Pac-12 M5: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 16th, 2012

  1. Washington picked up the second commitment of its 2013 recruiting class on Sunday, adding shooting guard Darin Johnson out of Sacramento. The Sheldon High School (CA) product chose the Huskies over UCLA, San Diego State, and Gonzaga, among others. Johnson’s style is very much up-tempo, if only because he’s a prolific scorer and the more touches he gets, the more come with it. As the article points out, the in-state Aztecs would have been a very tempting choice considering head man Steve Fisher just landed a pair of Johnson’s AAU teammates. But with Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs graduating after the 2012-13 campaign, the minutes will be there immediately for Johnson in Seattle. Johnson joins Findlay Prep (NV) point guard Nigel Williams-Goss as the Huskies’ second Class of 2013 commitment. With the backcourt complete, coach Lorenzo Romar will now turn his attention to five-star power forward Aaron Gordon.
  2. Coming off a 19-14 season that was downright embarrassing at times, UCLA’s summer exhibition trip to China might have come at just the right time. It was there that the new-look Bruins, featuring one of the top recruiting classes in the country, bonded together and dominated their games. They did that without the services of freshmen Tony Parker and Shabazz Muhammad, who sat out the trip due to an injury and eligibility concerns. Parker is now healthy, but it’s scary to think how good Ben Howland’s bunch can be this season if Muhammad is cleared by the NCAA. With a pair of five- and four-stars now residing to Los Angeles, the Bruins should not only compete with Arizona for the Pac-12 championship, but are a likely candidate to make at least the Sweet Sixteen come March.
  3. We showed you a few weeks back how many men’s non-conference games would be televised by the new Pac-12 Networks (89, in fact), so it was good news for those that also like to see the women ball when conference commissioner Larry Scott announced that 61 women’s games would be televised on the networks this season. Needless to say, there’s going to be more than enough Pac-12 basketball for the average and even addicted fan to enjoy this season. If your television provider doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Networks, you can let your voice be heard here.
  4. With the start of practice comes projections of all sorts, and in this Daily Wildcat piece, Zack Rosenblatt breaks down the 10-man Arizona rotation. Newcomers Grant Jerrett and Mark Lyons make up two-fifths of the starting five, but Solomon Hill will be required to carry most of the load with the departure of Jesse Perry. Rosenblatt projects sophomore Angelo Chol to get the start at center over highly touted freshman Kaleb Tarczewski, but notes that “having a talented 7-footer like Tarczewski come off the bench is a nice problem to have.” Most of the “key reserve” list is either filled with freshman or bench players who rarely started last season. Junior guard Jordin Mayes is the exception, whose starts were mostly based off whether he was hot or not coming into a game.
  5. Building on the thing that helped keep Utah competitive toward the end of 2011-12, head coach Larry Krystkowiak is devoting 80% of practice to the defensive facet of the game. Already believing that his team has a “scoring punch” (which may be a bit of a stretch, but we’ll reserve judgement until games start), the Utes want to work on help-side defense and stopping attacks at the rim. A lack of discipline and quickness last year would lead to many back-door attacks on the Ute defense, commonly resulting in finishes at the rim. Taking that away and forcing teams to shoot from outside will keep them in games longer, and the longer they are in those contests, the more of a chance something good will happen for the Utes. After all, jump shots are typically tougher to put down than slam dunks.
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Arizona Week: Players Not Returning

Posted by AMurawa on June 26th, 2012

Even at the start of last season, head coach Sean Miller knew that the 2012-13 team would be absent four seniors who had completed their collegiate eligibility (Jesse Perry, Kyle Fogg, Brendon Lavender and Alex Jacobson). But, given that Miller was welcoming in a strong four-man 2011 recruiting class and had already dialed in an elite 2012 recruiting class, the Wildcats still figured to be a deep and relatively young squad. However, as is so often the case these days in college basketball, half of last year’s four freshmen never stuck around long enough to see their sophomore seasons in Tucson, and would-be senior Kyryl Natyazkho also decided to forgo his final season of eligibility in pursuit of a professional career in Europe. As a result, instead of simply losing four players from last year’s team, there are a total of seven players who earned minutes last year who will not be in UA uniforms next season. We’ll look at all seven players below, roughly in the order of the degree to which they will be missed.

