Citizen Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS – Arizona basketball player Nic Wise was disappointed in his performance Sunday against Fresno State.
It was understandable.
He followed his 11-point, eight-assist game in a big win over Illinois the week before with a two-point, two-assist effort against the Bulldogs.
It was another win for the Wildcats, but Wise knows he can contribute more.
“I’m the type of player when we play a lot better teams, my play goes up,” Wise said. “When we play teams like Fresno State and those, sometimes it’s a problem I have so I’ll try to get up for those teams.”
Wednesday night at UNLV is another chance. This season’s version of the Rebels isn’t as good as last season’s, when UNLV made the Sweet 16, but it’s still good enough to beat Arizona.
Interim coach Kevin O’Neill, named Lute Olson’s successor Tuesday (effective when Olson eventually retires), preaches that Arizona can’t afford to overlook opponents.
That’s why Wise, a reserve guard, hopes to make amends.
“I thought I played bad,” he said. “I just wasn’t into the game. I wasn’t taking open shots, didn’t penetrate. They slowed the game down and that’s not my style.”
Still, Wise has been steady this year, averaging 4.3 points and 3.2 assists a game.
“I think Nic has had a huge impact on our team this year,” O’Neill said. “I think he’ll have a bigger impact as we go along. He’s a guy who allows us to play at different speeds.”
O’Neill said he’s “very, very pleased” with Wise.
That doesn’t mean the coach hasn’t demanded more of Wise.
“He’s on me a lot,” Wise said. “He’s always on me because I’m the floor leader.
“You can’t make too many mistakes being the point guard.”
Wise said he is used to it. He’s the son of a coach and understands that the more a coach is on a player, the more he cares and wants the player to improve.
O’Neill dismissed the thought.
“I think you should treat every player the same,” O’Neill said, “pushing them to the max of their abilities within reason, making sure they get better every day.
“Being the son of a coach, I’m sure (Wise) has seen that and heard that many times (the more a coach gets on you, the more he cares), but I don’t treat him any differently. I push everybody.
“That’s my job. I’d hate for everybody to say I wish KO would have pushed a little bit harder; maybe we could have done this or done that.”
No. 19 Arizona (7-2) at UNLV (7-2)
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
TV: College Sports TV (Direct TV channel 610, Dish Network 152, Comcast 274)
Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM
Line: Arizona by 3
Series: UNLV leads 9-5
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. PPG
0 Jerryd Bayless G 6-3 Fr. 20.0
5 Jawann McClellan G 6-4 Sr. 8.9
34 Chase Budinger F 6-7 So. 17.0
44 Bret Brielmaier F 6-6 Sr. 3.3
43 Jordan Hill F 6-9 So. 13.1
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. PPG
1 Wink Adams G 6-0 Jr. 13.3
31 Curtis Terry G/F 6-5 Sr. 13.8
45 Joe Darger F 6-7 Jr. 13.0
15 Corey Bailey F 6-5 Sr. 6.9
34 Matt Shaw F 6-8 So. 8.1