What We Learned Last Week In The Pac-12

Posted by PBaruh on January 16th, 2013

Here are some key takeaways from the week that was in Pac-12 basketball.

  • Washington has been the most surprising team thus far in conference play. Did anyone have Washington 3-0 to start Pac-12 play with all those wins coming on the road? No one gave the Huskies much of a chance to contend in the league this year after their dismal non-conference performance when they lost at home to Albany and Nevada, but they have had a massive turnaround. Lorenzo Romar’s team is winning simply because of its improved defense. Washington held California to 47 points and Stanford to 60 points over the weekend, both of which were season lows for each team. Offensively, C.J. Wilcox has been leading the way for the Huskies in conference play, averaging 21.3 points per game and tallying a career-high nine rebounds in Washington’s most recent win against Stanford. If Lorenzo Romar can continue to get his team to play this type of aggressive physical defense, and create match-up problems like he did against the Cardinal when he used Desmond Simmons to guard Dwight Powell and Aziz N’ Diaye to guard Josh Huestis, that sixth place prediction that the Pac-12 media had for the Huskies might not look so farfetched.
Travis Wear was key in UCLA's win over Colorado this week and continues to play well for the Bruins.

Travis Wear was key in UCLA’s win over Colorado this week and continues to play well for the Bruins.

  • The UCLA Bruins are finally playing like most expected them to this season. After a home loss to Cal Poly and the continuous struggles on defense in the non-conference season, it seemed like we were getting the UCLA Bruins of last year. However, after their victory against Colorado in Boulder, UCLA is sporting a nine-game winning streak and looks like a much different team than we saw in November. They had previously beaten Stanford and Cal in conference play, but hadn’t been tested by a team as talented as Colorado, especially in a difficult environment. The win has earned the Bruins some of the respect that they had lost as they came in ranked at #24 in the AP poll this week. Ben Howland is relying on his talented freshmen class for scoring, most notably Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams, but he has also needed the experience of former transfers Travis Wear and Larry Drew II as well. Wear was a major factor particularly in the Bruins’ win at the Coors Event Center over Colorado last weekend. The Buffaloes could not stop Wear, as he answered every time CU got near in the second half, finishing with 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting. UCLA has also been on its tear because of the complementary play of Kyle Anderson at his new power forward position, where he is averaging 10.5 rebounds per game in conference play. Ultimately it’s safe to say that UCLA is no longer a conflict-filled team unable to meet expectations. They are now a team that has fixed its early season defensive issues by going small, relying on freshmen for scoring and transfers for leadership. It’s not the typical recipe that Ben Howland has used in the past to win, but it’s working right now and things look better than they have for a long time in Westwood.
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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week Nine

Posted by AMurawa on January 14th, 2013

Here’s another rendition of the Pac-12′s peak performers…

Team of the Week – Washington

Remember back when the Huskies lost at home to Albany in the early days of the season? How about when Colorado State rolled into Hec Ed and pasted them by 18? Or when a bad Nevada team handed Lorenzo Romar’s team its third non-conference home loss of the season? Back then, if you had perused the Husky schedule and seen that this was the lone Pac-12 team that would kick off the conference slate with three straight road games, no one would have blamed you if you thought “a 1-2 start wouldn’t be so bad; a 2-1 start unbelievable!” Well, here they are after two weeks of conference play and they are one of three teams that has yet to lose a conference game. After dealing with a host of injury problems early in the year, Romar has finally got himself a full roster of healthy individuals, his veterans starters are starting to take ownership of this team, and redshirt freshman guard Andrew Andrews is giving his squad a nice spark off the bench. Heading back to Seattle this week to host the reeling Rocky Mountain schools, it is seems like the same as it ever was, with the Huskies in the midst of a bunch of schools at the top of the Pac-12 standings.

C.J. Wilcox And A Veteran Squad Have Washington Out To A 3-0 Conference Start (Pac-12)

C.J. Wilcox And A Veteran Squad Have Washington Out To A 3-0 Conference Start (Pac-12)

Player of the Week – C.J. Wilcox, Washington

A big part of the reason for the Huskies’ reemergence is the play of junior wing C.J. Wilcox. He has been rock solid all year long and right near the top of the conference scoring leaders, scoring in double figures in all but one game this season and regularly earning about 37 minutes a night. This weekend, in the Huskies’ road sweep of the Bay Area schools, Wilcox played all but nine of the 80 minutes and did it all, averaging 23 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks while posting an effective field goal percentage over 60%. Once known as “just a shooter,” Wilcox has added a good game off the bounce, capable of creating mid-range opportunities for himself or teammates while significantly improving his defensive ability. And given that he is going to get just about every available minute at that position, expect him to remain among the few for the race in the conference scoring lead.

