What’s Trending: Rick Pitino, Bill Walton, Wichita State, Michael Sam and More…

Posted by Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) on February 21st, 2014

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Nick Fasulo (@nickfasuloSBN) is your weekly host.

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Bill Walton’s Mount Rushmore of Musicians

Bill Walton has no idea how many presidents are on Mount Rushmore. A must watch.

Syracuse is Not Undefeated Anymore

But that is OK. Sometimes losing helps give you perspective and alleviate some unnecessary pressure.

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That Means Wichita State is the Nation’s Lone Unbeaten

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The Annotated Bill Walton: Another Stanford Collapse Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 13th, 2014

We’re back, this time in Seattle, and Bill Walton and broadcasting straight-man Dave Pasch covered Stanford somehow finding a way to let Washington win in Seattle on Wednesday night. Things are a bit abbreviated in this edition, as the Syracuse/Pitt game prior to leaked into the start of this game. But let’s set the mood with the Grateful Dead’s sole performance at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington on May 21, 1974. “Ship of Fools” is a fine place to start. The “Weather Report Suite” is mighty fine too, but if you want to just cut to the chase, jump ahead to “Playin’ in the Band,” the song that makes this show famous among Deadheads. You see, this epic meltdown checks in as the longest Playin’ – a Dead staple for, what, 24 years? – on the books at better than 46 minutes!

During Wednesday Night's Broadcast, Bill Walton Got To Sing the Praises Of Birthday-Boy Bill Russell

During Wednesday Night’s Broadcast, Bill Walton Got To Sing the Praises Of Birthday-Boy Bill Russell

First Half

Intro – On Syracuse: “Syracuse. Congratulations. Just doing so many wonderful things for this great game of college basketball, including keeping us all believing in what a team is all about. And they have so many weapons Syracuse and tonight they fought back against a really good Pittsburgh team. That was great.”

12:50 – “Don’t diss Harvard. They’ve got a $35 billion dollar endowment – which is less than Bill Gates’ personal net worth.”

Comment: Let’s not even bother to check this figures. Once you’re talking –illions with something besides an “m” in front, it may as well be imaginary.

12:38 – “John Gage, who’s from this area. He’s from Vashon Island just out in the middle of Puget Sound there, he takes the ferry back and forth all the time. Johnny Dawkins asked him to speak today here at practice because this is the last time he’s ever going to play a college basketball game in this city, which is basically his home town. His mom is here, his dad is here, his grandmother, his grandfather. His mom went to the University of Washington, right here. She’s a Husky, but it’s all about the blood.”

Comment: Walton’s love for meeting and talking about the players’ families has become a theme of the season.

John Gage Is The Latest Edition Of The Walton "Oh, Yeah, I Met His Family" Greatest Hits (John Bazemore, AP Photo)

John Gage Is The Latest Edition Of The Walton “Oh, Yeah, I Met His Family” Greatest Hits (John Bazemore, AP Photo)

11:44 – “This is the best stretch of basketball I’ve ever seen Desmond Simmons play. Ever. Dominant on the boards, setting screens, pulling it all together. Right now, the Huskies trying to wrap the trees in the Purple Haze of the Seattle brilliance.”

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The Annotated Bill Walton: Stanford Stomping Cal Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on February 6th, 2014

Back by popular demand, your skeleton key into the mind of Bill Walton, as we try to decipher exactly what the most interesting college basketball commentator in the world was talking about last night as Stanford took apart California.

Back For More National Television Hijinks With Bill Walton (Matt Stone)

Back For More National Television Hijinks With Bill Walton (Matt Stone)

And, as always, you’ll want some musical accompaniment, so let us kindly suggest the Grateful Dead at the Greek Theatre on the Berkeley campus on a beautiful summer’s Friday night some 30 years ago — July 13, 1984 — a show featuring the band’s first performance on its epic Dark Star in almost three years, and its last performance of the same for more than five more years. Dig in here. And, without further ado, on to the game.

First half

Intro – “What better place to stage this game of the millennium than right here in Berkeley, the epicenter of everything cool, hip and worthwhile. Now, when you beat the #1 team, my computer-like mind tells me that the rules of algebra apply here; now Cal is the best team. The battle is raging; we’re at the turn; who’s going to be able to finish strong?”

