Rushed Reactions: Oregon 78, UCLA 69Posted by AMurawa on March 17th, 2013
Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report after Saturday night’s Pac-12 Tournament championship game between Oregon and UCLA.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Jonathan Loyd, The Oregon Point Guard. After slowly returning from injury, this was supposed to be the week when Dominic Artis returned to form in the Oregon starting lineup. He did return to the starting lineup, but it was Jonathan Loyd who was the man at the point for the Ducks. He was terrific all weekend averaging 24 minutes and 11.3 points per game, but was particularly good in the championship, scoring 19 points and bailing out the Ducks at the end of the shot clock by knocking down jumpers. However, is that the type of offense that head coach Dana Altman really wants? After the game, Altman made it clear that there were times that Loyd took some shots that he wasn’t exactly pleased with. To be honest, often in the second half, the Ducks didn’t run particularly good sets but got bailed out either by Loyd late or by offensive rebounds off misses. Ideally, Loyd would be generating good looks for his teammates more regularly than getting his own shots, but it is awfully hard to argue with the results tonight.
- Life Without Jordan Adams. In UCLA’s first game following Jordan Adams’ broken foot, the Bruins clearly struggled offensively, to the tune of 0.96 points per possession — their least effective offensive performance since their Valentine’s Night massacre at the hands of California. Some of the problems can be chalked up to fatigue in the face of playing their third game in as many nights with basically just a six-man rotation, and some of it can be explained away by the idea that this team didn’t have much time to game plan for life without Adams. But, let’s just say that game one in the post-Adams era did not go smoothly. Shabazz Muhammad was limited by a defense free to key on him and Kyle Anderson was unable to step into a secondary scorer’s role, leaving Larry Drew II to pick up the scoring slack, which he accomplished to some extent (14 points on 11 field goal attempts). Norman Powell was a pretty bright spot as well, scoring 10 points on six FGAs in 37 minutes. UCLA will probably be more comfortable in its next game out, but the long-term prognosis for the Oregon offense without Adams is not bright.
- Pac-12 NCAA Tournament Viability. The conference is in all likelihood going to wind up with five teams dancing, but it is hard to see one of these teams capable of making a run of any sort. UCLA without Adams doesn’t have the depth or offensive firepower to get to the second weekend; Oregon, though they righted the ship somewhat this weekend, is still not playing as well as they were prior to the Artis injury; California’s hot streak is officially over; and Colorado has never been a completely trustworthy team this season. That leaves Arizona, the most talented Pac-12 team and a team that is certainly capable of stringing together some wins should everything break right, but a team that has underachieved for since conference play began. While anything is possible in a one-game setting, none of these teams will be favored to advance past the first weekend of NCAA play.
Star of the Game. Jonathan Loyd. Loyd was unbelievable. It took him 25 games this season to score in double figures. Not once this year did he take double-digit field goal attempts prior to tonight. But Loyd was feeling it and popped for a season-high 19, a total nearly four times his season average.
Quotable: Dana Altman, on Jonathan Loyd: “I want Jonny to play his role, to run the team, to take shots when they’re open when he likes the shot. I don’t expect him to go out there – I don’t know how many he had tonight – but (I don’t expect him to) shoot it like this every night; that’s not my expectation. He was on a roll and he felt it tonight. There were a couple that I said “What are you doing?” And he looked at me and nodded his head and said, “I know that was a bad one Coach, but I’m on fire.”
Wildcard: Technicals. For the second time in as many nights, a Pac-12 coach got tee-ed up for his response to a pretty bad call by an official. Tonight it was Ben Howland responding to a shaky charge call that went against Shabazz Muhammad by taking off his coat and throwing it into the crowd. It was Howland’s first technical in 11 seasons, but he took full responsibility for it. “I was very embarrassed by that. To lose my composure – it’s a terrible example for our team to have their coach behave in such a manner.”
Sights and Sounds. Pac-12 Tourney In Vegas: Success!. Without a doubt, the tournament from a conference perspective was a huge success. Arizona fans won the week with a huge traveling party, but even once they were eliminated, there was still quite a buzz in the arena. Saturday night’s crowd for the UCLA/Oregon game, though nowhere near as loud or involved as the crowd earlier in the day down the street at the Mountain West championship game, was very good, with likely somewhere in the area of three-quarters of the seats filled, a huge improvement from the days at the Staples Center. Larry Scott was courtside the whole week and beaming with pride and it is a good bet that it will be quite some time before the Pac-12 Tournament is played in any other city.
All-Tournament Team. The Pac-12 has some serious issues with handing out honors. Somehow after the year they came up with a 10-man all-conference team. For the all-tournament team, they came up with a five-man team (Jordan Adams, Jahii Carson, Damyean Dotson, Larry Drew II and Arsalan Kazemi), but didn’t include the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player – Jonathan Loyd – on the team. Is it really this hard to come up with a coherent five-man team? Either way, it is hard to argue with any of the six players chosen by the conference. If we were going to be reasonable and pick just five guys, I’d be in favor of dropping Kazemi, despite his nine rebounds per game this week.
What’s Next? Both of these teams will hear their names called tomorrow on Selection Sunday, with seeds likely somewhere in the #5-#7 range. However, with the Adams injury, it is quite possible that the Bruins could wind up getting dinged a couple of seed lines.