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Game day from the desert

COUGARS

FROM TUCSON — Or at least we will be in Tucson, eventually. Making the drive from Phoenix in a bit. While I'm behind the wheel, you can pull up to your computer monitor and read the links we've provided for you, plus a conversation with Faisal Aden.


In Thursday's paper, there's a lead note in this story about Faisal Aden and the apparent evolution of his offensive game. We'll see if he continues to play as aggressively in an unfamiliar, hostile environment today at the McKale Center. See below for the transcript of a brief conversation we had with Aden earlier this week. … We have a short preview box taking a look at the upcoming weekend. … Want to read what Texas Tech wrote back to Mike Leach's lawyer in response to Leach's request for a settlement? The Fox affiliate in Lubbock obtained a copy of it. The gist: the school is still maintaining that Leach mistreated Adam James, something the coach vehemently disputes. … Speaking of James, Leach's lawyer, Stephen Heninger, appeared on the Paul Finebaum show on Wednesday and said that James' father, Craig, used to call Texas Tech coaches during games to, um, suggest that they play his son more. … Paul Silvi caught up with Bill Moos at last night's Sports Star of the Year Awards, and you can watch that interview here. … It's an Insider story, but receiver recruit Kenny Lawler recapped his WSU visit to ESPN. … Here's a link to Arizona's season stats.

Here's a rundown of today's games. All times Pacific …

Washington at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m. (FSAZ/Root)

Colorado at USC, 7:30 p.m.

Utah at UCLA, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket)

Washington State at Arizona, 7:30 p.m. (FSN/Root)

Around the Pac-12: Keep this story in mind if the Cougs and 'Cats find themselves in a tight one on Thursday. Arizona is also getting some cool new uniforms — on second thought, maybe just new — but won't be wearing them today. … Interesting story here about the way Utah's coach charts his team's defense. … USC is terrible, and one of its players is having to adjust to losing. … Josh Smith needs to play better for the Bruins to win. … Colorado hasn't won a Pac-12 road game yet, but something tells me playing at USC may be a nice cure for that. Speaking of the Buffs, a Colorado football recruit learned a tough lesson about what not to say (over, and over, and over again) on Twitter. … Sensing a theme here: Washington is trying to turn around its road fortunes at struggling Arizona State. Jerry Brewer says the Huskies are learning to win a different way. … Missed this yesterday, but Herb Sendek wants the Sun Devils to defend better. ASU is making progress in football recruiting. … Cal forward Richard Solomon is academically ineligible, but coach Mike Montgomery says there's a chance he could return next season.

As promised, here's a quick interview with Faisal Aden …

(On winning national player of the week) “It’s an honor to be national player of the week, that’s just crazy. It just shows hard work pays off, people see my talent and the most important part  is winning. I don’t think without us winning any of that personal stuff matters. Especially against a top team like that, as long as we win, individual stuff will come. That’s all that really matters.”

(On what sparked the change in his approach) “I don’t want to just limit myself. I don’t want to limit myself. I want to show that I have more to my game than just shooting. I think I’m a pretty good all around player. It wouldn’t be fair to me or my teammates to just limit myself to 3-pointers and be one-dimensional. Really, I was just being aggressive, desperate to win games and desperate to prove people wrong.”

(On why it took until now) “I was injured. You can’t get to the hole if you’re worried about injuries, you’re worried about your knees, it’s hard to show your full arsenal. Now that I’m healthy I can pretty much do whatever I want on the court.”

(On the effect of his concussion) “The concussion just blurred me. I wasn’t myself. … I couldn’t see, my vision was blurred, I wasn’t myself.”

“I play like this when I’m having fun, when I’m really angry and trying to win. It helps our team more. If I'm not scoring, I’m getting to the line, which is efficient. Layup, get to the line or shoot jumpers and hope it goes in.”

(What gets you angry?) “Just proving people wrong, man. I know what I can do and I know what I’m capable of and I’ve got to stop talking about it and just do it. That’s really all there is to it. Just all the negativity, all that is motivation. That  really motivated me and woke me up.”

(Do you hear what the fans are saying?) “It’s hard not to. I know I was injured, I never really cared for it, I never really cared. It never really bothered me much because I knew all I needed was the minutes and all I needed was to be healthy, but it did help.”

(Do you mind coming off the bench?) “I’m just eager to play, I’m just eager to go. I look at the scoreboard and think man, it’s time for me to go in the game now. So, whatever. I know that once I get out there, I know I’m one of the best players on the floor, so I'm just eager to help my team win. I know I’m better than most guys, so it’s just a matter of come on coach, put me in the game now.”

We'll be back with a pregame post from the McKale Center. Until then …

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple


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