Pac-12 First Impressions

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 16th, 2015

The first weekend is in the books. Everybody’s played at least once and some teams have even gotten a couple games under their belts. There were some positive surprises (hello, Washington!) and some early disappointments (oh, UCLA), but we’ve got already plenty to talk about. Let’s take a spin around the conference and give a sentence or two on every team, while expanding on those teams that have done something — whether positive or negative — to deserve a little more.

Arizona: Ater ofnly one game against middling competition, I’m ready to call the battle for the Wildcats’ starting point guard position over. In something of a surprise, it’s Kadeem Allen. The former JuCo Player of the Year was known as a scoring off-guard coming to Tucson, but after spending his redshirt year playing the point, he’s leaped over sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright on the depth chart. There will be some bumps in the road for the new team orchestrator, but at 6’3” (compared to Jackson-Cartwright’s 5’9”), he allows Sean Miller to put more talent on the floor.

Kadeem Allen Is The One At Point Guard U?

Kadeem Allen Is The One at Point Guard U?

Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ 2-of-17 mark from beyond the three-point arc stands out in their opening night loss against Sacramento State, but more concerning might be the fact that they were outrebounded by a team that was awful on the glass last season. Still, we may look back on this game in three months and see it as just a weird blip.

California: You can’t tell a whole lot from a game against an overmatched opponent, but all five Cal starters scored in double figures and the Golden Bears did what they were supposed to do. And, oh yeah: there was this from Tyrone Wallace.

Colorado: Despite playing through injury last year, Josh Scott made 54.9 percent of his two-point field goal attempts and 63.5 percent of his shots around the rim. On Friday afternoon, Scott missed an abnormally high number of looks that for him would be considered easy. Despite that, the Buffaloes lost by just six points in a neutral-site game (that felt more like a road game) to the sixth-ranked team in the country, Iowa State. All things considered, this was a decent outcome. Still, that point guard position remains unsettled after Dominique Collier had an uneven game to open his sophomore campaign.

Oregon: Tyler Dorsey exploded onto the scene with a debut just shy of perfect (20 points, five assists, five rebounds, four threes). JuCo transfer Chris Boucher’s unveiling was just as tantalizing (10 points, five rebounds, five blocks in just 16 minutes). However, all of this was done against Jackson State; we’ll get a much better idea of how good Oregon is beginning tonight when the Ducks host Baylor in Eugene.

Oregon State: The last conference team to get their season started, the Beavers did what they were supposed to do on Saturday, handling Northwest Christian by 22 points. Freshman center Drew Eubanks continued to impress with 13 points, eight boards and a couple blocks. Wake me up when they play someone.

Stanford: Many had already penciled in a loss for Stanford in its opener against Green Bay. You just don’t win games against good teams when you don’t have a point guard, right? But the Cardinal rolled with Christian Sanders and Malcolm Allen at the one, and despite some tense moments in an overtime nail-biter, got a combined 33 points and three assists (and also eight turnovers) from that duo. They backed that up with a combined 15 points, nine assists and just two turnovers on Sunday night in a blowout over Charleston Southern. Malcolm’s brother Marcus is due back this week and, all of a sudden, I’m high on the Cardinal again. Michael Humphrey and Reid Travis look like a formidable sophomore duo in the middle. Rosco Allen has been terrific on the wing. And Dorian Pickens? Goodness. That dude can straight-up play; he was perhaps the biggest surprise of the opening weekend in the PAC. They’re going to have problems patching together minutes at the point guard slot all year, but if Johnny Dawkins can somehow manufacture competence there, he has enough talent elsewhere on this roster to make some hay.

Dorian Pickens Can Play (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

Dorian Pickens Can Play (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

UCLA: Panic! No, really. Panic. The jaw-dropping opening night loss to Monmouth was followed up by an uninspired performance against Cal Poly on Sunday. If we want to get Pollyanna-ish, we could say: “Hey, those teams aren’t bad.” And you’d be right. But “not bad” doesn’t begin to describe teams like Kentucky, North Carolina, Gonzaga, UNLV and (perhaps) Kansas — all teams still waiting on the Bruins’ non-conference schedule in coming weeks. Here are the cold, hard facts: Last year’s Bruins shouldn’t have been an NCAA Tournament team, but went on to get several exceedingly fortunate breaks once they actually played in that event. That team lost two NBA Draft picks who have now been replaced by freshmen. So yes, early struggles aren’t completely unexpected. But if things don’t get fixed pronto, UCLA is about to get embarrassed – several more times – in the non-conference portion of their schedule.

USC: The Trojans destroyed a bad San Diego team. And yes, the Toreros are bad. USC looked terrific, though, as Jordan McLaughlin had 20 points, Katin Reinhardt appeared to be a good teammate, and Chimezie Metu looked like Godzilla demolishing Tokyo. Bennie Boatwright knocked in the first two of what will be a a great many three-point field goals in his career. Perhaps most encouragingly, the Trojans also played good team defense for once. Now, we get to compare USC to UCLA right away when Andy Enfield’s team hosts Monmouth Monday evening.

Utah: The Utes let Southern Utah stick around for way too long. No need to dwell on it, however, since we’ll see Utah face a real test when it hosts San Diego State on Monday night. One statistic from the matchup with the Thunderbirds worth mentioning: Jakob Poeltl, Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Loveridge combined to go 28-of-38 from the field for 73 total points. Oh, and the trio chipped in a combined 28 boards. Everybody else on the team went 1-of-16 from the field for nine points and nine boards.

Washington: There is nothing as adorable as Husky puppies. True to life, this group of Husky pups, featuring seven freshmen and a JuCo transfer, won over Washington fans immediately. There was a lot of youthful overexuberance (17 turnovers and 34 personal fouls), but Lorenzo Romar’s kids played like a Lorenzo Romar team should. They got up and down the floor (73 possessions) and used their length and athleticism to cause trouble everywhere on the floor. Dejounte Murray, Noah Dickerson, Marquese Chriss, David Crisp, Malik Dime all played key roles on Friday night in Shanghai. I can’t wait to see this team play again. And the one senior on this team? If you’re an unbiased observer, I’m guessing you’re going to love Andrew Andrews by the end of this season.

Marquese Chriss and The Husky Pups Took China By Storm

Marquese Chriss and The Husky Pups Took China By Storm

Washington State: There’s a lot to be excited about after one game in Pullman. Mr. Double-Double, Josh Hawkinson, lived up to his name. Freshman Viont’e Daniels knocked in five threes. Que Johnson looked, at least for stretches, like a guy who might be ready to break out. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before this team really gets tested. Their schedule for the rest of November looks like this: Idaho State (KenPom #334), Cal State Los Angeles (D-II), and Texas Southern (#273). The jump into the deep end right begins right away in December when Gonzaga visits.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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