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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Horne’s mohawk sparks deal from coach

    UA forward Jamelle Horne, left, guards Oregon point guard Tajuan Porter in a 67-52 win on Thursday night in McKale Center. Horne, who wore a freshly-cut mohawk, may not be the only Wildcat wearing one by the end of the season; interim head coach Russ Pennell told his team hed get a mohawk if the Wildcats won the Pacific 10 Conference title.
    UA forward Jamelle Horne, left, guards Oregon point guard Tajuan Porter in a 67-52 win on Thursday night in McKale Center. Horne, who wore a freshly-cut mohawk, may not be the only Wildcat wearing one by the end of the season; interim head coach Russ Pennell told his team he’d get a mohawk if the Wildcats won the Pacific 10 Conference title.

    Hoops Notes

    Jamelle Horne’s mohawk certainly worked for him.

    The sophomore forward scored 15 points on a flawless 5-for-5 shooting night, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc, in Thursday night’s win over Oregon, just days after getting a new hairdo.

    Maybe the mohawk will work as motivation for the team as a whole.

    “”I told them I’d get a mohawk if we won the Pac-10,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell, who once sported a definite flat top.

    Maybe the coach was joking, maybe he wasn’t. But either way, the Wildcats (10-5, 1-2 Pacific 10 Conference) need something to get them out of a three-way tie for sixth place in the conference.

    “”I thought it was pretty fresh,”” Horne said of his mohawk.

    The Wildcats still have 15 games plus the Pac-10 Tournament to determine a conference title, but for now, one thing is certain: getting a win after starting off 0-2 meant the weight of the world was lifted off of Arizona’s shoulders.

    “”Sometimes winning as a coach is more of a relief than even happiness, because you’ve got to move on to the next game,”” Pennell said. “”But I think the thing I was the most proud of was, even if we hadn’t won, I just thought we played harder. I thought we stuck together.

    “”I thought the things we tried to get across to them in practice, they embraced it,”” Pennell added. “”When you’ve got a team that will do that, and they buy in, they can’t help but get better.””

    Hill’s ‘off-night’ offset by Horne, Johnson

    Speaking of hairdos, the moppy-headed Jordan Hill had what anyone near the Arizona program would consider an off-night against Oregon: 9 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of work.

    Pennell said Hill’s off-night wasn’t due to anything the Ducks did in particular, and that it wasn’t costly to the Wildcats because Horne’s play, along with Zane Johnson, who scored 9 points off the bench, despite shooting 2-for-7 from the floor, including 1-for-6 from deep.

    “”Even though he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, he still had a contribution,”” Pennell said.

    Budinger bouncing back

    Not only did Chase Budinger snap a four-game 12-for-50 shooting performance with his 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting against the Ducks, but he continued to show Pennell an improvement in Friday’s practice.

    “”I thought he had a real bounce in his step (Friday),”” Pennell said. “”He was very content.””

    The outbreak performanceÿ- which could even be better, Pennell said -ÿreminded the coach of the way Budinger played early on in the season.

    “”He’s been a pretty consistent player around here his whole career, and I hope that was kind of the springboard to getting him back on track like he was prior to the Kansas game (on Dec. 23, the first game of his slump). He was on a role there for a while where the basket looked huge. I think he’s got another run in him like that.””

    Added Budinger: “”I’d say that I’m a shooter. I’d say that I’m a pretty good shooter. It will turn around, I’m not worried about that. I need to just keep getting my confidence up, just fighting hard, and my shots will come.””

    Budinger proved Thursday night that when he’s on, the Wildcats as a whole are on.

    “”Budinger is a great player,”” said Ducks point guard Tajuan Porter. “”When he’s in a rhythm offensively, then he is hard to stop. When he’s on, they are hard to stop.””

    Fogg isn’t a 3-point shooter

    Kyle Fogg is a starter, he’s a solid defender, and the UA coaches love his style of play.

    He is not, however, a threat from beyond the arc. The freshman averages 5.1 points per game, and has made just 2-of-10 3-pointers.

    But when the guard has the ball and is unguarded in 3-point land, the fans in McKale Center often yell at him to shoot the ball, something that isn’t really in his job description with 3-point shooters in Budinger, Horne and Nic Wise on the floor.

    “”I told him (Friday), ‘You cannot listen to the crowd on that,'”” Pennell said. “”First of all, people gotta understand, these kids have limitations. Not just what we’re putting on them, they know it, too. Kyle is not a great 3-point shooter. Maybe some day he will.

    “”And he’s a fine player, and he’s done a lot of fine stuff for us,”” Pennell added, “”but nothing drives me crazier than yelling at a kid to shoot the ball when that’s not A) his job, and B) not his strength.””

    Early in the season, the crowd’s plea to shoot the uncontested shots got to Fogg and he took some shots he might not have if he hadn’t been pushed into them.

    “”We told him afterward, ‘You can’t get baited into that.’ And I know the fans don’t mean any harm by it. They’re thinking, ‘Well, you’re wide open, you need to shoot it.'””

    Onobun still not playing much

    Coming into this season, UA senior Fendi Onobun had big plans for himself. He had three personally unsuccessful seasons with the Wildcats and was waiting for a breakout.

    After starting two games at the beginning of this season, Onobun has been used sparingly. He is averaging 9.3 minutes, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 points per game, and has only made 1-of-8 free throws.

    But being a physically strong power forward behind a future NBA player isn’t always the easiest way to get playing time.

    “”I think the big thing is that we play Jordan (33.6) minutes, and it’s really hard to play Fendi and Jordan side by side a lot,”” Pennell said. “”And Tree (Alex Jacobson) has done a nice job, but even Tree’s minutes (8.4 minutes per game) are sporadic. I think that has a lot to do with it. He’s playing behind a lottery pick.””

    But Onobun hasn’t quivered once about his lack of playing time.

    “”He’s got the best attitude on the team. He’s a phenomenal leader,”” Pennell said. “”I know he’s got my back.

    “”From the first day I was here, even when I was an assistant coach, Fendi came in -ÿI probably hadn’t been on the job for two, three days -ÿand he was in town and he came in my office and sat down, and we must have talked for 45 minutes,”” Pennell added. “”We just hit it off personally.””

    Onobun played the final two minutes Thursday night, and registered a rebound and an athletic 6-footer, in which he fell hard. As long as he keeps playing hard, his time will come, Pennell said.

    “”I still believe there’s going to be a spot where he’s going to play big for us and we’re going to need him,”” Pennell said. “”He’s just got to be ready. Things don’t always turn out they way you want them to when you come to school and I know that’s part of it for Fendi, but that guy is a character guy. He’s going to be big-time successful because of that.””

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