Pac-12 Senior Days: Stanford and the Team That Stayed

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) on March 7th, 2014

Much of the college basketball dialogue has turned to things like one-and-done and transfers. Is it good for the game or is it bad for the game. Mark Cuban went so far as to say the game itself is bad for the sport (I loosely paraphrase). While Cuban’s sentiments aren’t necessarily accurate, they do share the same general tone about the longevity and fluidity of a college career. So on Saturday, when you see Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic and John Gage take the floor for the last time in Palo Alto, note that you’re seeing something special and certainly unique. They’ll stand there short two members of their 2010 recruiting class, Aaron Bright and Anthony Brown, who will both play in 2014-15 as fifth-year seniors after sustaining injuries. They will, of note, all be there together. But think about that for a second. Approximately five years ago, Johnny Dawkins sat in six different living rooms with the promise of a Stanford education and a team. On Saturday, years after these kids committed to their coach, their school and, most importantly, each other, they’ll leave as they arrived: together.

A Team Chock Full of Seniors, The Stanford, Has Become A Rarity (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

A Team Chock Full of Seniors, The Stanford, Has Become A Rarity (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

So yes, what will transpire Saturday afternoon is rare and I think, in some regards, it trumps whatever success or otherwise they’ve had. It’s yet to be determined if any of these young men will participate in the NCAA Tournament. It was indubitably a goal that may yet come to fruition. And that’s why I’ll be paying such close attention to Saturday’s contest. They just didn’t show up on Wednesday. Collectively the seniors were 12-of-36 from the field; Powell fouled out and the seniors accounted for eight of 12 turnovers. Show up they did not but stick around they have. As the conversation has whipped around and past them, they’ve embodied all that we’ve wanted and cherished about college basketball. You guys… they stuck it out. Dwight Powell nearly bolted for greener (read: $$) pastures and a chance at the NBA. When I had the opportunity to talk to him at Pac-12 media day, he told me he came back to take care of unfinished business with his guys. That 15th-ranked class has done what everyone wants to say everyone else isn’t doing. And everyone appears to be having success (Lyons, Mark; Marshall, Jermaine; All, Oregon) in doing such. So what does it say about us, or those pining for what the Cardinal have done, that we pay them little attention? Or that we’re disappointed in their lack of success? Or, perhaps worse, expecting it? Sometimes success isn’t always the result but the journey to getting there.

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Marching to Vegas: Stanford’s Senior Class Ready to Shine?

Posted by Adam Butler on February 7th, 2014

Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) of Pachoops again will be joining us all year, providing us with his weekly take on our favorite conference, as we begin the March to Las Vegas.

Why do we love this sport? The short answer rests within a month; a present of madness and that anything-can-happen hope few other sports present. The immediacy of that tournament draws us in. It’s a battle of survival, gladiators set forth before us to discover the last man standing. It’s an arena where the end could come at any moment and thus the opportunity to continue on is cherished. Indeed we love that tournament but maybe that’s just because it represents the entire sport. March Madness highlights just how quickly the college experience goes. We learn of these athletes from before they commit and when they join our school they become our guys. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they go but either way we know they’ll only be here for the briefest of times. And then it’s on to the next. For us, the fans, it’s the next recruit. The next kid in a mix-tape we text about and set unrealistic expectations for. But for him, for the kid who has put in the hours and the work and the sweat and the effort, what of him? We enjoy his pursuit of the tournament but he wants that tournament. We might take a long lunch for that tournament but he worked through lunch to get his invitation, if he was ever invited at all.

If Stanford's Seniors Are Going To Dance, They Need To Finish Strong (Kirby Lee, US Presswire)

If Stanford’s Seniors Are Going To Dance, They Need To Finish Strong (Kirby Lee, US Presswire)

And with that note I turn our attention to Stanford and Johnny Dawkins’ 2010 recruiting class. Dawkins invited and signed the 15th-ranked class per Scout’s rankings and every member of that class remains a rostered player for him. That’s both rare and special. But more importantly, it’s ending and that class – those that are healthy – looks to be staring down that reality. On Wednesday night in Berkeley, Stanford seniors accounted for 73 percent of the points, 59 percent of the rebounds, and 92 percent of the assists. That output, in their final trip to Haas, resulted in Stanford beating Cal, 80-69. Begging the question: In their final trip through college basketball, what will this team do?

