Pac-12 Midseason Awards

Posted by AMurawa on December 28th, 2011

With non-conference play involving Pac-12 teams all but wrapped up and the tip-off of the conference season bearing down on us, we have a good chance today to look back at the first half of conference play. If you have been reading the RTC Pac-12 microsite this season, you know how bad the conference has been, so we are not going to spend a lot of time rehashing every suspension, defection, or other soap opera, nor are we going to remind you every loss to a Middle Tennessee State or South Dakota State. For the most part we are going to reward the best performances to this point, and tomorrow we’ll also spend a bit of time trying to forecast what should be a wide-open and relatively unpredictable conference race. But first, the awards from the non-conference portion of the Pac-12 schedule.

Player of the Year, Non-conference Edition:

F: Devon Collier, Oregon State – Among the most improved players in the conference, he is second in blocks, 11th in points, and boasts a stellar 127.8 offensive rating.

Devon Collier, Oregon State

Collier Was A Defensive Specialist Last Year, But Has Turned Into An Efficient Offensive Player In His Sophomore Campaign (Credit: Stephen Dunn, Getty Images North America)

The rest of our 1st team All-Pac-12, non-conference edition:

F: Solomon Hill, Arizona – The versatile junior leads the Wildcats in points, rebounds, and assists, and he is the emotional heart of his team.

C: Josh Owens, Stanford – He has been a stud up front for the Cardinal, leading the team in points and rebounds while hitting nearly 62% of his shots from the field.

G: Jared Cunningham, Oregon State – He is the Pac-12’s leading scorer. He leads the league in steals. And he’s the best perimeter defender. We will find a spot for him on our first team.

G: Terrence Ross, Washington – The only player in the conference in the top ten in both points and rebounds, he also blocks more than a shot per game and is capable of connecting from deep.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: Oh-My-God, I-Better-Start-My-Christmas-Shopping Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 23rd, 2011

  1. There’s not a whole lot you can tell from a 23-point win over one of the worst teams in the Big West, but Washington did address some of the things that needed addressing in their win over CS Northridge on Thursday night. First, their defense was much improved, holding the Matadors to a 26% eFG. Secondly, their chemistry appeared to be better, as their scoring was balanced (10 players scored, and four players scored in double figures) and freshman sensation Tony Wroten notched five assists while Abdul Gaddy dropped eight dimes. However, the Huskies still turned the ball over 20 times (Wroten responsible for six), and for the third time since Wroten entered the starting lineup, failed to get Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox each double-digit field goal attempts in the same game (Ross had 14 attempts, making five, while Wilcox has seemingly reverted to just a shooter – attempting all six of his shots from behind the arc). It’s a win, and it puts the Huskies back above .500 and sends them into their holiday break with a good feeling, but when conference play kicks off next week, they’ve still got plenty of work to do.
  2. The team with the best record in the conference proved that they’ve still got a long way to go as well, as Stanford got outworked and maybe outlucked a bit by two-time defending national runner-up Butler. Last week we talked about how this Cardinal team still needed to learn how to be a winner, and that got reinforced on Thursday night as the Bulldogs, led by a senior point guard in Ronald Nored (who has seen it all in his time in Indianapolis) took advantage of every opportunity and made the smart plays necessary to squeak out a win on the road. Sure, there was the shot-clock-beating desperation three-pointer by Nored that went in, or the putback by Andrew Smith of another late-possession brick that were certain indications of good fortune shining on Butler, but the fact is that the Bulldogs took advantage of those kinds of opportunities while the Cardinal did not. Yet again, we’ve got another Pac-12 team who just wrapped up non-conference play as a complete mystery. They may well be a legitimate contender for the conference title; or they may be just another pretender.
  3. Now there’s the USC we know and, um, love? Three days after scoring 83 points against TCU, the Trojans broke out for a whopping 13 first-half points, although certainly against much stiffer competition with Kansas visiting the Galen Center. Aside from their typical 40.8% eFG, the Trojans turned the ball over 18 times, got killed on the glass, and just generally avoided any semblance of a coherent offensive game plan. The Trojan guards reverted back to their pound-the-ball-into-the-floor-for-30-seconds and throw-up-a-wild-shot default, as Maurice Jones, Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley combined to shoot 5-of-26 from the field (with 10 turnovers mixed in there), while DeWayne Dedmon followed up his solid game Monday with an invisibility trick any magician would be proud of (two field goal attempts, two rebounds and four fouls in 20 minutes). Aaron Fuller again proved to be the only effective offensive threat, hitting 70% of his field goals while going for 19 points and grabbing five rebounds. SC heads into conference play four games under .500, with fans beginning to contemplate another head coaching change.
  4. Oregon finished its stretch of three games in three nights against mediocre competition (well, mediocre, only if North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin rise to the level of mediocrity) with its third consecutive win. Considering the best of those three teams was ranked 219th in the nation by Ken Pomeroy, three wins by an average of 10 points is not exactly an impressive run. However, the Ducks are beginning to figure out where their offense is coming from. In all three games – part of a round-robin tournament called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase that needs not only a better name but a better field – Devoe Joseph and E.J. Singler scored in double figures for the Ducks, while Garret Sim averaged more than 10 per game himself. If head coach Dana Altman can get guys like Olu Ashaolu, Tony Woods and Jeremy Jacob to buy into doing the dirty work for them, and if freshman three-point specialist Brett Kingma can find his stroke, this team is still capable of an upper-division finish.
  5. Lastly, Utah’s two-game winning streak was snapped Thursday night when it dropped a game to in-state rival Weber State by 29, the largest margin of defeat for the Utes in that rivalry. And with the Utes changing their “scheduling philosophy” now that they’re in the Pac-12, this may be the last time they play at Weber State. Utah has yet to schedule any future games either at Weber State or at Utah State, possibly ending some great home-and-home matchups in the Beehive State. Until this point, it’s been easy to feel nothing but sympathy for the struggles of Utah’s basketball program, but without a doubt, their apparent willingness to kill off what have been great rivalries does an effective job of mitigating some of that goodwill.
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Checking In On.. the Pac-12

