Pac-12 M5: 12.20.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 20th, 2012


  1. Larry Drew II‘s collegiate career will come to a close this season, and UCLA head coach Ben Howland regrets not having Drew for a longer amount of time in Los Angeles. While in the middle of his senior season at Woodland Hills Taft High School, Howland offered Drew a scholarship but only kept it on the table for “roughly one week.” Wanting to keep his options open, the kid that grew up a Bruins fan decided to wait out the recruitment process. He eventually landed in Chapel Hill, a place Drew “never really liked.” Five years later the point guard is back in the City of Angels, and as I pointed out a few weeks ago, has been one of the few bright spots for the Bruins in 2012.
  2. If you felt like you were dreaming while watching Arizona knock off a top 10 Florida team last Saturday, it’s probably because of this statistic: The last time a Pac-12/10 team beat a top 10 non-conference opponent was back in 2009, when USC beat #9 Tennessee. A lot of things have happened in those three years, including the slow demise of our conference’s national reputation and RPI rankings. Perhaps that’s why coaches from all around the league were excited by the Wildcats’ triumph. It had already been a disappointing November and December with losses to the likes of Albany, Cal Poly, and Sacramento State dotted throughout the league, so hopefully the rest of the Pac-12 can follow Zona’s suit and keep the quality wins coming.
  3. With Ahmad Starks slumping and Angus Brandt out for the year with a torn ACL, Oregon State has desperately needed the energy provided by Devon Collier, both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Collier has been doing a terrific job coming off the bench so far this season, but he actually got the start last night against Howard as Craig Robinson was looking for more energy to begin the game. The plan worked, with the Beavers jumping out to a 14-2 lead, including six points from Collier. They still couldn’t escape their early lull, however, as the Bison jumped right back to pull within three at 20-17. It will be interesting to see how Robinson plays with the lineup in the future as Pac-12 play nears.
  4. Oregon State’s rival was also in action Wednesday night, but instead of playing 48 miles to the south, Oregon nearly went south of the border to face UTEP.  Remember when we were discussing how the conference was beginning to turn around? The Ducks set that back a bit, giving away opportunity after opportunity against the Miners before UTEP finally pulled out a triple-overtime victory. As David Piper mentions at the end, this is a bad loss. Sure, UTEP nearly beat UNLV on Monday, but that’s a Runnin’ Rebels team that Oregon had already posted a victory against. On the road. Also noted was UTEP’s 24-point loss to Vanderbilt, a team Oregon destroyed by 26. Bottom line, Oregon’s shooting woes were going to cost them eventually at some point, and that happened in El Paso last night. You hate to make assumptions bubble-wise this early in the season, but this makes the Ducks’ New Year’s Eve date with Nevada a near must-win to keep its at-large hopes alive.
  5. We close with our weekly Pac-12 Hoops Pick’em selections. Adam and Parker continued to cruise last week and now lead the competition with records of 31-6. I am currently a game behind, while Drew is stuck three games out. For our games of the week, we have chosen Stanford’s trip to Evanston on Friday night and the Kansas-Ohio State showdown on Saturday.
Game Connor (30-7) Drew (28-9) Parker (31-6) Adam (31-6)
Cal Poly at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
Northern Arizona at Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado
Stanford at Northwestern NW 71-69 Stan 77-59 Stan 65-58 Stan 74-61
Washington State vs Buffalo Washington State Washington State Washington State Washington State
Cal State Northridge at Utah Utah Utah Utah Utah
USC at Georgia Georgia USC Georgia USC
Arizona State at Texas Tech Texas Tech Arizona State Texas Tech Arizona State
Houston Baptist at Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
Kansas at Ohio State OSU 80-75 OSU 65-63 KU 78-73 OSU 80-77
Prairie View A&M at California California California California California
Northern Illinois at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
Oregon State vs San Diego Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State Oregon State
Arizona vs East Tennessee State Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona


