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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hoops moving forward

    Arizona forward Chase Budinger (34) leads Jamelle Horne (42) and Jordan Hill (43) down the court in a 72-71 loss to Alabama-Birmingham in McKale Center on Tuesday. Budinger said its his job to motivate the team when they play Mississippi Valley State today in Athens, Ga.
    Arizona forward Chase Budinger (34) leads Jamelle Horne (42) and Jordan Hill (43) down the court in a 72-71 loss to Alabama-Birmingham in McKale Center on Tuesday. Budinger said it’s his job to motivate the team when they play Mississippi Valley State today in Athens, Ga.

    Arizona vs. Mississippi Valley State

    The Arizona men’s basketball team has put the sting of Tuesday’s loss behind it, but it certainly hasn’t forgotten.

    In fact, the Wildcats (1-1) will use their 72-71 loss to Alabama-Birmingham to propel them into today’s game at 3:45 p.m. MST against Mississippi Valley State (0-5) in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., as part of a consolation bracket in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff.

    “”You can’t worry about what you do in the past,”” said junior Chase Budinger. “”You just have to move on and try to learn the things that you’ve done, and try to improve on those.””

    The Wildcats didn’t have practice Wednesday, but came into Thursday’s practice in the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium with a fire UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said he hadn’t seen before.

    Pennell told his players he didn’t want to have to motivate them by running them through strenuous physical drills. It turns out he didn’t have to.

    “”They had already somewhere, some place, done that,”” Pennell said. “”Whether they did it individually then came together or they came together somewhere, but they were on it (Thursday). Very enthusiastic.””

    About three drills into practice Pennell gathered the team and told them to get into the mindset they had had when there were 17 seconds left in Tuesday’s game. He had members of the red team – the reserves – guard someone, and said they were going to recreate the rest of the game.

    “”I said, ‘I don’t know the outcome again,'”” Pennell said. “”But I said, ‘I know one thing: Jamelle’s not gonna foul.'””

    Jamelle Horne laughed, thinking of his intentional foul of Paul Delaney III in the backcourt with .8 seconds left in Tuesday’s game, setting Delaney up at the line to hit a free throw and win it for UAB.

    Enough time had passed and the rest of the team was able to laugh, too.

    Pennell handed guard Nic Wise the ball in the backcourt, and Pennell said the junior asked him, “”Do you want me to do exactly what I did the other night?””

    “”I said, ‘Not necessarily,'”” Pennell said. “”I said, ‘Would you have done something different?'””

    Wise said he would have, and without hesitation he drove to the left, just as he had in Tuesday’s game, but this time, instead of taking a contested shot – one which could have been the game winner against UAB had he made it – Budinger looped from behind, and Wise flipped him the ball. Then Budinger sank the shot.

    “”To me, the irony of it was, they had thought about it,”” Pennell said. “”They had talked about it. And with me putting that in – I was doing it more to exorcize a demon – yet we all, I felt like, had come together without talking. And to me, that was really a neat deal.

    “”What I found out about my team is they genuinely care about what’s going on,”” Pennell added.

    Budinger approached Pennell after Tuesday’s game and said if the team was in that situation again he wanted the ball in his hands. It was something he probably wouldn’t have done a year ago.

    So what’s the difference now?

    “”I guess more confidence, and taking on that leadership role,”” Budinger said. “”Just leading the team. I want to be that guy – that go-to guy.””

    Budinger, the face of the program this year, has been talking to the freshmen on the team about going on the road for the first time, letting them know it’s a long season and there are plenty of games left.

    “”With today’s and Tuesday’s games not being televised – it can be heard on 1290 AM. – and with Georgia students being on Thanksgiving break, there probably won’t be many people in the stands, something Budinger said might make it tough to get the Wildcats motivated.

    “”Part of my job is to motivate the team, the young guys, and try to tell them it doesn’t matter if there’s 12,000 people in the stands or 200,”” he said. “”You’ve just got to look at every game the same, no matter what’s at stake.””

    The fact remains, however, that the Wildcats will be playing the game they love. So why is motivation an issue at all?

    “”Some people get more excited off of playing in front of a lot of people,”” Budinger said. “”We’re not going to be playing the big-time schools like we’re kinda supposed to, going to New York. Guys might not be as motivated as they should be, so it will be my job to motivate them.””

    Pennell said he’s not worried about his players being motivated after seeing their reaction on Thursday to Tuesday’s loss. It is behind the team now, along with most of the national criticism – SportsCenter contacted the UA in an effort to get a response from Pennell, but was unsuccessful. There’s only one way to go now: forward.

    “”Crazy things happen in sports. If you’re in it long enough, you’ll see crazy things,”” Pennell said. “”I hate that happened in my second game as the interim coach, but it did, and you just try to learn from it and move on.””

    And 1

    Pennell said he may move freshman guard Garland Judkins into the starting lineup, replacing Fendi Onobun, as early as today. …

    Arizona is taking a chartered flight to Georgia with Santa Clara, whom the Wildcats will play at 3:45 p.m. MST on Tuesday.

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