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Pac-12 Team Preview: Stanford Cardinal

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on October 30th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Stanford Cardinal

Strengths. Experience and depth. Oh, and a lot of talent. This Cardinal roster is littered with upperclassmen, with seniors Dwight Powell, Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis expected be in a starting lineup joined by a couple of juniors in Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown. More upperclassmen are among the names of  the guys in competition to contribute off the bench – John Gage, Stefan Nastic, Robbie Lemons. And if there are still some holes left after listing those guys – and there definitely are – the freshmen and sophomores on this club are generally highly regarded players who are expected to be able to fill roles around the stars on this team; prospects like Grant Verhoeven, Rosco Allen, Christian Sanders, Elliott Bullock, and twin guards Marcus and Malcolm Allen.

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Weaknesses. There’s all that veteran talent, but the most this group has accomplished in their time on The Farm is an NIT title a couple years back. And while that was a genuine accomplishment for a program coming back from the ashes left in the wake of Trent Johnson’s departure, last year the Cardinal failed to improve upon it. The blame for the lack of success comes down on the head of one man: head coach Johnny Dawkins. He’s assembled plenty of talent in Palo Alto, but now is the time for his group to put it all together. A lot of that will have to do with finding a coherent rotation. Last year, 12 different players on this team played in more than 20 games and averaged more than five minutes per game; nine of them averaged more than 10 minutes per contest. Ideally, we’d like to see Dawkins find his eight-man rotation and, depending on the circumstance or the opponent, rotate a ninth guy in there as needed. But these players need to know their roles, and even if it means some of the guys on the bench wind up wearing a redshirt or seeing a year of eligibility go down the tubes, that may be better in the long run for the ultimate goals of the program.

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Stanford Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 18th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Stanford.

What Went Right

After three years of showing signs of a mouthwatering combination of skill and athleticism, Dwight Powell exploded in his junior campaign. At 6’10” and a now well-built 235 pounds, Powell displayed the type of versatile game that will have him playing in the NBA following the completion of his college career. He’s always had the hops and size to throw down massive dunks, but he’s now got the ball-handling, basketball IQ and, perhaps most importantly, confidence to complete those types of plays with defenders in the area. Throw in an excellent feel for rebounding the ball, a developing jumper that is slowly approaching the three-point line, improved post moves and a variety of ways to finish in the paint and Powell has established himself as one of the best and most exciting players in the Pac-12.

Dwight Powell, Stanford

Dwight Powell Had A Breakout Season In His Junior Campaign (AP)

