Utah Post-Mortem

Posted by PBaruh on April 26th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Utah.

What Went Right

After winning only three games in its inaugural 2011-12 Pac-12 season, Utah improved by finishing the season on a high note in beating both Oregon State and Oregon to go 5-13 in conference play. The Utes were still one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, but they upset Washington on the road and Colorado at home. They also scared Arizona twice as they lost to the Wildcats only by a combined seven points in the two contests. Utah found a player to build its team around with freshman Jordan Loveridge who averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during the season. Jason Washburn had a successful senior campaign himself, averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game too. When the Pac-12 Tournament came around, the Utes were lucky enough to face USC without DeWayne Dedmon and defeated the Trojans in the first round before landing the surprise of Vegas by upsetting Cal in the quarterfinals 79-69.

Utah has found something to build on with Jordan Loveridge

Utah has found a potential star with Jordan Loveridge.

What Went Wrong 

Utah had some troublesome losses in non-conference play against Sacramento State and Cal State Northridge and headed into the conference season overmatched. They lost five straight games to start off the Pac-12 and were a woeful 3-13 before beating Oregon and Oregon State. The Utes’ guard play was inconsistent; Glen Dean and Aaron Dotson, who were supposed to be two of the Utes’ best players this year, disappointed tremendously. Dotson sat out some of the season with a foot injury, but could never gain traction in Larry Krystkowiak’s rotation as he averaged 2.7 points in 17.3 minutes per game. Dean only scored 5.5 points per game in over 25 minutes a game — both guards are now leaving the school.

MVP

Jordan Loveridge was the Utes’ best and most valuable player this year. The 6’6″ freshman used his 230-pound frame to out-muscle smaller players and was a major part of Utah’s offense as he used 24.7 percent of the team’s possessions during the season. He played his best basketball down the stretch by tallying games of  17, 14, 15, and 20 points against Oregon State, Oregon, USC, and Cal, respectively. He logged the highest amount of minutes per game on the team at 31.7 MPG and despite only shooting 40 percent on twos, Loveridge was successful from behind the arc by shooting 36 percent and shot 76 percent from the free throw line.

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Colorado Post-Mortem

Posted by PBaruh on April 23rd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Colorado.

What Went Right 

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado's offense this year.

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado’s offense this year.

Despite losing three starters from last year’s team, the Buffaloes had a lot of things go right for them in 2012-13. Spencer Dinwiddie improved tremendously from his freshman season by becoming the go-to scorer. Dinwiddie led the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and sported a true shooting percentage at 59.1 percent. His two best games of the year came against NCAA Tournament teams Colorado State and Arizona at the Coors Event Center as he tallied 50 points and nine assists in the two contests. Andre Roberson was once again a double-double machine, averaging 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in another strong season. In what was viewed by some as a possible rebuilding season, the Buffaloes responded with an at-large NCAA bid and a squad that competed if not actually challenging for the Pac-12 title.

What Went Wrong

They were certainly some letdown games from the Buffaloes as they lost to league bottom-dwellers Utah on the road and Oregon State at home. Colorado had a tendency to start lackadaisically against inferior opponents and it hurt them in several games. Individually, Askia Booker disappeared in conference play. The MVP of the Charleston Classic was irrelevant in the Pac-12 and finished with a 42.2 effective field goal percentage on the year. Booker certainly didn’t let his struggles deter him from shooting the ball as he attempted 11 or more field goals in all but two conference games.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.12.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on April 12th, 2013

