Washington Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 22nd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Washington.

What Went Right

The Huskies opened Pac-12 play with three straight road wins, then backed that up by knocking off Colorado at Hec Ed and it looked like the team was on the verge of turning things around after a horrid non-conference schedule. C.J. Wilcox was leading the way in scoring, having led the team in seven of its last eight games (all wins), Aziz N’Diaye was chipping in offensively and doing his normal yeoman’s work on defense and on the glass, and things were, all of a sudden, running smoothly. And then….

C.J. Wilcox's Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

C.J. Wilcox’s Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

What Went Wrong

And then the Huskies proceeded to revert to non-conference form (you know, when they lost home games to Albany, Nevada and Colorado State, the latter by like a million points), dropping eight of their next 10 games and averaging 0.88 points per possession over the losses in that stretch. Abdul Gaddy frustrated Huskies’ fans, Scott Suggs was only occasionally involved in the offense, Wilcox struggled with an ankle injury, N’Diaye reverted to his old familiar offensively incoherent self, and the wheels fell off. Worst of all, it was awfully hard to watch at times.

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Mike Moser To Washington: Does He Have a Position in Seattle?

Posted by AMurawa on April 6th, 2013

Though it is not official yet, news came down on Friday that Mike Moser, formerly of UCLA and most recently of UNLV, may wind up at Washington for the 2013-14 season. He’s expected to graduate from UNLV this summer, making him eligible to play his final season immediately in Seattle. There remains a chance he will make himself eligible for the NBA Draft this season, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, but most likely he will spend his final season of collegiate eligibility playing for Lorenzo Romar. Aside from the fact that this would make for a wild, back-and-forth college career for the 6’8” combo forward, it gives Romar and the Huskies a much needed talent boost as they try to earn their way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Huskies lose Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, and Scott Suggs from this year’s middle-of-the-Pac team, but with wing C.J. Wilcox expected back for his senior campaign (although he has submitted paperwork to he NBA Undergraduate Committee to gauge potential interest if he were to leave school early), and with McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss expected to step right into the starting point guard spot, the addition of Moser could put the Huskies back into the conversation in the Pac-12. Coming on the heels of a miss on highly regarded recruit Aaron Gordon, the addition of Moser would go a long way towards patching an athleticism gap on this team. He had a nightmare of a junior season in Vegas, where a dislocated elbow conspired with his inability to play effectively alongside freshman phenom Anthony Bennett knocked Moser from preseason All-American consideration down to a guy who averaged just seven points and six rebounds per game (huge drops from his 14/10 averages as a sophomore. Still, he is a long and lanky athlete with a great nose for a rebound, the ability to knock down threes and the frame to be a terrific and disruptive defender.

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Honoring the Washington Seniors

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 9th, 2013

After a rough start to the season, Washington will honor three seniors this morning that have made great strides in leadership and maturity throughout their final season. From a four year, in-state star to a three-year transfer, all three graduating Huskies have had major impacts at separate points throughout the season. We break them down below.

Abdul Gaddy And Aziz N'Diaye, Shown Above, Along With Scott Suggs Will Play Their Final Game At Alaska Airlines Arena (Credit: Ted S. Warren).

Abdul Gaddy And Aziz N’Diaye, Shown Above, Along With Scott Suggs Will Play Their Final Game At Alaska Airlines Arena This Morning (Credit: Ted S. Warren).

After arriving on Montlake as one of the most decorated recruits in Washington history, Abdul Gaddy‘s first three seasons in Seattle were filled with injuries and frustration. But he is going out in style, playing some of the best all-around basketball of his career in the last four games. Gaddy’s defensive efforts have shut down some of the best scorers in the conference, and his late-game awareness has pulled out six wins for the Huskies in 2012-13. Playing with more confidence and leadership then ever before, Gaddy has accumulated an average of 11 PPG and 4.3 APG. While he may be remembered for his inconsistency, Gaddy is certainly going out in style. The only thing left to do is win four games in four days next week and finish up his UW career in the NCAA Tournament.

