By Lindsey Frazier
JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior guard Natalie Jones sprints up the court on her way to a career-high 25 points versus USC Saturday.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Coming off two stellar performances against UCLA and Southern California, junior guard Natalie Jones was named U.S. Bank Pacific 10 Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week yesterday for Feb. 7-13.
"It's been a great honor to actually be Pac-10 Player of the Week," Jones said. "It's my first one. It just feels good. It's a great thing to have this accomplishment."
Jones averaged 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals over the homestand.
"I think it's well deserved, particularly for this week," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "I think she accepted the challenge and had her best weekend as a Wildcat. "
Against UCLA Thursday, she put up a season-high 25 points in addition to four rebounds and three steals.
In Sunday's matchup against the Trojans, Jones was one of five Arizona players with double-digit scoring as she had 15 points on 100 percent shooting and dished out six assists.
"We needed everything from her on Thursday against UCLA, and she hit the big shots and still played good defense," Bonvicini said. "Saturday we just wanted her to be consistent. I felt she did that. I think she made every shot."
This is the first time Jones received the honor and is the 34th overall selection for Arizona.
"It's mainly a team thing; without my teammates I wouldn't have got that without them distributing the ball to me," Jones said. "It's just a great accomplishment to have. It gives me a lot of confidence."
"Right now (my arm) is a little sore playing those back-to-back games," she said of the tendonitis in her right arm. "I'm off for a couple of days. I'm just getting a lot of treatment on it."
Cats get healthier, still battling injury
In addition to Jones, the Wildcats have suffered more than their fair share of injuries over the course of the season.
Junior center Shawntinice Polk has been hampered by a left knee injury she initially sustained in the Dec. 27 win over Washington State.
"(Polk) played better Saturday," Bonvicini said of the center's 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 30 minutes. "She's still not nearly 100 percent, but I do believe that Natalie and everyone is getting better."
Sophomore forward-center Shannon Hobson is gradually seeing more playing time after injuring her left knee in Arizona's 67-54 loss to USC Jan. 14. Against UCLA, Hobson had five points in 22 minutes and, while she failed to score against the Trojans, the forward did pull down one board and had one assist in 12 minutes on the floor.
"Shannon is getting back," Bonvicini added. "Her conditioning's getting back. She's getting used to playing and we're getting there. We're getting healthier. We're getting used to play with each other again. As we get healthy, we're going to continue to play well."
Although Arizona is gradually getting healthier, Jones said she credits Arizona's last two wins to production from its other starters.
"Basically other people on the team need to step up, which they have been doing," Jones said. "We've had great leadership from some of our upper classmen. Everyone on our team is stepping up. I'm happy with the way that Danielle (Adefeso) is playing and our two freshmen Ashley (Whisonant) and Jessica (Arnold)."
Senior forward Danielle Adefeso has been a presence in wake of the injuries. She has started in eight of the last nine games and is averaging more than eight points and almost seven rebounds per game. Adefeso was previously contributing four points and three boards per game.
Wheeler up for Collegiate national Award of Excellence
Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler was named to the Watch List for the third annual Collegiate Basketball Award of Excellence. She is among 36 women's basketball players in consideration for the award, which recognizes seniors for their athletic and academic achievements, in addition to community participation.
The group will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists on March 1 and the three finalists will be announced during the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats (17-8, 9-5 Pac - 10 Conference) are currently tied for third place in conference standings with Oregon and ASU. Arizona hits the road to face Oregon State Thursday followed by Oregon Saturday.