Women's team features youth, depth

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

It is next year.

With the hopes of last season's young Arizona women's basketball team dismissed with a "wait until next year" attitude, the expectations for this season are higher than ever among fans and players alike.

The Wildcats return five freshman from last season's squad and have only three upperclassmen. While still young, Arizona is far from inexperienced. So far this season, the team looks like it has the kind of talent to do some damage in the Pacific 10 Conference.

What follows is the Wildcats' depth chart.

Guards

Brenda Pantoja, senior

5-foot-8

She is definitely the Arizona's leader as she enters her fourth season. Pantoja sets the pace and plays almost 40 minutes per game. She is a good ball handler and an excellent 3-point shooter. Pantoja has proven, at times, that she can be a one-woman show. She has the kind of patience necessary to direct the half-court offense, although it is obvious she likes to get out and run the floor.

Pantoja averaged 10 points per game last season and led the team with 191 assists. She enters the season as one of two seniors on the team and is showing more maturity early in the season. Pantoja averaged 20.5 points in her two preseason games.

DeAngela Minter, sophomore

5-foot-7

The word "athletic" may be the best way to describe Minter. The little guard has the physical presence to get out and run the fast break. An excellent rebounder for her size, Minter doesn't mind getting down on the low post with the bigger players.

The only knock on Minter is sometimes she plays too fast for the rest of the team. Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said she would like her to go 100 mph instead of 120.

Minter has quickly become one of the vocal leaders of this team. She averaged six points per game last season in a reserve role for the Wildcats. She will not only take over the shooting guard duties this season, but will also be asked to back up Pantoja at the point.

Monika Crank, freshman

5-foot-7

Crank, from Page, is Bonvicini's first-ever in-state recruit. She is surprisingly mature and has played heavy minutes so far this season. She is a patient player who handles the ball well, can penetrate a defense and knows when to pass. She should add depth to both guard positions.

Forwards

Adia Barnes, sophomore

5-foot-11

Barnes is already proving herself to be one of the best forwards in Arizona history. The Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, Barnes averaged 15 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She is an aggressive rebounder and great scorer in the low post.

An intelligent player, Barnes adds consistency down low.

Andrea Constand, senior

6-foot

Constand has looked strong in the early season and has earned herself a starting spot as a small forward. A good rebounder and threat from the outside, Constand is yet another offensive threat for the Wildcats. She averaged three points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season. Her biggest performances were an eight-point effort against Oregon and a nine-rebound performance against Southern Cal.

Constand is entering this year with a new resolve, and hopes that her final season at Arizona will be a winning one. She scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Mexico National Team in a preseason exhibition game. Constand will have to work hard all season to fight off Mikko Giordano for her starting spot.

Mikko Giordano, sophomore

6-foot-1

Giordano adds depth to a solid Wildcat lineup. She can come off the bench and add much needed scoring and rebounding. Last season she averaged six points and five rebounds per game. Giordano was inconsistent last season and is hoping to play a more steady roll off the bench. Look for her to continue to receive steady minutes and battle for a starting job all season.

Fatima Imara, sophomore

6-foot-3

She adds size to the Arizona lineup and plays both forward and center positions. Imara has improved her rebounding and scoring in the post. She averaged one point and 1.4 rebounds in seven minutes per game last season. Her biggest scoring night of last season was eight points against Southern Cal. Imara should be a much bigger factor this season.

Shontey Hambrick, freshman

6-foot

Hambrick has been impressive in the early season and is a hard worker with a knack for scoring inside. She is a good rebounder and is learning the game quickly. She may receive plenty of time as a freshman, especially if she continues to improve.

Centers

Jacque Clark, junior

6-foot-2

Clark has worked hard in the offseason and has earned the starting job at center. A good rebounder and solid post player, Clark has gained the consistency Bonvicini is looking for. She averaged four points and 3.3 rebounds last season in 16 minutes per game. Her best performance of the season was an 18-point, seven- rebound game against New Mexico.

Marte Alexander, sophomore

6-foot-3

Alexander is the tallest player on the team and is desperately needed for her rebounding and shot-blocking ability. She has shown some good moves around the basket, but needs to gain more consistency. She has the potential to become a solid post player.

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