Pac-12 M5: 12.03.12 EditionPosted by AMurawa on December 3rd, 2012
- All things considered, it was a severely disappointing weekend for Pac-12 basketball, so let’s jump right into the week with the depressing news early and head to some better news towards the back end of the Morning Five. The most high-profile loss of the weekend for the conference was likely UCLA’s loss at the John Wooden Classic to San Diego State, a loss in which UCLA clearly abdicated the crown of California’s golden jewel of basketball programs to the Aztecs (if it hadn’t been abdicated earlier). And, in the wake of their early season struggles, Peter Yoon of ESPN.com puts the obvious into words: it is time to reassess this Bruin team, and the reassessment is not likely to be pretty. Yeah, there is certainly still talent here, but at this moment in time, a team that is starting three freshmen simply doesn’t have the experience yet to match up with a talented veteran squad like the Aztecs. There is still hope that a corner will be turned, but as Ben Howland put it after the game “there’s a lot of learning still that we’re doing.”
- At about the same time that UCLA was losing to the Aztecs, another Mountain West team was disposing of a highly regarded Pac-12 team, as Leonard Washington led Wyoming to a seven-point victory over Colorado. After the game, Tad Boyle laid the cards right on the table, pointing to CU’s turnovers and defensive struggles as the reasons for the loss. And he called out his team for its lack of cohesion, calling for players to accept their roles and play as a collective rather than a group of individuals. Really, when all is said and done, this loss may be a net positive for the team. As a young team, they’ve had some good success early in the season, but this being their first true road game, and one against a hard-nosed team, it is somewhat understandable that they didn’t bring their best. Look for Boyle to use this game as a lesson for his team as it heads into tougher games down the line. For the Buffaloes to again make their way through the minefield of Pac-12 road games, they’ll need to display a mental toughness that was severely lacking on Saturday night.
- And, speaking of a lack of mental toughness, California went into Madison yesterday and got absolutely drilled by Wisconsin, losing by 25 in a game in which they turned the ball over 23 times. Head coach Mike Montgomery blamed the loss on a poor week of practice, saying that “some of our guys just don’t prepare themselves for practice the way they should.” Like Colorado, Cal has had plenty of early season success, and a well-placed road game on the heels of all that success was a recipe for disaster. Allen Crabbe agreed with his coach, saying “we basically got what we deserved.” With visits from UNLV and Creighton due up next on the Golden Bears’ schedule, things aren’t going to get much easier, but at least Montgomery can use this loss as a wake-up call and he knows he’ll have those next two games in the friendly confines of Haas Pavilion.
- Okay, enough negativity, but we’ve got to transition from negativity to positivity slowly. So, we’ll mention that although Arizona kept alive its perfect record by going on the road and dispatching of Texas Tech, head coach Sean Miller still has some concerns about Mark Lyons as his lead guard. While Lyons leads the team in scoring with 14 points per night, he’s turning the ball over at a rate that far eclipses his ability to hand out assists to his teammates. But, Miller points out that although those turnovers are cause for concern, the coaching staff is addressing those concerns and that they’ve thus far found Lyons to be “a willing learner.” And, in the shadow of some of Lyons’ struggles, sophomore Nick Johnson has stepped into more of a lead-guard type of role and has handed out 13 assists against just one turnover in the past three games.
- And, to send you into the rest of your Monday will some full-fledged good news, Arizona State’s Evan Gordon broke out of a season-long slump in a big way on Saturday night, drilling five three-pointers in nine attempts (after hitting just 20.6% of his shots from deep in the team’s first six games) on his way to 29 points in the Sun Devils’ 20-point win over Sacramento State. Coming into the year, Gordon was expected to be a lights-out shooter on the wing, especially opposite penetrating point Jahii Carson, but his shot simply wasn’t falling early. For ASU to continue their winning ways, especially once they get to conference play, they’ll need Gordon to be a scorer for them on the wing, so while the early struggles with the shot can be discounted somewhat, it is comforting to see his shots begin to fall.