Feast Week Mission Briefing: USC in the Battle 4 Atlantis

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 28th, 2013

With Feast Week tipping off over the weekend, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Pac-12 teams involved in neutral site events this week. 

What They’ve Done So FarUSC opened its season with one if its toughest non-conference games, a road trip to Logan to face Utah State. Things didn’t go in head coach Andy Enfield‘s debut as the Aggies blitzed the Trojans from the start and got the 78-65 win. Since then, however, USC has won four in a row, including a 14-point victory against regional rival Cal State Fullerton. Junior guard Byron Wesley has shined the brightest in Enfield’s up-tempo offense, averaging 19.8 PPG and grabbing a cool 8.8 RPG.

Enfield And Wesley Are Off To A 4-1 Start In 2013-14 (Los Angeles Times)
Enfield And Wesley Are Off To A 4-1 Start In 2013-14 (Los Angeles Times)

First Round PreviewUSC meets 4-0 Villanova in the first round Thursday morning. The Wildcats have not had an opportunity to get a signature win, but they did dispatch a good Towson squad, 78-44. Five days later, however, they struggled to pull away from a mediocre Delaware team and barely held on for a four-point win. They are led by junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston, who is averaging over 20 PPG. For the Cats to escape the tournament opener, defending the endless list of USC bigs will be key. If they are able to limit their looks inside, Nova should definitely win this one.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.25.13 Edition

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on November 25th, 2013

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  1. Welcome to Feast Week! It’s already been a great November of basketball with high quality hoops from coast to coast (and beyond), but we have still got one of the best weeks of the regular season ahead of us, with wall-to-wall ball and great tournament action. There will be plenty of Pac-12 action this week, but Cal and Stanford tip things off today, and the two cross-bay rivals will be playing in a pair of games about 5,000 miles apart from each other. The Golden Bears will get things underway in the Maui Invitational today just after 9 AM local time, while the Cardinal will face Houston at roughly 9:30 PM in Brooklyn this evening in the semifinals of the Legends Classic. But for both schools, it will be a chance to measure themselves against good competition and get some national publicity.
  2. Utah got to 5-0 this weekend after sweeping through the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, an exempt event hosted by the university that featured less than stellar competition. Over the course of three days, the Utes knocked off Grand Canyon, Lamar, and finally Savannah State to win the event. And yet, despite the relatively unappetizing appeal of the opponents, the Utes announced attendances averaging better than 7000 every night. Either that is some very creative accounting, or there are a few fan bases around the conference that could learn from the Ute fans.
  3. USC head coach Andy Enfield made a big splash on Friday with some loaded quotes in an article published in Men’s Journal. The money quotes are straight trash talking about fellow coaches, like cross-town rival Steve Alford and former USC head coach Tim Floyd, currently that head man at UTEP. About Floyd, Enfield dropped this bomb: “Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas. And he’s pissed off that he didn’t get the USC job [again].” While Alford received this treatment: “I’ve made it to one Sweet 16 in two years, and he’s made it to one Sweet 16 in 18 years.” Just a reminder: you may want to circle January 5 on your calendar, as Enfield’s Trojans will visit Alford’s Bruins that day. You probably won’t have to watch the second half.
  4. Speaking of USC, with the news that J.T. Terrell was declared academically ineligible for the rest of the fall semester dropping last week, Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes that the gamble that former USC head coach Kevin O’Neill took on Terrell and his former Wake Forest teammate Ari Stewart most decidedly did not pay off. Stewart saved the drama and earned himself an academically ineligible designation prior to the season. The duo had run into problems – both academic and otherwise – previously in their college careers.
  5. Lastly, Arizona head coach Sean Miller weighed in Friday on his 2014 recruiting class, the latest in an increasingly long line of unabashed successes. His class features 6’6” wing Stanley Johnson (the #9 overall recruit according to ESPN), 6’7” power forward Craig Victor (#29) and 5’8” mighty-mite point guard Parker Johnson-Cartwright (#60), along with off-the-radar JuCo guard Kadeem Allen. But, Miller says scoring a big recruiting class like this just buys a coach a little more time, but that he’s still got to go out next year and do it all over again. Meanwhile, former Arizona head coach Lute Olson can relate and says one of the big things he doesn’t miss about coaching is having to deal with the new dynamics in recruiting.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 30th, 2013

