Rushed Reactions: Saint Louis 70, Texas A&M 49

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2012

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and correspondent. He filed this report from the first semifinal of the Edward Jones CBE Hall of Fame Classic Monday night.

Here are three thoughts from Saint Louis’ dismantling of Texas A&M:

  1. SLU Can Get By And Then Some Without Mitchell and Majerus. The Aggies aren’t likely to turn many heads in their first season in the SEC, but Billikens’ head coach Jim Crews did a terrific job executing his game plan in all facets despite some athletic mismatches. Saint Louis frustrated Texas A&M by denying second chances, holding Billy Kennedy‘s team to a meager 15.2% offensive rebounding rate and forcing 18 turnovers. The methodical pace of the game didn’t allow for gaudy individual totals, but a collective defensive effort and constant activity in SLU’s halfcourt sets allowed the Billikens to get stops and open looks with regularity. Transition offense was hard to come by, but in a tougher Atlantic 10, Saint Louis’ patience and defensive toughness will allow the team to hang with the conference’s best squads. SLU also showed an ability to bounce back from adversity. Last week, the team took two significant losses, one to Santa Clara and one to their coach’s declining health as Majerus officially stepped down from his post and the “interim” tag was removed from Crews’ title. Majerus’ departure wasn’t unexpected, but the same can’t be said for Saint Louis’ head-scratching home loss to SCU. Beating a mediocre Texas A&M squad won’t erase last week’s blemish, but there’s something to be said for a team that can bounce back in such convincing fashion.
  2. Texas A&M Is Sorely Lacking In Cohesion: Ray Turner may have sunk all of his shots tonight, but he attempted only four. As one of the expected leaders at Texas A&M, he’ll have to play a bigger role than what he displayed Monday night. Turner was only passively involved in the offense and his frustration may have been planted in the opening minutes of the game. He was forced to call an early timeout on an inbounds play, and at the foul line a few minutes later, Turner came away with an empty trip. He was hardly the only one on his team who struggled, however. Elston Turner poured in a team-high 16 points, but did so on an inefficient 12 shots while committing five turnovers. The Aggies turned the ball over 18 times as a team, committed 22 fouls, and shot an abysmal 44% from the stripe. Tabbed to finish ninth by the SEC media, A&M was bound to struggle after Khris Middleton’s departure, but the Aggies will need much more from their senior leaders, to say nothing of their role players, to stay competitive in a top-heavy conference.
  3. Keep An Eye On Jordair Jett In The Backcourt: It wouldn’t be a cliche if there wasn’t some truth to it, but SLU has an invaluable cog in its experienced point guard, Jordair Jett. The junior displayed excellent court vision against the Aggies, dishing out a career-high eight assists. Jim Crews was very laudatory towards his floor general after the game, citing his familiarity with the system and knowledge of where his teammates are at all times. As a big guard at 215 pounds, one might expect Jett to be more aggressive and use his body to absorb contact on the way to the rim at least occasionally, but his patient and savvy style is a breath of fresh air from some of the out-of-control point guard play we’ve seen throughout the country in the young season. Jett wasn’t afraid to use his strength on defense, though, as he grabbed five rebounds and tallied three steals. His four turnovers indicate that he’s far from a finished product, but his willingness to let plays develop could play a huge role in SLU’s chances against Kansas Tuesday night.
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Pac-12 M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 9th, 2012

