Sean Miller Provides Little Clarity In Pinder, Phelps Suspensions
The Arizona men’s basketball season hit another bump in the road just hours before the team’s season opener against Northern Arizona University.
Arizona assistant coach Mark Phelps was suspended for five days without pay for a violation of the NCAA rules and forward Keanu Pinder was suspended for one game for also violating the NCAA rules.
It is not known if or possibly how the suspensions are related to one another, but there is a silver lining: neither suspension stemmed from the ongoing FBI investigation involving former Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson.
Following Arizona’s 101-67 win over NAU, head coach Sean Miller attempted to address the suspensions of Phelps and Pinder, but his comments did little to shed more light on the subject.
“I am aware that we released a statement prior to tonight’s tip-off, aware of what was said in the statement and the actions that were taken and support both,” Miller said.
When additional questions were directed at Miller about the suspension, he gave an eerily similar response to what he said about the FBI investigations a month ago.
“I’m gonna stand by that statement and I’m gonna move on to any basketball related question that you would like to ask,” Miller said.
Miller noted that Pinder will be available for Sunday’s game against UMBC and maybe other notable Wildcats too.
Shooting guard Dylan Smith is set to return after being suspended for three games for violating a team rule and shooting guard Brandon Randolph is working his way back from a concussion he suffered last Saturday in practice.
Miller said that Randolph is “almost symptom free” and is cleared for full-contact practice.
As a result of these suspensions and injuries, Arizona was without its expected level of depth, forcing several players to see the floor for long stretches at a time. All five Wildcat starters saw at least 25 minutes of action, and freshman point guard Alex Barcello saw 28 minutes off the bench.
“We had to play for each other and help each other,” senior center Dusan Ristic said.
It’s likely that Arizona will be able to spread those minutes out as soon as Sunday with Pinder, Randolph and Smith all expected back in the fold.
“We want depth, every coach wants depth, we want competition. And hopefully getting some of these guys back on Sunday will help us,” Miller said.
Follow Alec White on Twitter