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  1. While the main focus right now for basketball fans around the country may be the return of the NBA regular season, we continue to check off the final days before college basketball returns for real. But, in the meantime, if you’re dying for any kind of action, we do have some exhibition games to pass the time. Tonight, for instance, the Steve Alford era at UCLA gets underway as the Bruins will host Cal State San Bernardino at Pauley Pavilion, giving fans a first glimpse at what the Alford offense is going to look like and whether Kyle Anderson can live up to his hype as the floor general for this squad. As for the new head coach, he’s most looking forward to that first trip down the tunnel from the locker room to the floor.
  2. Meanwhile, Alford has notched his first commitment for the class of 2014, a 6’9″ native of Hungary named Gyorgy Goloman. Given that the Bruins are expected to lose four of their five players who are taller than 6’7″ (those four would be the senior Wear twins, walk-on Sooren Derboghosian, and Anderson, who is expected to leave for the NBA Draft following his sophomore campaign), scoring a big man – even a three-star big man like Goloman – is a major priority. Still, Alford will need to up the talent level in order to get things rolling again in Westwood.
  3. Meanwhile, Oregon State’s first of two exhibition games came last night as the Beavers hosted Corban at Gill Coliseum. Playing without the suspended Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, Oregon State led by as many as 31 before Craig Robinson emptied the bench. Roberto Nelson led the Beavers in scoring (get used to that phrase), but the highlight may have been senior center Angus Brandt’s return from last year’s ACL injury. Brandt only played 13 minutes, but scored eight points and, most importantly, looked healthy. But really, just about the only thing these exhibition games are good for are to remind us that were getting real darn close to games that count.
  4. Stanford and head coach Johnny Dawkins face a daunting challenge this season. Unless the Cardinal make their first NCAA Tournament since 2008 (behind this improbable Brook Lopez last-second jump-hook), Dawkins will be looking for new employment and the Cardinal’s talented senior class will have gone oh-fer-their careers at Stanford. Dawkins points to Stanford’s close misses (six losses by five or fewer points) as reason for hope that a turnaround would not be that drastic. But Stanford will need to significantly improve its shooting (it was last in the conference in field goal percentage at just 41.6 percent last year) in order for that improvement to happen.
  5. Lastly, news came down earlier this week that former USC head coach Kevin O’Neill has landed a job as a college basketball analyst with Fox Sports 1 for the upcoming season. While O’Neill has a gruff persona and is not exactly a beloved former coach a la Seth Greenberg or Bruce Pearl, the guy has something of a dry sense of humor. And, of course, he knows the game. Unfortunately, with Fox Sports 1 only locked into broadcasting Big East games, Pac-12 fans won’t get to hear O’Neill’s opinions of the cast of characters he coached for and against in recent years. Still, we see a strong future for O’Neill as the next Billy Packer – you can decide for yourself whether or not that is a good thing.
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Big East M5: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by George Hershey on October 30th, 2013