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  1. Steve Alford issued a statement yesterday apologizing for the way he handled the Pierre Pierce situation at Iowa. Alford constantly defended Pierce at Iowa after he was accused of sexual assault even after Pierce pled guilty. When Alford took over at UCLA last week, the topic came up once again when Dan Bernstein published a column entitled “Alford already lying at UCLA”. It was the right move for Alford to apologize, but it didn’t make sense that he waited nine years to do so.
  2. The Pac-12 has launched an independent review of the officiating that occurred at the Pac-12 Tournament this year. Even with Ed Rush’s resignation, the conference must determine whether the officials were influenced by external factors during the games in Las Vegas. Additionally, the review will focus on how to improve the officiating overall — a recurring hot topic among league fans. This is a step in the right direction for the Pac-12 given the inconsistent and often very poor officiating that occurred this season.
  3. Standout freshman Jahii Carson will return for another year at Arizona State. Carson was not going to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft and still needs to improve his jumper and scoring ability against bigger guards. With Carson’s return to Tempe, the pressure now will be put on Herb Sendek to produce results with his team. While Sendek has been in Tempe, he has only made the NCAA Tournament once in seven years, and that simply won’t cut it. The Sun Devils will lose Carrick Felix, but they return Jordan Bachynski and Carson and will need to make a run at the postseason.
  4. Tad Boyle said yesterday at his season-ending press conference that Andre Roberson is getting “misinformation” that may be preventing him from deciding on whether he will declare for the NBA Draft. Many projections have Roberson going in the second round and some have him possibly not even getting drafted at all. Boyle noted that this is a very different situation than that of Alec Burks two years ago, where it was almost certain that he would get picked in the lottery. There’s a lot more risk for Roberson as a result. If Roberson does decide to leave school, Colorado will be prepared to move on. The Buffaloes will return four starters, have a deeper bench, and bring in three talented recruits. If Roberson decides to stay, there will be a spot for him in the lineup and the Buffaloes could potentially be a Top 15 team with the 6’7″ forward around for another season.
  5. Kevin Parrom’s career at Arizona has officially ended. Parrom tweeted recently that he won’t apply for a waiver request that would grant him a fifth year of eligibility. There was a slim chance of this happening as Arizona was expected to appeal and include the adversity Parrom faced as a main reason for the player to receive another year. Parrom was shot and lost his mother and grandmother as well within a short period of time in 2011. In Parrom’s final season, he averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game — although he is unlikely to make a roster in the NBA, he certainly has the ability to play overseas somewhere.
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Pac-12 M5: 04.09.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on April 9th, 2013

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  1. USC interim head coach Bob Cantu will not be retained on Andy Enfield’s staff. Cantu had been at USC since 2001 and has worked under four different staffs. He took over at midseason when Kevin O’Neill was fired and led the Trojans to upset wins over Arizona and UCLA as the team posted a 7-8 record under his leadership.
  2. Oregon’s Dana Altman received the 2013 Jim Phelan Award from CollegeInsiders.com as its National Coach of the Year over the weekend. Altman’s third year at Oregon was without question his best yet. The Ducks finished with a 28-9 overall record and made the Sweet Sixteen after beating Oklahoma State and Saint Louis to get there. Oregon and Altman were given little respect at the beginning of the season, picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12 media poll. But they were the surprise in the Pac-12 in finishing second and also won the Pac-12 Tournament. Altman was the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year and was a candidate for the 2013 John McLendon National Coach of the Year award as well.
  3. Arizona’s new commitment Aaron Gordon may make next season unlike anything the Wildcats have ever seen. Gordon, who won the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP, is the first Wildcat to win the award and will likely also be the first one-and-done player that Arizona and Sean Miller have had. Some scouts have said that the Bay Area native would go in the top three of this year’s draft if he were eligible. With Gordon’s arrival, expectations will be high in Tucson and it will be up to Sean Miller to get all of his talent to coexist. Although it’s unlikely that this will be a similar situation as with Josiah Turner last year, nothing can be certain with freshmen.
  4. Washington was one of the teams that missed out on Gordon, but with the rumored transfer of Mike Moser to join the Huskies in Seattle, Lorenzo Romar’s team might not miss Gordon as much as they thought. Moser can provide similar athleticism and would help Washington put together arguably one of the best frontcourts in the Pac-12. Moser would bring depth to a front line that already boasts Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp Jr., and Jernard Jerrau. More importantly, is the fact that Moser immediately would become the most versatile big man for the Huskies, and although they missed out on the prized recruit, Moser isn’t a bad consolation prize.
  5. UCLA freshman Tony Parker tweeted that he will remain at UCLA. New coach Steve Alford met with Parker and his family at the Final Four and helped persuade the 6’9″ forward to stay in Los Angeles. Alford will have a much more difficult task, however, of trying to get more production out of the freshman. Parker averaged a disappointing 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in his first year as a Bruin. Granted, he also only logged 6.3 minutes per contest, but when he was on the floor he was less than impressive.
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Arizona Certifies National Title Aspirations By Signing Top Recruit Aaron Gordon

