Pac-12 Comings and Goings: Shabazz Muhammad and Josiah Turner

Posted by AMurawa on April 12th, 2012

It was a big day of comings and goings in the Pac-12 on Wednesday as the picture surrounding the two historic basketball powers in the conference crystallized a bit. UCLA and its embattled head coach Ben Howland got a piece of great news as the nation’s #2 recruit – Shabazz Muhammad – announced his intentions to attend the school next year, while Arizona finally cleared up the status of freshman point guard Josiah Turner when it was announced he would be transferring out of the program.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

Shabazz Muhammad Gives The Bruins Plenty Of Talent And Plenty Of Options

First, the Bruins. Despite UCLA’s struggles over the past three seasons (their 56-43 record since 2009-10 is the worst three-year record in program history since Wilbur Johns went 38-36 from 1945 to 1948 prior to the John Wooden era), Howland was able to add Muhammad to an already strong recruiting class that already featured the #5 recruit in the nation (according to ESPNU) – Kyle Anderson – and highly touted sharpshooter Jordan Adams. And, with the program still in hot pursuit of widebody Tony Parker, their haul could get even gaudier. Muhammad is an explosive offensive talent with the ability to throw down highlight-reel dunks with the best of them as well as knock down threes or score in a variety of ways in between. He will join a roster that features plenty of depth and versatility. Muhammad can play either the two or the three, and he is joined on the wings by returnees like Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell, a pair of nice pieces as well as Adams. Anderson as well can play the two or the three, but he is very adept with the ball in his hands and will play a part at the point, along with controversial North Carolina transfer Larry Drew Jr. And then up front, there are the Wear twins as well as big man Joshua Smith (although there is still a chance, somehow, that Smith could decide on his own or be encouraged to leave early), and perhaps Parker. In short, Howland has put together a ton of pieces in Westwood, but he’ll need to prove his ability to congeal those parts into a gestalt. Is Drew the answer at the point or can Anderson run the Bruin offense? Can Howland open up the offense enough to take advantage of Muhammad’s vast skills in the open court? Can Smith lose half a hundred pounds and be effective for 25 minutes a night? Can the Wear twins develop their offensive games and their defensive toughness? And can Lamb or Powell be counted on to knock down threes when called upon, or will Adams jump ahead of them in the rotation? There are plenty of questions to be answered at UCLA, but one thing is for certain: it should be fun to see it all play out.

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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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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.08.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 8th, 2012

  1. Yesterday was the first day of the Pac-12 Tournament, and we’ll have plenty of separate coverage of the games throughout the weekend, so in the Morning Fives, we’ll focus on more of the “newsy” side of things, both at the tournament and elsewhere. For instance, likely the biggest news of the day yesterday was the news that Arizona had left point guard Josiah Turner behind on their trip to Los Angeles, and that Turner would be suspended indefinitely. Turner had previously been suspended for a game against Florida on December 7 and had also been benched at the start of a game against Duquesne on November 9. The loss of their starting point guard doesn’t help the Wildcats’ chances this weekend, especially in what seems to be a must-win scenario for UA’s NCAA Tournament chances. In Turner’s absence, Nick Johnson is expected to take over the bulk of the minutes at the point, with Brandon Lavender potentially moving into the starting lineup. Sophomore Jordin Mayes, who has only played eight total minutes in the last eight games, in part due to a foot injury, will also be counted on to cover some of Turner’s minutes. In Sean Miller’s comments on the suspension, he noted that “the standards of our program will not be compromised under any circumstances,” a comment that seems particularly meaningful in the wake of the recent UCLA story.
  2. Speaking of UCLA, in one of the oddest stories I’ve heard recently, sophomore center Joshua Smith was benched for the first half after missing the team bus from the team hotel to the Staples Center. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, consider that the team is staying in a hotel across the street from the Staples Center, and that Smith actually walked from the hotel to the arena (as every other team participating in the event does) and was at the arena and in the locker room prior to everybody else on his team. Given that Smith could use all the cardiovascular exercise available (even if it is just walking a block), this seems like a case of head coach Ben Howland going out of his way to lay down the law in the wake of last week’s article, even in a situation that may well not have called for it.
  3. UCLA wound up winning its opening game over crosstown rival USC, mercifully ending the Trojans horrific 6-26 season. Normally, when a coach suffers through a season like that, it’s curtains. USC head coach Kevin O’Neill, however, expects to back. Athletic director Pat Haden has repeatedly made it clear that the combination of O’Neill trying to dig out from under the turmoil that previous head coach Tim Floyd left the program in and the astounding number of injuries the Trojans have suffered this year makes for extenuating circumstances. With everybody on the team returning next year and a handful of reinforcements on the way, the Trojans could be primed for a big turnaround next year.
  4. Stanford associate head coach Dick Davey announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring from coaching at the end of the year. Davey, the former head coach at Santa Clara and a four-time Coach of the Year in the West Coast Conference, plans to spend more time doing things like “fishing in Hawaii.” Yeah, that’s a no-brainer, coach. We think you’ve earned it.
  5. In other assistant coaching news, Oregon State associate head coach Doug Stewart is expected to be among the candidates to replace Jesse Agel, who was fired on Monday, as head coach at Brown. Stewart played at Brown from 1991-94 and was a captain there, and he and Agel were both assistants to current Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson when he was the head man at that school. If Stewart does leave, Robinson will need to rework his staff in advance of next year, a season that could be a make-or-break year for him in Corvallis, a season in which just about everybody from this year’s team returns.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.21.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 21st, 2012

