Evaluating Colorado’s Lost Weekend in the Grand Canyon State

Posted by AMurawa on January 7th, 2013

Just looking at the way the schedule set up, one way or the other, Colorado was going to have problems with Arizona State on Sunday. Even in some alternate universe where the Buffaloes remained strong down the stretch on Thursday night, took care of the ball and hit some free throws on their way to a double-figure win over Arizona, you just knew they were going to have a tough time with the back end of their Arizona road trip after looking ahead to that conference opener since the schedule was announced.

And yet, at the under-12 media timeout, the Buffaloes were up 17-4 and cruising. But, here’s where the insidious hangover effect kicked in. Rather than take out all their pent-up frustration over Thursday night’s controversial loss to Arizona, CU eased up just slightly, Arizona State got a couple of easy baskets, and the momentum for the rest of the evening shifted, never to return. After hitting eight of their first 14 attempts from the field, the Buffaloes hit less than 30% of their shots the rest of the night, including just 1-of-17 from beyond the arc. Even worse, while their opponent started 2-of-12 from the field with five turnovers in their first 15 possessions, they had just five turnovers in their last 48 possessions and hit better than 50% of their field goals the rest of the way — in part because Colorado’s defensive intensity left for an early flight back to Boulder. As Spencer Dinwiddie put it, “As a group, we stopped playing defense and stopped rebounding.” And so the Buffaloes return home from a weekend in Arizona with nothing to show for their efforts.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

Despite An 0-2 Start In Conference Play, All Is Not Lost For Colorado (Daily Camera)

Where to go from here? Well, the good news is they’ll be back in the friendly confines of Coors Event Center next week, as they host the Los Angeles schools, and they’ve won 41 of their last 45 games there; that stat alone indicates that nothing will heal up this Buffs team like some good old-fashioned home cooking. But, there are some deeper, long-term concerns for this team. First if not foremost is that pesky free-throw shooting thing. Back in November, the Buffaloes did their best to give away the title game of the Charleston Classic to Baylor, missing five of their last six free throws (and 15-of-19 on the day) and displaying plenty of iffy decisions in the final couple of minutes before eventually holding on for the good win. But that situation, and the fact that the team as a whole is shooting just 65.9% from the charity stripe on the year (good for 252nd in the nation) indicated that there would be problems in the future. With key figures like Andre Roberson and Xavier Johnson flirting with the 50% mark from the stripe, and with secondary ball-handler Askia Booker not much better at 64%, this doesn’t seem like a problem that is going to go away any time soon.

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Pac 12 M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on January 2nd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. It’s safe to say that Arizona is happy with its performance in non-conference play. Sean Miller gave the Wildcats a later practice at 2:00 PM yesterday to ring in the new year, but the players went about their holiday just like any other day in the season. Miller mentioned in his first press conference of 2013 that he believes his team is focused, but wonders if they can keep playing unselfishly and with so much chemistry in conference play. It’s hard to worry when you have the third ranked team in the country, but Miller stills wants Arizona to get the ball inside more and turn the ball over less in upcoming games.
  2. The one thing that can be said about the Pac-12 this year is that it has certainly improved since last season, but the looming question is how vast has this improvement been? Washington and UCLA have been disappointments thus far, but some of the other strides at the top and the bottom of the conference are quite large. Arizona is a top three team in the nation according to the polls, and Oregon has surprised while Colorado has done more than hold its own in non-conference tests by picking up wins over Colorado State, Baylor, Murray State, and Dayton. The likes of Washington State, Arizona State and Utah, who were all disappointments last year to say the least, are much more competitive this time around, which will certainly help the conference’s overall resume come March.
  3. Colorado standout forward Andre Roberson still hasn’t made his mind up about next summer’s NBA Draft. Roberson has been projected as high as a mid-first rounder and as low as a late second rounder in various mock drafts, but he plans to sit down and talk to Tad Boyle when the season ends and make a decision at that point. However, questions remain about Roberson’s offensive game, which is mostly made up of putbacks and open layups at this point. On the other hand, his strong defensive and rebounding abilities make scouts believe he could eventually become a very good NBA player. Whatever happens, the good news for Buffaloes fans is that Roberson is still at CU this year and has overcome his sluggish start where he only averaged 6.7 PPG his first three games but has averaged 13.7 points per game since.
  4. Top recruit and possible Washington commitment Aaron Gordon keeps playing very well during his senior year. At times, Gordon can get bored with the game because he’s playing against so many inferior players, but when a team only guards him with one player approaching his 6’8″ size, he will take over a game with ease as he did at the Les Schwab Classic in Oregon by racking up a career high 43 points. Unlike some top recruits, Gordon is a humble player and believes he still needs to get better, most notably with his free-throw shooting where he went 3-0f-14 in one game of the tournament. Gordon still doesn’t know where he wants to play in college, but has narrowed it down to Arizona, Kentucky, and Washington as his final three options. Washington seems to be the favorite because of Lorenzo Romar’s connection with Gordon’s father, but Gordon says all three schools are still a distinct possibility.
  5. After finishing up non-conference play with a win against Nevada, the Oregon Ducks are still undefeated at home and it will be tough for teams to come to Matthew Knight Arena this year and pick up a win during conference season. However, if the Ducks play as poorly as they did against Nevada, it might be easier than expected. Oregon turned the ball over 20 times and also had cause for concern as Arsalan Kazemi, who has been spectacular all season long, left the game in the first half after taking an elbow to the head (he did not return). Dana Altman said he looked fine after the game, though, and the Ducks will need him for their conference opener against rival Oregon State in Corvallis on January 6.
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Five

