Kerr Kriisa is now expected to debut sooner than originally expected.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said Wednesday that he expects the freshman to be available on Feb. 4 at Utah, two days earlier than Kriisa’s original debut date—Feb. 6 at Colorado.
The change likely has to do with the fact that the NCAA is requiring Kriisa to sit out a certain number or percentage of games and the rematch vs. ASU being moved up from March to January changed the calculus.
The Wildcats need Kriisa’s shooting, scoring and ball-handling more than ever now that starting two-guard Jemarl Baker Jr. is out for the season with a broken wrist and starting small forward Bennedict Mathurin is nursing a sprained ankle.
Kriisa recently suffered a concussion and broken nose in practice that sidelined him for a couple of weeks, but Miller said he is full go now.
In other good news, it appears Mathurin dodged a bullet, as Miller said his ankle sprain is of the Grade 1 variety, the least severe. However, it is unclear if he will play in Thursday’s game vs. Stanford, or what kind of role he will have if he does. Mathurin has not practiced since suffering the injury Monday vs. ASU.
It’s possible he will come off the bench and Dalen Terry will start in his place. If Mathurin is unavailable altogether, Miller said the Wildcats may have to call on Tibet Görener or even walk-on Matthew Weyand when Terry, James Akinjo and Terrell Brown Jr. need a breather.
That or power forward Azuolas Tubelis could slide over to the 3, which might make the most sense against a big Stanford team.
“The hardest part is it’s a quick turnaround,” Miller said of Mathurin. “It happened in a game on Monday night and now here we are preparing for a game on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon. So, in fairness to whoever would would get that injury, it’s very difficult, and this is the first time that Benn has experienced this. So I think at first it just kind of scares you. You don’t really know where you’re going to go from here but I believe that every day that goes by moving forward, which includes from today to tomorrow, he’s going to make significant progress just because it’s a soft tissue injury and it’s not as significant as it could have been.
“We’re just right now letting him rest, rehab and just really allowing him to kind of watch our game plan and be a part of everything we’re doing to prepare for the game. But right now it makes no sense to put him out there and make him go.”