Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 15

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 23rd, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the 15th week of Pac-12 games:

1. California, 22-6 (12-3): The Golden Bears appear to have but locked up an NCAA at-large bid with their sweep of the Oregon schools last week. Despite trailing 71-64 to Oregon on Thursday with just 6:20 remaining, the Bears battled back to take a 76-75 lead with 1:41 left. From there it was anyone’s game, with the final outcome not being decided until E.J. Singler’s three at the buzzer missed, giving Cal the 83-80 victory. Two days later it was Oregon State looking to pull the upset, and for 20 minutes it looked like a possibility. But after trailing by two at halftime, Cal came out with a 27-13 run to start the second half, en route to a 77-63 win. Up Next: 2/23 @ Utah

2. Washington, 19-8 (12-3): The Huskies got the quality win they needed to lock up an NCAA bid on Saturday against Arizona. After defeating the Cats by two down in the desert earlier this year, Arizona came into Seattle hungry for the upset. Arizona held around all night and was within three with 11:51 remaining, but a 17-9 run over the next six minutes and change put away thoughts of an upset. The final was 79-70, making the Huskies 2-0 on the week. Up Next: 2/25 @ Washington State

3. Oregon, 19-8 (10-5): We have already talked about Oregon’s heartbreaking loss against Cal, but the Ducks bounced back in fine fashion three days later against Stanford. After trailing for most of the game, Singler hit a three with 2:47 remaining to put the Ducks up, 66-64. Both teams had plenty of chances down the stretch to either expand the lead or tie the game, but the score remained the same until Devoe Joseph knocked down a pair of free throws with four seconds left. Before the free throws, Chasson Randle had two chances to tie the game, but his jumper and layup missed badly. Up Next: 2/26 @ Oregon State

Are you not entertained!? (Credit: Paul Sakuma)

4. Arizona, 19-9 (10-5): The Wildcats decided to make things much more interesting regarding the NCAA Tournament with a lackluster trip to the state of Washington. Arizona had a chance to really make a good impression on the selection committee with a big win against Washington State and an upset of Washington, but a four-point win against the Cougars and a nine-point loss to the Huskies could have the opposite effect. A 3-0 finish to the regular season is now necessary for the Cats to stay on the right side of the bubble. Up Next: 2/23 vs. USC Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 2.17.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 17th, 2012