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 18th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew, Parker, Adam, and I have compiled after the fifth week of Pac-12 games (delta in parentheses):

  1. Arizona, 8-0 (-): Arizona continued to carry the Pac-12 flag in week five, outlasting fifth ranked Florida in a Saturday night thriller. Thanks to never giving up and some key Gator miscues down the stretch, Arizona erased a six-point deficit in the final minute to pull out a 65-64 win. For a team that gained preseason hype via its recruiting class, Zona relied on its seniors to get the signature victory. While the three true freshmen only averaged three points a piece on the night, guys like Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Mark Lyons combined for an average of 13 a piece. Who can forget about sophomore Nick Johnson, either? Not letting the underclassmen be completely outdone, the sophomore went for 15 points and four huge steals. For anyone that was waiting to say so, it’s safe to say now that this Wildcat team is legit. Time and time again they have made late runs in the final eight or so minutes of games to keep their clean record alive. Now the question is; where does it end? Up Next: 12/18 vs. Oral Roberts.
  2. Oregon, 9-1 (-): A terrific defensive performance from Oregon offset its second-to-worst offensive output of the season on Saturday. The stingy Duck defense forced 16 Nebraska turnovers in the 60-38 victory, improving Dana Altman‘s squad to 9-1 as they enter Wednesday’s road test at UTEP. Up Next: 12/19 @ UTEP.

    Senior Forward Arsalan Kazemi Was The Star Of Oregon's Defense On Saturday, Recording Four Steals And 17 Rebounds. (credit: Chris Pietsch)

    Senior Forward Arsalan Kazemi Was The Star Of Oregon’s Defense On Saturday, Recording Four Steals And 17 Rebounds. (credit: Chris Pietsch)

  3. Colorado, 8-2 (^2): The Buffaloes jump up two spots after obtaining a solid road win at Fresno State. Junior Andre Roberson led all scorers with 17 points in the victory. With games against Northern Arizona and Hartford left on the non-conference slate, it looks as if Colorado will enter Pac-12 play with a 10-2 record. Up Next: 12/21 vs. Northern Arizona.
  4. Oregon State, 7-2 (-): Oregon State held steady, but lost a couple of points in this week’s rankings despite going 2-0 and picking up its first road win of the season. Perhaps the panel decided to drop the Beavers due to the closeness of the two outcomes. They were barely able to outlast a Portland State team that hasn’t beaten a division one team so far this season, and sloppy play against 3-9 Chicago State resulted in only a 87-77 win. Up Next: 12/19 vs. Howard Read the rest of this entry »
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Set Your DVR: Week of 12.04.12

