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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats recall Singletary’s comments

    UA forward Bret Brielmaier evades the block during Tuesdays 76-69 win over NAU in McKale Center. Brielmaier and the rest of the Wildcats are hungry for revenge against Virginia tomorrow night after losing to the Cavaliers in the season opener last year.
    UA forward Bret Brielmaier evades the block during Tuesday’s 76-69 win over NAU in McKale Center. Brielmaier and the rest of the Wildcats are hungry for revenge against Virginia tomorrow night after losing to the Cavaliers in the season opener last year.

    Insults often hurt most when there’s some truth behind them.

    That’s the main reason why some Arizona players are still bristling over what Virginia All-American guard Sean Singletary had to say about the Wildcats a year ago, after the Cavaliers’ 93-90 season-opening win last season in a game Arizona once led by 19.

    “”We knew that we would come back and beat them,”” Singletary said. “”We knew from the start that they weren’t tough and wouldn’t fight.””

    The UA coaching staff found it good enough bulletin board material to pass out to players during the team’s homestand following that loss.

    Papers with Singletary’s quote on it found their way back into Arizona’s locker room again this year, littering the floor after the Wildcats’ uninspired home win over NAU Tuesday night, setting the stage for tomorrow night’s 8:30 matchup against the Cavaliers (2-0) in McKale Center.

    Even though guard Jerryd Bayless would not don an Arizona uniform for another year, he held up that paper after the NAU win, visibly upset with what Singletary said.

    “”That’s a lot of motivation,”” Bayless said. “”I take that to heart. That’s probably the most disrespectful thing someone could say to me when they say I’m soft. I’m taking that to heart, and hopefully Saturday we can prove them wrong.””

    Forward Bret Brielmaier also took offense to Singletary’s comment, a statement that would not have been debated by anybody who watched Arizona’s season opener against the Lumberjacks, especially in the post.

    “”For the most part it’s been true the last couple years, we have been a soft team, we haven’t been a lot of times the aggressors, so we need to go out there and change that,”” Brielmaier said. “”NAU was another example of us not playing as physical as we should. We do need to work on that.””

    The Wildcats (1-0) turned a 16-point lead into a three-point advantage late in Tuesday’s game against NAU, with the Lumberjacks big men going to work inside. Frontcourt players Ryan McCurdy and Kyle Landry scored 13 straight NAU points at one point late in the game to keep NAU close throughout crunch time.

    However, UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill did not appear open to changing up his rotation inside from Tuesday’s unit, when forwards Jordan Hill, Jamelle Horne and Bret Brielmaier played nearly all the minutes inside.

    “”We got pushed around a little bit, and NAU’s not exactly the big man powerhouse of the country,”” Brielmaier said. “”A lot of it’s just being more physical and more game smart out there. We just didn’t play well in the post at all.””

    Center Kirk Walters could eventually provide an interior presence, but O’Neill said he has not played well enough consistently to earn those minutes, saying he often practices well for just two or three minutes at a time.

    “”I’m not ready to give him minutes at this point,”” O’Neill said. “”I wouldn’t have been comfortable using him in the game the other night.””

    Guard Jawann McClellan said in recent practices Walters has looked more like “”the old Kirk,”” the player he was before being sidelined almost all of last year with a bad case of mononucleosis.

    Walters said he feels he’s made strides the past two weeks, although he doesn’t think he’s completely back. That did not make it any easier to see Arizona dominated inside against a team like NAU.

    “”It’s frustrating, but it’s to the point where I’m just starting to feel I’m just starting to play better,”” Walters said, “”so I’ve just got to keep on working hard so that next time we’ve got some big guys down low I can help them out.””

    The Wildcats also will not get any help from forward Fendi Onobun, who remains out with shin splints. No timetable has been put on Onobun’s return from the injury.

    “”We could definitely use Fendi’s body, no question,”” O’Neill said.

    In any case, the Wildcats will be able to take their pick of what they use for motivation before this showdown.

    They could choose proving themselves against the defending co-Atlantic Coast Conference champions, avenging last year’s come-from-ahead loss, making a statement after their mediocre showing against NAU or if all else fails, go for the bulletin board material courtesy of Singletary.

    “”If that’s what the coaching staff wants to use to get the rest of the players, my teammates, we’ll take anything,”” McClellan said. “”This is a very important game for us.””

    And 1

    O’Neill had said Monday that UA head coach Lute Olson, away on a leave of absence since Nov. 4, would return “”shortly,”” but he amended that statement yesterday to say “”there’s absolutely no timetable for a return.”” … The Wildcats and Cavaliers have played each other the last three years, with the home team winning every matchup.

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