  1. And then there were four. It may not be official, but Oregon’s late-game collapse against California more or less eliminates the Ducks from contention for the regular season title, leaves them currently running fifth in a race for the four opening round byes in the Pac-12 Tournament, and puts a serious dent in their already tenuous claim on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. With five and a half minutes remaining, the Ducks led on the road against conference-leading Cal, by a score of 73-65. Over the remaining 13 Duck offensive possessions, they turned the ball over six times (part of their 22 turnovers on the night), hit three jumpers (two of which were increasingly improbable deep Devoe Joseph threes) and made a couple technical free throws. Meanwhile, Cal scored on 11 of their final 13 possessions and pulled out a three-point win in front of the home faithful. Joseph wound up with a career-high 33 points, but in the end was outdueled by his former Minnesota teammate Justin Cobbs, who had a career-high of his own, with 28 points, while also adding eight assists and four steals. The win keeps Cal in a first place tie.
  2. Washington remains tied with Cal atop the conference standing after running out to a big lead in the first half against Arizona State then coasting home to victory in the second half. Terrence Ross got things started early with five points on the Huskies’ first two trips down the floor on his way to a game-high 18 points and his team raced out to an 18-point halftime lead. The lead got as high as 24 points on a handful of occasions before Lorenzo Romar called off his dogs and allowed Arizona State to post a respectable final margin of just eight points. Washington expects a bigger challenge on Saturday afternoon when they host Arizona in a game that will have a big impact on the conference standings.
  3. The Wildcats, meanwhile, had a much tougher go of things on Thursday night, going into Pullman and getting a tough fight from Washington State. With just a minute remaining, the Cougs found themselves deadlocked with Arizona, until a Jesse Perry three-point play gave the ‘Cats the lead. Then Perry fouled Brock Motum at the three-point line with just 21 seconds left, sending Motum to the line to shoot three free throws. However Motum, who led Washington State with a dominating 28-point performance, was only able to convert one of the three, sending Ken Bone’s team into foul-mode. The Wildcats made their freebies down the stretch and escaped with their fifth road win of the conference season.
  4. The other game of the night was a rematch of a classic quadruple-overtime game earlier in the year between Stanford and Oregon State. This one wasn’t quite as enthralling, but it was still an up-tempo, exciting ball game, even though the Cardinal needed 20 less minutes to knock off the Beavers. The Stanford backcourt led the way, with Chasson Randle going for 24 points (including six-of-seven three-point shooting) and Aaron Bright adding 20 (four-of-nine from deep) outdueling Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham, who had 22 points and added four threes of his own.
  5. In the wake of UCLA’s easy win over cross-town rival USC Wednesday night, everything is hunky-dory for Bruin fans. Or not. There are complaints about who Ben Howland chose to use and for how many minutes. He should have given some of the other guys more time, and yet at the same time, there are complaints that he didn’t pour it on even more at the end. There is hand-wringing over who might be the next Bruin to transfer out of the program. And, unbelievably, there are complaints that he has signed and is still pursuing five-star recruits, as if that is somehow a strike against him. Howland definitely deserves plenty of blame for likely missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, but some of this stuff is plain old ridiculous.
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Checking In On… The Pac-12

Posted by AMurawa on February 16th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences.

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We have heard it all before. The Pac-12 is down. The Pac-12 is terrible. The Pac-12 is a one-bid league. The Pac-12 sucks. There’s some relative truth in some of those and in others, not so much, but one thing is for sure as we sit here with three weeks remaining the regular season and five teams within a game of the regular season title. The Pac-12 is tight. Going into this week, California and Washington are tied for first (with the Golden Bears holding the tiebreaker between the two teams on the strength of their win in Seattle a couple of weeks back), while Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona are all lurking just one game back. We have got a race.

California, Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez

Cal, Currently In First Place, May Have The Best Chance At An At-Large Bid To The NCAA Tournament (George Nikitin/AP)

Aside from a couple of games between top five teams last Thursday night, when Oregon throttled Washington and Arizona took care of Colorado, every other team in the top grouping took care of business against lesser opponents. In fact, looking at the standings right now, the top six teams in the conference are all riding winning streaks while the bottom six are all headed in the wrong direction. At least it now appears that the top of the conference is gaining some separation from the bottom. California, Washington, and Oregon all saw their RPIs improve this week, while Colorado and Arizona saw their number drop a bit, but at least now all five of those teams are at least in the at-large conversation. Our own Zach Hayes has California and Arizona in the tournament in his latest bracket, while Colorado, Washington and Oregon are all among the first eight out. Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket has the Bears and the ‘Cats in as well, with the Huskies and Ducks among the first eight out. Andy Glockner, however, is a bit more pessimistic about the conference’s chances, putting just California in the field with Arizona among the first four out and teams like Seton Hall, North Carolina State, Northwestern, and Xavier all currently higher in the pecking order than the Pac-12 schools.

What to Watch For

With all of the above in mind, every game is going to be critical from here on out for those five teams at the top of the standings. They all need to not only beat up on teams 6-12, but it is time for a couple or three of them to differentiate themselves from the others. We thought last week that Washington might be on the verge of doing that, and then they went out and got blown out by Oregon. Meanwhile, California, and Arizona are the hot teams this week with the Golden Bears on a three-game streak and the Wildcats on a four-game run. Both will find significant tests awaiting them this week, but Cal has the benefit of facing their tests in the comfort of Haas Pavilion, against Oregon Thursday night and then Oregon State on Saturday night. Arizona has to go on the road, and they head to Washington State tomorrow night before a Saturday afternoon marquee matchup with Washington.