Posted by bmulvihill on December 4th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s Jimmy V. Week and the college football regular season has come to end. That means college hoops takes center stage at universities across the country and we couldn’t be happier. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

#16 Georgetown vs. Texas – 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

Expect Otto Porter to Bounce Back Against Texas (AP/R. Sutton)

  • The big question in the Georgetown-Texas game is where are the points going to come from on both sides. The Hoyas are coming off the ugliest game college basketball has seen in quite some time. While they beat Tennessee on Friday night by a score of 37-36, coach John Thompson III cannot be happy with how his team is performing on the offensive end. On the other side, the Longhorns are struggling to score as well. They are shooting an eFG% of 48.7% on the season against teams like UT-Arlington, Sam Houston State, and Chaminade (a game in which they lost). Expect this game to be a defensive slugfest. No one wants to see a disaster similar to Georgetown-Tennessee, but this game has that kind of feel. The Hoyas have the length advantage once again in this match-up and should be able to take advantage on the boards, and it’s unlikely that Georgetown forward Otto Porter will be held in check again. So keep a close eye on how he responds to his eight-point performance on 4-11 shooting against the Vols. While the Texas defense has been strong, their competition does not give us much to go on. The Longhorns will continue to struggle without point guard Myck Kabongo in the lineup regardless.

#21 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut  9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

  • Since UConn’s surprise win against Michigan State in the opener, the Huskies have come back to earth and played very mediocre basketball. A close win against Quinnipiac and a loss to New Mexico showed that Kevin Ollie’s team still has a lot of work to do. NC State is on the verge of a very disappointing non-conference season already with losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan, and a too-close-for-comfort game against UNC-Asheville. The good news for the Wolfpack is that their offense performed much better against Michigan, shooting almost 60% eFG in the loss. Look to see if they can put together a complete game for the first time this season against a quality opponent. The guard match-ups between UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and NC State’s Rodney Purvis and Lorenzo Brown should be fun to watch. However, the difference in this one should be the Wolfpack’s frontcourt of C.J. Leslie and T.J. Warren. NC State just has more scoring options across the lineup than the Huskies.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Realignment, UConn, Maui and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 20th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a regular contributor for RTC. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. As someone who doesn’t watch one minute of college football but loves college basketball to no end, conference realignment frustrates me to no end as you might imagine. It’s actually quite depressing and I hate talking/writing about it. However, it’s a relevant story and must be discussed because of the far-reaching impacts it will have on the sport I love. I realize this is all about “stability,” TV markets and football. It bothers me like nothing else but I accept it. I’m in the minority when it comes to this and the minority holds very little influence in our country. The consequences (both intended and unintended) of realignment for basketball are distressing. The Big East conference, the pre-eminent college basketball league for the last 25 to 30 years, is on life support. The conference I grew up watching, with the best conference tournament of them all, is all but gone. Yes, Connecticut and Louisville are still in the league, but make no mistake, they’ll bolt at the first opportunity they get as we saw this week with Rutgers going to the Big Ten. Once everything shakes out, I find it hard to believe any Big East football program will remain in the league. It simply makes no sense to do so at this point and they’re looking out for themselves in doing so. I don’t blame them. I blame the greedy conference leadership concerned about how many eyeballs the Big Ten Network can draw in New York and New Jersey, the schools who set this in motion (Syracuse and Pittsburgh), and the Big East as a whole for turning down a massive TV deal that could have given the conference a great deal of security. Once the football schools leave, the Big East will be down to seven Catholic basketball-only schools: DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. As an alumnus and fan of one of those seven schools, this pains me greatly. I could live with Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Notre Dame leaving the league. The real punch to the gut was Syracuse, a Big East founding member, saying it could find long-term stability in the ACC. The final, fatal blow will be Connecticut and/or Louisville bolting, likely in short order. The basketball-only schools have no leverage and must wait and see as everything crashes around them. Hopefully they get together, keep the Big East name and pick up a few other schools like Butler, St. Joe’s and Xavier. That wouldn’t be a bad league and it would get back to the roots of the Big East, basketball and basketball only.