Before we leave this topic, we’ve got to spend a second on Andy Brown. After three ACL tears in his left knee, it was just assumed that the chances of the 6’7” forward every being a meaningful on-court contributor at the Division I level had passed. Instead, Brown made for one of the nicest stories in this or any other season. He played in all but one Cardinal game this season, averaged 23 minutes a night, and wasvery effective, displaying a toughness (as if you didn’t already know that a guy who had rehabbed from three torn ACLs was tough) and a feel for the game that can’t be taught. Already 22, he’s got at least one year of college eligibility ahead of him and here’s hoping it is another healthy and productive season.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 27th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. News on this UCLA head coaching search is moving quickly with Pete Thamel reporting that the Bruins are moving on down the list as Shaka Smart is working on an extension with VCU and Brad Stevens is reportedly not interested in the job. From out of the blue, apparently UCLA boosters are interested in their former assistant coach and current N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried. Gottfried is fresh off of leading a team with arguably more talent that this year’s UCLA team to a fourth-place tie in the ACC and an early NCAA Tournament exit. Throw in his four other exits from the NCAA Tournament in his team’s first game, one Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight in nine Tournament appearances, and it is clear just what an upgrade he would be over UCLA’s former coach.
  2. Across town, one of USC’s potential targets for its open head coaching position is now officially off the market, as Memphis head coach Josh Pastner has committed to staying in his current position at Memphis and is working on details for a new five-year contract. But as the search for a new coach continues, you’ve got to wonder exactly what athletic director Pat Haden has been doing for the last couple months. Ostensibly, part of the reason that Kevin O’Neill was fired abruptly in the middle of the season was so that USC could get a jump start on finding a new guy. Apparently, that hasn’t worked out so well, which is just one reason I get a kick out of seeing things like “USC is a better job than UCLA” every so often these last couple days.
  3. The Pac-12 conference announced its All-Academic teams for basketball today and, before we get to the names on those teams, let’s just say we’re grateful that these teams only have five players on each team. Good to see that whoever is putting these teams together has more sense than those who come up with the 10-man All-Conference team. Anyway, here’s the five-man first team, with all players checking in with a GPA above 3.5: Sabatino Chen from Colorado, Carrick Felix from Arizona State, Jeremy Olsen from Utah, and John Gage and Robbie Lemons, both from Stanford. The second team features four additional Stanford players (Andy Brown, Stefan Nastic, Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle), with a seventh player from that roster (Anthony Brown) earning honorable mention. Special congratulations go out to Powell for being the only guy on these lists to also earn RTC All-Pac-12 first team honors. And, taking in that impressive haul makes it a lot clearer why Johnny Dawkins is getting another chance on The Farm.
  4. California’s season ended on Saturday with a loss to Syracuse in the round of 32, equaling the program’s best NCAA Tournament finish in the last 16 years. And so the question that California Golden Blogs asks is, does that make the season a success? The answers are almost resoundingly positive, with people noting that in the middle of January, the Golden Bears probably weren’t even on the radar for an NCAA invite, but that first stat – no Sweet Sixteen since 1997 – that’s gotta sting a little bit.
  5. Lastly, we’ve offered up our opinions on what we hope many of the Pac-12 underclassmen decide with regards to the NBA Draft, but Jack Follman of Pacific Takes also offers up his observations, suggesting that, aside from Shabazz Muhammad, who is already gone, Dewayne Dedmon and Allen Crabbe may well be the only other guys around the conference who leave early. While we hope that would ultimately be the case, as Eric Moreland has already shown us, there are always a couple of guys that come from off the radar to make peculiar decisions to leave early. Stay tuned.
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Pac-12 M5: 01.25.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on January 25th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. UCLA had been waiting on Tony Parker to make an impact this season. Fellow freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, and Kyle Anderson have all done their part to help the Bruins this season, but Parker had largely struggled mightily to this point. At one point this year, Parker tweeted that he was ready to return to his home state of Georgia and intimated that everyone who told him UCLA was a bad fit was correct. Recently, things have been a little different for Parker as he says he’s fine in Westwood, but the Bruins have only just begun to take advantage of his physicality and presence inside, highlighted by a few decent minutes against Arizona last night. After the departures of Josh Smith and Anthony Stover earlier this season, UCLA has had to work with the Wear twins and Kyle Anderson to bolster its rebounding. Anderson has boarded surprisingly well for the Bruins, but the Wear twins have not improved their rebounding woes. Going forward, if the Bruins want to compete with the bigger teams around the country, they’ll need to have Parker provide the type of presence inside that he did against Arizona.
  2. Despite having the best record in the Pac-12, Matthew Knight Arena hasn’t had the same home court advantage that the Ducks hoped for this year. Oregon’s home court holds 12,346 people and the building had a good showing when the Ducks upset Arizona with 9,554 in attendance. On the other hand, on Wednesday a disappointing 6,946 showed up for the win over Washington State. It could be that the new arena doesn’t have the same feel as the venerable Mac Court; it could be that the fan base is spoiled because of the football team; or, it could be that the fans don’t know all the new faces on this Oregon team. Whatever the case, a team that has the record and talent of Oregon should be hauling in a lot more fans than they are now and eventually that could come back to hurt them.
  3. For the second straight game, Washington allowed its opponent to pick up its first conference win this season. The Huskies lost to Utah on Saturday and followed that up with a defeat on Oregon State Wednesday. The Huskies remain an unknown team in the Pac-12 — they responded to wins over Cal, Stanford, and Colorado with two terrible losses. Washington had extra motivation this week and had said they were out to get revenge on the Beavers for their loss in the Pac-12 Tournament last year, but that wasn’t the case at all; instead, UW allowed Oregon State to jump out to a 10-point lead only four minutes into the game. Ultimately, Lorenzo Romar’s team looks like the most inconsistent team in the Pac-12 and might be wildly up and down all season long.
  4. Oregon State‘s starters have been underperforming all season long and Craig Robinson is letting them know it. In practice, the bench, also known as the “White Team,” was beating the starters. Robinson responded with a simple message to his five: Prove that you deserve to start And that they did. In the second half of the Washington game, Roberto Nelson and Eric Moreland played so well that Robinson sat them for fewer than two minutes combined. Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton each showed they deserved to playing as they sat for less than three minutes. Ultimately, Robinson’s direct message proved to be a big factor in Oregon State’s big win and could have signaled a turning point in the season.
  5. A player at the size of 6’10″ is not usually known for his sharp-shooting, but that’s not the case with Stanford’s John Gage. Gage doesn’t score much as he’s only averaging 5.o points per game this season, but he leads the Cardinal in shooting 44 percent from three and has excited his teammates according to Johnny Dawkins. Recently, Gage had a career high 14 points against Cal and continues to provide the Cardinal with some much needed three-point shooting off the bench. If Stanford purports to put a run together at the NCAA Tournament in what has so far been a disappointing campaign, the Cardinal will need Gage’s shooting off the bench.
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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 (goducks.com)

