Pac-12 Weekly Five: 06.01.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on June 1st, 2012

  1. UCLA and Arizona have their 2012 blockbuster recruiting classes all sewn up, with up  north, Washington mostly struck out. But all eyes begin to turn to the 2013 class, and it could be Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies who are in a position to score big. Romar landed his first verbal commitment this week as 6’3” guard Nigel Williams-Goss, regarded as a four-star prospect, chose Washington over UCLA, Oregon  State, and UNLV (a school he once committed to prior to head coach Lon Kruger’s defection to Oklahoma). While one four-star guard does not a recruiting class make, Romar still has his eyes on players like Jabari Parker (the number one overall prospect), Aaron Gordon (the number two rated power forward), Jabari Bird (the fourth rated off-guard), and Isaac Hamilton (the fifth rated off-guard) among others.
  2. Aside from offseason trouble, some typically minor tweaks to rosters and the shaping of the 2013 recruiting class, the other big news that can be expected throughout the summer is the trickling out of teams’ 2012-13 schedules. UCLA’s calendar dropped on Thursday, with the highly-regarded Bruins reopening Pauley Pavilion on November 9 with a visit from Indiana State. Ben Howland’s club will also host Long Beach State and Missouri (along with a handful of low-major schools), play San Diego State in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, and participate in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with potential matchups against Indiana, Georgetown, and Georgia. Here’s hoping the Bruins find matchups with both the Hoosiers and the Hoyas awaiting them in New York.
  3. Elsewhere around the conference, schedules are starting to take shape. Late last week, it came out that Colorado after a year away, would be renewing its competition with long-time opponent Kansas. While nothing is official yet, both schools have confirmed that an agreement is in place for the Buffaloes and Jayhawks to schedule a home-and-home series in each of the next two seasons. It’s unclear yet exactly where the 2012-13 edition will be played, but while Kansas has had Colorado’s number on a regular basis in their meetings, head coach Tad Boyle certainly has the Buffs on the upswing and his squad should be able to give the Jayhawks a couple interesting games. Down south, Arizona has added games with Charleston Southern, Long Beach State and Southern Miss. While none of those three teams is a huge name, both Long Beach State and Southern Miss made the NCAA Tournament last year and should provide solid challenges for an already strong Arizona schedule. The Wildcats are still looking to add two more games, both of which are expected to be home-and-home series’.
  4. Continuing our tour around the conference, Oregon State is on the verge of breaking ground on a new basketball practice facility. The structure will be a four-story structure with a couple different regulation-sized basketball courts layer in with locker rooms, support areas, offices and an entrance to the facility that will feature an Oregon State basketball hall of fame. With the upgrade in facilities, head coach Craig Robinson hopes to be able to induce a higher caliber of recruit to Corvallis.
  5. Lastly, last week Pacific Takes unveiled a feature on the ten best sleeper recruits in the last decade, with Kyle Weaver of Washington State leading the way. Interesting to note that of the 14 players on the list (including a four-man honorable mention), six of the players (Weaver, Derrick Low, Brock Motum, DeAngelo Casto, Robbie Cowgill and Reggie Moore) matriculated to Washington State. This speaks well for the Cougar coaching staffs’ (beginning with Dick and Tony Bennett and continuing to current head coach Ken Bone) ability to target under the radar players and develop the talent once it arrives on campus. Given that five-star recruits are rarely going to find their way to Pullman, that is a must for the Cougs.
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Pac-12 2011-12 Post-Mortem Wrap-Up

Posted by AMurawa on May 4th, 2012

Over the last few weeks, we’ve run down each of the teams in the Pac-12, recounting the high and low points of the 2011-12 season, saying goodbye to departing players, introducing you to new faces around the conference, as well as pointing out reasons for hope and concern for the future of each program. Along the way, we also handed out MVP awards for each team, and we graded each team compared with their expectations. In case you’ve missed any of those posts, below you’ll find a link to each team’s post-mortem, along with the MVP and grade we’ve chosen.