Washington, meanwhile, will also have to take care of business against tenth-place Arizona State on Thursday while Oregon travels to Stanford on Sunday afternoon. The Palo Alto trip could be a problem for the Ducks, especially coming off of the big game Thursday night. The other game involving one of the top five schools comes Saturday afternoon, when Colorado travels to Utah. The Buffaloes have won just two conference games on the road thus far, and those came against the teams currently holding down two of the bottom three spots in the standings; if they can handle the Utes, it will become three wins against the three bottom teams in the standings.

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Checking In On… The Pac-12 Conference

Posted by AMurawa on February 9th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences.

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Last week in this space, we mentioned that California, of all the teams in the conference, was the one team with a pretty good argument for consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Sure, they had no significant wins on their schedule, but they were ranked 30th in the RPI, a strong enough number that could have earned them a bid. However, the Golden Bears were upset at home by Arizona on Thursday night, and when the RPI numbers came out on Monday, Cal had dropped to 48th (notably, the Wildcats jumped up from 85th to 62nd). This little factoid shows two things: first, and perhaps most important, the RPI rankings are fluid at this point in the season; a good win or a bad loss (and for that matter, good wins and bad losses from previous opponents on your schedule) can have a significant effect on your ranking, especially for teams on the ubiquitous bubble. Secondly, it shows just how slim the margin of error for Pac-12 teams is. With no significant wins to fall back on, any team in the conference that hopes to earn legitimate at-large consideration needs to string together some wins here down the stretch and slowly but surely bump those RPI numbers up.

If you’re looking at it from a conference-wide perspective, the best thing that can happen for the league is for a handful of teams to distance themselves from the middle of the Pac. If, for instance, Washington (current conference leader, RPI of 76), Arizona and California were to get on a roll going down the stretch and consistently off teams like say, Colorado, Oregon, and Stanford, it is still possible that the conference could have three different teams with fairly strong RPIs to help make their case for inclusion in the Big Dance. Of course, those strong RPIs will likely be just about the only significant chip in their corner when those arguments get made. One last note, before we put away all mentions of the RPI for a week, just as an example of how silly it is, Washington swept the Los Angeles schools this week, and their RPI actually dropped, from 72 to 76.

 

California

Cal's Loss To Arizona And Subsequent Drop In The RPI Is Nothing For Golden Bear Fans To Cheer About

What to Watch For

The two biggest clashes of the weekend come on Thursday night, as Colorado travels to Arizona and Washington goes to Oregon. Arizona caught fire on the road last week and now they get a chance to extend their two-game winning streak against the Rocky Mountain schools, with the Buffaloes getting the first crack. Colorado rides a two-game winning streak as well, but they have struggled on the road this year winning just one of their first four conference road games with the lone win coming against a depleted USC team. An hour later on Thursday night, we get one of the better rivalry games in the conference, as Washington heads to Oregon for a battle that will help determine who is atop the standings on Friday morning. The Huskies are riding a five-game winning streak and are currently a game up on the Ducks, but despite U-Dub’s 3-1 road record in conference play, it is easy to still be a little bit skeptical of their ability to go on the road and win games. If they can do that this week in what is likely their toughest remaining test on the schedule, you have to be much more inclined to be Husky believers.

Elsewhere around the conference, both California and Stanford will make the road trip to the Los Angeles schools, where each should be significant favorites against USC but slight underdogs to UCLA; Stanford faces the Bruins on Thursday, while Cal makes the trip to the Sports Arena Saturday afternoon.