Posted by PBaruh on April 2nd, 2013

Prior to today, the Arizona Wildcats were likely the favorite t0 win the Pac-12 next season. Now, with the addition of 6’8″ forward Aaron Gordon, who is rated the No.4 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN and the No.6 overall recruit by Rivals, the Wildcats are likely to be a contender for the national title. Gordon said earlier today at Media Day for the McDonald’s All-America Game that he plans on signing with the Wildcats.

This is just another move that speaks volumes to the immediate success that Sean Miller has had at Arizona. Miller has always been a tremendous coach and his product on the floor is proof of that with constant Sweet Sixteen and NCAA Tournament appearances. What might be more impressive, however, is his ability to recruit talent to Tucson. Last year, Miller brought in Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, and Brandon Ashley, which made for the third-best recruiting class in the nation according to ESPN. This year, Miller will bring in Gordon and two other ESPN 100 prospects in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliot Pitts, which ESPN has now updated to rank as the fifth best group in the nation. Miller continues to beat out UCLA and Cal and all the other Pac-12 schools at getting the best players in California.

Five-star recruit Aaron Gordon chose Arizona today at the McDonalds All-American Press Conference

Five-star recruit Aaron Gordon chose Arizona today at the McDonalds All-American Press Conference

Although some may claim that Gordon will add to a logjam of frontcourt depth at Arizona, the departures of Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom will allow Gordon to slide right in at the small forward position. He can also play power forward at this level and has been compared to Blake Griffin with the plethora of dunks he throws at opponents coupled with his extreme athleticism. But he also brings tenacious defense and a very high motor. At Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Gordon averaged 21.6 points along with 15.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game this season. He led his school to Division II state titles in his sophomore and junior years but fell a bit short this year in the title game. Gordon still needs to improve his outside shot, but for the most part he has a very complete game. He can get wherever he wants on the floor with his athleticism, appears to be a willing passer, and is able to get second chances on shots easily with his tremendous leaping ability.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 22nd, 2013

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  1. With UCLA’s Jordan Adams out for the year, Norman Powell was inserted into the starting lineup and the 6-foot-4-guard will need to step up against Minnesota today. Ever since Powell has come to UCLA, he’s drawn comparisons to notable former guard Russell Westbrook because of his 6-f00t-11-inch wingspan and extreme athleticism. But when Powell was replaced in the starting lineup after some strong early season play from Jordan Adams, he lost confidence and never regained his role in the first five. In his first game back as a starter against Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals, however, he had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and had four rebounds. The sophomore seems more determined than ever after his second go as a starter and if he can match the production of Jordan Adams, the Bruins might just advance to the next round.
  2. Tad Boyle believes all his freshmen at Colorado are ready for their first NCAA Tournament game. Boyle says that they are not really freshmen anymore and that holds most true with starters Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson. Scott has averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this year while Johnson averages 9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Johnson has saved some of his best games for big moments as well. He had 19 points and 22 points in Colorado’s wins over Arizona and Oregon respectively. Illinois will obviously try to stop Colorado’s two best players Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson today, and that will leave the game up to the two starting freshmen.
  3. Oregon head coach Dana Altman has always been a model of consistency. When Altman was lured from Creighton to Eugene, he didn’t change his hard-working and confident style despite the increased budget and popular Nike brand. In his time at Creighton, Altman brought the Blue Jays to the NCAA Tournament seven times in 16 years and continued to improve his team. And his time at Oregon has been exactly the same. The Ducks were in the CBI in Altman’s first year, the NIT in his second, and made the NCAA Tournament this year and picked up a win over Oklahoma State yesterday. Needless to say, Altman knows what he is doing and continues to do so in a selfless, yet confident way.
  4. UCLA’s Larry Drew II doesn’t look at the championship ring he won at North Carolina as a freshman often. That’s because Drew’s career as a Tar Heel was never too successful. He failed to meet expectations as a sophomore after the national championship and was replaced by freshman Kendall Marshall in his junior year. Then, Drew decided to transfer to UCLA. Although the Bruins’ heralded freshmen have been critical this season, Drew might be the most valuable player for UCLA. After USC beat UCLA by forcing Drew to shoot, he changed his game. Since then, Drew has shot 51 percent from the field and 61 percent from three in 12 games.
  5. Andre Roberson was largely ignored as a recruit when he played high school basketball in Texas. Now as one of the nation’s top rebounders, Roberson heads back to his home state to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the scenario is quite different. No team from the state of Texas made the field of 68 this year while Roberson has led Colorado to its second consecutive tournament appearance making all those teams second guess themselves once again for passing on the local talent.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.21.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 21st, 2013

