Introducing the Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

Posted by Andrew (@amurawa) on November 8th, 2013

Later today, maybe even by the time you get around to reading this, there will be real live full-fledged regular season basketball to watch. It’s a beautiful thing. As our last little bit of preview before we get into five months of madness (don’t let the marketing geniuses fool you into thinking that only happens in March), we’ll roll out three teams strong (and just five players per team – please take note conferences of all stripes) of All-Pac-12 personnel.

Here goes nothing:

First Team

Arizona State Sophomore Jahii Carson Is A Unanimous Choice As Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year Among RTC Voters. (USA Today)

Arizona State Sophomore Jahii Carson Is A Unanimous Choice As Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year Among RTC Voters. (USA Today)

  • Jahii Carson, Sophomore, Arizona State – Carson is a unanimous selection among our voters as the best player in the conference, topping all three ballots submitted. After averaging 18 points and five assists as a freshman, Carson is hoping an improved jumper, a faster tempo and a deeper roster will help the Sun Devils’ star wrap up his time in Tempe with an NCAA Tournament appearance.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Junior, Colorado – Dinwiddie’s three-point percentage dipped precipitously as a sophomore, but his aggressiveness and overall effectiveness increased, as he turned into a significantly better finisher and play-maker in his role as lead guard. If his jumper from range returns to anywhere near his freshman year levels, watch out.
  • Jordan Adams, Sophomore, UCLA – Even though Adams was clearly overshadowed by two, if not all three of his UCLA classmates prior to last year, the wing out of Atlanta was arguably the best of the group. He was second on the team in scoring, with 15.3 points per game, but brought along a game varied enough to have a positive impact even when he wasn’t scoring.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013

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  1. Utah played its one and only exhibition game on Saturday, and the result was a mixed bag. The Utes began pulling away from St. Martin’s late in the first half with their athleticism and depth, and the final score was 91-54. Jordan Loveridge played well in the post, scoring 21 points and adding six rebounds. Delon Wright also impressed in his new role for the Utes, playing the majority of the time at the one but still grabbing eight rebounds. However, it was apparent that they still don’t have a second presence in the frontcourt, something head coach Larry Krystowiak needs to figure out before their first regular season game on Friday.
  2. Colorado wasn’t happy when the AP Top 25 poll came out on Thursday and the Buffaloes were left off it. The Buffs were fourth among Pac-12 teams in the AP despite coming in third, and even garnering a first place vote, in the Pac-12 Media Poll. Tad Boyle’s team isn’t too far out of the rankings, however, being listed fifth in the “Also Receiving Votes” category. Preseason ratings really have no meaning, but if you can use it as motivation for being snubbed like Spencer Dinwiddie is, more power to you. Colorado opens the season on Friday against Baylor in Houston.
  3. The annual NBA D-League Draft was held on Friday evening, and two former Washington guards were taken in the first two rounds. Scott Suggs was taken in the first round by the Santa Cruz Warriors, and Abdul Gaddy was selected one round later by the Iowa Energy. As usual, the entire Pac-12 made a strong showing at the minor league draft, with eight alums being picked throughout the 12 rounds. Former Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett was taken with the first overall pick by the Tulsa 66ers. More Wildcats, Kevin Parrom and Salim Stoudamire, was taken by Rio Grande Valley and Fort Wayne, respectively. In addition, a pair of USC forwards were taken in the third round, and the Springfield Armor took former Oregon big man Joevon Catron early in the fourth.
  4. Also taking place Friday night was Washington State‘s lone exhibition tune-up, and the Cougars handled Central Washington for a 93-56 victory. The Cougars debuted their new pressure defense for much of the game, making the Wildcats execute their offense on all 94 feet of the floor. Ken Bone‘s team also shot the ball well, making 33 of 66 field goal attempts. The race to replace all-everything forward Brock Motum is also underway, and while senior big man D.J. Shelton led the team in points, it was freshman power forward Josh Hawkinson that surprised the most. Only playing ten minutes for Washington State, Hawkinson grabbed eight boards and scored six points. That will definitely be a position battle to watch as Washington State approaches its regular season opener on November 8 against Cal State Bakersfield.
  5. Oregon State held its “Beaver Fan Jam” Friday afternoon before the Oregon State football game against USC, and a dunk contest highlighted the festivities. Junior forward Eric Moreland took second place in the contest, producing this nice tomahawk jam and an over-the-”car” dunk in the second round. However, it was freshman point guard Malcolm Duvivier that took home the inaugural slam dunk title. He won it with this 360 beauty, leaving Beaver fans hoping to see it in actual game action one day. Oregon State hosts Concordia to close out its exhibition season Tuesday night in Corvallis.
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Pac-12 Team Preview: Utah Utes

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 24th, 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.

