The Arizona Wildcats were without two starters on Saturday in their win over the Washington Huskies, but they are expected to be closer to full strength against the USC Trojans on Thursday.
UA head coach Sean Miller said Monday at his weekly press conference that he expects both Kadeem Allen (pinky) and Dusan Ristic (ankle) to return this week.
“And in some ways we expect both guys to be fully functional as well,” Miller said.
Allen dislocated his finger in practice last Tuesday and missed both games against the Washington schools. Miller said he has a “pretty good gauge” on the point guard’s health.
“There’s nothing structurally wrong with his hand or his finger,” Miller said. “His finger is not broken. It’s just a matter of, when you get seven stitches and you have dislocation and the bone pops out, it takes a few — I almost hate to say days — weeks for it to completely heal. But as long as that area is hardened and his stitches have held up, which they have, and he hasn’t gone through any increased trauma, which he hasn’t (then he’s good to go).”
Miller thinks the two games Allen missed last week could actually benefit him in the long run.
“Hopefully it’s a positive for Kadeem because he’s led our team in minutes,” Miller said. “Sometimes when a guy can get a brief stretch away from running a couple games, you get kind of a renewed energy and that would be a heck of thing to have him at his best physically here down the stretch, because we ask a lot of him, especially how much we depend on him as a defensive player.”
Miller says Allen isn’t likely to wear anything more than a splint on his right pinky finger this week.
Miller said Ristic has a grade 1 lateral ankle sprain and x-rays were negative. He suffered the injury in the first half against Washington State and did not return in the second half. He then missed Saturday’s game at UW.
“Everybody that receives that injury takes it in differently,” Miller said. “That was one of the first times he’s dealt with it, so it knocked him back. But now that he’s here back in Tucson, he’ll do the rehab, and get a couple days behind him. From what I understand he’s moving forward as well and we’ll know more about him today, but we expect both guys to play on Thursday.”
Assuming Allen returns, I asked Miller if he would consider leaving Parker Jackson-Cartwright in the starting lineup (perhaps even alongside Allen) and this was his response:
“We have quite a few candidates to start right now because of our circumstances,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at both opponents that we play, we’re going to take a look at how practices go this week. A lot is made on who starts the game, but Kobi Simmons is a great example. Whether Kobi starts the game or not, I look at him as a starter. He’s started plenty of games this year. The fact that he’s not starting at the moment doesn’t mean he won’t start a game here in the near future.
“But it’s not as if anybody’s benched or anybody gets rewarded as much as we look at it from the perspective of what’s our best overall matchup to start in both halves.”
Jackson-Cartwright averaged 16.5 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 8-of-15 from the field and 7-of-10 from 3 in two starts against the Washington schools last week.
“His 3-point shooting has really returned back to form,” Miller said. “I’ve never really deviated in describing how well he shoots. I watch him everyday. I’ve never seen a shooter shoot the ball like he does daily in the spring, in the summer, in the fall and it not translate to the game.
“He got off to a bad start this season and then getting hurt, it avalanched on him. Right now he’s shooting really, really well.”
Jackson-Cartwright has made 12 of his last 19 3s, upping his 3-point percentage to 35.4 on the season.
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