PALO ALTO, Calif. — With an extra day to hang out in the Bay Area, the Arizona Wildcats have found the perfect place to call home.
Before facing Cal on Sunday at the Haas Pavilion, a game in which forward Azuolas Tubelis is questionable with a sprained ankle, the Wildcats first traveled by bus to Oakland to practice at the former center. Golden State Warriors practice.
Then they crossed the Bay Bridge to watch the Warriors win over the Houston Rockets in San Francisco on Friday night.
That meant they swam all day in Arizona Wildcat blood, with buzzer beater Steph Curry leading the way.
UA coach Tommy Lloyd said his players not only had the chance to meet Warriors coach Steve Kerr, but also the whole host of ex-Wildcats hanging out at Chase Center these days: assistant coach Bruce Fraser, analyst Tom Tolbert and Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, all of whom played for UA during the Lute Olson era.
With the Warriors between games on Saturday, Iguodala was also scheduled to attend Wildcats Saturday afternoon practice in Cal as well.
“We had the time and a great opportunity to go see the Warriors play and obviously the Warriors have a real Wildcat tradition in their program,” Lloyd said. “The guys got to visit Steve Kerr and his team, (along with) Bruce Fraser, and then Tom Tolbert came and hung out. André came to see the guys before the match and will come to our training (Saturday).
Lloyd had said before the Wildcats beat Stanford 85-57 on Thursday that they would have more ‘options’ for the weekend if they beat the Cardinal, but he said on Saturday it was actually more to take advantage of the opportunity to get the guys. get out of the hotel to do something fun.
“You have time to kill and they are young guys,” Lloyd said. “They don’t have to be sitting in their hotel room 24 hours a day. And for a lot of guys it was the first NBA game they went to, so I think they really enjoyed the experience.
The Wildcats liked him so much, in fact, that one of them decided to stay. Kind of.
Personality-filled point guard Kerr Kriisa, named after the Warriors coach, posted a “farewell” message on his Instagram Story. He did so with a photo of himself in a UA tracksuit standing outside the 3-point line at the Warriors training ground, with murals of Warriors greats Wilt Chamberlain, Alvin Attles and Chris Mullin behind him, which accompanied the following message:
“@warriors: grateful for believing in me and happy to sign a 10 day contract!” Kriisa posted.
The Arizona Basketball Managers Twitter account played along, reposting Kerr’s story while noting that they were “happy to see a good boy achieve his dreams.”
When asked on Saturday if he had seen Kriisa’s message about the NBA’s 10-day contract, Lloyd smiled.
“I don’t know,” Lloyd said. “Based on the fact that he missed that last game, I don’t know.”
Lloyd was joking as much as Kriisa, but he clearly wasn’t mad that Kriisa had to sit out the UA-Utah game on Jan. 15, when Lloyd said Kerr sat out with an injury he suffered. during a horse game with his teammates.
Kerr returned to Stanford on Thursday, scoring seven points and registering seven assists in 31 minutes. The Wildcats lost Tubelis at the same time; it’s still unclear if Tubelis will return to Cal on Sunday.
Lloyd said Tubelis was staying “day to day” but said he was not told Tubelis had suffered a sprained ankle or anything that would keep him out for an extended period. That leaves open the possibility that Tubelis will at least be available Tuesday when the Wildcats play UCLA.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Lloyd said Saturday as the Wildcats packed their team bus for the move to an East Bay hotel. “He’s up and moving and he’s feeling better but I don’t know what that means for tomorrow yet.”
Meanwhile, Tubelis’ brother, Tautvilas, is not on the Wildcats trip after suffering a blow to the head in practice, Lloyd said.
But the Wildcats should have everyone available for Cal except reserve forward Kim Aiken, who has been missing since Dec. 8, while backup center Oumar Ballo has shown himself capable of big minutes. backup at Stanford.
The Wildcats will face a Cal team that is 9-9 so far but has lost four straight, having been limited by injuries and COVID-19 issues.
But the Golden Bears will have an advantage at rest. Because their game this weekend with ASU has already been rescheduled for Jan. 2, Cal has had the entire week off to prepare for Arizona.
It’s “probably not good, when you have a team sitting at home, rested and we’re on the road for a long time,” Lloyd said. “But that’s the way it is. I don’t think there’s any bad intention there. That’s how things are.
Plus, the Wildcats found a good way to spend some of that extra time on the road. They spent it as a family.
Contact sportswriter Bruce Pascoe at 573-4146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brucepascoe