  1. We hit the big news yesterday about Omar Oraby being declared eligible yesterday for USC, but now Oregon has to sit back and wait for news on its own Rice big man, Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred out of Rice and to Oregon for reasons similar as Oraby. The common perception is that if Oraby got freed, then Kazemi must be next, but that is little comfort for the Ducks who face the prospect of opening their season tomorrow night without his services. Certainly, Oregon should be able to handle the likes of Northern Arizona and Portland State as they stand now, but the Ducks would sure like to have Kazemi in uniform a week from today when they host a young but talented Vanderbilt squad. With him in tow, the Ducks have a seriously strong frontcourt that could make a splash near the top of the conference standings.
  2. An important correction for a recent bit of misinformation. On Wednesday morning we relayed the Los Angeles Times’ info that Shabazz Muhammad, were he healthy, would be able to participate in UCLA’s opener since it was within the 45-day window for him to participate with the team. Actually, that’s not quite right. The 45-day window allows Muhammad to participate in practices, but he won’t be eligible to compete in games until officially cleared by the NCAA, a timeline of which is still unknown. So, as it stands, the Bruins will open their season and their new-look Pauley Pavilion tonight against Indiana State, the only other school of which John Wooden held the head coaching job.
  3. Speaking of Wooden, the Wooden Award Watch List was unveiled on Thursday and four different Pac-12 student-athletes earned recognition: Colorado’s Andre Roberson, California’s Allen Crabbe, Arizona’s Solomon Hill and Washington State’s Brock Motum. Of the four, Roberson is the one with the best chance of earning the individual honor, although Hill’s team is expected to have greater success. Still, Hill’s game is more of a below-the-radar game and, with guys like Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson expected to shoulder much of the scoring load, it’s unlikely he will put up the individual statistics necessary to shoulder the load. Speaking of Lyons, transfers and freshmen are ineligible for inclusion on the Preseason Top 50 list, which is why players like he, Shabazz Muhammad, and Kyle Anderson, to name just a few, are not listed.
  4. Our last bit of news for the morning is that a legacy, Kameron Rooks, son of former Arizona center and long-time NBA big man Sean Rooks, was offered a scholarship by Arizona. The younger Rooks is a seven-footer just like his old man, who possesses enough talent to have received similar offers from Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon State. Like his father, Kameron has a massive body, long arms, and is a back-to-the-basket scorer. Still, at 275 pounds, his conditioning will always be a concern and he is regarded as still a work in progress. He’s currently a senior in high school and is listed as a three-star recruit.
  5. Another week, another chance for me to rub in the fact that I am absolutely killing Connor in our weekly football pick ‘em contest. I took a three-game lead into last week’s picks and, behind UCLA’s drubbing of Arizona at the Rose Bowl, extended it up to four. But I ain’t about to pull a Phil Ford and drop back into the Four Corners here to run some clock. Nope. Even though Connor sent me his picks first, I’m confident enough to put half of that four-game lead on the line this week. And, assuming I don’t completely overdose on hoops action Friday night, I’m looking forward to another great Saturday (although not quite as great as last Saturday) of college football action. Our picks below, with, as always, our game of the week in bold.
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Colorado at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Utah at Washington Utah Washington
Arizona State at USC USC USC
Oregon at California Oregon Oregon
Oregon State at Stanford Stanford 26-23 Oregon State 17-16
UCLA at Washington State UCLA UCLA
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Introducing the Preseason All-Pac-12 Teams

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 6th, 2012

Over the past four weeks we’ve been preparing you for the season with our team-by-team previews. Now, with ACTUAL GAMES tipping off this Friday, we close out our season preview this week with a number of superlatives. Here are the Pac-12 microsite’s predictions for this season’s all-Pac-12 teams.

First Team

  • G Allen Crabbe, Jr, California - Already with one of the purest outside strokes in the conference, Crabbe has added an explosive drive to the basket and mid-range jumper to his repertoire. The hard work will pay off as Crabbe and fellow guard Justin Cobbs could very well be the conference’s top backcourt duo by season’s end. We think he leads the Golden Bears to a fourth NCAA berth in five years and is named to the all-Pac-12 team for a second consecutive season.

