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UA women's basketball: Reshuffled Cats hope for breakthrough in 2013-14

2013-06-10T00:00:00Z UA women's basketball: Reshuffled Cats hope for breakthrough in 2013-14Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Niya Butts likes her card-dealing metaphors.

It makes sense - the Wildcats have gone through roster turnovers in the last few years, and Butts, UA's head coach, has been forced to, well, deal with it.

"It's tough," Butts said. "But I think each year you're given your cards, and sometimes you're dealing them different ways.

"You just have to deal with it whether you're hit with injuries or a transfer or something, it doesn't matter, they just keep coming and you just have to kind of keep shuffling the deck a little bit."

Before last season, the Wildcats lost four players to transfer and two to graduation. Arizona finished 12-18 after going 4-13 in Pac-12 play.

This season, Butts has lost her star - Davellyn Whyte - and her top assistant coach Brandy Manning, but she remains optimistic.

"I feel good right now," Butts said. "If we're the house, I feel good about where we are."

Arizona recently started its summer workouts, so here's a look at its offseason and some questions heading into the 2013-14 season.

Roster changes

Adding: LaBrittney Jones, Breanna Workman, Ashley Merrill and Dejza James (freshmen); Candice Warthen (injury); assistant coach Sean LeBeauf (Paris Junior College)

Losing: Davellyn Whyte (WNBA), Cheshi Poston (graduation), associate head coach Brandy Manning (USC)

Questions

1. How will the Wildcats replace Davellyn Whyte?

Whyte was the Wildcats best player and their leader. She closed her career at the UA second all-time in scoring, second in steals, second in three-pointers made, sixth in rebounds and eighth in assists. So, in short, there's a void that needs to be filled.

Last year, Whyte led the team in scoring, rebounds and assists, so the players next in line to fill those numbers are seemingly Kama Griffitts (10.7 points per game), Carissa Crutchfield (2.8 assists per game), Alli Gloyd (6.0 rebounds) and Erica Barnes (5.2 rebounds).

"It'll be difficult," Barnes said. "But I think it's what's needed, and I think we'll be fine without her. We'll miss her, but we'll be fine. It'll take a team effort, and people who weren't stepping up have to step up."

2. What newcomers can make an impact?

Perhaps the biggest addition to the Wildcats this season will be an old face - Candice Warthen. The junior received a medical redshirt and missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury, and Arizona suffered without her. In 2011-12, Warthen was the second-leading scorer with 11.7 points per game.

"She's a great player," said Griffitts, "and definitely a threat on the floor so it opens up a lot of opportunities."

Added Butts: "She was a catalyst on offense and defense. It was a tremendous hole."

Incoming freshman LaBrittney Jones is expected to contribute immediately as well. Jones, a forward from Cedar Hill, Texas, is rated a four-star recruit by ESPN and the 87th-best overall incoming recruit.

3. How can this team succeed where past teams have failed?

The Wildcats haven't played in the NCAA tournament since the 2004-05 season and have had only one winning season (a 21-12 record in 2010-11) since. Even more disconcerting has been Arizona's performance in conference play. Since their last NCAA appearance, the Wildcats have a 38-106 record (or 26.3 win percentage) in the Pac-10/12, and 27-63 in Butts' five years.

"I think what we have to do is clean the slate and start anew," Butts said. "We start anew right here, this is it. What our process is, is day one, day two, day three, day four and so on and so forth, we won't look any farther than that. If we can all get on the same page, we'll be fine."

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com 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
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 4 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 3 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 3 1 0 0.750
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 2 1 0 0.667
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 2 1 0 0.667
USC 0 0 0 0.000 2 3 0 0.400
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 1 2 0 0.333

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Penn State at
USC
11/23 63-61
Long Beach State at
UCLA
11/23 63-77
Missouri at
Arizona
11/24 63-77
@Arizona State, @Maryland 11/24 5:00 pm
@Oklahoma State, @Oregon State 11/24 6:30 pm
@Michigan, @Oregon 11/24 7:30 pm
Delaware at
Stanford
11/25 9:00 pm
Cal State-Fullerton at
USC
11/25 9:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Cal Poly at
California
11/26 8:00 pm
San Jose State at
Washington
11/27 9:00 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
Washington State
11/27 10:00 pm
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