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Rushed Reactions: Oregon State 79, Portland State 74

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 13th, 2012

Connor Pelton is an RTC correspondent and Pac-12 microsite writer. He filed this report from tonight’s Oregon State-Portland State game in Portland.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. 100 Wins. Tonight’s win was Craig Robinson’s 100th victory in his career, just seven seasons in. While there have certainly been some struggles along the way (an 11-18 year at Brown and a 10-19 campaign with the Beavers in 2010-11), it is becoming more and more evident from the finish to last season and the start of this year that Robinson will be in Corvallis for a long time. And that’s a good thing for Beaver fans. What plagued him and Oregon State early on in his career were three things; halftime adjustments, correctly picking a defense to match up with the opponent’s strengths, and getting the team up for games against lesser opponents. It was fitting Robinson did all three of these things correctly in his milestone win. The Vikings quickly built up a 16-7 lead against the Beavers, and recognizing a need for energy and disruption, OSU went to its signature 1-3-1 trap. That forced three consecutive PSU turnovers, and in a matter of minutes the Beavers went on a 18-8 run to gain the lead for the first time.
  2. The Emergence of Joe Burton. As Joe Burton goes, so do the Beavers? That would have been a crazy statement to make at the beginning of the season, but ever since the season-ending injury to fellow center Angus Brandt, we’ve seen a new and more confident Burton. That was especially true tonight, as the big man led all starters with 20 points. Big Joe is now looking to shoot more instead of instantly going into pass-first mode, and tonight he rolled off four straight buckets after missing the first three he took. If Burton can continue this type of production, the sting of losing Brandt will be lessened significantly.
  3. Stopping Starks. Oregon State’s leading scorer only put up four shots from the field on Wednesday night, and missed every single one of them. Normally the junior point guard gets his pull-up threes off of screens on the perimeter, but instead of switching on those screens, the Vikings did a terrific job of fighting through them and doubling Starks before the screen even came. This worked for the first ten minutes, while the Beaver bigs couldn’t put anything away inside the paint, but eventually the shots would fall and Portland State was killed in the paint. Regardless, the strategy more or less worked. Anytime a team that hasn’t beaten a Division I opponent all season can hold one of the Pac-12’s top scorer to only four points, you’re doing something right.
Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (Photo by Connor Pelton)

Despite A Terrific Defensive Effort Against Ahmad Starks, The Beavers Pulled Out A 79-74 Road Victory. (This photo, apparently found in the LOST hatch, is from  Connor Pelton)

Star of the Game. Devon Collier. We’ve already discussed Burton’s exploits, and he’d make a great pick as well, but Collier’s buckets came at the biggest times. The junior would go on mini-runs all by himself, salvaging the Beavers from offensive droughts and igniting not only the team, but large contingent of Beaver fans in attendance. His post moves were spectacular, consistently putting down shots and drawing contact in the process. The big man finished with a team-leading 23 points, and came up huge on the offensive glass as well.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.29.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 29th, 2012