Crabbe Returns As One Of The Top Scoring Threats In The Conference For 2012-13 (credit: Kelley L. Cox)

  • G/F Shabazz Muhammad, Fr, UCLA - One of the most anticipated freshmen in recent Pac-12 history, Muhammad was nearly a unanimous selection by our panel of voters. The five-star freshman out of Bishop Gorman High School (NV) has the explosiveness of a three inside the paint, but the outside touch of a two. The seemingly effortless combination of those two things made him the most sought after prospect in the nation. The only thing holding Muhammad  back from a spot on this list come March is a still-pending NCAA investigation into his recruitment. Assuming he is cleared before the season starts, we likely won’t see the star until UCLA’s November 19 game against Georgetown due to a strained right shoulder.
  • F André Roberson, Jr, Colorado (Pac-12 Player of the Year) – Poised for a breakout season, we think Roberson will be the league’s player of the year in 2012-13. He’s without a doubt the top rebounder in the conference, and has a terrific ability to time blocks when an opponent floats something up in the lane. He has shown the potential to be a good outside shooter as well, making him perfect to be a prototypical three whenever he leaves for the NBA. Roberson has a chance to make a national All-America squad by season’s end if the Buffaloes make the NCAA Tournament.
  • F Brock Motum, Sr, Washington State – Motum jumped from 7.6 PPG as a sophomore to a Pac-12 leading 18 PPG as a junior, so there’s no question he belongs on this list heading into his final year on the Palouse. He’s able to score a number of different ways, sometimes looking like Dirk Nowitzki with the crazy ways he puts the ball through the hoop. Motum will need help from a frontcourt lacking with talent in order to draw some of the attention away from him.
  • F Solomon Hill, Sr, Arizona – Hill played out of position at the four for most of last season and still managed to make 27 three-pointers in Arizona’s final 17 games. He’ll be back on the wing for his senior campaign thanks to the additions of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Kaleb Tarczewski in the post. Hill’s shooting range vastly improved throughout the course of last year in Tucson, and we think it only gets better in 2012-13. Even better for a team that won’t lack in scoring options is Hill’s ability to rebound as a wing, something Draft Express has said he’s one of the best in the nation at.
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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 Team Previews: Washington State Cougars

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 30th, 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 State Cougars.

Strengths: This category starts and ends with senior forward Brock Motum. The Australian lefty led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2011-12 and took home the title of most improved player in the conference, but it will be interesting to see how he performs without the team’s best guard to draw some attention on the perimeter. Motum was able to handle just about any big man in league play last year, taking opponents both inside and out. He became famous for some incredible, off-balance jumpers, reminiscent of Dirk Nowitzki with some of his shots. With the dismissal of Reggie Moore, Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge will start the year at combo guard. Big things are expected of the former Jayhawk, who may just be the best shooter Washington State can put on the roster.

Weaknesses: Behind Motum and Woolridge, it’s tough to look at the Cougars and point out a guy that oozes confidence. Sure, guys like DaVonté Lacy and D.J. Shelton are solid athletes, but it’s going to be a long year when you’re counting on them for big-time production. Ken Bone does have some interesting newcomers to play around with, but what roles they fit into and how much they can immediately contribute will be tough to figure out. Gillette Junior College transfer James Hunter looks to be a banger that will start the year at power forward, but the Cougs are awfully thin after that for someone who can bang on the glass. Shelton and Hunter better not be on the bench at the same time, because things could get ugly down there for Wazzu.

James Hunter (15) Will Have To Avoid The Bench In 2012-13 For The Cougars To Have A Rebounding Presence In The Post (credit: Gillette College)

Non-Conference Tests: The Cougars will face four stiff non-conference tests this season, three of which will all come in a row away from home in late November. Washington State will travel to Malibu to face Pepperdine on November 16, and while the Waves might struggle this season, not many teams venture into Firestone Fieldhouse and come out with an easy win. Just three days later the Cougars will go into the Sprint Center and play a top 5 Kansas squad in front of what will be a 99% Jayhawk-friendly crowd. Less than 24 hours later they’ll play on the same court against either Saint Louis or Texas A&M, two teams that are at least NIT locks this season. Finally, the Cougs get a three game reprieve before having to take on in-state rival Gonzaga on December 5 in Pullman.