Comment: It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, but Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’ gets referenced frequently tonight, appropriately enough in Berkeley. Also, note that Walton’s major in college was not math, but rather communications. But you probably could have figured that out.

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The Annotated Bill Walton: Arizona at Stanford Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on January 30th, 2014

The Bill Walton Experience has become a regular happening during Pac-12 conference games over the past two seasons. And, while the brash and talkative legend can run some people the wrong way, his commentary during games contains references to classical and pop history, the collected wisdom of one of the handful of the greatest basketball players of all time, and more than a couple off-handed Grateful Dead references – along with a handful of other comments that defy reasonable explanation. For those of you who may not get many of his references, below we’ll take a look at some of Walton’s best comments from Wednesday night’s Arizona/Stanford game and give some backstory to them, when needed.

Bill Walton's Pac-12 Commentary Has Become Must-Watch TV (Earl Wilson, The New York Times)

Bill Walton’s Pac-12 Commentary Has Become Must-Watch TV (Earl Wilson, The New York Times)

For your listening pleasure while reading, I suggest a little Grateful Dead accompaniment, such as the only time the Dead played at Maples Pavilion: 2/9/73, a classic in Grateful Dead lore. While you can’t go wrong anywhere here, maybe skip ahead to Playin’ in the Band or China Cat Sunflower->I Know You Rider.

First half:

18:32 – “This is a really good team. If they had been able to beat UCLA 10 days ago in a game that they just got pushed around in Pauley Pavilion, it would have been outstanding for Johnny Dawkins.”

Comment: Not a great start for Grateful Red. “If ifs and buts were candies and nuts…”

16:20 – In response to straight man Dave Pasch’s questions about what he did yesterday: “I had a grand time. I went to church – Memorial Church yesterday and prayed for your salvation.”

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Big 12 Power Rankings: Kansas is Finally Finding Itself

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 13th, 2014

Going into last Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma, Bill Self told his players that conference play was a “new season” and that everything would be “fresh and new from this point forward.” The young Jayhawks have heeded that message so far, getting past the Sooners and soundly beating Kansas State on Saturday. With a 2-0 start in the Big 12, we all figured they would rise in this week’s power rankings, but by how much? Is your top 10 shaped differently than ours? That’s what the comments are for.

It appears safe to close the panic button for Bill Self and the Jayhawks. (AP Photo)

It appears safe to close the panic button for Bill Self and the Jayhawks. (AP Photo)

1. Kansas — 6 points (previous: 3rd; Brian-1st, Kory-1st, Nate-3rd, Taylor-1st)

Comment: “It’s looking like Kansas’ non-conference struggles were nothing more than one of the youngest teams in the country playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Jayhawks have looked good the last two games and now have four legitimate threats to have a big game any on night: Andrew Wiggins,  Perry Ellis, Joel Embiid, and Wayne Selden.” – Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter)

2. Iowa State — 7 points (previous: 1st; Brian-2nd, Kory-2nd, Nate-1st, Taylor-2nd)

Comment: “I didn’t feel like I should drop the Cyclones in my top 10 — they lost to a pretty good Oklahoma team by five on the road. The winner of Kansas-Iowa State tonight will likely take my top spot next week.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

3. Oklahoma State — 13 points (previous: 4th; Brian-3rd, Kory-3rd, Nate-4th, Taylor-3rd)

Comment: “Travis Ford’s squad avoided a disastrous start to conference play by knocking down a big three late to give them the win in Morgantown. If the Cowboys would have dropped two of their first three in league play to teams in the middle tier of the conference, they could have kissed their Big 12 title hopes goodbye.” – Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson)

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Thoughts on Arizona’s Big Road Win at UCLA

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 10th, 2014

This is the early conference game that both Arizona and UCLA fans had likely been looking forward to for a couple weeks. It’s the biggest historic rivalry in the conference and it was Arizona’s first road test in Pac-12 play . But really, as people were imagining what this game would look like, this is probably not what they foresaw. UCLA holding its own on the glass, despite almost no help from its pair of senior frontcourt starters? Arizona the team with the deadly outside shooting? Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams struggling, yet the Bruins keeping this close for 40 minutes? Let’s look at each of those things below.