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Pac-12 M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 21st, 2012

pac12_morning5

  1. The biggest news of the day doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Bruin Report Online is reporting that UCLA is currently leaning toward replacing head coach Ben Howland. Tracy Pierson notes that booster and donation support has diminished considerably, and the tip of the iceberg came when UCLA lost three of five games from late November to early December this season. Howland has already had a pair of players transfer out of the program in the first two months, and while that kind of stuff gets excused when you’re winning, losing games in front of small crowds to the likes of Cal Poly and nearly UC Irvine brings the issue to the forefront. This report comes at a time when the Bruins have won three in a row, and if they can extend that streak into Pac-12 play it would mean wins against Fresno State and Missouri. Gaining back respect from AD Dan Guerrero and Bruins boosters will start by winning that high-profile non-conference game.
  2. So far in this 2012-13 season, just about the only thing Washington fans should be happy about is the play of its backcourt. The one-two punch on the perimeter between fifth-year senior Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox is one of the Pac-12′s finest, with each player averaging at least 14 PPG. To show how important Suggs is to the Husky offense, the Dawgs dropped a game to Albany when the senior suffered a concussion just 90 seconds into the game. He also missed UW’s 18-point loss to Colorado State with a sore foot, and they nearly dropped games to Saint Louis and Cal State Fullerton without him. Needless to say, as Suggs goes, so does this Washington team.
  3. One of the more intriguing games/tournaments to be played directly around, and on, Christmas (okay, so these are the only college hoops games) features Arizona. The Wildcats are spending the holiday in paradise, and they’ll start play in the Diamond Head Classic tomorrow against East Tennessee State. The Bucs and Cats of course have a short but storied history, with 14-seed ETSU upsetting Arizona in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Tougher games will be in store for Sean Miller’s club as it progresses through the bracket, as possible meetings with Miami (FL) and San Diego State could be on tap.
  4. There’s nothing I love more than some good tournament talk, and the California Golden Blogs roundtable delivers in this discussion. As they note in the opening, California put up a big goose egg in its big three-game series, yet the Golden Bears were competitive for two-thirds of them. The general consensus between CGB writers is that Cal will receive either a 12-seed or flat out miss the tournament altogether, but it’s still too early to tell. At this point, I’d say they are firmly atop the NCAA bubble along with UCLA, and the two Bruins/Bears match-ups in January and February could go a long way deciding who gets the Pac-12′s final spot.
  5. Stanford missed out on one of the top recruits in the nation Thursday when Jabari Parker announced his intentions to play basketball at Duke. The Simeon High School (IL) forward also revealed that Stanford and BYU were the only schools in Parker’s top five to not make the final cut of three. What makes Parker so special is his versatility. He could have played anywhere on the floor for Johnny Dawkins, and his superb ball-handling and passing abilities would have helped the Cardinal as well.
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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week Three

Posted by AMurawa on December 3rd, 2012

While this past week may not have returned the types of results that should cause anybody to generate newfound confidence in the Pac-12’s ability to have multiple teams play a big part in the national picture, we’ve still found some jewels around the conference to recognize for their efforts over the past seven days.

Team of the Week – Arizona

It was admittedly not a sparkling week for the Pac-12. And as such, we wind up handing out our highest honor to an Arizona team whose biggest accomplishment was going into Lubbock and knocking off a Texas Tech team that is on the short list for this year’s “Worst Major Conference Team” award. Still, it goes down as a week in which the Wildcats played two games against two teams they were supposed to kill… and did. Wins over Northern Arizona and the Red Raiders this week were by an average of 35.5 points per game. And while Sean Miller’s club has yet to play anybody of any great significance, at least the ‘Cats deserve credit for their overall lack of drama thus far.

C.J. Wilcox, Washington

C.J. Wilcox Handled The Scoring Load For Washington This Week As The Huskies Got Back On Track With Consecutive Wins

Player of the Week – C.J. Wilcox, Washington

After a pair of losses to quality teams, the Huskies needed to bounce back in a big way, and Wilcox helped make sure that happened this week by averaging 24 points, 3.5 boards and a couple assists per game as UW knocked off a tough Saint Louis team midweek before inching past Cal State Fullerton last night. Against CSUF, it was Wilcox who provided the final two-point margin, knocking down a pair of free throws in the waning moments of the game to complete the Huskies’ successful comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit.