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  1. Oregon guard Dominic Artis says he’s now 100 percent healthy and will be ready for today’s game against Oklahoma State. The freshman guard has more than his health to worry about, however. Artis is a Bay Area native and as the game will be played at HP Pavilion in San Jose, he has been trying to get tickets for his friends and family noting that it’s like high school all over again. As far as conditioning goes, he said he’s finally up to full speed and is excited and ready for today’s game.
  2. Sean Miller has always been an intense competitor and that continues to be apparent as the head coach of Arizona. His fire and passion for the game led him to walk on at Pittsburgh in college and he accomplished much more than a typical walk-on usually does. Miller ended up starting at point guard as a freshman and although he never had a basketball playing career after college, it was clear that his drive would lead him to coaching. At only 44 years old, Miller has become a prominent recruiter and successful motivator and his teams have been mainstays in the NCAA Tournament. He may agitate others with his animated antics on the sideline — most recently after his loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament — but that’s what separates the Pennsylvania native from others and is a major reason for his continued success.
  3. Cal is coming off back-to-back losses to end the season, so getting off to a good start will be key for the Bears when they square off with UNLV today. The Bears have struggled in starting games with soft defense and stagnant offense, but at other times Mike Montgomery’s team has proved that they are a determined bunch. When they were thought to be finished in the Pac-12 race at 3-4, they then rolled off seven straight victories. This was due largely to tougher defense as the Bears held their opponents to just 33 percent shooting during their run. As they get ready for a rematch against UNLV, Justin Cobbs said their NCAA First Four blowout loss last year to South Florida is still fresh in their minds. Count on the Bears to be ready to get back on the court and play 40 strong minutes of basketball.
  4. The Pac-12 certainly isn’t the best conference in college basketball, but it is a league filled with parity.  Just take a look at regular season champion UCLA. They lost to Arizona State, USC, and Washington State. Oregon lost to Stanford and Utah. Arizona fell to USC. Colorado lost to Utah and Oregon State. Additionally, almost every game that these teams played in the conference season came down to the wire. Because of this, Pac-12 teams playing today and tomorrow could benefit as they’ll be ready to play and are no stranger to close finishes.
  5. Arizona junior Jordin Mayes is playing his best basketball at the right time of the year. Prior to the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament, Mayes had scored 22 points in his past three games and showed his willingness to shoot from behind the arc. Arizona will need all it can get from its key bench player today and the junior has experienced some success in the NCAA Tournament. Back in March 2011, Mayes hit four three-pointers against Texas and also provided key minutes in Arizona’s upset of Duke that led to an Elite Eight appearance that season.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.20.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 20th, 2013

