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Flexibility key as Arizona Wildcats render to Pac-12 play on Monday

Bennedict Mathurin, center, and the Wildcats haven’t played since a loss at Tennessee on December. 22.

Since last playing Dec. 22 in Tennessee, the Arizona Wildcats took a three-day Christmas break, and so proficient for another calendar week.

With everybody dorsum except nonetheless-missing frontwards Kim Aiken, the Wildcats take had no COVID-19 problems affecting practices. They had plenty of time to work on fundamentals. Plenty of time to learn about themselves, and their upcoming Pac-12 opponents.

Simply possibly more than anything, the Wildcats learned to stay flexible.

While preparing for a twice-rescheduled game against Washington on Monday, after having lost New year’s day’s weekend games at UCLA and USC because of the Los Angeles teams’ COVID-19 problems, the Wildcats at first thought another game might besides be moved upwardly to Jan. 1.

“We started preparing for that a little bit,” coach Tommy Lloyd said.

Instead, Arizona is at present scheduled to restart Pac-12 play on Monday night against Washington, so play a route game at ASU on Sabbatum — and potentially go Tuesday-Th-Saturday the post-obit week with a possible road game at UCLA to come before a home weekend against Colorado and Utah.

The merry-go-round was spinning even faster elsewhere around the Pac-12.

ASU, as well originally scheduled to play at USC and UCLA over the weekend, instead played at Cal on Lord’s day — and is scheduled to play at UCLA on Wed before hosting the Wildcats on Saturday.

The Bruins, on the verge of their own COVID-nineteen return, are able to conform the Sun Devils because Thursday’s scheduled game against Stanford was postponed considering of the Fundamental’s own COVID-19 issues. Stanford had already pulled out of the Christmas-twenty-four hour period Diamond Head Classic.

And Colorado, which has been scheduled for a Jan. 13 advent at McKale Middle, was scheduled to play Oregon on Monday later on returning from its ain pause. Counting the Buffs, four of UA’due south next five opponents accept all been hitting the COVID wall.

Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa (25) searches for an open teammate in the win over Cal Baptist on Dec. 18. UA will host Washington on Mon night.

Then with all that going on, the Wildcats put their heads together and just played basketball.

“Obviously things are in flux correct now a little bit with the current COVID situation everywhere,” Lloyd said. “I just told our guys our job is to be excited to play, go along to practice well and get better. And then we kind of went back to the basics.”

That was fine with sophomore Dalen Terry.

“It’south but a regular week,” Terry said. “We just had no games, and so it kind of felt a little weird.”

As close as the Wildcats appear to have become during their 11-i first this season, a little time away from each other and the game may accept helped. While UA’south season didn’t start until Nov. 9, most Arizona players started assembling fully in July, with newcomers Pelle Larsson and Adama Bal arriving just before school started in August.

It’southward been a long booty already.

“It was just some time that we needed,” Terry said. “Manifestly, we’ve been with each other every day for the last few months, fifty-fifty in the summer, so it was cool to get abroad from the guys simply information technology was also slap-up to see that excitement of seeing each other again.

“I think information technology was something that every squad should have through the season. In that location should be a week or 2 that you go to have some fourth dimension to yourself, only obviously we’re not going to accept away from the chief goal. We nevertheless want to play and see each other and have a great season.”

‘No problems,’ Lloyd says

While several Colorado players canceled plans to spend Christmas with family and instead quarantined in Boulder, according to Buffzone.com, Lloyd said the Wildcats have remained result-free and that he didn’t desire them to alter their holiday plans for cautionary reasons.

“These are all hard choices, but apparently, y’all’ve got to factor in the well existence of the kids and their families and mental wellness,” Lloyd said. “They’re more just basketball game players. Everything was kind of unraveling right earlier Christmas, and we didn’t think it would be fair to the guys to say `OK, shift in game programme. Y’all go back to Tucson to hang out in your rooms by yourself.’

“And, mind, our squad has done a great job of taking all the available precautions to foreclose a COVID spread on our team. I know that’south far from any guarantees, but they’ve done what they’ve been asked to do. So if they’ve washed what they’ve been asked to do, I think they should exist able to see their families over the holiday.”

Because its players are fully vaccinated and additional, the Wildcats were not required to undergo surveillance testing upon returning to campus later on Christmas. UA has, however, been testing any players with symptoms.

“We’ve had no problems,” Lloyd said. “If we have symptomatic people, they will be tested but other than that we’re kind of marching forward day-by-twenty-four hours and abiding by the protocol.”

Jan. 11 possible for UCLA

Arizona has been discussing Jan. 11 equally a possible reschedule engagement for its postponed December. 30 game at No. 5-ranked UCLA, and the Wildcats may have to return to Los Angeles to face No. 7 USC on another engagement.

The Wildcats are scheduled to play twice each weekend afterwards Saturday, except for the week leading up to a Jan. 29 home game against ASU, only both USC and UCLA have two other games scheduled that calendar week. Since Lloyd said playing on sequent days is non likely, that suggests UA cannot play both USC and UCLA on the same trip unless there are other cancellations around the conference.

“It might be tough to do a two-game road trip and cram it into the a conference schedule,” Lloyd said. “And so I’m expecting probably to have to go to LA two times. But quick trips, in and out. That would be my guess as of now just again, everything is subject to change. It’s probably really hard for the league to throw out the schedule they already did and brand a new i.”

Instead of dorsum-to-backs, Lloyd said he thought at that place could be Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday or Monday-Thursday-Saturday weeks alee. If Arizona and UCLA are rescheduled for Jan. 11, the Wildcats would be playing 3 games in five days if their home games confronting Colorado (Jan. 13) and Utah (January. 15) are played as scheduled.

“Nosotros’re expecting a logjam of games to come up up here in the next couple of weeks,” Lloyd said. “You guys (media) volition be pretty busy and we’ll exist pretty busy.”

Aiken’southward status still unsettled

Aiken did not rejoin the Wildcats after their Christmas pause, but Lloyd said he’due south still on the team. Aiken hasn’t appeared in any form with the Wildcats since their Dec. 5 game at Oregon State. The UA has repeatedly cited personal reasons for Aiken’s departure.

Aiken was averaging 13.5 minutes per game over Arizona’s first vii games,

“I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to comment on any of that,” Lloyd said. “He’s a member of the team and we’ll see what happens in the time to come.”

Contact sports reporter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or bpascoe@tucson.com. On Twitter @brucepascoe

Source: https://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/basketball/flexibility-key-as-arizona-wildcats-return-to-pac-12-play-on-monday/article_1dfdee42-6bf5-11ec-a790-3fbdcb9a73de.html

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