For all that Gaddy has done throughout the home stretch, Scott Suggs makes his numbers look silly. Suggs has averaged 19 points in UW’s last three games, and it’s these kind of streaks from Scotty that makes him so valuable. The guard had a pair of six game streaks in which he scored in double digits earlier in the year. And like Gaddy, his energy has only grown since the beginning of the season, leading vocally and by example for some of the key players behind him on the depth chart.

Finally, we get to Aziz N’DiayeRush the Court was one of the few to list N’Diaye to a preseason All-Pac-12 team, and he has proven us right. Sure, he hasn’t been an offensive force by any stretch of the imagination, but he doesn’t have to be with the Huskies. His size and presence inside has been huge for Washington, as N’Diaye has recorded games with 18, 16, and 12 rebounds, respectively. He figures to be a key player in today’s Senior Day meeting with UCLA after scoring 11 points and pulling down the aforementioned 18 boards in the two teams’ previous meeting.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.11.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 11th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. It was another wild weekend in the Pac-12 that left the conference standings even more confusing than they were before the weekend, with a three-way tie for first place and five other teams within two games of the lead. Oregon ended its three-game losing streak on Saturday night by sneaking past Utah, as freshman guard Damyean Dotson had his best game in recent weeks, scoring 12 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half to help spark his Ducks. But it is the Ducks’ other starting freshman guard who is the big news. Dominic Artis has now missed five games with a left foot injury, but it appears he may be close to returning. Artis will meet with a doctor today and could possibly be cleared to play at Washington on Wednesday night. But, even if that happens, head coach Dana Altman warns that Artis won’t jump immediately back into his full complement of minutes.
  2. During the Ducks’ three-game slide, Arizona jumped to the top of the Pac-12 standings all by itself, albeit briefly. The Wildcats, after playing a solid first half against Cal on Sunday night, came out of the halftime locker room sleepwalking and were repeatedly burned by Allen Crabbe en route to an eight-point home loss to California. Sean Miller had been trying to get his ‘Cats focused on starting games strong, and they were successful in that area, but maybe the problem was just bumped back 20 minutes?
  3. One of the only Bracketology pieces released on weekends, John Templon’s projections are always fun to look at on Sunday nights. These predictions are focused more on the NIT, but we can of course deduce who is in his Big Dance as well. Templon thinks Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, and Colorado are all in the NCAAs, with Arizona State just missing the cut line and instead getting a one seed in the NIT. Stanford is up next as a four seed, and California and Washington round out the Pac-12’s representation at the six and seven line. Oregon State makes Templon’s list of the “First 16 Out“, meaning the Beavers will need a lot of help, luck, and multiple good wins in the final month of play to avoid another year of the CBI.
  4. Washington center Aziz N’Diaye has quickly tuned into one of the most productive and trusted players on the Huskies in his final season in Seattle. One of the most durable big men in the Pac-12, N’Diaye is averaging 10.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG to give Washington a useful tool in the post. He’s become a well-needed presence on the defensive end of the court, and if UW needs a late two, the ball will definitely touch his hands. For N’Diaye to move on and succeed at the next level (and he should get that chance), the biggest thing he can do is to just slow down and watch the ball go into his hands. Ball control can be tricky at times for big men, and the same is true for him. Once he catches the ball, however, there is no better center in the league at turning to the hoop and getting the ball up on the rim.
  5. It was more of the same on Sunday night for Oregon State, who managed to yet again freeze up in the closing minutes and give up a second half lead. Colorado went into Corvallis and left with a sweep of the Oregon schools, possibly getting them off the bubble for the time being and handing the Beavers their eighth loss by eight or fewer points so far this season. The problems stretch all the way from the coaching staff to the players for the Beavs, who just can’t seem to execute in the final minute. Craig Robinson has tried the “let ‘em play” approach, which both times resulted in Joe Burton turnovers at the buzzer. Last night Robinson used his timeouts down the stretch, but neglected to call a play to free up a shooter. Instead, two of OSU’s final three possessions resulted in a Burton sky-hook or a dribble drive and fumble when threes were the best option. The Beavers travel to Pullman on Wednesday in a game that could decide who gets the #10 or #11 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Note: Drew Murawa also contributed to this article.