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Pac-12 M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on October 24th, 2012

  1. CBS released its 2012 Top 50 Big Men list and a handful of Pac-12 players were scattered throughout. Highest on the list was Andre Roberson at #15, however, some have projected Roberson as a future lottery pick and coming in at that spot seems a little too low for someone with his talent. He averaged a double-double last year, was one of the nation’s best rebounders, and clearly was a major factor in Colorado’s run to the NCAA Tournament last season. The second man from the Pac-12 on the list was Brock Motum at #29, while Josh Smith of UCLA followed at #34. Motum should continue to help Washington State greatly this year, but Smith seems too high in his position. Last year he was only effective in spurts and since his weight issues don’t seem to be going away, foul trouble will continue to plague him most nights out. As the list nears the end, two out of the three Arizona freshman big men made it with Brandon Ashley coming in at #40 and Grant Jerrett landing at #50. Out of the three big freshman for the Wildcats this fall, Kaleb Tarczewski was the only one left off the list although he was the highest ranked recruit for the Wildcats of the group. Overall, five entries on a 50-player list is not exactly staggering, but it does show that the talent level in the Pac-12 is improving.
  2. Can the Pac-12 make its way back to respectability? It’s the oft-repeated question of this offseason, and ESPN the Magazine took its crack at answering it. The conference has been struggling for at least three years now and it certainly was not pretty last season. But the article points out that things might be beginning to round into shape. What hasn’t been noticed as much is that the creation of the Pac-12 Networks should have a major impact going forward. That, coupled with the Pac-12′s new national television agreement with ESPN, will allow all teams to get some consistent national exposure which should aid recruiting and will definitely generate more money for the schools. Additionally, the fact that all the head coaches this season return with another year under their belt at their respective schools should help the conference considerably.
  3. Colorado continues to reap the rewards of Tad Boyle and its move to the Pac-12. Now in their second year in the conference, CU season ticket sales are at an all-time high with more than 5,000 season ticket packages sold thus far. And although the Coors Event Center cannot hold as many fans as other venues in the Pac-12, it’s a continued step in the right direction for the Buffaloes, the Division I school that has seen the greatest percentage attendance increase over the past four years. Since Boyle has arrived, the Buffaloes have gone 32-4 at home and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier to pick up a victory in Boulder this upcoming season.
  4. Finally there is some good news for the Utah Utes: Jason Washburn returned to practice for first time in a week today. After already losing Aaron Dotson for 4-6 weeks and David Foster for the entire year, the return of key players to practice and to get conditioned and prepared for the season is crucial. Washburn had been experiencing concussion-like symptoms, but should be good to go now. Utah needs him to be one of the bright spots on this inexperienced squad and any setback could bring the Utes the same terrible results as last year.
  5. ESPN.com‘s Eamonn Brennan talks about what he can’t wait to see in the Pac-12 this year, particularly mentioning the potential of Arizona and UCLA. It’s generally agreed upon that the Wildcats will be at the top of the conference this year with the Bruins somewhere right above or below them, but will any other team make a run to contend for the Pac-12 title? Although anything can happen in this conference, it seems likely that Arizona and UCLA will go 1-2; however, spots 3-8 are wide open. USC has a team full of talented transfers; Colorado could surprise with its frontcourt depth and backcourt experience; Stanford has the talent to win the conference, but does Johnny Dawkins finally have a title within him? All in all, the Pac-12 is up for grabs and there are various reasons to be excited.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 12th, 2012

