Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week Five

Posted by Andrew Murawa on December 23rd, 2014

Each week the Pac-12 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, which typically will include a Team, Player and Newcomer of the Week, along with our weekly Power Rankings.

Team of the Week: Washington

Nigel Williams-Goss and The Huskies Are Beginning To Make Believers Out of Pac-12 Fans (USA Today)

Nigel Williams-Goss and The Huskies Are Beginning To Make Believers Out of Pac-12 Fans (USA Today)

Given the way the past three seasons have gone in Seattle, it has been perfectly reasonable to remain skeptical of the Huskies thus far. Yeah, they won the Wooden Legacy tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, but San Jose State, Long Beach State and UTEP were not exactly a murderer’s row there. Now, three weeks later, we look back on that and instead see a tough neutral-court win over those Miners (who just gave Arizona all it wanted) a little bit more impressive. Then, two weeks ago, there was an ugly, ugly, ugly Sunday night win over San Diego State, which was easily written off as little more than a horrific shooting night by the Aztecs, followed up by a come-from-behind victory against a middling Eastern Washington team. Any of those things in a vacuum elicits more yawns; but taken as a whole, we’re starting to get somewhere. Then on Saturday evening in Last Vegas, the Huskies turned in their first masterpiece of the season in a win over Oklahoma, delivering a superb offensive first half before getting to the finish line on the strength of strong defense and timely buckets. We’ll get to some of the Huskies’ specific performances shortly, but a neutral-site win over a quality Sooners’ team gets the Huskies recognition as our first unanimous Pac-12 Team of the Week.

Player of the Week: Nigel Williams-Goss, Utah

You’re not often going to see the Huskies’ floor general put up massive numbers, but he does a little bit of everything for this team. Always calm and under control, Williams-Goss is a master at getting his players the ball in the places where they can make the most positive plays for the team on the offensive end, and sticking his nose into trouble wherever he can on the defensive end. In three games this week (including Monday night’s win over Tulane), Williams-Goss averaged 10.3 points, 8.7 assists and 5.7 boards per game, numbers that only begin to hint at the impact he has had for his team.

(Also receiving votes: Brandon Taylor, Utah)

Newcomer of the Week: Robert Upshaw, Washington

As good as Williams-Goss was, Upshaw was frankly every bit as important to the Huskies’ week as the point guard. Let’s get right to his traditional numbers: 12.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 4.0 BPG. Offensively, he’s better than anyone has had a right to expect; he’s got great hands, great feet, knows his strengths and weaknesses, and attacks the rim with abandon. Add the fact that he — despite shooting 41 percent from the line thus far — looks like he should turn into a serviceable foul shooter at some point, is tantalizing. But really, talking about Upshaw’s offense is almost like talking about Kate Upton’s eyes; it’s besides the point. The sophomore is not only swatting away everything that comes into the lane (OK, “everything” is overstating it; he’s only blocking roughly 20 percent of opponents’ two-point attempts when he’s in the game), he’s changing a bunch more shots and dissuading opponents from even venturing into the paint to begin with. Unlike a lot of elite shot-blockers, he’s got the wherewithal and athletic ability (my goodness, that second jump) to still be an excellent defensive rebounder on those handful of shots that he doesn’t block.

(Also receiving votes: Gary Payton II, Oregon State)

Power Rankings

Through five weeks of the season, we’re now all in agreement as to the top four teams in the league: Arizona, Utah, Washington and California, in that order. And here’s a bit of tantalizingly good news in case you were caught up in all your holiday merry-making: Washington plays at California on Friday, January 2, as part of the opening night of conference play in just 10 days.


AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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