Feast Week Mission Briefing: Washington State in the Old Spice Classic

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 28th, 2013

With Feast Week tipping off over the weekend, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Pac-12 teams involved in neutral site events this week. 

What They’ve Done So Far: Washington State has looked awful in the first three weeks of the season. After sneaking by Cal State Bakersfield on opening night, the Cougars handled Lamar with ease nine days later. They then made the short trip over to Spokane to face Gonzaga, where they were easily dispatched by the Bulldogs, 90-74. That wasn’t the low point, however. That came three days later in front of a sleepy home crowd at Beasley Coliseum, where lowly TCU came in and pulled off a stunning 64-62 upset.

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

First Round Preview: Washington State meets Butler in Lake Buena Vista on Thursday morning. The Bulldogs have started the season at 4-0 and their best win came in overtime against Vanderbilt last week. They feature as balanced an attack on the offensive end of the floor as you’ll see in this field, with both forward Khyle Marshall and guard Kellen Dunham averaging 15.8 PPG a piece. Where the Cougars have been struggling is on offense, and junior Alex Barlow will prove to be a pesky pain in the side for their guards. He’s averaging 2.0 SPG and recorded three of them in Butler’s game at Ball State last Saturday.

Potential Later Round Match-up: If the bracket holds, it looks like the Cougs will face Purdue on Friday and Siena on Sunday. These aren’t exactly opponents that will provide a huge boost to the RPI, making a possible upset of Butler even more important. The Boilermakers have opened the season at 5-1, but that record doesn’t look as good when you consider the fact that the best win came against Eastern Illinois. Everything goes through sophomore guard Ronnie Johnson for head coach Matt Painter, who is scoring at a 13.8 PPG clip and averaging 4.4 APG. Siena has opened the year at 2-4 with wins over St. Bonaventure and Cornell. It faces Memphis in its opener at the Old Spice Classic.

Outlook: While two wins may be possible, in all honesty the Cougars should be expecting one. Until Ken Bone’s guys show some resemblance of an offense, it’s going to be best to keep the expectations low in Pullman.

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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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Morning Five: 07.26.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 26th, 2012

  1. The hits keep on coming for Mississippi State. A day after losing Jacoby Davis to a torn ACL, it was announced incoming freshman guard Craig Sword was arrested over the weekend by university police for having a BB gun in his on-campus dorm room. We are not sure what the conditions were that led university police to search Sword’s dorm room, but it is worth pointing out that because it was a BB gun and not a traditional gun it will not fall under the school’s firearm policy and instead will apparently be handled within the athletic department. Still after all the nonsense the program has been through in the past few years they could do without these kind of events occurring.
  2. In another sign that the college basketball season is not too far away, ESPN released its Big 12 Big Monday schedule yesterday. Outside of the usual interesting match-ups, most of which revolve around perennial champion Kansas, the marquee games for us involve West Virginia, which will be joining the conference with the most interesting game potentially being Bob Huggins‘ return to Kansas State, the school he left after just one season to take over at his current position. Of course the one thing that significantly lessens the magnitude of that game is the departure of former Huggins assistant Frank Martin from Manhattan. The Big East Big Monday schedule should be out relatively soon and should feature some interesting match-ups involving two schools–Syracuse and Pittsburgh–that are leaving the conference.
  3. While most of the college basketball world focused on Connecticut‘s attempt to become eligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament after being denied due to a low APR score, it turns out that another school–California State University-Bakersfield–managed to improve their APR score enough to become eligible for postseason play next season. Interestingly, the improvement does not appear to have come from the students in the classroom, but instead from the administrators at the school, who initially submitted the incorrect data to the NCAA leaving the school with an APR score below 900 before realizing their mistake and submitting the correct score (going from 879 to 910), which the NCAA eventually accepted. If you are wondering why this is a big deal (outside of the amusement of a program nearly being declared ineligible due to a mistake by their administration and not their players) it is because of the ridiculous growth of a postseason tournaments that allowed a 16-14 Roadrunner team to make the postseason where it lost in the first round of the College Invitational Tournament.
  4. Most teams take summer trips to develop chemistry and introduce the players to parts of the world that they might not otherwise see. The players at Georgia State will get a little more than that this summer as they will head to South Africa to take part in the Samaritan’s Feet campaign that their coach Ron Hunter has become the face of in the last few years. While there the players and coaching staff will help distribute shoes to children who would otherwise go barefoot. We are not sure what their itinerary is, but we hope that these type of trips are not limited by the NCAA rules on team overseas travel.
  5. We already knew that Ohio State would be the featured team in this year’s Carrier Classic with its men’s and women’s teams playing, but we didn’t know where until yesterday’s announcement that the Buckeyes would be taking on Marquette and Notre Dame respectively on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina. Even though this year’s edition will lack the marquee appeal of last year’s game featuring early season title favorite North Carolina and the always solid Michigan State as well as the presence of Barack Obama it should feature a potential national title contender in the Buckeyes.
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These Are Exciting Times for Oregon State Basketball

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 21st, 2011

Coach Craig Robinson told anyone who would listen in the preseason that the Beavers finally had the talent to compete in every game in which they play this season. Guess he was right. Oregon State is now 4-0 going into tonight’s game against #18 Vanderbilt in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as part of the Legends Classic. The Beavers opened up the season with a pair of expected, easy victories against Cal State Bakersfield and West Alabama. On Wednesday they faced their first real test against a tough Hofstra team, a game that the Beavers surely would have dropped in the past. But after getting down late in the first half, OSU climbed back for a ten-point win. However, the Pride are a middle-of-the-pack CAA team, not a Big 12 powerhouse like Texas. Due to their weak non-conference schedule, these two games in New Jersey are absolutely huge if they want to go dancing come March.

