Shooting Problems & Muscle Strains

After one of their best performances in a 17-point win over Kansas two days before Christmas, Arizona seemed to be putting all the pieces together. Budinger was quiet offensively, which is a concern, but Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg both stepped up big. Arizona was making great strides towards being truly ready to compete for a PAC-10 crown.
A week later, Jordan Hill misses an insignificant game against Weber State from the Big Sky Conference. It was prevalent how important Jordan Hill is to the Wildcats. The ‘Cats failed to find offensive consistency, and weren’t able to pressure the Wildcats of Weber State on the perimeter. Even still, I wasn’t too concerned because I figured that Pennell was taking a precautionary measure to give Hill’s leg time to fully heal. That was until I read this excerpt in the AZ Daily Star.
UA center Jordan Hill did not practice Tuesday and remains day-to-day with a muscle strain in his lower left leg, according to UA spokesman Richard Paige.
Hill hurt the muscle in practice Saturday and did not play Monday against Weber State, though Pennell said he is likely to play against the Bears.
It wasn’t a huge concern for me that he didn’t play in a game, but missing practice leading into PAC-10 play concerns me. Hill needs to be ready to perform as Arizona makes a trip to the Bay Area in hopes of their first road win of the season. CAL is a very good team that is well coached, and Stanford is always a tough road win.
My concern is heightened by the fact that Chase Budinger has been in a shooting funk recently. Budinger is 4-for-23 in the last two games. Even though Horne and Fogg stepped up in the Kansas game, Arizona had Hill on the floor. If Arizona faces off with CAL, Stanford, or any other team in the PAC-10 that doesn’t have a wood eating mammal for their mascot without Hill in the lineup and Budinger having an off night it will likely result in a loss.
I don’t mention this because I want to be an alarmist, or because I’m lacking faith in these kids. But this is a young team with two of it’s three key players inactive or ineffective heading into conference play. Hill will return, and if Pennell is right it will be just in time. Budinger will eventually break out of his shooting slump, but in the mean time, and in the long run as well, the ‘Cats need Jamelle Horne and Fogg to continue to build upon their recent efforts.

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December 2008
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PAC-10 Power Rankings

1. Cal 2. Washington 3. UCLA 4. Arizona 5. Oregon 6. Oregon State 7. Arizona State 8. Washington State 9. Stanford 10. USC

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