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 1st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. 

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • Tournament Trip-Ups – The early season exempt tournaments are always an exciting time of the year in college basketball. Teams from conferences across the land get a chance to meet, usually on a neutral floor, and play several games against quality competition in a relatively short span, giving coaches a chance to figure out exactly what to make of their new collection of players and giving fans a chance to get introduced to their new teams. For the Pac-12 schools, this season’s batch of early season tournaments was largely a bust. You know when the two best results for the conference in these tournaments were Oregon State’s two-point loss to Vanderbilt in the finals of the Legends Classic and Stanford’s six-point loss to Syracuse in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off, that things didn’t exactly go as planned. And the less we speak about the last place finishes of Utah and Washington State in the Old Spice Classic and the 76 Classic, the better.
  • Oregon’s Growing Pains – Last week, the bombshell out of Eugene was that five-star freshman guard Jabari Brown was leaving Dana Altman’s program after just two games. Then news broke Tuesday night that fellow freshman guard Bruce Barron was also leaving the program – this time after just five games, only three of which Barron played in (seven minutes per game). Those two defections make for six players that have left the Oregon program since Altman’s arrival. Certainly the first four of those transfers make sense, as many coaching changes result in roster changes, but Brown and Barron were Altman recruits, and guys who were getting playing time. The fact that Brown and Barron were close friends does provide something of an explanation for Barron’s decision, though. If there is any good news in this shakeup for Oregon, both players are continuing with their classes at the school for this semester, meaning their defections could have no negative impact on the team’s APR.
Jabari Brown, Oregon

The Trend Of Ducks Flying The Coup Is A Troubling One For Oregon Fans. (Jim Brown/US Presswire)

  • Injuries – The Pac-12 probably hasn’t had any more injuries than any other conference this season, but they have had their share of important ones. USC lost senior point guard Jio Fontan to a torn ACL prior to the season, had freshman center Curtis Washington saw his season end with a torn labrum, and just last week saw sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon go down with a stress fracture in his foot that will keep him out for four to six weeks. Utah is missing 7’3” center David Foster, who broke a foot in the Utes’ exhibition game, and he is still deciding whether he’ll return this season or take a medical redshirt. And Washington is still waiting to find out about senior guard Scott Suggs who broke a toe prior to the season. Suggs hopes to begin practicing this week with a possible return December 10 against Duke.