Player of the Year Watch

Last week, we essentially narrowed the field here down to four players: Terrence Ross, Jorge Gutierrez, Jared Cunningham, and (reluctantly) Tony Wroten. The biggest concern we had about Cunningham’s candidacy was the fact that, despite his conference-leading 18.0 point per game average and other excellent numbers (of both the traditional and tempo-free variety), his team was still below the .500 mark in conference. That prompted Doug Tammaro, the Media Relations Director at Arizona State to send us the following list of Pac-12 Player of the Year award winners compared with his team’s Pac-10 finish and postseason invitation. In short, of the 19 winners in the last 18 years (in 1994-95, there were co-winners), only twice has the POTY winner come from a team that has not earned an NCAA invitation. And, interestingly enough, both of those times the player was a Sun Devil: Ike Diogu in 2004-05 and Eddie House in 1999-2000. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Game Of The Week: Washington at Oregon

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 9th, 2012

Looking at the rest of the Pac-12 slate, it’s tough to find a bigger game than the one coming up tonight in Eugene. That’s where first place Washington meets fourth place Oregon in a game with huge conference crown implications. For the visiting Huskies, a loss won’t make or break their chances at a conference crown, but they need every good win they can get if they want to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. On the other side is Oregon, who are losers of its last two games against upper-half conference teams. Not only does that create seperation between the Ducks and the top of the Pac, but it also gives those teams tiebreakers over the Ducks for Pac-12 Tournament seeding. Obviously, a win tonight would be huge for the Ducks. While the ship for an at-large bid has sailed, the Ducks need to do everything they can down the stretch to finish in the top four of the Pac-12. That would mean a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tourney, giving Oregon a solid shot at taking the Pac-12’s automatic bid. There’s no better time to start that journey than tonight.

Oregon guard Devoe Joseph leads the Ducks with 15.8 PPG. (credit: Eric Evans)

If Oregon is to have a chance in this one, it will need to shoot the ball better than it did in the first meeting between these two teams. In that New Year’s Eve ESPN2 affair, the Ducks shot just 21.7% from behind the arc. Guard Devoe Joseph was targeted and shut down by the Husky defense, going 0-5 from three and scoring just four points overall. In order to contend with the plethora of Husky sharpshooters (C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy, and Terrence Ross, to name a few), Joseph needs to have a huge night shooting the ball; Not to mention Johnathan Loyd and Garrett Sim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Oregon at Colorado

Posted by AMurawa on February 4th, 2012

Oregon at Colorado, February 4, 7 PM PST, ROOT-NW/ROOT-RM

After both the Ducks and the Buffaloes took care of business on Thursday night, they sit tied with California a game back of Washington in the Pac-12. And provided the Ducks can get to Boulder from Salt Lake City (their original flight on Friday morning was cancelled due to weather), we should be in for a good fight for Saturday evening. While Colorado has yet to lose a Pac-12 game in their Coors Event Center (aka, the Foam Dome), the Ducks have been the best road team in the conference thus far, winning four of their five tests away from Eugene. However, the combination of the travel problems that Oregon is experiencing and the 5300-foot elevation in Boulder combine to give Dana Altman and his crew a unique challenge. CU head coach Tad Boyle hasn’t shied away from giving some credit to the elevation for his team’s success at home, but whether it is physical or psychological, there is no doubt that a significant advantage exists for at home. The Buffaloes have won their six conference games at home by an average of 28 points, compared with a 1-3 record away from home and the three losses coming by an average of almost 15 points. At home, the Buffs have scored 1.12 points per possession and held conference opponents to a stingy 0.85 points per possession; those numbers get flipped on the road to just 0.93 points per offensive possession while allowing a more reasonable 1.01 points per defensive possession.