  1. Justin Cobbs of California was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week, the conference announced on Monday. Cobbs scored a career-high 28 points against Oregon last Thursday night, then backed that up with a career-high 13 assists against Oregon State on Saturday, ending his week with averages of 19 points, 10.5 assists, four rebounds and two steals per game. We here at RTC picked Washington’s Terrence Ross as our POTW for his excellence against the Arizona schools this week, but Cobbs is certainly a fine choice, and a guy who has been playing some of the best basketball of his career of late.
  2. It has been a rough year all around for Arizona State, but when they take to the road, it gets even worse. They’re now 0-14 in games played outside of Tempe this year, with the latest strikes against them coming this past week when they trailed by 18 at halftime before losing to Washington by eight, then scored just eight first half points against Washington State before losing by 22. If there’s good news for the Sun Devils, it is that at least they’re done with the road slate, playing their final three conference games at home.
  3. Arizona sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes is just about ready to return to action after missing the last five games with a stress reaction in his right foot. With USC and UCLA in town this week, he’ll likely see time at some point this week, with it all but a certainty that he’ll be ready by the time the Wildcats wrap up their season against Arizona State next week. With the ‘Cats running just a seven-man rotation since the injuries to Mayes and forward Kevin Parrom, senior guard Brendon Lavender has seen his minutes skyrocket. He’s played more than 20 minutes in UA’s last five games, the only times he has done that this season. He’s averaging just over eight points per game and shooting a 67.2% eFG over that span.
  4. California is back on the upswing in the RPI, now ranked at #29 in that index after having dropped several spots the last two weeks. That number should be good enough to earn the Golden Bears an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament should they falter in the Pac-12 Tournament, but no other conference team has an RPI number higher than #50, leaving teams like Washington (RPI #54), Oregon (RPI #55) and Arizona (RPI #67) possibly on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
  5. Lastly, the Orange County Register asked the question on Monday morning: Is UCLA NIT-worthy? With the bad loss to St. John’s fresh in the mind and the Bruins sitting behind mediocre Pac-12 teams who may rank higher on the pecking order for an NIT bid, is it possible that the former preseason Pac-12-favorites won’t even garner an NIT invitation? The mere fact that such a question is being asked obviously doesn’t bode well for the future of head coach Ben Howland, who is officially on the hot seat, a spot made even warmer by the rumors that 2012 recruit Shabazz Muhammad, once thought to be a future Bruin, may now be more likely to wind up in Lexington next year.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.15.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 15th, 2012