Player of the Year Watch

Last week, Jared Cunningham was coming off consecutive games in which he had set a new career-high for himself, and combined with his defensive prowess, he was the POTY frontrunner. Now, he’s coming off two-straight more modest performances scoring-wise (10.5 PPG), but remains the Pac-12’s leading scorer with 20.8 points per game. The next three spots on the conference scoring list are manned by Utah’s Josh Watkins (18.8 PPG), Arizona State’s Trent Lockett (17.5 PPG) and Washington State’s Faisal Aden (17.0 PPG), good players all, but guys who likely won’t have an impact on the POTY race, simply because they play for bad teams.

Cunningham Remains at the Top of our POTY Watch

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Another night, another underwhelming set of outcomes around the conference – and that’s me being generous. Let’s start things out in Kansas City, where California got absolutely drilled by Missouri in the championship game of the CBE Classic, losing by 39 points in a game that was equally mismatched in both halves. Not only could the Golden Bears not get anything going offensively, they had no chance of stopping the Tigers on the other end of the court. Mizzou held Cal to a 31.6 effective field goal percentage on the game, posting a 68.6 eFG% of their own, partly a result of some easy shots generated by the 21 turnovers the Tigers forced. Not only was Cal senior guard Jorge Gutierrez harassed into four turnovers and 4-11 shooting, but sophomore wing Allen Crabbe was held to just 1-8 from the field, and the Cal frontcourt was wholly incapable of taking advantage of an undersized Mizzou front line. The Cal loss leaves Stanford as the sole remaining undefeated team in the conference, with the Cardinal prepping for some tough matchups in New York in the NIT Season Tip-Off beginning tonight.
  2. From the middle of the country, let’s head to the middle of the Pacific, where another preseason conference favorite was getting whooped at the hands of another Big 12 school, as UCLA fell by 16 to Kansas in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. Unlike the Bruins’ first two losses of the year, at least this time out they showed a little bit of fight, coming back from a 20-point deficit to cut the lead to as little as five late, before the Jayhawks woke back up and strode back out to the final margin with ease. Reeves Nelson played 28 minutes, although he is still coming off the bench in the wake of his recent behavioral issues, but showed the good emotion that gets his teammates inspired rather than the negative emotion that helps deflate his teammates. And then there’s sophomore center Joshua Smith who fouled out in 13 minutes of play, scoring one point and grabbing one rebound. That’s an absolute crime for a guy as talented as he is.
  3. The good news of the night for the conference was USC handling Morgan State at home by three and needing last minutes heroics by Maurice Jones and Aaron Fuller to seal a comeback from a 15-point deficit. It was a surprisingly efficient offensive performance for both teams, as each team shot over 50% from the floor, but the difference was the Trojans forcing Morgan State into 21 turnovers. Junior college transfer Greg Allen, a highly-regarded three-point shooter, scored 14 points for the Trojans, including 3-5 shooting from deep, accounting for his first points at the Division I level. With the limited offensive firepower on this USC team, Allen could be an important piece this season for Kevin O’Neill.
  4. Oregon travels to Nebraska tonight for a matchup with the Cornhuskers (6:00 PM PST, Big Ten Network), and they’ll do so without freshman guard Jabari Brown, who quit the team this past weekend. Head coach Dana Altman still maintains the door is open for Brown’s return, with no deadline for a final decision from the youngster. In the meantime, however, the Ducks have a replacement for Brown’s minutes just waiting, as Devoe Joseph, a transfer from Minnesota, regains his eligibility on December 10. The irony that they’ll be replacing a guy who quit on his team in the middle of a season with another guy who quit on his team in the middle of the season isn’t lost on anybody. There was good news for Oregon, however, as X-rays on the injured right ankle of 6’11” center Tony Woods proved negative, and while Woods’ status for the Wednesday night game is still unknown, he at least is well enough to make the trip to Lincoln.
  5. In the wake of Washington’s first loss of the season to Saint Louis on Sunday, head coach Lorenzo Romar plans to clamp down a little on the freedom he gives his players on the offensive end. After the Huskies struggled executing their halfcourt offense, Romar plans to use that game as a learning experience, saying that “offensively now guys probably won’t have get as much freedom… to take chances and experiment.” It’s a fine line for Romar, as his team’s offensive strengths are in an open court, up-tempo system, but at the same time, the Huskies need to make sure they are taking good shots, something that was obviously not the case at times on Sunday. On the injury front, junior wing C.J. Wilcox, who suffered a concussion during the loss on Sunday, did not practice with the team on Tuesday and remains a question mark for Friday night against Houston Baptist.
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Set Your TiVo: 11.14.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Two games from the ESPN marathon highlight tonight’s slate but don’t sleep on a potential upset special in South Bend and a power conference battle in LA.