  • ColoradoMVP: Andre Roberson, Overall Grade: A
  • CaliforniaMVP: Jorge Gutierrez, Overall Grade A-
  • StanfordMVP: Aaron Bright, Overall Grade: B
  • OregonMVP: Devoe Joseph, Overall Grade: B
  • Washington StateMVP: Brock Motum, Overall Grade: B
  • WashingtonMVP: Tony Wroten, Overall Grade: B-
  • Oregon StateMVP: Jared Cunningham, Overall Grade: C+
  • ArizonaMVP: Kyle Fogg, Overall Grade: C+
  • UtahMVP: Jason Washburn, Overall Grade: C-
  • Arizona StateMVP: Trent Lockett, Overall Grade: D
  • UCLAMVP: Lazeric Jones, Overall Grade: D-
  • USC MVP: Byron Wesley, Overall Grade: F

As for upcoming features, beginning in June, we’ll spend one week on each team taking you through the dog days of the summer looking ahead to the 2012-13 expectations for the Pac-12 conference. Then every Friday throughout the offseason, we’ll also post a Weekly Five, detailing recent news around the league. And, as events warrant, we’ll drop additional posts as needed and may come up with a handful of other ideas to keep us all entertained as we suffer through the Great Sports Desert.

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Washington State: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 16th, 2012

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Washington State.

What Went Wrong

Washington State was plagued by inconsistencies in shooting especially from three-point range all season long. Their season was simple in a lot of ways; when they would shoot the three well, they’d win games. But when the touch was missing, boy was it missing. That led to mind-boggling losses against teams like UC Riverside, Utah, and Arizona State, which cost the Cougars a possible NIT bid. Some bad luck struck Pullman in late-January, when just after senior guard Faisal Aden went down for the season with an ACL tear just as he was hitting his stride. He suffered the leg injury after playing just 11 minutes at Arizona on January 26, a game the Cougars would go on to lose by 24. The injury would hurt Washington State physically and mentally, as they would lose four of their next six games. That dropped them to 13-13 with just two weeks to play in the regular season.

Coach Ken Bone wished he could have cut down the nets again after a CBI Championship, but advancing to the three-game championship series of a postseason tournament was still a solid way to end the season. (credit: Don Ryan)

What Went Right

The Cougars were able to develop a pair of hybrid players in junior Brock Motum and senior Abe Lodwick. By seasons end, both were viable threats from both the paint and outside of three-point line, making things incredibly tough on opposing defenses. The newcomers were also solid and came up big at different times throughout the season. Freshman DaVonte Lacy quickly earned playing time as a combo guard early in the year, and did he ever make the most of it. Lacy averaged 8.5 PPG to lead the newcomers in 26.6 minutes of action. Junior shooting guard Mike Ladd came up big at times, and while only averaging 5.4 PPG, he threw in a pair of 13-point performances in hostile environments against Gonzaga and Oregon. Sophomore forward D.J. Shelton had a great season as well, averaging 4.7 PPG to go along with 2.9 RPG. Shelton’s best game by far came against his father’s old school in Washington State’s February 9 meeting against Oregon State in Corvallis. Shelton led the Cougs to an 83-73 victory and added 14 points and nine rebounds.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.02.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 2nd, 2012

