Pac-12 Report Card, Volume V: The DelinquentsPosted by AMurawa on February 6th, 2013
Professor Pac isn’t pleased with all of his pupils. Four teams will be spending time in detention this week for their misdeeds in their most recent performances.
Washington State – D+
Two home losses equal the Cougars third D+ of the year. A really, those grades have probably only been that high out of pity.
Focus on: Brock Motum. There are plenty of problems around Pullman, but perhaps the biggest one is the lack of enough offensive playmakers to create quality looks for and distract opponents from focusing on Brock Motum. While the senior Aussie has still produced at a laudable rate (he’s averaging 18.3 points per night and hasn’t failed to score in double figures yet this season), he’s had to put in much more work to accomplish what he has and as a result, his efficiency has suffered. Only twice in conference play has he delivered a game with an eFG% better than 50% and he’s probably spending too much time bombing from three.
Looking ahead: The Cougs travel to the Los Angeles schools this week where they’ll need Motum to get help from guys like Mike Ladd, DaVonte Lacy, and Royce Woolridge to have a chance at a successful weekend.
Oregon State – D+
Five weeks into conference play and this is the Beavers’ second-highest weekly grade. Suffice it to say, this semester is not going well for them. This week they got solid offensive performances, rebounded the ball particularly well and still, just couldn’t stop anybody, giving up 1.23 points per possession. For the year, the Beavers have far and away the worst defense in the conference; they’re the only team in the conference with an adjusted defensive efficiency higher than 100. And that’s happening with two of the longest, most athletic, dialed-in defensive players in the conference in Eric Moreland and Devon Collier. Craig Robinson has been mostly trying to play man-to-man defense, but this weekend we saw much more of his 1-3-1 defense. With Moreland at the point of the attack here and with the ability to sort of hide Joe Burton in the middle, this may be the best solution for the Beavers.
Focus on: Joe Burton. Speaking of Burton, he may not be even remotely useful on the defensive end, but he sure is a fun watch when the Beavers have the ball. He’s got the prototypical old man game. I’m not sure he could leap over an iPhone, but he does a great job of carving out space for himself with his 300-pound frame, he’s got great vision, he’s capable of making spectacular passes and will occasionally even break out the sky hook. This week he averaged 15.5 points, nine rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Yeah, so he probably assisted in giving up 30 points a game, but it was entertaining at least.
Looking ahead: The Beavers have 11 losses, but only once all season (the Pac-12 opener against Oregon) have they lost by more than ten points. In other words, they’re going to keep things close, they’re going to play entertaining games and they’re going to continue to be worth watching. And, somewhere along the line here, they’re going to string a couple of wins together, even if by accident. This week they host Utah and Colorado. They can win those games.
UCLA – D-
After a 5-0 start in conference play and a return to the AP Top 25, the Bruins folded down the stretch of a tight game at home against Oregon and suffered their first conference loss. It was a loss that was easily shrugged off, especially when they came out in their next game and drilled Arizona in the McKale Center. But, then they followed that up with an all-to-predictable loss at Arizona State, the classic hangover game, another ready-made excuse for the loss. There is no excuse for UCLA’s loss against crosstown rival USC. Despite breaking out their new uniforms and playing against their historic rival in front of their home court fans, the Bruins were flat for large stretches of the game. They finally turned it on midway through the second half, after they had already built themselves a 15-point deficit, roared back to tie it up and force overtime, outscoring USC 28-13 over the course of 18 possessions, but then faltered again in overtime behind a flurry of bad possessions. Do we write this one off as yet another game lost more to immaturity rather than to lack of talent?
Focus on: Shabazz Muhammad. The blame doesn’t fall entirely on him, but once again, Muhammad failed in the clutch this week. After earning himself a reputation as a big-time closer over UCLA’s successful stretch from mid-December to mid-January, he struggled in the second half against Oregon, he was absent against Arizona State and now, against the Trojans, he missed two three-pointers in the last minute and a half in what was still a one-possession game.
Looking ahead: For the Bruins to begin winning back some of the trust they have tossed aside over the past few weeks, they need to start making a statement. Hosting the Washington schools at home this week, they need to show that they’re capable of putting together a full 40 minutes of effort against a team that is not in the Top 25.
Colorado – F
And, here it is. Our first F of the year. Last week in this spot, we basically promised that if the Buffs couldn’t go on the road and take care of the reeling Utes, we’d slap ‘em with a failure. And we’re not backing out now. After a blah first half that found Colorado down six at the break, the Buffaloes failed to score for almost six minutes at the start of the second. Over a five-minute time span near the start of that second half, they allowed Utah (Utah! Worst offense in the conference!) to score 18 points in the span of nine possessions en route to digging themselves a 22-point deficit. You like to give this team credit for fighting all the way back and finding themselves down one with the ball with the shot clock turned off, but then Spencer Dinwiddie just sort of dribbles the ball out of bounds? Really? Look, the Buffs RPI still looks pretty good and, yeah, there are some nice wins on their resume, but eye-test-wise, this team looks absolutely nothing like an NCAA Tournament team.
Focus on: Josh Scott. Way back somewhere around the start of conference play, if you read me here you saw me say something about how Tad Boyle should spend more time running more offense through Scott. That’s why I’m here and Tad Boyle is there. I’m sure, at some point when Scott earns it, Boyle would love to run more offense through Scott. It would keep the guards from having to create everything and it would allow Andre Roberson to spend more time doing the dirty work. But right now, Scott is not only not quite ready to deliver much in the post, he’s not even proven himself capable of being an effective rebounder against high quality competition. Over the past three weeks, the 6’10” Scott has grabbed 17 rebounds in 142 minutes of action. Against Baylor, Colorado State, Wyoming and Kansas in the non-conference, the teams with the biggest, most athletic frontlines, he grabbed a total of 13 rebounds in 101 minutes (oh, and delivered 14 personal fouls in that span). He’s got a great future, but he’s also got a 215-pound frame (according to Colorado’s scale, which I ain’t buying) trying to play center in a major conference. An offseason in the weight room will be a welcome addition.
Looking ahead: There’s no point in counting out Colorado yet. While this isn’t a hypothesis that the Buffaloes should try to test, if they win up at 9-9 in the Pac-12 and win a couple games in the conference tournament, they’re probably going to win up dancing. But they should start getting to work on trying to meet, and potentially improve upon, that middling goal.