by Janie McCauley
AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — No doubt Arizona’s women’s basketball players are minding their manners.
That is just part of the program for the Wildcats. On and off the court, sixth-year coach Niya Butts wants her players to be at their best in all settings and situations.
So, the Wildcats visited a restaurant in Tucson for etiquette training again before this season — a lesson one evening at McMahon’s Prime Steakhouse.
Arizona guard Candice Warthen, left, pus up a shot against UCLA forward Christina Nzekwe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/File)
Junior guard Candice Warthen has picked up several tips by participating in the training several times now.
“It’s basically how to conduct yourself in a real fancy or fine-and-dine restaurant,” Warthen said. “I learned how to put my forks and how I should put my napkin and do little stuff like that. It’s really helpful, though, because ever since then, every time I go somewhere to eat, I always think about it even though I’m not doing everything right.”
And even Butts insists she has things to learn when it comes to where her silverware should be and making sure to keep her napkin in her lap and elbows off the table.
Not only does Butts consider it her job to prepare her players for life beyond basketball, the dinner out also became a fun team-building event.
During her playing days at Tennessee — she won national titles with the Lady Vols in 1997 and ’98 — the team did this very activity together.
“I definitely don’t always do it right but I think it’s important that a lot of these students they go to McDonald’s and they go to these different restaurants, but when they graduate, and hopefully they’re going to have really nice jobs and if they’re not trained and they’re maybe with their bosses or their co-workers … we need to be able to conduct ourselves,” Butts said. “I’ve had my share of meals. We had stuff like this when I was a student-athlete. It’s things like this that were passed on to me that I really appreciated.”
Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has done a similar training session in the past.
Senior Pac-12 Player of the Year Chiney Ogwumike might be up for that.
“Ahh, that’d be interesting,” Ogwumike said. “I think that’s a good skill to have, especially going into the real world, like I will be, too.”