Coors Event Center, Colorado

The Combination Of Some Rough Travel And The Coors Event Center Could Spell Road Trouble For Oregon

Altman’s crew, however, has been excellent on the road so far this season, handing losses to both Arizona schools, as well as Washington State and Utah. Altman credits his team’s maturity for their play away from home (the team is the 15th most experienced team in Division I, according to Ken Pomeroy) and Boyle sees their mental toughness as their biggest road asset as well. Another significant strength for the Ducks is their ability to not only get to the free throw line on a regular basis offensively, but also to prevent their opponents from getting to the line. The Ducks are in the top 50 nationally in FTA-to-FGA ratio, setting up an interesting conflict, as the Buffaloes rank 20th nationally in their offensive FTA-to-FGA ratio; in short, the Buffs want to attack the opposition and get to the line on a regular basis, while the Ducks want to play solid defense without fouling. Whichever team is most successful in getting to the line may earn an advantage in an otherwise remarkably even matchup.

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Checking In On… the Pac-12 Conference

Posted by AMurawa on February 2nd, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. He is also a Pac-12 microsite staffer.

Reader’s Take

 

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  • We’re at the halfway mark of the season this week, and we could be on the verge of finally seeing some separation in the league. Through nine games, California and Washington sit atop the conference standings, a game ahead of Oregon and Colorado, who are sitting a game ahead of Arizona, Stanford and UCLA.
  • However, while their first-place conference standing is a good thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Cal and Washington are in particularly good shape when it comes to NCAA Tournament consideration. Cal is in pretty good shape with an overall record of 17-5 and an RPI of 30, but they still have against their case that pesky little strike that they haven’t beaten anybody of note (they’re 0-3 against teams that are in the top 50 in the RPI).
  • For Washington, the numbers are even worse; their RPI is #71 and they’re 0-4 against top 50 RPI teams. In fact, going down the list, the whole conference is just 3-37 against top 50 RPI teams, with two of those wins coming when Oregon State and Washington State knocked off Cal.
Jorge Gutierrez, California

Jorge Gutierrez and California Have The Best NCAA Tournament Resume In The Pac-12 (Derek Remsburg/The Daily Californian)

  • So, really, in order for the Pac-12 to deserve multiple at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament, they need Cal and Washington to separate themselves from the rest of the Pac. Cal simply isn’t going to be able to wind up with a win against a top-50 RPI team, because they have to play a bunch of Pac-12 teams that aren’t in the top 50. And because of the new unbalanced schedule in the conference, Washington doesn’t get a crack at the Bears in Berkeley, meaning their only chance at earning a win against a top-50 team would come only if they faced Cal in the conference tournament, or if somehow Oregon (currently ranked #69) would string together enough wins to bump up inside the top 50.
  • In short, the picture is pretty grim for the Pac-12. It seems that the Pac-12 is going to have to rely on their historical reputation, a factor that is not supposed to be considered by the NCAA Selection Committee but one that most assuredly is, rather than their bona fides if they hope to send multiple teams dancing. Maybe the best case scenario for fans of the conference is Cal and Washington to string together multiple victories, separate themselves from the crowd, and advance to at least the semis in the conference tournament, and then see another squad take down the title in a mild upset. That’s the only scenario I can see whereby the conference gets more than two teams in the NCAA Tournament, and it may be more likely that only one Pac-12 team gets an invite on Selection Sunday.

What to Watch For

  • With the above in mind, Cal and Washington need to kick start the second half of conference play by taking care of business at home.
  • The Golden Bears see the Arizona schools come to Berkeley Thursday night, with an angry Wildcat team, fresh off a home loss to the Huskies, leading the change.
  • For Washington, it is the Los Angeles schools coming to town, with the matchup with UCLA on Thursday night presenting the biggest challenge. The Stanford matchup with Arizona will also be interesting, while Colorado gets to host the Oregon schools this week, setting up two interesting games that should help clear up some of the confusion in the middle of the conference.
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 12

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 1st, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the 12th week of Pac-12 games:

1. California, 17-5 (7-2): The Golden Bears hold steady at number one after dispatching rival Stanford on Sunday night, 69-59. Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe led Cal with 18 points. The Bears are currently tied for first in the real conference standings with Washington, a team they beat two weeks ago. Up Next: 2/2 vs. Arizona