  1. Most years, when USC and UCLA get together to renew their rivalry, it is at least worth a spot on the college basketball fan’s playlist. This year, with a combined record of 20-31, maybe not so much. Still, for the teams involved, this is a big deal. USC had plans to practice on Tuesday just down the street from their campus, at the Sports Arena, where the Bruins are playing most of their home games this season while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations. However, UCLA objected to those plans and contacted the Pac-12 office for clarification, finding that conference rules do not allow for the visiting team to practice at the home team’s venue the day prior to either a one-game road trip or the first game of a two-game trip. There’s no doubt, despite the fact that both of these teams are struggling through down years, UCLA would love to complete the season sweep of the hated Trojans.
  2. Just how bad has it been for the Los Angeles schools this year? To begin with, UCLA, without question the biggest basketball program Southern California and one of the giants in the nation, is just the sixth ranked team in its own state, according to the Sagarin ratings, behind California, Saint Mary’s, Long Beach State, San Diego State, and Stanford. Still, that puts them far ahead of USC, a team that is struggling through its worst year in school history, a year that has taken all of the fun out of the game.
  3. After reeling off five straight wins to take over first place in the conference, Washington laid an egg last Thursday night at Oregon. For a team that was already destined to be bubble-bound, barring a win at the Pac-12 Tournament in March, that made the situation down the stretch very clear; as Lorenzo Romar put it on Tuesday: “every game is crucial.” However, despite the loss at Oregon, the Huskies RPI continues to climb, up 14 spots to #62 in this week’s official rankings. Still, an RPI that low is not likely to garner a team much support when the selection committee gets together in just under a month. Aside from winning the conference tournament, the best case scenario is find a win to take down the regular season title.
  4. We’ve talked about the Player of the Year race in our weekly conference check-in, naming Jorge Gutierrez as our favorite for the time being. Bob Clark of The Register Guard takes it one step further, saying that Gutierrez should be an “almost unanimous selection” when the time comes to vote, with guys like Jared Cunningham, Tony Wroten, and Andre Roberson trailing the leader. “Almost unanimous” may be a stretch, but it certainly looks like Gutierrez is the lead horse right now.
  5. Arizona has gone to a seven-man rotation over the last three games, while sophomore guard Jordin Mayes has sat out with a stress fracture in his foot. But, he’s getting closer to being ready to come back, and it is possible that he could return for limited action Saturday against Washington. It appears more likely that he is still a week away, as Sean Miller says he isn’t optimistic about Mayes’ chances this week, but given that it was thought Mayes could be out for the season, the fact that his return seems likely is a bit of good news.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 9th, 2012

  1. After missing nearly a month due to a severely sprained right ankle, Arizona State junior guard Trent Lockett is set to return to the Sun Devils’ lineup on Thursday when they host Utah. In Lockett’s absence, the wheels fell off an already wobbly ASU bus: They’ve lost five of the six games he’s missed, their scoring dropped by almost 12 points a game, their field goal percentage took a nearly seven-point hit, their assists per game dropped, and their free-throw attempts dropped. It may take some time for Lockett to get back in the swing of things, so it turns out it is fortunate that he returns for the Utah game. Because as bad as things have been for the Sun Devils this year, the Utes are still looking up at them.
  2. Just down the road a piece, Arizona has injury problems of its own. In the past two weeks, both Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes went down with foot injuries, with Parrom being lost for the year and Mayes out indefinitely. The Mayes injury was initially feared to be another fracture on a foot that he had broken last year, but X-rays proved negative. Still, for the foreseeable future, head coach Sean Miller may have to rely mostly on a seven-man rotation, with freshman point guard Josiah Turner being aided with the ballhandling duties by senior Kyle Fogg and fellow freshman Nick Johnson.
  3. Utah junior guard Chris Hines has had more than his fair share of injuries this year himself. He’s hurt his ribs, an elbow, a thumb and an ankle, but through all the bumps and bruises and 18 losses so far, he has missed just two games on the season, and he’s playing nearly 30 minutes a game. As one of only two active players remaining from last year’s squad, Hines has felt the need to keep going out there in order to provide leadership and a scoring punch to a seriously undermanned team.
  4. With the Pac-12 so far down this year, there will really be only one team on Selection Sunday that feels comfortable about making the NCAA Tournament: the team that wins the Pac-12 Tournament. So, while some teams will still worry about winning games to improve their RPI and potentially make themselves more attractive at-large candidates, perhaps the most important goal for the remainder of the conference season is to place in the top four and earn a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Right now Oregon and Arizona are tied for fourth place, but Oregon head coach Dana Altman is trying to dial down the importance of a top four finish, telling his team to just go out and play well.
  5. Lastly, as if Arizona head coach Sean Miller needed additional ammunition in his recruiting tool chest, but a Wall Street Journal article shows that former Wildcats have earned $738 million in the NBA since 1985. Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen disputes that figure, putting the total closer to $770 million, but either way, Arizona places third among all schools, trailing only North Carolina and Duke. Only two other Pac-12 schools of note make the top 25: UCLA (10th place, $497 million) and California (13th place, $404 million).
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Arizona vs. California: The Pac-12 Is Still Anyone’s Game

