Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VI: Honor Roll

Posted by AMurawa on February 12th, 2013

Professor Pac is back, trying to break down the mess that is the Pac-12, a task harder than you might think. This week’s Honor Roll is highlighted by Colorado, a team that bounced back from an awful week last time around to earn this week’s highest grade.

Colorado – A

A week ago, the Buffaloes earned the only F we’ve handed out this season. You can tell a lot about how a team responds to absolute failure. After losing to Utah while earning a 22-point deficit at one point, their F was well-earned. Likewise, this week’s A is appropriate. Colorado wasn’t mind-blowingly effective this week, but they were tough. They played two tight games and, contrary to what they’d done earlier in the year, they finished strong. With an important week ahead (and a chance at revenge against the Utes the following week), the Buffs have an opportunity now to make their case for a continued presence near the top of the Pac-12 standings.

Josh Scott Scored 17 On Sunday Night, But His Rebounding Needs to Improve (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Josh Scott Scored 17 On Sunday Night, But His Rebounding Needs to Improve (Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera)

Focus on: Josh Scott. After scoring in double figures in 13 of his first 16 games as a Buff, Scott hit something of a freshman wall in mid-January. His average of 14.5 points per game over those first 16 games has fallen to fewer than eight points per game over the next five, while also contributing just three rebounds per night. While he was merely average against Oregon (seven points, two boards), and while he did little to chip in on the boards against Oregon State (four boards in 32 minutes as his team was outrebounded by a relatively poor rebounding OSU team), he did wake up offensively, scoring 17 points while making 7-of-10 field goals. That type of success needs to continue, preferably with some additional rebounding mixed in there.

Looking ahead: The Buffaloes have been pointing to Valentine’s night ever since the final buzzer sounded in their controversial overtime loss to Arizona on the opening night of conference play. If CU can take care of business at home against the Wildcats and put the demons of the Debacle in the Desert to rest, it could be a springboard for continued success down the stretch. If they get outplayed by a talented Arizona team, that disappointment could snowball, especially with a tough and hungry Arizona State squad waiting on Saturday.


For the second straight week, the Trojans earn an A. Once forgotten, this team is now a prized student and a team that could make a mess of things come the second week in March in Las Vegas. The Trojans have now won three in a row, they’re at 6-5 in the conference, and, seemingly like 17 other teams in the Pac-12, they sit within two games of first place.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.12.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 12th, 2013


  1. The rumors were out there. The transfer guard out of Wake Forest by way of community college had a nice stroke, and along with the return of Jio Fontan from injury, would be the spark to ignite the long-dormant USC offense. And for the first eight games of the 2012-13 season, J.T. Terrell was that guy. But when Terrell began to slump, head coach Kevin O’Neill finally had cause to bench the player who didn’t completely fit with his team-first mentality. Terrell averaged just 3.3 points over the next seven games, but found new life when O’Neill was relieved of his duties and Bob Cantu took the reins. Now, Terrell is again shining for the resurgent Trojans, who have played themselves into some postseason whispers over the past two weeks. Even more important than the recent three-game winning streak and Terrell’s increased scoring output is the fact that he’s earned the team’s respect and has become the go-to guy in late-game situations. That bodes well for the future, as the 2013-14 version of the Men of Troy will need a vocal and respected leader once Fontan graduates.
  2. Some other news out of Corvallis, as Oregon Live revealed that Oregon State forward Daniel Gomis has had everything cleaned from his left leg and is feeling the best he has felt in two years. Gomis won’t return this season as he still needs to return to full strength before participating in basketball activities, but barring any setbacks, he will play his first organized basketball for the Beavers next October. As John Hunt notes, the Beavers will have quite an imposing front line in 2013-14, consisting of freshman Cheikh N’Diaye, the sophomore Gomis, junior Eric Moreland, and senior Angus Brandt.
  3. The Monday news day of course means the release of the weekly rankings, and the Pac-12 was represented by Arizona and Oregon in the AP Top 25. UCLA was the only other team to receive votes, coming in at #38 overall. In the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll, Arizona fell to ninth, while Oregon dropped out completely to #27. And as we enter the part of the season where “good wins” are critical to a team’s NCAA Tournament chances, the Pac-12 has posted three victories against Top 25 teams — Arizona against Miami (FL) and Florida and Colorado against Colorado State.
  4. After dropping six of its last seven games, Washington has not only free fallen from the NCAA bubble, but is now on very thin ice for the NIT as well. Poor defense and the inability to get key players going at the same time has Husky players and coaches claiming that a sense of urgency is needed for the final month of the season. It wouldn’t be impossible for LoRo and company to make the NCAAs via the league’s automatic bid, but for that to happen they will need to cut back on turning the ball over and manufacture some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tourney. Also of help would be a top four finish in the regular season standings, giving the Huskies a first-round bye in Las Vegas. That looks unlikely at this point, but if the Dawgs win out at home and pull off a split in the desert, it’s a reasonable possibility.
  5. Teams that rebound well out of zones have given Arizona fits all season long, and the same proved true on Sunday night when California went into the McKale Center and upset the Wildcats. A big key for the Golden Bears was the off night of senior wing Kevin Parrom, who was turnover prone and cold from outside. The team’s self-proclaimed zone-buster only managed seven points despite numerous open looks in his 21 minutes of action. Colorado will look to copy the blueprint left by the likes of Oregon, UCLA, and California on Thursday when the Wildcats come calling in Boulder.
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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 13