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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington Huskies

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington Huskies.

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

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

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

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Pac-12 M5: The Halloween Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 31st, 2012

  1. Happy Halloween, everyone. Arizona will treat its fans to an exhibition against Humboldt State tonight at the McKale Center. Exhibitions are usually for the die-hards, but probably more than a few casual fans will make their way over to the Tucson campus to catch a glimpse of the third-ranked recruiting class in action for the first time against somebody other than themselves. One question surrounding this class is whether it will be able to live up to the hype better than last year’s class. Remember how highly touted the trio of Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner and Angelo Chol were? All signs point to Grant Jerrett, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley  and Gabe York as able to deliver in a bigger way this season, but one can never be 100 percent certain until they perform in a game. This contest will also provide Wildcat supporters with a first look at point guard Mark Lyons in an Arizona uniform, as the mercurial senior averaged 15 points per game last year at Xavier. It’s also worth mentioning that the Wildcats lost their exhibition opener last year to Seattle Pacific, but I find it hard to believe that a similar result will be produced against Humboldt State on this night.
  2. The NCAA approved tougher sanctions against those programs and coaches who buck the NCAA law. A couple of the more striking provisions are that NCAA violators who are found to be in “serious breach of conduct” could potentially suffer similar punishments to the one handed out to the Penn State football team (a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine). Also, if an assistant coach commits a serious violation, the head coach must be able to prove that he or she was unaware of the assistant’s actions; if not, the head coach could be suspended for anywhere from 10 percent to the entire season. All changes will go into effect starting August 1, 2013. While the coaches who are quoted in the various articles seem to be largely in favor of these tougher sanctions, it obviously still remains to be seen how effective these changes will be. As has been the case throughout history, cheaters will find a way to continue their cheating ways. Hopefully these tougher penalties will accomplish the NCAA’s and everyone’s goal of a markedly cleaner collegiate athletics scene.
  3. Another day, another CBS Sports list. On Tuesday, it was the top 50 shooters in the country, a list that made space for three current Pac-12 players: Washington’s C.J. Wilcox (No. 11), California’s Allen Crabbe (No. 12) and Stanford’s Chasson Randle (No. 41). Additionally, former Husky and current Texas A&M Aggie Elston Turner made the cut at No. 19. No real gripes here, but perhaps Aaron Bright was also deserving of a nod, especially considering his play during the 2012 NIT, a five-game run that earned him NIT Most Outstanding Player honors. What’s noteworthy with this list is that 35 of the 50 players come from non-power conference schools, including representatives from Texas Pan-American and Texas Southern. For those not curious enough to check out the list, former Razorback-turned-Butler Bulldog Rotnei Clarke holds down the top spot.
  4. Earlier this week, ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan released his top 10 rebounders in the country, and Colorado’s André Roberson topped the list. We’re probably a little biased here at the Pac-12 microsite because we get to see Roberson play so often, but there’s no faulting Brennan for this selection. Roberson is an elite rebounder thanks to his hops, long arms and overall very high basketball IQ. There were spots during last year’s Pac-12 Tournament where Roberson looked like a future lottery pick, especially when he started to knock down a few threes. He certainly has that kind of upside, and big things are expected again of the only guy in the Pac-12 to average a double-double last season. There were no freshmen in Brennan’s top 10, but Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett of Arizona both made his “freshmen to watch” mentions.
  5. Lastly, the Pac-12 announced its talent lineup for the Pac-12 Networks’ men’s basketball coverage for the upcoming season. Headlined by Bill Walton, other analysts include Don MacLean, Ernie Kent, Lenny Wilkens and Detlef Schrempf. The play-by-play lineup doesn’t necessarily include as many big names, but all are very good broadcasters and will not disappoint viewers. The most famous of the play-by-play guys is probably Ted Robinson, a two-time Emmy winner who has done just about every sport imaginable. Overall, it’s a very intriguing lineup of broadcasters and it should keep Pac-12 Networks broadcasts for men’s basketball entertaining.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on October 26th, 2012

