Rushed Reactions: #10 Stanford 60, #2 Kansas 57

Posted by Adam Stillman on March 23rd, 2014

RTC_tourneycoverage

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion@RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Powell May Have Saved the Cardinal Last Night

Dwight Powell was huge in Stanford’s upset of Kansas.

  1. Stanford pulls the upset. Who expected this? Sure, there was no Joel Embiid for Kansas, but the rest of the talented Jayhawks was there. And they laid an egg. Kansas was upset by a double-figure seed for the third time in the past five NCAA Tournaments. Stanford was better almost all game, a deserving winner. A #10 over a #2 is a big enough upset, made even bigger in what they were calling Allen Fieldhouse East. There was one section full of Stanford fans. The rest? Kansas fans or Wichita State fans rooting for the Jayhawks. March Madness, indeed.
  2. Andrew Wiggins was a disaster. It was a disappointing way for the freshman phenom to go out of his only collegiate season. The potential #1 pick in June’s NBA Draft was horrible in his last game in a Kansas jersey. Wiggins scored just four points while going 1-of-6 from the floor. He turned the ball over four times, including on a crucial possession with just less than a minute to play in the game. He missed opened threes and easy layups. Wiggins was invisible almost all game long. He rarely made an effort to get to the basket or create his own shot. Bill Self could have done a better job drawing up some plays for him, but Wiggins, like Duke’s one-and-doner Jabari Parker on Friday, picked the wrong time to have his worst game of the season.
  3. Stanford’s zone defense was terrific. The Cardinal might have taken some notes from Florida’s win over Kansas earlier in the season. Stanford used an mutating 1-3-1 zone to perfection, which made it extremely difficult to find driving lanes or get the ball into the post. Other than Tarik Black’s 18 points, Kansas’ other big men struggled mightily. Perry Ellis went 3-of-10 for nine points, while Jamari Traylor was 1-of-8 with three points. Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic and John Gage were fantastic on the defensive end. Kansas just never could get in a rhythm offensively.

Star of the Game: Dwight Powell, Stanford. After a horrible first round game against New Mexico, Powell came to play against Kansas’ imposing frontcourt. Despite frequent foul trouble, Powell finished with a team-high 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, while also going 5-of-6 from the foul line. The senior forward also pulled down seven rebounds and did a tremendous job on the defensive end limited Kansas’ drives to the basket and post play.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 02.24.14 Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa on February 24th, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. ESPN visited Pac-12 country this weekend, bringing its pregame show GameDay to Boulder on Saturday in advance of Colorado’s battle with Arizona on Saturday night. Students waited in line overnight, through the type of weather that only college students should try to endure, in order to be among the first inside the Coors Events Center. And while all was good and fun for those fans and the Colorado program certainly enjoyed the national exposure, the game itself didn’t turn out so well. Despite sophomore forward Xavier Johnson predicting a 20-point blowout win for the Buffs, it was the Wildcats that ran roughshod. Colorado missed its first 15 field goals, and then somehow it got worse from there as the Wildcats made 22 of their 26 shots in the second half. As for Johnson? Well, he probably learned that all that talking puts undue pressure on you, pressure of which he didn’t respond well — he was 1-of-10 from the field.
  2. Another Arizona school was involved in a blowout this weekend, as Arizona State went to Utah and wound up on the wrong side of a 23-point margin. Dave Dulberg of ArizonaSports.com breaks down the loss by the numbers, noting that, among other things, Utah blocked 18.4 percent of Arizona State’s field goal attempts on Sunday. To convert that number to KenPom speak, that’s actually a blocked-shot percentage of 31.5 percent, since that stat only takes into account two-point field goals attempted. Speaking of which, I’d add one additional number to Dulberg’s effort: 27. That’s the number of three-point field goals the Sun Devils put up in this game, many of which were wild second-half attempts to erase a 20-point deficit with a single shot.
  3. Oregon played its game on Sunday evening against Washington State without the services of sophomore guard Damyean Dotson, who was busted early Saturday morning for attempting to use a fake ID at Taylor’s Bar and Grill in Eugene. Yup, get this. The security staff at this bar saw through Dotson’s fake ID, and then rather than just turn the guy away, they actually held him and called the cops. Dotson was detained there until the police arrived, at which time he was cited and released. Dotson, as a result, watched the Oregon win from the bench.
  4. Just in case you didn’t realize how deep into the college basketball season we really are, here’s some perspective: Senior Days in the Pac-12 are already officially underway, after Colorado honored its pair of seniors – little used Ben Mills and Beau Gamble – prior to Saturday night’s game against Arizona. Neither guy has had a huge impact on the court, but each has made an impact on his team. We’ll have more on some of the high-profile seniors from here to the end of the regular season, but even though these two aren’t guys we’ve written extensively about, we wanted to recognize them before they head out into the real world.
  5. One senior we’ll certainly highlight in the coming weeks is Stanford’s Josh Huestis, the pride of Great Falls, Montana. The Cardinal forward is now the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, and Jesse Geleynse of the Great Falls Tribune has a great feature on their city’s native son. It’s 10 pages long and you’ve gotta click through every one, but it is very much worth the effort.
Share this story

