Pac-10 Tourney Daily Diary – QuarterfinalsPosted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010
In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the Pac-10 Tournament. In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the quarterfinal games.
UCLA 75, Arizona 69
- I know that this is a horrific year for the Pac-10, but in terms of the historic caliber of these two programs and the fact that one of them is literally 10.1 miles away from this gym, it’s more than a little disappointing that the lower bowl of the Staples Center wasn’t even filled at tipoff. Seriously, any of the top eight teams has a shot at winning this event, and with it, the auto-bid. Bruins and Cats fans need to step up a little more.
- I’ve seen UCLA play live a handful of times this season, and I continue to be amazed at how unathletic this team is. How did that happen so quickly to a team that could boast top-drawer athleticism in the form of Arron Afflalo, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, etc.?
- Cool shirt of the day in the Arizona section… “The Streak Matters…” referencing UA’s 25-year streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances that is in dire jeopardy short of a Pac-10 championship this weekend. The guys say that they meet up from all over the country every year to watch the Pac-10 Tournament and have a blast together. The shirts are to make sure that head coach Sean Miller understands that it’s not a ‘new day’ just because he’s in Tucson now — apparently Miller had made some quotes near the start of the season that they found dismissive of their illustrious history. Interesting take from the Arizona fans there.
- I continue to have a decent-sized mancrush on freshman forward Derrick Williams for Arizona. 16/7 per game on 59% shooting; he’s rarely out of position, takes care of the ball, draws fouls like a mofo, and has tremendous hands. He could be one of their all-timers if he sticks around for 3-4 years.
- Nic Wise tweeted after the Arizona loss today… in a word: disappointment. That about sums it up for a senior losing in a tournament setting.
California 90, Oregon 74
- Jerome Randle is a really fun player to watch play this game. His bomb from 25 feet followed by a steal and a nifty reverse layup off the ball-around-the-back move was spectacular and happened directly in front of me. I’ve seen a lot of really good guards play this year, but few have the ability to regularly catch fire from all over the court like he does. Nice kid, too.
- It’s the Randle show in the first half here at the Staples Center. with 6:30 left, he already has 20 points, which puts him on a pace for a 70-pt afternoon. I don’t think I’ve seen a single shot of his touch the rim yet today. Backcourt mate Patrick Christopher has at least hit rim a little bit, but he’s also blowing up to a certain extent — 14 in the first half on 4-5 threes. When these two guys are on their game from outside, few teams in America can score with them. The problem is that good defenses can neutralize one or both of them for parts of the game. When that happens, the Bears are in trouble.
- The question I’ve had all year when watching Cal play is how far can a team that relies so abundantly on four perimeter-style players go into the postseason? It can be done, but it’s not easy. Villanova has proven that a four-guard set can work pretty well so long as your guards are willing to be tough inside and not give up anything easy. But what about Cal? I don’t find their perimeter attack nearly as strong as those Nova teams, nor do they defend anywhere near as well. Still, it’ll depend on the matchup, but I don’t think they can win more than one NCAA Tournament game, if that. They would need to play a team that mirrors themselves in terms of perimeter play; otherwise I think they’re likely one-and-done.
Stanford 70, Arizona State 61
- There aren’t many great players who have received less press than Stanford’s Landry Fields, but I’d wager that even 90% of people who identify as college basketball fans know who he is. The 6’7 senior really took it upon himself this year to lead his team, and his numbers exploded in the process. He went from a nice complementary 13/7 guy last season to a league-leading 22/9/3 assts/2 stls force while shooting 49% from the field. He’s basically the western version of Evan Turner, just not quite as good and with about 1% of the attention.
- When not in the game, Stanford guard Drew Shiller spent the majority of this one standing in the corner next to the Stanford cheerleaders and encouraging them to cheer. This seemed to be met with mild indifference for the most part. I’m guessing they probably know him pretty well at this point.
- Arizona State looks headed to the NIT but they’ve had a much better season than anyone probably expected. That’s the thing about Herb Sendek’s teams — they’re never great, but they’re always pretty good. Much like Bo Ryan, Jamie Dixon, Tubby Smith and several other coaches — they can fit just about anyone into their system and make it work reasonably well.
- You just never know. Stanford came into this game having lost three straight home games, including one to this very Arizona State Sun Devils team, 68-60. Who would have expected that a 13-17 team with little positive momentum would knock out a 23-9 team that had everything to play for? Expect to see ASU on one of the top two seed lines in the NIT next week. And how much is Washington loving life right about now? The Huskies crushed Stanford in both venues this season, although it should be noted later that Lorenzo Romar seemed worried.
Washington 59, Oregon State 52
- I’ve harped on this all year long, but has a major recruit done less this year than Washington’s Abdul Gaddy? The consensus #2 point guard after a guy named John Wall stunk up the court this season. He averaged a stellar 4/2 assts per game in nearly 20 minutes, while shooting 40% from the floor and an icy 11% from deep. So what does he continue to do? Fire up three-pointers. I’m not sure if he was just astronomically overrated or if something isn’t clicking with him on this team, but if you can’t get comfortable in a free-wheeling offense like Washington’s, where will you?
- Epic fail in terms of the Washington offense in the first half of this game. It seems that the Huskies really only have one way to score, and that’s transition off of turnovers and rebounds. You put the Huskies in a situation where they actually have to run an offensive set and you’re more likely to end up with a turnover than a basket. Occasionally a badly-taken three will drop, but it’s obvious they really aren’t sure what to do in those situations.
- The way Oregon State executes their offense fascinates me. They pass up a lot of shots in the halfcourt of which other teams would bench their players if they did likewise. I realize it’s Princeton-based, but there are a lot of wrinkles to it that I haven’t quite been able to figure out yet. What’s interesting is that even when the Beavers inevitably work the clock to the under-five second mark, they still typically get a decent shot up. Most teams have no idea what to do in that situation and instead throw up some ridiculous leaner or fadeaway that hardly ever goes in. The contrast with Washington is stark in how they select shots. It’s really the first half-decent one they can find, and the sooner the better.
- Nevertheless, it was a really nice comeback for Washington to put away Oregon State in this one. Many of the things I was getting on them for earlier in the game they were able to overcome with offensive rebounding and better defense. It really came down to a single spurt of about 18-2 in the mid-second half. Oregon State never could respond after that. Quincy Pondexter was a no-show in the first half, but he played much better in the second. He said after the game that he’s feeling considerably better now than he did earlier in the week.
- Noticed Gary Payton (former OSU superstar) in the house tonight. Tried to get a picture but didn’t work out. One of the all-time great defenders and trash-talkers in NBA history.