    The Big East Needs to Find Its Roots in Basketball

  2. How does realignment affect other schools and conferences?  For one, the bottom teams in the ACC may stay there for a very long time. With Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame coming in (and possibly Connecticut/Louisville), how will schools like Wake Forest and Boston College compete? There will be a good five or six programs ahead of them each and every year, plus they have to battle it out with the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech just to make it into the middle of the pack. It’s a vicious cycle that will keep programs like these as the bottom of their respective conference for many years to come. They always said it was tough to climb up the Big East ladder but now the ACC is effectively the Big East (six of the ACC’s 14 future members, not including Maryland, will be former Big East schools). It’s going to be extraordinarily tough for schools like Boston College to compete in the revamped ACC. Only the strong shall survive in conference realignment, it seems. As for the Big Ten, the impact isn’t as significant. Penn State, Nebraska and Northwestern will always be among the worst programs in the league but the climb to respectability isn’t as difficult. Look at Northwestern. The Wildcats have never made the NCAA Tournament despite knocking on the door in the last few seasons, showing how it isn’t impossible to climb the conference ladder. Now though, the addition of a similarly starved program at Rutgers and a strong program at Maryland makes it more difficult for Northwestern to make a move. It’s uncertain what Rutgers is getting itself into. The Scarlet Knights haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in 22 seasons but have shown signs of progress under Mike Rice. You have to think it can go either way for Rutgers. The new recruiting avenues can help but the school is already situated in the middle of the talent-rich New York City area. That said, road trips to Wisconsin and Michigan State aren’t as simple as heading over to St. John’s or up to Providence. I’d lean towards Rutgers struggling in the Big Ten. Read the rest of this entry »
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Colorado’s Ugly Win Bodes Well For Future

Posted by AMurawa on November 16th, 2012

It was a game Colorado really should have wanted to win. But, my god, it really didn’t look like it, did it? After scoring a big opening round win yesterday in the Charleston Classic and earning their way into the winner’s side of the bracket and a chance at revenge against a Baylor team that ended their year last season, the Buffaloes did plenty of good things Friday afternoon, but struggled to slam the door on the Bears. In the last two minutes of the game, they missed five of their six free throw attempts and generally displayed some shaky decision making, allowing Baylor a decent look at tying the game as time expired, only to see an Isaiah Austin jumper go awry. It was all part of a nightmarish 4-for-19 day from the line for CU, but in the end, they were good enough on the defensive end, holding Baylor to 0.85 points per possession, to escape with a win and advance to the championship game of the tournament.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

Spencer Dinwiddie And Colorado Finally Closed Out Baylor, Earning a Pair Of Key Wins (Daily Camera)

The good news for the Buffs is that it is only going to get better from here for a young team. While CU likely isn’t on track to be a great free throw shooting team, today’s low was an aberration. For instance, sophomore point guard Spencer Dinwiddie shot better than 81% from the line last year, but today was just one-for-five. More importantly, while Dinwiddie and classmate Askia Booker got plenty of experience last year, they’re still just sophomores tasked with running an NCAA Tournament-caliber team that is trying to fold in a pair of talented frontcourt freshmen to a solid returning core. There were hiccups today, as there were yesterday, but to see this team struggle like this and still come away with a win against a very good opponent provides plenty of hope for just how good this team can be come March. For instance, freshman big man Josh Scott got his first big taste of big NBA-ready frontcourt talent today and, while foul trouble limited his minutes and he turned in season lows in points and rebounds, he showed he could hold his own against guys like Austin and Cory Jefferson. And, he’ll get better by leaps and bounds as the season progresses. Fellow frosh Xavier Johnson impressed in his first two games, but looked very much like the rookie he is today, turning the ball over five times. But, give him credit for trying to fit in with the rest of his new squad by missing three of four free throws – a team-building exercise, right?

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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Colorado vs. Dayton

Posted by KDanna on November 15th, 2012

The non-conference tournaments get under way in earnest this week, and our Pac-12 microsite game of the week takes us to South Carolina for the Charleston Classic, where Colorado will play Dayton in a first round game Thursday afternoon.

