Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.24.12 EditionPosted by AMurawa on January 24th, 2012
- ESPN’s GameDay is on its way to the McKale Center on Saturday for the first time ever to whoop the home crowd into a frenzy in advance of the Washington/Arizona matchup Saturday evening. But of more importance to Wildcat fans is how, or if, this team currently stuck at sixth place in the conference can turn things around. However, with three losses already, including a missed opportunity this weekend against Colorado, and arguably the two toughest road trips (to the Bay Area and to Washington) remaining on the schedule, maybe it is time for UA fans to back off the expectations of an NCAA Tournament trip that had until recently seemed to be their birthright.
- Utah got its second win of the conference season this weekend, knocking off Arizona State on Saturday, and in the wake of the dismissal of senior point guard Josh Watkins, this could be a perfect example of addition by subtraction. In booting Watkins, head coach Larry Krystkowiak loses his leading scorer and biggest offensive threat, but he also cleared minutes for some of the younger players on this squad around whom he’ll need to build future editions of the Utah basketball team. As an added bonus, he showed the rest of his players that there are negative consequences for bad behavior under his reign.
- Sticking in Salt Lake City, junior center Jason Washburn has earned a starting spot and the most minutes in his career with the Utes, but despite leading his team in scoring, rebounding, blocks, field goal percentage and free throw percentage, he is still inconsistent. Krystkowiak says he is prone to “disappear and not demand the ball” and that he doesn’t “run the floor consistently.” With Watkins gone, Krystkowiak needs the veteran to step up and become a team leader capable of providing a good example for his younger teammates.
- In an announcement that took exactly no one by surprise, Washington State’s Faisal Aden was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday, a sentiment we shared. But Aden wasn’t the only Cougar who lent a big hand in the WSU sweep of the Bay Area schools this weekend; senior guard Abe Lodwick knocked down a couple threes early in the second half to spark the Cougars, plus helped out off of the ball and can be an important complementary piece for Ken Bone’s club the rest of the way.
- Oregon and Oregon State will renew the basketball version of the Civil War rivalry on Sunday in their 336th all-time meeting, but in the interim, both teams have a chance to rest up and patch their bones a little bit. Both teams are coming off home sweeps of the Los Angeles area schools, and the Ducks in particular, are in good shape, tied atop the conference with California. The game will be held in Eugene at Matthew Knight Arena, where head coach Dana Altman says the crowd was “unbelievable” in helping to propel the Ducks to a big come-from-behind second half run to beat UCLA on Saturday.