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WNIT bid highlights women's hoops slate


Photo
CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA junior center and two-time All-Pac-10 performer Shawntinice Polk leads the Wildcats into action this season beginning with the preseason women's NIT tournament Nov. 12.
By From staff and wire reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 7, 2004
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The UA women's basketball team announced its 2004-2005 schedule yesterday, highlighted by three televised games, matchups against five NCAA tournament participants and a berth in the preseason Women's National Invitational Tournament.

The Wildcats, fresh off their second consecutive 20-win season last year, open play Nov. 12 by hosting St. Mary's in the first round of the preseason WNIT in McKale Center.

"We're honored to be asked to the WNIT again and to host for the first time," UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "However, any time you play your first game earlier, it's a challenge. That should be a great game here to start the season."

Bonvicini led Arizona to a 24-9 record last season, including a share of the Pacific 10 Conference Championship, a 14-0 record at home and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

In addition to their entry into the preseason WNIT, the Wildcats' schedule is highlighted by a trio of televised games - Jan. 9 against Stanford and Jan. 29 against Maryland, both at home, and Feb. 19 at Oregon.

Arizona will face Maryland, Georgia and UC-Santa Barbara, each an NCAA Tournament participant in the spring, as part of its non-conference schedule.

"Georgia is obviously a great team, maybe one of the top teams in the nation," Bonvicini explains. "The coach at Maryland is a former player of mine, so that should be an exciting game. And we lost to UC-Santa Barbara last year, so we're looking for revenge there."

Georgia advanced to the Elite 8 in 2004, with UC-Santa Barbara falling in the Sweet 16 and Maryland advancing to the second round.

Arizona's non-conference schedule rounds out with trips to Brigham Young and Chicago State, where senior guard and Chicago native Dee-Dee Wheeler has the opportunity to play in front of a hometown crowd.

The Wildcats begin conference play after the new year, with Pac-10 counterparts Stanford and UCLA entering the 2004-05 schedule after making the NCAA tournament, and Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington coming off postseason WNIT invites.

"I think the conference is getting stronger every year," Bonvicini said. "There are a number of teams competing for the title. Last year we got three teams into the NCAA Tournament, and we're hoping to get four or five in this year. The Pac-10 has a lot of good teams and good players."

More than two full months of Pac-10 play, including home and road matchups for the Wildcats against each Pac-10 school, will conclude March 4-7 with the 2005 Pac-10 Tournament, held at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.



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