  1. One of the things we love about college basketball is that every year, there are loads and loads of teams with brand new looks. You’ve got freshmen coming in and transfers and kids back from injuries. The entire makeup of a team can change from year to year, for better or for worse. This year in the Pac-12 is no different, but in some cases, these changes seem to be a bit more extreme than normal, with several teams across the conference ready to unveil a completely remade roster. Today, as practices kick off around the country, we’ll take a look at five of those teams, beginning with Utah, where second-year head coach Larry Krystkowiak welcomes in a roster that returns just two scholarship players from last year’s 6-25 team. Given the depths to which the talent level plunged in Salt Lake City last year, the remake was desperately needed, and Krystkowiak is certain that the team is ready to be much more competitive. With 10 new scholarship faces on the roster, the battle for time is tight and ongoing, with the head man mentioning that the Ute starting lineup may be a shifting five over the course of the year.
  2. As bad as the Utes were last year, USC was even worse, limping (quite literally) home to a 1-17 record. Along the way, the Trojans turned into the walking wounded with dozens, if not hundreds, of players (overstatement is of use here) lost for the season to injury. But not only does Kevin O’Neill have many of those players coming back from last year’s injuries, but he’s got transfers galore and, all told, plenty of talent up and down the bench. Never one for understatement, O’Neill last season called then sophomore center DeWayne Dedmon a future NBA lottery pick, while this year he is going out on a limb and projecting Rice transfer Omar Oraby as a future 12- or 13-year pro, although USC is still waiting on word from the NCAA as to whether he’ll receive a waiver to be able to play this year. But O’Neill is most excited about getting back the services of senior point guard Jio Fontan, whom he calls the heart and soul of the team.
  3. Washington State’s 2011-12 season was slightly more successful than either of the above teams’, but like both USC and Utah, the Cougs will unveil a new-look squad as well. Brock Motum returns after his breakout junior season, as does returning starter DaVonte Lacy and four other players, but things are going to have to be different in Pullman this season. But despite being minus recently-dismissed point guard Reggie Moore, head coach Ken Bone thinks this will be a better team than last year, with the combo of Lacy and Kansas-transfer Royce Woolridge being an upgrade over the would-be senior. And Bone hopes that the Cougs’ underdog status will help the squad “pull together.” Reading between the lines a bit, it seems I may not be the only one who thinks the loss of Moore could turn out to be addition by subtraction.
  4. Oregon advanced to the NIT last season, but after five graduating seniors and three freshmen transferring out of the program last year, the Ducks were in need of a talent infusion of their own. Enter a five-man freshman class, two junior college transfers, and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi (who is appealing to the NCAA for immediate eligibility), and returnee EJ Singler, for one, is excited about the additional size and athleticism added to Dana Altman’s roster. The number of new players could jump to nine once the football season ends, assuming freshman Arik Armstead joins the team in January, but the number could have even been 10. However, junior college transfer Devon Branch opted not to enroll at UO for the fall semester, instead opting to go the Division II route, which would give him one more season of eligibility than he would have had in Eugene.
  5. The roster makeover for Washington is not as massive as in any of the above four stops, but the Huskies are without their two highest profile stars from last season’s Pac-12 regular season champion. Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. left eligibility on the table when they split for the NBA, but it was no secret that last year’s squad underachieved in part due to chemistry issues that never got fully resolved. Lorenzo Romar commented on Twitter that this team has the chemistry and attitude that the coaching staff appreciates, a remark that seems to draw a direct comparison to last year’s squad. Put on your special glasses and it might as well read: “last year’s team had no chemistry because there were too many guys worried about getting the credit.” There’s still plenty of talent up in Seattle, with proven upperclassmen Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye leading the way, so if the intangibles shift a little in the right direction, the 2012-13 edition of the Huskies could be an improvement on last year’s more talented squad.
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Wrapping Up The Pac-12′s Summer Exhibition Tours

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 13th, 2012

Seven Pac-12 schools took a foreign exhibition trip this summer. We recap them below with Drew taking UCLA, Utah, and Colorado, and Connor taking the rest.