Posted by AMurawa on February 11th, 2013

Here’s another installment of the weekly Pac-12 honors, as handed out by the Pac-12 microsite.

Team of the Week – Colorado

All season long, the Buffaloes have had problems closing. Dating back to the Charleston Classic when they did their best to give away their semifinal game to  Baylor, continuing most famously through the Arizona game and on several other occasions, end-game scenarios have been downright scary for Tad Boyle’s club. Coupled with the truth that the Buffs have struggled in their two Pac-12 seasons on the road (a record of 4-10 coming into this weekend), the fact that this team went on the road to the Oregon schools and came away with two hard-fought wins in which they performed admirably down the stretch shows that the Buffaloes are indeed making progress — a hallmark of Boyle-coached teams. Against Oregon on Thursday night, a game-winning bucket by Andre Roberson was a good metaphor for this squad’s whole week. After getting his layup attempt swatted from behind by Arsalan Kazemi, Roberson persevered by grabbing the ball and putting it back in for the go-ahead win. On Sunday night, Spencer Dinwiddie was the CU hero, making all of his shots on the night (6-of-6 from the field with four threes, and 8-of-8 from the line) and providing a calming presence down the stretch. With their chance at revenge against Arizona coming up this week in Boulder, the Buffs have a chance to put themselves squarely in the middle of the Pac-12 race.

Allen Crabbe, California

Allen Crabbe’s Big Second Half Helped Cal Knock Off Arizona on Sunday Night (Ben Margot/AP)

Player of the Week – Allen Crabbe, California

When Crabbe’s got it going, he’s one of the nation’s elite scorers. And Crabbe definitely had it going on Sunday night. He and his Golden Bears had a decent first half against Arizona; he scored 12 and Cal was within five of the nation’s #7 team at the break. But the Cal wing earned this honor as a result of what happened after halftime. Crabbe scored 11 points before the first media timeout in the second half as the Bears put together a 17-2 run from which they would never look back. As the half progressed, every time the Wildcats got back within striking distance, Crabbe would hit another big shot, twice drilling threes after Arizona pulled within four then hitting a big jumper late after the ‘Cats had pulled within two. All told, Crabbe wound up with 31 points on the night, missing just three three-pointers out of his 15 attempts from the field. For the week, Crabbe averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a block per game, all while shooting a 63.6% effective field goal rate.

