Pac-12 Morning Five: Turkey Hangover Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 25th, 2011

  1. This basketball season just keeps getting better and better for the Pac-12. Thanksgiving brought three more losses in tournaments from the Bahamas to Anaheim, with Utah losing by 28 to Harvard in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Arizona State dropping an ugly one to Fairfield in the Old Spice Classic, and Washington State capping off a brutal night with a 15-point loss in the 76 Classic to an Oklahoma team that was 14-18 last year. Not only is an 0-3 record definitely not something to be thankful for, but there wasn’t even a close game or a particularly good effort mixed in there; the tightest final margin was ASU’s 11-point loss in a relatively down-tempo game (approximately 62 possessions per team). The conference is now a combined 33-23 on the year, with a 5-9 record against teams from other BCS conferences.
  2. While Oregon fans are still holding out hope that somehow Jabari Brown winds up back in Eugene, rumors began circulating Thursday that Brown would end up at San Diego State next season. Steve Fisher has been rolling out the welcome mat for talented transfers who have struck out elsewhere, and while this would be a great get for an Aztec program that should be pretty strong next season, it looks like Duck fans can extinguish that last little flame of hope that Brown would return to Dana Altman’s program.
  3. The big game around the conference tonight is Stanford’s battle with Syracuse for the NIT Season Tip-Off title, a game we’ll discuss more later this morning. But USC kicks off an intriguing couple of days at the Las Vegas Invitational, with UNLV tonight and either North Carolina or South Carolina tomorrow night. The Trojans are just 2-3 on the season, but have lost their three games by a combined total of 11 points (including one double-overtime loss). Given that USC has shot 57.1% from the line in those three games (and just 62.9% for the season), you can see why head coach Kevin O’Neill says that free throws are killing them.
  4. Across town, UCLA is in much worse shape than the Trojans. While SC has at least been competitive every night out, and even managed to post a couple of wins, UCLA is still winless on the year against Division I competition. Worse yet, they haven’t been close – four losses by an average of almost 16 points a night. The closest they’ve come is an 11-point loss to Loyola Marymount. This UCLA roster is certainly not awash in hyper-talented individuals, but as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times points out, the lack of commitment from several important members of the team is the bigger problem.
  5. Well, there’s always football. Nevermind that there is still a scenario whereby the winner of the Pac-12 South division isn’t eligible for a bowl game – it’s still better off than the basketball side of things. And given my own struggles in simply picking winners in Pac-12 games (I was 2-4 last week), I feel like I should be made an honorary member of the conference. Anyway, games kick off tonight on the football side and if everything breaks my way this weekend (including a highly improbable UCLA win over USC – I swear I’m not yet drunk as I write this), I can still catch Connor.
Game Connor (16-8) Drew (13-11)
Colorado @ Utah Utah Utah
California @ Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Oregon State @ Oregon Oregon Oregon
Louisiana-Lafayette @ Arizona Arizona Washington
Washington State @ Washington Washington State Arizona
UCLA @ USC USC 28, UCLA 17 UCLA 21 USC 20
Notre Dame @ Stanford Stanford Notre Dame
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Pac-12 Early Season Tournament Round-Up/Preview

Posted by AMurawa on November 22nd, 2011

It’s a great time to be a college hoops fan. This week in college basketball is arguably the fifth best week in the season, you know, right behind the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament and the week of the conference championships. We’ve got a chance to see teams, often for the first time, matched up with other schools from disparate corners of the country in tournament play, with the opportunities for teams to snag resume-boosting wins in rapid-fire fashion. Sure, we’ve already got a few tournaments wrapped up, and there are even a handful that come along later, but for the most part we’re right in the wheelhouse for the early season tournaments. So, we’ll take a quick look at all the Pac-12 teams and either preview or review the early season tournaments that each team is participating in.

  • Arizona – The Wildcats got things started right off the bat with an appearance in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. After dispatching of Valparaiso and Duquesne in the first week of the season, they rallied from behind in the semifinal against St. John’s to advance to the championship game, but folded down the stretch there, losing to Mississippi State.
  • Arizona State – The Sun Devils are in Orlando over the Thanksgiving weekend for the Old Spice Classic. They’ll get things started with Fairfield, expected to battle Iona for the MAAC title this year, before facing either Dayton or Wake Forest on Friday.  Texas Tech, Indiana State, Minnesota and DePaul make up the other side of what looks to be a relatively weak bracket, but given ASU’s poor start to the season, expecting them to do much damage in Orlando seems to be a pipe dream.
  • California – The Golden Bears are in the middle of the CBE Classic tournament in Kansas City this week, where they will play Missouri tonight in the championship game at 7 PM PST. They got to the final by demolishing Georgia last night 70-46, after handling George Washington and Austin Peay with ease in Berkeley last week.
Brandon Smith, California

Brandon Smith And The Cal Bears Take On Missouri In The Finals Of The CBE Classic Tonight

  • Colorado – A seventh place showing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off wasn’t what Buffalo head coach Tad Boyle had in mind, but that’s exactly what he got last weekend, after dropping the first two games of the week to Wichita State and Maryland in relatively close games before taking care of Western Michigan to avoid a winless trip to the tropics.
  • Oregon – The Ducks spend their tournament time in something called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, December 20-22 in Eugene, with games against North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin doing absolutely nothing to help their at-large chances. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 07.21.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2011

