Arizona women set for Red-Blue game

By Craig Sanders

Arizona Daily Wildcat

For the second time in four days, Wildcats will be playing Wildcats on the McKale Center floor when the Arizona women's basketball holds its annual Red-Blue scrimmage Sunday afternoon.

The game will showcase the up-and-coming basketball talent at the UA, and will give head coach Joan Bonvicini a good opportunity to evaluate the talent of her team.

"I'm looking to see how the players perform in game-like situations," Bonvicini said. "We're looking to see how they handle themselves in a half-court situation, especially defensively. Basically I want to see how far we are as a team."

For many fans, it will be their first chance to see a pair of incoming freshmen, as well as the return of the Wildcats' "Young Guns" from a season ago.

Monika Crank, of Page, Ariz., and Shontey Hambrick, of Moreno Valley, Calif., will join Arizona's fab five sophomores Marte Alexander, Mikko Giordano, Fatima Imara, DeAngela Minter and Pacific 10 Conference freshman of the year Adia Barnes.

"We're much improved from a year ago," Bonvicini said. "We are an aggressive, intelligent team and I think that is going to make us much improved. I think that the biggest factor is our team chemistry. The team gets along so well."

Only one of last season's freshman class will not be returning. Keisha Johnson has decided to play volleyball exclusively. Arizona's other incoming freshman, Lisa Griffith, is still rehabilitating an anterior cruciate ligament she tore midway through her senior year in high school. Her availability for the season still is being evaluated. Minter, a guard, has been bothered by a hamstring injury but is expected to play.

The team is led by seniors Brenda Pantoja and Andrea Constand as well as junior Jacque Clark. Pantoja returns as the starting point guard after starting all 30 games last season. She is the Pac-10's active career-assist leader with 410.

"We're in pretty good shape," Bonvicini said. "We want to play good, aggressive basketball and score a lot of points."

"So far we look pretty good," Constand said. "This is going to be a good chance to put us in game situations and work on our plays and defenses."

The lineups for the Red-Blue game have not yet been set, and Bonvicini said she constantly will be tinkering with the lineup. In fact, several men who have been practicing with the team will be playing as well.

"It's going to be a mixture," Bonvicini said. "At halftime we'll make a switch so we'll have a couple of players playing with the guys, then we'll switch back."

The Red-Blue game will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at McKale Center. The Wildcats' next exhibition game will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 against the Mexico National team. That game also will be played at McKale Center.

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