  1. The Washington Huskies had their first exhibition game two nights ago and knocked off Western Washington, 88-78, a much closer result than expected. Washington only committed 14 turnovers but couldn’t manage to pull away from the Vikings until the very end of the game. Abdul Gaddy struggled early, but redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews tallied 14 points to carry the team in the first half. Gaddy picked it back up in the second half and finished with 14 points as well. More importantly was the play of C.J. Wilcox, who led Washington with 21 points by shooting 7-14 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. It’s October and it’s an exhibition so fans should not put too much stock into the margin of victory, but it was still a little too close for comfort.
  2. CBS came out with its top 30 freshman in America and, somewhat surprisingly, Shabazz Muhammad was listed as third behind Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. After Muhammad comes his other currently questionably-eligible teammate, Kyle Anderson at #4. Brandon Ashley of Arizona is the next to make an appearance on the list at #15 and then Jahii Carson of Arizona State lands at #23 followed by Grant Jerrett at #24. Carson will have an impact at Arizona State, but that slot seems a bit high for him. Yes, he’s an athletic, great ball-handling guard, but other players like Josh Scott of Colorado or Kaleb Tarczewski of Arizona could have a bigger impact than him.
  3. CBS also ranked its  top 25 transfers, and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons, now at Arizona, was ranked as the number one transfer. It’s hard to argue with this call considering Lyons will be a key cog for this Wildcat squad. He’ll take on the point guard spot for Sean Miller and should have a much larger impact than Josiah Turner did last year. Only two others from the Pac-12 made the list with Larry Drew II of UCLA coming in at #20 and Evan Gordon of Arizona State at #24. Those both seem like justifiable choices, however, leaving J.T. Terrell from USC  off the list is questionable, especially considering the fact that these same people listed him among the top 100 players in the nation. Terrell should play a big role for USC this year and although  he might not be the most notable player, he should still be on this list.
  4. UCLA’s number one recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, injured his shoulder on Wednesday at practice, and the results of his MRI came back yesterday. Muhammad will be out of action from 2-4 weeks with a shoulder strain. The injury is to his non-shooting shoulder, but it’s still a bad injury to have for a player of Muhammad’s caliber and just another thing to go wrong for the Bruins. Exactly two weeks from today, UCLA starts its season against Indiana State and while no one expected Muhammad to be declared eligible in time for that game, this effectively seals the fact that the year will begin without Muhammad in uniform. If everything breaks just exactly perfect for UCLA and Muhammad, he could make his debut in Brooklyn at the Legends Classic, but really, at this point, that is little more than wishful thinking.
  5. Hey, hey. Andrew stepping in here to take over the last bit of the Morning Five from Parker today, just because I wanted to gloat a little bit. Connor and I have been going back and forth all year picking every football game involving a Pac-12 team, and, well, ever since Washington State laid down for BYU back on the opening weekend of the seas0n, Connor has been kicking my butt. Wait. Actually, check that. Let’s make that “had been” kicking my butt. After week one, I was two games back. Just a week later I was down four. But, I didn’t panic, nailed the Stanford over SC upset, then came back a week later to take Washington over those same Cardinal, and by last Saturday afternoon when David Shaw’s bunch was wrapping up a victory in The Big Game, I had come all the way back AND taken a one-game lead over my foe. So, yeah, I’m spiking the ball a little bit harder these week, but I’m saving my touchdown dance for the final whistle, because we’ve got a pair of games this weekend on which we differ. Picks below, including our game of the week in bold. But, really, how can I lose to a guy who was so wrong about last week’s game of the week that he missed the final score of Oregon’s win over Arizona State by a whole six points?
    Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
    Colorado at Oregon Oregon Oregon
    California at Utah California Utah
    Oregon State at Washington Oregon State 28-17 Washington 21-20
    UCLA at Arizona State UCLA UCLA
    USC at Arizona USC USC
    Washington State at Stanford Stanford Stanford
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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 Week: What To Expect

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

We’re most of the way through our weeklong look at the Huskies and have at least enough information to make some educated guesses about what the 2012-13 season has in store. With two players lost to the NBA Draft, a key player returning from injury and two promising newcomers, the Huskies have a lot of potential but even more question marks. Here is our attempt at answering some of them.

Washington’s Leading ScorerC.J. Wilcox. Earlier in the week we said that Wilcox averaged a quiet 14.2 PPG, mainly because he was the “forgotten” third guard behind first round picks Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross. This time around he’s behind no one, and will be first in a long list of talented shooting guards on the 2012-13 roster.

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

Washington’s MVPScott Suggs. Suggs is more of a spot-up shooter, so even though you could make the argument that he is the deadliest on the team, he won’t shoot the ball and score as much as Wilcox. However, late in the game, the Huskies will definitely look to get him the ball. This is his fifth season on Montlake, so Suggs’ senior leadership combined with his lights out shooting ability make him the most important player in 2012-13.

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Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

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Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

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