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Pac-12 Report Card: Volume I

Posted by AMurawa on January 9th, 2013

Starting this week and continuing through the rest of the season, we’ll take a moment in between games to run down every team in the conference, grade their previous week’s performance, highlight the performance of one of their players (either for good or for bad) and look ahead briefly to their upcoming schedule.

Arizona State: A

The Sun Devils put aside concerns that their 11-2 record going into the week was built mostly on wins over bad teams by giving the home folks a healthy dose of optimism to start the conference season.

Focus on: Jahii Carson. While Jordan Bachynski was dominating in Sunday’s win over Colorado, I was most intrigued by Carson’s performance. With CU’s Spencer Dinwiddie keeping him locked down most of the night, Carson didn’t force things, got the ball in the hands of his teammates with better match-ups and kept ASU on point, even while being limited to his lowest number of field goal attempts this season. This proves that he doesn’t need to always score to be a positive force for his team.

Looking ahead: The Sun Devils have shown their improvement, but if we’re to believe that this team’s postseason aspirations should be any higher than the CBI, we’ll need to see them win on the road. A trip to Oregon State on Thursday looks like a possible chance, while getting Oregon following its game with Arizona could mean ASU catches the Ducks in a trap game. Speaking of which, ASU could benefit mightily this year from having the ‘Cats as a traveling partner, as teams could be either looking forward to or recovering from their game with U of A.

Jahii Carson Showed Maturity On Sunday In Resisting The Urge To Force Shots (USA Today)

Jahii Carson Showed Maturity On Sunday In Resisting The Urge To Force Shots (USA Today)

Oregon: A

Any win in conference play is good. Any road win in conference play is great. Any road win in conference play in a rivalry game is a reason for outright celebration. Check all three boxes for the Ducks after one game.

Focus on: Arsalan Kazemi. In his first game back from a concussion, the senior Kazemi temporarily relinquished his starting spot to Carlos Emory and saw limited action. But, even in just 21 minutes, he was an impactful player, making four of his five field goal attempts, grabbing eight boards, handing out a couple assists and, per usual, coming up with a couple steals due to his relentlessly quick hands.

Looking ahead: The consensus, around here at least, is that the Ducks are going to be legitimate factors in the Pac-12 race. They get a chance to prove that this week when they host Arizona in a battle of contrasting strengths. While Zona has been through the ringer a time or two this season, these Ducks feature a pair of freshman guards ready for their first big spotlight. Meanwhile, the Ducks’ frontcourt features plenty of veterans, while the ‘Cats mix their three freshman with senior Solomon Hill.

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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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Introducing the Preseason All-Pac-12 Grab-Bag Teams

Posted by KDanna on November 8th, 2012

Yesterday, we released our preseason All-Pac-12 teams. Today, we take a look at some niche teams based on a certain characteristic that makes a player stand out. You won’t see these categories on the official Pac-12 season awards release at the end of the season, but they’re fun to think about nonetheless.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

Shabazz Muhammad shows why he landed a spot on the Rush The Court All-Pac-12 Rim-Rattler Team

All-Rim Rattlers

  • Shabazz Muhammad (Fr., Guard/Forward, UCLA) – 15 votes
  • Nick Johnson (So., Guard, Arizona) – 11
  • Carlos Emory (Sr., Forward, Oregon) – 11
  • André Roberson (Jr., Forward, Colorado) – 11
  • Eric Moreland (So., Forward, Oregon State) – 8

Reasoning for a squad like this is done best by highlights, so here are your explanations for MuhammadJohnsonEmoryMoreland and Roberson. Click on the individual name to see some thrilling dunks for each candidate.

