Pac-12 M5: 10.15.13 EditionPosted by Andrew Murawa on October 15th, 2013
- We talked about the Arizona Red-Blue game yesterday, but while some exciting newcomers made their Wildcat debut at that event, one piece in particular still awaits his clearance. Zach Peters did not play in the intrasquad scrimmage, still sidelined as a matter of safety as the Kansas transfer works through the aftermath of five concussions over a 15-month period. While Sean Miller and the Wildcat program remain hopeful that Peters can turn into an impact player as a stretch-four on the potentially outside-shooting-starved squad, they’re making sure to bring him along in small steps, meaning that they won’t rush him back. Thus far, while Peters is practicing with the team in certain drills, he has not yet been cleared for actual contact.
- Speaking of contact, we’re going to step outside the strict bounds of the Pac-12 to check in with Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy, who is prematurely complaining about an officiating point of emphasis for this season, the attempt to penalize defenders for using their hands. This point of emphasis came down from the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, asking officials to call more fouls when a defender keeps a hand on an opponent, when a defender puts both hands on an opponent, or when the defender uses the arm bar. In the Pac-12, a conference that will share officiating oversight with Eustachy’s Mountain West this season, expect this new emphasis to have the biggest impact on programs like Washington, Oregon and Cal, three teams known for their aggressive, physical defense.
- Down in Los Angeles, there are a couple of new coaches in the city. Steve Alford replaces Ben Howland in the hot seat at UCLA, and there will be immediate expectations for a team that returns all but two contributors from last season. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has five big questions for Alford to answer in his first season, but for my money the biggest question is related to his first one regarding Kyle Anderson. Rothstein asks if Anderson can guard small forwards, and while that is certainly a big part of the question marks surrounding Anderson, it is not the full story. Thus far, it appears Anderson is leading the competition to man the point on offense for the Bruins and, after playing off of the ball for most of his freshman campaign, it remains to be seen just how well the UCLA offense can click with the deliberate (the nickname Slo-Mo is not meant to be sarcastic) but talented sophomore manning the helm.
- Across town, new USC head coach Andy Enfield is continuing his hot start. He’s already lured in some transfers and beaten those hated Bruins in the battle for Jordan McLaughlin’s commitment, and he shows no signs of slowing down by notching another commitment this weekend. This time it was 6’10″ center Jabari Craig, an athletic center who, while raw offensively, could contribute immediately next season on the glass, in transition, and challenging shots in the middle.
- Lastly, we’ll head out to Utah where senior Renan Lenz has apparently jumped to the head of the class in the battle to replace Jason Washburn in the middle. After a disappointing first year in Salt Lake City in which the JuCo transfer earned only 8.6 minutes per game, Lenz has cut 20 pounds, tightened up his body, and improved his athleticism and speed. While guys like Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor are expected to take on the biggest roles in scoring the ball for the Utes, Lenz could turn into a solid contributor by running the floor and doing much of the dirty work in the halfcourt.