Detroit @ Notre Dame – 9:00 PM EST on ESPNU (***) (cross-posted on RTC Live)

Eric Atkins Looked Great in ND's First Game This Year

  • Point guard Eric Atkins carried the Fighting Irish to victory in their first game this season, one of four (including tonight) without senior forward Tim Abromaitis, currently sitting out due to a suspension. The sophomore Atkins poured in 27 points on 6-7 FG (along with six assists) in a win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. Against star Detroit point guard Ray McCallum, Atkins will have to protect the ball and run the offense effectively against a hungry Titans squad looking to upset a Big East squad on its home floor. As a result, Atkins’ scoring opportunities may be reduced. Without Abromaitis, Notre Dame is very thin and must turn to Scott Martin for a big offensive output.  If Martin or Atkins is held in check, the Irish could be looking at their first loss in only their second game of the season.
  • Detroit’s offense is loaded with scoring threats from McCallum to Chase Simon and Nick Minnerath, among others. While McCallum deservedly gets most of the press, Minnerath and his front court teammate, LaMarcus Lowe, could be the difference in this game. Notre Dame has a collection of 6’5” and 6’6” type guys on its roster with only Jack Cooley and Mike Broghammer providing any kind of bulk in the paint. The Titans have a chance to really take advantage of the mismatch in the lane and offset any advantages Notre Dame may have elsewhere. Detroit and Notre Dame play at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of pace. Expect the Titans to push the pace all night, attacking Atkins defensively in search of turnovers and easy basket opportunities in the open floor. With McCallum’s play-making ability and Atkins coming off a four turnover game, this matchup sets up well for Detroit.
  • Will Mike Brey counter with the burn offense? It’s possible but Brey trusted Ben Hansbrough to run that for all 40 minutes last season. He’s no longer around so we doubt Brey will use it all game with a sophomore point guard. You may see it at times, especially if Detroit picks up a lot of easy buckets early, but the Irish just need to execute their normal half court offense and avoid turnovers. Pace, rebounding and defense will be what to watch for in this game. Cooley had ten rebounds last time out and a repeat performance may be needed for the Irish to avoid a loss. Neither team has a reputation for defending well so this could be a high scoring game. With Abromaitis out, Detroit may actually have more weapons to turn to offensively. The Titans have a terrific chance to win this game on the road.

Nebraska @ USC – 10:30 PM EST on Prime Ticket (**)

  • USC returns only one starter from last year’s team, Maurice Jones. At 5’7”, Jones has trouble getting his shot off and it showed against Cal State Northridge on Friday, going 0-7 (a major part of USC’s 0-15) from deep. It won’t get easier against Doc Sadler’s defense. USC is going to have to score points inside to win this game. Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller can do that but the Cornhuskers ranked #6 in two point defense last season. Kevin O’Neill also has to find some way for his team to rebound since Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson are no longer in LA. Nebraska outrebounded South Dakota 42-24 in its Friday victory.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.14.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 14th, 2011

