Arizona Women’s Basketball

Struggling UA women get ready for ASU week

2014-02-04T00:00:00Z Struggling UA women get ready for ASU weekBy Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Last week, the Wildcats had a familiar face at practice.

Davellyn Whyte — the former UA star, WNBA draft pick and recent Ring of Honor inductee — was running with the team in drills.

A few weeks before that, E.C. Hill participated.

That’s Hill, the assistant coach and former WNBA player.

After Friday’s 12-point loss to Oregon, head coach Niya Butts closed her news conference that night talking about practice.

Yes, Allen Iverson, about practice. Not a game.

It was to the point that a student reporter asked Butts about her practice players — as in, the four or five male students that practice with the team a few days a week.

Butts used the moment to send a message to them.

“If the practice players are seeing this interview or read about it in the paper,” she said, “make sure you’re showing up. They are critical. Those are often our best practices because we get to simulate the game. We actually get to make sure we can put in the scheme, what we want to do offensively, defensively.

“And,” she added, “we can work against people.”

Soon, you might find postings around campus about an open tryout. If desperate times call for desperate measures, then count the Wildcats (4-17, 0-10 Pac-12) in.

Arizona has seven healthy players on game day, and eight in practice, counting SMU transfer Farrin Bell, who has to sit out the year.

“There’s nothing we can do,” Butts said. “Coach Hill doesn’t have any eligibility left, I don’t have any left. Coach Mac (Calamity McEntire ) doesn’t have any. Coach Sean (LeBeauf) can’t play.”

In Sunday’s loss to Oregon State, Butts played Carissa Crutchfield 39 minutes. Kama Griffitts, hurting from an ankle injury suffered against Oregon, played 34. And Candice Warthen, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, leads the team at nearly 33 minutes per game.

Tonight, the Wildcats will face No. 11 ASU. That is, just 53 hours 30 minutes after a troublesome 14-point loss. They’ll play ASU again on Sunday, at McKale Center.

That’s not exactly ideal.

“It is different, but we can’t let that get to us,” Griffitts said.

Added Butts: “ASU has the same amount of days between their last game as we do. A few more bodies but nonetheless they still had a game (Sunday) too. We just have to focus and do what we need to do and make sure we utilize film.”

Last year, the UA lost one game to ASU by four points in double overtime, and another by one point.

ASU was 13-18 last year, Arizona was 12-18.

But now, the two teams have gone in wholly different directions — the Wildcats down, the Sun Devils up.

ASU is second in the Pac-12 behind Stanford with an 8-2 league record.

They’ve beaten North Carolina, Syracuse and Cal, which were ranked.

And they’ve done all of that with their leading scorer — Deja Mann — scoring just 11.5 points per game.

On the other hand, Warthen leads Arizona with 12.0 points per game, and the Wildcats have lost 17 of 21 games this season.

“This next game is going to be really physical. Everybody again is playing a lot of minutes and we have to be able to manage that,” Butts said. “We’re gonna keep grinding, and hopefully good things will happen.”

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at or 573-4145. On Twitter @ZackBlatt.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 11 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 9 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 9 1 0 0.900
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 3 0 0.727
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 2 0 0.778
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 7 2 0 0.778
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 6 4 0 0.600
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 6 2 0 0.750
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
USC 0 0 0 0.000 6 4 0 0.600
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 4 6 0 0.400

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Loyola Marymount at
12/17 58-67
Grambling at
12/17 38-86
DePaul at
Oregon State
12/18 8:00 pm
Eastern Washington at
12/19 8:00 pm
Arizona at
12/19 9:00 pm
Delaware State at
12/20 1:00 pm
Lehigh at
Arizona State
12/20 7:00 pm
Oklahoma at
12/20 7:00 pm
USC at
Boston College
12/21 2:00 pm
DePaul at
12/22 2:30 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
12/22 7:00 pm
Tulane at
12/22 9:00 pm
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