Why It’s Important: Get used to this phrase for the next couple of moments, but this is the ultimate RPI boost game for Colorado. Take a look at the bracket for this tournament: If Colorado wins, it will most likely face some two-game combination of Baylor, St. John’s and Murray State. If Colorado loses, then likely dates with Boston College, Charleston and Auburn are on the ledger. Notice the difference in level of competition? Again, the Pac-12, more than any conference, needs as many opportunities to play high-RPI teams as it can get. Going 1-2 in Charleston with a win over Dayton and losses to Baylor and either St. John’s or Murray State is a whole lot better than going 2-1 with a loss to Dayton and wins over Boston College and Charleston or Auburn. Last year, the Buffaloes went 1-2 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but that win didn’t come until the seventh place game in which they beat Western Michigan after losing to Wichita State and Maryland.

Colorado Player to Watch- André Roberson: An obvious choice, but maybe not for a reason that would be considered obvious going into the season. The only player to average a double-double in the Pac-12 last year, Roberson struggled in the season-opening victory against Wofford, scoring just seven points to go along with six rebounds on 2-8 shooting from the field. After the fact, Roberson agreed with Tad Boyle’s assessment that he didn’t play with enough energy. Never a good thing to hear after the first game of the season, and Roberson can ill afford to give a subpar effort against an Atlantic 10 team that is more than capable of beating the Buffs.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.13.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on November 13th, 2012

  1. To the surprise of probably nobody, Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks was named the first Pac-12 Player of the Week for the 2012-13 season. The junior guard from Chicago earned the honor in large thanks to a 33-point effort against New Mexico State on Sunday night, a game that saw him consistently get to the rack and beat the tall-but-slow-footed 7’5’’ Sim Bhullar and others on his way to the paint. Starks is probably known more for his trigger-happy right hand from beyond the arc, something he showed off in the season opener against Niagara during which he hit six three-pointers. In a land chock full of diminutive guards, Ahmad Starks might be the most underrated of them all. This honor (his second such of his career) helps shine some light on Craig Robinson’s perimeter player, and conferences love to heap praise on players from teams that don’t receive a lot of positive national attention (see: Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb being awarded the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor for the Buffs’ lone win of 2012 against Washington State). It’s a well-deserved honor for Starks, who also averaged six rebounds, three assists, and two steals per contest.
  2. The new AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll came out yesterday and there wasn’t much movement for the Pac-12 constituents. The AP kept Arizona and UCLA and 12 and 13, respectively, while dropping the Wildcats and Bruins a spot in the USA Today to 12 and 14. The reasons for the slight drops in the coaches poll surround Arizona’s too-close-for-comfort victory over Charleston Southern and the news out of Westwood that Shabazz Muhammad has been ruled ineligible. It’s good to see that UCLA didn’t get punished harshly for the ineligibility of a player who has yet to contribute to the program in a game; others like the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) dropped the Bruins precipitously. Sure, a lot of preseason rankings are based on projections, but these preseason rankings came out with the knowledge that Muhammad might not play in the first place. It would unjust in the humble opinion of this blogger to dock the Bruins any further.
  3. More on that Arizona win over Charleston Southern- it leaves plenty of room for improvement for the Wildcats, according to The Tucson Citizen. Regardless of how good Charleston Southern may be this year, it’s never a good feeling to have to grind one out against a Big South school at home as a top-25 team. This isn’t the first time this has happened for Arizona, either. Look no further than last year, when a preseason top-20 Wildcat squad sweated out victories at home against Valparaiso and Duquesne before eventually dropping off in non-league play with losses in all of their most important non-conference games (Mississippi State, San Diego State, Florida, and Gonzaga). Lessons are always easier to learn in close wins, but a similar effort against UTEP and Long Beach State, two programs that are a notch above Charleston Southern, might not yield as friendly of a result.
  4. The Colorado sports information department has to rank among the best in the conference, partly due to features that move beyond your normal fluffy and propaganda-sounding pieces. Case in point: this B.G. Brooks article concerning André Roberson’s need to play with more energy. He didn’t have a horrific game in the Buffaloes’ 74-59 season-opening victory against Wofford, but it wasn’t the performance many have come to expect from the only guy to average a double-double in the conference last year. Both Boyle and Roberson himself agree that he needs to play with a little more spunk, and it needs to happen right away as Colorado gets ready for the Charleston Classic. It isn’t a loaded field, but Dayton should provide a good test immediately, and the Buffs could also square off against Baylor and Murray State in future rounds.
  5. Lastly, the Stanford basketball team sent out a get-well motivational video to the injured Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. The Cardinal made headlines in the NIT last year when Lewis was caught on tape giving a motivational speech to Stanford right before its semifinal game against UMASS in Madison Square Garden. While this video won’t get anyone pissed off for greatness (even though the players mention the phrase a few times in the video), it’s a nice gesture to an NFL great who really helped put Stanford back on the map of national relevance.
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Pac-12 M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 9th, 2012

