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Basketball notes: Contract dispute keeps Team Georgia as foe

Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman forward Fendi Onobun takes a shot during the second half of Arizona’s win over Sonoma State on Thursday in McKale Center. Onobun has until Monday to decide whether he wants to sit out the 2005-06 season as a redshirt.
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
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Until recently, most season schedules for the Arizona men’s basketball team had the Wildcats playing the University of Alberta in tonight’s exhibition game in McKale Center, but that will not be the case.

Because of a four-year contractual obligation, Arizona will face Team Georgia for the second straight season after winning 110-78 in exhibition play last year.

The NCAA has banned college teams from playing Amateur Athletic Union teams, but Arizona signed the contract before the rule was in place.

Despite trying to get out of the contract, Arizona administrative officials and the NCAA told the Wildcat coaching staff the team would have to compete if it didn’t want to face legal sanctions, and Team Georgia insisted on playing the game, said Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough.

Rosborough, who is in charge of team scheduling, said he was confident that Arizona would be able to get out of the next two years of the contract by playing tonight’s game.

Tangara to compete against mentor

For redshirt freshman center Mohamed Tangara, playing Team Georgia will mean seeing his legal guardian.

Linzy Davis, a member of Team Georgia, helped Tangara come to the U.S. to play high school basketball.

“He helped me get out here and helped to develop my game,” Tangara said.

Tangara said he spent his summers with Davis after living in a dormitory during his junior and senior years at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina and played for the Georgia Elite squad Davis coached.

Tangara said he and Davis still speak two or three days a week.

“He tells me to stay focused and to keep working hard,” Tangara said.

Davis has also coached sophomore guard Jawann McClellan — on the USA Junior National Team — as well as 2007 Arizona recruit Nic Wise.

Olson still undecided about redshirt players

With sophomore guard Jesus Verdejo already sitting out the season as a redshirt, Arizona head coach Lute Olson is faced with the tough decision to possibly redshirt another player.

Olson said freshman forward Fendi Onobun is third among the team’s first-year players in terms of productivity, and rumors have circulated about the status of the Houston native for 2005-06.

Olson said Onobun had the best week of practice he’s had all year, making the decision that much tougher.

Ultimately, the decision will be put in the hands of Onobun and his family, as Olson will only comment on Onobun’s status.

“I’d say with the progress he’s making now, it’s less likely than it was before,” Olson said.

Olson said Onobun has great hands and a rock-hard body but is still adjusting to the college game.

“He’s very athletic and he has a lot to learn,” Olson said. “His biggest problem is that he’s so conscientious. He worries about everything. You can’t play this game if you’re worried about what just happened.”

Onobun said he hasn’t thought too much about his status for this year, and that he’s just trying to practice hard every day.

“I know that maybe I won’t be promised 15, 20, 30 minutes a game, but I’m going to work my butt off in practice and try to earn my minutes and try to get better as the year progresses,” he said.

He added that the older guys on the team have helped him develop and offered words of advice and encouragement daily.

“I look at this as me being a sponge and wanting to grasp everything I can,” Onobun said. “I’m using it to my advantage so that I can be a better player. I just work hard and try to stay confident.”

Onobun must make his decision before the team’s first regular-season game against Kansas on Monday.

“If I feel like I need more time to be able to compete and to be able to contribute, and if I feel that I won’t be able to do that this year, then maybe some redshirt factors will come into mind,” he said.

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