Gabe York's Perimeter Shooting Was a Big Key For Arizona On Thursday Night (Mamta Popat, Arizona Daily Star)

Gabe York’s Perimeter Shooting Was a Big Key For Arizona On Thursday Night (Mamta Popat, Arizona Daily Star)

  • The Wildcats came into the game eighth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and 13th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, while UCLA is a middling rebounding team with a ton of question marks up front. Therefore the expectation was that Arizona would dominate the glass. While the Cats did make some hay on the offensive boards and wound up dominating the interior on the offensive end (Arizona outscored UCLA 42-22 in the paint), UCLA stayed in the game in large part because it was able to create second chance opportunities of its own. This was a surprise even to Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who pointed to that as one of the keys of the game by saying “They really hurt us on the offensive glass. That was a surprise to us, because we’ve done very well there, and isn’t necessarily a strength of theirs but last night it was. If we had done a better job defensive rebounding, the game wouldn’t have come down to the final plays. One of the reasons that they were in it was because of the number of second shots they got.” Even more surprising, the Bruins did their damage on the glass without much of a contribution from the Wear twins, who combined to grab just four total boards. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 M5: 01.02.14 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 2nd, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. Welcome to New Year’s Day! No, not that one where you wake up hung over and buy a new calendar. The one where the newest Pac-12 conference season tips off. We’ve got five games on the slate tonight, so let’s get right to it. First, we got a little bit of a surprise on Wednesday when Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson announced that senior forward Eric Moreland has “fulfilled the requirements of his suspension” (except for, you know, sitting out the 14 games he was suspended for) and will be in uniform tonight when the Beavers visit Colorado (7:00 PM PST, ESPNU). Moreland averaged 9.4 points, 10.6 boards and 2.5 blocks per game last season and will significantly increase the chances that Oregon State gives the Buffaloes problems tonight.
  2. While that game takes on more intrigue, the game of the night is probably Oregon visiting Utah (5:00 PM PST, Pac-12 Networks). The Utes have played one of the weakest schedules in Division I basketball, but also have largely taken care of business, including a blowout win over rival BYU (a win that doesn’t look quite as impressive now that BYU has dropped a few games). Still, they’ve looked pretty good in getting through that schedule, but beginning tonight there is no more hiding. The undefeated and No. 10 nationally-ranked Ducks visit and will immediately test the Utes’ resolve. For their part, Oregon is still something of an unknown, having earned a handful of good but not earth-shattering wins. We’ll probably know a heck of a lot more about both of these teams by Sunday night.
  3. The basketball version of The Big Game between Cal and Stanford (6:00 PM PST, Fox Sports 1) is the other big story of the night. Both teams have struggled with injuries this season, but the Cardinal have at least accepted the fact that they’ll be playing without guys like Aaron Bright, Andy Brown and Christian Sanders. The Golden Bears, on the other hand, are without Ricky Kreklow for another month and freshman Jabari Bird is out for “awhile” and not expected to play tonight. With that said, and with the Cardinal playing at home, this is a bigger game for Johnny Dawkins’ squad tonight. The Cardinal can’t afford a loss in this one.
  4. Wrapping up tonight’s slate, Arizona State will host Washington (5:00 PM PST, ESPNU), while Washington State gets the distinct pleasure of visiting the No. 1 team in the nation – Arizona (7:00 PM PST, Pac-12 Networks) – without the services of its best player in the lineup. DaVonte Lacy remains out following surgery to remove his appendix, meaning the Cougars had better find a way to get some scoring from guys like Royce Woolridge and Que Johnson, or risk suffering a ridiculously lopsided loss in Tucson.
  5. UCLA and USC won’t tip off their conference play until they face each other on Sunday afternoon (12:00 PST, Fox Sports 1), but former Bruins’ great and current ESPN broadcaster Bill Walton took in his first UCLA game of the Steve Alford era last weekend against Alabama and wasted no time in making his thoughts known. In short, Big Red thinks that the Alford era is already a huge upgrade over the slow and joyless Ben Howland era. But Coach Alford, beware. You still had better win. And fast. And regularly.
