By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 10, 2005
The Arizona women's basketball team concludes its exhibition schedule tomorrow against Division II Fort Lewis College at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.
It'll be a reunion of sorts for senior guard Natalie Jones, who will face off against East Anchorage (Alaska) High School teammate Christa Wilson, with whom she won three state championships.
"I'm very excited to play against her," Jones said. "It's funny. They called us Ebony and Ivory because I'm black and she's white. We're both quick and have a good shot. We played off each other."
Jones and the Wildcats will use this final exhibition game to get used to an undersized lineup that will now be missing freshman center Amina Njoukou for four to eight weeks after undergoing minor surgery Tuesday for a stress fracture in her right foot, said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini.
Jones and Bonvicini both stressed the importance of rebounding while playing a small lineup that started four guards and a forward in Sunday's 93-73 win over Cal Poly Pomona.
"We definitely need to get better reboundingwise," Bonvicini said. "I'm always going to be concerned about it. We just need to make it a huge focus."
Arizona will try to get more comfortable in their fast-paced, guard-oriented system against an actual college team in the Skyhawks, as opposed to the travel teams they have played in years past.
"On travel teams, a lot of people just get together and play," Bonvicini said. "They're talented but offensively have no real system. Division II teams are just like us, practicing together and have a certain philosophy. I'd much rather play teams like that."
Fort Lewis, a Division II program from Durango, Colo., returns three starters from last year's 15-13 squad, including seniors Amie Moulton and Stephanie Kosters.
|Fort Lewis College at Arizona
Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
The guard Moulton is the team's leading returning scorer, having averaged 13.6 points per game last season.
The Skyhawks fell to New Mexico 75-48 on Friday in their first exhibition game.
Bonvicini said she likes playing these exhibition games.
"It's good for the team and good for (the coaches)," she said. "We need to get more work and we need to be improved from (the) way we played Sunday. I thought times Sunday was very good, but there's still things we need to improve on."
The game will also provide the Wildcat freshmen with more quality playing time after nine players reached double-figure minutes Sunday. Bonvicini has said she expects to count on many players this season.
"It gives the freshmen a preview of what's to come physically and mentally," Jones said.
Freshman guard Kelsey Burns said she welcomes the challenge of the opposition after constantly playing against the Arizona practice team for the past month.
"We need to get finally go up against someone else and get the kinks out," she said. "We'll get a little experience just playing."
Playing Fort Lewis will be special for sophomore walk-on Jessie Robinson, who hails from Highland Ranch, Colo. Her parents met at the school, and her dad walked on to the football team.
Although she does not figure to be a part of the rotation, Robinson could get garbage minutes if the Wildcats fashion a blowout.
"I'm real excited for the game," she said.
While the Wildcats figure to be heavy favorites tomorrow, Jones said Arizona cannot have that mentality.
"Every game we need to be the underdog from our standpoint," she said.