2. Stanford, 15-6 (5-4): Despite the aforementioned loss for the Cardinal, Stanford slides into Oregon‘s spot for a couple of reasons. One, California is slightly better than Oregon State, and two, the Cardinal’s loss came on the road while Oregon’s was at home. At this point, I don’t see either the Cardinal or Ducks pulling an at-large bid into the NCAA’s. Up Next: 2/2 vs. Arizona State

Senior forward/center Josh Owens leads Stanford with 12.9 PPG. (Credit: Paul Sakuma)

3. Oregon, 15-6 (6-3): The Ducks fall to number three after an embarrasing loss to rival Oregon State on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena. The Beavers would trail by as many as ten before mounting a huge comeback midway thru the second half. The run put Oregon State up by as many as 12, and despite great efforts from Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim, the Ducks would never completely close the gap. The final result was a five-point victory for the Beavers, knocking the Ducks to one game back in the Pac-12 standings and moving the Beavs into solid contention for an NIT bid. Up Next: 2/2 @ Utah

4. Washington, 14-7 (7-2): The Huskies moved into a tie for first in the real conference standings this week, which is good enough for a two-spot jump in this week’s power rankings. After a lackluster 60-54 win in Tempe on Thursday, the Huskies went into the McKale Center looking for first place and a signature win to add to their tournament résumé. They got it. The Dawgs were able to build a double-digit lead after playing a tight 26 minutes of basketball, but the Cats would come storming back, in similar fashion as they did against Oregon. In the end it was C.J. Wilcox who saved the day for Washington as the sophomore put home a pair of free throws with five seconds left to build the lead and final result back up to two. Up Next: 2/2 vs. UCLA

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Checking In On… the Pac-12 Conference

Posted by AMurawa on January 26th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. He is also a Pac-12 microsite staffer.

Reader’s Take

 

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Parity abounds in the Pac-12. After four weeks of conference play, no less than five teams sit within a game of first place. Last weekend California had a chance to snatch the outright lead in the conference for themselves on Saturday night after pulling off a big road win against Washington on Thursday, but they were shot down in Pullman by Pac-12 Player of the Week Faisal Aden and his Washington State team. Oregon, meanwhile, put together a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools, has now won four straight and is tied atop the conference with the Golden Bears at 6-2. Sitting just back of the leaders are Colorado (off a 2-0 weekend against the Arizona schools) and Washington (split against the Bay Area schools), while Stanford drops back to fifth in the conference after getting swept in Washington.

Faisal Aden, Washington State

Faisal Aden's Big Week Helped Washington State Sweep The Bay Area Schools (AP)

Outside of the top five, you could make arguments for any of the next four teams getting hot and making a run. Arizona sits at 4-3, but is one of just three conference teams with at least two road wins in the first four weeks. Washington State is 3-4, but they’re on a two-game streak and Aden’s outburst has Cougar fans hoping for a turnaround. UCLA also sits at 3-4, but their road trips to Oregon and the Bay Area are in the past. And Oregon State got off to a terrible start in conference play, but they’ve now won two straight, and if they can make a splash in their next three games (all road games against Oregon, Colorado and Utah), they’ve got five of their last seven at home.

The rest of the conference is looking ahead to spring break and next season. USC, in particular, sits at 0-7 in the conference, 5-15 on the year and all but left for dead, while Arizona State and Utah, despite similar overall records and a similar lack of talent, are at least overachieving.

What to Watch For

The biggest games of the weekend come on Sunday this week, with a couple of late afternoon rivalry games. Oregon State heads to Oregon hoping to break the Ducks’ two-game winning streak in the series and get their mojo back. After that, we’ve got the game we’ve all been waiting for, the basketball version of The Big Game, as California hosts Stanford in an attempt to hang on to their hold on first place in the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… the Pac-12 Conference

Posted by AMurawa on January 19th, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. He is also a Pac-12 microsite staffer.