Kyle Fogg, Arizona

After Four Strong Years In Tucson, Kyle Fogg Finds Himself On Several All-Time Lists (John Miller, AP)

  • Kyle Fogg – Fogg came to Tucson in relative obscurity in the class of 2008, a late bloomer ranked as just the 64th best shooting guard in his recruiting class by ESPNU. Four ever-improving seasons later, Fogg bowed out while holding some pretty impressive spots on the all-time Wildcat lists. He’s fifth on the all-time list in games started and first in games played, fourth in three-point field goals made, and seventh in minutes played. He’s 22nd all-time on the Wildcat career scoring list, quite impressive given some of the elite players who have passed through this program. What’s more, he was a guy who was considerably better as a senior than he was as a surprising freshman who earned 24 minutes a game. The quiet freshman who was a recruiting afterthought turned into a great asset for his team by the time his impressive college career was up. He’ll be missed in Tucson.
  • Jesse Perry – Perry only spent two seasons in Tucson after transferring in from Logan Community College in 2010, but he was a solid contributor in his time with the Wildcats. After a relatively slow start, he turned up his game in time to help UA make its run to the 2011 Pac-10 title and the Elite Eight, then nearly doubled his output as a senior while upping his efficiency numbers too. Though undersized at 6’6” for a guy who was ostensibly a power forward, Perry was third in the conference in rebounding last season (7.5 RPG) and a key part of the UA attack. Luckily for Sean Miller and company, though, Perry’s loss will be mitigated by the arrival of three freshman big men ready to step into his role.
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RTC 2012-13 Top 25: Post NBA Draft Deadline

Posted by KDoyle on May 1st, 2012

It’s never too early for these, right? We all love the debates, projecting who is too high or too low, and taking a closer look at the upcoming college hoops season — six months goes by quickly, promise. In quickly looking at the Top 25, one would surmise that having five of a team’s top players forgo the remainder of their college careers in favor of the NBA Draft would absolutely kill that team’s prospects for the upcoming season, but that is simply not the case for Kentucky. Last year’s National Champions check in at #2 in the Top 25, proving that John Calipari doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. It would not behoove us to let Kentucky steal the storyline, however, as Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers are the top dog in what looks to be a banner upcoming year. In what was arguably the most exciting and high-flying game of last year’s Tournament, the Hoosiers fell to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, but have nearly all the pieces back. Just two years ago this was a 12-20 team with no postseason experience, and now they are the top team in the land — according to our group of experts, at least. What a tremendous job Tom Crean has done. The usual Quick ‘n Dirty after the jump…

Whether it is through an exceptional recruiting class, or an impressive finish to the 2011-12 season coupled with a strong nucleus returning, the following five teams surged upward—and for good reason:

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 04.27.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 27th, 2012