All-Shooter Team

  • Chasson Randle (So., Guard, Stanford) – 17 
  • Allen Crabbe (Jr., Guard, Cal) – 14
  • C.J. Wilcox (Jr., Guard, Washington) – 10
  • Spencer Dinwiddie (So., Guard, Colorado) – 6
  • Aaron Bright (Jr., Guard, Stanford) – 4

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Stanford, the leader in the Pac-12 in three-point field goal percentage as a team, would have two representatives on the all-shooter team. Chasson Randle, who highlights this group, drained seven threes in the first half of a Pac-12 Tournament game against Arizona State last year and is the leading returnee in three-point field goal accuracy in the Pac-12. Expect C.J. Wilcox to have a big year in 2012-13, as he is a guy who has the potential to be close to a 50 percent three-point shooter with such a deadly stroke.

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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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Pac-12 M5: Election Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 6th, 2012

  1. Hey, you might have heard about this presidential election thing that is happening today. What with the complete lack of commercials on television, advertisements coming in the mail and signs in front of my neighbors’ houses, I almost forgot about it myself, but I guess it’s true. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson is the brother-in-law of the guy who currently holds that office, and while he’ll be heading to Chicago to hang out with President Obama and his wife Michelle tonight, the Beaver team doesn’t exactly get to play hooky. Instead, it is business as usual for OSU as it prepares for its opener Friday night against Niagara.
  2. Beaver fans got a good first glimpse of their team on Sunday night when Oregon State hosted Lewis & Clark in an exhibition at Gill Coliseum. The highlight for the coaching staff was the team’s defensive effort, especially from their four newcomers, as they held their opponent to 58 points in 68 possessions. Given how bad the team was on the defensive end last year, that’s a very good sign, even against a clearly inferior opponent. Unfortunately, even against a clearly inferior opponent, the team was not very good on the glass, allowing Lewis & Clark to grab 18 offensive rebounds (40.9% OR). Cleaning the glass on the defensive end was another significant weakness for last year’s team, so you can bet that improving there will be a point of emphasis in practice over the next few days.
  3. During the waning weeks of last year’s 6-26 season, there were some USC basketball fans (yes, a handful of those do exist) calling for the head of coach Kevin O’Neill. However, athletic director Pat Haden looked at all the extenuating circumstances and the overall direction of the program and determined that O’Neill deserved another chance. Now, with a roster almost completely remade by transfers and players returning from injury, the expectation is that the Trojans will be greatly improved. And, it had better be, writes Michael Castillo, because this season may determine O’Neill’s long term viability in Los Angeles.
  4. After playing last season with a starting frontcourt that featured a 6’7” Jesse Perry ostensibly playing center, Arizona is looking forward to life with an imposing frontcourt. The crowning jewel of Arizona’s top five recruiting class last season was seven-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, and he lived up to expectations in the Wildcats’ exhibition game with Humboldt State, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 boards while playing against an overmatched Division II opponent. However, for a guy whose role will be almost solely down on the block, he’ll still need to prove that he can score over, rebound against, and defend bigger and more athletic competition than what he faced last week. For instance, in the Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage, “Zeus” struggled against the tougher competition, picking up three early fouls as he adjusted to the speed of the game. While he’s got a bright future ahead of him, it remains to be seen just how quickly he’ll develop in the desert.
  5. With stars Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross gone early to the NBA draft, Washington may not be in rebuilding mode but they do have plenty of questions that need to be answered in the early part of the season. Percy Allen picks the five biggest ones, asking who is going to help Aziz N’Diaye rebound the basketball, and a related question, who is going to be the fifth starter? Desmond Simmons started the Huskies’ exhibition game, but he’s got three different guys – Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau, and Martin Breunig – all chasing him for that spot. Another big question is whether the new and improved chemistry around the program could help their defensive weaknesses. Part of their struggles on defense last year could be tied back to Wroten’s tendency to gamble and find himself out of position, but his athleticism and playmaking abilities were undeniable. Senior Scott Suggs will be taking Wroten’s spot and could be a defensive upgrade in that position for UW.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington Huskies

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 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 is the Washington Huskies.

