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Wildcats set for season opener

Claire C. Laurence/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Redshirt junior Joy Hollingsworth fights for the ball during Arizona's 93-73 win over Cal Poly Pomona on Nov. 6 in McKale Center. The Wildcats start their 2005-06 season tonight when they meet Loyola Marymount at 8:30 in McKale Center.
By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 18, 2005
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Arizona women's athletics will be at the forefront tonight in McKale Center, as the women's basketball team tips off its 2005-06 season as the second half of a doubleheader with the No. 6 Wildcat volleyball team.

The Wildcats take on Loyola Marymount at 8:30 p.m. after the volleyball squad hosts No. 14 Southern California at 6 p.m., and one ticket provides entrance to both games.

"We hope people come out and support both teams," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini.

In Arizona's season debut, it will unveil its new full-court press in real competition after forcing 31 turnovers in consecutive exhibition routs.

"The press is going to be a key this year because we're a lot smaller and we don't have a big man in the backcourt," said senior guard Natalie Jones. "A lot of pressure is going to be on our up-court system."

Without a big low-post threat, the Wildcats expect to use their defense as a catalyst for their offense.

"To be a quality team, we need defense," Jones said. "Our offense will come if we play defense. We're going to get up on people and pressure the ball for 40 minutes. We're going to try to be like pests out there."

That attitude will be reflected in a small lineup. While Bonvicini said Wednesday she had not decided on starters, the team started four guards and a forward in each of its exhibition games.

That means junior guards Joy Hollingsworth and Linda Pace logged time at the traditional power forward spot.

If you go

Loyola Marymount at Arizona
Today 8:30 p.m.
cKale Center

"We're faster at that spot because we play the 4 spot with a guard," Hollingsworth said. "It's going to make us faster on the press trapping. We're quicker, so I like it."

Hollingsworth probably would not mind where she plays as long as she's on the court. The transfer from San Francisco has not played a meaningful game in 18 months and none as a Wildcat.

As a former West Coast Conference rival of Loyola Marymount with the Dons, Hollingsworth recorded a career-high six assists against the Lions as a freshman.

"It's been 18 months of waiting. I can't wait to go out there," Hollingsworth said. "Before the jump ball I'm going to be nervous, I think more nervous than before the exhibition games. Then it'll be a sigh of relief."

While Loyola Marymount hails from a mid-major conference, it should be a formidable foe, as the conference's coaches picked it as the preseason favorite to win the WCC after finishing second last season.

Senior guard Rachael Ziemann led the team in scoring last year, averaging 10.2 points per game, while her twin sister and fellow guard Bianca Ziemann was not far behind, averaging 7.9.

Both women can shoot the 3, combining to make more than 200 attempts last year, with Rachael hitting on 41.4 percent of them.

"Defensively, we've really got to come out on their shooters," Bonvicini said. "They have good 3-point shooters. We need to really do a good job boxing out and try to control tempo."

With Wildcat recruits Beatrice (6-foot-7) and Suzanne Bofia (6-foot-6), the tallest female twins in the world, not set to join Arizona until next season, Jevay Grooms, a 6-foot-3 senior center who averaged 7.3 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds last year, could give the Wildcats trouble down low.

While Arizona is small because of the loss of 6-foot-5 center Shawntinice Polk, her death could also put a mental burden on the Wildcats.

Hollingsworth said she thinks the team let out many of their emotions in the team's Nov. 1 Red-Blue Game, in which the team was visibly shaken while falling behind 16-2 to start the game.

Bonvicini agreed, saying the exhibition games helped her team prepare for the season's start without Polkey.

"That's really helped us a little bit," she said. "I think the intensity will be there, and once we start we'll be fine. I think she'd be really proud of all the girls."

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