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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s hoops to lean on experienced sophomores

Carlos+Herrera%2FThe+Daily+Wildcat%0A+%0Aduring+Arizona+Womens+Basketball+52-47+loss+against+Utah+at+the+McKale+Memorial+Center+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+22%2C+2014.+The+Wildcats+had+a+25-20+lead+at+the+half%2C+but+were+contained+as+Utah+shot+61+percent+in+the+second+half+and+outrebounded+the+Wildcats+37-30.%0A
Carlos Herrera/The Daily Wildcat
Carlos Herrera/The Daily Wildcat during Arizona Women’s Basketball 52-47 loss against Utah at the McKale Memorial Center on Friday, Feb. 22, 2014. The Wildcats had a 25-20 lead at the half, but were contained as Utah shot 61 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Wildcats 37-30.

There was no learning curve for UA women’s basketball sophomore forward LaBrittney Jones. There was no time to sit around and watch how the older players get it done, to digest the ins and outs of a new program — no time to act as a freshman.

From day one, Jones, a 6-foot-1 forward from Cedar Hill, Texas, wasn’t just asked to contribute to the women’s basketball team. Instead, she was immediately expected to become a centerpiece of the Wildcats’ program.

Arizona entered the 2013-14 season knowing it would be low on depth. Then-redshirt junior leading scorer Alli Gloyd tore her ACL in the preseason, and it made an already thin roster even weaker.

As Gloyd’s backup, Jones moved into the starting rotation and stayed there the entire season.

“Last year, I was kind of a little hesitant about doing a lot of stuff,” Jones said. “I was just coming off an injury, and that was like my first injury I’ve ever had in my life.”

While the Wildcats struggled to make up for the short bench, winning just five games, Jones and teammate sophomore Breanna Workman saw their play improve as the season went along.

At year’s end, Jones led Arizona in field goal percentage at 46 percent, and Workman was right behind, finishing third on the team.

“At first as a freshman, you get out there and you think, ‘Oh, you’re kind of scared and nervous,’” Workman said. “Now that I’m a sophomore, I have a lot of experience under my belt, and although I’m only a sophomore, I have a lot more experience than most freshmen got.”

With seven new players in the program, depth should not be as great a concern for the Wildcats as they prepare for the start of the season. For Jones, the larger roster provides an assurance that she couldn’t count on as a freshman.

“I’m able to play and not worry about minor injuries going on with myself,” Jones said. “Being able to go 100 percent is better for me.”

Jones is expected to be one of Arizona’s top offensive threats once again this year, especially if she can become a consistent outside shooter. Jones focused on her 3-point shooting over the summer, and the dividends are starting to pay off.

To make herself even more versatile, Jones has also improved her interior play.

“I’ve been working a lot on my post moves,” Jones said. “A lot more on my face-up game, because I know I’m very short compared to other ladies, so I have to face up more in order to make my moves.”

For Workman, the transition to sophomore year has much to do with off-the-court improvement as on the court. That means helping the freshmen along.

“It’s huge to be there for them, because I know how it felt to be in their position,” Workman said. “Part of leadership is to be there for everybody and to be on the same page.”

As Workman witnessed last year, without a balanced distribution, things can go downhill quick.

“We have a responsibility to start the game, bring a lot [of] energy and how we come out to set the tone,” Workman said. “Their responsibility is to come in and keep the tone sustained. It’s a rotation. Once that happens, I don’t think we can really be stopped.”

— Roberto Payne contributed to this reporting

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