Posted by mlemaire on February 3rd, 2012

On February 5, 2011, then-Findlay Prep star Nick Johnson tuned in from Nevada to watch his future team, Arizona, travel to Berkeley to face off against California. What he witnessed was a wild, back-and-forth, triple-overtime game that Arizona eventually won, 107-105. So Thursday, when the now-freshman starter Johnson and his teammates headed to Berkeley  for the rematch, he was ready. Johnson scored 11 points and dished out five assists, and senior Kyle Fogg played what coach Sean Miller called “his best game since I have been at Arizona,” and the Wildcats held off a furious rally by late to win, 78-74, proving that there are still at least seven teams who have legitimate chances at winning the conference title.

Arizona Picked Up Its Biggest Pac-12 Win In Berkeley (AP/J. Chiu)

“I was telling the guys, I watched the game last year,” Johnson said. “So I knew it was going to be crazy, and I prepared for that.” Despite Johnson’s claims, it didn’t look like he or his teammates were prepared for the start of the game as they let the Bears jump out to an early 22-9 lead, looking lost on offense and uninspired on defense. But then, with Haas Pavilion rocking and their team looking to deliver an early knockout blow to an inexperienced opponent, Arizona methodically climbed back into the game and then Fogg took over. In the last 10 minutes of the first-half, Fogg had 10 points, two assists, two steals, and a rebound as Arizona stormed back (with the help of some generous whistles) to take a 45-34 lead at the half.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.03.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 3rd, 2012

