UA better, but still ailing before big tripby Steve Rivera on Jan. 16, 2008, under Sports
Citizen Staff Writer
Once again, the Arizona men’s basketball team was the walking wounded Tuesday.
Sick sophomore Chase Budinger went for about half the practice before bundling up in a sweatsuit; sophomore Jordan Hill, nursing a left foot sprain, took it easy, doing much of nothing; and Bret Brielmaier sat out again with an injured shoulder.
Budinger and Hill should be fine for Thursday’s game at Stanford, but interim head coach Kevin O’Neill said Brielmaier probably won’t.
“I’d be shocked if he goes Thursday,” O’Neill said. “But he says he’s going to.”
Budinger is fighting flu-like symptoms.
“Chase wasn’t feeling well about halfway through practice,” O’Neill said. “He didn’t want to sit down, but I sat him down.”
That leaves O’Neill wondering who is going to be available for what amounts to one of Arizona’s biggest road trips of the season because the Wildcats also visit Cal on Saturday.
Someone who didn’t sit was senior Kirk Walters, a 6-foot-11 center who could see some significant minutes.
When asked if Walters would start against Stanford’s big lineup, O’Neill hinted it could be a possibility. He also hinted he could start anyone else on his roster considering the state it’s in – in flux and in trouble with a lack of depth and health.
“We’re going to have to get some time out of him,” O’Neill said of Walters.
When asked what type of statistics he’d hope from Walters, O’Neill didn’t have anything specific in mind.
“For me, I don’t have any expectations at any level for anybody in terms of numbers,” O’Neill said. “My expectation level is based on: play hard, fit in (with) the team and do what you can when you’re out there.”
So O’Neill will attempt to go with what he has: Hill, Jerryd Bayless, Budinger and whoever will fill a role at any moment.
After scoring 33 points in Saturday’s 85-71 win over Houston, Bayless is getting more publicity. He was the topic of conversation during Tuesday’s Pacific 10 Conference teleconference call.
“He’s got one of the greatest competitive spirits I’ve ever seen,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill went as far as mentioning Bayless among NBA players Chauncey Billups, Corliss Williamson, Cliff Robinson as the top competitors he’s been around.
“He’s along the same line as those guys,” O’Neill said. “He loves the game.”
Simon still out
UA assistant coach Miles Simon continues to be away from the team. Last week, he left to be with his ill grandmother, Helen. O’Neill said it’s unclear if Simon will be joining the team in the Bay Area this week.
John needs a win
Former Arizona assistant Jay John continues to feel the heat – perhaps more than ever these days.
A Portland, Ore., columnist stated that John’s job was in jeopardy if he wasn’t able to pull off an upset this weekend. At 6-10 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-10, Oregon State already has lost a nonsupportive fan base.
Just two weeks ago, John had said he thought he had the support of OSU administrators, but that may have changed.
In Tuesday’s conference call, John said he’s been given “no indication” his job is on the line this weekend at the Washington schools.
Steve Rivera’s e-mail: email@example.com
Thursday: UA (11-5, 1-2) at Stanford (13-3, 2-2), 9 p.m, FSNA
Saturday: UA at Cal (11-4, 2-2), 6 p.m., FSNA