  1. After four consecutive wins to start the CBI tournament, Washington State’s season ended Friday night with a second consecutive loss in the three-game championship series against Pittsburgh. Both teams played without their leading scorers, as Washington State’s Brock Motum and Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs both sat out with sprained ankles. Reggie Moore led the way for the Cougars with his fourth consecutive double-digit scoring output, but his 18 points to go with five assists were not enough to overcome a 12-2 Panther run in the middle of the second half that broke open a tight game. In the end, the Cougs lost by six and wrap up their season with a 19-18 overall record.
  2. With all of the Pac-12 schools having now completed their seasons on the court, and with no coaching changes expected, the biggest question remaining for any of the conference programs is the decisions of Washington’s Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten in regards to the NBA Draft. The first shoe dropped on Sunday for the Huskies, as Ross announced his intention to declare for the NBA Draft. Wroten, however, has yet to announce his choice, although it is widely suspected that his days in Seattle are done as well. And, not only are Huskies fans making peace with that eventuality, there is also talk that they may be better off without him. With Abdul Gaddy due back next season for his senior year and redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Andrews ready to step into the breach as well, UW has plenty of talent in the backcourt. And chemistry-wise, Lorenzo Romar’s team may be better off without the distraction of Wroten around. Sounds like a rationalization to me.
  3. At Utah, however, there is no cache of extra talent lying around Larry Krystkowiak’s roster, so any early defections for the program will sting. On Friday, news came down that three Ute players would be transferring out of the program: Chris Hines, Kareem Storey and Javon Dawson. Given that Krystkowiak had signed more players than he had scholarships available, we all knew that there would be some changeover in the program, but this list of names was something of a surprise. Individually, none of those three players is much of a loss for the Utes, but as a trio of relatively experienced players, it is a hit. Hines, in particular, is a surprise, given that he was expected back as a team leader for his senior season next year, but given that he will graduate this year, he’ll be eligible to play immediately wherever he winds up next season, likely at a program a notch down from the Pac-12 level.
  4. Tonight, Oregon basketball fans will watch the NCAA title game with interest, as two of their own will be playing for Kentucky in their quest for a championship. Terrence Jones and Kyle Wiltjer were both prep stars in Portland, but rather than stick around to play for one of the in-state schools, both opted to head across the country to continue their basketball careers. And next season, another Oregonian – 6’10 center Landen Lucas – will don a Kansas uniform for his collegiate career rather than a Duck or Beaver jersey. It’s easier said than done, but for either program to take the next step, head coaches Dana Altman and Craig Robinson need to find a way to keep elite home-state prospects from looking elsewhere for their collegiate careers.
  5. While Shabazz Muhammad gets the most publicity, there is another elite high school recruit still available who is considering UCLA. Georgia’s Tony Parker is a 6’9” center, currently rated the #21 recruit in the 2012 class who has the Bruins as one of his seven potential landing spots. There is speculation that wherever Muhammad ends up could tip Parker’s hand, as both players have UCLA and Duke among their final choices. After playing in the McDonald’s All-American game last week, Parker is now getting ready for the Jordan Brand Classic in two weeks.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 30th, 2012

  1.  Without doing the math and coming up with an exact number, it’s easy to say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 330-340 teams in the NCAA’s Division I will end their basketball season with a loss, either in their conference tournament, the NCAA Tournament, or one of the three other postseason tournaments (to get the exact number, you’ve got to figure in the fact that half of the Ivy League school can potentially end the season with a win since they don’t have a conference tourney, plus D-I independents without a tourney as well). Monday night’s winner in New Orleans will obviously have the most to crow about, but the winners of the NIT, CBI and CIT tournaments will all head to the offseason on an upbeat note. And, despite all their struggles this season, Stanford claimed one of those slots on Thursday night, taking it to Minnesota at Madison Square Garden en route to a 24-point win in the NIT Final. Freshman guard Chasson Randle and sophomore backcourt mate Aaron Bright led the way with 15 points apiece, sending assistant coach Dick Davey off to retirement with a win.
  2. Tonight, Washington State will attempt to be another of those small number of teams to go out with a win, as it faces Pittsburgh in the third game of a three-game CBI championship series. While it is a battle for little more than 101st place, it is still important for the players, and even for some fans, as this article from CougCenter so aptly points out. However, for the third time in as many games, it appears WSU will have to go forth without its best player, Brock Motum, who will likely miss his third straight game after spraining an ankle two minutes into the CBI semifinal game last week. While Motum is doubtful, there is slightly more hope on the Pitt end that their best player, senior guard Ashton Gibbs, will return from his ankle sprain to take part in the final.
  3. Last summer, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott led the way to a major score for the conference, earning a $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox for the rights to football, basketball and even Olympic sports throughout the conference. Still, Scott thinks that there is more to be had, calling college football, at least, undervalued. And, given that the big money available to football allows the Pac-12 to create an environment where 180 conference basketball games will be aired on a national basis, not only is there potentially more money to come for athletic departments around the country, there is more exposure available for basketball and other sports.
  4. We talked about this possibility the other day, but apparently Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell has narrowed his list of possible destinations to Virginia and Arizona. Though those schools could not be more different from each other, the point guard has eliminated all other schools from contention. McConnell made a trip to the Charlottesville campus last week and will visit Tucson next week, but the Wildcats should be considered the strong favorite for a couple reasons: First, while Virginia has sophomore Joe Harris firmly entrenched at the point guard spot for the next couple years, Arizona is wide open; and, McDonnell’s family has been friendly with the family of Wildcat head coach Sean Miller for some time. Pencil McDonnell in as a Wildcat, eligible in 2013-14.
  5. Lastly, on the heels of Washington’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, the next big question in Huskyland is the fate of freshman guard Tony Wroten and sophomore wing Terrence Ross. Both are widely projected to be first round NBA draft picks should they choose to enter this year’s draft, but Wroten in particular could very well slip into the second round and non-guaranteed contract territory. In preparation for the big decisions ahead, both players are awaiting feedback from NBA personnel and will face something of a formality in an NCAA-mandated April 10 deadline to announce their intentions, but in fact they will have until the NBA’s official deadline of April 29 to figure out their next step. Unfortunately for both, the NCAA’s guidelines don’t provide the ability for potential prospects to work out for NBA teams prior to making their decisions. It remains to be seen whether such a setup allows for either more or less bad decisions in regards to early entry.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.29.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 29th, 2012

