Pac-12 Team Previews: Oregon Ducks

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 22nd, 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 Oregon Ducks.

Strengths: After having to share the spotlight with Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim last season, E.J. Singler will get all the touches he can handle in 2012-13. The senior forward has the skill set to make an All-Pac-12 list by season’s end, but he’ll need some help so opponents don’t key in solely on him all game long. That’s where Arsalan Kazemi comes in. A late transfer from Rice, Kazemi had been projected by many to win the C-USA Player of the Year award in many preseason publications. Now he’s in Eugene, where head coach Dana Altman has described him as the best player in practice so far this October. Assuming the NCAA grants him a hardship waiver to play immediately, the Ducks go from a fringe NIT team to the NCAA bubble.

Weaknesses: If you’re wondering who will start in the backcourt, you’re in the same boat as Altman. Junior Johnathan Loyd will get the nod at the one spot, but while his passing game is one of the best in the league, his scoring ability leaves much to be desired. Whoever starts at the two is anyone’s guess, and we likely won’t know until the season opener against Northern Arizona. It could be junior walk-on Nicholas Lucenti, who played in all of five games last year for an astounding average of 0.0 PPG. Or it could very well be one of the six newcomers at the guard spot for 2012-13. Either way, the Ducks are going to be relying heavily on post play to put some points on the scoreboard.

It’s Tough To Find A Picture Of A Guy That Only Played 14 Minutes in 2011-12, But We Did It. Lucenti Could Possibly Be Oregon’s Starter At Shooting Guard Come November 10. (credit: Eric Evans)

Non-Conference Tests: The Ducks will face four stiff non-conference tests this season, three of which will come in an eight-day span in late November. Oregon will host Vanderbilt on November 16, and just seven days later will face #17 UNLV (RTC Poll used in this post) in the Thomas & Mack Center. Their strength of schedule would get a major boost if they faced a fringe Top 25 club in Cincinnati the next day instead of Iowa State. The final test will come on New Year’s Eve at Matthew Knight Arena against a possible NCAA bubble team in Nevada.

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Oregon State Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 22nd, 2012

Last year the Beavers only had one senior on the roster, seemingly ensuring that the 2012-13 roster would be made up of the same guys. But one early entry to the NBA and two transfers later, Craig Robinson is indeed losing four players from last year’s squad. Below we’ll break down those four players in roughly the order of the degree to which they’ll be missed.

Jared Cunningham – Despite earning offers from basketball powerhouses San Diego State and California (among others), Cunningham decided to leave his home state and go north to Corvallis. Three years later, he leaves as arguably the most talented player to don a Beaver uniform since Corey Benjamin’s single season in 1997-98. Cunningham instantly played major minutes as a freshman, and by the end of the season was starting regularly and scoring in double figures. As a sophomore, with Seth Tarver graduating, his role and production increased. He started 29 of the 30 games he played in, missing only the third-to-last game of the year for reportedly blowing curfew. That year was when people nationally began to take notice of the athletic shooting guard at OSU. Cunningham averaged 14.2 PPG and 2.8 SPG as a sophomore, and had the top dunk of the year in a game against Arizona. Last season, he led the Beavers to 21 wins with 17.9 PPG and 2.5 SPG. At the end of the year, Cunningham announced he was leaving early for the NBA, a decision that raised some eyebrows around town. Sure enough, however, he was drafted in the 1st Round by the Dallas Mavericks last June.

Cunningham’s Athletic Ability Led To Many Spectacular Dunks, Including This One Over Oregon’s Garrett Sim (credit: AP)

Kevin McShane – After grey-shirting the 2007-08 season at Clackamas Community College, McShane had a rough start to his Oregon State career. The walk-on forward overslept for the first two 5:00 AM practices of the 2008-09 season, which left new head coach Craig Robinson wondering if he even deserved a walk-on spot with the team. But McShane impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and hustle, making him a fan favorite whenever he entered the game. The years rolled by with McShane only playing garbage minutes or the not-so-rare instance when Gill Coliseum was so sleepy, Robinson decided to throw him into the mix just to liven things up. With an open scholarship available, McShane was the first in line to get one during his senior season. He responded by averaging 1.6 PPG, the highest total of his Oregon State career.