There were no highlight-reel dunks from Cunningham against Texas, but the junior guard got the job done from the charity stripe

OSU knew that coming in and responded superbly against a talented Texas team. The Longhorns, led by J’Covan Brown (25 points, nine assists), stretched the Beaver defense to the max with hot perimeter shooting early on, but Oregon State would not go away. It seemed as if Jared Cunningham had an answer when his team needed it most, including five huge free throws in the final 2:50 of regulation to force overtime. From there it seemed to be destiny for Oregon State. The center was draining threes, the Horns were missing wide open looks, and in the end Robinson’s team escaped with a five-point win and a spot in the Legends Classic Championship.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 16th, 2011

  1. Less than a week ago, there was excitement around the UCLA program for the upcoming season. Now, after an opening game loss to Loyola Marymount, the suspension of last year’s leading scorer Reeves Nelson, and last night’s 20-point loss to Middle Tennessee State, the program is officially in freefall. The Blue Raiders shot 71.4% from the field, and made 10 of their 11 three-point attempts for a whopping 78.6 true shooting percentage. (To put that into perspective, when Villanova shot lights out in the 1985 National Championship game to upset Patrick Ewing and Georgetown, the Wildcats shot posted a 82.7 TS%.) Meanwhile, UCLA only managed a 42.9 TS% of their own, and after a 4-20 night from deep, they are now 6-35 from three on the season. Sophomore center Joshua Smith was fairly effective for the Bruins inside, posting 15 points and nine rebounds (with 11 of those points coming in the first half), but the twin faults of being unable to consistently hit perimeter shots and the inability of UCLA defenders to guard, well, anybody or anything, leaves UCLA at 0-2 for the first time since Steve Lavin’s final year. UCLA begins the Maui Invitational on Monday, and Nelson’s status for that trip remains up in the air.
  2. Things weren’t a whole lot better in Tempe on Tuesday night, as Arizona State dropped a home game to Pepperdine, a team that finished 12-21 last season and was picked to finish last in the West Coast Conference this season. Outside of junior wing Trent Lockett, who had 23 points and nine rebounds, ASU went 10-42 from the field for a 29.8 true shooting percentage. With still no update on the eligibility status of freshman point guard Jahii Carson, it looks like the Sun Devils will have to move forward with their currently eligible players, meaning that this is more or less the same team that struggled to a 12-19 record last season. And after all the offseason talk about significantly upping the tempo, the Sun Devils are still only using about 64 possessions per game, good for putting it right smack dab in the bottom 20% of Division I teams.
  3. With all the talk about the turmoil in UCLA, the fact that Arizona’s freshman point guard Josiah Turner was never asked up off of the bench in the Wildcats’ win over Ball State on Sunday has been swept under the rug somewhat. Turner has been ineffective so far in Tucson (seven points, four assist and three rebounds combined in UA’s first three games), but while head coach Sean Miller hinted that the DNP may at least be partially behavior-related, Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star points out that most of the great lineage of floor generals at Point Guard U took some time to get going out of the gate. In other words, it is far too soon to write off last year’s #15 recruit (according to ESPNU).
  4. Up in Corvallis, Oregon State has opened the season with a couple of wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Division II West Alabama by an average of 28.5 points. While neither opponent is much to write home about, the performance of junior center Joe Burton has Beaver fans excited. Burton has averaged 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, five assists, and three steals in those two games, while knocking down a three in each game. Of course, much bigger challenges lie ahead for OSU, but head coach Craig Robinson believes that the hard work that Burton has put in off the court will continue to pay off the rest of the season.
  5. Finally, a look ahead. We mentioned UCLA’s trip to Maui above, but in the next couple of days we see a couple other Pac-12 teams hit the road to compete in early season tournaments. Arizona will be at Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday nights for the final two rounds of the Coaches vs. Cancer (okay, I’ll go ahead and call this thing by its actual name, the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer – name just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?), with a semifinal matchup against St. John’s followed by either Texas A&M or Mississippi State the following night. An Arizona/Texas A&M matchup in the championship seems mighty appealing. Also, Colorado is in the Caribbean as we speak, preparing for their Puerto Rico Tip-Off opening round game against Wichita State on Thursday, with either Maryland or Alabama lying in wait in their next game. The Buffs only have a warm-up against Fort Lewis under their belt, so we’ll get to see by the end of the week whether they have what it takes to compete in the Pac-12 this season.
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