  1. UCLA lost its second player in just four days on Wednesday when it was announced that junior center Joshua Smith had left the team. After not practicing on Tuesday due to weight issues and to mull over his future with the program, it was revealed mid-day Wednesday that Smith was gone for good. As we mentioned above, Tyler Lamb left the program on Sunday, just another example of players leaving in droves, something that has become all too familiar the past few seasons in Westwood. Smith said he was departing Ben Howland’s team for “personal reasons.” So, what does UCLA lose in the big man? Smith was a decent rebounder for his size, averaging 4.2 RPG so far in 2012-13; however, his inability to stay on the court for long periods of time resulted in dwindling minutes, and when he was on the floor he wasn’t exactly Mr. Productive for the Bruins’ offensive game. Freshman forward/center Tony Parker will see an increase of about five minutes per game in the coming weeks with Smith’s departure.
  2. Oregon State received bad news as well when it was revealed that freshman center Daniel Gomis would need season-ending surgery on his left leg. Gomis is the second Beaver center to be lost in just over two weeks, as senior Angus Brandt tore his ACL against Purdue on November 16. This is actually Gomis’ second year in Corvallis, but he was lost for all of the 2011-12 season with a broken leg. Expect to see a continued increase in freshman Jarmal Reid’s minutes without Gomis.
  3. In yet more depressing big man news, junior wing Anthony Brown will miss the rest of Stanford’s season with a hip injury. Brown will have surgery in mid-December according to head coach Johnny Dawkins. The guard/forward averaged 3.0 PPG in Stanford’s first four outings before sitting out the next three.
  4. Former Oregon head coach Ernie Kent will call nine Duck games for the Pac-12 Networks in 2012-13, six of which to be played in the arena he helped build. And when Oregon meets Texas-San Antonio tonight at Matthew Knight Arena, it will be only the second time Kent’s been inside Oregon’s posh new palace. His return home will hopefully be marked by many chants from the Pit Crew and a long standing ovation; after all, while the ending of his time in Eugene may have been ugly, this is the coach that led the resurgence of Oregon basketball. Kent, who doesn’t know whether he’ll ever coach again, was a finalist for the Colorado State job last spring before it went to Larry Eustachy. What we do know is that he looks pretty comfortable, and is also very good at his new job as a commentator and studio analyst with the Pac-12.
  5. We close with something new for our Pac-12 microsite as we introduce a Pac-12 Hoops Pick’em that will run from now up until Championship Week. Between Adam, Parker, Drew, and I, the four of us will post our picks for the weekend basketball games and keep track of our records as we go along. Also included will be a national and conference game of the week, where we will include our score prediction. For the opener, we have selected Thursday’s Kentucky-Notre Dame match-up and Saturday’s UCLA-San Diego State showdown in Anaheim for those respective games.
Game Connor (0-0) Drew (0-0) Parker (0-0) Adam (0-0)
Texas-San Antonio at Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
Kentucky at Notre Dame UK 85-75 UK 70-63 UK 75-62 UK 81-67
Utah at Texas State Texas State Utah Utah Utah
Oregon State vs Kansas Kansas Kansas Kansas Kansas
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
Arizona at Texas Tech Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona
Sacramento State at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
UCLA vs San Diego State SDSU 73-71 UCLA 70-63 SDSU 63-61 UCLA 67-61
Colorado at Wyoming Wyoming Colorado Colorado Colorado
Portland at Washington State WSU WSU WSU WSU
California at Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
Denver at Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
Cal State Fullerton at Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington


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Pac-12 M5: 11.26.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 26th, 2012