The Diminutive Jonathan Loyd Brings Energy Off The Bench For Oregon (goducks.com)

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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Five Takeaways From Stanford’s Exhibition Game on Sunday

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Stanford played an exhibition game against UNC Pembroke on Sunday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, and here are five thoughts on the Cardinal’s performance.

Josh Huestis had a double-double for the Cardinal in 14-point exhibition victory over UNC Pembroke. (credit: Bob Drebin)

  1. Too close for comfort? The final score read Stanford 85, UNC Pembroke 71, but it was a single-digit game for most of the way, and Stanford actually trailed the Braves 8-2 about six minutes into the game. As we discussed with Washington’s exhibition nail-biter, however, the closeness of the game doesn’t really mean too much. Also, Stanford’s Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic didn’t play in this game for undisclosed reasons. Don’t judge this team before the November 9 opener against San Francisco.
  2. John Gage has diversified his game. The official roster says Gage has put on 10 pounds from last year to this year, and it showed in the way he plays. The junior known for his shooting touch held his own strength-wise against a 255-pound UNC Pembroke post player and had a sequence in the first half where he blocked a shot, stole a post entry pass, got a couple of rebounds, and hit a three. These are exactly the kind of things Gage needs to do to earn more minutes on the floor. As one of the tallest guys on the team, Gage will need to prove he can play in the post and body up with the likes of a Kaleb Tarczewski, Aziz N’Diaye or Josh Smith. If he can hold his own on the defensive end, Gage will be rewarded with more time and hence more opportunities to unleash it from deep on the offensive end. At the end of the day, Gage amassed 11 points and seven rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals.
  3. Josh Huestis is more confident with the rock. The shooting stroke was already there for Huestis last year, but he was hardly consistent from outside of the key. While he didn’t connect on three three-point attempts, he showed more assertiveness in his jump shot and connected on 50 percent of his field goal attempts, not all of which were bunnies (one left wing 18-footer comes to mind). He also did all the other things that makes Huestis so valuable to the team, grabbing 12 rebounds and swatting away a shot.
  4. It will take some time for the freshmen to get adjusted. Each of the three new guys (Rosco Allen, Christian Sanders and Grant Verhoeven) showed why they were sought by Johnny Dawkins and his staff, but they will all understandably need at least a few games to be able to contribute in a meaningful manner to the Cardinal lineup. The biggest positive for the freshmen is that none of them seemed to shy away from the moment — Sanders swished a jumper on his second offensive possession of the game, Allen calmly stroked a 17-footer, and Verhoeven — as advertised — didn’t mind getting dirty down low and collecting an offensive rebound to go along with six points and two assists.
  5. Free throws. This team only shot 67 percent from the free throw line last year, often missing key tries late in games to keep the opposition alive. It wasn’t any better against the Braves yesterday, as the Cardinal made just 21 of its 33 free throw attempts for the game (64 percent). Yes, it was just an exhibition game and yes, there were probably some first-game jitters involved, but that percentage needs to be around 70% to give the Cardinal the best chance to pull out close games in the regular season.
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Stanford Week: Q&A With Pachoops’ Adam Butler

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 22nd, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Stanford basketball program, we head back to Adam Butler of Pachoops for his perspective on the Cardinal basketball program. Adam and I go over every pressing topic surrounding the team’s immediate future, including how they plan on replacing three key seniors and expectations for sophomore-to-be extraordinaire, Chasson Randle. Here’s our conversation:

RTC: How do the Cardinal replace players like Josh Owens, Jarrett Mann, and Andrew Zimmerman?