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Pac-12 Report Card: Volume III

Posted by AMurawa on January 23rd, 2013

Just about one-third of the way through our semester, Oregon is the favorite pupil, having earned all As in their exams. Join Professor Pac as we once again break down our class and see who’s joining the Ducks at the front of the class and who’s in the corner with the dunce cap.

Oregon – A

Before we give props to the Ducks for their 5-0 conference start and vault to the favorite position in the conference, let’s take a minute to mourn the loss of the full 18-game home-and-away round-robin of the Pac-10. You see, with UO’s win at UCLA this week and home win against Arizona last week, the Ducks have wrapped up this seasons’ meeting with those two teams. Neither the Wildcats nor the Bruins will get a chance for revenge, at least until and unless they meet up in Vegas come mid-March. But, that’s not the Ducks fault. No, they’ve done what they’ve needed to do early and they’ve set themselves up well. Now, they’ve still got more than two-thirds of the conference schedule remaining, but here are their remaining road games in conference play: Stanford, Cal, Washington, Washington State, Colorado and Utah. They’ll be favorites in all of those games, as well as all of their home games. Sure, there are probably a couple of losses in the mix there somewhere, but barring some significant slide that Dana Altman-coached teams are not known for, the Ducks are a heavy favorite to be the #1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.

The Diminutive Jonathan Loyd Brings Energy Off The Bench For Oregon (

The Diminutive Jonathan Loyd Brings Energy Off The Bench For Oregon (

Focus on: Jonathan Loyd. Freshman point guard Dominic Artis is the rightful recipient of plenty of positive buzz regarding his play, but the diminutive junior backup deserves some credit for accepting his decreased minutes and filling his role. Sure, he can’t shoot a lick. And his turnovers are through the roof this season. But you can see that his defensive intensity has carried over to his freshman pupil and he always brings energy aplenty when he’s on the court. And, consider this: a 5’8” he swatted away a Larry Drew II fastbreak layup tattempt this weekend

Looking ahead: The Ducks host the Washington schools this week and Ken Pomeroy puts the chances that they win each game somewhere north of 85%. Beware the letdown, Ducks.

Arizona – A-

For three quarters of their battle with in-state rival Arizona State on Saturday, the ‘Cats had a battle on their hands, played basically to a draw. But over the last 10 minutes, a time that coincided almost exactly with Mark Lyons coming back in the game (and, with Lyons drawing the fourth foul on Jahii Carson), they outscored the Sun Devils by 15 and equaled the biggest defeat ASU has suffered this season. Over those ten minutes, Lyons repeatedly got to the hoop, scoring 12 points and handing out three assists in likely his best 10-minute stretch as the UA point guard. The problem is the previous 30 minutes, wherein Lyons had 12 points on 11 field goal attempts, zero assists and four turnovers. Sure, he’s one heck of a closer, but as the season ramps up come March, the ‘Cats will need a more complete performance.

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Pac-12 Burning Questions: Which Non-Conference Trends Are Here To Stay?

Posted by AMurawa on January 4th, 2013

Conference play is underway, and it’s time to take what we’ve learned from a couple months of uneven schedules and evolving lineups and try to project that forward to a couple grueling months of the conference meat grinder. To wit:

“What trends that we’ve seen developing in the non-conference do you see continuing or changing as we head into the final 18?”

Connor Pelton: Going into the season, if I had told you Oregon would be 11-2 going into Pac-12 play, most would have said E.J. Singler would either be leading the team in scoring or a close second behind Arsalan Kazemi. Instead, Singler has fallen into a role as more of a distributor, now passing up shots he had to take last year. With options like Tony Woods and Carlos Emory in the post, and capable scorers Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis on the perimeter, I see no reason why the Ducks wouldn’t be able to keep up their success sustained thus far. This is a much more balanced team than in years past, so much so that Singler has been able to sit out nearly four more minutes a game than in 2011-12. With all of this said, the senior has to be able to hit big shots when needed. In Oregon’s triple-overtime loss at UTEP last month, Singler was a complete non-factor in the three extra periods. Not only that, he only hit one shot all game long. If the freshmen up top are freezing in big games late in the year, it’ll be Singler who gets the call. I think he answers it, giving the Ducks a great shot at reaching their first NCAA Tournament in five years.

