Tangara dealing with injury

Some say that ‘nice guys' finish last. Hopefully that is not true, but it would explain a lot about the rough freshman season for Mohamed Tangara. You'd be hard pressed to find a nicer player in college basketball, but at the same time this has been a tough couple months for the true freshman.

Tangara committed to Arizona in part because he wants to be an NBA player. Tangara wants to make enough money to be able to bring his family to America from Mali. Part of that plan included playing right away this season.

Things looked good early on. Tangara moved to Tucson over the summer and was a dominant performer in the Tucson Summer Pro League. He averaged a double-double and seemed to be physically mature enough to play. He also took summer school classes in an effort to get a head start on his academics.

As the school year started things were still going smoothly. Tangara was impressive in pick-up games, showing that he was going to be a great rebounder. He impressed former Wildcat Pete Williams enough that he was willing to concede his unofficial rebounding crown to the youngster who had yet to play a college game.

Then things started to unravel. After a weight lifting session Tangara started having some pain in his lower back. He had previous problems in the area, but wasn't overly concerned. Soon the problem worsened and he missed several weeks of practice in an effort to heal the injury.

The problem was that it never got better. Tangara played sparingly in the early season, but had missed too much practice time and was falling behind. The injury kept flaring up and he began missing more and more practices.

Finally the coaches decided that things were too unstable and they sat Tangara. He was still eligible to take a medical redshirt and the coaches did not want to waste the season if he wasn't going to be able to play. Although he can practice a bit, Tangara is in no position to play a prominent role at this time.

Despite the injury woes, Tangara is holding his head high.

"Everything is fine," Tangara insisted. "I'm not 100%. I have a lot left to learn, especially how to be a factor. I am behind, so now we have to decide what is the best for me. If I'm not 100% I will have to redshirt. If I am ready in about a month, or the next month, I will come back."

The most frustrating thing is that some days he feels very good and other days he's in a lot of pain. It would be one thing if he knew he could not play, but some days he feel like nothing is wrong.

"Sometimes it gets sore, sometimes it'll be okay.," He said. "To tell you the truth I'm just way far behind the rest of the team. I have to learn a lot on the court. If I catch up quick, I'll be back."

Although the injury was not new, it had never been this bad before. Tangara has never missed playing because of an injury.

What makes it worse is that he is so far away from his family. They are all in West Africa and he talks to them infrequently. His sponsor in America is all the way in Georgia and although they talk, it isn't the same as having a confidant in town.

"I am pretty comfortable," Tangara said. You need somebody, but you don't need somebody to help you live. It was pretty tough leaving my family."

Just how nice is Tangara? Earlier in the week he took the time to wish every member of the collected media a happy New Year. He goes out of his way to hold open doors and apparently introduced himself to the entire neighborhood when he moved to Tucson.

Things have not been easy on Tangara, but things are not terrible either. He may be hurt, but he is still a part of the team. He is still enjoying the college experience as a member of one of college basketball's best programs.

"I'm having fun," Tangara said. "I still have a lot to do to be a part of the program. I just thank God for everything. Just to come in here not to play, God has to do what he has to do. I just have to wait for my time to come. I think I'll be ready when my time is here."

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