Pastner's notebook: Men's hoops mourns Polk's death

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In this edition of Pastner's Notebook, Arizona men's basketball assistant coach Josh Pastner talks about the death of Shawntinice Polk, Chris Rodgers' injury and McKale Madness.

Wildcat: Is there any way you can put Monday's tragic loss of "Polkey" into words?

Pastner: I don't think you can put a horrible event like (Monday) into words because it was just an extremely tough day for everyone involved. Polkey was such a beautiful, beautiful young lady. I'm talking attitudewise, personalitywise, how she treated other human beings. It's a sad loss for this earth but a big gain for heaven, and we can all know she's in a better place right now. I think it's going to take time for everybody involved to grieve and mourn her loss.

Wildcat: Polk was great friends with a lot of the players on the men's basketball team, and they all loved her very much. How are they holding up right now?

Pastner: It's hard for them, especially a guy like (senior forward) Hassan (Adams), who was so close to her, and (sophomore guard) Jawann (McClellan) and (junior guard) Mustafa (Shakur). All those guys were really close. It's going to be tough, and you're not going to get over it any time soon. It's just a situation where we need to be there for them and give them as much comfort as possible.

Wildcat: Switching gears to basketball, how frustrating is it to lose (senior guard) Chris Rodgers to a knee injury for the next four to eight weeks, after he was playing so well early in the team's workouts and pickup games?

Pastner: He won't be missing practice because he will be back for the start of (official) practice. We're expecting him to (be there). We have great trainers and the world's best in Justin Kokoskie. We're expecting a quick recovery with him and we're expecting him to be back at the start of practice on October 15.

Wildcat: Whom are you looking for to step up in his absence?

Pastner: That's the reason you have bench depth - if you do have an unfortunate situation and have an injury, then someone else is going to step up. ... With the injury, (Rodgers) won't be missing any (regular-season) games, so it's not that type of situation.

Wildcat: The start of official practices, which was formerly known as Midnight Madness, has been moved up three hours and will now be known as McKale Madness. Is that a good thing?

Pastner: I think it's actually a good thing because it brings the family and little kids, and they can be involved in the activities. Plus, the 9 p.m. start, it eliminates people having to drive home that late on a Friday night when sometimes there could be danger driving after midnight. Any time when there are drunk drivers on the road or stuff like that, you want to be careful and avoid driving home after midnight. I think it's good for everyone involved.