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  1. Arizona has become a trendy pick to get upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will play Belmont on Thursday and analysts of CBS Sports, Yahoo!, ESPN and USA Today have predicted an early exit for Arizona. Solomon Hill and Jordan Mayes don’t seem to be worried, however, noting that analysts are just doing their job and it won’t affect their preparation or performance. Arizona has the talent to compete with anyone in the field of 68, but nothing will come easy starting with Belmont. The Bruins were the Ohio Valley Conference champions and are the 18th best three-point shooting team in the nation at 38.6 percent. That doesn’t bode well for Arizona as they rank 276th in the nation in defending the three with opponents shooting 36 percent from behind the arc.
  2. Cal’s Justin Cobbs has finally found his balance. When the Bears take on UNLV Thursday, it will be a rematch of a non-conference game from earlier in the season when the Runnin’ Rebels came away with a 76-75 victory on a last second tip-in. Cobbs understands his role at this point of the season much better as a combination of a scorer and facilitator for Mike Montgomery’s offense. Earlier in the year, Cobbs was shooting poorly by averaging just 11.4 points per game and couldn’t find his rhythm. Over the past 13 games, however, Cobbs is averaging 17.1 points and 5.7 assists per game. Allen Crabbe is the focal point of the Cal offense, but if the Bears want to get past UNLV this time, they are going to need a strong game from Cobbs.
  3. Craig Robinson started out the season by saying this Oregon State team was the best he has ever had, and now he’s the first to say it was a disappointment. The Beavers finished a lowly 4-14 in the Pac-12, but if any of the Oregon State faithful want a coaching change, it’s unlikely to happen this year. Athletic director Bob De Carolis met with Robinson in Las Vegas last week and confirmed that the administration is still in full support of its head coach. Next year, the Beavers will lose Joe Burton but will return Angus Brandt who had a season-ending knee injury very early in the year. In addition to Brandt, the Beavers will have Roberto Nelson, Devon Collier, and Ahmad Starks all back, but if they can’t make strides in the 2013-14 season, Robinson could find himself on the hot seat.
  4. Arizona State and Herb Sendek plan to make the most of out of their NIT appearance. Tonight the Sun Devils will play Detroit in Tempe and won’t be taking them lightly at all. Although Arizona State is playing in the postseason, there is some disappointment from the fans that the team didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament. Sendek isn’t one of those disappointed, though, mentioning that there is no way Arizona State won’t be motivated as they will get another opportunity to play in front of their home crowd in a postseason setting.
  5. For the first time in a half-century, Colorado is in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Buffaloes will be playing in Austin against Illinois on Friday afternoon and will certainly have a significant rebounding advantage. Colorado has Andre Roberson who averages 11.3 rebounds per game while Illinois’ best rebounder is Nnanna Egwu who pales in comparison at only 4.6 rebounds per game. Tad Boyle said after practice yesterday that Roberson will guard Illinois’ leading scorer Brandon Paul, which could spell trouble for the Illini as Roberson has already successfully defended Allen Crabbe and Solomon Hill this year.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.19.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 19th, 2013

