Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VIII: Solid StudentsPosted by AMurawa on February 27th, 2013
We’ve bragged about our pet pupils yesterday, and we’ll get to the folks in detention later, but for now, here’s the middle of the Pac from last week’s performances.
Washington – B
After getting run off the court on Wednesday night against Arizona, the Huskies rebounded nicely with a strong performance in knocking off Arizona State on Saturday. In recent weeks it has been as simple as equating made shots with wins for the Huskies. In seven games in February they’ve shot a better than 50% eFG three times and won all of those games. Of course, four times they’ve shot lower than 50% and lost all four of those.
Focus on: Scott Suggs. With C.J. Wilcox clearly hurting, the Huskies desperately needed Suggs – their only other proven scorer – to break out of his slump. And, against the Sun Devils, after scoring just four points in four of his previous five games, Suggs did just that. He provided some offensive punch right out of the gate on Saturday night, either scoring or assisting on 12 of the Huskies first 18 points. With just three games remaining in the regular season of his final collegiate season, you can bet both he and Lorenzo Romar hope he can keep up that type of performance the rest of the way.
Looking ahead: The Huskies host Washington State on Sunday night as the Evergreen State gets to say goodbye to five really good seniors between the two squads in their final Apple Cup (basketball edition) game.
Stanford – B-
The Cardinal went on the road and got a split for the week; that’s a good thing, right? It certainly is, but for Johnny Dawkins and company to move themselves into range for an at-large bid, they really needed to get a win Saturday at Oregon. Unfortunately for them, they shot the ball poorly, turned it over far too much and even got beat on the boards as the Ducks backed Stanford into a corner, where they need to win the Pac-12 Tournament lest they be relegated in trying to defend their NIT title.
Focus on: Josh Huestis. He has previously shown the ability to score both inside and out, but with talented scoring guards and emerging star Dwight Powell on the same roster, the expectation was that Huestis was locked into a “glue guy” role. His occasional outbursts of offense, an expectation that was being met through most of January, the junior from Great Falls regularly grabbed more rebounds than he scored points. But, over the last month, Huestis has undergone an offensive renaissance, scoring in double figures in nine straight games, registering seven double-doubles along the way, and averaging 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game over that stretch. Somewhat unbelievably, Huestis is a legitimate first-team all-conference contender.
Looking ahead: The Cardinal host Colorado and Utah this week. There really isn’t a scenario whereby they earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs, so while neither of these games are must wins, they must build confidence and coherence if they hope to threaten to win the title in Vegas.
Oregon – C-
Reports out of Eugene suggest that last weekend’s split with the Bay Area schools will be the last pair of games that the Ducks will face without the services of Dominic Artis, although he is expected to be eased back into the lineup. If that’s the case, Jonathan Loyd’s time as the team’s sole viable option at the point ended just as one would have liked. Following the Thursday night loss against Cal in which he missed all six of his shots, turned the ball over three times and was exploited defensively for the game-winning jumper, Loyd responded with perhaps his best game as a Duck, scoring 15 points, handing out nine assists and orchestrating an 11-point win over Stanford.
Focus on: Carlos Emory. If we were awarding a Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year, this Duck senior would be the heavy favorite. Emory has seen his minutes jump in his second and final year in Eugene, and while his production has dropped as classmate Arsalan Kazemi has stolen plenty of his rebounding opportunities, Emory has consistently provided energy and athleticism off the bench for Dana Altman. With another good week in his pocket, Emory has averaged 15.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over the last two weeks. One thing that has been conspicuously missing this year, however, has been the repeated highlight reel dunks we saw last season. Hopefully he can rock a few rims for us as his college career fades out.
Looking ahead: Artis is expected back on Thursday as the Ducks host Oregon State, then he’ll get a week off to recuperate and work on his conditioning in advance of a season-ending road trip to the Rockies.
Utah – C-
The Utes lost their sole game of the week, a 10-point defeat at the hands of their forced rival, Colorado. If there is good news in the game it is that they played very poorly (they were outshot from the field, got to the line just four times, turned the ball over on nearly a quarter of all their possessions, and got dominated on the boards) and still only lost by 10 to an NCAA Tournament-worthy team. That is good news, right?
Focus on: Jordan Loveridge. Back before a minor knee injury kept him out of the first Colorado game, Loveridge averaged 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest in his first 19 games of the year. Since returning over the last five games, those numbers have dipped to 10.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG. But against Colorado and really for the first time since the injury, he looked like that guy we saw at the start of the year. Not only are the 12 points and seven boards he registered in that game the same as his averages prior to the injury, they came against Andre Roberson, considered to be on the short list of the best defensive players in the Pac-12.
Looking ahead: The Utes’ final road trip of the year finds them headed to the Bay Area. Earlier in the year, those two schools swept through Salt Lake City, came away with wins, and parlayed that success into their best basketball of the season. For California, in fact, that streak is still ongoing.