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Women's Hoops: Wildcat trio prepares for final goodbye

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Dee-Dee Wheeler, Katrina Lindner and Danielle Adefeso, have shared their experience with their teammates on the women's basketball team, such as becoming a "family unit." The three seniors play their last home game in McKale this Saturday.
By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

The end has arrived for point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler, forward Danielle Adefeso and guard Katrina Lindner of the Arizona women's basketball team.

The trio will hit the hardwood in McKale Center for the final time Saturday, as the Wildcats take on Washington in the last home game of the regular season. While they will not be able to repeat last year's Pacific 10 championship, the seniors hope to make another postseason run as they cap off four years of memories.

Wheeler raises the bar in her last year

One of the team's biggest leaders and most recognizable faces, Wheeler destroyed and reset several milestones in the Arizona record books her senior year. The Chicago native notched her 113th career start against Oregon Saturday and has swiped 289 steals over the course of her career, both of which place her first on Arizona all-time lists. In addition, Wheeler looks to become the all-time minutes leader against the Huskies, as she is three minutes shy of Aimee Grzyb's record of 3,856 total minutes.

While Wheeler downplays the importance of these records, she puts the team's success ahead of her own personal achievements.

"Well, those accolades don't mean much," Wheeler said. "But this season I dedicated to my grandma, so those are great honors to have in her name. I prefer to have a better season than we had this year and not have any milestones left here. But those are great things to be reached, and I'm glad to have reached them."

Since coming to the UA, Wheeler said she has experienced some changes both on and off the court.

"I've grown not only as a player but as a young woman as well," she said. "It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman. But I've grown as a point guard coming in as a shooting guard out of high school. Just by playing, I've learned a lot in terms of decision making."

Although Wheeler has witnessed some transformations, the Arizona coaching staff said she made an immediate influence on the team when she first joined the team four years ago.

"I think Dee-Dee - I've said this time and again - she's been an impact player from the moment she put on an Arizona uniform," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "She's a great competitor. I think she's gotten better every season. I think the biggest thing we want Dee-Dee to do is to lead her team back to the NCAA playoffs. I think she's really developed into a good leader, but I think she's still learning that."

In addition, Wheeler was also forced to adapt to the Tucson environment, which she said differs dramatically from the Windy City.

"Tucson is definitely different from Chicago, where I was raised and where I want to go back and live," Wheeler said. "I'm definitely going to miss the Tucson atmosphere. But the university has been a really great experience for me. Just being a part of it was really great, and I'm glad I made the decision to come here and play."

Lindner uses senior year to mentor younger teammates

Lindner has experienced her share of tribulations since first donning an Arizona jersey, as she tore both her left and right anterior cruciate ligaments over the course of her freshman and sophomore years.

"Just going through a couple of injuries, I've learned a lot," said Lindner, a native from Adelaide, Australia. "I've got to see a lot of different perspectives from playing and also from a coach's standpoint. I've just grown as a person being here."

A captain for the last two years, Lindner said that more than anything she hoped to be a good role model for her teammates - a goal that has become apparent to the coaching staff.

"I think Katrina's a good leader," said Bonvicini. "I've always felt she gives it everything she has. She's been great all through her four years."

In her final year at Arizona, Lindner has made it a priority to work with her teammates who share her position at guard, including freshman phenom and Tucson native Jessica Arnold.

"(Arnold) is a great athlete like a lot of the freshmen are," Lindner said. "They're going to be awesome in the next few years so they just got to keep doing what they're doing, keep working hard and keep a good attitude."

In the wake of her injuries, Lindner said senior day against the Huskies holds added significance for her.

"It's definitely going to be emotional for me, I've been through a lot since I've been here," Lindner said. "Just senior night is emotional as it is. We've seen Oregon's senior night last weekend. It just brings a lot of emotion to the whole team."

Adefeso steps up where it counts

Despite suffering an early-season shoulder injury, Adefeso has become more of an offensive threat in recent weeks. The forward has started 10 of the past 11 games and is averaging 8.5 points and 6.6 rebounds over that span. Previously, Adefeso had averaged 3.6 points and 2.7 boards.

"I think Danielle has really come into her own. I think sometimes when you get something taken away, it makes you appreciate it a lot more," Bonvicini said of the forward's injury. "And she was out of action for a long time. I think when she was able to come back and play, she rehabbed really hard. I definitely know she's playing the best basketball of her career."

While Adefeso takes pride in her improvements on the court, she said she has improved in her attitude and work ethic since arriving at the UA.

"I've just learned a lot of lessons that will transfer over to my career, just a lot of life lessons," Adefeso said. "I think being an athlete, when things go bad you learn how to get over it, whereas other people don't have that experience. We have a game the next day. If you lose, you still have to come out and compete the next day, even though most people would just be ready to quit."

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