  1. For the second straight week, the lead story in our Weekly Five is a UCLA recruiting coup, as the Bruins added to their already impressive class by signing 6’9” center Tony Parker – the #20-ranked recruit in the 2012 class – beating out schools like Ohio State, Duke and Parker’s home-state Georgia for his services. After the bizarre 45-minute press conference to announce his choice, ESPNU bumped UCLA’s class up to the top-ranked class in the nation (at least for now, pending other decisions — such as the #7 recruit, Anthony Bennett, possibly choosing Kentucky). One of the controversial parts of Parker’s commitment to the Bruins was his ties to assistant coach Korey McCray, who was hired by head coach Ben Howland last year. That move wound up paying off, as both Parker and former teammate on the Atlanta Celtics, Jordan Adams, wound up committing to UCLA to rejoin McCray. Regardless, the Bruins now feature a deep and talented squad that will not only be on the short list of favorites in the Pac-12, but should be a Top 10 team nationally and a legitimate threat to advance to Howland’s fourth Final Four in his tenure. There are a handful of storm clouds on the horizon though, as Shabazz Muhammad’s eligibility still needs to be sorted out and Kyle Anderson may be on the verge of thumb surgery, a procedure which could keep the point forward sidelined for much of the summer before his freshman season. Elsewhere on the Bruin front, the school announced an agreement for a home-and-home series with Missouri beginning next season at Pauley Pavilion, renewing a matchup that was made famous by an NCAA Tournament classic.
  2. Washington also just announced a new series with an inter-regional rival with whom they’ve had a couple of Tournament classics, agreeing to begin a two-game series with Connecticut next year (starting the series at either Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center). The Huskies of the Big East will repay the favor to the Huskies of the Pac-12, visiting Seattle in 2013-14. Normally, this would seem to be a game to wait for, but given UConn’s ineligibility for next year’s NCAA Tournament and the mass defections that have come along with that, UW could in good position to score an early road win next season.
  3. From the northernmost end of the conference to the southernmost, Arizona had some good news pop up on their radar in their search for a stopgap solution at the point guard position, when it was announced this week that Xavier combo guard Mark Lyons would be transferring out of the program and, provided he completes his coursework in time to graduate this summer, could be eligible to play next season. Given Lyons’ ties to current Arizona head coach and former Xavier head man Sean Miller, Tucson is the early favorite to earn his services although his plans are still up in the air. While Lyons is definitely not a true point guard, he is a capable ballhandler that would give the ‘Cats plenty of scoring punch in the backcourt. There was some uglier news out of the Zona program last weekend when outgoing senior Jesse Perry was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence last weekend. Perry maintains his innocence, but this type of story is never welcome news.
  4. A couple Pac-12 schools landed some other transfers this week, as Arizona State inked Valparaiso forward Richie Edwards and Oregon got a commitment from junior college transfer Coleton Baker. Edwards will have one remaining season of eligibility with the Sun Devils beginning in 2013-14, while Baker will give the Ducks a scoring threat at guard to help replace Devoe Joseph. Meanwhile, we learned the landing spot of outgoing USC transfer Alexis Moore this week, as he announced that he would be heading east to play for Penn, with eligibility starting in 2013-14.
  5. Lastly, in Boulder at the start of the week, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle and athletic director Mike Bohn showed up at a local watering hole to mingle with and congratulate the “OG 50,” a group of 50 students who started a renaissance of the C-Unit – the CU student section – that supported the Buffs from their opening exhibition game against Fort Lewis all the way to their eventual exit against Baylor in Albuquerque in the NCAA round of 32. Bohn promised the group a seat at any Buffaloes home game in the future after the group helped the team outperform expectations all season long, including running through four games in four days in Los Angeles at the Pac-12 Tournament to capture the conference’s automatic bid.
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Arizona: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 4th, 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: Arizona.

What Went Wrong

The Wildcats came into the season expecting to compete for a Pac-12 title and find their way back into the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time in 28 years. With a class of four highly regarded freshman coming in, it seemed that while Sean Miller might struggle a bit with inexperienced players, they would have enough talent to establish enough of a resume to earn a postseason invitation. Instead, one of those freshmen – Sidiki Johnson – played exactly nine minutes in his Arizona career before getting run off by Miller for behavioral problems. Another freshman – Josiah Turner – lost his starting job in the second game of the season for being late to a shoot around, blew his chance at regaining that spot by missing a practice and getting suspended just before the trip to Florida in December, then got suspended a second time in March leaving his future with the team in jeopardy and leaving his Wildcats on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.

Josiah Turner, Arizona

Josiah Turner's Inability To Stay Out Of Trouble Left Arizona Without A Leader At The Point (Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star)

What Went Right

Veterans like Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry, and Solomon Hill all did their best to step up and lead the team, with each turning in their best season in the careers. Fogg was excellent during the conference season and ends his Wildcat career with several places in the program’s record book alongside Wildcat legends while Hill was at his versatile best leading the team in rebounds and assists while finishing second on the team in scoring. Between the three of them, they accounted for 56.1% of the scoring, 54% of the rebounding, and 44.3% of the assists. Plus, despite the struggles that Miller had with immaturity among his freshman class, the coach showed his willingness time and again to put discipline as a priority in his program, a decision that may have cost Arizona a game or two this season, but one that should pay dividends in the long run.

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Pac-12 Who’s Going Where

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012

Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!

Oregon

Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN

First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.

Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.

Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.

