Thoughts on the Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Evening Session

Posted by AMurawa on March 15th, 2013

Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report after the second session of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

The evening pair of quarterfinals began with the expectation that there was no way it could live up to the atmosphere and excitement of the afternoon session. And, while it took some time for all of the fans to filter in from happy hour, by the second half of the first game, we had a really good crowd. And what a game that first one was as Utah stormed back from an eight-point second-half deficit against California, survived a seven-minute scoreless streak and got a miraculous Jarred DuBois three over the outstretched arm of 6’10” David Kravish in the waning moments to force overtime, where they would eventually win the game. Lots of little things to mention from this contest:

  • First and foremost, gotta give props to Larry Krystkowiak. Aside from rebuilding his roster from scratch, he’s also done a great job getting incremental improvements out of this team over the course of the season. Remember when this team lost to Stanford by 31? Or lost at the Oregon schools by an average of 14.5 points per game? Now this team is riding a four-game winning streak, shows all the hallmarks of being a well-coached team and is a deserving semifinal entrant. Just wait until the talent level gets to where he wants it.

    Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

    Larry Krystkowiak Has Done A Great Job Getting A Rebuilding Program Into The Pac-12 Semis

  • Utah freshman Jordan Loveridge struggled early, missing seven of his first nine shots, but then hit back-to-back threes to give Utah its first second-half lead, then hit another big three at the start of overtime to extend the Utes’ momentum. He’s had some ups and downs in his first year for the Utes, but he’s a special talent who will eventually, maybe as soon as next year, be an all-conference guy.
  • Richard Solomon continues to be one of my favorite/most-frustrating players in the conference. Dude’s got all the talent in the world, but his motor is often lacking. Case in point tonight: He got 37 minutes of action, probably competed really hard for about 20 of those minutes, and wound up with eight points, 11 boards and three steals.
  • Cal’s Ricky Kreklow, who has missed 24 of his team’s 31 games this season due to a foot injury, played 18 minutes tonight, his most in a game since November, and knocked down two big threes in the first half that kept the Bears sticking around when little else was going right. A lanky wing with a nice shooting touch, it would be a nice addition if he’s good to go without concern for his foot.

A note on officiating: there is little more interesting than a rant about officiating, so I’ll keep it brief. It’s been said before but the game is increasingly physical and until the referees step in and clean this stuff up, it is only going to get worse. There were multiple times in the Utah/California game where two players on opposing teams collided with each other in pursuit of a loose ball and were met with little more than play-on blank stares from the officials. I’m okay with the idea of “let them play” to a certain extent, but at some point when guys are getting knocked to the ground, there is some advantage being gained and a whistle needs to be blown. Of course, with all of these officials as little more than independent contractors, there probably isn’t a change coming anytime soon.

The nightcap was a Washington/Oregon contest that left those of us who had been through three games already a little bleary-eyed; beautiful basketball, this was not.

Dominic Artis Has Yet To Regain His Form Following His Foot Injury

Dominic Artis Has Yet To Regain His Form Following His Foot Injury

Dominic Artis has now been back from his foot injury for four games (Oregon’s 2-2 over that stretch) and one thing is clear: he’s not yet back. For the first 19 games of the season (the Ducks are 17-2 over that span), Artis was this team’s catalyst, working in tandem with his freshman backcourt-mate Damyean Dotson to not only initiate crisp offense, but to spearhead disruptive defense. When Artis went down (Oregon is 5-4 without him), the defense suffered, their offense went in the tank (0.92 PPP in the games he missed), Dotson sputtered, and losses piled up. Since he’s returned, things haven’t been a whole lot better because he is just clearly not himself. Case in point, down the stretch tonight, Dana Altman opted to go with Jonathan Loyd in lieu of his freshman. And it worked, tonight, at least. Loyd was fantastic down the stretch, making a pair of free throws to send the game to overtime, then dishing a couple assists to Arsalan Kazemi in the extra period. Still, for this Ducks team to be a serious threat the rest of the way, they’ll need Artis to return to pre-injury form, something that is becoming more and more improbable by the game. One last thing: I know plus/minus numbers are unreliable, but with Loyd in the game tonight, Oregon was +10; with Artis out there they were -3.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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