Updated to add UA's release that Brandon Ashley had surgery on a ligament in his right foot today.
UA has given no other details, other than he's out for the season with a foot injury; coach Sean Miller had said after Ashley was hurt on Feb. 1 that it "looks to be broken."
Here's the entire text of UA's release:
"University of Arizona sophomore forward Brandon Ashley had successful surgery Tuesday to repair a ligament in his right foot. Ashley will be out indefinitely and will be unable to return this season.
"Ashley averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22 games, all starts, for the Wildcats this season. He sustained the foot injury on Feb. 1 against California."
ICYMI, from this morning, there's no guarantee he comes back next season, though it appears likely.
Even before Brandon Ashley went down with a significant foot injury on Feb. 1 at Cal, Arizona Wildcats freshman guard Elliott Pitts had a feeling things would change.
“Coach (Sean Miller) told me even before the Cal game that I was going to get more minutes, that we just can’t play seven or eight guys, so I knew I was going to have to stay ready,” Pitts said. “I’ve just been staying after practice, trying to stay in shape.”
Ashley was lost for the season just two minutes into the Cal game. Since then, Pitts played three minutes against Cal, 12 against Oregon and 14 against Oregon State.
“I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable on the court, getting more minutes now, staying on the court longer -- it’s easier to get in the groove,” Pitts said. “Before all of this happened, I would get on the court for 2-3 minutes at a time. It’s definitely hard to get comfortable in two or three minutes but obviously I try to go out there and play as hard as I can.”
Pitts has totaled three points and six rebounds during the past three games, helping UA scramble to replace Ashley’s minutes in part with a bench threesome of Pitts, Jordin Mayes and forward Matt Korcheck.
“We have no choice right now,” Miller said. It’s “next man in. We believe in the guys that we’re playing. I think it’ll work itself out and all of us will be more comfortable, as more game action presents itself, and we’re able to work on a daily basis.
"The next three days (of practice) for example, gives us a continued opportunity to feel more comfortable and more seamless with what we do. Those guys are well aware, they’re plugged in and they know what to expect.”
The Wildcats have an extra day of practice this week to continue to work in their new rotation, since they don’t play until Friday at ASU.
But that game will be tough, Miller said, especially since the Wildcats will have to face guard Jermaine Marshall, who was kept out of UA’s 91-68 win on Jan. 16 with a groin injury.
“We know they weren’t at their best when they came to McKale,” Miller said. “Looking at his numbers, Carson and him together have a great backcourt, part of what is making it a great season.”
Miller said the fact that UA was able to keep Jordan Bachynski in check – the 7-foot-2 Canadian was 0 for 3 from the field – was partly because of Marshall’s absence.
“You don’t have to account for that that 16 points per game from the perimeter,” Miller said. “This game will be much more difficult because they have another shooter on the court. Bachynski seems to get better as his career unfolds and I don’t know if he’s ever been playing better. We really have our hands full.”
Between the Marcus Smart and ASU fan-spitting incidents, the Wildcats are picking an interesting week to head up to Wells Fargo Arena. But Miller said the players already have been a part of their “All-In” code of ethics and responsibilities.
“It’s the culture in our program that we try to live by,” Miller said. “As you grow inside of our program and become an upperclassman you learn to embody those qualities and when you see teammates make mistakes and people make mistakes outside, you learn.
“Part of it is when you go on the road, you only have each other, you rely on each other, and it’s about the task at hand and you really have to block everything out, whether it be the criticism or the noise level, or sometimes maybe a call that you don’t agree with. You’ve got to stick to that system. What’s going to make us successful is to not be distracted by anything that we can’t control.”
At the same time, Miller said some of the recent situations have been difficult, and in an era where news of incidents travels fast.
“It’s unfortunate sometimes that the age of a player and the experience level that he has can be compromised by a fan or something that’s said that shouldn’t be,” Miller said.
“That’s all part of growing and learning and you hope when that situation presents itself that we have each other’s back and all the things we talk about on a daily basis hold true in that moment so we can make good decisions instead of ones we regret.
“With the heat of the battle in sports, especially at this level, situations are going to unfold unfortunately.”