David and Travis Wear will be eligible for their first season at UCLA after transferring from North Carolina after the 2009-10 season. This Ben Bolch article focuses on the Wear twins and the roles they will take on with the Bruins this year. David is expected to make the immediate impact early on at small forward because of his jump shooting ability. With David, Reeves Nelson, and Joshua Smith all down low, the Bruins will have the best frontcourt in the Pac-12, if not the nation. Travis and Anthony Stover will spell Smith at the center position. When the Bruins need points they will turn to Travis, while Stover is the defensive/shot-blocking specialist.
If there was a theme for Pac-12 frontcourts in 2011-12, it would be “big.” There are 40 players at 6’9″ or bigger on Pac-12 rosters this season, including 7’3″ Utah center David Foster and 7’2″ Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski. Percy Allen breaks down the bigs of the conference and points out who is excelling and struggling so far this season.
Exhibition basketball continued last night with two games, Humboldt State vs. Arizona and UC San Diego vs. California. We begin in Tucson, where the Wildcats bounced back from their loss against Seattle Pacific last Thursday to defeat the Lumberjacks, 60-51. Arizona still has a lot of kinks to work out, mainly on offense as they shot just 20% from behind the arc. Humboldt State didn’t do anything to help its cause, though, by putting Arizona on the line for 38 free throws. UA only made 22 of those, but that was still the difference in the game. Next up for Arizona is their regular season opener against Valparaiso on Monday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer.
Up in Berkeley, the Golden Bears blew by the UC San Diego Tritons with ease. After a slow ten minutes in which Cal could not find its touch from around the rim, Mike Montgomery’s team quickly pulled away from the overmatched opponent. The lead was only nine at halftime but a 22-4 burst by the Bears to start the second half put away any thoughts of a preseason upset. Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs was the star of the game, leading the Bears with 17 points and four assists off the bench. This was Cal’s first and only exhibition game, and they will begin regular season play against UC Irvine on Nov. 11.
Arizona shooting guard Nick Johnson has drawn rave reviews so far and needs to be on the court more according to his head coach, Sean Miller. Miller has already tried moving senior shooting guard Kyle Fogg to small forward in order to create extra minutes for Johnson, and he is also considering playing Johnson at the point in order to get he and Fogg on the floor together. “We have to look at Nick playing another position if he continues to progress,” Miller said. “But it’s hard to play two positions as a freshman. For the most part, with freshmen, we keep them at one spot.” In last night”s game against Humboldt State, Fogg and Josiah Turner, Arizona’s other fabulous freshman, got the start at guard. However, they all played close to equal amounts of time (Fogg-24, Turner-22, Johnson-21). Johnson and Turner led the group with eight points each.
Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences as well as a Pac-12 microsite staffer. You can find him on Twitter @AMurawa.
Reader’s Take I
With only two of the ten players named to last year’s All-Pac-10 team returning, the race for the conference player of the year is wide open.
Twelve Is The New Ten: After 33 seasons, college basketball fans on the west coast are getting used to calling their conference the Pac-12. With Colorado and Utah along for the ride (and currently taking their lumps in football), gone are the days of the home-and-away round-robin schedule on the basketball side of things. But lest the traditionalists complain too much, it could have been much different, as schools from Oklahoma and Texas (obviously the very definition of “Pacific” states) flirted with changing their allegiance for the second consecutive year before heading back to the Big 12.
Fresh Blood: As mentioned above in our poll question, the conference loses eight of the ten players on last year’s all-Pac-10 team, with just Jorge Gutierrez of Cal and UCLA’s ReevesNelson returning. In other words, it is time for a new set of players to step up and take the reins of the league. The most likely candidates are a talented group of freshman guards – names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson at Arizona, Tony Wroten, Jr. at Washington, JabariBrown at Oregon, NormanPowell at UCLA and ChassonRandle at Stanford.
Jorge Gutierrez Is A Lightning Rod Of A Guard For Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, And Big Things Are Expected.
The Carson Show On Hold. A seventh highly-touted freshman guard, however, is stuck in limbo. Arizona State’s JahiiCarsonhas yet to be cleared for practice while an investigation continues into an online course the 5’10” point guard took this summer at Adams State in Colorado. That school has yet to release his course transcript, and until that happens, Carson is unable to practice with the Sun Devils, making an already difficult situation (being regarded as a savior for a team coming off a 12-19 campaign) even worse.
Hard Times for Kevin Parrom: Sometimes, just when everything is going well, life conspires to deal you a set of circumstances that just suck. It’s not bad enough that Parrom took a couple of bullets on September 24 during a home invasion, while in the Bronx visiting his sick mother. But on October 16, Parrom’s mom then passed away after a long battle with cancer. While both incidents will have lasting effects on Parrom, the bullet wounds are the biggest obstacle to him getting back on the court, with bullet fragments lodged in his right leg, a boot on his right foot, nerve damage and his left hand currently wrapped up to protect lacerations sustained in the attack. Parrom is rehabilitating his injuries and as of this writing, no hard timetable is set for his return. But if anybody is due for a good break or two, Parrom’s the guy. Get well soon, Kevin.
It’s that time of year in college hoops where every time you turn around, somebody new is offering up their preseason previews. Our own RTC Pac-12 preview will be up early next week, but in the meantime, the Tucson Citizen lists the picks of four different preseason magazines. It is no surprise that Arizona, California, UCLA and Washington are the top four in one order or another in each of the magazines, as they will also be in the RTC preview. To show how much of a toss up it is at the top, three different Wildcats were asked to pick the Pac-12 favorite (excluding UofA) and each one picked a different team.
As part of Jon Rothstein’s preview of the upcoming season, he unveiled his list of the top five “glue guys” in college hoops on Monday, and a couple of Pac-12 players – UCLA’s Reeves Nelson and Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez – made the list. Gutierrez is a no-brainer, as he has repeatedly shown his ability to affect the action on just about any area of the floor, but the Nelson selection may be based on perception more than reality. While he’s definitely a hard worker who rarely leaves much on the floor when he is done, he needs to improve his consistency and his leadership to reach the level of Gutierrez or the other guys on this list.
Yesterday we talked about the faster tempo that Arizona State hopes to play at this season, but they’re not the only team with a style change in the making. Up at Oregon, head coach Dana Altman came to campus with a shell of a roster limited by player defections, and as a result, the 2010-11 Ducks had to play mostly zone defense. But now with a full complement of athletes at his disposal, Altman hopes to turn up the heat defensively.
Down in Westwood, UCLA head coach Ben Howland has made a living preaching toughness and hard-nosed defense. There’s little doubt that this year’s squad is getting put through the grinder in practice already, as three Bruins have sustained concussions so far. Freshman guard Norman Powell took an elbow to the forehead and needed three staples to close a cut, then sophomore center Anthony Stover suffered a concussion last Monday. And this weekend, junior wing De’End Parker took an elbow to the head and sustained a concussion of his own during an intrasquad scrimmage. Hopefully for Bruin fans, UCLA has filled its concussion quotient for the year.
Washington junior center Aziz N’Diaye is expected to play a bigger role for the Huskies this season after his first year of Division I basketball in 2010-11. But another big role for N’Diaye is now on display as he is featured in the new documentary “Elevate” about four Senegalese basketball players trying to make it from the poor West African nation to play basketball in the United States. Virginia seven-footer Assane Sene is the other recognizable name of the bunch, but this international take on “Hoop Dreams” will likely appeal to more than just basketball fans. The film opens in Los Angeles on November 4, with other selected runs around the country. Check out the trailer below.