  1. We hit the big news yesterday about Omar Oraby being declared eligible yesterday for USC, but now Oregon has to sit back and wait for news on its own Rice big man, Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred out of Rice and to Oregon for reasons similar as Oraby. The common perception is that if Oraby got freed, then Kazemi must be next, but that is little comfort for the Ducks who face the prospect of opening their season tomorrow night without his services. Certainly, Oregon should be able to handle the likes of Northern Arizona and Portland State as they stand now, but the Ducks would sure like to have Kazemi in uniform a week from today when they host a young but talented Vanderbilt squad. With him in tow, the Ducks have a seriously strong frontcourt that could make a splash near the top of the conference standings.
  2. An important correction for a recent bit of misinformation. On Wednesday morning we relayed the Los Angeles Times’ info that Shabazz Muhammad, were he healthy, would be able to participate in UCLA’s opener since it was within the 45-day window for him to participate with the team. Actually, that’s not quite right. The 45-day window allows Muhammad to participate in practices, but he won’t be eligible to compete in games until officially cleared by the NCAA, a timeline of which is still unknown. So, as it stands, the Bruins will open their season and their new-look Pauley Pavilion tonight against Indiana State, the only other school of which John Wooden held the head coaching job.
  3. Speaking of Wooden, the Wooden Award Watch List was unveiled on Thursday and four different Pac-12 student-athletes earned recognition: Colorado’s Andre Roberson, California’s Allen Crabbe, Arizona’s Solomon Hill and Washington State’s Brock Motum. Of the four, Roberson is the one with the best chance of earning the individual honor, although Hill’s team is expected to have greater success. Still, Hill’s game is more of a below-the-radar game and, with guys like Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson expected to shoulder much of the scoring load, it’s unlikely he will put up the individual statistics necessary to shoulder the load. Speaking of Lyons, transfers and freshmen are ineligible for inclusion on the Preseason Top 50 list, which is why players like he, Shabazz Muhammad, and Kyle Anderson, to name just a few, are not listed.
  4. Our last bit of news for the morning is that a legacy, Kameron Rooks, son of former Arizona center and long-time NBA big man Sean Rooks, was offered a scholarship by Arizona. The younger Rooks is a seven-footer just like his old man, who possesses enough talent to have received similar offers from Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon State. Like his father, Kameron has a massive body, long arms, and is a back-to-the-basket scorer. Still, at 275 pounds, his conditioning will always be a concern and he is regarded as still a work in progress. He’s currently a senior in high school and is listed as a three-star recruit.
  5. Another week, another chance for me to rub in the fact that I am absolutely killing Connor in our weekly football pick ‘em contest. I took a three-game lead into last week’s picks and, behind UCLA’s drubbing of Arizona at the Rose Bowl, extended it up to four. But I ain’t about to pull a Phil Ford and drop back into the Four Corners here to run some clock. Nope. Even though Connor sent me his picks first, I’m confident enough to put half of that four-game lead on the line this week. And, assuming I don’t completely overdose on hoops action Friday night, I’m looking forward to another great Saturday (although not quite as great as last Saturday) of college football action. Our picks below, with, as always, our game of the week in bold.
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Colorado at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Utah at Washington Utah Washington
Arizona State at USC USC USC
Oregon at California Oregon Oregon
Oregon State at Stanford Stanford 26-23 Oregon State 17-16
UCLA at Washington State UCLA UCLA
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Pac-12 All-Defense Team and All-Newcomer Team

Posted by PBaruh on November 7th, 2012

The college basketball season is now just days away and here are some more of the Pac-12 microsite’s predictions for the season with our All-Defense Team and All-Newcomer Team.