Oregon Has Had Success So Far, But Needs Singler To Contribute More

Oregon Has Had Success So Far, But Needs Singler To Contribute More

Adam Butler: I foresee the improvement of Stanford’s Dwight Powell to continue. Here’s a guy who’s long had the physical tools to be good and in the preseason (both this and last year), we discussed just how good he could be. A season ago he played through injury and, frankly, awkwardness; a hint of a baby giraffe out there. This year he’s begun to assert himself, catapulting his usage numbers into the realm of team leader. He’s put up some insanely impressive games and those have been the one’s he’s sought to be the man. And that’s the trend I expect to see continue. When he’s on, he makes Randle and Bright better. Consistency will be the name of the game for this Canadian and I really think that the routine of a Pac-12 season (Thursday, Saturday, Thursday, Saturday…) can really help these guys get into comfort zones the non-conference slate doesn’t always afford. For Powell, 10 to 15 shots per game will be his sweet spot. It’d also be sweet if he didn’t foul people. He has a tendency to do such. Powell is still improving, which is a scary thought considering he went for 23/8 against CJ Leslie and N.C. State. One other thing I expect to continue is Shabazz Muhammad playing well. And that’s horrifying if you’re not wearing powder blue.

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Wrapping Up Pac-12 Non-Conference Play By Reassessing Our All-Conference Selections

Posted by AMurawa on January 2nd, 2013

Later tonight, the second leg of the Pac-12 college basketball season begins as conference play tips off with the Battle of the Bachynskis, when Utah travels to Arizona State. After last year’s nightmare of a non-conference slate, this season the conference took major strides, with Arizona’s win over Florida, UCLA’s win over Missouri, Colorado’s win over Baylor, and Oregon’s win over UNLV making up the top tier of the best wins for the conference. Before we turn our complete attention to conference play, we thought we’d hand out some awards based on the season to this point, so Connor Pelton, Parker Baruh, Pachoops’ Adam Butler and myself voted and came up with the following results.

Player of the Year

Allen Crabbe, Jr, California – Crabbe’s 20.9 PPG and efficient all-around offensive game earned three of the four votes for our player of the year, with UCLA’s Jordan Adams receiving the other vote from me. Crabbe has been a rock for the Golden Bears (well, aside from that Creighton debacle, at least), scoring in double figures in every game, helping out on the glass and, thus far, knocking down better than 38% of his shots from deep.

The Pac-12's Leading Scorer, Allen Crabbe Takes Down The Mid-season POTY Award (credit: Jeff Gross)

The Pac-12’s Leading Scorer, Allen Crabbe Takes Down The Mid-season POTY Award (credit: Jeff Gross)

Coach of the Year

Dana Altman, Oregon – Despite losing three of last year’s top four scorers, and having the other guy in that quartet – E.J. Singler – struggle through the early part of this year, the Ducks have reeled off wins in 11 of their 13 games. Altman has gotten great production out of his freshman backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, has folded Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi into the mix seamlessly, and coaxed great improvement out of senior center Tony Woods. As a result, he earned three of our four votes for the COY, while Arizona State’s Herb Sendek got my support.

Freshman of the Year

Shabazz Muhammad, Fr, UCLA – After missing the first three games of the season due to an NCAA investigation into his eligibility, Muhammad has come on strong for the Bruins, scoring in double figures in all 10 of the games he’s played in on his way to 19.6 points per night. He’s just beginning to ease into the best physical shape of the season, so the expectation is that conference play will see an even better version of Shabazz. Once again, Shabazz earned three of our four votes for FrOY, with the lone dissenter (again, me) nabbing teammate Jordan Adams.

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Pac-12 Burning Question: Who Has Been the Biggest Disappointment?