  1. When all is said and done in the regular season, a night like Thursday night may be the kind of night that determines our eventual regular season champion. Coming into the evening, both Washington and California were tied for first place in the Pac-12, and both teams were treated to rough-and-tumble battles on their home courts against traditional powers in the conference. But, in the end, only one of those teams was able to pull out a victory. For the first time this season, Washington sits atop the Pac-12 standings, alone in first place after pulling out a thrilling victory over UCLA at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Midway through the second half, as the Bruins pulled out to a 10-point lead, it looked like the bad Husky team featuring incoherent offense, lazy defense and out-of-control play on both ends was going to doom Lorenzo Romar’s team again. But, sophomore wing Terrence Ross dragged the Huskies back, scoring 10 of their final 12 points, including a couple of threes from Abdul Gaddy assists, and the Huskies were able to pull out an important win. UCLA got a career-high 24 points out of sophomore center Joshua Smith, who was unusually active throughout, but the Bruins squandered a final opportunity. Down two, after having earned a defensive stop, UCLA has a timeout in the bank and 30 seconds on the clock. Instead of using that timeout to set up a play, the Bruins let the clock run down far enough that they were only able to get one shot as time expired. We’ve seen this on multiple occasions this season in the Pac-12 (Oregon State has done it multiple times, Arizona did it against Colorado), and it doesn’t get any easier to watch. It is just plain old bad game theory that doesn’t make a lick of sense. But, that’s a rant for another time. Also of interest in this game is that Tony Wroten sat out the final eight minutes of the game. While he was limping a bit during the game and perhaps bruised a knee, it remains to be seen whether this was a case of Romar benching an inefficient and wild freshman.
  2. California’s game was just as wild as Washington’s, but in Berkeley it was Arizona that came out on top, behind a season-high 23 points from senior guard Kyle Fogg. Fogg drilled a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:10 remaining, then came up with a huge running block of a potential game-tying three from Cal’s Allen Crabbe with 26 seconds remaining. Freshman Nick Johnson followed that up on the next possession with a swat of his own, this one on a runner by the Bears’ Justin Cobbs. But perhaps the most memorable portion of this game came when Jorge Gutierrez made a diving attempt at saving a loose ball and fell into the Arizona bench, where Wildcat assistant coach Joe Pasternack kicked Gutierrez. Gutierrez then went after Pasternack, yelling and pointing at him, and he had to be held back by Arizona head coach Sean Miller. In the end, no fouls were assessed, but Cal did appear to get some momentum out of the incident. However, the Bears were unable to score on their final three possessions, and now sink back into a traffic jam of three teams tied for second place at 7-3. It wasn’t all good news for Arizona, however, as sophomore point guard Jordin Mayes may have been lost for the season with an injury to his left foot, the same one he broke last spring.
  3. Oregon is in the group a game back of first place after they took care of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday night. The Ducks started slowly and still trailed to the 5-17 Utes deep into the second half, but junior wing Carlos Emory, who, along with center Tony Woods, did not play in the first half for disciplinary reasons, sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Ducks control for good. Despite missing the first half, Emory was excellent when it counted, hitting all four of his field goal attempts and all five of his free throws en route to a career-high 14 points. Utah played well, getting 20 points and four threes from junior Chris Hines, while freshman point guard Kareem Storey played his best game of his career, handing out 11 assists against just one turnover.
  4. Colorado is the third team sitting a game back of Washington, following their 22-point drubbing of Oregon State on Thursday night. The Buffaloes used a 22-9 run in the middle of the first half to build a 15-point halftime lead in Boulder, then expanded on that in the second half, running the lead out as far as 28 points in the second half. Sophomore forward Andre Roberson notched his 14th double-double of the season, grabbing 15 boards to go with his 16 points, and the CU defense held the Beaver backcourt combo of Jared Cunningham and Ahmad Starks to just six-of-20 shooting, 15 points, three assists and two turnovers.
  5. Elsewhere, Stanford snapped its three-game losing streak by handling Arizona State with ease, and the Cardinal now sit tied with Arizona two games out of first in the conference. While at the bottom of the conference, Washington State handed USC its ninth loss in 10 games and saw junior Mike Ladd earn his first minutes in five games, returning from a thumb injury that had just this week had the remainder of his season in doubt. He scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Brock Motum led the way for the Cougars, though, with 26 points and eight boards.
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Pac-12 Burning Questions: Missing A Transfer?

Posted by AMurawa on January 26th, 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:

“Which recent Pac-12 transfer would do the most to help his former team this year?”


Andrew Murawa: Where to begin? There have been so many transfers around the conference in recent years that seemingly every team has been hit hard by one loss or another. Utah has had multiple players transfer out, leaving head coach Larry Krystkowiak with a nearly empty cupboard when he arrived – they could certainly make use of the offensive punch of either current Colorado senior Carlon Brown (although he would have used up his eligibility by now without the transfer) or Marshall Henderson, who will begin his sophomore season at Texas Tech next year. Bryce Jones would give the ridiculously shorthanded USC squad some firepower, but he is currently sitting out his transfer season at UNLV. Arizona State is currently struggling with its backcourt depth, and Demetrius Walker, currently struggling to earn playing time at New Mexico, would certainly be ready to provide minutes for Herb Sendek’s team. And that’s just a partial list.

