Arizona Basketball

Arizona’s Pinder just wanted to make an impact — and he has

Almost 10 months to the day, Keanu Pinder tweeted: “I can’t wait to get started.”

No wonder. Deep down he knew he’d have an impact on the Arizona basketball program. It may have taken awhile but he’s having a big one now, playing 12 minutes a game and coming off stretches of plays where he’s had huge impact plays.

Some have had more of an impact than others.

But, for a reserve who plays about 13 minutes a game, he’s done well for himself since arriving in Tucson almost a year ago.

The Australian native – via Hutchinson Junior College – is glad he “gave it a burl” which is Australian slang for “have a go” at it.

“At first it was pretty tough,” he said last week at the first and second round of the NCAA tournament. “I had to get used to weight lifting and all this stuff. The way the team was run is way different than how it was at the juco and how (the coach) ran the team.

“It was tough to adjust. It’s crazy because I never expected it to be like that.”

How much he plays on Thursday in Arizona’s meeting with Xavier is anyone’s guess, but it’s likely he’ll get in at some point.

He’s come a long way from riding the bench to being a key role player to two weeks ago finding a spot in the starting lineup (if only for strategy purposes). Still, it was early on when Sean Miller said Pinder would have a significant role on the team and that he wouldn’t redshirt.

“It’s been good, a bit rough at times but it always turns out for the best,” said Pinder, a 6-foot-8 forward.

Rough? Well, he, like every other player in a uniform, wanted to play. And when he played he wished he’d play more.

“It was tough,” he said.

Then again – he had to be reminded – he is on one of the best teams in the country.

“I knew that, but I felt I could definitely contribute to the team,” he said.

“Now, I feel great to be given the opportunity to help us win,” he said. “If I was sitting the bench I wouldn’t feel too well. But now that I’ve been given the opportunity I feel good about it.”

Back home, they are watching and proud of their native son.

“They’ve been supportive and social media they are always posting positive things about me and I love it,” he said.

“And I appreciate it.”

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