Winning helps Ashley
While the Wildcats took a while to adjust without Brandon Ashley last month, the reverse is also true.
“I know I’ve been in his shoes and when you’re no longer part of the team, you don’t want anyone to forget you,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “You just don’t. It’s natural. Brandon’s been such a big part of this year’s team. He was a huge part of 21 games, none of which we lost.”
Ashley has been kept off-limits to interviews with local media since his injury but Miller said it was tough for Ashley to have worked with the Wildcats so long on their goals and not be able to finish them.
Fortunately for Ashley and the Wildcats, the first goal – winning the Pac-12 title – was accomplished.
“He’s very unselfish and you can kind of see it on his face that he wishes he was out there,” Miller said. “But he felt good about (Sunday) night that we won a Pac-12 championship, something we’ve talked about. So to see that goal realized, in many ways for him it’s probably a relief that we were still able to accomplish it with him going down.”
No Final Four
Miller’s hopes to reach the Final Four this season were dashed…in the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge.
Miller finished just below the top four coaches when voting by fans for the charity contest ended March 2. The final 16 coaches received $10,000 and the “Final Four” received another $5,000.
The top four coaches were Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Purdue’s Matt Painter and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg. The winner of the final round will earn a total of $100,000 for the charity he is representing.
The $10,000 that Miller finished with will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Arizona.
Oregon native Damon Stoudamire will be returning to his home state for the first time this week to coach college games, but he’s sort of past the idea of a homecoming at this point in his life.
Stoudamire, after all, played eight seasons for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and still owns a home in the metro area.
“I get home all the time,” he said. “Believe me, it’s not the same. I see (friends and family) all the time.”
Arizona has been given a full two days between games on each of its four two-game Pac-12 road swings this season, and the Wildcats still haven’t figured out the best way to spend them.
On Jan. 30, two days before they played at Cal, the Wildcats were given a day off in the Bay area and some of them even toured Alcatraz. On Feb. 20, two days before they played Colorado, they opted to hold a workout.
“I’m not sure what the reasoning was with us choosing either one,” Miller said. “You can look at it either way. Sometimes you just go stir crazy when you give the guys an entire day off because you’re at this remote place together and it’s like, ‘Heck if we’re together, let’s go practice’ and sometimes the guys want to go to the gym.’ “
This week, the Wildcats are planning to take Thursday off in Eugene, Ore., because they did not have time to take the NCAA-mandated off day after Sunday’s game with Stanford.
He’ll be missed
Probably the toughest goodbye OSU coach Craig Robinson will have to give this week during the final home games for his seniors will be to guard Roberto Nelson.
Not only is Nelson the Pac-12’s leading scorer, having completed a long struggle from ineligibility as a freshman, but Robinson said he also has high character.
“He’s been extremely important to our program,” Robinson said. “He’s really just brightened my life quite a bit because he’s a quiet and unassuming superstar. It’s going to be a bittersweet moment when he goes.”