Struggling women's hoops host Stanford
The Arizona women’s basketball team looks to end a four-game losing streak today as the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal comes to Mckale Center.
The Wildcats (4-11, 0-4 Pac-12 Conference) haven’t yet secured a Pac-12 win, and the Cardinal (15-1, 4-0) comes in to this game as one of the best teams in the nation.
Coming off another close loss, this time at the hands of the USC Trojans, the Wildcats have to make adjustments if they plan on upsetting Stanford. Chief among those changes has to be a different offensive approach.
“It’s tough because the plays are there to be had,” UA head coach Niya Butts said. “Unfortunately, we’re not making them.”
Statistically, Arizona’s scoring offense is last in the Pac-12 with 60.7 points per game, and it’s clear something needs to be done. While several offensive aspects are lacking, the area of biggest concern seems to be the lack of assists.
The UA’s assist leader is senior guard Carissa Crutchfield with only 3.47 assists per game. To put that into perspective, the Pac-12 leader in assists is Brittany Boyd of California with 5.53 assists per game.
Now, while that doesn’t seem like a big difference, those approximately two assists more per game could’ve made a huge difference in the 10 single-digit losses that the Wildcats have suffered this season. Their 4-11 record could have easily been flipped around to 11-4.
“We’re always there,” UA junior guard Candice Warthen said. “We’ve got to push harder. … We know that we’re able to do it because, like you said, we lose close games. Nobody is blowing us out.”
Take into account that Arizona, as a team, is eighth in the Pac-12 in assists with 13.33 per game, and it’s no surprise that the offense is struggling to consistently put points on the scoreboard.
On the other hand, Stanford is leading the Pac-12 in assists with 19.63 per game and has the second best scoring offense in the conference as they average 79.6 points per game.
Stanford is the fourth-ranked team in the nation and is led by senior forward Chiney Ogwumike. She is the Pac-12 leader in points per game (27.3) and second in rebounding per game (11.8). Ogwumike will be the biggest test so far for freshmen forwards LaBrittney Jones and Breanna Workman.
If the Wildcats hope to pull off the upset, Jones and Workman will have to be aggressive and consistent on both sides of the ball in order to counter the scoring and rebounding prowess of Ogwumike.
“I think we need to [be] tougher and learn how to get down and defend somebody,” Workman said.
After the Stanford game, the Wildcats will have a few days to prepare for No. 15 California on Monday at 3 p.m. The game can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.
Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555