  1. Things are getting bad up in Seattle. Washington has dropped three of its last four games, and hasn’t won a game in regulation since its opening night back on November 11. Being outplayed on the boards, by a HUGE margin, has been the main problem for the Huskies. Combine the poor effort on the glass with injuries to the likes of Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp, Jr., and the Dawgs are off to a worse start than the one we saw last season. That campaign saw losses to Saint Louis, Nevada, and South Dakota State all before Christmas. Hopefully Washington gets more competitive as we roll along up until Pac-12 play, if only to help the rest of the conference’s overall RPI. And to help me look better too, as I picked UW and Aziz N’Diaye to be the surprise team/player in the conference this year.
  2. In its first game since the loss of senior center Angus Brandt to a torn ACL, Oregon State took advantage of its lone, pre-Kansas warmup game by outlasting Montana State yesterday. It was “fill-in by committee” for Craig Robinson’s squad, with nearly everyone tasked to the job stepping up nicely to lead the Beavers to a 13-point victory. An energized Joe Burton saw increased touches on his special “N7” night at Gill, and he responded by pouring in 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman forward Olaf Schaftenaar even came off the bench to drain a trio of triples, his first points of the season. The Beavs now have five days to prepare for their meeting with Kansas on Friday night in Kansas City.
  3. A pair of technical fouls in the final two minutes of the game doomed USC’s chances in the Pac-12’s only game against a ranked opponent yesterday. After a terrible first half in which the Trojans only managed 23 points, Eric Wise led the team to a 18-4 run coming out of the locker rooms to cut the deficit to two. The comeback would prove futile, however, as San Diego State pulled out a key interconference 66-60 victory at the Galen Center.
  4. CBSSports’ Matt Norlander sums it up perfectly with this column after UCLA was upset by Cal Poly last night in Los Angeles. Quite frankly, it’s time to panic in Westwood. Of course, Ben Howland has lost some head-scratchers in the past; defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount, Middle Tennessee, and Montana come to mind, but there’s always been some excuse to explain it. Not this time, not with guys like Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad, and Travis Wear out on the floor. If the Bruins can’t find a way to salvage a split of their next four (Cal State Northridge, San Diego State, Texas, Prairie View A&M), the local grumblings for Howland’s job will start being heard nationwide.
  5. Sunday had already gotten off to a bit of an inauspicious start for UCLA when it was announced that junior guard Tyler Lamb would be transferring. Lamb had trouble working his way back into the rotation after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October. And with the clearance of Muhammad by the NCAA a little over a week ago, it was widely understood that Lamb would receive very limited action in 2012-13. Lamb did not specifically specify a reason for the move, nor did he release any names of schools he’d be interested in, but the wing averaged 9.o PPG as a sophomore in 2011-12 and will presumably be a nice pick-up for some enterprising team.
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Pac 12 M5: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on November 21st, 2012

  1. Although Colorado and Tad Boyle are pleased with their early season performance and championship in the Charleston Classic, not everyone is content on the Buffaloes. Wesley Gordon, a surprising redshirt freshman who many thought would impact the Buffaloes this year due to their lack of depth in the front court, has not been able to help the Buffaloes early on this year. Gordon chose to redshirt, but in the final of the classic against Murray State, the Buffaloes’ Andre Roberson and Josh Scott both got into foul trouble and Colorado had to rely on players like Xavier Johnson and Jeremy Adams to step up. Neither Adams Nor Johnson are 6’8″ and 225 pounds like Gordon and neither has the defensive ability that Gordon possesses. Even though Gordon did choose this on his own for betterment of the program, early on, he seems to be adjusting to his decision slowly.
  2. With the Oregon Ducks losing three starters in Devoe Joseph, Garret Sim, and Olu Ashaolu last year to graduation, there were doubts about this team, but the defense has picked up the slack to start off the year. For the second consecutive game, Oregon held their opposition to 20 points in the first half. Adding Arsalan Kazemi to a team with Tony Woods up front certainly has helped. The Ducks have registered 40 steals in their first four games and blocked 17 shots. Even better for Dana Altman, the players believe they have a long way to go still on defense, which isn’t good news for the rest of the Pac-12.
  3. The other team in Oregon, the Oregon State Beavers, are still dealing with the season-ending injury of Angus Brandt. Coach Craig Robinson seems unfazed by the injury as he still believes his team can make the NCAA Tournament. In Brandt’s absence, the Beavers will have to use more of the 6’9″  freshman Olaf Schaftnaar off the bench and most likely start other 6’7″ freshman Jarmal Reid in Brandt’s place. Additionally, the Beavers will need more out of Joe Burton, Eric Moreland, and Devon Collier. The Beavers are fine from a depth standpoint to replace Brandt, but they’ll need to improve their overall play up front to truly make Craig Robinson forget Brandt’s injury.
  4. As if the Washington State Cougars didn’t have enough trouble last night, getting dominated by Kansas 78-41, they also lost DaVonte Lacy to an apparent knee injury. Lacy left the game after only five minutes and was unable to play tonight in the Cougars’ 55-54 loss to Texas A&M, a result that could have changed were able to play. No news has come out yet on Lacy’s injury as he will be evaluated today in Pullman, but a loss of a starter and 8.5 PPG so far this year would be a major problem for the Cougars if he’s out for a prolonged period of time. Given that was Lacy is a major contributor for the team-wide project of finding a replacement for the dismissed Reggie Moore, the WSU problems at the lead guard position may have just gotten worse.
  5. Everything is still the same for Sean Miller down in Arizona. If you can shoot the lights out and score on offense, it won’t matter if you can’t play defense. That’s exactly Kevin Parrom‘s dilemma. Parrom went 5-5 from three putting up 15 points in 20 minutes, but Sean Miller said his playing time will be predicated on how he plays defense. The Wildcats gave up 14 threes to Long Beach and Parrom’s guarding of Long Beach’s shooting guards was a main reason for this. Parrom knows he has to improve on defense, and if he does, he will continue to see the floor. If not, guys like Jordin Mayes and freshman Gabe York are more than willing to steal some minutes.
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Scouting the Pac: Chass Bryan, Devon Collier and Kaleb Tarczewski

