Previewing the Pac-12 Tournament

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoopsab), Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) & Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on March 12th, 2014

With the Pac-12 Tournament kicking off today in Las Vegas, Adam Butler of and our own Andrew Murawa and Connor Pelton weigh in on some of the big questions that will be answered this weekend in Sin City.

2014 p12 bracket

Outside of regular season champion Arizona, which is the most dangerous team in the tournament?

AB: The Utah Utes are one dangerous group. It’s not the sexiest argument to say they’ve “played everyone close” but the fact of the matter is they have beaten or taken every team in the conference to overtime. I’ve waited all year long for this team to break when they’ve sustained close loss after close loss but they never have. They have some great guard play in 1st teamer Delon Wright and the sweet shooting Brandon Taylor. They’ve also got a uniquely talented big in Jordan Loveridge who had 15 and 20 points, respectively, in his first two Pac-12 tournament games. The Utes are dangerous.

Delon Wright And Brandon Taylor Help Make The Utes A Very Dangerous Team This Weekend (Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune)

Delon Wright And Brandon Taylor Help Make The Utes A Very Dangerous Team This Weekend (Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune)

AM: In a tournament where there are maybe eight teams that could win this thing, I’m going to give the nod to Arizona State. Jahii Carson has started to turn things on over the last couple weeks after a very underwhelming bulk of the conference season, and he’s shown a penchant for coming up with big games in Las Vegas. In his five previous games played in Sin City, he’s scored better than 30 three times, hit 40 earlier this season against UNLV and averaged 28.8 points in those games. Throw in talented scoring wing Jermaine Marshall who is a great foil for Carson, athletic freak Shaquielle McKissic who is dangerous in transition, and dangerous shooters like Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes and you’ve got a recipe for an explosive offensive team. And we haven’t even talked about Jordan Bachynski, the Pac-12’s all-time leading shotblocker and the anchor of Herb Sendek’s best defensive team in the KenPom era. Look for the Sun Devils to be a tough out this weekend.

CP: When picking the winner of a conference tournament, you’d best go with the hottest team coming in. And no team out west is on a roll more than Oregon. Due to some bad luck with the league’s seeding tiebreak procedures, the Ducks not only have to play in the first round, but miss a game with USC or Washington State as well. But while winning four games in four days will be a challenge, if anyone can do it, it’s this team. They are living by the three-pointer right now, and I could easily see them taking the Pac-12 automatic bid.

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Stanford Week’s Burning Question: Is Dawkins’ Seat Warming Up?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 21st, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler joins us once again to chime in with his thoughts on our Burning Question. This is now his fourth straight appearance after giving us answers on the programs of Arizona, USC, and Washington. As for Stanford’s question, here goes:

Stanford made the NCAA Tournament in 13 out of 14 seasons before current head coach Johnny Dawkins took over in 2008-09. In his four seasons on the Farm, Dawkins has yet to lead the Cardinal back to the Big Dance, which has dropped the program down a step in terms of national prominence. How many more times can he go without dancing before his seat begins to heat up?

Dawkins Needs To Bring Stanford Back To National Prominence In A Hurry (credit: Danny Moloshok)

Connor Pelton: It’s tough to stand out and become a prominent team nationally in college basketball. In college football, an average fan will watch roughly 70 out of 125 FBS teams play at least one game throughout the season. That number is about the same for college basketball, but  it’s out of 345 Division I teams. If you think of it as a huge pie, there are about 30 large slices, 40 medium slices, and the rest are crumbs. Stanford used to be one of those coveted large slices, one that would without a doubt hear their name called on Selection Sunday year in and year out. But since Dawkins has taken over, the Cardinal have taken a step down to just one of the medium slices. Fans around the nation know who they are, but they don’t care enough to stay up until Midnight (on the east coast) to watch them play. The same goes for recruits, and if you find yourself in one of those six or seven-year droughts without going dancing, your four- and five-stars are going to become twos and threes.

With that said, Dawkins was able to pump some life into a program that was a little sleepy by winning the NIT Championship last season. That will buy him some time, if only because he can point to it and say, “Hey, we’re on the road back to success.” But if he doesn’t get back to the promised land within the next two seasons, it might be time to move on in Palo Alto.

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Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game Four

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 10th, 2012

Our final matchup of the first round pits the two seed, Adam Butler (Pachoops), up against seventh seeded Andrew Murawa. The winner of this one is off to the semifinals, where it will meet Connor Pelton’s team in the semifinals.  Below are the rosters, followed by some commentary from the respective owners:

Adam Butler

  • Head Coach – Ralph Miller, Oregon State
  • Guard – Damon Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Guard – Mike Bibby, Arizona
  • Guard – Michael Dickerson, Arizona
  • Guard – Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Forward – Sean Elliott, Arizona
  • Forward – Ed O’Bannon, UCLA
  • Forward – Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California
  • Forward – Chris Mills, Arizona
  • Center – Todd MacCulloch, Washington
  • Center – Bison Dele, Arizona

Adam’s Take:

My team. Well they call it Point Guard U for a reason so I went ahead and gobbled up three of the great ones and one of the best off-guards they produced. Yes, I have an all Arizona backcourt and you can go ahead and call Team PacHoops a group of homers. Do it. And that backcourt is supplemented by three more Wildcats and a dallop of other insanely talented Pac-12 players. Know that Team PacHoops houses seven Pac-10 Player of the Year Awards; six NBA lottery picks, three NCAA titles; two Wooden Awards; and a HOFer.

Look at you, you’re impressed already and I haven’t even told you that Salim Stoudamire is practically at the end of my bench, or that Chris Mills is going to struggle to get minutes; or that the worst my starting forward could be is a ninth pick in an NBA Draft; or that our coach, Ralph Miller, is one of just 73 men to win more than 600 games on a college basketball bench.

