Pastner's notebook: Of walk-ons and weeks off

By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

In this edition of Pastner's Notebook, Arizona men's basketball assistant coach Josh Pastner talks about going back to Houston, the Wildcats' poor shooting this season and the emergence of walk-on Bret Brielmaier.

Wildcat: What was the highlight of team's trip last week to Hawaii for the EA Sports Maui Invitational?

Pastner: I think the highlight was obviously a great win versus Kansas, but I should say the highlight of the trip was the take-off and landing of the plane, safely, that's most important. Secondly, our win versus Kansas, and thirdly, the opportunity to beat both Connecticut and Michigan State, which we had a great opportunities to. And those two are two of the best teams in the country. If we had hit some free throws and done some other things, we could have come away with a victory, which is promising (because) they played great. We needed some things to work on, but we hung in there really tough and obviously, we have a chance to be really good this year.

Wildcat: Any off-court highlights?

Pastner: That was a business trip for us. We weren't there for vacation. Obviously, Maui is a beautiful spot, but we were there to win games and to get better as a team.

Wildcat: On Saturday, you play Houston and get a chance to go back to your hometown. What will that be like for you?

Pastner: I'm excited to see my family and friends. It's going to be great, but again, we're there to win the game, and the University of Houston wants to beat Arizona, and Arizona wants to beat the University of Houston. ... It's going to be a great game. It's a game where we need to take care of business, and it's a game they're ready to play. It's a sell-out crowd, and it's going to be a great atmosphere.

Wildcat: Are you concerned about the team's poor shooting early in the season?

Pastner: No, we're not concerned. There's some things we need to work on, but it's going to come once we get the rhythm of the offense and keep adjusting to each other's playing ability. We're going to be just fine and the shots will fall. We just have to make sure we don't live and die by the 3-point shot, and that we go inside-out.

Wildcat: What was the key to the 29-1 run Sunday against Virginia?

Pastner: Defense and rebounding, and we did it. We defended like crazy and we rebounded really well.

Wildcat: Junior forward Ivan Radenovic wasn't at the game. How is he doing?

Pastner: He didn't practice (yesterday). He just shot around (yesterday). We will have the day off (today), and (he'll) be back at full speed on Wednesday. It was a 24-hour flu bug.

Wildcat: Sophomore forward and walk-on Bret Brielmaier has been a pleasant surprise, starting a couple of games already. Did you ever envision him contributing this much?

Pastner: We knew that he would be a good player because he worked so hard. I think he surprised everybody because he comes in and wasn't recruited as a student-athlete in terms of all the big schools, but he's come in and does a great job. He's got great heart and great desire. He worked his butt off in the offseason. He is a great addition for us, and we're very fortunate and lucky to have him.

Wildcat: How has he become successful?

Pastner: He just plays hard. He has a very high basketball IQ. He knows how to play, he's smart, intelligent, and you know you're going to get 100 percent from him every second that he's on the floor.

Wildcat: Does this week off from games come at a good time?

Pastner: I think it comes at a great time, because it gives the guys a chance to get back into the classroom setting, which is most important because they are students before they are athletes. It gives us a chance to have some good practice time to work on some things that we need to work on, and it gives a chance for us coaches to maybe sneak out for a day or two to go recruiting to see some young prospects.