Pac-12 M5: 10.10.12 Edition
Posted by AMurawa on October 10th, 2012
- It’s that time of year where various pundits and prognosticators are breaking out their predictions for what is going to happen this season. We’ll do it ourselves here at RTC in the coming weeks, but on Monday the guys at CBS unveiled a ton of predictions, including conference winners, Final Four teams (including the eventual champion), players, coaches, and freshmen of the year, and the top 100 players in America. Arizona fans are most in love with Doug Gottlieb’s picks at this point, as the newest member of the CBS college hoops crew not only picked the Wildcats to win the conference and advance to the Final Four, but to win the whole thing. Along the way, Gottlieb tabs Sean Miller as the coach of the year and Brandon Ashley as the freshman of the year. Of the five experts polled, three picked Arizona to win the conference, with the remaining two choosing UCLA, reaffirming what has been the consensus since April – it’s likely going to be a two-team race at the top of the conference.
- Meanwhile, Rob Dauster of NBC Sports is definitely not in the UCLA camp this season. In unveiling his preseason top 25, the Bruins checked in at #25, possibly the lowest spot you’ll see them ranked prior to the season tip-off. His reasoning? Shabazz Muhammad hasn’t yet been cleared, Joshua Smith is still in poor condition and the situation at the point is still muddy – sound points all. Until we get word on Muhammad’s status and until we get a chance to see this team on the court a few times, the Bruins will remain one of the most controversial teams out there. The mere fact that there is such a wide range of potential extremes for the Bruins – this is a team that could be a Final Four team if things go well, or a underachieving mess if key questions fail to get answered sufficiently – will keep the spotlight squarely on the team from Westwood.
- Athlon Sports, however, sort of splits the difference on Arizona and UCLA. In unveiling its top 20, the Wildcats and the Bruins are the lone Pac-12 entries, with the Bruins checking in at #12 and the Wildcats at #7. For Sean Miller’s team, Athlon sees Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill as more or less givens, with the development of the ‘Cats four frontcourt underclassmen – sophomore Angelo Chol and freshmen Kaleb Tarzewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett – ultimately determining just how far the team can go. On the other side, Athlon sees the same questions marks for UCLA as Dauster does, they just have a slightly sunnier outlook for the Bruins. We’ll continue to check in with more predictions as they roll in.
- Way back in June we had the opportunity to talk with Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek, and one of the interesting bits of information he dropped was that he expects his team to “play as fast as anyone” in the Pac-12. Given his track record (in the past decade he’s never been higher than 209th in the country in adjusted tempo), we were a bit skeptical. But, with speedy and athletic point guard Jahii Carson ready to make his long-awaited Sun Devil debut, all signs point to ASU being committed to an uptick in tempo. Does that mean you’re going to see ASU rip off something like 70 possessions a game as Washington regularly does? Probably not. But expect to see the Sun Devils try to turn defensive rebounds into opportunities for Carson and guys like Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon to get out into the open floor. But, if ASU is unable to score in transition, they may settle back into the type of halfcourt offense we’ve come to expect from Sendek, resulting in perhaps a couple more possessions per game than last season.
- Way back in April, right around the time that UCLA was making news by landing Muhammad, Washington slid under the radar a bit by signing junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin, a two-guard who led all JuCo players in scoring last season with an average of 28.4 points per game. Hailed as a potential offensive spark for a Husky team losing quite a bit of firepower, he seemed primed to fit in perfectly with Lorenzo Romar’s attack. But then, early in August, McLaughlin announced he was leaving the team. Last week he reappeared, this time showing up at Central Washington, a Division II program. As Percy Allen details, this is the seventh college that McLaughlin has been tied to. The long, strange trip began when he committed to Washington State as a senior in high school, before de-committing and signing with Nevada. However, prior to going to college, he stopped off at a prep school for a year before backing out of his Nevada commitment and signing with Baylor. Then, prior to the season, he bailed on Baylor, transferred to Seattle University and actually spent two years there: a redshirt year and then an unimpressive (and delayed) freshman campaign. From there he headed off to his one year at Tacoma Community College (last year’s stop) before committing to Washington. Long, long, long story short: the Huskies are probably better off without the drama that McLaughlin was sure to bring.
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