AB: First of all, you don’t replace an Andrew Zimmerman. Beards like that don’t come around often, but when they do, they’re irreplaceable. On the court, however, Mann and Zimmerman were very solid role players and integral to the success of a Johnny Dawkins team in which hustle and defense would seem to be heavily rewarded. How else does a guy averaging 3 PPG and 3 RPG (Mann) play 20 MPG? So replacing those guys in some respects is easy in that they brought effort to the table. Guys like Josh Huestis, Gabriel Harris, and John Gage should be able to fill those roles. But it’s Owens who leaves the most gaping hole in the Cardinal lineup. Hustle, effort, all of the Tebow stuff, cannot replace talent, and Josh Owens had that. I loved his game and believe he’ll be tough to replace. But this is a roster seemingly full of eligible Owens replacements. My favorite of those candidates is Dwight Powell, who has length and athleticism for days but basketball IQ for minutes. Some more floor time for the rangy Canadian should go a long way in helping the Cardinal replace Owens. I’ll talk about Anthony Brown later.

Before Playing Basketball At Stanford, Zimmerman Starred As The Geico Caveman

RTC: Through some luck and upsets along the way, Stanford never faced a team seeded higher than fifth in the NIT. Do you think it would have won the whole thing if they had to face teams like Mississippi, Arizona, and Seton Hall instead of Illinois State, Nevada, and Massachusetts?

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Stanford: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 25th, 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: Stanford.

What Went Right

The Cardinal dominated its non-conference schedule, winning 15 of their 17 games outside of the Pac-12. It wasn’t the toughest non-conference schedule in the world, but Johnny Dawkins’ team did wind up with a pair of wins against NCAA Tournament teams (Colorado State and North Carolina State) prior to their conference slate, then ripped through a field of also-rans in the NIT in March. All told, the Cardinal displayed a pretty drastic improvement on the defensive end of the court, finishing in the top 20 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency numbers. And for a team that relied heavily on underclassmen (five different freshmen and sophomores played at least 40% of the team’s total minutes), there should still be plenty of room to improve, especially on the offensive end, in the near future.

What Went Wrong

While all that youth should pay off next year, it was the undoing of the Cardinal during the conference season. After getting off to a 5-1 start in Pac-12 play, the Cardinal lost five of their next six and struggled mightily, especially on the offensive end. Between Martin Luther King Day and Valentine’s Day they scored just 0.92 points per possession, highlighted by sophomore Aaron Bright’s 22-of-70 shooting during that stretch, good for just a 37.9% eFG.

In A Solid Year, As Aaron Bright Went, So Did The Cardinal (credit: Zach Sanderson)

MVP

On a squad that was a model of a team effort (11 different players averaged at least eight minutes per game, with six different players averaging somewhere between five points and 13 points per night), it is hard to pick out just one player, but the Cardinal were clearly a team whose fates aligned closely with Bright’s performance. He averaged four more points per game, one more assist and shot the ball nearly 20% better from behind the arc in wins than in losses. When Bright was going good, he was a tough defender, a confident floor general, and a deadly three-point shooter who made opposing defenses pay for collapsing in on interior players like senior Josh Owens. While there is something to be said for Owens’ 11.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 57.1% field goal percentage (not to mention freshman Chasson Randle’s team-leading 13.8 points per game), Bright was really the most important player on this team, as evidenced by his near-perfect run through the NIT when he averaged 16.8 points, 4.2 assists and shot a whopping 79.5% eFG.

