretty good sense of humor, but there’s times you just have to laugh. I mean we had to laugh because there was nothing else you could do.

    – Joan Bonvicini,
    Arizona head coach

    wouldn’t let you know they were in the middle of one of the worst seasons, statistically speaking, an Arizona women’s basketball team has ever endured.

    “”My role has always been as a coach to teach, and to be involved academically, … but my other role has always been as a surrogate parent,”” Bonvicini said. “”This year, for both my staff and I, that was a role that was probably more prominent than even the coaching part, because they confided in us.

    “”There were some things that were very, very difficult – some that people knew about, and some that they didn’t – and it made us all closer because we were always there for each other.””

    Added Arnold: “”We’re all so, so, so close. … You don’t go through this kind of stuff (Polk’s death as well as the injuries) with just random people, you go through this kind of stuff with your sisters, and that’s what basically they are.””

    The impact of Polk’s passing was obviously greatest off the court, but the team was forced to re-examine its goals and reorient itself in terms of on-the-court issues as a result.

    “”Prior to ‘Polkey’ passing away … we had certain plans for this season’s goals, and then when she passed away, we had other goals,”” Bonvicini said. “”The thing is you have to adapt.””

    To ask a member of the team to choose one moment that defined the season is a pretty lofty question, but Bonvicini managed to narrow it to two – one of which took place before the season was even underway.

    “”I remember the week that Polkey passed away, and they had the memorial service,”” Bonvicini said. “”There were representatives from every school, and (Southern California) had a couple players here.

    “”I came in … and (assistant coaches) Todd (Holthaus) and Kelly (Barney) said, ‘Joan, I just want you to know, there’s going to be some really tough times during the season where you’re going to wonder why we’re playing a certain way.’

    “”I think for me, I’m such an optimist that I never would have believed it. But that was definitely true.””

    Two common themes emerged as the season wore on: The exposure of Arizona’s lack of size that translated into difficulty rebounding, and injuries. Injuries plagued the Wildcats throughout the season.

    At one point, a Feb. 9 game against the Ducks in Eugene, Ore., Bonvicini’s squad was actually limited to just two active players off the bench, which included sophomore walk-on forward Jessie Robinson. It would become the second of the coach’s defining moments of the season.

    “”I’ve always thought I’ve had a pretty good sense of humor, but there’s times you just have to laugh,”” Bonvicini said. “”I mean we had to laugh because there was nothing else you could do.

    “”I’ve never in my career ever had (a situation) like that,”” she said. “”I think it was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced.””

    As the season wore on and the losses began to mount, frustration began to set in.

    “”It’s extremely frustrating, because our season – we just weren’t consistent,”” Arnold said. “”Honestly, even us players, we didn’t know what team was going to come out and play. We’d think we were ready for a game, and then we’d go out there and we’d turn the ball over and act like we’d never played before.””

    Even so, the team believes next year will be a much different story.

    “”It was hard,”” Bonvicini concluded, reflecting on the season. “”To lose is something we’re not used to.””

    Added sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant: “”I’m very excited, we owe a lot of teams payback, so I’m excited for next year.

    “”Our coaches are like, ‘Remember this. Remember how this (losing) feels. Remember it.'””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search