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Oregon Week: Incoming Freshman Dominic Artis Bolsters Seven Newcomers

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 11th, 2012

On the heels of last year’s good recruiting class, head coach Dana Altman landed a huge six-man class this season, signing two recruits from traditional southern Nevada powerhouses, a pair of small forwards from southeastern Texas, and two shooting guards from a midwestern high school and community college, respectively. We’ll also take a look at a much-needed lane clogging big man who redshirted in 2011-12. We’ll break all seven of them down below, roughly in the order of the contributions we expect from them.

Dominic Artis, Freshman, Point Guard, 5’11” 165 lbs, Findlay College Prep, Henderson, NV – Artis’ height and frame will remind Duck fans of former Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks. He is a speedster with handles and his slight frame allows him to easily fit into seams in the defense and find teammates around the perimeter. He is definitely able to knock down the three-point ball, but consistency is a whole different matter. If he wants to really make an impact this season, Artis needs to keep defenders from focusing on E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory down low and be a threat from behind the arc. Regardless, the freshman could find his way onto the court with tight, lockdown defense. Oregon’s D outside of the paint last season was mediocre at best, bordering on bad, and with their best defender in Devoe Joseph graduating, there is a need for a new top defender. It’s tough for any point guard to be an impact immediately in a power conference, but Artis definitely has the most talent, and potential, of all seven newcomers. With the departure of Garrett Sim, Artis is in a prime position to replace his minutes. The only question remains is this: Will Oregon’s star recruit transfer two games or less into the season, as last year’s did?

Artis Makes Up For What He Lacks In Size With Quickness (credit: Jann Hendry)

Damyean Dotson, Freshman, Small Forward, 6’6” 181 lbs, Jack Yates Senior High School, Houston, TX – Once again we meet a player who could earn early minutes thanks to his defensive ability. Dotson can guard the one, two, or three, but is tough enough to rebound down low as well. He also has a long wingspan, making him a shot-blocking threat. According to reports, Dotson will do a lot of damage as a help defender and trapper when the Ducks are in a zone. As a senior at Jack Yates HS, Dotson averaged 21 PPG and 5 RPG, good enough to garner the title of 2012 Greater Houston Player of the Year by the Houston Chronicle. He had offers from Dayton, Colorado, and Georgetown, among others, before deciding on Oregon.

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Oregon Week: Running Down The Returnees

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 9th, 2012

Oregon returns four players who were part of the extended rotation last year, highlighted by E.J. Singler – a second-team All-Pac-12 player – but also extending down to a center back for his senior season who made tremendous strides towards the end of 2011-12, another senior big man who became a major part of the offense in the second half of conference play, and a junior-to-be point guard who is ready to become the team’s main distributor. We’ll go through all of those guys below, in order of last year’s scoring totals.

E.J. Singler, Shown Here Battling His Brother Kyle Singler For A Rebound, Will Be The Key To Any Duck Success In 2012-13 (credit: Jonathan Ferrey)

E.J. Singler, Senior, Forward (13.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.4 BPG) – With his brother already starring at Duke, Singler entered his freshman year in Eugene with high expectations. But despite being a major part of the rotation, his freshman campaign could have been classified as a disappointment. However, he bounced back to average 11.7 PPG and 5.6 RPG in his sophomore year, and he was arguably the team’s top defender as well. In 2011-12, Singler combined with guard Devoe Joseph to make a perfect scoring combination. The two kept opponents guessing on the defensive end, and combined with Garrett Sim, were unstoppable throughout stretches of a game. Now that Joseph and Sim have graduated, it will be interesting to see how the offense runs early on with only one known scorer. Johnathan Loyd can shoot the ball, but he is more of a true one guard. The job of replacing the points left by Joseph and Sim will likely fall to incoming freshman Fred Richardson III, and if he can step out and hit the three consistently, the pressure on Singler’s shoulders will be lifted.