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  1. Ben Howland’s future at UCLA is still in question. Howland has deflected all questions about his job status to athletic director Dan Guerrero, and with a difficult match-up looming against Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament, it’s still not clear what the head coach needs to do to keep his job in Westwood. Would a Sweet Sixteen appearance suffice or is a Final Four appearance necessary? If Howland were to be relieved of his duties at the end of this year, he would leave UCLA with a career 233-106 record (as of now), four conference titles, and three Final Four appearances. No matter the accolades Howland and UCLA have racked up in his tenure, though, it has to be noted that the Bruins didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament in two out of the past three seasons and therefore it wouldn’t be a shock to see him fired at the end of the season.
  2. Although Arizona ended the season poorly, the selection committee still considered the Wildcats as the top team in the Pac-12 from a seeding perspective. If UCLA freshman Jordan Adams hadn’t suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Wildcats’ fate may have been different according to committee chair Mike Bobinski. Despite the Bruins and Wildcats both getting #6 seeds, the Wildcats were given the geographical advantage with the chance to play in the West Region in Los Angeles whereas the Bruins would have to play their games in Arlington, Texas.
  3. The selection committee’s message to the Pac-12 on Sunday seemed to be that the conference still has a lot to prove. The conference was given little respect as Oregon received a peculiar #12 seed after winning the Pac-12 Tournament. Also, an argument can be made that both UCLA and Arizona were deserving of higher seeds given that both teams finished in the final AP Top 25. Although the conference vastly improved from last year’s inferior product, its track record in the NCAA Tournament in recent years hasn’t been anything to brag about. In the past four years, only three teams from the Pac-12 have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
  4. If Oregon freshman Dominic Artis feels any nerves before his first NCAA Tournament game, he has a pretty good mentor who he could call on for advice. The Ducks’ point guard has known former Weber State and current Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard since grade school in Oakland and the two don’t differ much on the court. Both are confident, inspiring young players in their respective leagues at the point guard position and the duo talks almost every other week. The Ducks will certainly need Artis to play great this week as they will take on Oklahoma State. Artis will have to deal with imposing  Cowboys’ point guard and USBWA All-American Marcus Smart, but he won’t shy away from the challenge any more than Lillard would.
  5. Washington State athletic director Bill Moos hasn’t made a decision yet about head coach Ken Bone‘s status. Although Bone hasn’t done anything to exceed expectations in Pullman, he did finish the season on a high note by upsetting USC and UCLA at home and nearly taking down Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Bone doesn’t seem to be concerned about his status, but if he were to let go, Washington State would owe him a buyout of $2.55 million next year.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 14th, 2013

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  1. When the quarterfinals get underway later today in the Pac-12 Tournament, Mike Montgomery and Cal will be ready. Guard Justin Cobbs knows any team is capable of winning the event and hopes that Cal will be the team to do just that. The Bears will face Utah and if Cal can play the way they did down the stretch of the regular season, they could walk away as the tournament champions. Part of the reason Cal finished the season by winning nine of its final 11 games was its strong defense, holding opponents to 39 percent shooting from the field (best in the conference).
  2. Arizona’s late season struggles could affect the Wildcats come Selection Sunday. Committee chair Mike Bobinski noted how a team finishes is certainly important and that might not bode well for Sean Miller’s team if it doesn’t have a strong conference tournament. Without question, the Wildcats are a lock for the field of 68, but better play in Vegas could certainly earn them a higher seed. Additionally, winning multiple games certainly would make Arizona a little more confident before the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats don’t have a truly notable win since beating San Diego State in December 2012.
  3. The status of Ben Howland’s job as head coach of the Bruins has been a recurring topic this year, but Howland is choosing to reflect on his latest Pac-12 title rather than an unpredictable future. This year, Howland has been more relaxed than usual. After a disappointing loss to Cal Poly and near loss to UC Irvine early in the season, Howland clearly revamped his offensive philosophy with this team. The Bruins get out and run more than ever and have a much more open offense than they have in years past. Nevertheless, a successful turnaround and a Pac-12 regular title isn’t enough to keep Howland off the hot seat. Only success in the NCAA Tournament will decide if the veteran coach stays in Westwood.
  4. A coach that might be on a hotter seat than Howland right now is Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins. With a loss to Arizona State yesterday, the Cardinal will miss the NCAA Tournament again and even another NIT championship might not be enough to keep the former Duke assistant in Palo Alto. Under Dawkins, Stanford has posted an above average 93-73 overall record, but hasn’t finished better than sixth in any year in the Pac-12. The Cardinal were picked by many this year to finally play up to their potential and finish near the top of the league standings, but that didn’t happen. It will be interesting to see how Stanford brass chooses to handle the head coaching position.
  5. Arizona State co-Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson was sensational yesterday against Stanford, scoring 34 points in their 89-88 overtime win, but Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson says the team needs to continue to upgrade its talent. Carson is likely to leave for the NBA before his four years are up as a Sun Devil and if ASU doesn’t continue to improve as a program, they might be set back once again. Patterson noted with rival Arizona ahead of the curve in recruiting and talent, thinking about remaining more than just competitive is necessary.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.13.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 13th, 2013