  1. The biggest result of the opening weekend was clearly UCLA’s upset loss to Loyola Marymount on Friday evening, a game in which UCLA looked awful, showing an inability to get their talented bigs involved offensively as a result of poor guard play and non-threatening perimeter shooting. Former Bruin and current Fox Sports analyst Marques Johnson broke down the loss frankly with the Los Angeles Times, perhaps summing it up by saying, “if you have good big guys and average to adequate guard play, you’re going to struggle.” Luckily for Bruin fans, next year’s big recruit, Kyle Anderson, didn’t overreact to the loss, reaffirming his commitment to the school, but one has to wonder how the loss affected UCLA’s chances at its other big recruiting target, Shabazz Muhammad. And then there was Josh Smith’s unfortunate reaction to the loss on Twitter afterwards, making those coaches who ban their players from tweeting seem like they’re on to something.
  2. Just before Washington’s 17-point opening win over Georgia State on Saturday, freshman forward Jernard Jarreau decided that he would be joining fellow freshman Andrew Andrews in taking a redshirt season this year. With five other players on the roster 6’7” or taller, head coach Lorenzo Romar agreed with his decision, noting that the year off would allow the 6’10”, 195-pound forward to add strength and likely earn playing time next year. As for the opener itself, the Huskies were led by five three-pointers from junior wing C.J. Wilcox (one of only three players to redshirt for Romar prior to this season) on the way to a game-high 22 points. Freshman guard Tony Wroten, Jr., also impressed in his debut with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes off the bench.
  3. There was some great news on the court this weekend for Pac-12 fans as Arizona junior wing Kevin Parrom returned to practice for the first time on Friday since being shot on September 24. Then, he surprised fans by returning to game action on Sunday in the Wildcats’ 73-63 victory over Ball State, entering the game off the bench to a standing ovation and playing 18 minutes, hitting a crucial three, taking a charge and grabbing four rebounds to go with six points. Teammate Alex Jacobson, a senior center, also participated in the full practice on Friday after having missed most other preseason practices due to a back injury, but still has yet to appear in a game this season. Also of note in the Ball State game was the absence of freshman point guard Josiah Turner from the box score. Head coach Sean Miller indicated after the game that his DNP was not a suspension, but was some sort of punishment for off the court actions.
  4. Colorado kicked off its first season as a Pac-12 member with a 28-point domination of Division II Fort Lewis, and sophomore forward Andre Roberson began his charge for potential All-Pac-12 honors, leading the way with a 13-point and 15-rebound performance. Roberson had 13 points and nine rebounds at the half before a relatively quiet second half in the blowout. Senior forward Austin Dufault also added a double-double for CU (18/10), but the Buffaloes will get a much stiffer test in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off this week, starting with Wichita State on Thursday. The Pac-12′s other new institution, Utah, gets its season underway tonight with a visit from San Diego Christan College.
  5. Finally, we wanted to check in with USC and Dewayne Dedmon’s debut for the Trojans on Friday night. The 7’0” sophomore center who didn’t begin playing basketball until his senior year in high school backed up head coach Kevin O’Neill’s glowing offseason comments about Dedmon’s potential by scoring 16 points (for the record, that’s 14 points more than he scored in his entire high school career) on 7-8 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking three shots despite being limited to 25 minutes by leg cramps in SC’s seven-point victory over CS Northridge. However, it was sophomore point guard Maurice Jones who saved the day for the Trojans, leading them back from a four-point deficit with under five minutes to play by scoring eight of the final 12 points for USC on his way to 16 points, despite hitting just two of 13 field goal attempts. Dedmon, however, was back on the court making plays at the end of the game as well, slamming home one of his three dunks on the night and grabbing a couple of rebounds in the final 24 seconds. Iowa-transfer Aaron Fuller was also big in his USC debut, as he was the third Trojan to score 16 points in the game, also grabbing nine rebounds.
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Predicting the Pac-12 All-Newcomer Team

Posted by AMurawa on November 7th, 2011

With eight of the ten players on last year’s all-Pac-10 first team having moved on to greener pastures, there will be a lot of pressure on new players in the league to step into the shoes of their team’s departed stars. While it is always the case in any sport, and especially at the college level, that old players go and new players arrive, the Pac-12 in 2011-12 seems especially reliant on newcomers. At Washington, UCLA and Arizona – three of the four teams generally regarded in the top tier of the conference – players left those teams with eligibility to spare, as Isaiah Thomas, Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt and Derrick Williams left early for a chance at the NBA. And at each of those schools, newcomers will be asked to chip in right away to pick up the slack for the departed stars. Elsewhere around the league, at places like Oregon and Stanford, teams that had gone through down periods in terms of talent are restocking their cupboards with new faces. And while many of the newcomers are highly touted freshmen who’ve been on the recruiting radar for years (the Pac-12 has nine incoming freshman that were ranked in the ESPNU top 100), there are also Division I transfers and even junior college transfers who can be impact players immediately in this conference. While it remains to be seen exactly how these players will fit in new environments, here is our best guess as to the Pac-12 All-Newcomer team.