Devoe Joseph's offensive prowess has the Ducks dreaming of a trip to Madison Square Garden. (credit:Jayne Kamin)

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Four Thoughts From the Pac-12 Final

Posted by bmulvihill on March 10th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s final round at the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Colorado Buffaloes won the Pac-12 Tournament in their first year as a member of the conference. Driven by strong inside play, senior leaders, a 2011 snub, and 50 of their most rabid fans, the Buffaloes are making an unlikely appearance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

1. Strong inside play and missed free throws - Prior to the game, the key match-ups were going to be in the paint. Arizona’s Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry, and Angelo Chol versus Colorado’s Andre Roberson, Austin Dufault, and Shane Harris-Trunks. The Buffs ended up dominating the glass with a 37-29 rebounding margin and 12-10 second chance point margin. The long arms of Roberson proved to be the difference on the glass. Additionally, Arizona’s inability to make free throws cost them the game. The Wildcats were 10-18 from the free throw line. With a tournament bid on the line, free throws are too important to miss in these tight games.

The 2012 Pac-12 Tournament Champions - Colorado Buffaloes

2. 2011 Bubble Motivation - After going 21-13 and 8-8 in the Big 12 in 2011, the Buffaloes sat squarely on the bubble. The Tournament selection committee did not end up giving them a bid and it has stuck with the team all season long. At the post-game press conference, coach Tad Boyle said he sent a text at 1:30AM to six of the players on that team last season and told them today’s game was for them. Boyle welled up with tears when asked what this win meant to him relative to the emotions he and his team went through last year. This win meant more to the Buffs than most of us could have imagined.

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Pac-12 Burning Questions: Pick A Part?

Posted by AMurawa on February 17th, 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: “While there are no great teams in the Pac-12, there seem to be several teams that are just one key part away from being a Top 25 team. If you could pluck one role player from a Pac-12 team and bring him over to help out another team, who would it be?”

Andrew Murawa: Arizona’s lack of interior size is their biggest weakness. At present, they’re playing a seven-man rotation with only one player bigger than 6’7” – raw 6’9” freshman Angelo Chol – getting any serious time. Jesse Perry, a 6’7” senior best suited to a combo forward spot, is ostensibly the team’s starting center. Enter Washington’s 7’0” junior center Aziz N’Diaye, sliding right into the Wildcats center position, moving Perry to a move natural four-spot, Solomon Hill to the three, and sending freshman Nick Johnson to a sixth-man role. Not only would N’Diaye give Sean Miller a defensive stopper inside, he’s shown his ability to be a solid rebounder on both ends of the court. And, when the Wildcats want to get out and run, N’Diaye has the athleticism and the motor to keep up with their young backcourt. As they are now, the Wildcats are a solid but flawed team, scrapping along to keep in Pac-12 race. Magically drop N’Diaye onto that roster and they’re the favorite in the conference, even with inconsistent freshman Josiah Turner still growing into his role at the point.

Aziz N'Diaye, Washington

Aziz N'Diaye's Length And Athleticism Would Patch A Hole In Arizona's Defense (Ted Copeland/The Daily)

Connor Pelton: I’d like to take Washington State point guard Reggie Moore and bring him over to Stanford. The Cardinal have two solid scorers in forward/center Josh Owens and shooting guard Chasson Randle, but what they are missing is a true point guard. Aaron Bright has his games, but 3.4 assists per outing just isn’t going to cut it if Stanford wants to be a top tier team in the Pac-12. If you bring Moore into the picture, you have by far the best point guard in the Pac-12 (5.7 APG). He also averages 9.2 points per game, which isn’t bad at all for a pass-first type of player. The Cardinal’s new starting lineup would look a lot better as well. The Cardinal would have Moore and Randle at guard, then go with a three forward/center combo of Owens, Anthony Brown, and John Gage. The bench looks solid as well. Bright would come off the bench and could be developed into even more of a combo-guard, and with Andrew Zimmermann and Josh Huestis down low; this Stanford team would definitely have top-tier potential. If only …

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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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Pac-12 Morning Five: 2.10.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 10th, 2012

