| MESSAGE BOARD
REGION: West SEED: 9
COACH: Joan Bonvicini CONFERENCE: Pac-12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
The Buffaloes' biggest issue is can they get consistent scoring from someone besides Tera Bjorklund? If not, a solid defensive team will shut down Colorado. The Buffs' defense is tight, but it won't be enough if the offense stagnates.
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
After a victory in the Pac-10 semifinals, Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said, "Oh, it's so nice to have someone like Polkie in the middle." That's because Polk, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who was last season's All-Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, dominates the paint at both ends. One of only two players in the Pac-10 to average a double-double in the regular season (16.4 points, 10.2 boards), Polk also led the league in blocks (2.6) and ranked second in rebounds. Foul trouble (fouled out of seven games) has been somewhat of an Achilles' heel, however, and the Wildcats will be in trouble if Polk's not in the paint.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
Joan Bonvicini's Arizona Wildcats are starving for some respect this season. After recently earning a share of their first Pac-10 regular-season title, finishing with 14-4 league mark, they are carrying a lot of confidence into postseason play.
The 'Cats are led by dashing junior guard Dee Dee Wheeler. While leading her team with a swift 17 points, she also manages to hand off 5.0 assists during the 35 minutes she competes each game.
Wheeler and sophomore Shawntinice Polk have become a deadly combination, and it's really too bad we haven't had more opportunities to catch Polk in action, because she can put on a show. This 6-foot-5 center has incredibly soft, cushy mitts and praiseworthy court vision. Always unselfish, Polk has stepped into a more vital go-to roll this season averaging close to 15 shot attempts to her coach's approval. When Polk is on fire, the entire team is smokin'.
Another key to how Arizona will do lies in the play of senior guard Aimee Grzyb. She is a solid guard who has really stepped up her veteran guidance throughout the season. She needs to be consistent in the tournament for her team to have scoring balance. Grzyb's best weapon is her ability to shoot the deep ball; she ranks as the team's third-best scorer with a 10-point average.
Connecting for just less than four 3-pointers per game, Arizona emphasizes high-percentage shots -- and why wouldn't you want to force the issue inside with a stud like Polk in the paint? The Wildcats have been recognized all season for their high-percentage stroke, which sits right around 46 percent.
After a youthful Wildcat squad lost in the first round of last year's tournament to Notre Dame, Arizona has competed this season with heightened maturity. Look for that to continue in the NCAA Tournament.