  1. “My account was hacked!” goes the common cry of players and sometimes even coaches who tweet something they soon end up regretting, right? Well, you wont hear anything like that coming from any of the University of New Mexico’s players. In fact, you won’t hear anything at all in the way of tweets from them, because Steve Alford has mandated a Twitter gag order for everyone on his squad. As of this writing, Facebook is still allowed. So, what do you think? Overprotective, or sound judgment by Coach Alford?
  2. And now, your daily Salinas: most of the talk in this area on Wednesday centered around the NCAA investigation into the matter. As in…does one exist? First, the revered Andy Katz stepped up with an article announcing that the NCAA had no intention of investigating the possibility of what would amount to a player-for-investment money scam (not to mention the simultaneous alleged Ponzi scheme being examined by the Feds). The only problem is that for the rest of the day people came forward with evidence that such an investigation had already begun. Was Katz lied to or did the NCAA change their mind extremely quickly on the matter? Or is this the difference between a formal vs. informal probe?
  3. Louisville will not be getting lei’d in 2012. They’ve pulled out of the Maui Invitational that year and will be replaced by Marquette. But don’t put the floral shirts, sunscreen and swimming trunks away just yet, Cardinal fans. Instead of Maui that year, you’ll have to settle for the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Card Chronicle has a pretty persuasive list of reasons as to why this is a better move for the team, not the least of which is that the Bahamas is emerging as fertile ground for basketball talent.
  4. There was a Sweet 16 ten years ago, but in the last 40 years that’s all that Penn State basketball has had to get happy about as far as NCAA Tournament achievements. We had to stop and consider that before immediately writing off the notion that, as Black Shoe Diaries asserts, the best days ever for Penn State basketball are now underway with the hiring of Pat Chambers. Obviously we’ll have to wait and see if they’re proven correct, but after reading the piece and the comments section we’ll at least give everyone involved full marks for how they’ve used Chambers’ arrival as an opportunity to renew their emotional investment.
  5. Andy Staples sure knows how to get your attention. Sports Illustrated is doing a series called “The Best Team I Ever Covered” in which it asks each of its writers over several sports about…well, you get it. For his submission, Staples chose the 2005-06 Florida Gators and included the words “Miss Sweden” in the title. We didn’t consider ourselves suckered, however, since his story was a nice insight into his coverage of that squad and the odd yet enjoyable journey it must have been. For the few of you who weren’t aware, Joakim Noah’s mother was a Miss Sweden. Yes, that Joakim Noah.
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Morning Five: 01.19.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 19th, 2011

  1. Former Mississippi State forward Elgin Bailey of the refusal to move his legs for His Heiness Renardo Sidney’s passing fame, will re-surface at Southeastern Louisiana next season for his final year of eligibility.  The 6’8, 265-lb forward was kicked off the team for getting into a fight with Sidney even though he was the team captain at the time and Sidney had already been suspended once for bad behavior.  Bailey is a nice pickup for the Lions — teams in the Southland typically don’t have that kind of skilled size in the post (5/4 in 19 MPG).  We think he’ll do well there.
  2. Over at Memphis, Wesley Witherspoon, he of the let’s mock the assistant coach on the team bus fame, will remain suspended through Wednesday’s game versus Southern Mississippi, but he will be back at practice on Thursday and available to play in this weekend’s game at UAB on Saturday.  Perhaps Witherspoon has learned a lesson about comedic timing (e.g., probably not great when your season is headed back to the NIT), but Josh Pastner’s hope for the preseason all-CUSA forward is that he’ll start producing — the four games prior to his suspension resulted in a 7/4 average, well below his season numbers of 12/5.
  3. On a similar note, Washington State’s Reggie Moore hasn’t been officially reinstated by head coach Ken Bone just yet, but all indications are that the player who was charged with marijuana possession in December will be back in action soon.  Bone allowed him back at practice yesterday and he said to reporters that “there’s a chance” he could be back in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against Arizona State.
  4. It’s not always the best situation when the coach’s kid is starting as a freshman, but Creighton’s Doug McDermott is one such exception.  The son of head coach Greg has taken over the MVC by storm with a 13/7 average this year, good for first in both scoring and rebounding on the team and fourth in the conference.  The wild part is that if Dana Altman hadn’t taken off for Nike Nation up in Eugene last spring, then McDermott would be playing for league rival and tearing it up for Northern Iowa instead of Creighton.  Big, big things are already being predicted for the  young forward’s career, as White & Blue Review outlines here.
  5. In an attempt to become the Maui Invitational for the eastern time zone, the Bahamas have passed NCAA eligibility requirements for its new tournament (called the Battle 4 Atlantis… and yes, we hate the name already) that will begin next Thanksgiving.  While in theory this sounds like a great idea, we’re a little concerned about using a converted ballroom as the “gym” (similar to what the Cancun Challenge and some of the Vegas tourneys have done in the past).  There isn’t a high school gym somewhere on those islands that could do the trick?
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