G Tony Wroten, Jr., Fr, Washington – An exciting lefty, Wroten steps into a good situation in Seattle. Alongside veteran point guard Abdul Gaddy, Wroten will have plenty of help in the backcourt with the Huskies. And, with a group of talented athletes around him, Wroten figures to get frequent opportunities to showcase his amazing passing abilities. More of a power guard than a flashy speed merchant, Wroten can post up smaller defenders or slash to the basket and score in the lane, but he’ll eventually need to tighten up his jumper in order to fulfill his potential.

Tony Wroten Jr.

Wroten, The Talented Freshman From Seattle, Doesn't Lack For Confidence

G Josiah Turner, Fr, Arizona – Turner is going to be a major part of Sean Miller’s plans in Tucson. A high-energy, athletic lead guard who excels in the open court, Turner will need to show that he is capable of playing under control and facilitating the Wildcat halfcourt offense. Furthermore, without a proven scorer on the squad, he will need to help shoulder the scoring burden in the wake of Derrick Williams and Momo Jones’ departures. While he figures to suffer some growing pains early in the season (pains already seen in Arizona’s two exhibition games), Turner should be a serious difference-maker by the time conference play rolls around. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Conference Primers: #6 – Pac-12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 1st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences as well as a Pac-12 microsite staffer. You can find him on Twitter @AMurawa.

Reader’s Take I

With only two of the ten players named to last year’s All-Pac-10 team returning, the race for the conference player of the year is wide open.

 

Top Storylines

  • Twelve Is The New Ten: After 33 seasons, college basketball fans on the west coast are getting used to calling their conference the Pac-12. With Colorado and Utah along for the ride (and currently taking their lumps in football), gone are the days of the home-and-away round-robin schedule on the basketball side of things. But lest the traditionalists complain too much, it could have been much different, as schools from Oklahoma and Texas (obviously the very definition of “Pacific” states) flirted with changing their allegiance for the second consecutive year before heading back to the Big 12.
  • Fresh Blood: As mentioned above in our poll question, the conference loses eight of the ten players on last year’s all-Pac-10 team, with just Jorge Gutierrez of Cal and UCLA’s Reeves Nelson returning. In other words, it is time for a new set of players to step up and take the reins of the league. The most likely candidates are a talented group of freshman guards – names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson at Arizona, Tony Wroten, Jr. at Washington, Jabari Brown at Oregon, Norman Powell at UCLA and Chasson Randle at Stanford.

Jorge Gutierrez Is A Lightning Rod Of A Guard For Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, And Big Things Are Expected.

  • The Carson Show On Hold. A seventh highly-touted freshman guard, however, is stuck in limbo. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson has yet to be cleared for practice while an investigation continues into an online course the 5’10” point guard took this summer at Adams State in Colorado. That school has yet to release his course transcript, and until that happens, Carson is unable to practice with the Sun Devils, making an already difficult situation (being regarded as a savior for a team coming off a 12-19 campaign) even worse.
  • Hard Times for Kevin Parrom: Sometimes, just when everything is going well, life conspires to deal you a set of circumstances that just suck. It’s not bad enough that Parrom took a couple of bullets on September 24 during a home invasion, while in the Bronx visiting his sick mother. But on October 16, Parrom’s mom then passed away after a long battle with cancer. While both incidents will have lasting effects on Parrom, the bullet wounds are the biggest obstacle to him getting back on the court, with bullet fragments lodged in his right leg, a boot on his right foot, nerve damage and his left hand currently wrapped up to protect lacerations sustained in the attack. Parrom is rehabilitating his injuries and as of this writing, no hard timetable is set for his return. But if anybody is due for a good break or two, Parrom’s the guy. Get well soon, Kevin.