  1. It seems like I have spent the last couple days talking and writing about how if Washington could just string together a patch of wins here down the stretch, they could earn themselves an at-large bid regardless of the holes in their résumé. And, typical of what we have come to expect of the Huskies over the past several years, just when you start buying what they are selling in the regular season, they go out and get punked on the road, just like they did Thursday night, losing at Oregon by 25 in a game that was never in doubt. The Ducks scored the first eight points of the game, shot 64.3% from the field in the first half and then coasted in the second half. No Husky who played more than ten minutes in the game shot better than 50% from the field, their top three scorers–Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, and C.J. Wilcox–combined for 32 points on 12-of-35 shooting, with a ten turnovers between them, and the entire team shot just two-for-16 from deep. The loss drops Washington back into a first place tie while Oregon moves to within a game of first place.
  2. In the other big game of the night, Arizona continued its hot streak, taking care of Colorado by 14 in their third consecutive strong performance. While the Wildcats have struggled to find consistency in the first three months of the season, now they are playing like a cohesive unit, even as they are limited to just a seven-man rotation. Thursday night, the veteran trio of Jesse Perry, Solomon Hill, and Kyle Fogg did the heavy lifting, scoring 17, 16, and 15 points respectively, while guys like Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner, Brendon Lavender, and Angelo Chol slid comfortably into their roles and took care of business. Combined with the other results in the conference, the Wildcats now find themselves within a game of first and rolling at just the right time. Colorado is also a game back of first place, but their struggles on the road will need to be mended if they hope to seriously challenge for the title; they are now 1-4 in Pac-12 road games with the sole win coming against 1-11 USC.
  3. Speaking of USC, they got to 1-11 by getting taken apart in the second half by California last night. After a hard-fought first half that saw the Trojans down by just six going into the locker room, the Golden Bears rode Harper Kamp’s hot streak after the break (he hit his first seven shots of the second half), while freshman forward David Kravish dominated the undermanned Trojan squad on the glass, grabbing a career-high 18 boards. Coupled with the Washington loss, the Golden Bears again find themselves tied at the top of the conference.
  4. UCLA will be Cal’s next opponent on Saturday, and Thursday night the Bruins took care of business against Stanford, using a late 10-0 to finally put away a pesky Cardinal team in a game that saw both teams put together a variety of runs. It was a sloppy affair, with the teams combining for 41 turnovers, but in the end it was the Bruins’ ability to turn Stanford’s turnovers into points that decided the game, as UCLA scored 28 points off of their 22 forced turnovers. Lazeric Jones had 21 points, six assists and six steals, while freshman Chasson Randle was the only Stanford player to score in double figures, with 16.
  5. At the bottom of the conference, Arizona State welcomed back junior guard Trent Lockett with a win over Utah. Lockett had 12 points and six boards in his return, but it was the combination of Jordan Bachynski (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Carrick Felix (15 points, eight rebounds) that put the Sun Devils over the top. Meanwhile, in Corvallis, the maddening Oregon State conference season continued with a ten-point home loss to Washington State, despite Jared Cunningham filling the stat sheet in a big way. The player of the year candidate had 33 points, including five three-pointers, six rebounds, a couple of assists, three steals, two blocks, and even four turnovers for good measure. Teammate Ahmad Starks struggled, however, hoisting 13 threes and only making two on a miserable night. On the other end of the court, however, Washington State’s own POTY candidate, Brock Motum, continued his hot streak, scoring 24 points and adding nine rebounds. Since Faisal Aden’s season ending injury, Motum has averaged 27.3 points and nine rebounds over four games.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 31st, 2012

