Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington State

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Washington State Cougars

Strengths.  The Cougars return four starters from last year’s NIT Final Four team in junior guard Reggie Moore, senior guard Marcus Capers, and senior forward Abe Lodwick. However, the biggest contributions could come from the three incoming guards, Mike Ladd, DaVonte Lacy, and Dexter Kernich-Drew. Those three will be needed at the two guard since both Moore and Capers will be at the point. Coming into the season as a Top 50 shooting guard, Lacy is the star of the group. In their exhibition on Saturday against Lewis-Clark State, Lacy proved his value with a 21-point performance. The frontcourt will be held down by Lodwick (when he returns from a left foot injury), junior power forward Brock Motum, and junior center Steven Bjornstad. With Motum and Bjornstad at 6’10″ and 6’11″, respectively, opposing defenses will have trouble matching up in the post.

Lacy has proved early on that he is the go-to guy at shooting guard

Weaknesses.  The Cougars lost two of their three best players from last year in forward DeAngleo Casto and guard Klay Thompson. Those two accounted for 45% of the 2010-11 Wazzu offense. The team will be tested early on with six of their first nine games away from Pullman. For a team that is looking to rreutrn to the NIT, that is a very tough start.

Nonconference Tests.  The Cougars have a relatively easy OOC slate, with only three games that should really challenge them. The first is their regular season opener at Gonzaga. The game will be played at 9:00 PM PST and is the first game of ESPN’s annual 25-Hour Tipoff Marathon. The next challenges will come in the second and third rounds of the 76 Classic down in Anaheim during Thanksgiving weekend. On Nov. 25 they will most likely meet New Mexico in the semifinals, and on Nov. 27 a championship meeting with Villanova looks to be in the cards.

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Pac-12 Team Previews: California

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

California Golden Bears

Strengths.  In a league filled with teams looking to freshmen and sophomores for leadership, seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp will lead this team. Both of them earned all-Pac-10 honors last season as well, so the talent is definitely there. Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe is also back, meaning that California returns their top three scorers from last season. One of the Pac-12′s most improved is also back at point guard in junior Brandon Smith. Smith is an assist machine and a great manager of tempo, whether the Bears want to slow it down or speed up. Challenging him for the starting point spot will be Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs. Cobbs is known for his solid passing ability, but he lit it up with his jumper against UC San Diego last Tuesday. Cobbs led all scorers with 17 points in the exhibition.

Gutierrez will be looked at to lead the Golden Bears this season

Weaknesses.  The Bears lose forward Markuri Sanders-Frison, meaning they will have a drop of almost two rebounds per game to their next highest returning rebounder. For a team that has aspirations of a three seed or higher in the NCAA Tournament, they certainly did not make it easy on themselves with their nonconference schedule. They will play neutral site games against Georgia and either Notre Dame or Missouri, a home game with Weber State, and road games against San Diego State and UNLV.

Nonconference Tests.  If they can get out of the five-game stretch mentioned above with a 2-3 record, the Bears will be fine going into Pac-12 play. The neutral site games are part of the CBE Classic, which means the Bears will have a chance to prove they belong with a few of the nation’s best on a national stage. The SDSU meeting is a return game from last season, while the matchups with the Wildcats and Runnin’ Rebels are the beginning of a new series. The rest of their slate should all be easy victories, as you could make a good case that George Washington is the toughest team left on the schedule.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.07.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

  1. Real games start TONIGHT, but it was all about the exhibitions this weekend. On Saturday night in Pullman, Washington State hammered Lewis-Clark State, 88-41. Considering that the Cougars were without their best player, junior point guard Reggie Moore, this was a great result for Ken Bone’s team. Moore went down with a groin injury in a scrimmage against Montana on Oct. 30. He and senior shooting guard Fasial Aden, who suffered a concussion in the scrimmage, are both questionable for the Nov. 14 season opener at Gonzaga. In Moore’s place was freshman combo guard DaVonte Lacy, who led the Cougars with 21 points. Another newcomer, Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd, had 14 points for the Cougs.
  2. Arizona State played on the road for its lone exhibition game, something only one other D-I team has done so far this year. The Sun Devils spoiled the opening of Grand Canyon’s new arena, using a 52-point second half outburst to propel them to a 89-69 win on Saturday afternoon. With the lack of a true center, the Devils used a three-guard lineup for most of the game. Three starters — Chris Colvin, Keala King, and Trent Lockett — led the team with 15 points each. Colvin was the biggest surprise, as the Palm Beach CC transfer let everyone know the Devils would be just fine at point for however long Jahii Carson is out. “He played with a lot of confidence,” coach Herb Sendek said. “He does have some good swag to his game.” Next up for Arizona State is their regular season opener against Montana State on Friday.
  3. Seattle Pacific couldn’t possibly do it again, could they? After beating Arizona a couple of weeks ago, they hung with Washington for a half on Friday night, but in the end Tony Wroten, Jr., and company were just too much for the Falcons. The former Garfield High (WA) star stole the show with ten points, six rebounds, and four assists, one of which was an alley-oop that brought all of the 9,481 in attendance to their feet (start at the 5:30 point). Seven freshmen made their debuts in a Husky uniform, but only Wroten, Jr., and wing Martin Breunig had good performances. Breunig had eight points and two turnovers. Next up for Washington is the regular season opener against Georgia State on Saturday.
  4. The surprise of the weekend came in Salt Lake City, where Adams State shocked Utah thanks to a Chris Webber-like technical foul with 11 seconds left. With the game tied, Utah freshman guard Kareem Storey signaled for timeout when the Runnin’ Utes did not have any left, giving Adams State two free throws. Deray Wilson put one of the two away, which would prove to be enough after the Utes threw away the ensuing inbound pass. Even though it is just an exhibition and the players have said all of the right things, this could really hurt a young team’s confidence, especially since they had virtually none to begin with. If they come out with a less-than-stellar performance in their regular season opener against San Diego Christian next Monday, the season might be over before it really even gets started.
  5. If you have not already, be sure to get your votes in for the first round of our microsite ESPNU Pac-12 Logo Tournament. Due to a bigger-than-anticipated response, we expanded the first round so everyone had a chance to vote over the weekend. But the quarterfinals will begin Wednesday, so make sure to check back and vote for your favorite before we close the polls at Midnight tonight!
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