Posted by AMurawa on November 19th, 2012

Let’s take a few minutes to scout some of the new faces in the Pac-12 this season.

Chass Bryan – When Maurice Jones was suspended and left the USC basketball team in September, it appeared that one of the biggest holes on the roster would be the backup point guard position; there seemed no obvious solution behind senior guard Jio Fontan. But, as the Trojans head to Maui, it’s pretty clear that the walk-on freshman from Oaks Christian is the man there. What’s more, he’s not just a place-filler. He’s a tiny guy, yeah, and young, but he plays with a maturity and a confidence beyond his years. He’s got all the speed you’d expect of a guy listed at 5’9” and 165 pounds, capable of getting past most defenders and getting into the lane, but what makes him a really great prospect is his basketball IQ and great court vision. And he’s able to create for himself as well as for his teammates; once he’s got a step on his man, he is just as likely to pull up for a mid-range jumper as he is to drop a nice dime. Head coach Kevin O’Neill has been talking this kid up since the middle of summer, but many still didn’t know what to expect from him. While Bryan shouldn’t expect a ton of minutes this season, he’ll help earn Fontan some rest while still giving O’Neill a solid floor general. And, frankly, he may already be an upgrade over the departed Jones, at least in terms of basketball IQ. Not to mention, size.

Chass Bryan, USC

After Chass Bryan’s First Two Games, It Looks Like USC Has An Answer Behind Point Guard Jio Fontan (Steve Solis, PR Photos)

Devon Collier – Last year, Collier started 33 of the 36 games for the Beavers. This season, however, he had been asked to take on a new role, coming off the bench. But, with the news Sunday that senior center Angus Brandt had been lost for the season with a knee injury, it appears Collier will find his way back into the starting lineup. A junior from the Bronx, Collier made a return to New York this past weekend and had moments of excellence mixed in with a few head-slappers. Yeah, he went for 27/14 in an inspired performance on Friday night, and is clearly a physically gifted athlete. At 6’8” with terrific athletic ability, Collier is able to rebound with the best of them, score in an efficient manner around the paint, drop the occasional brilliant dime and hold his own defending guards from time to time. And his maturity was made evident by the grace with which he took his new role coming off the pine this season. However, from time to time, his athletic ability is undermined by some poor decision-making. In Thursday night’s loss to Alabama, he turned the ball over five times, a pair of which came when after he made great plays grabbing rebounds he then just decided to throw the ball to the first guy in the same color jersey he could find, whether that be somebody expecting an outlet pass or not, and whether or not there was somebody in the opposite color uniform that was in the vicinity. While his physical skills can often overcome these lapses in judgment, for him to be a consistently reliable upperclassman for the Beavers, he’ll need to improve the mental side of the game.

