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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Brielmaier doubtful for Northern California trip

Bret Brielmaier
Bret Brielmaier

Hoops Notes

The Arizona men’s basketball team has a fever and the only prescription is patience.

Although guard Jerryd Bayless returned from a four-game absence from a sprained knee in time for the game at Houston on Saturday, two starting Wildcats – forwards Bret Brielmaier and Jordan Hill – are currently out with injuries.

After reaggravating his right shoulder that he separated on Dec. 22 against San Diego State Wednesday at ASU, Brielmaier is “”not good,”” according to UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill.

“”He looks like he’s still pretty sore,”” O’Neill said after practice Monday. “”I’d be surprised if he plays this week.””

Hill sat out of a practice that didn’t consist of a lot of contact Monday and will sit Tuesday’s practice out as well, O’Neill said. The 6-foot-10 Hill rolled his left ankle early in the first half of the Houston game but came back into the game and scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked a career-high-tying five shots in 24 minutes.

“”On the film you can see he turned it all the way over,”” O’Neill said. “”If he wouldn’t have been taped, he would have really been in trouble.

“”He showed a lot of courage to me, as a sophomore, coming back out there and playing through injury, especially a pretty significant ankle injury,”” O’Neill added. “”And he played some good minutes for us.””

Hill said he had no choice but to re-enter the game.

“”It was hard to go back in, but I had a lot of adrenaline running through me,”” said Hill, who had his ankle wrapped with a sock over it Monday. “”I ain’t really feel nothing.””

O’Neill said he hopes Hill will be able to play on Thursday, and Hill said he “”most definitely”” will.

Budinger still hot through his cold

True, forward Chase Budinger has dealt with something a lot more common than a separated shoulder or a rolled ankle over the last week – a cold – but even headaches and a sore throat affected his play, he said.

“”My energy level has been the lowest it’s ever been for quite a while,”” Budinger said. “”I’ve just been trying to drink a lot of fluids and take a lot of medicine.

“”I’d be feeling better and then I’d play a game and it knocked me down again and I’d have to start all over,”” he added.

Budinger, who said he’s been sick for about a week, scored 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a combined 83 minutes over the last two games.

“”Before the ASU game he was really sick,”” O’Neill said. “”I just told him, ‘Don’t talk about it. It doesn’t make you feel any better talking about it.’ If you’re sick, you’re sick and you just gotta go. If you’re hurt, you’re hurt and you just gotta go. If you’re injured you can’t play.””

Bayless still working toward being completely healthy

He did have a monster return after sitting out four games, scoring a career-high 33 points against Houston, but Bayless said he’s still not 100 percent.

The freshman played 39 minutes in the game although he said he was still having trouble moving laterally.

“”What he did at Houston, people don’t realize that he had 33 points and he still wasn’t comfortable on his knee,”” said guard Jawann McClellan. “”There were a couple of times when he would have rose up and dunked the ball, but he’s still conservative. Having him out there on the court means a great deal to us.””

McClellan said that he thinks Bayless should be getting more respect around the nation for his play and his confidence.

“”I honestly don’t think he’s getting enough respect from around the country when people start talking about these diaper dandies,”” McClellan said. “”They mention him a little bit, but they don’t mention him how they should.””

Budinger, who was a freshman just a year ago, credited himself for helping with Bayless’ return, saying that he told Bayless to try to be more aggressive on Saturday. Budinger added that a lot of times injured players come back too hesitant in their play.

“”I think the first five minutes he kind of flowed into the game and then after that he just took off and started going to the basket hard, creating for himself and for others,”” Budinger said. “”He really started being the player that we all know he is.””

Bayless played 39 minutes against the Cougars, resting briefly when O’Neill thought he looked tired.

“”He was breathing too hard to even keep playing,”” O’Neill said. “”I think he had made a few mistakes at that point – they were just fatigue mistakes.””

Still, O’Neill doesn’t think that he will ever overextend Bayless in a game.

“”He’s young,”” O’Neill said. “”He’s 19 years old. I’d worry about (17-year NBA veteran) Cliff Robinson overextending himself. But a young guy like Jerryd – an athletic strong kid – he’s not going to overextend himself.

“”We do have to watch him in practice,”” O’Neill added. “”That’s when we want to make sure we don’t overextend him. But when it comes to game time, he’s got to play.””

Johnson D-ing up nicely

Bayless’ roommate, forward Zane Johnson, is settling into his role after having his redshirt pulled in the ASU game because of a lack of depth on the Wildcat roster. He’s now played in two games with his debut being his best performance – making a 3-pointer in two attempts over eight minutes off the bench.

“”I just want to help us win in any way that I can,”” Johnson said. “”Make my shots, play good defense.””

O’Neill said that Johnson has gotten better defensively and has come far from where he was at the beginning of the season as a redshirt player.

“”His positioning was awful before,”” O’Neill said. “”Learning where to be on the floor off the ball is a major thing for guys to learn when they come out of high school to college. But now he has a pretty good handle on where to be.””

Though he said that sitting for 14 games as a redshirt was a waste of time in a way, Johnson said playing now was worth the wait.

“”I came here to play not to sit,”” he said.

Out of the polls

Arizona fell out of both the AP and the ESPN/USA Today top-25 polls for the first time since Nov. 26.

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