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Assessing the Pac-12 After One Month

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 12th, 2013

We’re a month into the season, something basically approaching the quarter-pole of this race, so it seems like a good time to take a look back at what’s happened so far, prognosticate a bit into the future, and reset the season as we move forward.

Overall, coming into the year, we regarded Arizona as the clear-cut favorite in the conference. A month in, the Wildcats have done nothing to dissuade us of that notion; in fact, if anything, they’re probably even a bigger favorite than they were in early November. Seeing the improvement the sophomores have made, the cohesiveness of this team defensively from the get-go, and contemplating the improvement that can still be made – especially on the offensive end – the ‘Cats remain the big boys in the Pac-12. That being said, Oregon, UCLA and Colorado have all established themselves as Top 25 caliber teams with plenty of upside. With the Wildcats needing to make road trips to visit every one of those teams, there will be plenty of chances for Arizona to slip up in conference play.

In The First Month, Arizona Has Solidified Its Reputation As The Pac-12 Favorites (Casey Sapio, USA Today Sports)

In The First Month, Arizona Has Solidified Its Reputation As The Pac-12 Favorites (Casey Sapio, USA Today Sports)

Beyond that group at the top, California sort of sits in a tier by itself; it would be a serious surprise if the Golden Bears compete for a conference title, but at the same time, it would be a stretch to picture this team on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday. However, after the Bears, there are plenty of question marks. Arizona State started off strong, but a couple of slip-ups in the Wooden Legacy damaged their early hopes. Stanford’s got plenty of talent, but this team has done little to give any but the most myopic Cardinal fan hopes of serious change. And while Utah has looked exciting at times, that is a team that is going to be up and down over the course of the year; yes, they may sneak up and bite unsuspecting visitors to Salt Lake City in the butt, but they’ll also turn in a couple stinkers of their own. Beyond that, however, USC, Washington, Washington State and Oregon State are a good bet to make up the bottom third of the standings come March. Below, we’ll take a look at each of those top eight teams and talk about what we’ve learned over the first month and what needs to change going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Cardinal Sin: More Non-Conference Struggles For Stanford and Dawkins

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 27th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC national columnist. He filed this report after Tuesday night’s Pittsburgh vs. Stanford game from the Legends Classic. 