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Pac-12 M5: Valentine’s Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 14th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Last night began the last month of the regular season in the Pac-12. With just four weeks of conference play remaining, everybody is jockeying for placement in advance of March, which makes Arizona State’s loss at Utah last night all the more troubling. For a team already right on that borderline between the NIT and the NCAAs, the Sun Devils rebounded from a lackluster first half that saw them trailing by seven at the break to build up an eight-point lead with under eight minutes to go and a six-point lead with under three to go. And then ASU proceeded to score exactly one basket over its final seven possessions, while allowing the Utes to score 13 points over that same stretch. And in the process, the Sun Devils may have given away the game that could prevent them from dancing on Selection Sunday.
  2. Meanwhile, Oregon has somewhat righted their ship, going into Seattle last night and knocking off Washington for its second-consecutive victory following a three-game slide. Jonathan Loyd was the big star, filling in for Dominic Artis with a big 11-point second half (making for a season-high in points) to help the Ducks cruise past the Huskies. However, at the end of the game with the outcome no longer in doubt, Loyd took a hard foul and appeared to sustain a knee injury as he remained on the ground in pain for some time. After the game, Loyd said that he thinks he’ll be okay and could be in uniform this weekend for Oregon’s trip to Pullman. Artis, meanwhile, will miss one more game but is expected to return next week when the Ducks host the Bay Area schools.
  3. Despite three Final Fours in his past, the drumbeat for the end of Ben Howland’s era as head coach at UCLA grows louder by the week, and last week’s scathing commentary by Bruin legend Bill Walton on an ESPN telecast has ratcheted up the pressure. But, as Ryan Menezes of the Daily Bruin writes, there are more things wrong in the UCLA program that just the head coach. This season in a newly renovated Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins have struggled to fill the house that Wooden built and have often played in front of sparse crowds. Is that a response to Howland’s style of play and recent lack of success? Or is that just the nature of the beast for an aging fan base of a program whose glory days are 40 years in the past? I know this much: Even in the depths of the Billy Gillispie days, Kentucky was still leading the nation in attendance. Even when North Carolina was preparing to divorce Matt Doherty, they were still putting fannies in 18,000-plus seats per night. Even when Mike Davis was turning in a sub-.500 year in Bloomington or Tom Crean was limping home to a 10-win season, they were doing so in front of 16,000 Indiana fans. UCLA fans in no way belong in the same discussion as those blue-blood fan bases (for comparison, as UCLA went to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, they couldn’t reach an average of 8,000 fans in attendance), let along up-and-coming programs like San Diego State in their own backyard. That? That’s on the fans, not the coach.
  4. In advance of tonight’s rematch with Colorado, Arizona is looking forward to playing with Nick Johnson back at full strength. You see, a couple weeks back when the Wildcats traveled to the Washington schools, Johnson was significantly weakened by a stomach virus. And, over the past couple weeks, his numbers have dropped, in part due to that illness; since the virus reared its ugly head prior to the Washington State game, Johnson hasn’t scored in double figures and is just 5-of-18 from the field, quite a dip for a guy who has otherwise shot a better than 53% eFG this season. But, Johnson assures the Daily Wildcat that he is ready to go this week for the trip to the Rockies.
  5. As for Colorado, they’ve waited 42 days for their crack at revenge against Arizona for their controversial loss in Tucson. Not that they’ve been counting or anything. The same evening after refs waved off Sabatino Chen’s apparent game-winning buzzer-beater, the C-Unit has been planning for the Valentine’s Day Massacre in the Coors Event Center. And in the interim, as the Buffaloes have turned in lackluster performances against Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and UCLA, there has been talk that the team was still suffering from the hangover from that game. Well, tonight’s the night they get to take their frustration out, and they better do it well. Because if there’s one thing worse than thinking you’ve had a game stolen from you, it is spending 42 days waiting for your chance to gain revenge and then failing when the chance is finally presented to you.
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Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VI: Honor Roll