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  1. Renowned college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy released his preseason rankings for the upcoming season. The Big East comes in as the second best conference in the nation, behind the Big Ten. This is surprising after Louisville, Syracuse, and several other quality teams left, as well as seeing ESPN writer Dan Hanner have the Big East in the middle of the pack of the power seven conferences. Pomeroy has Creighton leading the league, ranked 13th, with Georgetown right behind them at 14. Marquette and Villanova follow at 24 and 26. Pomeroy’s rankings look fairly different than Hanner’s, which has Marquette as the top team in the league and ranks the bottom seven teams lower giving the Big East a much lower rating. Pomeroy admits that his predictions have the “simplest algorithm possible without being a complete joke.” This is not the best way to predict how well a team will play during the season, but it is fun to see what a respected statistician says about the upcoming season. The high ranking for the Big East should give fans optimism and reason to believe the Big East will compete to be one of the top conferences in the nation.
  2. CBS Sports writer Jeff Borzello wrote an interesting piece about the team outside his top 25 that he thinks has the most potential and St. John’s was his clear cut choice. With so much talent, it is easy to see why. The Red Storm return all five starters as well as Jamal Branch and God’s Gift Achiuwa, who will have major roles. He points out that the biggest addition is freshman Rysheed Jordan. Steve Lavin said “He has tremendous poise and makes good judgments on the court. He plays with a hard edge, which is an indication of his competitiveness and that’s why he has had success since a young age on the court.” Jordan was named Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year and his addition raises the potential even higher. Last year’s team also had talent, but a lot of inexperience. This year players like D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson will have to take a big step forward in becoming more complete and smarter basketball players. Lavin will also have to impress this year after having a reputation for being a great recruiter, but not being able to win with top talent. All the pieces are in place for this to be a big season in Queens.
  3. Last night, Butler scrimmaged against Nova Southeastern and won handily 101-64. Obviously it was an easy game for them, but it is still nice to see it wasn’t close, as opposed to DePaul‘s scrimmage against Lewis University, which saw the Blue Demons trail at halftime before using an early run in the second half to win by five. Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star took a look at Butler freshman Rene Castro. Castro is a point guard who looks like he could end up being a key contributor this season and possible starter by the end of the season, as Keefer predicts. Castro has a good bit of improving to do especially on the defensive side of the ball and needs to adjust to the college game, but he has impressed and is working hard on his outside shot. First-year coach Brandon Miller could use Castro’s physical abilities to bring another aspect to the team. If Castro is the real deal, he could make sophomore Kellen Dunham’s life much easier by using his quickness to get into the lane and kick it out to him for three’s. Castro has big goals, saying “Our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament and fight for a championship.”
  4. The Big East is benefiting from the thrilling World Series on Fox, as Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal points out. Fox is airing several commercials publicizing the upcoming season on Fox Sports 1 and is reaching millions as game 4 on Sunday night outdrew the NFL. The commercials are pushing it’s opening night games of Providence-Boston College and Lafayette-Villanova. Fox Sports also announced its lineup of announcers for the upcoming season. Besides the already announced star combo of Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery, Justin Kutcher, Dick Stockton, Thom Brennaman, Brian Anderson, Eric Collins and Kevin Kugler will have play-by-play duties and Kevin O’Neill, Gary Williams, Donny Marshall as well as several other former players and coaches will serve as analysts. FS1 has some big names announcing games with Stockton and Brennaman being well-known announcers who have plenty of experience. O’Neill and Williams should be interesting to have in the booth as they will be making their debuts, but have had great success coaching and will have interesting analysis.
  5. The Big East announced that it has hired Tom Jernstedt as senior adviser. He will be tasked with helping commissioner Val Ackerman on officiating, scheduling, postseason play and an entire strategic plan. Jernstedt worked for the NCAA for almost 40 years and Ackerman says that “few have as keen a grasp as he does of the intricacies of the NCAA and the college basketball world.” ESPN’s Dana O’Neill makes the point that the hiring is very important as it gives the Big East credibility from the start. His past experience will be key in getting the Big East through the tough early stages of establishing itself as a power conference. Their is a lot of work to be done and Ackerman will benefit from having someone who knows the ins and outs of the NCAA and the college basketball world.
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USC Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 16th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Next on our list: USC.

What Went Wrong

The biggest thing that went wrong were lofty expectations for a group of mostly transfers who had failed to have any success as a group in any of their previous stops. Despite the fact that this was a program coming off a six-win season, instead of playing with a chip on their collective shoulders, this team came out not just softly but selfishly. They went to a Maui Invitational with hopes of establishing themselves amid a flawed field, and instead got blown out by 30 in their opening round game against Illinois. They toughened up some after Maui, but then proceeded to blow several chances against good teams in excruciating fashion and took on eight non-conference losses. Senior point guard Jio Fontan looked terrible for the better part of two months after coming off a year lost to a torn ACL, Dewayne Dedmon seemed intent on throwing away his immense talent, J.T. Terrell pouted and fought his way through most of the early part of the year, and then on January 14, USC athletic director Pat Haden had seen enough, pulling the plug on Kevin O’Neill’s time in Los Angeles. The team rebounded somewhat under interim head coach Bob Cantu, winning six of eight games in the middle of the Pac-12 season, but then floundered down the stretch, culminating in an embarrassing brawl in downtown Pullman after the end of the regular season. All told, a mixture of immaturity and oversized egos appears to have done this team in.

The 2012-13 Season Gave Kevin O'Neill Headaches - And A Nice Buyout

The 2012-13 Season Gave Kevin O’Neill Headaches – And A Nice Buyout

What Went Right

Last year when we looked back on the 2011-12 Trojans, we said the best part about the year was that it was ending. This year, despite a net increase of eight wins, it is hard to say much of anything different. Maybe we call Omar Oraby, who quickly became a fan favorite, if not a coach’s favorite after transferring in from Rice, the team’s lone bright spot. Maybe we expand that to include Byron Wesley, who has been a rock for the Trojans in his two seasons there. But the fact is that the best things that have happened to this program have come since their most recent embarrassing season ended.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 4th, 2013

