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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Seniors set to give lift off bench

    When asked what his toughest class of the fall semester was, Bret Brielmaier laughed and said it was “”business ethics.””

    It’s pure irony from the senior known for his quick play and hard work. Those traits are why the man who walked onto Arizona as a freshman is now on scholarship. He’s been named Mr. Hustle and the Most Inspirational Player by his teammates in past years.

    “”Bret Brielmaier is very well respected and well liked by his peers,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson. “”He plays hard, he gives you 100 percent all the time. He’s a great communicator and has been doing a really nice job.””

    With interim head coach Kevin O’Neill’s new focus on intense man-to-man defense, Brielmaier and fellow senior Daniel Dillon lead a unit off the bench as defensive specialists for a system that is nothing like the Wildcats have experienced before.

    It’s a defense where scrambling and diving for loose balls is expected, not demanded. Effort not up to par in practice results in players being pulled from drills or doing pushups on the sidelines, Brielmaier said.

    “”Everyone’s accountable for their man and their job,”” Brielmaier said. “”We say every practice, ‘Do your job.’ “”

    The forward Brielmaier and guard Dillon have similar jobs: to be defensive mainstays on the hardwood as two of four seniors.

    The 6-foot-6 Brielmaier, who missed three weeks in January due to an injured right knee that led to surgery, pulled down 42 rebounds in 22 games last season while averaging 10.6 minutes per game.

    “”My job is to be a leader out there on the floor,”” he said. “”I’m going to try to do the same thing I did last year: be scrappy, get rebounds and play good defense. Then if it’s time to get physical, I can bring that other presence.””

    Less physical but no less effective is the 6-foot-3 Dillon, who went home to Australia during the summer and worked out with some pro players there, Olson said.

    “”Daniel’s been doing a really good job,”” Olson said. “” … He’s one of the senior guys that we expect to provide us leadership in terms of his effort. He plays very, very hard.””

    With a career high of only nine points in a game, Dillon said he worked on his offensive game during the offseason. Averaging 11 minutes in 29 games last season, he dished out 23 assists and stole eight balls.

    “”I feel comfortable with my defense coming into this season,”” Dillon said. “”With coach O’Neill coming in, it’s … easier to work on our defensive end. I’ve been working on handling the ball better and trying to get my shot right so that I can have the total package – every aspect that I can to contribute to a win.””

    On a team with six newcomers, including five freshmen, defensive senior leadership is needed to balance out the Wildcats’ traditionally potent offense.

    “”With a relatively young team this season, Bret and Daniel really provide a lot of spark and a lot of heart,”” said senior Kirk Walters. “”Everyone on this team has a lot of confidence in both of them. We feed off of their energy.””

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