All-Defense Team

  • C Aziz N’Diaye (Sr. 7’0″ 260 lbs.) Washington. N’Diaye was a physical presence and an exceptional defender for the Huskies and Lorenzo Romar last year. He’s a great rebounder and shot-blocker, averaging 7.1 per boards per game and blocking a shot a night last season. N’Diaye covers the paint very well for the Huskies and is legitimate 7-footer who is mobile for his size. As a result, he can recover quickly and play great help defense. His length should cause problems for opposing offenses all year long.
  • F- Andre Roberson (Jr. 6’7″ 210 lbs.) Colorado. The second-best defensive rebounder in the nation last year, Roberson picked up 401 total and 290 defensive rebounds last year. He has been a defensive force ever since he’s arrived at Colorado by blocking everything that comes his way. Roberson averaged 1.9 blocks per game last year and also averaged 1.3 steals a game to boot. It’s very hard to score on Roberson as he never gives up second chances and tips rebounds to himself if necessary, and he can even step outside and guard perimeter players on the wing. Overall, Roberson is an outstanding defender and is underrated defensively because of his size.
  • F- Eric Moreland (So. 6’10” 215 lbs.) Oregon State. The Pac-12’s leading shot blocker last year is an imposing defender with his size and speed. Moreland averaged 1.9 blocks per game last year and totaled 69 blocks on the season. Although at first glance it may seem Moreland is not a great rebounder due to his 6.8 RPG average last year, he was second in defensive rebound percentage in the Pac-12 at 26.8%. With more minutes possibly headed his way this season, you could see his traditional rebounding numbers jump.

Eric Moreland has a knack for blocking shots and getting the ball.

  • F- Josh Huestis (Jr. 6’7″ 230 lbs.) Stanford. Huestis doesn’t have one particular skill at which he excels on defense. He can block shots and he’s a decent rebounder, but more importantly, he’s just a good all-around defender. When he’s in the game, players rarely score on him. Huestis is a smart player and knows where to play help defense and how to position himself on the floor, and his athletic ability helps him make up for a relative lack of size. With plenty of minutes available in the Stanford frontcourt, Huestis should provide great defense down low for the Cardinal this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Six X-Factors Who Will Elevate Their Teams This Season

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 7th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

“Most valuable” or “Most Important” has always seemed like an incredibly fuzzy concept to define. Statistical greatness doesn’t do it justice. Neither does sheer talent differential – is a player important just because the rest of his team isn’t very good? Such crude measures don’t take into account other vague elements that often go into describing these players. All in all, given the indeterminate criteria used, arguments can be made for a handful of different players any given year. Amid all the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: These players are indispensable to their respective teams. They are the underlying force that sets the course for a strong season, that fuels the competitive motor for five months and upwards of 30 games, that captivates fan bases and crushes opponents’ dreams. You may not have a grounded explanation for why these players are so very crucial. You just know. It’s one of the reasons singling these guys out is highly subjective. So bear with me as I reveal one player from each power league whose value transcends analytical or statistical strength, and whose importance can’t be boxed into any single dimension. They are their teams’ X-factors, and that’s all you need to know.

Three qualifying parameters: The mid-major ranks are littered with teams whose winning formula relies heavily on one player. In the interest of narrowing the focus of this expansive and rather ambiguous category, they will be excluded here. Selections will also be geared towards teams with credible conference and national championship aspirations. Lastly, there are no freshmen included here (here’s a fresh look at this season’s batch of impact newcomers).