Posted by AMurawa on February 12th, 2013

Professor Pac is back, trying to break down the mess that is the Pac-12, a task harder than you might think. This week’s Honor Roll is highlighted by Colorado, a team that bounced back from an awful week last time around to earn this week’s highest grade.

Colorado – A

A week ago, the Buffaloes earned the only F we’ve handed out this season. You can tell a lot about how a team responds to absolute failure. After losing to Utah while earning a 22-point deficit at one point, their F was well-earned. Likewise, this week’s A is appropriate. Colorado wasn’t mind-blowingly effective this week, but they were tough. They played two tight games and, contrary to what they’d done earlier in the year, they finished strong. With an important week ahead (and a chance at revenge against the Utes the following week), the Buffs have an opportunity now to make their case for a continued presence near the top of the Pac-12 standings.

Josh Scott Scored 17 On Sunday Night, But His Rebounding Needs to Improve (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Josh Scott Scored 17 On Sunday Night, But His Rebounding Needs to Improve (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Focus on: Josh Scott. After scoring in double figures in 13 of his first 16 games as a Buff, Scott hit something of a freshman wall in mid-January. His average of 14.5 points per game over those first 16 games has fallen to fewer than eight points per game over the next five, while also contributing just three rebounds per night. While he was merely average against Oregon (seven points, two boards), and while he did little to chip in on the boards against Oregon State (four boards in 32 minutes as his team was outrebounded by a relatively poor rebounding OSU team), he did wake up offensively, scoring 17 points while making 7-of-10 field goals. That type of success needs to continue, preferably with some additional rebounding mixed in there.

Looking ahead: The Buffaloes have been pointing to Valentine’s night ever since the final buzzer sounded in their controversial overtime loss to Arizona on the opening night of conference play. If CU can take care of business at home against the Wildcats and put the demons of the Debacle in the Desert to rest, it could be a springboard for continued success down the stretch. If they get outplayed by a talented Arizona team, that disappointment could snowball, especially with a tough and hungry Arizona State squad waiting on Saturday.

USC – A

For the second straight week, the Trojans earn an A. Once forgotten, this team is now a prized student and a team that could make a mess of things come the second week in March in Las Vegas. The Trojans have now won three in a row, they’re at 6-5 in the conference, and, seemingly like 17 other teams in the Pac-12, they sit within two games of first place.

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Marching to Vegas: Channeling Bill Walton, While Breaking Down The Halfway Mark

Posted by AMurawa on February 8th, 2013

From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.

Halfway. The point in a journey when both the finish and start are equidistant and so there is no use in turning back. Onward we go because it’s a journey and, intrinsic to such, there is discovery. A path to the best version of ourselves so that at the conclusion we are prepared; ready for life beyond exploration. But as I said, we’re not there yet. Not even close. Our March to Vegas is no sinusoidal function. It’s exponential growth – rising, rising, rising – to what should culminate into something jaw-slacking, head scratching, and cold blooded. I know you believe me here because I know you were watching last night. You saw Larry Drew II drop the Dawgs and Roberson shock the Ducks and Cobbs give the Devils all they could handle. Pac-12 fans: Who’s got it better than us?

Bill Walton - So Bad, He's Good?

Bill Walton – So Bad, He’s Good?

Maybe Adam's Been Listening To Too Much Bill Walton; Maybe We All Have (Earl Wilson, The New York Times)

Maybe Adam’s Been Listening To Too Much Bill Walton; Maybe We All Have (Earl Wilson, The New York Times)