Reader’s Take

 

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  • The third weekend in conference play went a long way towards settling the conference into some tentative tiers. With the Bay Area schools’ sweeps of Colorado and Utah, Stanford and California sit atop the conference with 5-1 records and have established themselves, for now, as the teams to beat in the conference. A half-step back sits Washington, winner of four of five conference games, but unproven on the road so far, and Oregon, the sole team in conference play with more than one road win – the Ducks have three. The next tier down is made up of Arizona, Colorado and UCLA, all teams with two losses who have been inconsistent, but have enough talent to leave a mark on the Pac-12 race. We’ll wedge in one more tier before the bottom, with Arizona State, Washington State and Oregon State all seriously flawed teams who for one reason or another are clearly better than the tier of Utah and USC at the bottom of the Pac.
  • Yesterday we got news of a couple more problem children coming to the end of their ropes with their current teams, as Cal’s Richard Solomon and Utah’s Josh Watkins, both of whom had already been suspended for a game once this season, ran into trouble. Solomon was declared academically ineligible and is done for the year, though he could return next season for his junior year provided he cleans up his grades. Watkins, however, is done. The senior was booted off the Ute team by head coach Larry Krystkowiak for his second behavior-related offense of the season. It’s been that kind of year in the Pac-12, with these two just the latest in a line that includes Reeves Nelson, Jabari Brown, Keala King, Sidiki Johnson and Bruce Barron (and I’m sure I’ve blocked another player or two from my memory), players whose seasons ended early because of their own decisions.

The Loss Of Richard Solomon Is A Potential Major Blow To Cal's Conference Title Chances (pac-12.org)

What to Watch For

  • Until further notice, we can just assume that whatever games involve the Bay Area schools any week will be the games to keep an eye on, with the two matchups between the rivals potentially being the games of the year. This week, it is the Washington schools hosting California and Stanford, and the Huskies, in particular, should provide a stiff test for both schools. Washington will be without the services of second-leading scorer C.J. Wilcox for both games this week, due to a stress fracture in his hip, his loss will rob Lorenzo Romar’s bunch not only of a pure shooter on offense, but also one of the Huskies’ best perimeter defenders, a situation that could spell trouble against talented three-point shooters such as Cal’s Allen Crabbe and Stanford’s Anthony Brown, to name two. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.18.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 18th, 2012

  1. Arizona turned the ball over 28 times last weekend in its split with the Oregon schools, and clearly head coach Sean Miller was none too pleased with that effort. During a Tuesday news conference at the McKale Center, Miller repeatedly made reference to his team’s turnover problems, noting that even his 10-year-old son understands the concept of the double-dribble and that his team needs to catch the ball with two hands. He added that they should remember that they will be wearing blue jerseys this upcoming weekend when they travel to the Rockies, so they should try to throw the ball to blue jerseys. Things should improve drastically this weekend for the Wildcats, as Utah and Colorado are both among the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers.
  2. Oregon was one of the teams forcing those Wildcat turnovers last weekend, and senior forward Olu Ashaolu was responsible for a couple of them. Ashaolu transferred from Louisiana Tech this season after finishing his bachelor’s degree there last year, and he’s an important cog in a Duck team that was drastically undersized last season. Ashaolu eventually decided on Oregon in part because of his friendship with fellow Torontonian and Oregon transfer, Devoe Joseph, who Ashaolu played AAU ball with in high school. And Joseph sees the 6’7” forward as vital to their team’s success, because Ashaolu is capable of being a tough rebounder, a scorer inside and a strong interior defender.
  3. Washington State returns to Beasley Coliseum on Thursday night for the first time since December 18, after spending their opening weekend of conference play hosting the Oregon schools in nearby Spokane. The Cougars played away from Pullman in an effort to draw bigger crowds when the students were away, and they did draw nearly 18,000 fans for those two games, but Ken Bone and company are glad to be back home this week. Now, if they can just get to work on the glass, they’ll be in business.
  4. Some housekeeping from around the conference, beginning with another note from that Bone news conference: Mychal Ladd is doubtful for this weekend with a thumb injury that kept him out of the Washington game last weekend. Ladd has missed six games this season due to that injury, which has flared up again. Washington’s C.J. Wilcox is doubtful for his team’s games against the Bay Area schools this weekend, a big loss for Lorenzo Romar in games with first place on line. And down at UCLA, junior De’End Parker, a junior college transfer who has played in just two games this year with the Bruins in part due to a knee injury, will be looking to transfer back closer to his home in the Bay Area to be near his ailing mother.
  5. Lastly, the last three seasons have been underwhelming for that UCLA program, what with a 14-18 performance in 2009-10 improved upon with last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance before struggling out of the gates this year. But head coach Ben Howland has a cadre of supporters in his former players who are now playing in the NBA. Eleven Bruins began this season on NBA rosters, and players and scouts alike credit Howland’s work in getting his guys ready for the next level. And, while players like Kevin Love may not have always loved playing under Howland, they understand that he helped them improve their games.
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Pac-12 Honors: Week Ten