As our own Chris Johnson noted last week, Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal have had little issue of late on the recruiting trails. The same cannot be said for their life on the hardwood. After a shaky Legends Classic semifinal victory over Houston on Monday, the Cardinal were blasted in last night’s championship game, losing 88-67 to Pittsburgh. The Panthers deserve much of the credit for the lopsided result. Dawkins’ went so far as to label Pitt a “buzzsaw” in the post-game presser, and Jamie Dixon’s team really was that clinical in dispatching the Cardinal. But while a loss to said buzzsaw won’t do too much harm to the Cardinal NCAA Tournament resume, Tuesday’s loss is just the latest example in a troubling trend of missed opportunities. The talent has been there at Stanford, especially of late, but they have yet to find their way out of the cloud of mediocrity that has followed Dawkins to the Bay Area. The half-decade with the former Duke assistant at the reins has been an era sans signature victory – sorry, those don’t come in the NIT – and after the not-so-well disguised ultimatum offered in the offseason by Stanford AD Bernard Muir, it’s an epoch that may need at least one such win to survive. Needless to say, Dawkins and the Cardinal couldn’t find it at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night.

It Didn't Happen On Tuesday Night Against Pittsburgh, But Johnny Dawkins Needs To Find Stanford A Marquee Victory Or Two. The Consequences Of Not Doing So? Dawkins Doesn't Want To Find Out.

It Didn’t Happen On Tuesday Night Against Pittsburgh, But Johnny Dawkins Needs To Find Stanford A Marquee Victory Or Two. The Consequences Of Not Doing So? Dawkins Doesn’t Want To Find Out.

Dawkins was effusive with praise for Pittsburgh after the game, and he may be right that his team “just ran into a team that was playing very, very well” on this night. But unfortunate timing or not, this wasn’t the first non-conference test that the Cardinal have failed in recent years. Two seasons ago, Stanford dropped its sole showcase game to Syracuse. Last year, attention-grabbing opportunities went by the wayside in losses to Missouri, Minnesota, and NC State – all teams that finished in KenPom’s top 35. In fact, Dawkins has just one non-conference win against a team that ended the season in KenPom’s top 50: a 2011 home victory over an NC State team that wouldn’t end up hitting its stride until February. December dates with Connecticut and Michigan should allow for two more chances to improve upon that distressing total, but the early season losses to BYU and Pittsburgh fit right in with recent history.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Houston Isn’t Very Good, But TaShawn Thomas Sure Is

Posted by mlemaire on November 26th, 2013

Last night’s 10-point loss to Stanford may have exposed Houston’s fast start as a byproduct of some soft scheduling, but those expecting last night’s game to expose junior forward TaShawn Thomas‘s gaudy statistics as a byproduct of the same scheduling received a rude surprise. Thomas entered last’s night game averaging 16.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per game. Those are impressive numbers no matter the competition, but because Houston’s schedule had thus far featured such college basketball luminaries as Howard and UT-Pan American, most expected Thomas to regress against some improved competition.

It's About Time People Start Paying More Attention To TaShawn Thomas (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

It’s About Time People Start Paying More Attention To TaShawn Thomas (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)

Then the Cougars squared off with a Cardinal team that featured a lot of size and athleticism on Monday and all Thomas did was shoot better than 57 percent from the floor on his way to 22 points, 14 rebounds, five steals, and three blocks in losing effort. Stanford’s strength is its frontcourt and between Stefan Nastic, Dwight Powell, and Josh Huestis, the Cardinal seemingly had more than enough size and talent to control the paint and the glass. Instead it was Thomas who controlled the paint and the glass all by himself. The Cardinal frontcourt got its buckets, but Thomas almost kept the Cougars in the game on his own by grabbing seven offensive rebounds and repeatedly getting to the free throw line in the second half. He was so obviously the best interior player in the game that when Nastic went to the bench with four fouls in the middle of the second half, ESPN’s announcers openly wondered how the Cardinal would get rebounds even though it still had two players on the floor — Powell and Grant Verhoeven – larger than Thomas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Stanford Basketball: What Needs to Change?