Predicted Order of Finish

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Pac-12 Team Previews: USC

Posted by AMurawa on October 28th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

USC Trojans

Strengths.  Defense. In Kevin O’Neill’s first two years at USC, his teams have ranked 2nd and 28th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings. While the Trojans will not look like what O’Neill expected them to look like even a few months ago, you can expect them to be similarly stingy on the defensive end. With 7’0” sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon an intimidating shot-blocking presence inside, O’Neill could play 7’1” James Blasczyk alongside him and Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller, an athletic combo forward who is capable of guarding multiple positions, at the three. And freshman wing Byron Wesley could be the Trojans’ defensive specialist for years to come. And while 5’7” point Maurice Jones is capable of being taken advantage of in the halfcourt, he’ll cause his share of problems for opposing ballhandlers in the open floor.

Weaknesses. If defense is the strength, is it too broad to say that offense will be this team’s weakness? Well, it will be. With senior point guard Jio Fontan out for the season with a torn ACL, the Trojans are left with no one who is an obvious choice as a go-to scorer. Jones is lightning quick and a streaky shooter, but no one expects him to carry this offense. Freshman guard Alexis Moore will play alongside Jones, and while he is a natural scorer, he could stand to work on his jumper and his shot selection. And Fuller, although a versatile forward, gets by more on grit and toughness than a refined offensive game. It seems like every offensive possession could be a struggle for the Trojans.

Maurice Jones

Maurice Jones May Be Small In Stature, But He'll Need To Be Big For The Trojans

Nonconference Tests.  USC plays in the Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend for the first big tests of their season, when they face UNLV in the opening round before playing either South Carolina or preseason #1 North Carolina in the second round. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier from there as they travel to Minnesota early in December before hosting New Mexico, Georgia and Kansas at the Galen Center throughout the month.

Toughest Conference Stretch.  It’s a brutal end to the season for USC. They host California and Stanford early in February, then play three straight road games against UCLA (although that “road” game is literally just down the road from USC’s campus) and the Arizona schools, before wrapping up the season with the Washington schools visiting Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Summer Updates: Pac-12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 25th, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our Pac-12 correspondent, Andrew Murawa.

Reader’s Take #1

Summer Storylines

  • The More, The Merrier: The Pac-10 is dead. Long live the Pac-12. The conference welcomes in Colorado and Utah for their first season in the conference, the first expansion in the West Coast’s premier conference since Arizona and Arizona State were added 33 years ago. Along with the new teams comes a new schedule – gone is the full home-and-away round robin. While there won’t be divisions in basketball like there are in football, each team will play an 18-game schedule with home and away games against its traditional rival, with six other rotating home-and-away series and four additional single games against the remaining teams. For instance, Colorado and Utah will only play the Southern California schools and the Washington schools once each, while they will play the remainder of the conference twice. While neither of the new schools are expected to make a big splash immediately in the conference, their arrival, coupled with other changes around the conference, such as the huge new $3 billion TV deal with ESPN and Fox that begins in the fall of 2012, makes it an exciting time to be a Pac-12 fan.
  • Is There A Draft In Here?: Last summer, a big story around the conference was the dearth of Pac-10 players picked in the NBA Draft, as just two players from the conference were selected by NBA teams in 2010. After the 21 players that were picked in the conference between the 2008 and 2009 drafts, that was a precipitous fall. And, back before the season started, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of future high draft picks on the horizon. However, the conference had six players picked in the NBA draft, including three first-rounders and two lottery picks. Derrick Williams, the 2010-11 conference player of the year, led the way, getting snapped up by Minnesota with the #2 overall pick. Unfortunately for teams around the conference, 12 seasons of eligibility were left on the table between those six picks and the two early entries who went undrafted: Stanford’s Jeremy Green and Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto. And as a result, what had looked like a potential big-time bounce-back season for the conference now sees somewhat diminished expectations. Perhaps no team was hit harder by early defections than UCLA, who had Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee leave a total of three years of eligibility behind to go get second-round NBA draft picks (and the absence of guaranteed contracts that goes with them) at a time when the NBA labor situation is highly in doubt, but Washington State’s loss of Casto and lottery pick Klay Thompson also leaves the Cougars’ situation fuzzy at best.
  • Replacing Production: Between the early entries to the NBA Draft and departed seniors, the Pac-12 loses its top seven scorers from last season, and 11 of its top 20. Likewise, ten of the top 20 rebounders are gone. However, as always, a new batch of youngsters is ready to show up on campuses this fall and begin contributing immediately. While the Pac-10 inked only nine of the ESPNU top 100 recruits, seven of those players are exciting young guards, all ranked in the top 60 on that list. Arizona leads the way, signing point guard Josiah Turner (#14 overall, according to ESPNU) and Nick Johnson (#21), to go with a couple solid frontcourt signees (Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, #60 and #91, respectively). But Washington (Tony Wroten, Jr., #16), Oregon (Jabari Brown, #25), Arizona State (Jahii Carson, #49), UCLA (Norman Powell, #51) and Stanford (Chasson Randle, #59) all have their own big backcourt recruits ready to provide a burst of energy.