North Carolina – James Michael McAdoo

So much of North Carolina’s offensive output will rely on McAdoo’s development (photo credit: Getty Images)

There are few teams that can overcome losing three first-round draft picks and still have enough in the reserve ranks to retain their competitive equity. That is the challenge UNC faces this season following the departures of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, who each played more than 66 percent of available minutes and combined to use 73 percent of their team’s possessions. Replacing such a large heaping of production will require a huge sophomore leap from McAdoo. While his playing time was limited last season thanks to the NBA-bound forwards in front of him, McAdoo arrived with McDonald’s All American-level hype and made good on that reputation in the little court-time he saw. He even contemplated leaving for the draft after last season, and many speculated he would have been taken as a lottery pick. Now he has a chance to elevate his draft stock in a central frontcourt role. UNC’s lack of complementary scorers will make McAdoo’s scoring responsibilities a significant component of their offensive calculus. Freshman power forward Brice Johnson should provide help on the glass, and senior Reggie Bullock is more than capable of raising his scoring output, but it will be incumbent upon McAdoo’s promising but somewhat unproven offensive game to keep the Tar Heels in the hunt for the ACC crown.

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Introducing the Preseason All-Pac-12 Teams

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 6th, 2012

Over the past four weeks we’ve been preparing you for the season with our team-by-team previews. Now, with ACTUAL GAMES tipping off this Friday, we close out our season preview this week with a number of superlatives. Here are the Pac-12 microsite’s predictions for this season’s all-Pac-12 teams.

First Team

  • G Allen Crabbe, Jr, California - Already with one of the purest outside strokes in the conference, Crabbe has added an explosive drive to the basket and mid-range jumper to his repertoire. The hard work will pay off as Crabbe and fellow guard Justin Cobbs could very well be the conference’s top backcourt duo by season’s end. We think he leads the Golden Bears to a fourth NCAA berth in five years and is named to the all-Pac-12 team for a second consecutive season.

Crabbe Returns As One Of The Top Scoring Threats In The Conference For 2012-13 (credit: Kelley L. Cox)

  • G/F Shabazz Muhammad, Fr, UCLA – One of the most anticipated freshmen in recent Pac-12 history, Muhammad was nearly a unanimous selection by our panel of voters. The five-star freshman out of Bishop Gorman High School (NV) has the explosiveness of a three inside the paint, but the outside touch of a two. The seemingly effortless combination of those two things made him the most sought after prospect in the nation. The only thing holding Muhammad  back from a spot on this list come March is a still-pending NCAA investigation into his recruitment. Assuming he is cleared before the season starts, we likely won’t see the star until UCLA’s November 19 game against Georgetown due to a strained right shoulder.
  • F André Roberson, Jr, Colorado (Pac-12 Player of the Year) – Poised for a breakout season, we think Roberson will be the league’s player of the year in 2012-13. He’s without a doubt the top rebounder in the conference, and has a terrific ability to time blocks when an opponent floats something up in the lane. He has shown the potential to be a good outside shooter as well, making him perfect to be a prototypical three whenever he leaves for the NBA. Roberson has a chance to make a national All-America squad by season’s end if the Buffaloes make the NCAA Tournament.
  • F Brock Motum, Sr, Washington State – Motum jumped from 7.6 PPG as a sophomore to a Pac-12 leading 18 PPG as a junior, so there’s no question he belongs on this list heading into his final year on the Palouse. He’s able to score a number of different ways, sometimes looking like Dirk Nowitzki with the crazy ways he puts the ball through the hoop. Motum will need help from a frontcourt lacking with talent in order to draw some of the attention away from him.
  • F Solomon Hill, Sr, Arizona – Hill played out of position at the four for most of last season and still managed to make 27 three-pointers in Arizona’s final 17 games. He’ll be back on the wing for his senior campaign thanks to the additions of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Kaleb Tarczewski in the post. Hill’s shooting range vastly improved throughout the course of last year in Tucson, and we think it only gets better in 2012-13. Even better for a team that won’t lack in scoring options is Hill’s ability to rebound as a wing, something Draft Express has said he’s one of the best in the nation at.
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