Strengths: Overall, the Huskies have a solid group of guys. They won’t be as explosive as last year, but a report from the Seattle Times has noted that this year’s team has better chemistry. That probably is due to the presence of Abdul Gaddy, who has really developed into a solid floor general and knows how to find his teammates while taking care of the basketball — his 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio was second in the Pac-12 last year. One such teammate who will be a benefactor of Gaddy’s decision-making is C.J. Wilcox, who is one of the best pure shooters in the country. Now a junior, Wilcox shot 40 percent from downtown last season, good for ninth in the conference. He will be joined on the wing by Scott Suggs, another good shooter who is returning from a broken foot that forced him to redshirt last year. The Huskies also have one of the most physically imposing returning big men in the Pac-12, as seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye will patrol the paint for head coach Lorenzo Romar, who will transition this year’s team to a high-post offense. That’s a good move for the 2012-13 Huskies, as they are more suited to play in a more structured half-court set than the typical motion offense they ran in previous years. It also doesn’t hurt that the Huskies play in Alaska Airlines Arena, which gives the Huskies a huge home court advantage; in fact, the Huskies have won more games at Hec-Ed than any other NCAA team has won at a single facility.

Wilcox Has No Problem Knocking Down Jumpers With Defenders On Him, But It’s Even Easier When No One Is Within A Five Foot Radius (credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses: Washington loses a ton of firepower in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, both of whom left early to become NBA first round draft picks. The loss of the duo is probably as good of a reason as any to move away from a motion look, because these were the two guys who really made the Huskies go. However, the Huskies lost more than just firepower with these guys; they also lost a lot of the patented “U-Dub swag” that has been a feature of Romar-coached teams in recent memory. This is where the loss of Darnell Gant also comes into play, as he probably played to the Hec-Ed crowd as well as anybody on the Huskies. With the power forward spot up for grabs, in addition to losing three of the four guys who averaged five rebounds a game or more from last year, defensive rebounding could turn into an issue for this team; as it was, the Huskies finished eighth in the Pac-12 last year in defensive rebounding percentage.

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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 Burning Question: Who’s This Season’s Breakout Guy?

Posted by AMurawa on October 19th, 2012

It’s that time of week for our Burning Question, as once a week we’ll try to ask the big question around the conference and get answers from all of our correspondents. This week, amidst all the fresh blood around the conference, we’ll try to find out which familiar face is ready to take a step forward.

Which returning Pac-12 player is poised to have the biggest breakout season?

 

Connor Pelton: I’m going to go way off the board here and pick a surprise player on my surprise team for 2012-13. Aziz N’Diaye has always been a lane-clogging, shot-blocking, rebounding-machine for Washington, but this is the year the senior center puts it all together. He’s not the most agile center in the conference, but he’s athletic enough to be the game-changing seven-footer that Lorenzo Romar’s offense desperately needs with the departure of guards Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross. Guys like C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy, and Scott Suggs are big enough threats on the perimeter to give N’Diaye the space he needs down in the post, and Desmond Simmons (if you’re looking for a super-deep sleeper, he could be another pick) is a big enough threat to take some pressure off Aziz. I think nights like he had last year, putting up 14 points against California, or 13 against Florida Atlantic, will become the norm this year. He had a solid summer exhibition tour as well, his best game coming in a 12-point, 14-rebound performance against Zaragoza.

The key to N’Diaye’s projected breakout year will be avoiding sluggish starts. Just like the double-digit performances that you’ll see peppered throughout last season’s stat sheet, there are the few ugly offensive outings in which N’Diaye struggled early and ended up on the bench for most of the game. To avoid tempting Romar with the option of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, he needs to start each game like he wants to finish it. I think the senior steps up to the challenge, goes for 10/10, and leads the Dawgs to a surprise at-large bid come selection Sunday.

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