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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bayless exudes toughness

    UA guard Jerryd Bayless drives to the cup in a 79-75 win over California in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday. The Wildcat credits part of his intensity to former NBA guard Frank Johnson.
    UA guard Jerryd Bayless drives to the cup in a 79-75 win over California in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday. The Wildcat credits part of his intensity to former NBA guard Frank Johnson.

    Hoops Notes

    Kevin O’Neill sat down at his computer yesterday and read an e-mail from a person that wasn’t too happy with the Arizona men’s basketball team’s performance as of late.

    “”He said we’re the most unmotivated team he’s ever seen,”” O’Neill said of the e-mail. “”I don’t agree with that. I think these guys, for the most part, care about winning … For the most part, I’ve been very pleased with the effort our guys have put forth.””

    To put forth effort, you have to be tough – a trait that Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless has made clear that he possesses. And he’s not just physically tough – playing on a knee that was still sore after spraining it – but he’s tough upstairs, too, especially after a loss.

    O’Neill said that the freshman Bayless demonstrated his strength Saturday in a 24-point effort against California after Thursday’s loss at Stanford, in which he scored nine points.

    “”I think Jerryd is mentally tough,”” O’Neill said. “”Anytime you’re a freshman or sophomore, you’re probably not anywhere near as mentally tough as you’re going to be when you’re a junior or senior. Jerryd is young and young people get more affected by little things.

    “”Jerryd Bayless has a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability and he’s tremendously disappointed when he doesn’t play as well as he thinks he should play. It’s hard to find players at any level that truly, truly, truly care about winning … Your best NBA players, losing really hurts them. Your best college players, losing hurts. And I think Jerryd’s one of those guys that losing hurts him and it affects him mentally.””

    Yesterday Bayless took the blame for the Wildcats’ 56-52 loss to Stanford – the game which O’Neill dubbed the “”Shoegate”” incident – which caused Bayless’ ankle to go numb at times.

    “”I know I took myself out of the game with the whole shoe thing,”” Bayless said. “”And then I started talking about it and I think I started taking my teammates out of the game because I kept complaining about it. Personally, I think a lot of (the loss) should be placed on my shoulders.””

    O’Neill was surprised by Bayless’ comments and said he loved when players held themselves personally accountable.

    Bayless attributed some of his toughness to the fact that he’s worked out with former NBA guard Frank Johnson, who played in the league for 10 seasons.

    “”I’ve kind of called him my uncle my whole life and he’s done everything to mentally intimidate me,”” Bayless said. “”A lot of (the intimidation) was verbal but then some other things like throwing the ball at you while you’re shooting.””

    Brielmaier may play tomorrow

    After missing two of the last four games with pain in a shoulder that was separated Dec. 22, UA forward Bret Brielmaier may be back to action tomorrow for Arizona’s bout with No. 6 Washington State, O’Neill said.

    “”I want to play him every game so I’m gonna play him Thursday and if he can play Saturday that’s great,”” O’Neill said.

    The coach added that not having Bret’s positive influence in the lineup has affected the team. Brielmaier has only committed two turnovers in 239 minutes this season, rarely if ever missing an assignment.

    The Wildcats are 7-1 in Brielmaier’s eight starts.

    “”Guys like that have a huge impact,”” O’Neill said.

    Hill healing

    In other injury news, UA forward Jordan Hill said his ankle is getting better after rolling it in Houston on Jan. 12, though it is not at full strength yet.

    “”I get taped and I wear an ankle bracelet on it right now for precaution,”” Hill said yesterday. “”I’m doing everything (in practice) but it still hurts a little bit when I do cuts and turn a certain way.””

    – Michael Schwartz contributed to this report

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