Marching To Vegas: Time to Check the Monitors as the Regular Season ExpiresPosted by AMurawa on March 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.
We set out on this march to get to Vegas to determine a champion. From our armchairs or the stands, we’ve watched and discussed and texted and blogged and done it all over again trying to determine the ins and outs of what’s proven to be quite the march. And if you’ll recall, it all began with Sabatino Chen’s shot. The one where he was frantically trying to not dribble out the clock of a tie game, the ball with him despite having connected on just a handful of career shots, let alone threes. He heaved the ball, right over Kevin Parrom’s outstretched arm – our eyes collectively following its trajectory, our breaths collectively held. Glass. Nylon. The officials would then see something on their monitor replays that perhaps the rest of us did not.
Which is not unlike the fact that none of us saw Oregon making a run through Pac-12 play as the wire-to-wire conference leader. Projected to finish seventh, the Ducks have spent all of, what, one day not in first place? They’ve received POY-worthy efforts from Arsalan Kazemi and COY-worthy leadership from Dana Altman. Again, if we’re looking into our own monitors, we probably wouldn’t have seen this or even E.J. Singler hitting a season-long shooting slump or Dominic Artis’ MVP value. We also would have missed Arizona’s late season implosion – perhaps a bit steep of a word – but this is a team that was once 14-0 and ranked third among more than 340 D-I teams. Today they’re not third in their own 12-team conference. Never saw that coming. Or that the Wildcats’ own vaunted class of bigs would average just 6.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG.
Gazing into the monitors, I missed seeing UCLA recover from a home loss to Cal Poly and overtime with UC Irvine to possibly still garner the conference’s top seed. Amidst talk of their coach being fired mid-season and all things Shabazz, there were ample distractions and reasons for UCLA to go ahead and mail in this season. I’ll be the first to tell you, inside that monitor, I didn’t see Larry Drew II as the one to get that ship back on track. But he most certainly has been the leader of this team. I think, however, we can all agree we did not foresee a UCLA loss at Washington State – the first in 20 years.
Cal entered conference play at 8-4 and then quickly ran that record to 11-8. It was at that point that I took to the monitors to confirm that the Bears were indeed dead in the water and their season lost. That perhaps it was time to start examining the Monty-era on the other side of the Bay a disappointment. Yeah, I definitely didn’t see them rattling off nine of 11 with an outside shot at the one-seed (UCLA loss at UW, Oregon loss at UW) and a secured spot in the top three.
But that’s why it’s been a season-long march to get to Vegas. We weren’t going to hop a flight or an overnight bus. You want to call college basketball’s regular season meaningless? Ask those Cal Bears about it. Ask the Colorado Buffaloes who have somewhat underwhelmed in conference play but played a challenging non-conference slate and rose to that challenge. On March 17, expect to hear both those teams’ names called.
There remains a little something left on this trek; a weekend to settle a few scores, resolve a couple remaining questions. And then we get to start asking a whole new lot of questions. Because at that point, the march to Vegas we’ve been on will have arrived. From there, I have no idea the destination. Why don’t we check the monitors?