Not Every Team Went Tropical, But All of Them Learned Something

Arizona

  • Where: The Bahamas
  • When: August 11-13
  • What: The Wildcats swept their two games against Bahamian competition.
  • Why: As Arizona transitions from an NIT one-and-done to having at least NCAA Third Round expectations, this trip was all about integrating instant-impact newcomers Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, and Mark Lyons into the rotation. Setting lineups and seeing what groups of players meshed well together was much more important than the actual play against less than stellar competition.
  • Who: Lyons and fellow senior Kevin Parrom were the stars of the trip, each averaging 18.5 PPG. The most anticipated freshman to don the cardinal red and navy blue in a while, Tarczewski, scored eight points in each game on the trip. Arizona absolutely destroyed their lowly competition, winning both games by a combined 112 points.

Colorado

  • Where: France, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • When: August 11-22
  • What: The Buffaloes went 2-3 in five games against European professional teams.
  • Why: With CU breaking in six scholarship freshmen, the trip gave head coach Tad Boyle a chance to build camaraderie between the talented new guys and their six returnees from last year’s Pac-12 championship team. The trip also gave the freshmen a chance to build an identity of their own, evidenced by the fact that Boyle sat out the core returnees from last year’s squad – Andre Roberson, Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen – in one of the games, allowing five of the freshmen to start the game together.
  • Who: While Roberson was his usual magnificent self – he averaged 14.4 points and 13.8 rebounds – freshman Josh Scott eliminated any doubt that he could be an immediate impact player. Scott led the Buffs in scoring in four of the five games, coming up a point short of the leaders in the opening game; he averaged 17.4 point per game for the trip. His classmate Xavier Johnson also made a statement, averaging more than ten points to go with seven rebounds for the game.

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Washington State Week’s Burning Question: How Long Is The Road Back To National Prominence?

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 6th, 2012

It’s that time again, as Adam Butler of Pachoops.com joins us once more with our Burning Question for the Washington State program, concerning the road back to national relevancy for the Cougars and whether Ken Bone is the man to lead them there.

Not too long ago, the Cougars enjoyed the most successful era in the history of their basketball program. But Tony Bennett left for Virginia, Ken Bone came in from Portland State, and Washington State hasn’t gone dancing since they did it back-to-back in 2006-07 and 2007-08. What do the Cougs need to do to not only get back to the NCAAs, but national prominence as well, and is Bone the man to lead them there?

Ken Bone Enjoyed Much success While At Portland State, But So Far It Has Not Translated To The Court In Pullman (credit: Don Ryan)

Adam Butler: Find their identity. The Bone era hasn’t been devoid of talent, but it has been missing consistency. I think I like their style – it’s generally up-tempo – but there’s been an inability to consistently perform and execute what I imagine is Bone-ball. Maybe that’s a result of being an uptempo-ish team in this recent trend (started by Bennett in Pullman) of Pac-12 school’s to slow things down and play deliberately. Nonetheless, if it’s unclear what you’re doing, odds are you’re not going to be particularly successful. The same concept applies to a lot of things, just ask your first girlfriend. But there are a lot of things going for the Cougars, too. I think Reggie Moore could be poised to break out of this two-year funk as senior seasons tend to help people do, and Brock Motum is a Player of the Year front-runner. Am I sold on Ken Bone building a Top 10 team? Not today. But I think it’d be a step in the right direction if there was an identity to what a Cougar game was like as opposed to hoping talent prevails.

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Washington State Week: Q&A With CougCenter

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 5th, 2012

As part of our Washington State week, we wanted to reach out to the guys at CougCenter for their takes on the upcoming Cougar basketball season. Kyle Sherwood was kind enough to spend some time with us and give us his thoughts.

Rush The Court: How do the Cougars plan on replacing players like Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick, and Faisal Aden?

CougCenter: Easier than you’d think. Capers, Lodwick and Aden were all high-character guys and great team leaders, but for the most part they were all one-dimensional  players. Those players meant a lot to WSU, but I think this current roster is the first one that really fits into how Ken Bone wants to play. The 2012-13 team is loaded with athletic wings who can create space and hit shots from long-range, so we’re going to replace those guys by running…and running…and running..?