Utah Utes

Strengths. Balance. The fact that it is hard to pin down one specific strength for this team should not be taken as a strike against the squad. As opposed to Utah teams in recent years, there are a lot of solid options here, and on both ends of the court. Sure, sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge is the kingpin here, an inside/outside threat who is just scratching the surface of his potential, but this Ute team has a lot of good things going for it. They have size, with the ability to start a frontline of a couple 6’10″ big guys alongside the 6’”7 Loveridge, and a 6’5″ man running the point. They have a healthy contingent of player capable of knocking down shots from three, alongside a group of players who will be most comfortable in the paint. And in the backcourt, they have a group of three players in particular – Delon Wright, Brandon Taylor, and Parker Van Dyke – who can mix and match between themselves at the two-guard spots. When all is said and done, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see maybe six players average better than eight points per game for Larry Krystkowiak.

Jordan Loveridge Is The Kingpin For An Undertalented Utah Squad

Jordan Loveridge Is The Kingpin For An Undertalented Utah Squad

Weaknesses. The biggest strike against this squad is inexperience. There isn’t a guy on this roster who has more than a single season of experience in a Ute uniform. Given the rampant roster turnover in Salt Lake City in recent years, this shouldn’t be a surprise, but it does limit the total upside from the program. On the plus side, there are quite a few older players on this team, either transfers or guys who have taken their LDS mission, meaning there are eight guys on the roster old than 20 – some of them significantly older.

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Pac-12 M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 22nd, 2013

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  1. Instead of an exhibition game or two, the USC‘s men’s and women’s teams announced yesterday they’ll be hosting the “Trojan Tipoff” on Sunday morning. The day will open with a FanFest, which includes a meet and greet with Trojan coaches and players, but the highlight will be the intrasquad scrimmages that come later in the day. It will be the first glance at the new-look Trojans, now under the guidance of uber-promoter Andy Enfield. Hopefully SC provides some type of streaming for the event for us out-of-towners interested to see how Dunk City looks on the west coast. The men’s team opens the season November 8 at Utah State, in a game to be televised by CBS Sports Network.
  2. Across town, the fallout continues from Enfield’s “If you want to play slow, go to UCLA” comment made last week. First year Bruins head coach Steve Alford issued another denial to the quote on Monday, pointing out that his teams at New Mexico were always first or second in scoring in the Mountain West. He also said that while there are no problems between he and the other new coach in Los Angeles, he understands that there is a rivalry between the schools. Before the session was over, however, Alford couldn’t resist getting a low-key shot in at the Trojans. “You look at history and tradition, UCLA and USC, there is quite a bit of difference there.”
  3. Some leftovers from Thursday’s Pac-12 Media Day, as Arizona Desert Swarm sat down with junior guard Nick Johnson recently. Johnson discusses playing in the backcourt with point guard T.J. McConnell, how he handles game-by-game expectations, and the Wildcats’ hidden shooting ability at the three and four spots, among other things. Johnson averaged 11.5 PPG for Arizona last season in over 30 MPG, and if the Wildcats are to live up to the expectations being put upon them in the preseason, he will need to contribute double figures again. Even more important will be his perimeter defense, which gave a huge lift to Arizona at times last season. His pressure and ability to get his team out on breaks energized things whenever the offense struggled. Johnson and the Cats will open regular season play against Cal Poly on November 8.
  4. This is the year that Larry Krystowiak will need to show some of the strides Utah has been making, this being his third year at the helm and the Utes’ third in the Pac-12. He thought that the best way to get started on that this offseason was to get in better shape, and the Deseret News reports that his team has more or less accomplished that. Post players Jordan Loveridge, Renan Lenz, and Marko Kovacevic have lost about 20 pounds each as Krystowiak is looking for more active players inside. As far as the guards go, Brandon Taylor and Parker Van Dyke are no longer two of the smallest players in the conference, with each gaining around 15 pounds over the summer. On the court, Krystowiak reports that the Utes are having “spirited and competitive” practices so far this fall. They will have their annual “Night with the Runnin’ Utes” on Wednesday evening of this week.
  5. Tad Boyle‘s Colorado team has developed a reputation as one of the best teams in the league at taking charges, and Boyle worries that the Buffaloes will be at a disadvantage this season with the NCAA’s new rules on how to interpret the violation. Bobby Dibler, the Pac-12′s new coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, broke down the guidelines at Media Day last week and said that he expects more blocks to be called this season. The modification states that once an offensive player has started an upward motion with the ball, the defender can not move into that player’s path or it will be a blocking foul. This is a welcome change after many players had became masters of sliding under a player already in mid-air to draw the charge. As probably expected, Boyle is not a big fan: “We’re going to have to adjust, but I don’t like the rule.”
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Utah on the Slow Road Back to Basketball Relevance