Posted by AMurawa on December 14th, 2012

Way back in the preseason, while trying to be objective, we as a group of Pac-12 writers couldn’t help but be optimistic about the immediate future of the conference. Arizona and UCLA were welcoming in elite recruiting classes, Colorado had added a nice group of freshmen to solid returnees, etc., etc. All throughout the conference there were stories of promise and hope. And then the season began. While it has certainly been nowhere near the debacle that last year was, there have been hiccups along the way. You know, a loss to Cal Poly by a team picked by one of us (ahem, me) to be a top five national team, losses elsewhere to Albany, Pepperdine, and Sacramento State. So, to say the least, things have not been all about half-full glasses around these parts. In the interest of getting the negativity out of the way now, in advance of the holiday season, we’ll take a look at the downside of the Pac-12 this week.

“Which team, player, or other entity, has been the most disappointing thus far this year?”


Parker Baruh: The biggest disappointment thus far this year in the Pac-12 is the Washington Huskies. I thought the Pac-12 media went too high when they picked them to finish fifth in the conference especially with the losses of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross. And thus far, Washington has shown nothing this year to prove my hunch wrong. The Huskies were upset at home by Albany, were embarrassed at home by Colorado State, upset again at home by Nevada, and barely pulled out a win against a bad Cal State Fullerton team, once again, right there at home. As you can see, there is a recurring theme here: Washington’s bad play at home. One of the greatest things about college basketball is home court advantage and typically Washington has had it in spades, but this year it ceases to exist at the Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington doesn’t have the talent to win the Pac-12 and I know they are dealing with injuries, but they certainly shouldn’t look this bad. It’s still early and I expect the Huskies to bounce back somewhat, but as of right now, they are my choice for biggest disappointment.

Abdul Gaddy and Washington Have Yet To Get It Together This Year

Abdul Gaddy and Washington Have Yet To Get It Together This Year

Adam Butler: To ask who or what has disappointed the most – particularly in early/mid-December – is baiting us into a crow consumption opportunity. It’s also fresh bait to just rip on UCLA; a task I’ve taken to three times already in this young season. Alas, I won’t take the bait – although by season’s end I will be full of crow – and I find myself most disappointed, to date, by USC. This was a group that had a chip on its shoulder, a squad that Kevin O’Neill called his hardest working team and a group of castoffs who had an opportunity to turn some heads. For the Trojans, I haven’t done much beyond turn the channel. KO teams rarely play a viewer-friendly brand of ball but I do always appreciate their effort. What’s disappointed me the most isn’t that they haven’t given effort, just that they set themselves up to fail. I suppose I could have looked at the schedule and forecast this, but I also felt they had enough dynamic pieces to overcome some of these preseason hurdles. But ultimately, these guys have played about how we unfortunately and unromantically should have figured they would. J.T. Terrell shooting 30%? Jio Fontan with a 24% turnover rate? And maybe I’ve made this selection selfishly. I figured bigger things for what, at least on paper, appeared to be a more competitive group. That said, one can say that this group has competed and maybe, just maybe, partaking in an arguably less competitive Pac-12 season will prove this group better than their non-conference effort.

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Pac-12 M5: 12.13.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on December 13th, 2012


