Marching to Vegas: Channeling Bill Walton, While Breaking Down The Halfway MarkPosted by AMurawa on February 8th, 2013
From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.
Halfway. The point in a journey when both the finish and start are equidistant and so there is no use in turning back. Onward we go because it’s a journey and, intrinsic to such, there is discovery. A path to the best version of ourselves so that at the conclusion we are prepared; ready for life beyond exploration. But as I said, we’re not there yet. Not even close. Our March to Vegas is no sinusoidal function. It’s exponential growth – rising, rising, rising – to what should culminate into something jaw-slacking, head scratching, and cold blooded. I know you believe me here because I know you were watching last night. You saw Larry Drew II drop the Dawgs and Roberson shock the Ducks and Cobbs give the Devils all they could handle. Pac-12 fans: Who’s got it better than us?
Back to this march, the one dragging us to 3/10 and a conclusion on Vegas seeding. That – as proven by Thursday’s games – will be a treat, a delightful treat, chock full of – are you ready for this word? – madness. Yup, I said it, madness. Get excited. And I’m getting ahead of myself because indeed this is a journey to the end. After all, one week ago Oregon was in the Top-10 and asserting themselves an unstoppable force. Today? Well now they find themselves in a three game rut with a broken point guard whose Duckpact (that’s what I call an impact player on Oregon’s roster) is becoming increasingly ominous. To say that Dana Altman and his team miss Dominic Artis would be to Kate Upton is cute. But things will be ok in Eugene.
I’m not as sure about things in Berkeley, Seattle, Pullman, Corvallis, or Salt Lake. Sigh. No I’m not giving up on these towns and arenas but let’s just say things could be better. The Golden Bears have been disappointing for the most part and are unfortunately raising concerns about the Monty era on the whole. I’ll admit that’s a horse well ahead of its carriage but I beg you to think about it. As for Pullman and Corvallis, the question has always got to center around realism: What’s a realistic expectation in these secondary markets? But don’t ask Tony Bennett for argument’s sake, ok? Job hopping coaches aside, C-Rob, K-Bone, and Larry K’s teams aren’t very good. Though I will say the fighting Krystkowiaks are intriguingly unlucky, they’re still just not very good. Their journey is one of improvement, growing from the expectation of rock bottom.
And for all this talk, for all the glowing thought on self discovery, there is a semblance of cream at the top. Those very Ducks, with Dominic, are good. Very good and capable of havoc as a complete team. Their time will come. The team they beat, UCLA, however, is grossly confounding. From abusing Arizona in Tucson to their subsequent displays of mediocrity, the Bruins remain in the conference’s top-half. If I had an answer I’d forward it to Ben Howland. But maybe definition isn’t to be found in Westwood. Maybe they are who they are: A talented roster buried in a state of institutional slightly-less-than-turmoil; perhaps serving as the greatest example of a season’s journey.
Most surprising to this conversation of conference “elite” are the Herbivores. They’ve managed to change the tone of their entire program with the addition of Jahii Carson and the reinvention of Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski. They’re a complete squad with equal abilities to grind and run. Impressive considering Herb promised such. Perhaps their schedule has left us with more questions than answers but the fact remains that the Sun Devils are an 18-win team. Think about that and when you have wrapped your mind around it, mosey right down I-10 to Tucson. This is the conference’s best team. The target doting group taking hits with each game and to date they’ve endured progressing each week to what suggests will be their best basketball in Vegas. And beyond.
Because journeys don’t ever have a final destination. Sure we’ve mapped an eighteen game schedule to sharpen our instincts but – like I said above – then there’s life beyond. The journey through eighteen will land these twelve teams – and us – at the MGM for more of what we love. And for those who heed the road and take its lumps with grace and learning will be best suited to hear their name called on a Sunday. But we’re just halfway there so stay seated, keep your seatbelt fastened and your hands and arms inside the vehicle. Enjoy the ride.