Posted by AMurawa on October 10th, 2013

If you’re strictly a fan of Pac-12 basketball, you may not know it, but Utah basketball has a long and storied tradition. There are the 36 regular season conference championships, 27 NCAA Tournament appearances, 15 Sweet Sixteens, four Final Fours and even the 1944 national championship. Names like Keith Van Horn, Andre Miller, Tom Chambers, Andrew Bogut and Mike Newlin have gone on to enjoy significant success in the NBA. The thing is, all of that occurred prior to the Utes accepting its membership in the Pac-12. Since they’ve been in our fair conference, the team has gone a combined 21-43 overall and 8-28 in conference play in two seasons. But, rest assured, Utah basketball will be back sooner rather than later.

You May Not Remember It, But Utah Has Quite A History Of Basketball Success (Getty Images)

You May Not Remember It, But Utah Has Quite A History Of Basketball Success (Getty Images)

The beginning of Larry Krystowiak’s reign as the head coach of the Utah basketball program coincides neatly with their inaugural season in the Pac-12, but unfortunately it also coincided with a need for a nearly complete roster overhaul. In the offseason before previous head coach Jim Boylen’s final season, four players (including names like Carlon Brown and Marshall Henderson) transferred out of the program. In the aftermath of the Boylen-to-Krystkowiak transition, seven more players left Salt Lake City. After Krystkowiak’s first season, six additional players transferred and still another headed off on an LDS mission. And this past offseason, continuing the trend, three more players alighted, all of whom had only played one year at Utah. What is left is a roster that has only one player who has been in the Utah program longer than a year. And that guy – 6’10″ redshirt sophomore Jeremy Olsen – has spent as many years away from the program on an LDS mission as he has in Salt Lake City.

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Thoughts on the Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Evening Session

Posted by AMurawa on March 15th, 2013

Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report after the second session of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

The evening pair of quarterfinals began with the expectation that there was no way it could live up to the atmosphere and excitement of the afternoon session. And, while it took some time for all of the fans to filter in from happy hour, by the second half of the first game, we had a really good crowd. And what a game that first one was as Utah stormed back from an eight-point second-half deficit against California, survived a seven-minute scoreless streak and got a miraculous Jarred DuBois three over the outstretched arm of 6’10” David Kravish in the waning moments to force overtime, where they would eventually win the game. Lots of little things to mention from this contest:

  • First and foremost, gotta give props to Larry Krystkowiak. Aside from rebuilding his roster from scratch, he’s also done a great job getting incremental improvements out of this team over the course of the season. Remember when this team lost to Stanford by 31? Or lost at the Oregon schools by an average of 14.5 points per game? Now this team is riding a four-game winning streak, shows all the hallmarks of being a well-coached team and is a deserving semifinal entrant. Just wait until the talent level gets to where he wants it.

    Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

    Larry Krystkowiak Has Done A Great Job Getting A Rebuilding Program Into The Pac-12 Semis

  • Utah freshman Jordan Loveridge struggled early, missing seven of his first nine shots, but then hit back-to-back threes to give Utah its first second-half lead, then hit another big three at the start of overtime to extend the Utes’ momentum. He’s had some ups and downs in his first year for the Utes, but he’s a special talent who will eventually, maybe as soon as next year, be an all-conference guy.
  • Richard Solomon continues to be one of my favorite/most-frustrating players in the conference. Dude’s got all the talent in the world, but his motor is often lacking. Case in point tonight: He got 37 minutes of action, probably competed really hard for about 20 of those minutes, and wound up with eight points, 11 boards and three steals.
  • Cal’s Ricky Kreklow, who has missed 24 of his team’s 31 games this season due to a foot injury, played 18 minutes tonight, his most in a game since November, and knocked down two big threes in the first half that kept the Bears sticking around when little else was going right. A lanky wing with a nice shooting touch, it would be a nice addition if he’s good to go without concern for his foot.

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Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VIII: Solid Students

Posted by AMurawa on February 27th, 2013

We’ve bragged about our pet pupils yesterday, and we’ll get to the folks in detention later, but for now, here’s the middle of the Pac from last week’s performances.

Washington – B

After getting run off the court on Wednesday night against Arizona, the Huskies rebounded nicely with a strong performance in knocking off Arizona State on Saturday. In recent weeks it has been as simple as equating made shots with wins for the Huskies. In seven games in February they’ve shot a better than 50% eFG three times and won all of those games. Of course, four times they’ve shot lower than 50% and lost all four of those.

Focus on: Scott Suggs. With C.J. Wilcox clearly hurting, the Huskies desperately needed Suggs – their only other proven scorer – to break out of his slump. And, against the Sun Devils, after scoring just four points in four of his previous five games, Suggs did just that. He provided some offensive punch right out of the gate on Saturday night, either scoring or assisting on 12 of the Huskies  first 18 points. With just three games remaining in the regular season of his final collegiate season, you can bet both he and Lorenzo Romar hope he can keep up that type of performance the rest of the way.

Looking ahead: The Huskies host Washington State on Sunday night as the Evergreen State gets to say goodbye to five really good seniors between the two squads in their final Apple Cup (basketball edition) game.

Once Branded A Glue Guy, Josh Huestis' Recent Streak Proves He's An All-Around Player (Ben Margot, AP)

Once Branded A Glue Guy, Josh Huestis’ Recent Streak Proves He’s An All-Around Player (Ben Margot, AP)

Stanford – B-

The Cardinal went on the road and got a split for the week; that’s a good thing, right? It certainly is, but for Johnny Dawkins and company to move themselves into range for an at-large bid, they really needed to get a win Saturday at Oregon. Unfortunately for them, they shot the ball poorly, turned it over far too much and even got beat on the boards as the Ducks backed Stanford into a corner, where they need to win the Pac-12 Tournament lest they be relegated in trying to defend their NIT title.

Focus on: Josh Huestis. He has previously shown the ability to score both inside and out, but with talented scoring guards and emerging star Dwight Powell on the same roster, the expectation was that Huestis was locked into a “glue guy” role. His occasional outbursts of offense, an expectation that was being met through most of January, the junior from Great Falls regularly grabbed more rebounds than he scored points. But, over the last month, Huestis has undergone an offensive renaissance, scoring in double figures in nine straight games, registering seven double-doubles along the way, and averaging 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game over that stretch. Somewhat unbelievably, Huestis is a legitimate first-team all-conference contender.

Looking ahead: The Cardinal host Colorado and Utah this week. There really isn’t a scenario whereby they earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs, so while neither of these games are must wins, they must build confidence and coherence if they hope to threaten to win the title in Vegas.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.04.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 4th, 2013