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Pac-12 Game of the Weekend: New Mexico State @ Oregon State

Posted by KDanna on November 9th, 2012

Finally, after five weeks of covering college basketball news, we are ready to get down to some actual game action. Each week, the Pac-12 microsite will break down a game we feel is the one to keep an eye on. While November and December are perhaps more important for the Pac-12 than any other conference in terms of restoring respectability, the opening weekend of play is largely devoid of any big matchups. However, considering recent history, that doesn’t mean it will be an easy road to a perfect Pac-12 weekend. One such contest that could provide a few worries will play out on Sunday night, when Oregon State hosts New Mexico State as part of the 2K Sports Classic.

Can Craig Robinson get his team to avoid non-conference letdowns in 2012-13? (credit: Don Ryan)

Why it’s important: Perhaps more than any other school in the Pac-12 (last year not withstanding for the most part), Oregon State has struggled in the non-conference portion of its schedule. In the last three years, Oregon State has lost to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sacramento State (just like football), Illinois-Chicago, Seattle (twice, once by 51 points), Texas Southern, Utah Valley and Idaho, with many of those games taking place in Gill Coliseum. Hence, it is very well within the makeup of this team to lose to New Mexico State, a squad that made the NCAA Tournament last year and won 26 games. Granted, the Aggies lost their top four scorers from last year’s WAC Tournament Championship team (and three of which hit the 1,000-point plateau in their Aggie careers), but Oregon State can’t take anything for granted.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.01.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on November 1st, 2012

  1. Finally, some good news for one of UCLA’s freshmen: Kyle Anderson has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. The main questions surrounding Anderson’s eligibility had to do with his father’s relationship with agent Thad Foucher, in addition to concerns about who paid for Anderson’s unofficial visits to UCLA (along with how many he took). Though Anderson’s father was confident all along that his son would be cleared to play, assuredly there were more than a few UCLA supporters who heaved a deep sigh of relief Wednesday. It has been a long four months for the Anderson family and UCLA, but there is now one less cloud hanging over the Bruins’ 2012-13 season. All of a sudden, the Bruins’ perimeter lineup looks a lot stronger and bigger, as the 6’9’’ Anderson is known for his great court vision and passing abilities. Now all that’s left is for the NCAA to clear Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2012 according to Scout and No. 1 recruit according to Rivals. At the very least, the Bruins are in a much better position to live up to the preseason hype as a top 15 team in the country and potentially make a push deep into the NCAA Tournament next spring.
  2. Another Pac-12 exhibition contest is in the books as Arizona defeated Humboldt State 108-67 in its exhibition opener last night. If this game is any indication (and it probably isn’t), our Kevin Danna might have nailed it on the head in last week’s burning question when he said Kaleb Tarczewski will be the best newcomer to the Pac-12 this year. The seven-footer had the game’s lone double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He seemed to always be in the right spot down by the bucket to collect rebounds and also showed off a very nice drop-step, albeit against a non-Division-I post player. Mark Lyons also looked comfortable handling Sean Miller’s offense and, as usual, he wasn’t afraid to look for his own shot either, finishing with 15 points. Nick Johnson filled up the stat sheet in just about every way imaginable with 14 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists, as well as throwing down a couple of nice dunks as icing on the cake. If any other school in the conference wants to claim they have the best fans in the conference, then show an attendance figure surpassing 12,431 for an exhibition game. From the best I could tell on the stream (which, by the way, was much less laggy than Oregon’s stream on Monday night), the Wildcat crowd was very into it aside from just showing up in large numbers to a meaningless game on Halloween night. Supporters in Tucson surely sense that Sean Miller has a potentially great team on his hands.
  3. And then there are the “secret scrimmages” that never seem to be too much of a secret. Later tonight, Stanford will travel to Moraga to take on the Saint Mary’s Gaels in a game that fans and reporters are prohibited from attending. While many Cardinal followers would prefer this to be an actual game on the non-conference slate, perhaps it could be the first step towards setting up a home-and-home with the Gaels in the near future. In the immediate future, this game will give the Cardinal some sort of idea how they stack up with a team that is more or less thought to be on the same level. Big things are expected out of the junior class that features Aaron Bright, Dwight Powell, Anthony Brown, and Josh Huestis, and this game provides the class with a chance to get some positive momentum rolling into the beginning of the season. A “win” against St. Mary’s in the scrimmage could provide a nice confidence boost, even if it’s not a real game setting and both coaches might tweak the lineups more than usual.
  4. The newest CBS Sports list deals with the best defenders in the nation and, unlike previous ones, this one is not ordered. Rather, 30 guys are separated into different categories of defenders, and two of the 30 defenders reign from the Pac-12: Colorado’s André Roberson and Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye. Roberson gets a nod under the “best glass cleaning defenders” category, for pretty much the same reason why Eamonn Brennan tabbed the Colorado forward the best rebounder in the nation. N’Diaye is filed under the “best rim protecting defenders” department. We talked about Roberson yesterday, so N’Diaye is a guy who has done a solid job as a lane-clogger for Lorenzo Romar during his first two years in Seattle, but you would expect a guy his size to finish better than 12th in the conference in blocks as he did last season. No love for Pac-12 perimeter defenders, but right now, there isn’t any guard in the conference that could feel too slighted by not receiving CBS Sports’ recognition.
  5. Finally, it’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day today, taking place this morning and afternoon in the Pac-12 Enterprises offices in San Francisco. All 12 coaches will be there, along with one player from each team: Solomon Hill, Carrick Felix, Allen Crabbe, André Roberson, E.J. Singler, Angus Brandt, Aaron Bright, David Wear (you didn’t think UCLA would take Shabazz, did you?), Jio Fontan, Jason Washburn, Abdul Gaddy and Brock Motum. Nothing earth-shattering usually takes place at these events, but it will be a good chance to get some more nuggets on Washington’s high-post offense, Craig Robinson’s role in the Obama re-election campaign, and an official “no comment” comment on the Shabazz situation now that Anderson is cleared to play. Most importantly, the preseason Pac-12 media poll will be released. Which team will the media pick to take home the Pac-12 regular season crown: UCLA or Arizona?
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Pac-12 M5: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 15th, 2012