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  1. The annual McDonald’s All-America Game was played on Wednesday night, and fresh Arizona commitment Aaron Gordon was named the game’s MVP. Gordon scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the West to a 110-99 victory. Washington signee Nigel Williams-Goss was the West team’s best player off the bench, scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists. Jabari Bird, who is headed to California in the fall, added nine points in just 13 minutes of action.
  2. The Huskies still have one available scholarship for next season after Gordon spurned Lorenzo Romar for Arizona. The Husky Haul takes a look at where that extra scholarship should go in this piece. LoRo will likely go the JuCo route, opting for a post player with maturity and experience. Remi Dibo or Octavious Ellis would both be solid options for the Dawgs, a pair of face fours that would add a great scoring punch after the departures of Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy. As the article states, if Romar wants to add a player straight out of high school, Lennard Freeman or Junior Etou would likely be the only options.
  3. I still find this story ridiculous, but after yesterday’s complaining from Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh, USC has backed off the use of the “Dunk City” phrase. Stating that the moniker belongs in Florida, athletic director Pat Haden says that the Trojans are going to create their own cute phrase. Andy Enfield signed a six-year deal with the Trojans on Monday.
  4. Keeping it in the Southland, USC officially introduced Andy Enfield as its new head coach on Wednesday. While speaking at the introductory press conference, Pat Haden listed Enfield’s ability to develop talent and his up-tempo style of play as the main reasons he wanted the former FGCU head man so badly. Haden mentioned bringing the Trojans program back to relevance, and resetting the basketball culture from the slow-down style of Kevin O’Neill is of highest priority. Whether you agree with the qualifications of Enfield to become a Pac-12 head coach, there’s no question he has brought excitement back into the SC program. And that’s important, because it was slipping quickly.
  5. Also dropping Wednesday was the news out of Berkeley that junior California guard Allen Crabbe will forego his senior season with the Golden Bears to enter this summer’s NBA Draft. The move makes sense, as Crabbe has either been near the top of the league or at it in the scoring category the past two seasons, and he now wants to see how his game will translate at the next level. Crabbe is projected by most to be picked late in the first round.
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USC’s Hire of Andy Enfield? A Slam Dunk

Posted by AMurawa on April 2nd, 2013

More than two months after USC fired head coach Kevin O’Neill at midseason, the Trojans have hired a replacement. And I can say with absolute certainty that it is not a name that was mentioned by anybody among the list of possible choices in the hours and days following O’Neill’s abrupt end-of-employment. No, former Florida Gulf Coast head coach and new USC hire Andy Enfield’s rise has been fast and sweet. You know Enfield’s story by now. Bounced around the NBA a bit as an assistant coach, spent some time as a minority owner of a successful start-up, married a model, wound up as an assistant coach under Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, then has spent the last two seasons at the head coach of Florida Gulf Coast. And, up until about two weeks ago, 99.9% of the country had never heard of the guy. But, a pair of wild and exciting NCAA Tournament wins out of the 15-hole later, he was the hottest young coach in America and certainly due for a significant step up in pay and in prestige.

A Meteoric Rise for the Florida Gulf Coast Head Coach

A Meteoric Rise for the Florida Gulf Coast Head Coach

Which is where USC comes in; despite canning O’Neill in mid-January ostensibly in an effort to get a head start on their coaching search, it appeared that athletic director Pat Haden had struck out on his first handful of targets, with guys like Jamie Dixon, Josh Pastner and even Steve Alford taking themselves out of the running. In part due to that and in part due to the need to make a big splash with its hire, Enfield winds up as just about the absolute perfect hire for Haden. He’s got the NBA background, he runs a fun style, he’s got the hot wife and he’s a popular name. It’s a slam dunk for a USC program with little history of success.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 2nd, 2013