  1. Despite being ranked #8 in the country and currently 7-0, the Arizona Wildcats haven’t had a home sellout yet this year. All signs point to that changing this Saturday when the 5th ranked Florida Gators come to town. On Tuesday, the assistant director of ticket operations said that Arizona has under 50 tickets remaining for the game, so there’s little doubt it will be a sellout. Despite this fact, Sean Miller has praised the atmosphere in Tucson countless times and pointed out that many other high major programs don’t get the support that Arizona gets early in the year and it’s true. The average attendance this year so far has been 13,557 fans in a McKale Center that has a maximum capacity of 14,538 seats. When Saturday comes around, the McKale Center will definitely be loud and that home court advantage should help the Wildcats throughout the game.
  2. After Washington’s 4-4 start, Lorenzo Romar has realized that he needs to change up his demeanor on the sideline. The Huskies this year have been too laid back for Romar’s taste and he wants them to play with higher energy, more intensity and more consistency. Romar believes his team has played to the level of their inferior opponents’ talent so far this year and it is evident in their close losses to Albany and Nevada and a close win over Cal State Fullerton. It doesn’t help that the Huskies continue to deal with an ankle injury to Andrew Andrews, a knee injury to Shawn Kemp Jr., and planter fasciitis to Scott Suggs, but Romar has been displeased with his team’s start to say the least.
  3. Before the season started, the USC Trojans didn’t have to do much to improve on last year’s performance, but their slow start hasn’t exactly been what they hoped for. The Trojans have struggled moving the ball effectively and their half-court offense has been lacking in efficiency which has resulted in too much isolation. On a brighter note, the team is getting it together in the second half of games as they have outscored their opponents 303-280 in the final 20 minutes despite their 3-6 record. For the Trojans to be successful this season, they are still going to have to find a consistent efficient scorer as their leading scorer J.T Terrell is shooting 30 percent from the field despite leading the team with 11 points per game.
  4. Cal’s Allen Crabbe is the nation’s sixth leading scorer, averaging 21.9 points per game and is set to duel with the fifth leading scorer in the nation as Greg McDermott and Creighton head into Haas Pavilion on Saturday. McDermott is no stranger to scoring as he was the nation’s third leading scorer last year. This also won’t be the first time Crabbe has seen McDermott as the two faced off at the U-19 USA Basketball Camp in 2011. Both McDermott and Crabbe can shoot the lights out from all over the court, and Cal will certainly need all it can get from the talented junior if they want to pull of the upset against #16 ranked Creighton.
  5. All the buzz might be around top recruit Jabari Parker on Thursday when the 2012-13 Geico ESPN High School Basketball Showcase takes place tomorrow night across the ESPN networks, but the Pac-12 will be focusing on a different top 10 recruit. Kentucky, Washington, and Arizona are all still in the hunt to land Aaron Gordon. Gordon will get to prove himself at 8 PM ET against great competition as he will take on Andrew and Aaron Harrison, both top five recruits and current 2013 Kentucky commitsments.
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Rushed Reactions: #14 Minnesota 71, USC 57

Posted by AMurawa on December 9th, 2012

Drew Murawa is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from tonight’s Minnesota-USC game in Los Angeles.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. 500 Wins. Tonight’s win was Tubby Smith’s 500th victory in his career and he becomes the 19th active head coach to reach that mark. Despite a national title, a National Coach of the Year award, and numerous other accomplishments under his belt, Smith gets overlooked regularly since he left Kentucky, but despite some offseason distractions, he looks like he has put together his best team at his current stop. After the game, he paused to reflect briefly and typically understated his accomplishment: “I have been in good situations and on programs who have been committed to basketball. Not everyone has that opportunity.”
  2. Golden Gophers For Real. Balanced scoring, superb athleticism up front, talented and savvy guards, depth and great coaching. Yup, that’s a pretty good recipe for a Top 25 team. Eight players saw seven minutes or more for Smith and seven of those guys scored at least six points. In the early moments of the game, it was clear that one of these teams was ready to go from the opening tip and one was not — Minnesota looked crisp, moving the ball around quickly and getting enough open looks to send USC looking for cover in a 2-3 zone. As it is now, Minnesota has a 10-1 record with wins over Memphis, Stanford, Florida State, and USC, and a loss to #1 Duke the only blemish. We knew teams like Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State were going to be a load, but coupled with Illinois’ big win at Gonzaga on Saturday, it looks like we can throw another pair on the Big Ten pile.
  3. Working Things Out. We’re a month into the season and Kevin O’Neill has no idea what he has here. His rotation seems to be little more than subbing guys in and out based on a whim. Eleven guys played in the first half, and while O’Neill tightened up his rotation to great effect in the second half, it just isn’t feasible to generate a brand new rotation every night out. Guys need to know their roles in order to give the coaching staff what they want. Start with the players you absolutely need to have on the floor (e.g., Byron Wesley, Jio Fontan, and Omar Oraby) and build an eight or nine-man rotation from there. There is enough talent here for the Trojans to make some noise in conference play, but O’Neill’s got to cobble together some type of coherent plan for that to happen. He certainly knows that, as he discussed after the game trimming his rotation based on effort.
Tubby Smith, Minnesota