  1. With the departure of Tony Wroten, Jr., Washington is currently without a defined leader on the team. When asked who might be the face of the team after the second day of practice, senior guard Abdul Gaddy replied “The team is the face of the team.” That’s a stark change from last season, when Wroten was the go-to guy whenever the Dawgs needed a late bucket or to break out of a dry spell on offense. There’s certainly no problem with having no set leader going into the season; after all, it’s one of the bigger clichés in college sports that every team needs one of them. As long as someone, whether C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs or whoever, is willing to have the ball in their hands in the waning minutes and has the ability to make a play, there’s no problem. However, there is such a thing as being too unselfish, and close wins will soon become losses if that happens in Seattle this winter. The Huskies will play their one and only exhibition game on October 24 against Western Washington.
  2. Oregon State finished the month of March last season with a record of 6-2, an eight-game stretch in which leading scorer Jared Cunningham didn’t play very well. With Cunningham now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, that stretch gives Beaver fans the hope that players like Ahmad Starks, Devon Collier, and Angus Brandt can keep up the same offensive output without their star guard. Even more important than the trio above, however, will be the play of junior shooting guard Roberto Nelson. Nelson will be the Beavers’ only non-starter-turned-starter from a year ago, but he did play in all 36 games. According to head coach Craig Robinson, Nelson has matured and built on the experience gained from playing in each and every contest as a sophomore, and is ready to take the next step needed in 2012-13.
  3. Just one year removed from a cancer scare before the start of practice, California head coach Mike Montgomery is healthy and ready for the 2012-13 season to tip off. The tone was much different last year at this time, as Montgomery underwent surgery October 19 for bladder cancer, and subsequently he was declared cancer free and able to work the entirety of his 31st season as a head coach. The Golden Bears were the only Pac-12 team to gain an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament last season, and if they are to return it will be behind the play of sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow and junior guard Allen Crabbe. Both are strong shooters but need to show the ability to get to the free throw line more if the Bears are to compete for a Pac-12 championship.
  4. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and practices across the nation are beginning. That means it’s time for some preseason predictions. Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, like everyone else around the country, said that he’s been wrestling on whether to put Arizona or UCLA at the top of the Pac this year. He eventually went with Ben Howland’s Bruins, with Arizona and the two Bay Area schools rounding out the upper third of the league race.
  5. We close with some recruiting news, and some big news at that. Class of 2013 small forward Jabari Parker, largely considered to be the top recruit in the nation, named Stanford as one of his final five schools on Friday. Parker’s ability to score from anywhere on the offensive end of the floor makes him this year’s can’t-miss prospect. The Simeon Career Academy (IL) product is also considering BYU, Duke, Florida, and Michigan State. Noticeably missing is Kentucky, who just got verbals from the second and fourth best players in the country on October 4 in the Harrison twins.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Oregon State Beavers

