Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VI: Solid StudentsPosted by AMurawa on February 13th, 2013
Yesterday we unveiled this week’s honor roll; today we take a look at five teams earning good, solid, average grades. Check in later today for the four teams that will be serving detention this week.
Cal – B-
All things considered, this was a solid week for the Golden Bears. They went down to Arizona for what is considered to be the toughest road trip in the conference this year and came away with a split, including a win over a national top-10 team and a four-point loss to a very good Arizona State squad. That makes three wins in four tries for the Bears and a team that will likely be playing its best ball of the season as we head into the final month.
Focus on: Jeff Powers. What? You were expecting Allen Crabbe here? Nah, you can read about him as our Pac-12 Player of the Week. Instead, maybe check out what the Golden Bears’ own resident blogger, their junior guard Powers, has to say about his team and their performance in knocking off the Wildcats. Unfortunately, there’s no comment from him about his fine five-minute stretch against Arizona State where he knocked down a three, chalked up an assist and came away with a steal in helping keep his squad close in the second half.
Looking ahead: The Bears have a chance to make a run here, as they host the Los Angeles schools this week. They’ll likely be small favorites in both games and if they can defend their home court at Haas Pavilion, they’ve got a chance to make a bit of a jump up the standings.
Stanford – C+
Both Cal and Stanford went to the Arizona schools and came away with splits. Why do the Golden Bears come away with a slightly better grade? The Cardinal’s dogged determination (and fortunate failure) to give away a close game against Arizona State was concerning. Still, Johnny Dawkins’ club has now won four of its last five and has got its offense on the move.
Focus on: Dwight Powell. The junior forward has scored in double figures in every game in the conference schedule, but he hadn’t topped 20 since he did it three straight times in December. He broke that streak this week by going for 24 against Arizona and then answering with 22 against the Sun Devils. Even better, he also grabbed double-figure rebounds in both games, giving him seven double-doubles on the year.
Looking ahead: The Cardinal host USC tomorrow night, then see UCLA on Saturday afternoon. Stanford was swept by these teams in Los Angeles back on the first weekend of conference play, leading to an hour-long post-game meeting following the UCLA game, and since then the Cardinal have gone 6-3 in conference play.
Oregon State – C
The Beavers earn their highest weekly grade of the season with a home split against the Rocky Mountain schools. Losing at home against anybody would generally not earn anything higher than a C-, but the Beavers earn the Gentleman’s C by virtue of playing a very entertaining brand of basketball. Joe Burton continued his best stretch of basketball in his career this week. He’s averaging 15.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game over the last two weeks and I would venture the guess that you can count the number of people who have done that over a four-game stretch this year on just one hand.
Focus on: Roberto Nelson. In those four games that Burton has gone off, perhaps it is no coincidence that Nelson has had his best stretch of games as well. He’s scored 20 or better in each of those games, is averaging 23 points per night over that stretch and is hitting at a 70.6% eFG along the way. Way back in mid-October I singled out Nelson as the Pac-12’s breakout player of the year and the Beaver junior is making me look smart. Or at least slightly less dumb.
Looking ahead: Oregon State travels to the Washington schools with whom they split a pair in Corvallis a couple weeks back.
Arizona State – C-
Despite digging themselves a 15-point hole in the middle of the second half against Stanford on Saturday night, the Sun Devils still found themselves back within two possessions at home with two minutes remaining. And for the second straight week, ASU had some rough calls go against them late (a pass was clearly tipped out of bounds by Dwight Powell, but the ball was awarded to Stanford; then later the Cardinal took about 12 seconds to cross half-court and no whistle was forthcoming). But even with those official miscues, the Sun Devils had plenty of chances to come away with a win. In a three-point game, ASU missed half of its 16 free throw attempts. Down the stretch they missed no fewer than four clean looks from three in the final five minutes. And the Sun Devils failed to secure a missed front-end of a one-and-one, allowing Stanford to run an extra 30 seconds off the clock. If on Selection Sunday the Sun Devils wind up in the NIT instead of the NCAA, they may look back on that game as the reason why.
Focus on: Jordan Bachynski. In their two games this weekend, Bachynski played a total of 25 minutes, scorring eight points, grabbing six boards and blocking just one shot. And that limited run wasn’t due in any way to foul trouble. To put those numbers in perspective, in just one game on the Pac-12 slate has Bachynski played fewer than 25 minutes. Part of the reason for the benching was effective play by senior Ruslan Pateev (who averaged seven boards and 20 minutes this weekend), but make no mistake, some of it was a message from Herb Sendek to his junior big man.
Looking ahead: A couple road games line up pretty nicely for the Sun Devils this week. They get a chance to bounce back from the Stanford loss by facing Utah tonight, then they get Colorado on Saturday in a classic trap game for the Buffaloes, as Tad Boyle’s club could have a hangover following their match-up with Arizona. If things break right this week, ASU could steal a couple of road wins.
Oregon – C-
I’m still going a little easy on the grading with the Ducks as the result of the absence of freshman point guard Dominic Artis. Because really, a home loss to Colorado in which you score 47 points and blow a five-point lead in the final four minutes coupled with a win over Utah that required a second-half explosion are not normally parts of an equation that would lead to a passing grade for a team with conference championship aspirations.
Focus on: Arsalan Kazemi. At halftime of the Ducks’ Saturday evening game with Utah, Oregon found themselves down eight and the normally mild-mannered senior transfer from Rice had had enough. Kazemi lit into his teammates, rallied the troops and then led by example in the second half. In the first four minutes of the second half, he had two blocks, a steal and a rebound and for the game he put together a complete line of 11 points, 14 boards (five on the offensive glass), four steals and three blocks.
Looking ahead: The Ducks travel to the Washington schools and once again will likely be without Artis, as he is considered doubtful for the game against the Huskies tonight. Still, if these guys really want to remain in the conversation for a conference title, they need to find ways to win games even with Artis as a spectator.