Need more? Todd MacCulloch not only was twice named First Team All-Pac, but he’s also a pinball champion. That’s right, the big Canuck has long been a pinball wizard and last October he won his first tournament (the Pinball Expo in Chicago), earning his bad self $3,000. Sean Elliott – the two time Pac Player of the Year, Wooden Award winner, and the first golden child of Arizona – roundhouse kicked debilitating kidney disease right in the jaw and said, “Nah, bro. I’ma go ahead play again.” The first major athlete to return ever from a kidney transplant.

After all, this team wasn’t built on talent alone.

But there’s plenty of it. And so I’ll toss the rock to Mike Bibby or Damon Stoudamire – whoever coach Ralph feels is going to be better suited to start – and let them deliver it (or score) to the silky smooth likes of Michael Dickerson and Elliott or the power and grace of Mills, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Ed O’Bannon. Holding down the lane will be big Bison Dele right along with Todd the pinball maestro. All beautifully orchestrated by coach Ralph.

Vote for Team PacHoops because you know it’s the right team to vote for and it’s going to make you feel good to choose a winner.

A pinball champ.

(Note from Connor: To see Adam fully breakdown each position on his fantasy roster, click here for the guards, here for the forwards, here for the centers, and here for the head coach.)

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USC Week: Q&A With Pachoops’ Adam Butler

Posted by AMurawa on July 7th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the USC basketball program, we head back to Adam Butler of Pachoops for the second straight week for his perspective on the Trojan basketball program. Like me, Adam is pretty optimistic about the Trojans’ chances of a major bounce-back this season, although if anything he’s even hotter on SC than I am. Here’s our brief conversation on the immediate future for this new-look club.

RTC: My god, the Trojans were bad last year. But was there anything that happened that could bode well for the future for this team?

AB: The season ended. That was the best possible thing that could’ve happened to that team. That and time to pass as injuries healed and redshirts expired allowing this roster to almost completely re-emerge as one of the most intriguing teams in the conference. I mean, six win teams really have only one place to go.

Dewayne Dedmon

Seven-footer Dewayne Dedmon Could Be A Game Changer For The Trojans

RTC: Four different players suffered season-ending injuries last season. Three of them – Jio Fontan, Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon – return this year. Of those three, who is most important to USC’s success this season?

AB: I’m a big Jio Fontan fan, particularly on a Kevin O’Neill team. Fontan is a dynamic ball handler and all of that ball control offense that KO runs lends itself to needing a solid point. Look at what Maurice Jones was asked to do last season. Fontan is going to do that but at a higher level. I’m tempted to call him a darkhorse POY candidate and won’t be surprised to at least see him on the conference First Team. But of course any time you can run out a seven-foot athlete, it’s hard not to pay some attention to him. Dewayne Dedmon is probably the game changer for this team – as quality bigs tend to be. The combination of sound PG play and an improved Dedmon is going to make a trip to LA not a lot of fun.

RTC: Along with the players the Trojans get back from injury, they welcome four Division I transfers: J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart from Wake Forest, Eric Wise from UC Irvine and Renaldo Woolridge from Tennessee. How good is that group of transfers and which of those four will play the biggest role for USC?

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Arizona Week: Q&A With Pachoops’ Adam Butler

Posted by AMurawa on June 29th, 2012

As we head toward closing out our coverage of the Arizona basketball program in our third of a summer-long series of in-depth looks at Pac-12 schools, we’re inviting Adam Butler of Pachoops back in to give us his thoughts on the big questions facing the Wildcats in 2012-13. Adam gave us a hand yesterday with our Burning Question of the week, and we hope to have him back from time to time to add his unique perspective. Without further ado, here’s what we came up with:

RTC: Let’s dig right in here Adam, starting from the top of the program. So, in 29 seasons since Lute Olson took over the Wildcat program, the team has missed the NCAA Tournament exactly three times: Olson’s first year, and then two of the three years under current head coach Sean Miller. Yet, it seems there is a confidence around the program that not only do they have the right coach, but that big things are on the verge of happening again in Tucson. Do you hold that view as well? And why or why not?

Sean Miller, Arizona

Arizona Has Missed The NCAA Tournament In Two Of Sean Miller’s Three Seasons In The Desert, But Arizona Fans Still Have Faith In Their Head Coach (AP Photo)

AB: Oh the Lute years were sweet. Arizona was no worse than a five-seed for 16 straight tournaments. Do you realize how awful March 2010 was for me? I literally fled the country. But I’ve digressed. Yes, I think Sean Miller is on the verge of very big things. He’s a phenomenal coach and has already demonstrated such in very short order. He took a bare cupboard and turned that into an Elite Eight; and before we get too far down the road talking about how that 2009 class fell into his lap, it did fall into his lap and those kids could’ve gone anywhere. But they chose Miller for a reason. And my impression of that reason is that he’s piecing together a very special something in the desert. I like to use Indiana’s rebuilding as a barometer and if you look at where they are following Kelvin Sampson bottoming them out, Tom Crean is in year five with the top team in the country in the preseason. Last season – year four – was their first taste of big success again. Arizona has essentially followed the same trajectory (2010-11 was a glorious anomaly), and finds itself with a very sound roster here in Miller year four and project to have a filthy year five. Here, let me pass you the Kool-Aid.

RTC: While the 2012-13 version of the Wildcats will have five returnees from last season, all of whom should get some run, it is a group of four highly touted freshmen and incoming transfer Mark Lyons who give the program the most cause for optimism. Let’s start with Lyons. He’s not a true point, is more of a shoot-first guy and his most recent head coach, Chris Mack, didn’t seem all that sad to see him transfer. Can he really be the type of point guard to help meld together some talented returnees with a frontcourt-heavy freshman class?

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