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  1. Arizona head coach Sean Miller is excited about the Pac-12 Tournament changing venues from Los Angeles’ Staples Center to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this year. After 11 years in downtown LA drawing less than stellar crowds, the Pac-12 has moved the location of its postseason tournament. Miller pointed out that Las Vegas isn’t necessarily a prime destination for sporting events, but with the first basketball games ever to be played at the MGM Grand, it should be quite a compelling four days starting tonight.
  2. Oregon had one of its better practices in a while Tuesday before taking off for Vegas and senior leader E.J. Singler noted that the unexpected weekend losses to Colorado and Utah are behind the Ducks. Dana Altman and his team have had time to take in the losses, and they know that they have a big weekend ahead of them. Oregon won’t play until Thursday as they are the #3 seed and have a first-round bye. They will take on the winner of the Washington-Washington State game, but Altman did not reveal if Dominic Artis, who has been slowly getting back into games after a foot injury, would start in that contest.
  3. Colorado also didn’t end its season on the brightest note by getting upset at home against Oregon State, but the Buffaloes will be able to make up for that right away as they draw the Beavers again later today in their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament. Colorado’s first team all-Pac-12 star, Spencer Dinwiddie, said that the Buffs’ loss on Senior Day wasn’t an emotional letdown, but rather just a lack of execution. In that loss, however, they were without Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Andre Roberson. The nation’s leading rebounder will be critical for Colorado to have available in Las Vegas and Tad Boyle expects him to be back and starting today.
  4. Lorenzo Romar says Washington‘s struggles this year fall on him. Romar expected his team to play better than it has this season, but the Huskies just never managed to do so. Injuries early in the year hurt Washington, and they never seemed to recover. Although Romar is taking the blame, the season isn’t over. His team squares off with its intrastate rival Washington State today in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. With a win, the Huskies would then play Oregon, who they have already lost closely to twice this year. Stealing an automatic bid isn’t easy, but with the depth and shooting ability that Washington possesses, it isn’t out of the question. Plus, Romar’s teams have had a great recent history in this event.
  5. After Arizona State‘s late-season struggles, the Sun Devils understand what they have to do to make the NCAA Tournament: Win four games in four days. It’s not out of the question for the Sun Devils, as Colorado did it last year, but ASU isn’t using that team as motivation. Jahii Carson says his team is instead looking at the 2011 Connecticut team that won five games and five days in the Big East Tournament as inspiration. To start off a possible miraculous run, the Sun Devils will need to beat Stanford tonight. They’ll be looking to get revenge as they lost at home to Stanford earlier in the year and if want to have different results, Herb Sendek’s team  will need to better contain Dwight Powell, who had 22 points and 1o rebounds the last time these two teams played.
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Celebrating Colorado Seniors Sabatino Chen and Shane Harris-Tunks

Posted by PBaruh on March 9th, 2013

This week the Pac-12 microsite is celebrating many of the seniors around the league. Today: Colorado’s Sabatino Chen and Shane Harris-Tunks.

Sabatino Chen 

When Sabatino Chen transferred from Denver to Colorado, there was no excitement. He wasn’t Carlon Brown. He was the local kid down the road in Louisville who averaged a minuscule 2.5 points per game in his time there. But Chen transferred to Colorado at an opportune time as Tad Boyle created a new brand of basketball and was open to letting anyone who was willing to work hard play for him. Chen was at best, however, expected to be a role player for the Buffs.

Sabatino Chen has improved immensely in his senior year

Sabatino Chen has improved immensely in his senior year. (Daily Wildcat)

Chen averaged only nine minutes per game in his first season in Boulder, yet he brought everything that didn’t show up in the box score. He was the guy everyone hated if he wasn’t on your team. He was a defensive pest, tirelessly diving for loose balls. Offensively, he struggled. He’d cross over from right to left and try to get up a left-handed layup where it would seemingly always get blocked; or spin in the lane and throw up an out of control attempt. Nonetheless, Chen continued to work hard and prepared for his senior year.

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