Women's basketball struggling to replace Davellyn Whyte
Defensive improvements aren’t enough to offset the struggling offense of this year’s Arizona women’s basketball. The Wildcats are giving up a respectable 65.5 points per game but scoring a Pac-12 Conference worst of 59.5 points per game.
A drop in scoring was to be expected with the graduation of Davellyn Whyte, but the early emergence of junior guard Candice Warthen eased the transition.
“She wants to do well,” UA head coach Niya Butts said. “She’s watching film; she’s getting in here and doing extra. … I feel good about her.”
Warthen started out the year by averaging 19 points and shooting 43.3 percent from the field in the first four games of the season, including back-to-back games of more than 20 points.
However, apart from a 23-point game on Dec. 15 against Texas Tech, Warthen has struggled to regain the consistency she showed early on. Since that Texas Tech game, her offensive numbers have drastically dropped. Her points per game average has gone from 16.8 to 12.1, and her field goal percentage has dropped from 42.6 percent to 34.7 percent.
It’s not a coincidence that the team has only scored 65 points or more in two of the ten games since Texas Tech, and has lost eight games in a row.
Butts has talked at length this season on Warthen’s importance to the team and offered an interesting take on Warthen’s struggles, especially the Jan. 20 game against California in which Warthen went 0-11 from the field and did not score a point.
“If I knew, she wouldn’t be 0-11; and, if she knew, she wouldn’t be 0-11,” Butts said after the Cal game. “We can’t afford for her to go 0-11.”
In Arizona’s four wins this season, Warthen is averaging 12.5 points per game on 51.2 percent from the field, but in defeats she is averaging 11.9 points per game on 31.6 percent from the field.
It’s safe to say the team goes as Warthen goes, and she embraces that.
“I want to be that person,” Warthen said. “I just have to focus in and understand that they want me to have the ball. … I just have to remain confident in myself.”
While it’s certainly not uncommon to see win and loss splits where the field goal percentage is higher in wins, it’s troubling to see how significant of a difference Warthen has in that category.
That’s not a good sign for someone who leads the team in scoring and field goals attempted.
Looking forward, Warthen is putting in more effort than ever to find the consistency that has eluded her for the majority of the year. Senior guard Kama Griffitts said she can see her effort and knows how important she is to the team.
“Candice is a hard worker no matter what,” Griffitts said. “If she’s doing well, she’s going to work hard, and if she’s not doing well, she’s still going to work hard. It makes us want to work just as hard as she does.”
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555