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  1. Over the weekend we learned that USC was targeting Florida Gulf Coast head coach Andy Enfield to be hired at the same position in Los Angeles. The Trojans now have their man, as the school announced that both parties met Monday morning and agreed to a deal in the late evening. USC athletic director Pat Haden let go of former head coach Kevin O’Neill in January after SC began the season with a 7-10 record. Enfield will certainly bring a change in style and attitude to the Galen Center, as his up-tempo, high flying offense will differ significantly from the slow-down “KO ball.” While some will question the hire of a virtual unknown, building a program virtually from scratch and winning 41 games in two years is no small task. All in all, this is a good hire for a struggling program, one that will make local recruits wanting to stay home have a tough decision between Enfield and Steve Alford. Also, this tweet won the night.
  2. Jeff Goodman broke the story Monday that Pac-12 coordinator of basketball officials Ed Rush has been investigated by the conference for comments made about Arizona coach Sean Miller in meetings that included several Pac-12 referees. According to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, Rush told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 Tournament that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either “rang him up” or “ran him,” meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game. Rush reiterated these comments during a Friday morning meeting, and of course, Miller was hit with a technical later that night for arguing a double-dribble call in the Wildcats’ semifinal game against UCLA. It was his first of the season. Whether Rush was joking or not, the integrity of the league’s officials has been compromised and looks even weaker than before. There’s no question a change needs to be made.
  3. Today is the day Pac-12 recruiting fans have been waiting for, as five star power forward Aaron Gordon will choose between Washington, Oregon, and Arizona at a McDonald’s All-American Game press conference. It was originally thought the prospect would announce during the actual game, to be played Wednesday, but plans have changed. Many prognosticators around the blogosphere seem to think Gordon is headed to Sean Miller’s Wildcats, as the coach’s reputation for developing raw bigs into NBA-ready wings will push Gordon to the Cardinal and Navy.
  4. As one season comes to a close, another one is just beginning. The offseason is underway for all 12 conference teams, and Oregon faces the task of replacing four key players from its Sweet Sixteen squad. Leading scorer E.J. Singler is gone, as are three other do-everything big men in Tony Woods, Carlos Emory, and Arsalan Kazemi. Thankfully for the Ducks, head coach Dana Altman did a good job of developing a group of young talent throughout the season. Ben Carter, Willie Moore, and Dominic Artis will be the most important players to watch early on in the 2013-14 campaign to see if the Ducks can once again reach the NCAA Tournament.
  5. We close with some sad news out of Southport, North Carolina, where former Colorado head coach H.B. Lee passed away on Sunday night. Lee was 96. He coached Buffalo legend Burdie Haldorson and led the Buffs for six seasons from 1950-56. While in Boulder, Lee won two conference titles and took CU to the Final Four.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 22nd, 2013

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  1. Thursday night the Pac-12 race got even tighter as California’s Justin Cobbs took advantage of Oregon’s 5’8” point guard Jonathan Loyd in the waning moments of their meeting, knocking down a game-winning jumper over the smaller man’s outstretched arms. As we head into the weekend, we’ve got three teams atop the conference with four losses while a pair of teams, including those Golden Bears, lurk just one game back in the loss column. The game itself wasn’t pretty, as Cobbs turned the ball over eight times, the teams combined to shoot 3-of-21 from deep and nobody on Oregon shot better than 50% from the field, but Cal continues to be the hottest team in the conference with six victories in its last seven games. As for Oregon, this current group of Ducks still remains winless in their careers against California.
  2. In the wake of Washington State’s seventh straight conference loss on Wednesday night, the talk about whether head coach Ken Bone is the man for the job in Pullman for the long term has reached a fever pitch. The talk has been slowly bubbling up since way back before the season began as Reggie Moore got booted from the team and incoming transfer Brett Kingma ran afoul of the law, highlighting some off-the-court issues that have troubled Bone’s program for some time. But, as CougCenter pointed out a couple weeks back, if the university hopes to go a different way, they’ve got to figure out a way around Bone’s hefty contract, which promises the coach $2.55 million over the remaining three years. Given the amount of money the WSU athletic department already has tied up in paying current and former football coaches, that amount of money may be too much to bear at this point. And, as I pointed out back before the season, expectations in Pullman have to be realistic. The fact of the matter is that prior to this season, Bone had the second-highest winning percentage of any coach in school history who had coached at least 20 games. Unfortunately for him, however, the one guy ahead of him was his predecessor.
  3. USC will take a crack at earning a season sweep of crosstown rival UCLA at the Galen Center on Sunday afternoon. And if they’re going to get it done, they’ll need to lean heavily on senior point guard Jio Fontan who, after dealing with ACL surgery last year and the heavy-handed offensive structure of former head coach Kevin O’Neill, is now thriving with more freedom under interim coach Bob Cantu and more confidence in a knee that gets stronger by the game.
  4. One thing we haven’t talked a lot about here this season is the Player of the Year race in the Pac-12. No worries though, as Pachoops has got you covered on that mark. Adam Butler scouts the candidates out and narrows the race down to two guys: Arizona State’s Jahii Carson and Cal’s Allen Crabbe. I wanted to quibble (Carrick Felix anyone?) but in the end decided that yes, those are the two guys atop the leaderboard right now and somebody from the next pack back (some combination of Solomon Hill, Shabazz Muhammad, Spencer Dinwiddie and Felix) would have to go absolutely nuts for that to change. In my mind, however, Carson is the favorite, as he has been for at least a month; but as Cal has heated up, Crabbe has made a big time charge to the point where it is just about even money right now.
  5. Lastly, in case you forgot, DirecTV has still not come to an agreement with the Pac-12 conference to carry the Pac-12 Networks. I’m sure all of you have done the right thing and dropped DirecTV like a hot potato, but apparently there are people out there sticking with the satellite television behemoth instead of watching tons of Pac-12 action this season. And, if you’re somehow still among that crowd, you’ve missed the 20 out of Arizona State’s 27 games this season that have aired on the Pac-12 Networks. Don’t hold your breath on a deal getting done any time soon as both sides appear entrenched in their positions.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.12.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 12th, 2013

