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Czech mate: Polk shines in UA debut

SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The much-anticipated Arizona career of Shawntinice Polk is under way. In her first game as a Wildcat against an opponent, Polk scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds in the team's 90-69 win over BK CZ MUS Strakonice, a Czech club team.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday November 12, 2002

Women's hoops opens season with 21-point win

A visiting assistant coach took pictures of the scoreboard and other sights in McKale Center last night, but it's more than likely he didn't snap any shots of Arizona freshman center Shawntinice Polk. She is a memory the Czech club team would probably rather forget.

Polk scored 16 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and added four blocked shots to lead the Wildcats to a 90-69 victory in front of 560 people at McKale Center last night.

Arizona was able to take advantage of its quickness to beat BK CZ MUS Strakonice, a Czech club team, in its first exhibition of the year.

"We finally got some different looks (playing against someone different)," Polk said. "Everyone talked and helped each other out."

Strakonice struggled for much of the game against the bigger and more athletic Wildcats. Probably the toughest thing for the young Wildcats to deal with was not the other team, but their own nerves.

"You could tell we had a lot of nervous players out there, particularly our young players," head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

The Wildcat defense used both the full-court and half-court presses for much of the game and was able to wear down the Czech team. The Wildcats forced 26 turnovers that led to several fast-break points in the second half.

Halfway through the first half, with the score tied at nine, Bonvincini choose to go with the full-court press, but was forced to abandon it later in the half because of a lack of success. She then decided to go with the half-court press, but that produced similar results.

With five minutes to go until halftime, Strakonice put together a run to bring the score to within four points, but the Wildcats responded and answered with seven straight points to take a 43-32 lead into the half.

Arizona came back to the press later in the second half and saw much better results. Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler benefited from the press, as she scored 22 points on the night, many coming off of turnovers.

Though the press began to work in the later stages of the game, Arizona still had trouble keeping the Czech perimeter shooters at bay. Center Jitka Musilova was 4-of-6 from three-point land, and forward Jana Kleckova shot 4-of-7.

"We were getting there and contesting the shot. They were just going in," Polk said. "The whole team didn't miss very much at all."

Another area that the Wildcats struggled in was their shooting from the free-throw line. Arizona was 21-for-34 from the charity stripe, and Polk was just 4-of-13.

"I couldn't hit a free throw to save my life," Polk said. "I was really nervous, but the team talked to me and calmed me down."

"(The missed free throws) are just mental right now," Bonvicini said. "It's our job to help settle them down and get a lot of confidence. I never thought that at any part of the game we were clicking on all cylinders."

Game notes

· Senior guard Julie Brase did not play due to a deep muscle contusion sustained last week in the Red-Blue Scrimmage

· It was the first appearance for seven of the 12 players that saw action in a Wildcat uniform

· The Wildcats shot 75 percent from the free-throw line in the first half, but only 54.5 percent in the second half

· Strakonice committed 24 fouls and sent the Wildcats to the free-throw line 34 times, while Arizona committed only 13 fouls.


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