Pac-12 Burning Questions: Who’s The Biggest Question Mark?Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 5th, 2013
At this point, just ahead of actual basketball, those of us who follow the sport closely have plenty of things that we more or less agree we think will happen. We think Aaron Gordon is going to be an all-conference player from day one. We think Jordan Adams is going to pick up where he left off last year. We think the Oregon backcourt is going to be insanely good. But, there are still plenty of areas where question marks abound. We asked our group of Pac-12 experts, including Adam Butler of Pachoops.com, “Who in the Pac-12 do you have the biggest questions about?”
Adam Butler: It was reported very early in the process of his transfer that Mike Moser would be attending Washington. This, we quickly felt, was a coup, a quick fix to the Huskies’ frontcourt issues that could elevate them back into the Pac-12 conversation. Instead, he wound up choosing Oregon – another team needing to revamp its frontcourt – and the Ducks instantly became more promise than threat. But Moser is my biggest question mark in the conference because we’ve seen three different versions of this versatile talent across his four collegiate years. Version one was a lost freshman, evidently bullied and uncomfortable on a team with chemistry issues not even Walter White could fix.
He played a pittance of minutes at UCLA and left for Vegas. And who doesn’t rediscover themselves in Vegas? Version two of Moser was one of the best players in the country: 14/11 with equal talents on the block, perimeter and defensive end. He was Kazemi-like (28.1% DR, 9.5% OR) with the ability to get buckets. He was great and then 2012-13 happened. He busted his elbow in Berkeley and never quite found his groove; struggling to find a role on a team with the number one overall pick, Anthony Bennett. V2 > V3 > V1. We now find ourselves with V4 in Eugene and I ask: What is V4 going to look like? To me, that’s the biggest question in the conference because it holds the biggest reward. Can you imagine a legitimate scoring threat on the post with the guards Oregon has? Mike Moser grabbing 30% of rebounds just to let Young, Artis, Dotson and Calliste go off to the races? This team is going to be just fine even if it’s a formidable V3 of Moser, but there is so much upside. He can turn what’s already a Pac-12 title contender into something far greater than that.
Connor Pelton: T.J. McConnell. When McConnell announced he was transferring from Duquesne a couple years back, I was intrigued right away. And I still am, but his presence provides more questions than answers at the moment. The biggest thing I want to know is if his addition will improve Arizona’s awful perimeter defense. The Wildcats ranked 265th in the country last season in defensive three-point field goal percentage, and in both of McConnell’s two seasons with the Dukes, the guard averaged nearly three steals per game with his ball-hawking style. It will certainly be a change of pace from the erratic Mark Lyons, who struggled during most of 2012-13 in creating pressure.
Lastly, I want to know who will be this team’s primary shooter on the offensive end of the floor. Sean Miller loses his top four three-point shooters from last season and McConnell certainly has the stroke to contribute, but Arizona needs a true one to balance the offense and space the floor. When Miller first arrived in Tucson, he inherited the talents of Nic Wise from Russ Pennell and Lute Olson. Wise was the last true one to play for Miller, and I don’t think there is a bigger question mark in the conference right now than how Miller handles finally having another one at Arizona.
Andrew Murawa: Kyle Anderson arrived at UCLA last year as a top-five national recruit, albeit in a down year for young hoopsters. And after some early struggles, he wound up being an excellent contributor for Ben Howland’s Pac-12 champion Bruins, notching six double-doubles in his freshman campaign. But the thing is, Kyle Anderson of 2012-13 never really approached the Kyle Anderson that basketball fans were promised, in part because, for the first time in his basketball career, he was asked to play off the ball. You see, despite his lanky stature, Anderson is at heart a point guard, a floor general who sees the court well, distributes the ball with ease and helps get the most out of his team. In his sophomore campaign, Anderson will have his wish; he’ll be the primary ball-handler for the Bruins and he’ll be tasked with getting his team going. But it remains to be seen if Anderson can handle the point position at this level, something he’s never done. For a Bruin team that likely needs to play with pace this season in order to be successful, it remains to be seen if a guy nicknamed Slo-Mo is the guy to run that up-tempo style. The biggest question of all is whether a 6’9” point guard with limited quickness can find a way to avoid being a defensive liability for a team that has struggled in recent years on that end. If Anderson can help the Bruins find positive answers in more than a few of those areas, they’ll be among the contenders for the conference crown; if those answers turn out to be mostly negatives, the Bruins could slip closer to the middle of the pack.