Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.04.12 EditionPosted by AMurawa on January 4th, 2012
- Washington is the talk of the Pac-12 this week, after having swept the Oregon schools in impressive fashion the opening weekend of conference play. And while Tony Wroten, C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross and Abdul Gaddy impressed offensively, the Huskies understand that it was their success on the defensive end that is most responsible for their 2-0 record. Wroten cited the Huskies loss to South Dakota State as the wake-up call they needed to get their act together on the defensive end.
- Ben Howland admitted on Tuesday that the only chance UCLA has of earning an NCAA Tournament bid is to win the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Sure, this isn’t exactly a newsflash to anybody who has paid attention to the Bruins’ struggles this season, but some UCLA fans see this as Howland already waving a white flag. Realistically, it is simply a rational, truthful assessment of where the Bruins stand right now and Howland knows that the remainder of the UCLA regular season schedule is aimed simply at getting his team ready to play its best basketball of the season over four days at the Staples Center in early March. Other Pac-12 coaches may not have admitted as much, but certainly Howland is not the only Pac-12 coach facing similar circumstances.
- UCLA’s next challenge comes Thursday in a homecoming for Arizona’s Solomon Hill, when the Wildcats face the Bruins in Anaheim as part of the Wooden Classic. Hill, who graduated from Fairfax High School (not exactly all that close to the Honda Center, where the game will be played), has struggled with the pressure of road games against his hometown schools in years past (just 14 points and 15 rebounds in 94 minutes in his four road games against the Southern California schools the past two years), but he’s playing his best ball of his career now and is a catalyst for Sean Miller’s team.
- Anybody who has watched Utah play this season knows that Larry Krystkowiak needs new talent on that squad – and fast; what you may not have realized was just how quickly he needs the talent. With several Utes out with a variety of injuries, the team has been forced to use assistant coaches in their practices just so they can have enough bodies to go five-on-five. So, as a result, Krystkowiak is considering holding open tryouts among the student body to find some warm bodies with which to practice. And considering the depths to which this proud program has sunk, it is not out of the question that somebody could find themselves suiting up from that pool for a Pac-12 game in the near future.
- Lastly, some sad news, as former UCLA head coach Gene Bartow passed away at the age of 81 on Tuesday following a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Bartow took over for the legendary John Wooden at UCLA in 1975, went 52-9 in two seasons in Westwood including a trip to a Final Four, before leaving to begin the athletic program at UAB. Bartow was not only the athletic director at UAB but also the basketball coach for the Blazers for 18 years, racking up 340 wins and nine NCAA Tournament appearances there (including seven straight trips and a run to the Elite Eight in 1982). He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and as of today, Bartow is 48th on the list of the all-time winningest college basketball coaches, with a career record of 647-353. Bartow’s son Murry succeeded his dad at UAB and is now the head coach at East Tennessee State. Our condolences go out to the entire Bartow family.