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Oregon Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 8th, 2012

Last year eight players earned significant playing time for the Ducks. Of those eight, four are now gone — three have used up their eligibility and will be playing for a paycheck in one place or another next year. Also gone is a man who only played in two games for the Ducks, but was a major part of the rotation before transferring to Missouri. With three recruits coming in expected to play immediately, there will be no problem finding bodies to replace the departed, but the experience and savvy they possessed is not something that can be expected of most freshmen. In other words, these guys will be missed.

Jospeh’s (#34) Energy Is Something That Won’t Be Replaced In 2012-13 (credit: AP)

Devoe Joseph – Joseph played just one season in Eugene after transferring over from Minnesota, but he had a big impact in his single year. Despite not being eligible for the team’s first six contests, Joseph came in and rolled off seven straight games in which he scored in double figures. It took him just two games to go from a role player coming off the bench to a full-time starter. Behind Garrett Sim, Joseph was second on the team in three-point percentage; a great distributor as well, he averaged 3.3 APG and kept opponents on their toes whenever he had the ball. Perhaps the quality that will be missed most, however, is the energy that Joseph brought night in and night out. On defense, Joseph led the team in steals and was one of just two players to average more than a theft per game. When he wasn’t actually stealing the ball from an opponent, his annoying, in-your-face defensive style at least got everyone out of their seats. Perhaps showing Duck fans what they’ll be missing in the coming years, Joseph closed out the year by averaging 19.3 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in Oregon’s Pac-12 Tournament and NIT contests. His contributions led Oregon to the quarterfinals of the NIT, and subsequently earned him a spot on the Toronto Raptors summer league team. Joseph impressed with the Raptors, scoring in double figures three times in seven games. He signed with the Ukrainian club Khimik-OPZ Yuzny about a week after the conclusion of summer league.

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Oregon: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 19th, 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: Oregon.

What Went Wrong

The Ducks couldn’t win a big game. Oregon went 1-7 against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, and if they could have won just two or three more of those games they could have been playing in the NCAAs, instead of the NIT, in March.

Moves like Dana (credit: Nati Harnik)

What Went Right

Despite Oregon’s struggles to win games against top opponents, they won most of the rest. And because of that, they found themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble heading into Championship Week. A main reason for Oregon’s second place finish in the Pac-12 was the play of Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph. Expected to be just a role player before the season began, Joseph proved that he belonged from his opening minutes against Fresno State on December 10. The senior guard out of Ontario, Canada, finished the season with a team high 16.6 PPG, good enough to garner a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team. As a surprise, Joseph and fellow Toronto senior Olu Ashaolu were honored on Senior Day with the playing of O Canada before the game began.

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Pac-12 Final Power Rankings

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 6th, 2012

1. California (23-8, 13-5) Projected NCAA Seed: #10

Here it is, the only team locked into the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens this week in Los Angeles. With only eight losses and wins against Oregon and Washington on the road and Colorado at home, even a loss to or Stanford or Arizona State on Thursday wouldn’t knock them out of the Tournament. However, I could see them moving up to a nine seed (which is exactly like an eight) if they win two games at Staples and have teams in front of them (Long Beach State, Alabama, and Kansas State, to name a few) lose early on in their respective conference tournaments. While we could see any team from Cal to UCLA win the Pac-12 Tournament, the Golden Bears are the definite favorite coming in. They’ve got a near-elite to elite player in Allen Crabbe, and with a supporting cast made up of Jorge Gutierrez, Justin Cobbs, and a sleeper player that I think will come alive this week, Emerson Murray, the Golden Bears have unrivaled depth in this conference.

