When UA athletic director Jim Livengood introduced Joan Bonvicini as his women’s basketball coach in 1991, he spoke big.
He used words like “elite” and “championship.”
Bonvicini reined in the expectations a little bit. The Wildcats were, after all, coming off a 6-25 season.
“It’s going to take some time. I don’t want to give anyone a false idea,” Bonvicini said then. “My goal this year is to be in every ball game. Obviously, we’re going to win some and lose some, but the teams that are going to beat us will have better personnel.”
The Wildcats went 9-19 in her first season, then 13-14, 15-12 and 11-19.
By years five and six, they went 22-8 and 23-8, respectively, which was the start of the best 10-year stretch in program history. It included seven NCAA tournament appearances, an NIT championship and a 68.7 win percentage.
Why does that all matter?
Because Niya Butts is in Year 6 as Bonvicini’s replacement, and her reclamation project hasn’t been quite as successful. At least not yet.
Arizona (1-7) is off to its worst start since 1980-81.
“Obviously when we lose it’s not a good feeling,” said Erica Barnes, a senior forward. “But, I mean, we have to just keep pushing forward.”
The Wildcats’ most recent loss, 63-53 to UAB on Dec. 5, was their fifth consecutive defeat. They will try to snap out of their swoon Sunday when they take on Texas Tech at noon inside McKale Center.
We decided to take a by-the-numbers look at the Wildcats 1-7 start — the good, the bad and the ugly:
3: times in school history that the UA has started 1-7 — 1978, 1979 and 1981.
4: average number of wins for Arizona at the end of those three seasons.
80-25: Combined record, so far, of Arizona’s first eight opponents.
6.3: Arizona’s average margin of defeat, by points.
14.5: Candice Warthen’s points per game average. She’s Arizona’s leading scorer, which would be the lowest total for a team leader since 2005.
20.5: Warthen’s field goal percentage at McKale this season, in two games, on 39 shot attempts.
42.3: Kama Griffitts’ three-point percentage, tied for fourth-best in the Pac-12 (minimum 40 attempts).
2.8: Griffitts’ made threes per game. If she keeps it up, it would be the second-best mark in UA history.
278th: Arizona’s national rank in scoring (60.8 points per game), out of 343 teams
42-14: Butts’ record in nonconference play coming into 2013.
6.0: Rebounds per game for Arizona’s leader, freshman LaBrittney Jones. Would be lowest average for leader since 1991.
52: Number of Pac-12 players 6-foot-2 or taller.
1: Wildcat who measures up to that height — Barnes is 6-2.
8: Players at Stanford at 6-2 or taller. Cal has 6. Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA have 5. One Bruin is 6-9.
5-8: Average height of Butts’ five-person 2014 recruiting class
.455: Butts’ career winning percentage (75-90) at the UA. It’s far from the worst, though — Judy LeWinter, .270 (1980-85); Lori Woodman, .300 (1978-80); Nancy Trego, .391 (1974-78); June Olkowski, .293 (1987-91).
.562: Bonvicini’s career UA win percentage in 17 years. Her only losing seasons came during her first four years at the helm, and last three. Bonvicini is now the coach at Seattle University.
.405: Arizona’s win percentage since Shawntinice Polk died before the 2005-06 season. Polk, a UA star, died after collapsing at McKale Center.
25: Most losses in UA history — the Wildcats went 6-25 in 1990-91.
4-18: How Arizona would have to finish out the regular season, plus at least one Pac-12 tournament game, to break that record.