When Chase Jeter looks back on his junior season, he may want to forget about those two Oregon State games.
The Arizona center sat out practice Monday because of a knee bruise he sustained against the Beavers in Corvallis last Thursday, already having hurt his back while falling horizontally to the floor against OSU on Jan. 19 at McKale Center.
The back injury forced Jeter out for games at USC and UCLA, both of which the Wildcats lost by more than 20 points. Jeter still appeared limited during his first three games upon returning, then improved on the Utah-Colorado trip and during home games against Cal and Stanford two weeks ago.
Then came the knee injury against OSU. UA coach Sean Miller said X-rays have been negative and Jeter didn’t miss any games this time.
But Jeter wasn’t the same when he returned against Oregon on March 2, limping his first time down the court and playing just six minutes.
“He wasn’t effective,” Miller said.
Miller said he thought Jeter could give it a shot after he tested the knee in a pregame shootaround Saturday and that, since it has been determined he’s not at risk for further injury, it’s now mostly about what kind of pain Jeter can tolerate.
“The X-rays are negative, clean, which is a good sign, and we’ll see where he is moving forward,” Miller said. “We’re kind of in the same situation as we would have been when he got hurt in the Oregon State game the first time.”
Miller said he did not know if or when Jeter might return to practice this week.
“We’ve been there before,” Miller said. “Really, it hurts us especially against talented frontcourt players and the depth that Oregon, UCLA and USC have along the front line. We struggled to score at the basket. And eventually, that does us in.”
At the same time, Miller said the Wildcats can’t make excuses Saturday against ASU.
“We have to take this week and be sharp, with everything that we do and regardless of who plays, we still have to play the game,” Miller said. “And if we’re playing without a player or two, it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares. So we have to be ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Miller said guard Brandon Williams will no longer be under a minutes restriction after responding well in three games back from a flare-up to his right knee.
Williams played 18 minutes at Stanford on Feb. 24 and just 20 each against OSU and Oregon, though Miller said he could have gone slightly beyond that in Oregon.
“I think his foul trouble hurt him more” in restricting playing time, Miller said.
“Brandon is full-go. Whether he starts or not (Saturday), I think we’ll cross that bridge later in the week, but he has no more minute restriction on him.
“He’s been able to respond in a way that we all hoped he would when we welcomed him back, and he’s practicing every day. Chase is not practicing.”
Senior Day nears
Senior Day will take on a different look this year, with the UA honoring two players who have only been around since July.
But Miller said the greatest compliment he could give grad transfers Justin Coleman and Ryan Luther that was, “I feel like they’ve been with us for four years even though they’ve only been with us for a year — they are two of the best people we’ve ever had here.”
Coleman said it hadn’t hit him yet that Saturday’s UA-ASU game would be his last at McKale Center (barring a home NIT appearance) but that he and Luther have spoken about it.
“Just talking about just how fast the four to five years go, the times we had as freshmen, the opportunity we had,” Coleman said, “and just being here, which is great opportunity for us both.”
While UA assistant coach Danny Peters attended the Arizona 6A final, in which UA signee Nico Mannion led Pinnacle to the championship win over Scottsdale Chaparral, Miller said he has recently watched him, too.
Then again, Miller has been watching Mannion for years.
“Obviously, Nico’s play speaks for itself,” Miller said. “We’re thrilled to be able to welcome him here and he’s a winner, obviously winning back-to-back state champions. Any game that I’ve really ever watched, he plays to win, his team always seems to win, he has a way as a point guard of making the game easier for his teammates.”
Hands named Pac-12’s player of the week
UCLA guard Jaylen Hands won the Pac-12 Basketball Player of the Week award after collecting 21 points and 10 assists with no turnovers in the Bruins’ 93-88 victory over USC on Thursday. The other nominees included Cal’s Justice Sueing, who averaged 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the Bears’ sweep of Washington and WSU.