Ho Ho Ho: Delivering Christmas Presents To Each Pac-12 TeamPosted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 23rd, 2013
We here at the Pac-12 wing our in the holiday spirit, so we decided to give a gift to each team in the conference. I took the six “north” schools, Drew took the six “south” ones, and the results are below. Happy Holidays, everyone.
Washington – Here’s hoping 12th year head coach Lorenzo Romar wakes up Christmas morning to a clean bill of health for his Huskies inside his stocking. Washington has been unfairly plagued by injuries all season long, and it started in early November when junior forward Desmond Simmons went under the knife for arthroscopic knee surgery. Simmons did return this weekend against Connecticut, but he was definitely needed a couple weeks back when the Huskies lost a tight one at San Diego State. Three days after the Simmons news, Romar learned they lost another big man who was poised for a breakout season, Jernard Jarreau. Jarreau tore his ACL in the season opener against Seattle and will miss the entire season. There’s been others on the Husky roster with some dinks and bruises throughout the year, causing headache after headache for Romar.
Washington State – What’s that under the tree? Just what you wanted Cougar fans; a new shooting coach! And boy does Washington State need one. It ranks dead last in the conference in shooting percentage, and it’s not just the simple fact of shots not falling. They are off target, rarely close to going in, and with terrible backspin. The Cougars need to go back to the basics or they’ll find themselves dead last come March and looking to replace Ken Bone.
Oregon – What do you give the team that already has everything? Some help for coach Dana Altman setting his ten-deep rotation would be nice. While the Ducks have looked terrific so far, roles are still being defined, and that could spell trouble come Pac-12 play.
Oregon State – Beaver fans are the naughty kids that find their parents’ present stash before Christmas morning. But they like what they see as they get the return of junior forward Eric Moreland, who will come back from a 14 game suspension on January 9 against Stanford. The Beavers are an upper half Pac-12 team with the big man in the lineup, using his long wing span on the defensive end of the court to deny any shots inside the paint. On the other side, Moreland has improved his offensive game and can power his way to the hoop. It will be interesting to see how much he can improve even more with the new block/charge rule, something that got him in trouble a lot last season.
California – Santa’s bringing the Golden Bears a dose of consistency this Christmas. The first two month’s of California’s season has been a roller coaster ride, starting with a five game winning streak, then a stretch where it lost three of four games. Cal now enters the holiday on a one game skid after a pathetic showing at Creighton, a game it lost 68-54.
Stanford – The Cardinal enter the holiday break after a brutal road trip, topping Connecticut in Hartford and losing a nail-biter to Michigan in New York City. What they did show was some great defense, coming as a huge surprise after giving up 112 and 88 points to BYU and Pittsburgh earlier this season. So, Johnny Dawkins gets a re-gift of sorts; the continuation of solid defensive play. If their long perimeter defenders continue to play tight defense, this is a team that can compete for a league title, even without the services of senior guard Aaron Bright, who is out for the year with a dislocated right shoulder.
USC - Not sure how he does it, but Santa has somehow bottled patience. And he’ll be bringing a few cases of that liquid patience to Trojan head coach Andy Enfield. His roster is a mishmash of guys, many of whom he probably wouldn’t have much interest in if he were doing the recruiting, but for the time being, Enfield’s got to make do with what he’s got. Plenty of reinforcements are coming, but for the time being, the 2013-14 edition of the Trojans will not be able to play the kind of style that Enfield embraces.
UCLA - Santa’s been listening. And as a result, once this busy time of year is up, as a personal gift to Steve Alford and his team, Santa will be sending his elves to Bruin home games to bring some life to Pauley Pavilion. With plenty of open seats, those elves will not only find ample room to take in the game, but they’ll certainly provide a boost to the decibel level in the venerated arena.
Arizona - What do you get a program that has everything? The Wildcats have plenty this holiday season; if anything, they should be handing out presents. But no matter, as they’ve been more nice than naughty, Santa’s got something in his bag for the ‘Cats: renewed eligibility for Grant Jerrett. Jerrett left early for the NBA Draft and is toiling away in the D-League at this point. While Sean Miller doesn’t necessarily need him, his presence would give the Wildcats not only another big presence up front, but a guy who can knock down threes better than anybody in the current frontcourt. Yeah, there probably aren’t a ton of minutes available for Jerrett, but he sure would make a nice addition.
Arizona State - Santa’s got a nice surprise for Herb Sendek and company: an extra timeout in each game. Why? Because with Sendek seemingly committed to spreading the vast majority of his minutes among just six guys, these Sun Devils could use another couple minutes of rest to catch their breath, especially at the end of tight games.
Utah – That Mr. Claus has a ton of tricks up his sleeve, but this one is a doozy. His gift to the Utes is a little bit of time travel and the opportunity to eliminate a couple non-conference opponents like Saint Katherine and Evergreen State and replace them with halfway decent opponents. And the Utes don’t even have to poke around too far to find those replacements; I hear there’s a team in Logan that wouldn’t mind playing them. Oh, you have to go on the road to Logan every other year? Too bad. Take your gift and enjoy it.
Colorado - Santa’s got something special for the Buffaloes, as he’ll have the Mrs. Whip up some good old-fashioned home cooking for Tad Boyle’s club every time they go on the road. The combination of a rowdy Coors Event Center, some elevation and a talented veteran club make the Buffaloes a load to handle at home. But if they’re able to produce on the road in conference play this year (they’re 7-11 on the road in conference play the last two years combined), the Buffs could compete for a conference title.