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 15th, 2013

So, Stanford. You, me and just about everybody the both of us know were ready to write them off on Monday night, following their pitiful defensive performance against an admittedly very good offensive team in BYU. But, given the underachieving we’ve seen from the Cardinal in recent years, given the questionable coaching from Johnny Dawkins, and given their uninspired performance on a pretty big ESPN-created stage, one couldn’t have been blamed for just throwing in the towel and moving on to greener pastures. But here’s the thing. It’s one loss early in the year to a team that will likely be pretty firmly in the NCAA Tournament picture in four months. Come Selection Sunday, a loss to BYU, even a home loss, is not going to kill anybody.

Stanford's Defensive Struggles Against BYU Were Well-Publicized, But All Hope Is Not Lost (George Nitkin, AP)

Stanford’s Defensive Struggles Against BYU Were Well-Publicized, But All Hope Is Not Lost (George Nitkin, AP)

Meanwhile, last night, Stanford looked, well – certainly not dominant or anything, certainly not good enough to completely erase the memory of Monday night’s non-existent defense – but they looked, at the very least, like they understood that defense mattered. They blocked six shots, they snatched six steals, they forced 16 turnovers, and they held a halfway decent offensive Northwestern team (albeit in the midst of a coaching transition) to less than 0.90 points per possession. Now the preceding are not necessarily stats upon which hats are hung, but they show progress. And they show that the team is capable of dialing in the defense.

But, there are concerns. Many, many concerns. We could start anywhere, but let’s start where BYU exposed the most glaring weakness on Monday: defense. The most egregious place where the Cardinal got exposed against the Cougars was a simple one: effort. The Cardinal repeatedly failed to box out rebounders; they showed no inclination to stop the ballhandler in transition; there was no communication between teammates. These are simple fundamentals. And sure, it’s November and in most cases you could say, oh, this team will improve as they get used to each other. But this is a team made up of mostly juniors and seniors. How do these guys not have a grasp of those fundamentals by this stage? As mentioned before, there was improvement last night, although against a lesser offensive opponent, but we’ll need to keep an eye on how this effort issue progresses this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Stanford Isn’t Ready For The Limelight Yet

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 12th, 2013

Mike Lemaire is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s Stanford vs. BYU game in Palo Alto. 

The season isn’t even a week old and there is still plenty of time to make improvements, but considering the preseason expectations as well as the prolonged NCAA Tournament drought and coaching uncertainty within the program, Stanford’s home game last night against BYU was one the Cardinal really needed to win. It might not have been the Cardinal’s marquee non-conference match-up — that will be a game against Michigan right before Christmas — but it was a nationally televised opportunity for the program to make an early statement against a potential NCAA Tournament team.

Johnny Dawkins Is On The Hot Seat And He Didn't Do Much To Silence His Critics Last Night (credit: Danny Moloshok)

Johnny Dawkins Is On The Hot Seat And He Didn’t Do Much To Silence His Critics Last Night (credit: Danny Moloshok)

Instead, in front of a listless home crowd that was repeatedly drowned out by the BYU contingent, the Cardinal fell flat, losing 112-103 and allowing the Cougars to basically do whatever they wanted to offensively. Led by guards Matt Carlino (26 points on 8-0f-16 shooting), Kyle Collinsworth (14 points and nine assists), and Tyler Haws (31 points on 10-of-18 shooting), the Cougars shot better than 53 percent from the field and repeatedly got into the lane and pushed the tempo to find easy baskets. On the other end of the floor, Stanford scored a lot of points, but they never looked comfortable attacking BYU’s zone defense and, despite its obvious size advantage, ended up settling for a lot of long and contested jump shots.

Don’t make the mistake of pinning all of the blame on Stanford’s shortcomings, because the Cougars are a really good team. Haws is a legitimate All-American candidate and when Carlino and Collinsworth get going and are able to create offense by attacking the rim, BYU is going to be tough to stop. But Stanford wasn’t overmatched in any facet of the game, they just looked confused and uncertain on both ends of the floor while some of head coach Johnny Dawkins‘ moves exacerbated the issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Introducing the Preseason Pac-12 Superlatives

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 11th, 2013

We continue our opening weekend coverage with predictions for the major superlatives throughout the conference from the Pac-12 microsite team.

