Tangara may get his chance

Things have not turned out like Mohamed Tangara had planned. The athletic big man committed to Arizona with the hopes of playing early and maybe, just maybe, getting a shot at the pros. So far that has not been the case. The likeable big man has battled injuries and lack of playing time in his Wildcat career. With an injury to Bret Brielmaier, Tangara may get his shot.

Brielmaier is out 3-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery earlier in the week. The immediate beneficiary of more playing time has been Jordan Hill, the freshman moved up and became the first big man off the bench during last week's Washington road trip.

This also opens the door for both Tangara and fellow sophomore Fendi Onobun. Both have played sparingly this season.

Lute Olson was quick to point out that Tangara could see more playing time now that Brielmaier is out and now that his health is getting better.

Olson explained that Tangara was still feeling the affects of a back injury he suffered right before his freshman season but that he had made some "much better progress" of late and was getting much of his jumping ability back.

Tangara has been working quite a bit on a Vertimax machine, designed to add extra resistance to help increase leaping ability.

The 6-9 power forward came to Arizona three years ago with the reputation of being raw, but athletic. He was a fierce rebounder who was still learning the offensive nuances to the game.

His initial exposure to the Wildcat faithful was at the Tucson Summer Pro League where the freshman-to-be averaged a double-double.

The likeable young man from Mali made an instant impact on his coaches and teammates. He was impossibly nice and willing to do anything to earn playing time. He even offered to run cross country if Olson thought it would help.

It was that hard work that actually hurt him. Tangara and the Wildcat doctors do not know exactly when he hurt his back, but they think he did it while lifting weights. Tangara further set himself back by waiting to tell anyone about the injury because he did not want to seem soft.

He saw some early action that season, but soon it became apparent that he was not going to be able to play. The medical staff shelved him and he was able to get a medical redshirt.

The next year he still wasn't the same "bouncy" player that the Wildcats saw during his stay at the Mt. Zion Christian Academy. He played sparingly as a redshirt freshman, getting into just 21 games and scoring 34 total points and 21 rebounds in only 131 minutes of action.

definite. Things were looking up for Tangara this season. He got the start in the middle for one preseason game and his rebounding looked like it would at least have him in the mix, but by the start of the regular season it was apparent that Brielmaier and Hill would get what few reserve post minutes there were in the Wildcat line-up that featured three wings and just one post player in the starting line-up.

Now, Tangara may just get the minutes he was hoping for.

"He just needs an opportunity," Olson said. "He works very hard every day."

Big man coach Josh Pastner has been pleased with Tangara as well.

"Mohamed has done a nice job," Pastner said. "He's getting better each day.

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