  1. Washington State continued its season on Wednesday night with the second of a three-game series with Pittsburgh for the championship of the CBI Tournament. With the Cougars winning game one on Monday night, they had a chance to sew up the title, but fell at the Petersen Events Center by four, forcing game three on Friday night. Once again, the Cougs had to go without junior forward Brock Motum, who is out with a sprained ankle, but Reggie Moore led the way in trying to cover for his absence. Moore had 18 points and was instrumental in keeping WSU in the game in the second half, getting to the line repeatedly. Still, the Panthers, playing without a star of their own, as Ashton Gibbs sat out with his own ankle injury, did a good job of limiting any type of second option for the Cougs, including Abe Lodwick, who had been steady in the last two games without Motum. The status for both Motum and Gibbs for Friday night’s game remains unclear at this point.
  2. Stanford plays in the final of the NIT tonight, and regardless of what happens in that game against Minnesota, this has already been an important March for the Cardinal program. They’ve won six of their seven games in the month (although their loss in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal to California killed their NCAA dreams) and have earned the right to continue getting extra game action, extra practices and extra confidence, so much so that Stanford could be among the favorites at the top of the conference for next season.
  3. There was a shakeup in the Arizona State athletic department on Wednesday, as Lisa Love is out as athletic director and Steve Patterson, who was previously the chief operating officer of the athletic department, is in. Under Love, both the ASU football and basketball programs have struggled, and given that she was responsible for the hiring of the head coaches who have run those programs since she was brought on board in 2005, her firing is not unexpected.
  4. The McDonald’s All-America game was Wednesday night, and Shabazz Muhammad, currently very much on the radar of the UCLA program, had a big night, scoring 21 points and earning the game’s Most Valuable Player award. Still, Muhammad’s holding out until April 11 to announce his final decision, but he has reportedly narrowed his field down to the Bruins, Duke and Kentucky, with his hometown school, UNLV, dropped. Elsewhere at the McDonald’s game, Arizona commitments Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley did the dirty work in the all-star game, combining to score 14 points and grab 12 rebounds, while UCLA signee Kyle Anderson went for 13 points, eight assists and eight boards.
  5. Lastly, the Oregon State season may be over, ending short of its goal of an NCAA Tournament bid and of a modified goal of a run to the CBI championship, but all things considered, it could be a stepping stone year for the Beavers from conference also-ran to legitimate contender. If guard Jared Cunningham decides to forgo the NBA Draft and return to Corvallis, the Beavs will only lose Kevin McShane, who averaged just eight minutes per game, while bringing in three freshmen and adding the services of redshirt freshman Daniel Gomis, who missed the year with a broken leg.
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Checking In On The ‘Other’ Tournaments – NIT, CBI, and CIT Championships Get Decided This Week

Posted by EJacoby on March 27th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Only four teams out of 345 are truly happy with how their seasons have turned out, and they’re the four headed to New Orleans this weekend for the Final Four. But there are hundreds of other schools that didn’t even get a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament that need to work that much harder to get their shot next season. That’s what the NIT, CBI, and CIT tournaments are for – not all teams are motivated to compete (see: Seton Hall’s second round NIT loss as a #1-seed), and these tourneys may not draw many casual fans, but they’re important for players, coaches, and fans who want to see their teams finish strong and work on reaching the Big Dance next season. The beauty of March Madness is that a CBI team this season could be in the Sweet Sixteen next year. You never know who that’s going to be. Let’s take a look at who’s left in the ‘other’ postseason tournaments, which all come to a conclusion this week before the Final Four…

NIT (Semifinals)

The 32-team NIT tournament draws intrigue as the best teams that got ‘snubbed’ by the NCAA Tournament with a chance to validate their seasons with a championship in Madison Square Garden. We’re down to four teams and the semifinals begin tonight (Tuesday).