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 10th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release are the Oregon State Beavers.

Strengths: Oregon State returns four starters from last year’s squad, all of whom had terrific finishes to the 2011-12 season. Ahmad Starks, a shoot-first, pass-later point guard, will be the key to making the Beaver offense run in the post Jared Cunningham era. As Cunningham’s offensive control began to wear down in postseason play last March, Starks stepped up and averaged 11.3 PPG in his final seven outings. If he is able to show that lights-out ability once again, defenses will have to give Angus Brandt and Devon Collier some space in the post. Both can go to work on either side of the hoop, and Brandt also has the luxury of a soft jumper to extend defenses even more. The Beavers should once again shine in the stealing and shot-blocking facets of the game, even if they do lose arguably the top defender in the conference. Starks will take Cunningham’s role of the feisty, energetic man up top, while Collier and Eric Moreland’s long wingspans make it virtually impossible for anyone to float up a shot in the lane.

Weaknesses: After Starks, the guard position gets downright scary for Oregon State. Junior Roberto Nelson will join Starks as the other starter in the backcourt, and while Nelson can certainly shoot the ball, doing it with consistency and becoming a triple threat are completely separate issues. Freshman guard/forward Victor Robbins will be next in line for backcourt minutes, and he is the player most like Cunningham on the current roster. Robbins’ athleticism and ball-handling ability made him a great late get in the 2012 recruiting class, but it’s never good when you might have to count on a true freshman at significant times throughout a game.

Roberto Nelson’s (right) Ball Handling Left Something To Be Desired Throughout The 2011-12 Season (Jae C. Hong)

Non-conference Tests: The Beavers loaded up their slate with five challenging non-conference opponents in 2012-13, four of which will be played away from home. Starting off the list is a visit from New Mexico State on November 11, followed just four days later by a matchup with Alabama in New York City. They’ll face either Villanova or Purdue the next day at the same site, then get a small break before playing a top five Kansas squad in Kansas City on November 30. The final “test” will be the easiest of the five; a 90-minute road trip up to Portland to face Portland State on December 12.

Toughest Conference Stretch: The Beavers will play arguably five of the toughest six teams throughout a 19-day stretch in January. The stretch starts off with a visit from Arizona on January 12, and continues five nights later with a trip to Pauley Pavilion to face vaunted UCLA. A tricky USC team is next, followed by a pair of home games against the Washington schools. Finally, they’ll face California in Berkeley on the last day of January. If Oregon State can come out of these six with a 3-3 split, the schedule lightens up enough for the Beavers to make a run at a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Anything less and coach Craig Robinson proves once again his team isn’t ready to hang around with the conference’s elite.

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