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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pennell disappointed with team’s effort

    UA interim mens basketball head coach Russ Pennell looks onto the court at Wells Fargo Arena during a 70-68 loss to No. 14 ASU on Sunday. Pennell said he was disappointed with the Wildcats effort in the game.
    UA interim men’s basketball head coach Russ Pennell looks onto the court at Wells Fargo Arena during a 70-68 loss to No. 14 ASU on Sunday. Pennell said he was disappointed with the Wildcats’ effort in the game.

    Hoops Notes

    Russ Pennell sat down in room 109C of McKale Center Monday afternoon and looked up at a throng of media members waiting to ask the UA interim men’s basketball coach a multitude of questions about the Wildcats’ 70-68 loss to No. 14 ASU Sunday night.

    Instead, Pennell opened up with a statement explaining that he’d say just a few things about the game, and then he would only take questions about the future.

    The Wildcats (18-9, 8-6 Pacific 10 Conference) trailed by as many as 17 points with about 13 minutes left in the game, then made a run that put them up by 2 with 4:14 left on the clock, before the Sun Devils claimed the win.

    “”I didn’t think we played hard enough to win the game last night,”” Pennell said. “”A lot of people will point to the comeback, but I want to know what happened with our team the 30 minutes prior to the comeback. From that standpoint, I’m disappointed.””

    Arizona, which averages nearly 13 turnovers per game, only had 7 against ASU. Meanwhile, it forced 16 Sun Devil turnovers and had 11 steals. After allowing 10 first-half 3-pointers, the UA gave up just three more and made nine total treys of its own.

    But the coach saw more than the box score reflected.

    “”We will try to learn from some of the mistakes we made – and there were plenty of them, especially on the defensive end,”” Pennell said. “”We’ll try to correct those things as we move into what I consider the most important game of the year as we go to Washington State.””

    Time to shave

    With Arizona’s exciting seven-game winning streak came a streak of growing facial hair. Now that the former streak has ended, the latter probably will too.

    “”More than likely it’s going to come off,”” Pennell said of his goatee. “”I got home late (Sunday) night and got up early (Monday) morning. It was still kind of dark and I couldn’t cut myself.””

    UA point guard Nic Wise, who has grown a thin jaw-line beard to connect to his goatee, said he didn’t know if the rest of his team was going to shave, but added that he was going to keep his.

    Pennell insisted that the facial hair was never grown for superstitious reasons, but rather, it was done out of an act of camaraderie.

    “”This never did anything to the winning,”” Pennell said. “”It had more to do with just unifying the team. You do silly things, I think, during the season.

    “”We’ve talked about crazy things like, ‘What if we win the Pac-10, would we get mohawks? Coach, would you get a mohawk?’ That’s silly stuff,”” Pennell added. “”And of course you’re like, ‘Oh, of course I would, if it makes you play better.'””

    For Pennell, the facial hair was a sign to his players that he was going to stick with them through this unusual season. But even though the coach said there was no superstition to the scruff, do know that he’ll be headed to the Northwest this week clean shaven.

    “”It’s time to move on from that,”” he said.

    No rest for the durable

    The Wildcats’ Big Three juniors -ÿChase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise – all played for 40 minutes against the Sun Devils. Budinger leads the Pac-10 in playing time, averaging 37.5 minutes per game. Wise averages 36.5 minutes per game (third in the Pac-10) and Hill logs 35.4 per game (sixth).

    But because of the Wildcats’ conditioning and the frequency of the juniors’ playing timeÿ- not to mention the adrenaline of facing their in-state rivals -ÿthe lack of rest wasn’t an issue this weekend.

    “”(Sunday) night I didn’t get tired at all,”” Wise said. “”Our conditioning is a lot better than most teams. I can’t vouch for anybody else, but I can say for myself that I didn’t really mind not having a sub last night. I wasn’t tired at all at any point in the game.

    Pennell said he tries to get the Big Three some rest right before media timeouts -ÿextending a minute of game clock to about four minutes of actual time – but the timing isn’t always the best.

    “”It almost seems like every time I want to sub them out right before the media timeout, we’ve got the ball,”” Pennell said. “”And now I’m going like, ‘Dang, Chase might hit a 3.’ So I think we do have to look at some opportunities.””

    Judkins suspended indefinitely

    Arizona freshmen Garland Judkins and D.J. Shumpert were suspended for Sunday’s game for failing to meet team obligations, Pennell said. Neither player was at the game.

    The coach said if Shumpert, a walk-on, “”does what he’s supposed to do,”” he will make the trip to the Washington schools this weekend.

    Judkins, however, is suspended indefinitely.

    The guard, who started four games at the beginning of the season, also missed the Dec. 5 game at Texas A&M and the Jan. 10 game versus Oregon State for suspensions.

    “”He’s just not living up to (the) team’s standards,”” Pennell said.

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