Tony Wroten, Jr. and Washington Still Have Plenty to Play For (Getty Images/N. Laham)

#1 Washington vs. #6 Minnesota. Call the Pac-12 the kings of mediocrity this season. The conference only sent two teams to the Big Dance (who combined to go 1-2) but it has two teams remaining in the NIT semis and one of the two teams competing in the CBI finals. Washington might be the single most talented team in the country that didn’t get a chance to play in the Big Dance, and the Huskies are proving it in the NIT. Led by several talented athletes looking to build towards next season or perhaps even boost their NBA stocks, UW is the favorite here. Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross are two of those players with NBA thoughts and both are playing exceptional basketball right now, with Ross being the NIT’s leading scorer at 26.3 points per game. Minnesota, meanwhile, has had to play all three games on the road to get here, grinding out victories in typical Big Ten fashion. The Golden Gophers have been motivated by the news that their leader Trevor Mbakwe (injured all season) has been granted a sixth year of eligibility to play next season, so there is plenty of hope for the future. Explosive forward Rodney Williams has been leading this team and will also be back next season. Tubby Smith’s team has been playing hard but will be underdogs against this loaded UW squad.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.27.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 27th, 2012

  1. While college basketball as a whole is in that dreaded five-day lull between the Elite Eight games and the Final Four games, we’ve at least got some leftovers to keep us sated as we wait. Last night’s menu featured game one of the three-game CBI championship series, and Washington State, playing without its best player Brock Motum, built a 12-point second-half lead against Pittsburgh, then held on to win, dodging a last-second shot to emerge as a one-point winner. Senior Abe Lodwick picked up the slack for the Cougs, going for 16 points, while junior point guard Reggie Moore had 14. After the opening-game win in Pullman, the Cougs will now have to win just one of the remaining two games at the Peterson Events Center in order to claim the CBI title, with game two coming on Wednesday. Motum, who wore a protective boot on the bench on Monday night, could return for game two, although he’ll be a game-time decision.
  2. Oregon State got news on Monday that junior guard Jared Cunningham would be “testing the waters” with the NBA, meaning that he has until April 10 to announce his intention to return to school rather than become eligible for the June draft. Of course, due to increasingly player-unfavorable rules enacted by the NCAA, this means that Cunningham really will have very little opportunity to get any feedback from NBA executives as to his potential readiness for the league. So, for the next couple weeks, Beaver fans looking forward to an exciting 2012-13 season have plenty of reason for feelings of unease, but can at least comfort themselves in knowing that this has been the plan for Cunningham all along.  All indications are that he’ll return to Corvallis next season, not only in an attempt to improve his own draft stock, but in hopes to get his team to the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek is under fire recently for the unprecedented rate of scholarship players to leave his program early – 12 players in four seasons. However, Sendek still feels that the program is on the right track, noting that only one of those players who left wound up transferring to another power conference school (Victor Rudd to South Florida), with the rest of the players downgrading to a mid- or low-major program that is more in fitting with their talents. While that’s certainly true, the other side of the coin is that Sendek, then, has been recruiting players who aren’t talented enough to be impact players at a Pac-12 school. And, as Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic notes, of the 14 players who have signed with ASU between 2008 and 2010, 11 have left, leaving only Ruslan Pateev, Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski remaining from those recruiting classes.
  4. It may not be a video that Arizona fans would care to watch, but this recap from the Big Ten Network of Arizona’s collapse against Illinois in the Elite Eight seven years ago seemed particularly relevant this weekend as Florida collapsed against Louisville. While Florida’s folly was more of a slow-motion fade, for some reason watching that inevitability on Saturday brought back the exact same feelings I felt in 2005. A team that had fought its way to a well-earned late double-digit lead on the road to a Final Four somehow suddenly found itself in peril; certainly not a great moment in Pac-12 (nee  10) history, but an iconic one.
  5. Just to cheer up Wildcat fans a bit, there is talk that Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell may wind up at Arizona. McConnell announced his intention to transfer from the Pittsburgh school last week, and rumors immediately swirled that Tucson would be a strong possible landing spot for the point guard who averaged 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year. With Josiah Turner’s status in doubt, the Wildcats are in desperate need of a point guard to pair with their 2012 recruiting class currently ranked as the best in the nation, although McConnell would need to sit out a year before being eligible in the desert. Nevertheless, if Turner does indeed wind up returning to the program, that could preclude McConnell from coming west.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.26.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 26th, 2012

