Cats take wait-and-see attitude with Tangara

Lute Olson and his staff confirmed suspicions when they informed the media on Saturday that there is a distinct possibility that Mohamed Tangara could receive a medical redshirt. The 6-9 freshman power forward has been hampered with a lower back problem since the summer. The staff wants to hold him out in order to fully explore his options.

Tangara apparently aggravated the injury over the summer as he began a weight training program. The weight training itself did not cause the injury, but the rigorous regimen exposed a prior injury that had not healed properly.

"No, the weight training did not hurt me," Tangara said earlier in the season. "I just started to notice it then."

Tangara played through minor bouts of pain over the summer. He was able to participate in the Tucson Summer Pro League, where he averaged a double-double, and was able to continue the school conditioning program.

After school started things got progressively worse. Tangara missed a lot of practice time early in the preseason and that put him behind the eight ball in terms of learning the system and getting integrated into the team.

It's just difficult to miss that many practices and, I think I said before, in the early practices for a freshman to miss a day is like a veteran missing a week," Lute Olson said. "There is so much being thrown at them and the only way you learn is not by just standing there and listening and watching, you need to get repetitions to learn in this game. It has to be an instinctive thing."

Tangara was in the mix early on. Despite the missed practice time, Tangara got into five of the first six games, averaging just 0.2 points and 0.4 rebounds in just over five minutes a game.

The first indications that something was up came against Mississippi State. Going up against the talented Bulldog frontline, Olson elected to use walk-on Bret Brielmaier to spell Isaiah Fox and Channing Frye when they got some first half foul problems. Olson went with Brielmaier again against Utah and admitted that the team was exploring the option of redshirting Tangara.

The problem that a medical redshirt is no sure thing. Tangara would be eligible because he played in less than 20% of the Wildcats' games. That means he could only play in six of Arizona's 28 games. The bigger issue is the severity of Tangara's injury. To qualify for a medical hardship Tangara's injury would have to be season ending. If he can play, even if it is in February or March, then there can be no redshirt.

The other difficulty is that the appeal for a redshirt would not be heard until June. Conceivably the Cats could sit Tangara for the year only to have the extra year not granted, essentially making this a lost season.

Where it gets tricky is that Tangara has good days and bad days. Some days the injury is As of now Tangara sits. The coaches don't want to take any chances and if he really is in bad shape then he can prolong his stay in Tucson. His absence has a minor trickle down effect. It likely means that Hassan Adams will have to spend more time at the four, but that was already in the cards. It also means that Brielmaier becomes an option for spot minutes. Fortunately with Fox, Frye and Radenovic, the Cats have a solid crew in the post.

The Wildcats also have Kirk Walters on the roster, but they are redshirting him this season.

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