Mike Moser, UNLV

Mike Moser's Athleticism And Perimeter Abilities Would Greatly Help The Current UCLA Team (photo credit: John Gurzinski, AP Photo)

But really, let’s not get too fancy here. The Pac-12 transfer who would do the most to help his former team is Mike Moser, the best player on the list. Moser left UCLA in April 2010 in search of playing time that Ben Howland either could not or would not find for him. After sitting out last season, he’s become a force at UNLV this year, averaging 14 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while contributing an athleticism and even a three-point shooting presence that is sorely missing at UCLA. While Moser couldn’t earn consistent minutes as a freshman in 2009-10 on a team that started guys like James Keefe and Nikola Dragovic up front, he would be far and away the most athletic frontcourt player on the squad, and together with freshman guard Norman Powell, one of just two above-average Pac-12 athletes on the team. His ability to rebound has been well documented (he grabs 28.1% of defensive rebounds, good for ninth in the nation, and his 12.9% offensive rebounding rate is somewhat restricted by his tendency to play on the perimeter offensively) but he would also provide some punch outside (he hits slightly more than one three per game at a 32.4% rate). Throw in the fact that he would be the one player on the squad who could effectively match up defensively with athletic threes, freeing up the Wear twins to play primarily at the four and five, and he would be a major boon to a struggling UCLA defense. Moser is a prime example of why it is important for coaches to expand their rotations a bit and at least find a bit of time for youngsters, keeping those guys involved, finding out what they can do and providing them the promise of a chance to contribute to the program in more substantial ways in the future.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.09.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 9th, 2011

  1. On the heels of Wednesday night’s loss to Nevada, and in the midst of the second straight rough season, Arizona State on Thursday announced a two-year contract extension for head coach Herb Sendek. The timing of the announcement may seem peculiar, but Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic thinks that it was actually the perfect time, assuming the athletic department believes that Sendek is the guy for this program. With further losses expected to pile up this season, especially if freshman point guard Jahii Carson is declared ineligible in the next week, announcing an extension later in the year as the team sinks toward the bottom of the conference would be met with even more consternation from a beleaguered ASU fan base.
  2. On the heels of an historic loss on Wednesday night and with BYU coming up this weekend, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak announced that senior point guard Josh Watkins, who had been suspended earlier in the week for “conduct detrimental to the team,” had been reinstated and would play against the Cougars on Saturday. The Utes still don’t have a prayer of winning that game, and, as Bill Riley points out, things are going to get worse before they get better because there simply isn’t enough talent on this current Utah roster to compete, even in a weakened Pac-12.
  3. In Tucson, all eyes are on the situation with another suspended point guard, Josiah Turner of Arizona. The talented freshman was on the verge of regaining his starting role earlier in the week before he missed a practice and was suspended for the Wildcats’ trip to Florida on Wednesday. Scott Terrell of the Tucson Citizen points out that despite all of Sean Miller’s success on the recruiting trail, he’ll need Turner to be the man at point if he hopes to see his team live up to all its talent. Nick Johnson slid over to the point on Wednesday and gave a good effort, but he is clearly not the answer at the one, while sophomore Jordin Mayes is best suited to a back-up role. With no true point due to arrive at Arizona next year either, these next couple of Wildcat squads will need to be quarterbacked by Turner.
  4. Oregon State freshman center Daniel Gomis got his first chance to practice as a member of the Beavers on Wednesday after breaking his leg last summer. The 6’10” native of Senegal is still working his way back into game shape and may eventually take a redshirt this year, but OSU head coach Craig Robinson will wait until after December to make a final decision on Gomis’ status for the rest of the season. Gomis is a very athletic big man who runs the floor well and defends hard, but his offensive range doesn’t extend much farther than the distance of a dunk. Barring injury or some other calamity for OSU, expect Gomis to sit out the rest of the season and begin his freshman season next year.
  5. Finally, as if we didn’t know, Jon Wilner puts it into plain black and white just how bad this conference is this year. Among the lowlights, the conference is: 0-9 against ranked teams; 2-8 against the Mountain West; 0-3 against San Diego State; and 9-13 against power conference leagues. And the teams with the two best records in the conference? Stanford (8-1) and Oregon State (6-1) have built their records against schedules ranked 201st and 249th, respectively, by Sagarin.
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