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  1. What a super game yesterday, right? A back-and-forth affair featuring a terrific comeback from an early deficit and tons of great plays made by both teams. Sure, maybe the offenses seemed to do whatever they wanted to against overmatched defenses, but those kinds of games can be plenty of fun. Yeah, that Stanford eight-point win over Oregon State sure was entertaining. Between Eric Moreland’s shotblocking, Joe Burton’s creative passing and Chasson Randle pouring in shots from deep, the Cardinal and the Beavers churned out yet another thrilling game. Please, basketball gods, find a way to match these two squads up in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament; this five-twelve thing these two teams got going on right now will do just fine.
  2. With Stanford now having strung together three straight wins in the span of eight days and somehow dug their offense out of the mothballs in the process, the Cardinal are not a team that anybody wants to see show up on their schedule right now. But does Johnny Dawkins need to keep his team winning in order to get him another season on The Farm? Miles Bennett-Smith of The Stanford Daily asks the hard questions about the likable coach, noting the lack of NCAA Tournament appearances, the failure to show appreciable improvement from year-to-year and losses to teams at the back-end of the conference standings. But, if Dawkins can keep this team playing like it has for the past week, all of these questions can get put on hold again.
  3. Last week we were discussing the possibility that Utah, despite looking like an improved team, might not match last year’s total of three conference wins this year. On Saturday, however, they turned in a strong performance, running out to a big early lead against Colorado (the Utes led by as many as 22) before hanging on down the stretch for a three-point win. Freshman Jordan Loveridge, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, missed the game with a knee injury, but sophomore Dallin Bachynski, who had been taking a “break from competition” for a couple of games due to an issue of a personal nature, did return, earning ten minutes in Loveridge’s absence. Junior college transfer Renan Lenz also got a boost in playing time due to Loveridge’s misfortune, earning the start and 18 minutes, but it was freshman Jeremy Olsen who had the biggest impact in replacing Loveridge, going for 12 points in just 14 minutes of action.
  4. Kevin Parrom was ejected from Arizona’s Saturday night game against Washington State for a “flagrant two” foul on DaVonte Lacy early in the game. Parrom hit Lacy in the fast with a closed hand while fighting over a rebound and was ejected by the officials after they looked at the video. Sean Miller noted he was “very disappointed” with his senior guard and said that Parrom embarrassed himself by retaliating against Lacy for a previous slight. Miller will look at the video and meet with Parrom before deciding on any further potential punishment, with being held out of Wednesday’s home game against Stanford a possibility.
  5. Usually the closer a recruit gets to decision-making time, the fewer schools he has on his list of potential landing spots. But, for elite 2013 recruit Aaron Gordon, he’s going the opposite direction. After trimming his list of suitors to three – Arizona, Washington and Kentucky – late last year, Gordon has now added Oregon to his list, according to Rivals.com. This is, of course, good news for Dana Altman and the Ducks and may reflect positively on what they have done so far this season, but it remains to be seen where exactly he’ll wind up. But, with three Pac-12 schools on the list, we’ll admit that we’re rooting for the chance to get a good look at this guy next season on a tour of Pac-12 stadiums and arenas. Arizona Desert Swarm has a look at the pros and cons of each possible landing spot on Gordon’s list.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 1st, 2013

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  1. If things weren’t going bad enough for the Utah basketball team, what with a 1-7 start to Pac-12 play, they got worse news yesterday when leading scorer and rebounder, freshman Jordan Loveridge, was held out of practice with a hyperextended knee suffered in practice on Tuesday. The good news is that the results of his MRI showed no structural damage or any issues with ligaments, but Loveridge is considered day-to-day and may miss Saturday’s game with Colorado.
  2. Following UCLA’s home court loss to cross-town rival USC on Wednesday night, Ben Howland says his team has a lot of soul-searching to do in advance of the back half of the conference schedule. And, according to senior guard Larry Drew, the Bruins had guys who weren’t “all the way into the game on the defensive end.” There is still plenty of time to turn things back around, but after fighting off rumors of his impending demise earlier in the season with some big wins, once again Howland finds himself in need of stringing together several wins in order to feel entirely comfortable about his job. Or, as Bruins Nation puts it, in typically understated fashion, “pathetic, delusional, dumpster fire, disgraceful.” I’m beginning to think those people aren’t enamored of the direction of the UCLA program.
  3. You know how you always hear announcers talk about how a shooter who is struggling might suddenly right himself if he gets to the foul line and gets a couple unhampered looks at the hoop? Well, maybe that is what has happened to Stanford. On Sunday night, they played a Utah team that was completely uninterested in playing basketball and, as a result, the Cardinal got to roll to a blowout win, turning in their best offensive performance of the year against little more than brother-in-law defense. That was the equivalent of the shooter in a mini-slump getting to the free throw line and having a chance to see the ball go through the hoop. Repeatedly. Because on Wednesday night, they continued that hot-shooting and took it to previously unbeaten Oregon. And now that we’ve all of a sudden seen the type of offensive explosion out of Stanford that we had hoped to see all year, we’ve got to wonder if this is the start of a run. Oh, and the Ducks still haven’t swept a trip to the Bay Area since, like the Garfield presidency.
  4. Thursday night was another wild night around the conference, highlighted by Sean Miller’s first win at Washington in his fourth season as Arizona’s head coach. Still, despite coming away with a road win, it was yet another underwhelming win for the Wildcats. Turnovers, poor shooting and uninspiring offense were the order of the night, and while wins are always better than losses (now there’s some hard-won wisdom for ya!), this ‘Cats team isn’t scaring anybody lately.
  5. Lastly, the newest selections for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor, to be inducted prior to the conference championship game in March, were announced on Thursday. Washington’s Nate Robinson is the most recent player to be selected, with the other big names including UCLA’s Lucius Allen, Utah’s Keith Van Horn, Cal’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Arizona’s Jason Gardner. The full list is here.
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What We Learned Last Week in the Pac-12

