W-Hoops guide: Staff Picks
MVP: Davellyn Whyte
Arizona will rely heavily on senior guard Davellyn Whyte’s ability to lead the raw Wildcats, and she will get her fill of MVP stats this season. The three-time All-Pac-12 guard led the Wildcats in points, rebounds and steals last season.
X-Factor: The Bench
Head coach Niya Butts has made it clear that the Wildcats’ success will depend heavily on how strong the bench is. The Wildcats have the potential to be one of the deepest teams in the Pac-12. With a solid starting lineup, if the bench can produce, the Wildcats will be competitive in their conference.
Finish: 7th in Pac-12, miss NCAA tournament
– Luke Davis
After finishing last season 1-12, it’s hard to remember that the Wildcats started the season 11-1 and appeared to be a top tier team in the Pac-12. Junior college transfer Alli Gloyd has been impressive in the Wildcats’ first few games and will need to continue to produce as she gets comfortable with the Division I game. The team lacks height but makes up for it with athleticism. The Pac-12 is one of the toughest conferences in the country, so a seventh place finish would be impressive considering all the new additions, and it can happen.
MVP: Davellyn Whyte
Davellyn Whyte is in the front-running with more than 2,000 career points just three games into her senior season . The stats are in her favor and with a team full of newcomers, it will be left up to Whyte to take the leadership position in stride and embrace her double-digit scoring performances.
X-factor: Erica Barnes
Another year older, another year wiser makes junior forward Erica Barnes a force to be reckoned with in the paint. Barnes filled ex-Wildcat Ify Ibekwe’s shoes last season and will be a key cog in the post for the UA. Standing at 6-foot-2, as long as she stays injury free, she will post a threat for the entire season.
Finish: 3rd in Pac-12
It’s a year to prove everyone wrong. The Wildcats ranked last in the Pac-12 in the preseason poll, but the depth of the team could prove to be the boost Arizona needs to do well in the conference tournament. Beyond that, it’s Whyte’s last year so there is the additional motivation to send her out on a good note.
– Iman Hamdan