Allen Crabbe, California

Allen Crabbe and The Cal Bears Appear To Be Headed To The Big Dance (Ben Margot/AP)

2. Oregon (22-8, 13-5), NIT

The Ducks remain on the outside looking in heading into the Tournament, but I’m of the belief that if they win two games and play in the Pac-12 Championship, regardless of what happens there, the Ducks will be included in the field of 68. Oregon has been on the bubble for the better part of conference play, but the real noise in Eugene began when it went down to the desert and took both games from the Arizona schools. Before that trip, Oregon was embarrassed by a 77-60 loss to California at home. Since then it has gone 11-3, with the biggest margin of defeat coming in a 76-71 loss at home against rival Oregon State. Besides Cal, the Ducks have the best chance to make a run in the Pac-12 Tournament; it’s almost like their team was built for it. To win any college basketball tournament, whether it is the Maui Invitational or NIT, you need to be able to shoot lights out, and two, have depth off the bench. As of late, the Ducks have been making everything they put up, and they put up a lot of shots. Watch for Devoe Joseph, E.J. Singler, and Garrett Sim to go off on any given night, considering all three are capable of creating and making their own shot. Look for junior forward Carlos Emory to have a big tournament coming off the bench.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.05.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 5th, 2012

  1. The story was pretty simple for Washington when they tipped off against UCLA on Saturday morning: Win, and the Huskies were the conference champion; lose, and they would need some help. And for much of the game it looked like the Huskies were in a mood to take control of their own future, leading for much of the middle 20 minutes of the game. However, when Lazeric Jones hit a three-pointer with just under nine minutes remaining, it gave the Bruins their first lead since the 14-minute mark of the first half and set up a back-and-forth finish to the game. In those last nine minutes, the Huskies turned the ball over five times, made just 3-of-10 field goal attempts and scored just seven points on 14 possessions. But still, with just 15 seconds left, Washington found itself down two as senior forward Darnell Gant received the ball in three-point land at the top of the key. Terrence Ross was open on the wing, but Gant launched the shot and it came up just short, giving UCLA the win and the #5 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament while the Huskies would have to wait until Sunday to find out their fate. As for the Bruins, it was the second straight encouraging win in the aftermath of the controversial Sports Illustrated story last week, sending the team to the conference tournament feeling as good as they have all year.
  2. Washington got the answer it was looking for on Sunday, when California had its conference title hopes dashed by their Bay Area rival, Stanford. It was a tight game down the stretch, but much like the Huskies on Saturday, the Golden Bears just didn’t make the plays necessary to win a championship. For instance, Cardinal sophomore guard Aaron Bright was sent to the free throw line three straight times at the end of the game, and on each of those occasions, he missed the second of his two free throws. However, the first two misses wound up right back in his hands as the Bears were unable to secure an offensive rebound. Earlier, Cal guard Allen Crabbe had passed up an open baseline jumper to drive to the hoop, only to fumble the ball out of bounds. And, continuing a theme for Cal’s loss at Colorado last week, Justin Cobbs and Jorge Gutierrez struggled shooting the ball, hitting a combined six of their 22 field goal attempts. The loss sends the Bears to the Pac-12 Tournament with consecutive defeats for the first time all season. While Stanford’s 10-8 conference record wound up being disappointing (especially the seven losses in its final 12 games), the Cardinal did cinch a 20-win season for the first time in three seasons.
  3. To finish off the trifecta of top teams losing in conference this week, Arizona fell to Arizona State on Sunday in one of the more surprising results of the conference season. Not only was ASU’s 87 points its highest total on the year, it was only the tenth time all season that the Sun Devils had scored more than one point per possession in a game; in fact they averaged 1.27 points per possession, an excellent number. What changed for the Devils? A lot of things, but first and foremost, let’s look at the point guard play: Chris Colvin, who has averaged a turnover more than once every three possessions used, played 34 minutes and had just two turnovers compared with nine assists. Secondly, junior wing Trent Lockett is now, perhaps for the first time, clearly back near full strength after his midseason ankle injury; he had 21 points, seven boards and chipped in five assists of his own compared with just three turnovers. As a whole, ASU only turned it over 10 times on the day, their lowest total of the season, and their turnover percentage (the percentage of possessions on which the team commits a turnover) of 14.7% is almost half of their season average. The Sun Devils go into the conference tournament on a two-game winning streak (their first such streak of the year) and playing arguably their best ball of the season. Meanwhile, for the Wildcats, this was a devastating loss to their NCAA Tournament hopes. Already sitting firmly on the bubble (and possibly on the wrong side of it), Sean Miller’s club has to figure the only way for the team to make its 27th tournament in 28 years is to win the Pac-12 automatic bid next weekend.
  4. The other major story line going into the final weekend was the race for the four opening round byes in the conference tournament. Oregon took care of its business this weekend by throttling Utah on Saturday. The Ducks scored 34 of the game’s first 36 points, and sent seniors Devoe Joseph, Garrett Sim, Olu Ashaolu, Tyrone Nared and Jeremy Jacob out in style, securing the #3 seed in next week’s conference tournament. Colorado, however, floundered at Oregon State, losing by 14 and not only played itself out of contention for one of those byes, but dropped all the way to the #6 seed. The Buffaloes will host Utah on Wednesday as they are still looking for their 20th win on the year.
  5. Lastly, USC’s disaster of a season is now apparently just one game away from being mercifully over. The Trojans fought hard in their final regular season game, holding Washington State scoreless for the final nine minutes and nine seconds on Saturday and rallied back from a 17-point deficit to as close as three late, but once again came up short, wrapping up the conference schedule with a 1-17 record and a school-record 25 losses on the year.
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Pac-12 Burning Questions: Senior Moment?

