To headband or not to headband, that is the question?
Yes, it’s a question after Kerr Kriisa had a triple double on Friday night in Arizona’s 95-78 win over Southern at McKale Center.
The headband, a staple of his playing attire the last couple of years, was back after he chose not to wear it earlier in the week in a win over Nicholls.
The headband proved to be good for Kerr, who picked up his second triple double in his career and the 11th of Arizona’s program.
“I like triple-double Kerr, whatever that looks like,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said.
Friday, he wore it well. He finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in 30 minutes. It was his night among a number of nice nights from his teammates. Three players – Azuolas Tubelis, Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson – each had 17 points.
But it was Kriisa who was the star of the Friday night special.
“I feel I was proud of myself,” Kriisa said when he realized he picked up his second triple double. “But I’ve told you before I never play for stats … But triple doubles are something special especially in college.”
Last season Kriisa had one against Utah.
Back to the headband. It sure looked good on him – or maybe it was the stats that made the headband look good. He did say not to “dig too deep into” the headband thing, but “now I guess I must wear it.”
Then he gave the reason why he didn’t on Monday in the win against Nicholls.
“The reason I didn’t really wear a headband last game was because I felt like I’d been practicing pretty good without it in practices,” he said. “And you just tried it out, you know? But apparently, I got I got really, really bad comments and bad messages (from the public). And then I was like, Oh, damn, like, you know, I’m still trying to live so I guess I had to pull my headband back out.”
Seemingly Friday night’s game would lend to Kriisa’s chaotic game where you never know what to expect. Southern brought it exactly like that, pressing full court. Poking the bear (Wildcats) from time to time (more later) and making things a bit tough by being physical. Lloyd said part of Kerr’s good play is because he’s “making good decisions.”
“We give a lot of credit to Southern,” he said. “They played hard. They didn’t have self-pride and hooped. They pressed us the whole 40 minutes.”
And Arizona benefitted from it. Arizona attacked early in the middle before waning later in the game.
Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd liked it all, well, except for the later in the game part.
He’ll address that in the coming practices.
“It’s kind of an eye opener for some of our guys especially some of our young guys,” Lloyd said. “They need to understand these games you don’t take for granted. You’re not in high school anymore. You’re not playing AAU basketball. You’re playing all Division One players who are good players and they’re hungry and they have pride. So, you know, obviously I was disappointed with how our younger group finished and you know, there’s going to be some great lessons learned from that, and we have standards in this program. And with effort and intelligence and they didn’t meet them.”
The game was clearly not as close as the score indicated. UA was close to blowing out Southern until the final five minutes where the game got to within the final outcome.
Still, Arizona was good for about 35 minutes, with Kriisa being the star.
How good is Kriisa when you get this kind of Kerr every night?
“I think Kerr is good every day,” Lloyd said. “I really do. Nobody’s gonna get a triple double every night. And Kerr is just a good basketball. player. He’s just got such a high IQ and he’s got a great motor and he’s competitive. You can coach him on a cerebral level where he understands what’s going on and he he’ll look at you and he’ll nod and for the most part he’ll go out and do it.
“Kerr’s biggest strength is his confidence and he’s not scared. There’s some times he’ll do some risky plays, and he probably knows that (and think) Coach probably isn’t gonna love this, but he’s still not afraid, which is important.”
Kriisa said he never knows when he’ll play well. Friday all day was no different.
“I want it to happen at every game,” Kerr said. “Obviously, you want to give the best that you can give every game and you want your team to win first and foremost. So that’s the most important thing. I don’t mind having a bad game because I know it’s a game of basketball and game of up and downs so it’s not that I want those games, but it happens. I wish I could play every game like this, but it’s sports.”