  1. The Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament may be a distant memory, but conference teams continue to play on in lesser postseason tournaments. Washington State kicks off a three-game series for the championship of the CBI tournament tonight against Pittsburgh, but will likely have to do so without its most valuable player, Brock Motum. Motum sprained an ankle early in the Cougars’ semifinal game against Oregon State last week, but his teammates were able to step up and cover for him. While he is questionable for tonight’s game, head coach Ken Bone claims that there is a stronger chance that he’ll be able to return for Wednesday night’s game in Pittsburgh.
  2. Meanwhile, Washington heads back to Madison Square Garden for the third time this season as the Huskies face Minnesota in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday night. The first time UW played at MSG this season, freshman guard Tony Wroten put on a show for a national audience, scoring 24 points, including 14 in the final 10 minutes as he tried to will his team back into the game. Now, after a disappointing end to the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament chances when Wroten missed multiple free throws down the stretch of a Pac-12 tournament game, he is back to reprise his starring role in one of the nation’s best basketball arenas. And it is possible, given Wroten’s chances of becoming a high draft pick in June’s NBA Draft, that his time in the spotlight as a collegiate player will be book-ended by appearances in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
  3. Stanford is the other Pac-12 team still alive, also in the NIT semifinals, facing Massachusetts on Tuesday night. This will also be the Cardinal’s third appearance this season at Madison Square Garden too, after they beat Oklahoma State and dropped a tight game to Syracuse at the Garden in the Preseason NIT during Thanksgiving weekend. But Stanford is also in the news lately because head coach Johnny Dawkins is reportedly a possible candidate for the head coaching job at Illinois. Dawkins denies the reports, but with Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens having already turned down the Illini, Dawkins is supposed to be considered along with Leonard Hamilton, Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant for the position.
  4. Elsewhere around the Cardinal program, with associate head coach Dick Davey retiring at the end of the season, should Dawkins return (which, really, is to be expected, not only because Illinois can probably find someone better than him for their position, but also because he would probably rather be at Stanford that in Champaign), he’ll need to fill a spot on his staff. And, among the candidates for that seat is former Cardinal star Mark Madsen. Madsen has limited coaching experience, and Dawkins can certainly find somebody with a more solid resume, but the case can be made that snapping up Madsen now would be good for the Cardinal program in the future.
  5. Lastly, we missed this back at the start of March, but California will be among the eight teams playing in the 2013 Maui Invitational. The Golden Bears will join Syracuse, Baylor, Gonzaga, Arkansas, Dayton, Minnesota and, host Chaminade in Maui in November 2013. It’s too early to prognosticate the strength of any of those teams, but Syracuse, Baylor and Gonzaga have been consistently solid in recent years, while the Bears could feature Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon as seniors, with David Kravish as a junior.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.22.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 22nd, 2012

  1. While the NCAA Tournament may be a fading memory for Pac-12 teams, the conference is alive and thriving in the NIT, as Stanford became the second team to clinch a trip to Madison Square Garden by demolishing Nevada 84-56 on Wednesday night. They will face Massachusetts in the semifinals next Tuesday. The win was highlighted by four different players scoring in double figures and nine of the 15 players who saw action getting in the scoring column. The win was the Cardinal’s 17th home win this year, good for a school record, quite an accomplishment given the elite Stanford teams of the past.
  2. Washington State’s season continues as well, as they handled Oregon State pretty easily themselves in Corvallis last night. The surprising thing is that Washington  State was able to take care of the Beavers without the services of Brock Motum, who left the game after playing just two minutes (and scoring four points on three field goal attempts in those two minutes) due to an ankle injury. But Abe Lodwick and Reggie Moore picked up the slack for their fallen comrade, combining for 45 points, with Lodwick adding 12 rebounds and five threes. The Cougs now face Pittsburgh in the three-game CBI championship series.
  3. On the heels of yesterday’s announcement out of USC that Curtis Washington and Alexis Moore would be transferring out of the program, Trojan fans got news today that Evan Smith would be leaving the team as well due to an ongoing issue with his shoulder. He’ll say at the school and remain on scholarship, but he won’t count against the team’s scholarship limit. That now makes four players from this year’s roster that won’t be back next year. Still, for a team that just won six games this season, there is quite a bit of hope around the program. Kevin O’Neill released an open letter to Trojan fans on Wednesday thanking them for their support and offering his signs for hope in 2012-13. He also noted that the Trojans are all lined up to play a rough schedule, with teams like San Diego State, Long Beach State, New Mexico, Minnesota, Nebraska, Georgia, and Dayton on the schedule, along with a trip to the Maui Invitational.
  4. We got some other news about future schedules this week as well, as Arizona announced that they have completed a contract with Michigan to begin a two-year home-and-home series beginning in 2013-14. The Wildcats still have five open spots on their schedule and are looking to potentially fill one of those spots by buying a game with Oral Roberts. Of the four other remaining games, it is likely that one of them would be either an away or neutral-site game against a quality opponent.
  5. Lastly, we discussed after the California season ended just how much longer Mike Montgomery would continue to coach. While we don’t have an answer to that question yet, it appears that the 65-year old veteran of 15 NCAA Tournaments isn’t considering hanging up the whistle anytime soon, as he is in talks with athletic director Sandy Barbour to ink an extension to Montgomery’s contact. The coach still has two years remaining on his original contact, so all indications are that his time in Berkeley is still quite a ways from being done.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.20.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 20th, 2012

