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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wise will play vs. Cardinals

    UA guard Nic Wise tries to push past guard Jamelle McMillan in a 64-59 ASU win in Wells Fargo Arena in January.
    UA guard Nic Wise tries to push past guard Jamelle McMillan in a 64-59 ASU win in Wells Fargo Arena in January.

    He’s been called a spark plug – the main source of energy for the UA men’s basketball team.

    So naturally, when junior Nic Wise sat out of last Saturday’s Red/Blue intrasquad scrimmage with a rolled ankle, the team lacked some liveliness on the court.

    Wise was out of his protective boot and back into tennis shoes Tuesday morning, and worked on slides and shots without live competition.

    “”I felt pretty good today,”” Wise said Tuesday afternoon.

    UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said Wise will practice in full today and play in Thursday’s exhibition game against Incarnate Word, though his amount of playing time will be determined by how he feels.

    “”I’ll leave that up to (team trainer) Justin (Kokoskie) and Nic,”” Pennell said. “”If I see him limping or his conditioning is bad, we might sit him a little bit more. There’s no reason to push him.””

    Wise, on the other hand, said he foresees his playing time being cut to give less experienced players on the team more of a chance to shine.

    “”I figure I probably won’t play that much, seeing that (Pennell) will probably get a lot of young guys acclimated into a real game-like situation,”” Wise said.

    Starting lineup still in the works

    Pennell said Thursday’s exhibition game is a great chance for the coaches to get a look at each player in a game-time situation, but that the Wildcats will still play competitively.

    “”Do you play them the exact same way as a regular season game? No,”” Pennell said. “”You might try to play a different combination of players, but I think these next two games is for us to find out how our players respond when the clock’s on and those three guys in the striped shirts are out there.””

    Pennell said he’s getting close to selecting a starting five and that it may be announced today. Wise and forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill will start, but the two other spots are up for grabs.

    “”Right now I just kind of want the guys to keep guessing a little bit, but I think they’re figuring it out,”” Pennell said, adding that the starting lineup will be based a lot on clicking together and creating an effective rotation.

    “”Certain guys just do better coming off the bench … and other guys need to start,”” he said. “”They’re better and ready to go as soon as the ball is tipped.””

    Withey’s status out of coaches’ hands

    The UA coaching staff has still been in contact with freshman Jeff Withey, but his status “”is purely in the administration’s hands,”” Pennell said.

    The 6-foot-10 center was recently denied a release from his letter of intent, and if he transfers from the UA without the release he will lose a year of eligibility per NCAA rules.

    “”The only conversations I’ve had with Jeff is just to call and check on him and see how he’s doing,”” Pennell said. “”We have not talked about basketball, about this team or anything.

    “”Just calling to see he’s OK, to make sure he’s going to class,”” Pennell added. “”I think it’s important that he knows we care about him.””

    Rise and shine, Wildcats

    The team’s practice time Tuesdays and Thursdays is 4:30 p.m., and players have classes scheduled throughout the day until then. The Wildcats had a 5:30 a.m. practice Tuesday that lasted two hours in place of the afternoon practice.

    “”The thing I want everyone to understand, there was no punishment involved this morning,”” Pennell said. “”There was no, ‘I was upset with you yesterday and I’ll get even with you guys.’ It was purely, we didn’t want to go at 4:30 tonight.””

    The interim coach said the Wildcats will practice at 5:30 a.m. once or twice a week, depending on game days and class schedules. There wasn’t much lag time in the morning practice, he said.

    “”We got their attention pretty early,”” Pennell said. “”There were a couple trips from baseline to baseline and they were fine.””

    Because it would have been an NCAA violation, the coach couldn’t provide morning doughnuts for the players, but he said it is important for them to eat before practice.

    “”Our training staff – we can provide them with a protein shake or a Gatorade bar or something that will get them through practice,”” Pennell said.

    For the returning players, morning practice isn’t new, as they had to go through it with Kevin O’Neill last season.

    “”It’s not that big of change,”” said Budinger, who was able to go home and sleep before his first class of the day Tuesday. “”It kind of benefits us because it gives us the rest of the day just to relax, and it gives us more recovery time.””

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