Derrick Williams' performances were one of the highlights of the 2010-11 season.

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Morning Five: Cinco de Mayo Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2010

  1. Kentucky’s John Calipari is the news gusher that keeps on giving.  After a single year of work in Lexington, the school is already discussing a contract extension with the coach that would (ostensibly) keep him at UK until he retires.  Of course, Kentucky could give him a 1000-year contract and it would be relatively meaningless if he has his eyes on coaching a superstar like Lebron James in the League someday.  Last evening’s buzz is on the heels of rumors that the Chicago Bulls were interested in trying to lure the Squid back to the NBA.  Would the chance to coach Derrick Rose again (and no threat of vacated wins) and Lebron and D-Wade as free agents be enough to move on to Chicago?  You never know.
  2. This is pretty amazing if you think about it.  Long before the endless griping about a 96-team tournament and the subsequent decision of the NCAA to opt out of its current television deal with CBS in favor of a new joint deal with CBS and Turner Sports, the Blinking Eye Network approached ESPN to take the Big Dance off its hands.  In fact, facing up to as much as a $50M loss in 2010, CBS was willing to pay ESPN to take it off their hands.
  3. Bad decision, FTW, Alex.  Louisville’s Samardo Samuels has hired an agent and is locked into the NBA Draft even though most experts have him as a fringe second rounder at best.  Remember this from a few weeks ago?  It feels to us like Samuels just wants the hell outta dodge.
  4. Will the last player in the state of Iowa leave the lights on?  Iowa’s Aaron Fuller, an all-Big Ten honorable mention selection who averaged 10/6 in 2010, will resurface at USC for Kevin O’Neill, and Iowa State junior Charles Boozer will transfer out of Ames after a weekend incident where he is alleged to have assaulted a woman outside his apartment complex.
  5. If you can name the two current head coaching jobs still available, you likely already have your application in — Mt. St. Mary’s and Chicago State.  Thanks to Seth Davis’ wrap-up of this spring’s coaching carousel, we now know that factoid and you do too.  Check out the rest of his piece for a breakdown of the good and bad from this year’s version.
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Morning Five: 04.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2010

The Morning Five is back, you know you missed it…

  1. There is some weirdness surrounding Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson (considering sticking around for his senior year?) and hotshot Euro recruit Enes Kanter (did he take $600k to play in Turkey?).  Oh, and assistant coach Rod Strickland was arrested for DUI over the weekend — his FOURTH time in the last twelve years.  One thing you can say about John Calipari’s program is that it’s never boring or lacking in interesting news.
  2. Overall #2 player in the junior high school class Marquis Teague has narrowed his list down to the final five schools: Louisville, Kentucky, Purdue, Indiana, and Cincinnati.  A very midwestern flavor among that quintet.  We still think he joins Rick Pitino at Louisville, ultimately.
  3. Is Kansas getting new uniforms?  We don’t have confirmation of this, but some of the buzz suggests that yes, they are.
  4. With Fran McCaffery acting as the new sheriff in town, Iowa is losing players hand over fist — sophomore Aaron Fuller and two 2010 signees, Ben Brust and Cody Larson, have all left the program in recent days.
  5. Two Providence freshmen players, Johnnie Lacy and James Still, were both charged with assault on a fellow student stemming from an incident early Monday morning.
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