Women's hoops looks for an upset in Palo Alto
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior guard Felecity Willis (23) looks for an open player during the Jan. 14 game against Arizona State at McKale Center. The 9-7 Wildcats take on Stanford tonight in Palo Alto, Calif.
Two weeks ago, the UA women's basketball team didn't appear to be in any sort of condition to pull an upset in tonight's game at Stanford.
Arizona was 6-7 overall, 1-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference, going into a tough three-game homestand.
But a three game winning streak that pushed the Wildcats' record to 9-7, 4-3 in the Pac-10, has given the team confidence going into Maples Pavilion for the showdown with the Cardinal (9-9, 5-2).
"We definitely have more confidence, but we have to play better on the road," UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "This team has really improved in the last two weeks."
Hard workouts in practice improved the team, but losses against tough competition didn't give Arizona any confidence. Wins in the last two weeks over Arizona State, No. 25 Oregon and Oregon State have changed that.
"I think our confidence has increased tremendously," UA assistant coach Sam Dixon said. "This team needed to taste success. It came from hard work in practice and they are seeing the results."
While the team may have soaring confidence, tonight's game against Stanford at 8:30 is just the game to see how good Arizona is.
"Stanford is a very well-coached team," UA assistant coach Denise Dove said. "Personnel-wise we're different, but we're alike in the fact that we both have young players who are still experiencing college basketball and Pac-10 basketball."
Last season, it took a buzzer-beater at McKale Center to defeat the Cardinal and break Stanford's 48-game conference winning streak. Sophomore guard Reshea Bristol, who made that game-winning shot, looks to that game as an example of what the Wildcats need to do this season.
"That was a great feeling and experience, because all kids have that dream to beat a great team on the last shot," she said. "We all played together that game, and it's important we do that this time around."
Bristol says the winning streak is important, but that they've known all along that the Wildcats can play with the best teams in the country.
"It's definitely a big mental boost," she said. "We know that we can play with all the best teams, and it will help us a lot to be mentally, as well as physically, prepared for this one."
It is unclear if junior forward Tatum Brown will play this weekend. She has sat out the last three games due to academics, but has done all her paperwork and has practiced, Bonvicini said.
Arizona has been focusing mainly on rebounding and defense during practice, and Bonvicini said those are the keys to beating Stanford.
"We've been working on boxing out, and I promise you, we will rebound better," she said. "We just need to be doing all the extra things to beat Stanford."
Bryan Rosenbaum may be reached via email at Bryan.Rosenbaum@wildcat.arizona.edu