Hoops Tidbits

Basketball is in full swing at the UofA. Here is some of the latest goings on from the world of Wildcat hoops.

Kevin O'Neill conducted his first press conference as interim head coach of the Arizona Wildcats and it was very strange to see someone other than Lute Olson or Jim Rosborough up at the front of the media relations room. That being said, O'Neill is very engaging and handles the press conference very well.

First off, the $1,000,000 question, very few people know exactly what is happening with Lute and his family. There are tons of rumors and people are coming out of the woodwork to get info. On Sunday my cel phone blew up and I have been getting e-mails all week from people I know and from some acquaintances I have not spoken to in years.

Just for a heads up to readers, in an effort to respect Lute's privacy we will not report the reason for his leave of absence until he, or his family decided to make the issue public. At this time I have very few details but I am respecting the man's privacy as was requested.

The second most asked question is "when will he be back", while there is no timetable, a couple of the players felt there was a chance he could return for the start of the season. That seems a little soon, but all parties feel he will be back sooner rather than later.

In case you care, Olson did watch Sunday's game and called O'Neill that night to discuss the team. Be warned Wildcats, Lute is looming!

Next week is national signing day and all indications are that the four verbally committed players will be signing. The Olson leave of absence should have little or no effect on them.

The Wildcats are dinged up. Jawann McClellan and Chase Budinger were held out of practice on Monday, while the rest of the team went through a very light workout. Both practiced on Tuesday.

Zane Johnson is out 4-5 more days with what is described as a "head injury". That is why he did not play in the Concordia game on Sunday. Fendi Onobun will be reevaluated on Friday for his injury. He obviously won't play on Thursday night.

O'Neill has hinted that Onobun was competing for a starting spot in the post before he got hurt. The other two players he mentioned on Tuesday were Jamelle Horne and Mohamed Tangara as possible starters inside.

Before everyone gets carried away, O'Neill did compare Jerryd Bayless to Chauncey Billups, but mostly in terms of body-type and approach to the game as an offensive player. I've always thought he had a little Dwyane Wade in him, while Bayless himself has mentioned Baron Davis as a player he likes to emulate.

While Bayless is certainly deserving of some praise, it must be noted that the kid has yet to play a real college game. While he is the type of player who has NBA ability, there are no guarantees. Remember Mustafa Shakur started as a true freshman and his NBA career could be over before it ever began.

O'Neill has been a blessing for the Wildcats, let's not forget about Pasnter and Simon. Both have been vital during this stretch. It is not as if O'Neill is infallible, before Sunday's game he had to ask the two about how many timeouts he gets in college and a few other rule differences from the NBA.

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