  1. It wasn’t too long ago where Washington was given up for dead as another underachieving Lorenzo Romar squad doomed to limp through the regular season before perhaps scraping it together in time for a run in the Pac-12 Tournament. But now, after a road sweep of the Arizona schools in which the Huskies played with assertiveness and passion, they’re tied for first place and have a schedule advantageous enough where they should be considered legitimate title contenders. Unfortunately, with an RPI still in the 70s, even a regular season Pac-12 title may not be quite enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, so winning that Pac-12 Tourney may still be a necessity.
  2. Washington’s win over Arizona knocked the Wildcats back to 5-4, putting Sean Miller’s club in a position where they may need to win the rest of their games to have a chance at the conference title. Add the fact that they will now have to do so without junior wing Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot in the loss to the Huskies. The Parrom loss now makes this UA team that was already undersized even smaller, leaving Miller with only 6’7” Jesse Perry, 6’6” Solomon Hill and 6’9” Angelo Chol as regular contributors up front.
  3. What’s a rivalry without a little controversy? And hey, if there’s not any controversy, why not make one up? The fact that Oregon State’s cheerleaders were not going to be allowed a spot on the court Sunday night when the Beavers faced in-state rival Oregon at the Ducks’ Matthew Knight Arena was known prior to the game. And, in fact, both schools’ athletic departments had decided that neither road team would send their cheerleaders to the games at the other’s school. But, on Monday, Oregon State’s sports information director, Steve Fenk, noted that if Oregon wanted to bring their cheerleaders to the return game in Corvallis on February 26, they would be welcome to do so.
  4. With a 5-16 record, Utah doesn’t have a whole lot left to play for this season. But for any Ute that wants a chance to get on the floor, earn some playing time and maybe generate some momentum for next year, the door is wide open. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak is making it very clear that players who are willing to play hard and to play smart will earn minutes the rest of the way. In Saturday’s loss at USC, guys like Alex Mortensen and Kyle Perkins found themselves earning significantly more minutes than normal, a trend that could continue over the last month of the season.
  5. Lastly, it is always good to check in on the ongoing legacy of former UCLA head coach John Wooden. While his impact on the sport of college basketball is well known, Wooden’s philosophies have now reached into war-torn Uganda, where a handful of basketball coaches have begun trying to use some of the former coach’s teachings to help reach former child soldiers and others touched by the fighting in that country. Last week, a delegation of four coaches from Uganda visited UCLA as part of a State Department grant to learn more about Wooden and to talk about how they use his “Pyramid of Success” and other teachings to help kids in their country.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.12.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 12th, 2012

  1. Colorado is out to a 3-0 start in Pac-12 play and has earned plenty of respect from some of the coaches around the conference. The question has been asked is whether Colorado is actually good, or is the rest of the conference that bad? Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune points out that according to both Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin, Colorado is no better than the seventh best team in the conference and that their schedule, which started with three consecutive home games, makes their current first place standing a little misleading.
  2. When Arizona State hosts Oregon on Thursday night, the Sun Devils will be back nearly to full strength – at least as close to the new definition of full strength, following the dismissal of Keala King, as they’re going to get. But ASU faithful are beginning to question the direction of Herb Sendek’s program and wonder, “what’s wrong with ASU hoops?” Certainly Sendek has had some bad luck in Tempe, and the team has a couple transfers, three incoming freshmen and Jahii Carson ready to go next season, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Sun Devils have been downright awful the last two seasons.
  3. Arizona has turned the ball over on almost 25% of their possession in conference play, and it is driving head coach Sean Miller crazy, especially when his three most experienced players – Solomon Hill, Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry – have combined for 26 turnovers in those three conference games, more than half of the team’s total. Miller blames the problem on carelessness with the ball and miscommunication, but expects that the problem could ease a bit as freshman point guard Josiah Turner grows into a heavier role.
  4. Washington State has struggled out of the gates in the Pac-12, not only losing a home game to Oregon the first weekend but getting swept at Utah and Colorado this past weekend. With head coach Ken Bone looking to make some changes to kick-start his team, he may be looking for junior point guard Reggie Moore to pick up more of the scoring load. Moore came off the bench on Saturday for just the second time this season, but Bone expects Moore to return to the starting lineup Sunday against Washington.
  5. After two weeks of conference play, Gary Horowitz of The Statesman Journal wants to begin comparing Oregon and Oregon State. His conclusion: Oregon State may have the lesser record (they are 1-3, the Ducks are 2-2), but the Beavers have more upside. While I would tend to agree with him, it is also easier to find things to like about the flashier, more athletic Beavs – they’re more fun to watch and they can certainly put the ball in the basket much more easily than the Ducks. But if I had to pick one of these two teams to win one game with my mortgage payment riding on it, you can bet I’d trust Dana Altman to get the job done much more readily than Craig Robinson, regardless of the talent differential.
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