Posted by AMurawa on January 17th, 2012

We’re ten weeks in, but we’ve still got plenty of surprises, as this week’s winners in all three categories take down their first recognition of the year in this space.

Team of the Week

Dana Altman Has His Team Trending Up in the Pac-12

Oregon – The Ducks went into Arizona this weekend and became the first Pac-12 team to sweep a road trip this season, and in so doing, vaulted themselves right near the top of the conversation in the conference with Stanford and California. It was just the second time in the 33-year history of the Ducks’ visiting the two Arizona schools that they came away from the weekend with two wins, and they did so as the result of true team basketball. No player scored more than 15 points in a game for the Ducks, but four players scored in double figures in each game. The team handed out 32 assists on their 49 field goals over the weekend and were defensively solid, holding their opponents to a combined 0.97 points per possession. While it has been a rocky season in Eugene for Dana Altman and company, they appear to be solidifying into a solid unit right now, and looking back on their record, there are no bad losses here. It’s not inconceivable that if the Ducks can get to 12 wins in the conference (that would put them at 21-9 prior to the conference tourney), they could be in the discussion for an at-large bid.

Player of the Week

Josh Huestis, Soph, Stanford – Terrence Ross went for 30 often spectacular points on Sunday night. Harper Kamp and Justin Cobbs carried California to a couple of wins this week. And Devoe Joseph helped our Team of the Week earn a historic road sweep. But we like to pull for the underdogs here, so we’re recognizing  Huestis, who set a career-high of 13 points on Thursday night against Utah, making all six of his field goal attempts and scoring all of his points in the second half. He added 10 rebounds for good measure as the Cardinal withstood an upset-minded Ute squad. Out to prove that performance wasn’t a fluke, he followed it up with another 13-point performance in the win over Colorado on Saturday, this time adding four blocks. The full line for the week? Twenty-six points, on 11-of-15 shooting, three three-pointers (on four attempts), 14 rebounds, five blocks and a couple of assists – not bad for 43 minutes of work.

Newcomer of the Week

Devoe Joseph, Sr, Oregon – Somehow, we haven’t given Joseph this award yet this season. So, with apologies to Cobbs and Chasson Randle, we’ll rectify that situation this week. We’ve already mentioned the great things that Joseph’s team accomplished this weekend, but the man himself had a lot to do with their success. He averaged 14 highly efficient points (11-of-21 from the field and four threes), handed out seven assists, swiped six steals and grabbed five rebounds while playing all but three minutes of the trip to Arizona. Since becoming eligible for the Ducks in early December, the Minnesota transfer has been a ridiculously consistent piece for Oregon, averaging nearly 15 points a game while meshing perfectly with the rest of his new teammates.

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