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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bayless’ availability for ASU game still in question

    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless talks to a team manager during a timeout in the Wildcats 76-63 win over Oregon State Thursday in McKale Center. It is still undetermined if Bayless will play Wednesday at ASU.
    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless talks to a team manager during a timeout in the Wildcats’ 76-63 win over Oregon State Thursday in McKale Center. It is still undetermined if Bayless will play Wednesday at ASU.

    Hoops Notes

    The chances of Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless playing against ASU on Wednesday evening is still unknown.

    Both Bayless and UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill said after Monday morning’s practice that they wouldn’t know whether Bayless would be able to play until Wednesday, but O’Neill said that he has different lineup scenarios worked out in case Bayless doesn’t return.

    “”I’m not counting on him being there,”” O’Neill said. “”I don’t think you should ever count on an injured player playing until (the athletic trainers) tell you they’re going to play.

    “”But the bottom line is, as I’ve told our players, if he plays, he plays,”” O’Neill added. “”If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s nothing we can do about that. Injuries are part of the game.””

    Bayless, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during a Dec. 28 practice, did some shooting and light workouts on Monday in McKale Center, O’Neill said.

    “”It’s not really pain, it just depends on how I feel with movements and things like that,”” Bayless said of a potential return against ASU. “”I’ve done some things, but some things are still bothering me … like moving laterally.””

    O’Neill called Bayless’ status a “”day-to-day thing”” and said that any full contact practice before the Wildcats’ bout with the Sun Devils would be left up to Bayless and Arizona’s trainer, Justin Kokoskie.

    “”It just depends on when I feel comfortable,”” Bayless said.

    Guard Jawann McClellan said that the team misses Bayless’ team-high 18.5 points and 4.2 assists per game, but it is doing its best to get along without him until he returns.

    “”Of course you want him back, but as a man, I don’t think you can grope and moan about a player,”” McClellan said. “”Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very important player to us. He’s a key player to us, not only offensively, but also defensively.

    “”But we have to do with what we’ve got. Jerryd’s been doing his job in supporting us.””


    Having the 6-foot-3 Bayless back would make matchups easier for the Wildcats, which O’Neill expects to be the case regardless against the Sun Devils in comparison to the difficulties his team had matching up with the Ducks on Saturday.

    In that contest, UA guard Nic Wise had to keep up with speedy, 5-foot-6 guard Tajuan Porter, and forward Jordan Hill struggled to defend quick-for-his-size, 6-foot-9 forward Maarty Leunen, who likes to play on the perimeter – something that Hill said he isn’t used to.

    Also, a little over a minute after guard Daniel Dillon collected his third foul, O’Neill put walk-on David Bagga on the court in the first half for the first time in his career wanting to stay small.

    “”I think the matchups (will be) better (against ASU) than they were with Oregon,”” O’Neill said. “”It just depends on who’s playing and who’s not. Obviously, with Jerryd, it makes every matchup better. Because not only is Jerryd a good scorer, but he’s a good defender.””

    Where’s Walters?

    Arizona has been outrebounded in each of its last three games, grabbing an average of 5.0 boards per game less than its opponent, during a 1-2 stretch.

    The Wildcats have won all but the Nov. 25 overtime game at Kansas of the six contests they have outrebounded their opponents.

    “”Rebounding is very important,”” O’Neill said. “”Our biggest problem is when Jordan’s not in there. When the guy’s not in there, we’re an average team up front.””

    The 6-foot-10 Hill ranks eighth in the Pacific 10 Conference in rebounds, averaging 7.6 boards per game. But after getting in foul trouble against Oregon, he played for 26 minutes, including just eight in the first half after picking up a pair of fouls.

    Though Arizona does have another big man in 6-foot-11 center Kirk Walters, O’Neill said that there is no one on the bench who could adequately replace Hill.

    “”He couldn’t play the other night (against Oregon) at all,”” O’Neill said of Walters. “”He would have been the last guy that could have guarded any of those guys.

    “”If I think Kirk can help us, I’ll play him,”” O’Neill added. “”Sometimes I’m comfortable with him out there in certain matchups and sometimes I’m not.””

    Zoned out

    The Wildcats, who only play man-to-man defense, will go up against an ASU team that plays strictly zone defense.

    But not just any zone defense.

    “”Their zone is a little different,”” O’Neill said. “”It’s played like a man-to-man. They shrink up off the ball and they play the ball really hard. It’s zone defense, so we’ll have to attack it well and get good shots.””

    Wise said that ASU’s defensive style of play creates havoc for any offensive team and that the Wildcats are going to watch more film on the Sun Devils to try to figure out how to get in the gaps of the extended zone and “”dismantle”” it.

    “”They just point and talk a lot to their teammates when they see a guy cutting or anybody flashing into their areas,”” Wise said. “”It is tough to attack when it’s zone oriented, but they still match up.””

    McClellan said that the team will take jump shots when they’re open but that they can’t settle for them. Instead they need to penetrate the zone, a task that will be easier said than done.

    “”We ain’t played against a zone like that,”” McClellan said. “”We have to attack their zone and just be aggressive.””

    Out of the rankings

    Arizona fell out of the Associated Press‘ top 25 poll from No. 21 on Monday. The ESPN poll ranked the Wildcats No. 24 for the week.

    ASU, which swept the Oregon schools to open up conference play, received 53 votes in the AP poll – third-most of teams not ranked in the top 25. Arizona received less than half of that, with 26 votes.

    “”They’re a top-25 team this week,”” O’Neill said of ASU. “”I mean, I would have voted for them.””

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