Pac-12 Bests and Worsts: Opening Weekend Edition

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 16th, 2015

The season is back and it is time for what will be a recurring Monday feature here — Bests and Worsts. We usually prefer to spend our weekends watching basketball and save the analysis for the following week so we figured this is the best way to recap some of the good and bad of each weekend. For starters, two teams (UCLA and Stanford) played two games this weekend and everyone else played a single one. One team (Washington) won a potential resume-builder while two other teams (Arizona State and UCLA) lost games that they hope everyone will forget by early February. Let’s take a look at what went down.

Jakob Poeltl Does What You Want A Big Man To Do (Utah Basketball)

Jakob Poeltl Picked Up Where He Left Off In A Season-Opening Win. (Utah Basketball)

  • Best Early Case For Player of the Year Honors: There is little doubt at this point that Jakob Poeltl is going to be a lottery pick as soon as the end of this season, but for now, let’s make sure to celebrate his outstanding versatility before he is gone. The sophomore filled up the box score with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Utes’ frontcourt overwhelmed intrastate foe Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds will probably be one of the least physically imposing teams Poeltl goes up against this season, but if his teammates can continue to shoot well from behind the three-point arc, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a Poeltl 20/10 become a regular occurrence in Salt Lake City.

  • Worst Good Luck Token: Apparently it is legendary high school basketball coach Bob Hurley, Sr. who can’t seem to watch his son win a game as a coach. The Sun Devils aren’t expected to be very good this season, but the younger Bob Hurley was still clearly hoping for a better debut than a home loss to Sacramento State. The team will shoot better than 2-of-17 from behind the arc and Savon Goodman won’t always play so poorly, but fans in Tempe will need to be patient with Hurley as his team is clearly going through some early growing pains.
  • Best Showing from a Supposedly Bad Team: Describing Colorado as bad is unfair to the team Tad Boyle is developing in Boulder, but the Buffaloes gave #7 Iowa State all it could handle, and that was without the services of stalwart Xavier Johnson. We won’t pretend to look too deeply for trends from the first game of the season, but Boyle’s group held the Cyclones to just 2-of-10 shooting from downtown and have the athletes and size to cause a lot of problems defensively.
  • Worst Showing from a Supposedly Good Team: UCLA will likely be fine in the long run but its defense looked awfully leaky over the weekend. Monmouth didn’t shoot a great percentage from the field in its overtime win against the Bruins, but for Steve Alford’s athletes to force just seven turnovers and commit 23 of their own is more than a bit troubling. The team’s defensive intensity was better against Cal Poly in last night’s win, but the Mustangs didn’t struggle to find open looks or take care of the ball either. There is plenty of talent available in Westwood, but good teams will run roughshod over them if the Bruins don’t quickly tighten things up on the defensive end.
  • Best Statement that Berkeley Doesn’t Have a Monopoly on Star Freshmen: Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb were mostly as good as advertised in the Golden Bears’ Friday night win over Rice. But Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey announced that he probably belongs in the conversation too after scoring 20 points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out five assists, and chipping in a block and a steal to boot. A long athlete with good shooting range and the physicality to finish at the rim, Dorsey has plenty of NBA potential in his own right and could be a difference-maker for the Ducks this season. Brown and Rabb are still the favorites to win the Freshman of the Year award, but Dorsey is going to have plenty of games that make sure no one forgets that he can play some ball too.

Michael Humphrey Has Been a Double-Double Machine in the Early Season

  • Best Job of Making Me Look Dumb: A week ago I wrote the Stanford preview and made the error – as a friendly commenter so graciously pointed out – of leaving sophomore forward Michael Humphrey completely out of the preview. Humphrey clearly took the slight personally as he went for 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in the Cardinal’s season-opening overtime win over Green Bay, and followed that up with 13 points and 12 rebounds in a win last night against Charleston Southern. The competition hasn’t been great thus far but Humphrey looks like one of the Cardinal’s best players and for that I owe him an apology and a promise to remember him during the rest of the season.
  • Worst Job of Moving Your Feet: There are probably some positives to playing a lineup full of true freshmen, but as Lorenzo Romar quickly found out on Friday, there are some obvious downsides as well. The Huskies scored an impressive win over Texas in Shanghai, but they committed 20 fouls in the first half and Romar watched as three of his freshmen (and a sophomore) fouled out of the game.  The sheer number of athletic youngsters at his disposal gives Romar a little bit more leeway when it comes to juggling foul trouble, but from the looks of it, he will need players like Marquese Chriss (14 points) to play more than 18 minutes per game.
mlemaire (324 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *