Pac-12 M5: 11.01.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on November 1st, 2012

  1. Finally, some good news for one of UCLA’s freshmen: Kyle Anderson has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. The main questions surrounding Anderson’s eligibility had to do with his father’s relationship with agent Thad Foucher, in addition to concerns about who paid for Anderson’s unofficial visits to UCLA (along with how many he took). Though Anderson’s father was confident all along that his son would be cleared to play, assuredly there were more than a few UCLA supporters who heaved a deep sigh of relief Wednesday. It has been a long four months for the Anderson family and UCLA, but there is now one less cloud hanging over the Bruins’ 2012-13 season. All of a sudden, the Bruins’ perimeter lineup looks a lot stronger and bigger, as the 6’9’’ Anderson is known for his great court vision and passing abilities. Now all that’s left is for the NCAA to clear Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2012 according to Scout and No. 1 recruit according to Rivals. At the very least, the Bruins are in a much better position to live up to the preseason hype as a top 15 team in the country and potentially make a push deep into the NCAA Tournament next spring.
  2. Another Pac-12 exhibition contest is in the books as Arizona defeated Humboldt State 108-67 in its exhibition opener last night. If this game is any indication (and it probably isn’t), our Kevin Danna might have nailed it on the head in last week’s burning question when he said Kaleb Tarczewski will be the best newcomer to the Pac-12 this year. The seven-footer had the game’s lone double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He seemed to always be in the right spot down by the bucket to collect rebounds and also showed off a very nice drop-step, albeit against a non-Division-I post player. Mark Lyons also looked comfortable handling Sean Miller’s offense and, as usual, he wasn’t afraid to look for his own shot either, finishing with 15 points. Nick Johnson filled up the stat sheet in just about every way imaginable with 14 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists, as well as throwing down a couple of nice dunks as icing on the cake. If any other school in the conference wants to claim they have the best fans in the conference, then show an attendance figure surpassing 12,431 for an exhibition game. From the best I could tell on the stream (which, by the way, was much less laggy than Oregon’s stream on Monday night), the Wildcat crowd was very into it aside from just showing up in large numbers to a meaningless game on Halloween night. Supporters in Tucson surely sense that Sean Miller has a potentially great team on his hands.
  3. And then there are the “secret scrimmages” that never seem to be too much of a secret. Later tonight, Stanford will travel to Moraga to take on the Saint Mary’s Gaels in a game that fans and reporters are prohibited from attending. While many Cardinal followers would prefer this to be an actual game on the non-conference slate, perhaps it could be the first step towards setting up a home-and-home with the Gaels in the near future. In the immediate future, this game will give the Cardinal some sort of idea how they stack up with a team that is more or less thought to be on the same level. Big things are expected out of the junior class that features Aaron Bright, Dwight Powell, Anthony Brown, and Josh Huestis, and this game provides the class with a chance to get some positive momentum rolling into the beginning of the season. A “win” against St. Mary’s in the scrimmage could provide a nice confidence boost, even if it’s not a real game setting and both coaches might tweak the lineups more than usual.
  4. The newest CBS Sports list deals with the best defenders in the nation and, unlike previous ones, this one is not ordered. Rather, 30 guys are separated into different categories of defenders, and two of the 30 defenders reign from the Pac-12: Colorado’s André Roberson and Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye. Roberson gets a nod under the “best glass cleaning defenders” category, for pretty much the same reason why Eamonn Brennan tabbed the Colorado forward the best rebounder in the nation. N’Diaye is filed under the “best rim protecting defenders” department. We talked about Roberson yesterday, so N’Diaye is a guy who has done a solid job as a lane-clogger for Lorenzo Romar during his first two years in Seattle, but you would expect a guy his size to finish better than 12th in the conference in blocks as he did last season. No love for Pac-12 perimeter defenders, but right now, there isn’t any guard in the conference that could feel too slighted by not receiving CBS Sports’ recognition.
  5. Finally, it’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day today, taking place this morning and afternoon in the Pac-12 Enterprises offices in San Francisco. All 12 coaches will be there, along with one player from each team: Solomon Hill, Carrick Felix, Allen Crabbe, André Roberson, E.J. Singler, Angus Brandt, Aaron Bright, David Wear (you didn’t think UCLA would take Shabazz, did you?), Jio Fontan, Jason Washburn, Abdul Gaddy and Brock Motum. Nothing earth-shattering usually takes place at these events, but it will be a good chance to get some more nuggets on Washington’s high-post offense, Craig Robinson’s role in the Obama re-election campaign, and an official “no comment” comment on the Shabazz situation now that Anderson is cleared to play. Most importantly, the preseason Pac-12 media poll will be released. Which team will the media pick to take home the Pac-12 regular season crown: UCLA or Arizona?
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Pac-12 M5: The Halloween Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 31st, 2012

  1. Happy Halloween, everyone. Arizona will treat its fans to an exhibition against Humboldt State tonight at the McKale Center. Exhibitions are usually for the die-hards, but probably more than a few casual fans will make their way over to the Tucson campus to catch a glimpse of the third-ranked recruiting class in action for the first time against somebody other than themselves. One question surrounding this class is whether it will be able to live up to the hype better than last year’s class. Remember how highly touted the trio of Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner and Angelo Chol were? All signs point to Grant Jerrett, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley  and Gabe York as able to deliver in a bigger way this season, but one can never be 100 percent certain until they perform in a game. This contest will also provide Wildcat supporters with a first look at point guard Mark Lyons in an Arizona uniform, as the mercurial senior averaged 15 points per game last year at Xavier. It’s also worth mentioning that the Wildcats lost their exhibition opener last year to Seattle Pacific, but I find it hard to believe that a similar result will be produced against Humboldt State on this night.
  2. The NCAA approved tougher sanctions against those programs and coaches who buck the NCAA law. A couple of the more striking provisions are that NCAA violators who are found to be in “serious breach of conduct” could potentially suffer similar punishments to the one handed out to the Penn State football team (a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine). Also, if an assistant coach commits a serious violation, the head coach must be able to prove that he or she was unaware of the assistant’s actions; if not, the head coach could be suspended for anywhere from 10 percent to the entire season. All changes will go into effect starting August 1, 2013. While the coaches who are quoted in the various articles seem to be largely in favor of these tougher sanctions, it obviously still remains to be seen how effective these changes will be. As has been the case throughout history, cheaters will find a way to continue their cheating ways. Hopefully these tougher penalties will accomplish the NCAA’s and everyone’s goal of a markedly cleaner collegiate athletics scene.
  3. Another day, another CBS Sports list. On Tuesday, it was the top 50 shooters in the country, a list that made space for three current Pac-12 players: Washington’s C.J. Wilcox (No. 11), California’s Allen Crabbe (No. 12) and Stanford’s Chasson Randle (No. 41). Additionally, former Husky and current Texas A&M Aggie Elston Turner made the cut at No. 19. No real gripes here, but perhaps Aaron Bright was also deserving of a nod, especially considering his play during the 2012 NIT, a five-game run that earned him NIT Most Outstanding Player honors. What’s noteworthy with this list is that 35 of the 50 players come from non-power conference schools, including representatives from Texas Pan-American and Texas Southern. For those not curious enough to check out the list, former Razorback-turned-Butler Bulldog Rotnei Clarke holds down the top spot.
  4. Earlier this week, ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan released his top 10 rebounders in the country, and Colorado’s André Roberson topped the list. We’re probably a little biased here at the Pac-12 microsite because we get to see Roberson play so often, but there’s no faulting Brennan for this selection. Roberson is an elite rebounder thanks to his hops, long arms and overall very high basketball IQ. There were spots during last year’s Pac-12 Tournament where Roberson looked like a future lottery pick, especially when he started to knock down a few threes. He certainly has that kind of upside, and big things are expected again of the only guy in the Pac-12 to average a double-double last season. There were no freshmen in Brennan’s top 10, but Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett of Arizona both made his “freshmen to watch” mentions.
  5. Lastly, the Pac-12 announced its talent lineup for the Pac-12 Networks’ men’s basketball coverage for the upcoming season. Headlined by Bill Walton, other analysts include Don MacLean, Ernie Kent, Lenny Wilkens and Detlef Schrempf. The play-by-play lineup doesn’t necessarily include as many big names, but all are very good broadcasters and will not disappoint viewers. The most famous of the play-by-play guys is probably Ted Robinson, a two-time Emmy winner who has done just about every sport imaginable. Overall, it’s a very intriguing lineup of broadcasters and it should keep Pac-12 Networks broadcasts for men’s basketball entertaining.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 30th, 2012

  1. Oregon opened up its exhibition slate last night, and unlike Washington, the Ducks won rather easily in a 102-75 decision over Concordia. After Concordia opened up the game with a 9-2 run thanks to a couple of threes, the Ducks took care of business in large thanks to the new guys. From what I was able to see (the game was streamed live on the Pac-12 website), the most impressive newbie of the bunch was Dominic Artis, who led the way with 17 points. He dished out some flashy passes and absolutely crossed up a couple of Concordia defenders. He was also able to knock down some perimeter jumpers, hitting three of his four three-point attempts. Damyean Dotson recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while another freshman, Willie Moore, scored 15 points. It’s only the preseason and it was a non-Division-I opponent, but Duck fans can come away from that game with some reason to be excited for the future even if this year doesn’t figure to be a banner one for Dana Altman and company.
  2. The Associated Press preseason All-America Team was released yesterday, and probably to the surprise of nobody, no one from the Pac-12 made the list. Instead, comprising the team were Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Crieghton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Michigan’s Trey Burke (yes, there were six players named because McCollum and Burke received the same number of votes). The one Pac-12 guy who an argument could be made that he deserves preseason All-America honors from a talent perspective is UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, but, considering his eligibility questions, there was no way Muhammad was going to garner this recognition. There has only been one freshman to be named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press (Harrison Barnes in 2010), and given how that worked out, there might not be another one for a while. The last Pac-12 player to make the AP preseason All-America Team was Darren Collison back in 2008.
  3. Continuing along with its preseason lists, CBS Sports released its top 30 breakout players for 2012-13 yesterday. Two Pac-12 guys found their way on there –Washington’s Scott Suggs (No. 17) and USC’s J.T. Terrell (No. 21), while former Sun Devil-turned-South Florida Bull Victor Rudd checked in at #20. We here at the Rush The Court Pac-12 Microsite tackled this topic on October 19 and not one of us picked Suggs or Terrell to be the top breakout guy in the conference. While both are worthy choices, surely Aziz N’Diaye, Dewayne Dedmon, Nick Johnson, Roberto Nelson and Dwight Powell are deserving of the same sort of recognition. Of course, there are only 30 players on this list and there are more than 30 conferences, so quite a few leagues are feeling more snubbed than the Pac-12 today.
  4. Jon Rothstein took a trip to the Galen Center to watch USC practice and came away highly impressed with the Trojans. Predicting the Trojans will finish in the top-half of the Pac-12 standings, Rothstein is particularly in admiration of the depth USC has thanks to all the transfers who are finally eligible to suit up for Kevin O’Neill. One player who might not be eligible is Omar Oraby, and Rothstein notes that O’Neill said he expects to hear from the NCAA this week with regards to the 7’2’’ transfer from Rice (he is applying for an NCAA hardship waiver to play immediately after transferring in September). If he can play this year, Rothstein writes that O’Neill’s plan will be to play both him and Dewayne Dedmon together in the starting lineup, giving the Trojans two seven-footers on the court at the same time. As far as the rest of the rotation, he expects Jio FontanJ.T. Terrell and Dedmon to start, with the other two spots up for grabs if Oraby isn’t able to play. With such a new-look roster, it’s almost easy to forget that the Trojans were a six-win team in 2011-12 and won only one conference game in perhaps the weakest Pac-12 of recent memory. An article like this will surely have Trojan fans salivating for the beginning of the season.
  5. A bit of unfortunate news out of the Pacific Northwest, as former Oregon State player Daniel Deane has been arrested for a marijuana-related incident… for the third time this year. All three of his arrests have revolved around the transportation of marijuana. Luckily, his jail stint shouldn’t be a long one, as Harney County Jail (where Deane is being held) suggests he will be released on November 7. Deane was a hard-nosed player on the court, one who could be counted on for hustle plays. It’s regrettable that he would commit the same offense three times in a year, but hopefully he will be able to learn from this arrest and at the very least keep his stash at home.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.29.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 29th, 2012

  1. The beginning of the regular season is 11 days away, so that means exhibition season is starting to heat up. Oregon takes the court tonight against Concordia, a game that was originally scheduled for November 1 before the Pac-12 Media Day was announced for that day (all coaches have to attend Media Day, so the game was pushed up three days). While E.J. Singler will reportedly miss the game with tendinitis in his knees, the exhibition will be a good opportunity for Dana Altman and staff to see how the eight newcomers (or seven, with Arsalan Kazemi’s status for this season still up in the air as he hopes to be granted a hardship waiver) look in game action. The one most likely to make the biggest impact is Dominic Artis, a four-star recruit out of famed Findlay Prep. Although Jonathan Loyd is still on campus, Artis has the tools to be the next in line of dynamic smaller guards for the Ducks, following in the footsteps of Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter. In somewhat related exhibition news, Western Washington lost an exhibition at Duke by a score of 105-87. Remember, the defending Division II national champion Vikings made Washington sweat out an 88-78 decision in favor of the Huskies after the game was tied three times in the final 10 minutes. Not that the transitive property is ever accurate in sports, but if Washington won beat Western Washington by 10 and Duke won by 18… Also, the Blue Devils’ victory was much more of a rout, as the game was never closer than 11 points in the second half.
  2. After supposedly being suspended for academic reasons for the 2012-13 season, former USC Trojan Maurice Jones declared his intentions to transfer. Well, the diminutive guard has made his decision, announcing that he will be taking his talents to Ames to play for Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State Cyclones. According to the Ames Tribune, Jones will enroll at Iowa State for the spring semester and can suit up to play in a game for the Cyclones at the conclusion of the fall 2013 semester, which will be somewhere around mid-December, as a junior. Jones figures to be the second straight transfer to run point for the Cyclones, as former Michigan State Spartan Korie Lucious will quarterback the offense for his last year of eligibility in 2012-13. What is perhaps most interesting from the article, however, is that Jones claims he was not academically ineligible for the upcoming season, rather saying he was suspended from USC for a year for a matter unrelated to his grades. Since neither Jones nor the USC sports information department will comment on the real reason for his suspension at USC, it makes one wonder what actually happened there.
  3. Late last week, the NCAA released its annual report of graduation rates for all sports (you’ll have to fill in the appropriate drop-down menus to see the report on Pac-12 men’s basketball), and Stanford led the Pac-12 with a graduation success rate (GSR) of 91 percent, followed by Oregon (85 percent) and the Washington schools (both at 78 percent). Bringing up the rear was USC, which checked in with a GSR of 43 percent. Nothing too shocking from this report, as Stanford usually finds itself at or near the top of the conference list in GSR, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Oregon tie the Cardinal for the best federal graduation rate (90 percent) in the Pac-12. On the glass-half-empty side of things, it’s disconcerting to see California, a school with a great academic reputation, not duplicating that educational success with its athletes. The Golden Bears are tied for 10th with Oregon State with a GSR of 50 percent. With the figures based on entering classes from 2002 through 2005, this academic mediocrity largely didn’t happen under Mike Montgomery’s watch, so there is certainly potential for that percentage to shoot up over the next couple of years.
  4. Also a little bit of old news, but the preseason AP Top 25 Poll came out just after the Friday M5, and, like the USA Today Coaches Poll, it features two Pac-12 teams: Arizona at No. 12 (the Wildcats are ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll) and UCLA at No. 13. The “others receiving votes” list was a little less kind to the Pac-12, as Stanford only received two points, down from seven in the USA Today poll. With the conference coming off such a down year, having two teams ranked in the middle of both top 25 polls is as good as it was going to get for the Pac-12, but Stanford, Cal, Colorado, USC, and maybe even Washington might have a legitimate shot to get into the rankings at some point this year. And, if everything goes according to planned and all NCAA hurdles are cleared, the Pac-12’s two ranked teams just might be making a push for Atlanta in the spring.
  5. Lastly, UCLA unveiled its new statue of John Wooden in front of the new and improved Pauley Pavilion last Friday. The bronze statue of Wooden stands eight feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. As our Andrew Murawa wrote leading up to the statue unveiling, this should be a time to celebrate UCLA basketball with the renovation of Pauley Pavilion and a star-studded recruiting class coming to campus, even if two of the biggest pieces of that class still are not cleared by the NCAA. From a conference perspective, a strong and healthy UCLA only helps the Pac-12 and its perception around the country, making that Legends Classic in Brooklyn (where UCLA will face Georgetown and possibly preseason top-ranked Indiana) all the more important.
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Washington Squeaks by in Exhibition: Nothing to See Here

Posted by KDanna on October 26th, 2012

It’s very rare you see an exhibition game this early in the preseason, but Washington got the Pac-12 exhibition slate kicked off Wednesday night with a contest against Division II Western Washington. Unless you were on campus, there was no way to watch it, so there isn’t much to take away from the game recap on how players are developing. As a result, the big headline from the game is how close Western Washington kept the game, coming back from 13 down in the second half to tie it up on three separate occasions in the final 10 minutes before the Huskies finally got some separation and won the game, 88-78. Some around the country might be thinking “oh, there goes that Pac-12 again with its mid-major-level basketball. If the defending conference regular-season champion can barely beat a D-II school, how bad can the Huskies and the rest of the Pac-12 be?”

It will take time before Lorenzo Romar’s high-post offense is running smoothly.

Although Washington fans would have much more preferred a blowout than a nail-biter, the closeness of the game means absolutely nothing and it would be cruel and unfair to prognosticate the fate of the Huskies based on this exhibition. For starters, Washington is transitioning to a high-post offense. At least for this year, gone are the days of freaky-athletic and quick guards like Nate Robinson, Isaiah Thomas and Tony Wroten. Not that Lorenzo Romar is planning on slowing it down this year (mentioned in the previous link), but the personnel for 2012-13 is more suited for this kind of half-court look. While Romar used primarily high-post sets when he was coaching at Pepperdine and Saint Louis, it’s going to take these players time to adjust to the new style of play (December is Romar’s target date for a well-oiled high-post offense).

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Why Stanford’s Anthony Brown Will be a Top 50 Wing Next Season

Posted by KDanna on October 25th, 2012

In what is starting to become a trend on Rush The Court, we have another response to a CBS Sports preseason list. Yesterday, CBS Sports released its ranking of the top 50 wings in the country, which revealed five guys from the Pac-12: Shabazz Muhammad as the top-ranked wing, Allen Crabbe at No. 16, Solomon Hill at No. 21 (personally, I’d flop Crabbe and Hill, but that’s neither here nor there; both are very good), J.T. Terrell at No. 31, and C.J. Wilcox at No. 46. This post isn’t to argue the credibility of their choices — they look pretty sound to me — but rather to state the case for why one Pac-12 wing in particular may be on a similar list next year; that player being Stanford’s Anthony Brown.

Anthony Brown has a chance to be a premier wing in the conference and garner some national attention. (credit: CSN Bay Area)

After a decent freshman season where he garnered Pac-10 All-Freshman Team honors, Brown experienced a slight production dip in a disappointing sophomore campaign of about a half of a point per game and two percentage points in field goal percentage. While there were some factors that led to these results — nagging injuries and struggling at times to find consistent minutes in a rotation that sometimes expanded to 11 men — the bottom line is that Brown didn’t progress at the rate that many thought the No. 41 overall recruit in the Class of 2010 would.

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CBS Sports Top 50 Point Guards: Who in the Pac-12 Was Snubbed?

Posted by KDanna on October 24th, 2012

Earlier in the week, CBS Sports released a list of its top 50 point guards in the nation. Three Pac-12 players made the list with UCLA’s Kyle Anderson checking in at No. 6, Arizona’s Mark Lyons at No. 11, and Stanford’s Chasson Randle at No. 29. While this writer can’t claim to have watched all of the other 47 guys enough to discredit their merits, a case can be made for a few other Pac-12 guys, in particular Cal’s Justin Cobbs and Washington’s Abdul Gaddy, as addenda to this list.

Abdul Gaddy (# 10) has come a long way from his freshman year.

Statistics aren’t the only indicator of how good a player is, nor are they the most reliable factor to make such determinations, but arguably the most important one to look at with respect to point guards is assist-to-turnover ratio. Neither Cobbs nor Gaddy were the sole ball-handlers for the Golden Bears or Huskies last year, but they were the top two in the conference (Cobbs first, Gaddy second) in that statistic and 25th and 26th nationally, well within that top-50 range. And, not that this is the best way of going about things, but for one comparison, Jake Odum (No. 49 on the list) finished last year at 179th in assist-to-turnover ratio with a lower assist average than either Cobbs or Gaddy and a scoring average that split the two (though Odum had more steals than the two combined).

Cobbs might not be the most explosive player you’ll ever see, but he is a guy who provides a collected presence, good court vision and the ability to spread out defenses with his three-point and mid-range shooting ability. As his assist-to-turnover ratio would tell you, he rarely made bad decisions with the basketball and thrived in his transfer from Minnesota to Mike Montgomery’s system. He’s not as flashy as former Pac-12 colleague Momo Jones (who checks in at No. 47); he just gets the job done. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Team Previews: California Golden Bears

Posted by KDanna on October 23rd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the California Golden Bears.

Strengths: Despite losing two of the team’s top four scorers from last year, the Golden Bears have guys who can score at pretty much every position on the floor. It starts on the wing with the smooth Allen Crabbe, who was the last-ever Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2010-11. The sharpshooter hit just about 40 percent of his three-point attempts en route to a team-leading 15 points per game. He does well to create his shot and can knock down shots in traffic. He will be fed largely by the dual-threat Justin Cobbs, the Minnesota transfer who led the Golden Bears in assists and three-point field goal percentage (though his sample size wasn’t nearly as large as that of Crabbe’s). Head coach Mike Montgomery will welcome back forward Richard Solomon to the lineup after missing about 60 percent of last season due to academic problems. A good low-post defender, Solomon’s finishing touch and athleticism will go nicely with David Kravish, who provides the Golden Bears with an above-average Pac-12 offensive post threat.

Allen Crabbe, California

Allen Crabbe Is Ready to Take the Next Step (AP)

Weaknesses: Replacing the production of Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp might not be a huge issue, but replacing their intensity and toughness could very well be a problem. The Golden Bears limped into and out of the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament last year, and Kamp was quick to call his team out for being soft after a loss in the regular season finale to Stanford. When the going gets tough this year, who will the Golden Bears look to as their vocal leader? Gutierrez didn’t exactly finish his Cal career that well (he went a combined 3-15 with eight points in his last two regular season games before picking things up slightly in the postseason), but he was still the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. That last honor will be what Cal misses most — his defensive toughness and overall “pesty-ness” really gave opposing guards fits. Gutierrez was a wealthy man’s Venoy Overton on defense with a much larger skill set on offense.  For a team that had trouble stopping much of anyone as the season came to a close (the Golden Bears gave up at least 70 points in four of their final five games after they allowing an average of 61 on the season), perimeter defense could raise some eyebrows in Berkeley.

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Predicting the Pac-12 “Midnight Madness” Events This Weekend

Posted by KDanna on October 19th, 2012

So maybe it’s a little late to still call it Midnight Madness, but season-kickoff events are still happening across the country. In the Pac-12, Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona introduce the 2012-13 versions of themselves to the fans with a trio of scrimmages over the weekend, along with slam dunk contests for the Cardinal and Wildcats. In light of what is happening in Palo Alto, Tempe and Tucson, here are three predictions for each of the three schools on what will happen.

Gabe York

Gabe York will put on quite the show at the Red-Blue Game this Sunday in Tucson.

Stanford’s Friday Frenzy Cardinal-White Scrimmage (October 19, 5:30 PM)

  1. Dwight Powell will throw down the nastiest dunk: Last year, Powell threw down a dunk off a side-of-the-backboard pass from Aaron Bright (it’s at the 0:54 mark- you really won’t want to watch the first 30 seconds). It didn’t win the competition as Josh Huestis won last year’s dunk contest, but Powell will take home the crown this year.
  2. Aaron Bright will make the biggest “wow” play of the night: Bright is the closest thing Stanford has to a showman, and he will be in all his glory later tonight. Behind-the-back passes, no-look passes, deep threes; Bright will put it all on display.
  3. White will defeat Cardinal: Johnny Dawkins doesn’t put his projected starting five all on the same team for the scrimmage, so it’s not key players vs. reserves. Cardinal has won the last two years, so it’s time for white to take home some early-season bragging rights.

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Happy with Only Two Ranked Pac-12 Teams? You Should Be

Posted by KDanna on October 18th, 2012

The USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll, released yesterday, revealed two Pac-12 teams ranked in the Top 25: Arizona at No. 11 and UCLA at No. 13. While the Pac is the only power conference to have as few as two teams in the top 25, Pac-12 followers should not feel slighted in the slightest.

The Bruins and Wildcats give the Pac-12 the best chance to restore the conference to what it was a few years ago. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images).

