Hoop Notes: Jan 9th

The Cats are coming off only their second loss of the season, a tough road game against Washington State. They get the Oregon schools this week at home, but will have to do it without a key reserve. Here is some of the latest news surrounding the basketball team.

High Praise
Lute Olson had very high praise for Mustafa Shakur. He mentioned his great numbers on the stat sheet but really stressed his leadership abilities, calling it "vital" to the team.

His praise was not limited to his leadership skills, but to the entire package.

"If there's a better point guard in the country right now, I'd like to see who he is," Olson noted.

A few minutes later he added: "I can't think of a point guard in the nation I'd rather have out there."

Olson mentioned that exploring the NBA last summer made Shakur better. The areas pro scouts encouraged him to improve are exactly the things that he is doing better this season.

Despite the loss to Washington State the Cats did not fall out of the top-10. In the Coach's poll the Cats feel one spot to eighth. The media knocked them down to 10th. For their part in the upset, Washington State cracked the top-25, being ranked 23 by the coaches and 22nd by the media.

Bret Brielmaier is out 3-6 weeks with a knee injury he suffered prior to the Washington game.

Marcus Williams landed on his wrist again, but is fine. He is taping it up when he takes the court and wears a brace off the court, but will not miss any time. He has hurt both of his wrists previously this season, but has missed no time.

Jawann McClellan continues to have some slight trouble with his knees on the second game of a two-game weekend series. He has some slight swelling that has caused him some discomfort, but like Williams, he has missed no time. Olson did note that McClellan should benefit from this weekend's Thursday/Sunday schedule, an extra day off from the usual Thursday/Saturday schedule.

Bench Play
Olson stressed that they'd love to get the bench a lot more time this weekend. He was pleased with the play of Jordan Hill's play in Washington, calling it a "good job". He also mentioned that he'd really like to get Nic Wise some more time, after the freshman barely logged any time this past weekend.

The Cats would also love to get Fendi Onobun and Mohamed Tangara, especially since Brielmaier is out. Tangara has really made strides both on the court and in the overall health of his back. The redshirt sophomore has never really recovered from a back injury he suffered prior to his first year at Arizona.

Tangara has been doing some special exercises to help him regain his leaping ability and explosiveness.

The Return
Former Wildcat assistant and Salpointe grad Jay John brings Oregon State to town on Thursday. Olson would rather not play his old charge, but such is life when both are in the Pac-10.

"A lot of times coaches would choose not to play their assistant because someone is always losing," Olson said.

He was quick to praise the job John has done, despite their struggles. He pointed out how young the Beavers are and how well they played against UCLA and Oregon.

Preparing For OSU
Olson said that the Cats would spend very little time, if any, watching the OSU/USC tape. He called it a "nightmare" game and one that was not indicative of how the Beavers play.

Monday Morning Blues
The Cats practiced at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, mostly to give the Cats a break. They had no classes, so after practice and a light workout, the players had the rest of the day off. It was a fairly light practice, with a lot of emphasis on half court sets.

In Case You Missed It
Former Wildcat J.P. Prince announced he was transferring to Vanderbilt. Prince initially chose Arizona over the Commodores.

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