Preseason All-Defense Team

Jordan Bachynski's Shotblocking Ability Makes Him A Lock For Our Preseason All-Defensive Team

Jordan Bachynski’s Shot-blocking Ability Makes Him A Lock For Our Preseason All-Defensive Team

  • G Nick Johnson, Jr, Arizona
  • G Spencer Dinwiddie, Jr, Colorado
  • G Mark Lyons, So, Arizona
  • F Josh Huestis, Sr, Stanford
  • C Jordan Bachynski, Sr, Arizona State

Johnson, now an upperclassmen with Arizona, averaged just short of 2.0 SPG in 2012-13 and had a knack of locking down an opponent’s top threat in big games. Starting in last year’s Charleston Classic, Dinwiddie stepped up his defense and led Colorado to a win and he hasn’t faltered since. Huestis and Bachynski represent the bigs on our list. The senior from Stanford averaged 2.1 BPG last season and was a key cog in the middle, while the 7’2″ Bachynski was even more impressive with 3.4 BPG.

All-Shooting Team

  • G C.J. Wilcox, Sr, Washington
  • G Joseph Young, Jr, Oregon
  • G Jordan Adams, So, UCLA
  • G Jahii Carson, So, Arizona State
  • F Jonathan Gilling, Jr, Arizona State

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The RTC Interview Series: Pac-12 Preview with Don MacLean and Miles Simon

Posted by Walker Carey on November 6th, 2013


Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Pac-12, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with two Pac-12 experts in Pac-12 Network analyst and former UCLA star, Don MacLean, and ESPN analyst and former Arizona star, Miles Simon. (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: Arizona is the overwhelming preseason favorite in the league. What is it about Sean Miller’s team that has expectations so high in Tucson?

Don MacLean: The talent level there is very high. Sean Miller has brought in some very high-level recruits. Aaron Gordon brings another dimension for the team with his great athleticism and versatility to play inside and on the perimeter. T.J. McConnell is going to be great for the team. I worked the exhibition game last week and I was really impressed by McConnell. I think he is really good. He is the first true point guard that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. When you have all that talent, you need a pass-first guy to spread the ball around. From what I have seen, McConnell seems to be that guy. Sean Miller is also a great coach. With this roster, the depth that the team has, and Miller’s coaching, I think it is warranted to put Arizona as the best team in the league right now.

Miles Simon: Sean Miller obviously brought in a tremendous recruiting class. Getting Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts to come in is a good place to start with this team. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell is going to be an excellent addition for the team at point guard. When you look at this team, it is just so long and athletic. I think defensively, this might be the best group that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. There are just so many positives with this team going into the season.

RTC: Oregon made a surprise trip to the Sweet Sixteen last March after pulling off upsets over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. Gone from last season’s team are Arsalan Kazemi and E.J. Singler, but the Ducks did secure the services of UNLV transfer Mike Moser. With Moser joining a team that has the talented backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson returning, should Dana Altman’s squad take a step forward in the Pac-12 this season and should another NCAA Tournament run be expected?

MacLean: You can never expect an NCAA Tournament run, but I think the team should be just as good. Do not forget that Oregon also added Joseph Young, the transfer from Houston. Adding Mike Moser as a fifth-year guy is an important piece and Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson will be better as second-year players. With what Dana Altman does with his style of play and the way he changes up defenses, I think the Ducks will be as good as they were last season.

Simon: I think Oregon will get back to the NCAA Tournament. It really has some nice pieces, but when you lose guys like Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods and Carlos Emory, you are losing what was the heart and soul of your team. A lot of leadership and toughness left with those guys. If Mike Moser is able to return to where he was with UNLV two years ago, he will be excellent. The backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson should be explosive and one of the best in the league. Johnathan Loyd is the third guard and he has some experience because he had to play a lot when Artis was injured last season. When you consider these pieces, this is a team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story