Look For The Fast Cougars To Have Many Transition Opportunities That End With Dunks (credit: Stephen Dunn)

RTC: CBI time! Washington State played four games in three different tough road environments (well, as tough as CBI crowds can get), and ended the tournament with a 4-2 record and runner-up finish. Overall, was this a good experience for the team?

CC: Well, Capers and Lodwick meant so much to the program that it was worth playing as long as they wanted to keep going. The team had really turned a corner around the beginning of February, but it wasn’t showing up in the win column. When they started advancing in the CBI, it wasn’t just that they were winning, it was how dominating they looked. It was nice for the players to see the work they had put in to turn their season around pay off with such lopsided scores. I think we all would’ve liked a tournament win (because you know WSU would hang a flippin’ CBI banner), but the team got what it needed from its success in the first four games.

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Washington State Week: What To Expect

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 4th, 2012

We’ve gone through the Washington State roster and told you about the returnees and the newcomers, but let’s put it all together today: What does the 2012-13 season hold for the Cougars? Just how good will returnees like Reggie Moore, DaVonte Lacy, and Mike Ladd be, and which of the newcomers will emerge as major contributors? And most importantly, can these Cougs improve upon last year’s CBI appearance? Let’s break out that old crystal ball again and see what it says.

Motum Will Lead The Cougars In Scoring For The Second Straight Year

WSU’s Leading ScorerBrock Motum. No reason we shouldn’t think the Pac-12′s leading scorer in 2011-12 wouldn’t lead his own team in his senior year. With Motum’s ability to score from anywhere on the floor and the fact that he touches the ball so many times on each possession, this is the only pick here. Even with a pair of confident newcomers like Royce Woolridge and Demarquise Johnson who will take a way some of his looks, Motum will still be the go-to guy.

WSU’s MVPRoyce Woolridge. This is a tad bold, but we don’t want to give two awards to Motum even if he may deserve it. Players and coaches called Woolridge the best player on the practice court last season, and the word out of Pullman is that he’s not afraid to shoot the ball. If he can give the Cougars 12 points a night, four rebounds, and maybe a couple steals here and there, Woolridge and Motum will make quite the one-two punch.

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Washington State Week: Running Down The Returnees

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 2nd, 2012

Washington State returns four players who were part of the rotation last year, highlighted by Brock Motum – a preseason candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year – but also extending down to a guard that is back for his senior season after leading the team in minutes per game, a sophomore shooting guard primed to build off a solid freshman campaign, and yet another guard who will probably enjoy a similar role to what he saw last year. We’ll go through all of those guys below, in order of last year’s scoring totals.

Brock Motum Will Be The Key To Any Cougar Success In 2012-13

Brock Motum, Senior, Forward (18.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.4 BPG) – After a quiet first two seasons at Washington State, Motum exploded onto the scene in 2012-13. The junior forward took on the minutes left by departing senior DeAngelo Casto, and he showed the Cougar coaching staff immediately what he could do with them. From the very beginning of the year, he introduced a new style of game to the team’s offense. Motum led the team in scoring in the Cougars’ first two games, dropping 17 in a nationally televised contest at Gonzaga, and 23 in their second game against Sacramento State. He took on a “point-center” type role, one where the big man could handle the ball up top and act as a triple threat against opponents. His ability to drive and hit a pull-up jumper made him one of the toughest forwards to defend in the Pac-12, evident by his 18.0 PPG, the conference’s best. Not only a threat to score, but also a force on the glass, Motum pulled down a very respectable 6.4 RPG. Those two feats combined earned him the title of “Most Improved Player” in the Pac-12. Some of Motum’s critics will say he took a lot of defenses by surprise last season, but the truth is, the Cougars were just a tough team to defend. With Faisal Aden and Reggie Moore able to score the ball consistently, Motum was bound to get a few extra looks a game. And he took advantage, making him one of the deadliest players in the league.

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