  1. Rick Majerus was once again a national story this weekend as his current team, the Saint Louis Billikens, gave Michigan State, the #1 seed in the West Region, all it could handle. But, as the former head coach of Utah, he took the Utes to their most recent Final Four (in 1998) and Block U thinks that it is time the university officially acknowledge the impact Majerus had on the Utah basketball program. In part due to an unhappy ending to the Majerus era (he resigned after a feud with athletic director Chris Hill), he has never been officially recognized by Utah with a plaque, naming the court in his honor, or seeing his name in a ring of honor. Given that he is one of the most important figures in the history of basketball in the state (guys like John Stockton, Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan are certainly somewhere ahead of him), it seems like a worthwhile idea to me.
  2. Yesterday in the Morning Five, I mentioned that only Oregon, Washington and Oregon State were still alive in postseason basketball from the Pac-12. I was, of course, completely wrong about that, as Stanford played last night in the NIT and Washington State hosted Wyoming in the CBI. Apologies to both schools for the oversight, but we’ll rectify that situation this morning. The Cougs handled the Cowboys with ease, scoring a 20-point win over a solid Wyoming defensive team as All-Pac-12 first team member Brock Motum scored 25 points and grabbed seven boards.
  3. Oregon State, who we did remember to mention yesterday, played their quarterfinal game in the CBI on Monday night and ran TCU out of the Gill Coliseum, by a 101-81 margin on a 70.8% eFG. The Beavers were led by Jared Cunningham who went for 27 points. Unfortunately for the Pac-12, the conference will be forced to cannibalize itself early in these tournaments, as the Beavers will advance to face Washington State while Washington and Oregon will meet in the NIT quarterfinals.
  4. Stanford advanced in its NIT game in a battle of the long ball. The Cardinal and its opponent, Illinois State, combined to hit 27 of their 47 three-point attempts on the way to a 92-88 overtime final. While three different Redbirds scored more than 20 points, it was Aaron Bright who led the way for Stanford with 29 points (on 11-of-13 shooting, including six threes) as the Cardinal came back from 11 down midway through the second half to advance to host a quarterfinal matchup against Nevada on Wednesday.
  5. A week ago, we got word that Arizona State forward Chanse Creekmur would be transferring out of the program to play football at a school closer to his home in Iowa. On Monday, we got news that Kyle Cain would also be transferring out of the program. Cain started 17 games last season and averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and was one of three players who were suspended abruptly for the Sun Devils trip to the southern California schools. The loss leaves ASU short-handed up front for next season but, perhaps more importantly, highlights what is seen as a major problem in the program: kids leaving the program early. Cain’s departure marks the eleventh scholarship player to leave Herb Sendek’s program in the last four seasons. That issue, coupled with a 22-40 record over the last two seasons, means that Sendek may need to have his team show some serious improvement in 2012-13.
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Pac-12 Who’s Going Where

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012

Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!

Oregon

Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN

First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.

Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.

Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.

Devoe Joseph's offensive prowess has the Ducks dreaming of a trip to Madison Square Garden. (credit:Jayne Kamin)

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