Posted by AMurawa on March 2nd, 2012

Each week through conference play, we’ll offer up a couple of different takes on the biggest question of the week in the Pac-12. This week:

“In honor of senior days around the conference, which Pac-12 senior will be most missed by his team next year?

Connor Pelton: I’m going to go an interesting route and say Devoe Joseph. Joseph’s contributions have been huge for Oregon this season, as they had lost two of their first six without him. Since then Oregon has gone 16-6, and those losses can hardly be pinned on the senior transfer from Toronto, who has averaged 16.3 PPG. That mark is good enough for fourth in the conference, but perhaps even better than that stat is this: Joseph has only had one game in which he hasn’t scored in double figures this season. That was in their New Year’s Eve meeting with Washington, where he was subject to double teams all night long from a feisty Husky defense. But the reason he will be missed most is not for the jaw-dropping stats, but rather that Oregon doesn’t have a shoot-first player returning next season. E.J. Singler can certainly light it up from behind the arc, but he would still rather attack than shoot from around the perimeter. With both Joseph and Garrett Sim departing, he is going to have to adapt into that type of player, and that could cause some early-season troubles for the Ducks.

Despite Just One Active Season In Eugene, Devoe Joseph Will Be Sorely Missed Next Year (credit: Eric Evans)

Andrew Murawa: I’ll skip some of the obvious choices as well, as while California is sure to miss the work-ethic and passion of Jorge Gutierrez, they should still return a very nice backcourt, and while Arizona will miss the steadiness and leadership of Kyle Fogg, he’s done a good job of beginning to pass the baton to underclassmen like Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner. At Stanford, however, there is no immediately obvious replacement for senior forward Josh Owens. No, Owens isn’t exactly an all-conference performer for the Cardinal, but he brings an interior toughness and physicality that is largely absent from the rest of their roster. While sophomore forward Josh Huestis has athletic gifts that Owens doesn’t, he doesn’t yet have all the tricks of the trade in the middle to make the most of his undersized body. And most of the other returning big men on Johnny Dawkins’ current roster (John Gage, Dwight Powell, Stefan Nastic) are more finesse players. Further, Owens may only average 12.4 points per game, but he is the most efficient offensive player on the Cardinal roster, and a solid choice for the go-to guy when the team needs a bucket down the stretch. Incoming freshman center Grant Verhoeven may eventually eventually grow into that kind of role in the middle, but he’ll need at least a year of the weight room and training table before he gets there. While Owens leaves Palo Alto as one of the most underrated players in the Pac-12, the impact of his loss on the Cardinal could be understated as well.

