By Th‚oden K. Janes

Arizona Daily Wildat

Wednesday night was not much different than other nights have been for Sarah Northway and Jacque Clark since their first season with the Arizona women's basketball team ended on March 12.

Shortly after 7:30, Northway joined Clark at the Student Recreation Center to play pick-up basketball games, something the two freshmen do at least four nights a week for an average of three hours per night.

But not tonight. Tonight will be unlike any other night in their entire lives. Tonight, Northway and Clark will begin tryouts for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Festival's women's basketball team.

The tryouts for the West Region team, which are open to any woman who is 20 years old or younger, will be held tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at Arizona State's University Activity Center in Tempe. The West team will compete at the festival July 2-6 in St. Louis, Mo.

As part of their training regimen, Northway and Clark have been lifting weights, running and participating in the team's spring workouts, but both agree that playing at the Rec Center would be the best way to improve their skills for the tryouts.

They always play with a men's ball at the Rec Center, but they will be using the universal ball this weekend, which is almost exactly the same size as a men's ball. They also play almost exclusively with men at the Rec Center.

"It's an advantage," Northway said of playing with men only. "Some of it is not the best competition, but a lot of the guys there are faster and jump higher and they challenge you on defense and force you to challenge them.

"In pick-up games you have a tendency to be lazy, but I think it's good that the guys there challenge you."

There will be no time for laziness in Tempe. About 250 players will be competing for 15 spots, three of which are reserved for alternates.

Players will be divided up by position and willhave to undergo offensive and defensive drills and shortened scrimmages of half-court three-on-three and full-court five-on-five.

Four cuts will be made throughout the five rounds of tryouts. The first round will be held tonight with the second coming tomorrow morning, after which the first cut will be made. From then on, a cut will be made following each round.

As for Northway and Clark, there is no telling how far they will go.

"If I don't make the team, I'd like to at least make it to the fourth cut," said Clark, a 6-foot-2 center. "I'll be real surprised if I make it and I'll feel good, but I won't get a big head or anything."

Clark said there will be many talented post players at the tryouts, while Northway, a small forward, has heard rumors that there is not much depth at her position. Because of this, coaches have told Northway that she has a pretty good chance of making the team. Actually, the Brainerd, Minn., native was interested in trying out last year, but she had a prior commitment and was unable to participate.

UA point guard JiJi Sweet and departed guard Keisha Anderson, however, did try out and performed well enough to earn a spot on the 15-member roster.

Both Sweet and Anderson came away from the Festival with invaluable experience.

"It's big-time," UA coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I think first of all, it's a great experience because you are in an environment at the festival where you get to be with people in the same sport, and also to be involved with athletes in the other sports. It's very exciting, very, very exciting."

Arizona recruits DeAngela Minter, Adia Barnes, Marte Alexander, Michelle Giordano and Fatima Imara will also be participating in the tryouts. Read Next Article