Tubby Smith Earned His 500th Win Saturday Night With What Appears To Be His Best Minnesota Team

Star of the GameOmar Oraby. You hate to name a player on the losing team the star of the game, but in the second half at least, Oraby was the best player on the floor. He scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, the Trojan offense ran smoothly through him in the post, he crashed the boards and challenged many shots at the rim, including a dunk attempt by Trevor Mbakwe on a breakaway that wound up with both players crashing to the floor. The whistle went against Oraby, but he maintained his innocence, even after the game. Oraby got 14 minutes in the second half and O’Neill sang his praises (except for his woeful free throw shooting) after the game, noting, “he’s gonna have to get a ton of time.”

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A Spin Around The Pac-12

Posted by AMurawa on November 28th, 2012

Now that we’ve got games coming fast and furious, every team around the conference has a story to tell, and often we don’t have time to get to them all. So, in the interest of checking in semi-regularly with every team, we’re going to take a quick spin around the conference and check the temperature of each team, beginning with the spots that have gone the most terribly wrong and working backwards to the success stories.

UCLA – More or less a co-favorite heading into the season, the Bruins are likely the biggest story going in the Pac-12 right now – and not for anything good. Sunday night’s blown 18-point second-half lead en route to a loss to Cal Poly is one (terrible, horrible, atrocious) thing, but the fact that this team is doing this kind of thing with a the level of talent they’ve got is unforgivable. If Ben Howland is going to stick with more or less this personnel in his rotation (you know, the Wear twins, Larry Drew and a pair of wings), he’s gotta just break down and play a ton of zone. Really, this will do two good things: (1) minimize the effect of this team’s low level of overall athleticism, and (2) give them plenty of work on their zone offense in practice, something they desperately need. The other thing that absolutely has to happen for UCLA to even get within shouting distance of its potential ceiling is to find a way to get Kyle Anderson comfortable in this offense, and really that means putting the ball in his hands and letting him create, at least in the halfcourt. Drew has been excellent running the show and in no way should be scapegoated for UCLA’s struggles, but this team needs Anderson to be a factor and, while he’s shown his versatility, his defense has been bad, his shooting has been worse, and he hasn’t done enough elsewhere to make up for those serious drawbacks. There is still plenty of time for this team to turn things around, but UCLA fans have rightly run out of patience with Howland and are demanding immediate success. If this team doesn’t get drastically better, the big story come March will be whether UCLA’s legacy will be enough to pull either Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens away from their current jobs.

Kyle Anderson, UCLA

Ben Howland Needs To Find a Way To Get Kyle Anderson Comfortable, Or He’ll Be Looking For A New Job

Washington – The thinking at the start of the year was that maybe, minus a pair of talented but conflicted wings, the Huskies could be a textbook example of addition by subtraction. Minus Terrence Ross and especially Tony Wroten Jr., the remaining members of the team would know and accept their roles better. Well, somebody forgot to tell guys like Desmond Simmons, Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig that a big part of their roles would be to clean the defensive glass. While the Huskies have more or less won the battle of the boards against lesser teams, versus Ohio State and Colorado State they were dominated – in fact, against the Rams, the Huskies actually grabbed fewer defensive rebounds than CSU grabbed offensive boards. Sure, it sucks that Shawn Kemp Jr. went down with an injury just before the start of the year, but either Jarreau or Breuning needs to be ready to step in and do some of the dirty work, lest they be not asked back next season.

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