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Gritty Ducks Bests Buffs In Critical Pac-12 Matchup

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2012

Kenny Ocker is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Oregon-Colorado game in Eugene on Thursday night.

With 14 minutes to go against Colorado in a make-or-break game for both teams, Oregon senior guard Garrett Sim got one lucky bounce. As he stood at the top of the key and the shot clock fell below 10 seconds, his team leading 48-47, a loose ball fortuitously found its way into Sim’s hands, and he stepped up and snapped the net on a three-pointer, giving the Ducks a four-point lead and fans at Matthew Knight Arena a reason to cheer when there was not much to cheer about before.

Garrett Sim and Oregon Earned The Coveted First Round Bye For The Pac-12 Tourney Next Week (The Register-Guard)

Sim’s teammates seized upon the momentum his three-pointer had provided, and play after play went in Oregon’s favor. Devoe Joseph, another senior guard, coaxed a steal from Colorado forward Shane Harris-Tunks and took the ball coast to coast for a difficult layup. Buffaloes guard Nate Tomlinson, a former Oregon recruit, then stepped on the baseline, giving the ball back to the Ducks for a Carlos Emory three-pointer. Colorado guard Askia Booker made three free throws on one possession, but Sim retorted with a three-pointer of his own and Emory capped the Ducks’ run with a three-point play. Two minutes later, what had been a one-point Oregon lead had ballooned to 12, and fell below six points for only five seconds for the rest of the game. “Those big shots, I think they mostly got the crowd into it and that’s what we fed off of,” said Sim, who finished with 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting.

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Pac-12 Morning Five 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Washington wrapped up at least a piece of the conference title on Thursday night, blowing out USC at the Galen Center by 22 points. The Trojans actually shot the ball pretty well, limited Washington’s field goal percentage and turned the ball over less than the Huskies, but Washington absolutely dominated on the glass on both ends of the floor, grabbing 51.4% of their misses and 90.6% of USC’s. Five different Huskies had seven rebounds or more while no Trojan had more than five. If Washington can take care of UCLA on Saturday, they will win the Pac-12 outright, and they can also back their way into the championship with a loss and a Stanford win over California on Sunday. Tony Wroten’s chances for the conference Player of the Year award took a hit with a two-for-13 shooting performance that also included four more turnovers, while Terrence Ross bounced back from a weak performance last weekend with 18 points and seven rebounds. USC’s Byron Wesley continued his strong play in defeat, setting a new career-high for the third straight game, with 23 points.
  2. Meanwhile, in Eugene, Oregon went a long way towards clinching a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament by pouring on 54 second-half points in a come-from-behind victory over Colorado. The Ducks used a 35-18 run to open the second half to pull away from the Buffaloes, as seemingly everybody on the team got in on the act. E.J. Singler kick-started the run with six straight points, Carlos Emory chipped in a three-point play and a three-pointer later, Garrett Sim knocked down threes with abandon, and Devoe Joseph did a little of everything, including knocking down a key jumper after the final media timeout to staunch a Colorado run. With Utah coming up on Saturday, the Ducks are very much in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye, while the Buffaloes will need to win at Oregon State and get some help to avoid having to play on the opening day of the conference tourney.
  3. In the wake of the controversy surrounding the UCLA program and Ben Howland, the current Bruin team weighed in pretty heavily last night, throttling Washington State early and often on the way to a 32-point victory. While the players downplayed the effect of Wednesday’s Sports Illustrated article (senior guard Lazeric Jones, for one, said he didn’t ever read it), their performance sure seemed like a statement. UCLA led by 19 at the half, then ran that lead out to 30 early in the second half. While nobody on the team thought the performance had anything to do with the article, David Wear said the team “stood together as a team and a family” and Joshua Smith said “We had to show we were the same guys who have worked hard, gone to class and done what Coach Howland told us.” The Bruins will get another chance to make a statement on Saturday, when they can play the spoiler in Washington’s bid for a conference title.
  4. The final game on Thursday night was Oregon State’s ten-point win over Utah, the Beavers’ first win after five straight losses. Oregon State came out on fire in the first half, limiting the Utes to just 21.7% from the field on the way to a 36-15 lead at the break, but let off the gas a bit in the second half. Conference POY candidate Jared Cunningham had a fine, if understated, game, going for 17 points and six assists. If Oregon State can add another win on Saturday against Colorado, they could be on their way towards putting together some momentum for a possible conference tournament run.
  5. Back to Westwood briefly, for another look at the aftermath of the George Dohrmann piece, as Thursday a couple very important Bruins came to the defense of Howland. Former National Player of the Year Marques Johnson, father of Josiah Johnson, who played under Howland, noted that while he had some frustrations with the way the coach handled his son, in the end he things he “did the right things”, while Johnson also brought a dose of perspective to the issue of college kids experimenting with drugs, noting that it is part of the “college atmosphere. Meanwhile, UCLA’s all-time leading scorer Don MacLean chipped in, noting that the head coach can’t always be around to police the players and that those guys need to show discipline and not let their social life get in the way of practice and performance in games.
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 16

