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December 15, 2006Arizona senior center Kirk Walters just can't catch a break. Walters, who has played a total of three minutes this season, missed most of the pre-season practices while recovering from a concussion and didn't play for six games because of a bout of mononucleosis.
This past Saturday against San Diego State, Walters saw his first action since the first game of the season, playing the last minute of the first half. While it looked like the coaches would begin working Walters into the lineup, it now appears as if he'll have to continue to wait on the bench.
"Kirk's position is still very much up in the air," UA head coach Lute Olson said during Thursday's press conference. "He was feeling tired yesterday and it's a situation where the doctor and Justin Kokoskie, our trainer, have to just go on the basis of how he feels. It's not a case of us being able to push him if he's feeling tired."
Walters began practicing again last week and supposedly was making progress recovering from his illness. However, mononucleosis can cause serious fatigue for any number of weeks or even months, meaning that there's no telling when Walters will be back to full strength.
At this point, the coaches are taking things day to day.
"I don't think anyone can predict when he'll be ready to go," Olson said. "I thought at times a couple days last week he looked really fresh but of course that was in half court stuff. Then we had Sunday off and Tuesday off and yet yesterday he felt really tired.
"I haven't talked to Justin as to whether they've given him any more blood tests at this point. We have to go the way we've been going right now and if Kirk gets back that's a plus but I don't think it's anything that we can sit around and wait on."
If there is any good news about Walters' continued absence it's that Olson says he's going to make an effort to get some of the post players on the bench more playing time.
"If we can do it this week, we'd like to get a better look at a couple of other people including Jordan Hill, Fendi (Onobun) and Mohamed (Tangara). We'll just have to see how things go
"We'll have to see what happens the next couple days but really what I'd like to do is probably get a little bit longer look at Jordan. Jordan's been playing with a lot more confidence in practice and Fendi's been playing with a lot more confidence so with Mohamed and those two guys, I would expect that we'll try and look at minutes out of them more so, unless there's a big change over the next couple of days with Kirk."
From the sounds of things, however, a change isn't expected.
"I would not expect him to play on Sunday," Olson says.