Back to this march, the one dragging us to 3/10 and a conclusion on Vegas seeding. That – as proven by Thursday’s games – will be a treat, a delightful treat, chock full of – are you ready for this word? – madness. Yup, I said it, madness. Get excited. And I’m getting ahead of myself because indeed this is a journey to the end. After all, one week ago Oregon was in the Top-10 and asserting themselves an unstoppable force. Today? Well now they find themselves in a three game rut with a broken point guard whose Duckpact (that’s what I call an impact player on Oregon’s roster) is becoming increasingly ominous. To say that Dana Altman and his team miss Dominic Artis would be to Kate Upton is cute. But things will be ok in Eugene.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.07.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 7th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. The Pac-12 week got started last night with a couple games, the headliner of which was the conference’s hottest team, Stanford, heading to Tucson to face the conference’s highest ranked team, Arizona. In advance of the game, the Wildcats got some bad news when it was announced that freshman forward Grant Jerrett would sit out the game as a precautionary measure due to some foot pain. Almost unbelievably, in sitting out, he became Arizona’s first player to miss a game this season due to injury. As for the game, the ‘Cats got away with running their thin front court out there, even as fellow freshmen Brandon Ashley fouled out in just 13 minutes and Kaleb Tarczewski was ineffective in 13 minutes of his own. In place of the three freshmen, sophomore big Angelo Chol got his most run of the year, playing 24 very effective minutes and grabbing a career-high eight boards as the Wildcats pulled away from a game Stanford team late. Chol probably earned himself some more minutes in the future, although Jerrett should be available to play on Sunday, per Sean Miller.
  2. The other game Wednesday night took place in Corvallis as Oregon State took out some of their frustrations on Utah in an 18-point win as Roberto Nelson and Joe Burton each continued their streaks of strong offensive basketball of late. But even with that win, Oregon State’s now 2-7 conference mark has some people claiming that head coach Craig Robinson is on the hot seat. While I would agree that now there are legitimate questions as to whether Robinson is the right guy to take this program to the next level, something drastic would have to happen for Robinson to not be coaching the Beavers next season. And, regardless of the current floundering state of the program, Robinson has given this program an identity that it didn’t have when he took over for Jay John. At some point, that’s going to have to translate into wins and a competitive Pac-12 team, but Robinson is in no immediate danger.
  3. As for Utah, as Pachoops’ Adam Butler wrote, despite their struggles this season and the occasional blowout, this is one of the unluckiest teams in the country, an idea substantiated by Ken Pomeroy’s luck measurement. While the Utes’ 10-12 record isn’t going to impress anybody, consider the fact that, putting aside their three blowout losses in conference, they’ve lost the remainder of their conference games by an average of less than a single old-fashioned two-point field goal. If and when the Utes’ begin to make better luck for themselves or get the fortunate bounce here or there that turns a one-point loss into a one-point win, the Utes could be in position to make some noise.
  4. Circling back around to that Arizona/Stanford game again, the Bill Walton Pac-12 bus tour dropped Grateful Red off in Arizona this week where he, among other thing, tipped off ESPN viewers to a little known basketball rule whereupon, if you hit anybody on the court in the face with the ball, he owes you a six-pack. I’m personally going to see how that flies on the playground this weekend. Elsewhere in the Grand Canyon State these past few days, Walton spent some time talking to students at both Arizona State on Tuesday and Arizona on Wednesday. And, at Arizona State, he spent about an hour talking to the Sun Devil basketball team and then later spent time talking to Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski one-on-one.
  5. Lastly, in recognition of national signing day in college football yesterday, we take a look at USC’s current recruiting status in… basketball? Actually, despite the fact that the Trojans are currently a team without a coach, USC’s presently has enough commitments to rank in the top 40 nationally in recruiting. However, that could still change because their top recruit, Kendal Yancy-Harris, the #77 player in ESPN’s top 100 list, has eased off of his commitment somewhat and is now considering ten other teams. Yancy-Harris may yet wind up in South L.A., but we won’t be sure until USC decides who their next coach is.
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 4th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. remembering just how bad of an announcer Bill Walton is during the Washington-Arizona game on ESPN, and coming to the incredible conclusion that he might be even worse at college than he was with the NBA. In a two-hour span Bill managed to explain what a disgrace UCLA basketball is, mention Reggie Miller Night at Pauley Pavilion 10 (10!!) times, called a Seattle high school coach in attendance one of the great human rights leaders (no qualifications needed!) and declared one 20-second stretch “the worst possession in the history of Washington basketball.” Other comments may or may not have included forays into the Grateful Dead and Google Earth, but it was hard to catch it all. God bless crazy old legends who can still go on TV and say whatever crosses their mind.

Bill Walton - So Bad, He's Good?

Bill Walton – So Bad, He’s Good?

I LOVED…. a prime time top-5 Big Ten match-up that didn’t disappoint. Be honest – if I told you two premier Big 10 teams were facing off, you’d predict a final score of 53-50 (OK fine, 59-56). The point is, in past years these games have tended to earn a 9.5 on the snoozer scale and reinforced the conference’s slow, methodical, offensively-challenged reputation. Thus, an 81-73 Indiana win was a refreshing foray into the 21st Century and a boost of confidence that one of these teams will be in my Final Four bracket come March.

I LOVED…. Miami backing up its Duke win with very legit road win against an N.C. State team that refuses to conform to society’s expectations and beat teams that it actually should. For Miami, they definitely keep their current label as a dangerous, well-coached team that could be a sleeper pick in March. For State? Well, at some point you might just have to stop convincing yourself that they’re going to change.

I LOVED…. the completely-terrible-idea-should-have-just-dribbled-out-the-clock-but-got-excited-and-gave-the-losing-team-motivation-for-revenge dunk by Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. Also, if you’re looking for this year’s most ridiculous athlete, he might just be it. Check out this almost alley-oop that would have gone down as one of the year’s best slams.

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