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Pac-12 Afternoon Five: Signing Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 11th, 2012

  1. Today’s the big day in college basketball recruiting as the spring signing period officially opens. While most of the 2012 recruiting class is already accounted for, there are a couple teams around the conference today who are waiting on some big decisions. The biggest, of course, is the decision from Shabazz Muhammad – the number two prospect in the class – as to whether he will attend UCLA, Kentucky or Duke. However, he’s not the only unsigned recruit who has a Pac-12 school on his mind. Tony Parker, a 6’9” power forward out of Georgia, is also strongly considering UCLA, but he is not expected to make his announcement on Wednesday. Anthony Bennett, the number seven recruit in the country according to ESPNU is still considering Oregon, but he may be weeks away from making a final decision. ESPNU, for their part, listed the predictions from seven of their recruiting experts as to where each of these guys (and all the other elite unsigned recruits) will land, and they have Muhammad and Parker going to UCLA, with Bennett winding up in Florida.
  2. Arizona’s recruiting class for 2012 was thought to be done, but they added a junior college transferMatt Korcheck – who is expected to sign his commitment this week. Korcheck is a 6’9” forward who is jumping into a crowded frontcourt in Tucson, so he is expected to redshirt next season and retain two years of collegiate eligibility. More importantly for the future of the program, Sean Miller earned a commitment from Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell. McConnell could well be the point guard that Arizona has been lacking, but he’ll have to sit out next year before becoming eligible in 2013-14. The next big question for the Wildcats will be the future of freshman point guard Josiah Turner, who was suspended indefinitely prior to the Pac-12 tournament. With Turner and junior Jordin Mayes the only point guards on the Arizona roster, the fate of the mercurial lead guard could go a long way towards determining just how much should be expected of the Wildcats next season.
  3. Not all of the talk around the conference is of players coming in; at Oregon State, the big news is that junior guard Jared Cunningham will forego his final season of eligibility and enter his name into the NBA Draft. Cunningham was a first-team all-conference selection and averaged nearly 18 points per game, but his decision to remain in the draft is a bit of a head scratcher. Draft Express currently has him being picked towards the back of the second round of the draft, meaning he would not earn a guaranteed contract. He’s got plenty of physical skills, but his inability to consistently hit a jump shot and his gambling style on defense are just two traits that make him a questionable NBA prospect at this point.
  4. In Berkeley, Emerson Murray and Alex Rossi will be transferring out of Mike Montgomery’s program, joining graduates Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez on the way out the door. Murray was unable to earn any significant minutes in his first two seasons on campus, so he’ll move north to play for Cameron Dollar at Seattle. Rossi struggled with health problems during his entire California career and leaves having played 16 minutes in two seasons on campus. A landing spot for Rossi is not yet known, and there is speculation that his hernia injury that limited his minutes with the Bears may limit his basketball playing future.
  5. Lastly, the Pac-12 All-Academic team was announced last week, and not surprisingly featured two Stanford players on the first team, two on the second team and four more among the honorable mentions. The first team was made up of Sabatino Chen from Colorado, Rhys Murphy from Oregon State, Trent Lockett from Arizona State and John Gage and Jack Trotter from the Cardinal. The team featured all 20 players in the conference who were not only regular players for their teams but also students who earned at least a 3.0 GPA. Arizona, Washington, USC and Utah were the only four schools to not have a player anywhere on the list. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.
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Stanford’s NIT Title: So What?

Posted by AMurawa on March 30th, 2012

On Thursday night, Stanford earned the right to be one of the handful of teams in Division I basketball to end its season with a win, storming to a 24-point win over Minnesota in the NIT Final. While plenty of people will write that off (with some reason) as just showing that the Cardinal are the 69th best team in college hoops, what exactly does the win mean for Johnny Dawkins and his budding program?

Stanford, NIT Champion

Stanford Took Home The NIT Title, But What Does It Mean For Next Year? (Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)

Conventional wisdom says that an NIT win bodes well for the future, providing a springboard to success in the following season. Even a cursory glance at the history in the last decade shows that this is not really the case. Of the last 10 winners of the NIT, just four teams made the NCAA Tournament the following year, with only one team, West Virginia’s 2006-07 squad, actually earning a victory in the ensuing NCAA Tourney. In fact, over those 10 years, the NIT winners actually turned in a record the following year that was, on average, 4.3 games worse than the record in the year of the NIT win.

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