Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week SevenPosted by AMurawa on December 31st, 2012
Another week, another group of honors for Pac-12 people and things…
Team of the Week – UCLA
At first glance, this seemed like a no-brainer, what with UCLA’s Friday night win over a top 10 Missouri team (UCLA’s first win over a top 10 non-conference team in more than five years). But then we had to consider the fact that Arizona’s Christmas night win over San Diego State, although it seems like a distant memory, actually came at the start of the week. In the end, we gave the nod to UCLA since Missouri was more highly ranked than the Aztecs and since the Bruins’ win is much more important to their program (and, really, to their coach) than the UA win was. For the past month or so it has been a given that Arizona was the clear-cut favorite in the conference, but with UCLA showing a glimpse to a national television audience of their immense offensive firepower, all of a sudden UCLA is back in the picture a little bit. And, frankly, our history this season has been to reward the teams that have done the conference the greatest favor in the previous week; early in the year Colorado got TOTW honors on the back of a win over Baylor; California got the nod after winning the DirecTV Classic; and Arizona props for their win over Florida, as well as their first two wins in Hawai’i. And so, now it is time, for the second straight week, to give UCLA its due. While they’re still a flawed team that needs to improve in order to seriously contend for a Pac-12 title, at least they’ve begun to prove that they have the potential to make those improvements.
Player of the Week – Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
I suppose if you had told me way back before the start of the year that Muhammad would win his first conference POTW award in the final week of the calendar year, I would have assumed that he had to sit out the first 10 or so games due to his NCAA eligibility issues. But, after getting cleared for play earlier than expected (he’s now played in 10 games for the Bruins), Muhammad was rusty and out of shape. He’s still not playing up to his immense ability, but he’s certainly in the ballpark, with his ability to put the ball in the hoop on a regular basis in a variety of ways likely unparalleled even in a Pac-12 that features prolific scorers like C.J. Wilcox, Brock Motum and Allen Crabbe. Against Missouri, Muhammad was a threat throughout, but truly shone late in the game with the outcome in doubt. In overtime, he scored seven of the Bruins’ nine points, including a three-point dagger with a minute to go that put his squad ahead for good.
Newcomer of the Week – Jahii Carson, Arizona State
For the second straight week, we’re going to hedge our bets and split the POTW and NOTW awards, even though a newcomer actually took home our POTW award. It’s silly, but we hemmed and hawed so much over giving Muhammad the nod despite 34 minutes of play and just one rebound, that we had to split the vote. In the end, consider Carson our Player of the Week alternate. Carson’s lone game against Coppin State certainly didn’t rise up to the level of competition that Muhammad and company faced, but his performance was more well-rounded than that of his contemporary. Carson showed his ability not only to score when possible (15 points on 6-of-12 shooting), but to do plenty of other things to help his team. He harassed Taariq Cephas into 0-of-6 shooting, snatched a couple of steals, grabbed eight boards and dropped seven dimes to lead ASU to a 16-point win to solidify an 11-2 non-conference record for the Sun Devils.