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 29th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the 16th week of Pac-12 games:

1. California, 23-7 (13-4): The Golden Bears may have suffered a disappointing 13-point loss to Colorado on Sunday, but I still have Cal on top for a couple of reasons. First, while Cal’s loss was bad, Washington fell by 18 at Colorado earlier this season. Secondly, even though the Huskies are ahead of the Golden Bears by half a game in the Pac-12 standings, California still has three more wins than the Dawgs. Group in the fact that the Golden Bears don’t have any glaring bad losses on their slate, I still think they are the better team right now. Up Next: 3/4 @ Stanford

2. Washington, 20-8 (13-3): Washington all but guaranteed itself an NCAA bid with their 59-55 win in Pullman last Saturday. The Huskies should make it official by splitting their trip to Los Angeles, but even if they found a way to lose to USC, I think they would still be good. The big question is whether or not the Huskies will avoid one of the “First Four” games. Right now I would say they are safe, but they need a good couple of weeks in LA to be assured of that as well. Up Next: 3/1 @ USC

3. Oregon, 20-8 (11-5): The Ducks sure looked like an NCAA Tournament team on Sunday, but they still remain just outside the field of 68 in most projections. Whether it was Garrett Sim, Devoe Joseph, or Olu Ashaolu, the Ducks were making everything they threw up, which they will need to do if they want to advance in whatever postseason tournament they play in. The Ducks led by ten points against feisty rival Oregon State with just 5:50 remaining, but the Beavers stormed back to within a point with one second left on a Jared Cunningham slam dunk that followed Challe Barton’s three that went off the right rim to try and tie the game. The next Oregon inbound pass wasn’t fully covered however, and Oregon ran down the clock and ran out of Gill Coliseum with a 74-73 win. With the win, the Ducks have posted back-to-back 20-win seasons. Up Next: 3/1 vs. Colorado

Senior guard Garrett Sim, who grew up a Beaver fan, was booed every time he touched the ball after elbowing Jared Cunningham early in Sunday's Civil War. Sim finished with 25 points. (credit: Brent Wojahn)

4. Arizona, 21-9 (12-5): It wasn’t easy at times for the Cats, but at the end of the weekend they found themselves with a pair of wins over the LA schools in Tucson. On Thursday it was a solid 70-54 win over the visiting Trojans, solid because they struggled at times with the tough SC defense back in January at the Galen Center. Two days later it was a nail biter all the way through, with Arizona finally prevailing for a 65-63 win. Up Next: 3/4 @ Arizona State Read the rest of this entry »

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