The major reason for the top-15 rankings for UCLA and Arizona is pretty clear — stellar recruiting classes that feature three five-star talents and one four-star guy for each. With names like Shabazz Muhammad (assuming he plays), Kyle Anderson (assuming he plays), Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, there is no dearth of talent coming into Westwood and Tucson this year. And surely, with the No. 2 and No. 3 recruiting classes in the country (in addition to high-profile transfers Larry Drew II and Mark Lyons), the Bruins and Wildcats are deserving of preseason recognition. No. 11 and No. 13, however, might be a little high for two teams relying heavily on players who have yet play in a collegiate game. High preseason rankings for super-frosh-dominated teams are nothing new in college basketball; after all, Kentucky was No. 5 in the 2009-10 USA Today preseason poll because of a John Wall-DeMarcus Cousins combination that had yet to play in a game led by a coach who hadn’t yet handled a power conference school as the head man. And certainly, the expectations and hype surrounding the 2012-13 Bruins and Wildcats are more modest than that Kentucky team three years ago. All signs are pointing to these freshmen being great, but until they step on the court in November, you don’t really know what’s in store. And it’s not like these teams haven’t had to deal with a flamed-out recruit or two in recent years…

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Why a Delayed Jabari Parker Decision is Good News for Stanford

Posted by KDanna on October 17th, 2012

Probably to the dismay of many college basketball fans who are more than curious to find out which school he will attend next fall, reports came out yesterday that Jabari Parker has no plan to sign with one of his final five schools in the early signing period this November, instead likely making a decision in December. So now Duke, Michigan State, BYU, Florida and Stanford will most likely have to wait an extra month to find out where the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013 will take his talents (though he can’t officially sign with a team until April), barring a sudden change of mind.

Top recruit Jabari Parker Will Wait to Make His Decision (AP)

While I’m sure a similar case could be made for every school still remaining on Parker’s list, this news could be especially good for Stanford. While the Cardinal have had some recent success in the last 10 years, the success Duke, Michigan State, Florida and BYU have had is much more immediate and in most cases, longer lasting. Stanford, by comparison, hasn’t made the Big Dance in the last four years; in that span, the other four schools have combined for a 15 of 16 possible NCAA Tournament appearances (only Florida didn’t make it all four years), three Final Fours (Michigan State twice, Duke once) and one national championship (Duke). Duke, Michigan State and Florida are established national powerhouses, while BYU is very much settled in to being one of those non-power conference schools that are regularly in the spotlight.

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Pac-12 Expansion: Prognosis after One Year

Posted by KDanna on October 16th, 2012

Last year was the first season of the Pac-12, as the conference invited in a couple more teams to join the party. The number one reason far and away for expansion was football and the ability to have a conference championship game, but of course, Utah and Colorado didn’t just move their pigskin programs. The Utes’ football team nearly made the Pac-12 championship game last year while Colorado struggled mightily under a first year coach having to deal with a multitude of injuries on his roster, so one could surmise that it was a mixed bag for the expansion teams in the Pac-12 teams on the gridiron.

The Buffaloes were one of the few bright spots for the Pac-12 last season, providing the conference with its lone NCAA Tournament win.

With that criterion, you could say the same about last year’s basketball season, except flip the roles of the schools in question. Despite being picked to finish 10th (tied with Washington State) by the media in the preseason poll, the Buffaloes were an impressive 11-7 in the Pac-12 regular season and stunned most everyone by winning four games in four days to claim the Pac-12 Tournament and snatch up the league’s automatic bid to the Big Dance. On the other hand, Utah had a poor non-conference showing with blowout losses to the likes of Boise State, Fresno State and Cal State Fullerton. The Utes didn’t have much more success in the Pac-12 slate, finishing 3-15 in conference and coming in 11th place.

That said, it wouldn’t be fair to Utah to judge them for eternity based on last season’s performance. It was Larry Krystkowiak’s first season in Salt Lake City and the Utes were without their difference-maker on defense in David Foster (and they’ll continue to be without him this year, too).  And with such a huge roster upheaval this year — only three guys on this year’s team played in a game for the Utes in 2011-12 and six transfers are eligible to suit up — who knows how much one can really expect of the 2012-13 version, though that backcourt should get a huge shot in the arm with three of those transfers in Glen Dean, Jarred DuBois and Aaron Dotson.

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