The Arizona Wildcats never got to complete their historic 2019-20 season. After setting one record after another and securing what was sure to be a chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the team saw its drive for a special ending to the year stopped in its tracks when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world in mid-March.
While we’ll never know what this team could have accomplished in the NCAA Tournament, a full regular season and conference tournament worth of competition is more than enough to assess each individual player’s performance.
- Year: Freshman
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Position: Forward
- 2019-20 statistics: 10 GP, 4.4 MPG, 0.8 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.4 APG, 42.9 FG%, 50.0 3FG%, 0.0 FT%
When he was interviewed about the incoming class and international recruiting, assistant coach Salvo Coppa said that some members of the 2019 class would be ready to contribute immediately and some would need to develop and adjust to the NCAA game. He didn’t specify which of the freshmen fell into which category, but based on her experience and some of the struggles she had finding playing time with the Wildcats, it’s safe to say that Birna Benonysdottir was brought to Tucson with hopes that she could develop over the longterm.
Southern Arizona is a long way from Keflavik, Iceland, though. When you’re not playing, it probably doesn’t help with homesickness. Things didn’t look promising when she didn’t appear at all in the Wildcats’ only exhibition game, and it didn’t change much as the season got real. Benonysdottir only saw 44 minutes of action all year.
Best stretch of play
Benonysdottir saw most of her action during the time when Dominique McBryde was injured. From the Nov. 29 game against UC Riverside through the Dec. 12 game against Tennessee State, she averaged 8.3 MPG over four games.
She went 3 for 7 from the floor over those four games, getting her season-high of five points against Tennessee State. She also had three rebounds, a steal and an assist in 13 minutes of play.
Worst stretch of play
Except for the four games in late November and early December, Benonysdottir didn’t play more than three minutes in any appearance. In her other six games, she averaged just 1.8 MPG. She didn’t take any shots and had one rebound and one assist over those six contests.
After the game against Tennessee State, Adia Barnes spoke about Benonysdottir: “Birna is a versatile four that has a great 3-point shot. She’s smart. If you notice, she’s always in the right spot. She does all the little things. I thought she gave us really, really good minutes. I’m proud of her. She’s getting better. She’s adjusting to the American game.”
After the season, Benonysdottir joined Bryce Nixon in the transfer portal. She hasn’t chosen a location yet, but it would not be a complete surprise if she opted to remain home in Iceland.