Posted by PBaruh on January 8th, 2013

The first week of Pac-12 conference play wrapped up on Sunday and here are some takeaways from the first two games of action for each team.

Coming into conference play, it seemed like third place would come down to Colorado and Oregon. After their performance in Corvallis against Oregon State, the Ducks are unquestionably the third best team in the conference and have a legitimate shot to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. Dana Altman‘s team went on the road and outplayed a good Oregon State team for 40 minutes and did all of this with its freshman backcourt leading the way, most notably with the performance of Damyean Dotson, who scored a career high 21 points and also added six rebounds. A pressing question for the Ducks heading into the conference season was whether E.J. Singler would break out out of his season-long slump. He certainly looked liked the player that helped the Ducks tremendously last year against the Beavers as he had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three steals in 37 minutes. Singler is still averaging only 10.2 points per game after averaging 13.7 last year, but 15 points was Singler’s second highest scoring total on the season and could prove that the senior is ready to turn his season around. As of now, it looks like Arizona and UCLA are still the top two teams in the conference, but the Oregon Ducks are looming just behind them.

Damyean Dotson led the way for the Oregon on Sunday against Oregon State and the Ducks seem to be the third best team in the Pac-12 right now.

Damyean Dotson led the way for the Oregon on Sunday against Oregon State and the Ducks seem to be the third best team in the Pac-12 right now.

Andrew Murawa mentioned this yesterday, but it bears repeating: Colorado needs to get more production out of its bench this year. But after viewing the first week of conference play, it just might not happen. There are fixable problems on this Colorado team like their horrid free throw shooting and too many turnovers, but the bench is another story. Besides Xavier Johnson, who has had major problems with foul trouble thus far, Tad Boyle doesn’t have anyone else available whom he feels he can go to on his bench. Shane Harris-Tunks, the only true big man among the reserves, has been used sparingly, registering only 8.7 minutes per game and only 1.6 rebounds per game despite his 6’11″ stature. Freshmen guards Eli Stalzer and Xavier Talton have looked scared whenever they have played a team with physical guards, and, besides the occasional three from Stalzer, neither has shown an ability to score, averaging a combined 3.3 points per game on the year.

Having no bench would be a problem for any team but it could turn into a bigger problem for the Buffaloes if  they continue to get inefficient shooting nights from Askia Booker. Booker has taken 58 more shots than anyone on the team this year and is also shooting at the worst clip out of all the starters at 41 percent from the field. Boyle had a similar situation last year with leading scorer Carlon Brown, a player who struggled mightily near the end of conference play. However, the head coach was able to replace him with, ironically, sixth man Askia Booker. This year, Boyle simply does not have that option. If Colorado wants to stay near the top of the conference throughout the rest of the season, Boyle might not have any other choice than to play his normal starting lineup and Xavier Johnson for almost the entire game. It doesn’t seem like the ideal situation, but at this point, a fatigued yet talented starting five might be better than a bench that simply cannot compete with most teams in the Pac-12.

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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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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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