By Jeff Lund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 24, 2003
How do you cool off after an intense rivalry game?
Fly to Wisconsin a day later. It's no joke, the Arizona women's basketball team will arrive in Madison, Wisc. at 2:02 this afternoon, just as the mercury should be reaching its peak of 18 degrees. They will then begin preparing for the Sunday afternoon quarrel with the Badgers, hoping to bounce back after last night's loss to ASU.
"There is going to be lots of study hall because it's the beginning of a long road trip," said coordinator of basketball operations Craig Haubrich. "Because it's so damn cold up there, we are going to be spending a lot of time in the hotel."
The Wildcats (12-5, 6-3) better get used to room service, as Wisconsin is the second in a four-game road swing coming at a critical juncture in the season.
"It's a huge road trip. We started with our rival and now we are going to Wisconsin," head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "We need to win these games to stay in the Pac-10 race."
Though the Badgers don't boast the most impressive record, (3-13, 1-5) and only have two players averaging double figures in points per game, Bonvicini said she is expecting a tough battle from the upset-minded Wisconsin team.
"They have struggled but they are good at home," she said.
The last time Arizona traveled to a Big Ten school, the Wildcats were ripped by Ohio State, 84-65.
UA has come a long way since that game, and the development of freshman phenom Shawntinice Polk has continued. Polk, one of the front-runners for national freshman of the year, is a big reason Arizona is scoring 12.4 points per game more than its opponents.
Polk has been nothing short of dominant in her first campaign as a Wildcat, collecting two Pac-10 Player of the Week awards while scoring 18.2 points and snatching 11.6 rebounds per outing.
Arizona's outside threat is headed by sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler öö last week's conference player of the week. Wheeler and Polk have spearheaded Arizona's best start since a 14-2 embarkation two seasons ago. In that year, the Wildcats went on a three-game road trip toward the end of January, lost all three games, and never recovered, finishing 20-12 overall.
Bonvicini said she is stressing to her team to remain focused and not get ahead of themselves, as two tough Pac-10 opponents await the Wildcats next week.
Following its regular season non-conference finale, the Wildcats must head to Oregon State and Oregon in what could be a pivotal weekend.
"The most important thing is that we play one game at a time," she said.
Wheeler is averaging 23.3 points in her last three games. The Wildcats are 5-0 when Wheeler reaches the 20-point mark ·
As part of the pre-game preparation, Haubrich said the team will watch the Arizona men's team battle on the road at Kansas.