The door to dressing room 7 opened at the T-Mobile Arena on Thursday afternoon, and Arizona’s hopes of winning the national championship were confined to a wheelchair.
Point guard Kerr Krisa, 29-3 was the Wild Cats’ fast and furious crime engine, passenger. He was being pushed by student manager Anderson Mort. Chrissa’s right foot was tied in a black shoe and covered with a Gatorade towel. The 21-year-old Estonian was still wearing his number 25 white uniform and white headband.
Chris was seen face-to-face with someone while Mort was navigating the hallway outside the arena. Pressing through a door, they headed out of Las Vegas in the windy, sunny afternoon and onto a nearby team bus.
Putting a wheelchair on the side of the bus, Mort became a photographer from a pilot. He put down Chris’s pink Nike low-cut sneakers and his duffel bag and snapped an instant photo of Chris giving two thumbs up, with principal student manager Luke Handley also sticking his thumb in the air. Chris posted the photo on Twitter with the caption, “Look, we all win. Bear with Go cat. ”
Mort and Handley then helped Chris get out of his chair and onto the steps of the bus, without the guard putting weight on his right foot. He went and sat in the first seat behind the driver. After a quick phone consultation, Arizona was allowed to keep the wheelchair for a while and loaded it into the luggage compartment.
The big question is how long it will take Crisa to use a wheelchair, crutches, or walking shoes or anything.
Basketball players jump in and out countless times during the season, a routine action that always carries an underlying risk. A bad landing in March could change the team’s fortunes – ask Cincinnati in 2000, when Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the conference tournament and dashed the No. 1 Bearcats’ hopes of winning. We’ll see if the Arizona season gets a similar twist.
With 32 seconds left in the quarterfinals of the Arizona Pac-12 Championship, Chrisa stepped in, with the Wildcats taking the air out of the thrilling 84-80 win. Chris hit Hardwood in pain, his body in an awkward position, as Arizona medical staff approached him. After getting help from above, he stepped out of the floor area without putting weight on his right foot.
Shortly after the game, Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd described the injury as “an ankle of any kind.” I have no idea its intensity. “At the very least, it would be highly suspicious for Chris to play in the Pac-12 semifinals on Friday night and maybe not in Saturday night’s potential championship game.”
The big question, of course, is next week. Will the man leading the Wildcats in assists (4.9) and three-pointers (78) be ready for the NCAA Championship? And if he plays, will he be 100%?
Kerr Crisa, 25, of Arizona, playing in the second half of the NCAA College basketball game against Stanford in the semifinals of the Pack-12 tournament on Thursday, March 10, 2022 in Las Vegas.
Arizona has enough talent to beat the No. 16 seed without Chris. After that, it will be difficult. According to Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, the Wildcats are the fourth-fastest team in the country in offensive tempo, and each field leads the nation in scoring goals. Both these qualities start from agriculture. He had posted a triple-double against Utah last month. It has only one turnover in March.
He is good. And valuable.
“Kerr is a lot for the team,” said lead scorer Ben Mathurin. “He is a starting point guard and he has a great impact on the team. And we play well when he’s here. Whatever happens will happen, but we hope it will return soon because we need it. ”
In his spare time, Arizona is one of only eight or 12 teams to have a legal chance to win a national championship – and to be honest, the Wildcats are very close to that list. But removing an important piece at this stage will put a lot of stress on the young team, which lacks post-season experience.
This is one of the reasons why the Pac-12 tournament is so valuable to Arizona — so some of its players have the experience of playing tournament basketball as collegians. But if Chris had come out (or compromised) for the Big Dance, that experience wouldn’t be worth it.
If need be, the Wildcats have a sixth-year player who can play a point in Justin Kierkegaard. Before matriculating in Arizona this season, he spent four seasons at George Mason and one season at Georgia, where he was a productive member of the eight-man rotation. Kir is an inside-the-arc player from Chrissa, who has attempted just six two-point shots in the last nine games. If needed after Kier, Dalen Terry and Pelle Larsson might even give Lloyd a few minutes on the point guard.
For Arizona fans, this unexpected joy ride of the season is now full of worries. It’s been 25 years since the Wildcats’ only and only national championship, and it’s been 21 years since their last four. Some of it is caused by drought.
The program has been under the watchful eye of the FBI and NCAA enforcement for more than four years after being embroiled in a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. Former assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in prison for his role. Former head coach Sean Miller was fired last year.
It was the season to get out of the tunnel of this period. Under the leadership of first-year coach Lloyd, who brought with him the winning formula as an assistant at Gonzaga for two decades, Arizona came under discussion again. Lloyd inherited a lot of talent, with many of them exotic and quickly maximizing. Mathurin boiled into a star and probably a high draft pick. 7’1 ”Christian Koloko dropped a career-high 24 points over Stanford. Fellow big man Ąžuolas Tubelis can go for any night 20.
On paper and in person, Arizona appears to be part of a national championship contestant. Wildmats have size, athletes, shooters, defenders and enough room.