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  1. The rumors were out there. The transfer guard out of Wake Forest by way of community college had a nice stroke, and along with the return of Jio Fontan from injury, would be the spark to ignite the long-dormant USC offense. And for the first eight games of the 2012-13 season, J.T. Terrell was that guy. But when Terrell began to slump, head coach Kevin O’Neill finally had cause to bench the player who didn’t completely fit with his team-first mentality. Terrell averaged just 3.3 points over the next seven games, but found new life when O’Neill was relieved of his duties and Bob Cantu took the reins. Now, Terrell is again shining for the resurgent Trojans, who have played themselves into some postseason whispers over the past two weeks. Even more important than the recent three-game winning streak and Terrell’s increased scoring output is the fact that he’s earned the team’s respect and has become the go-to guy in late-game situations. That bodes well for the future, as the 2013-14 version of the Men of Troy will need a vocal and respected leader once Fontan graduates.
  2. Some other news out of Corvallis, as Oregon Live revealed that Oregon State forward Daniel Gomis has had everything cleaned from his left leg and is feeling the best he has felt in two years. Gomis won’t return this season as he still needs to return to full strength before participating in basketball activities, but barring any setbacks, he will play his first organized basketball for the Beavers next October. As John Hunt notes, the Beavers will have quite an imposing front line in 2013-14, consisting of freshman Cheikh N’Diaye, the sophomore Gomis, junior Eric Moreland, and senior Angus Brandt.
  3. The Monday news day of course means the release of the weekly rankings, and the Pac-12 was represented by Arizona and Oregon in the AP Top 25. UCLA was the only other team to receive votes, coming in at #38 overall. In the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll, Arizona fell to ninth, while Oregon dropped out completely to #27. And as we enter the part of the season where “good wins” are critical to a team’s NCAA Tournament chances, the Pac-12 has posted three victories against Top 25 teams — Arizona against Miami (FL) and Florida and Colorado against Colorado State.
  4. After dropping six of its last seven games, Washington has not only free fallen from the NCAA bubble, but is now on very thin ice for the NIT as well. Poor defense and the inability to get key players going at the same time has Husky players and coaches claiming that a sense of urgency is needed for the final month of the season. It wouldn’t be impossible for LoRo and company to make the NCAAs via the league’s automatic bid, but for that to happen they will need to cut back on turning the ball over and manufacture some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tourney. Also of help would be a top four finish in the regular season standings, giving the Huskies a first-round bye in Las Vegas. That looks unlikely at this point, but if the Dawgs win out at home and pull off a split in the desert, it’s a reasonable possibility.
  5. Teams that rebound well out of zones have given Arizona fits all season long, and the same proved true on Sunday night when California went into the McKale Center and upset the Wildcats. A big key for the Golden Bears was the off night of senior wing Kevin Parrom, who was turnover prone and cold from outside. The team’s self-proclaimed zone-buster only managed seven points despite numerous open looks in his 21 minutes of action. Colorado will look to copy the blueprint left by the likes of Oregon, UCLA, and California on Thursday when the Wildcats come calling in Boulder.
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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 13

Posted by AMurawa on February 11th, 2013

Here’s another installment of the weekly Pac-12 honors, as handed out by the Pac-12 microsite.

Team of the Week – Colorado

All season long, the Buffaloes have had problems closing. Dating back to the Charleston Classic when they did their best to give away their semifinal game to  Baylor, continuing most famously through the Arizona game and on several other occasions, end-game scenarios have been downright scary for Tad Boyle’s club. Coupled with the truth that the Buffs have struggled in their two Pac-12 seasons on the road (a record of 4-10 coming into this weekend), the fact that this team went on the road to the Oregon schools and came away with two hard-fought wins in which they performed admirably down the stretch shows that the Buffaloes are indeed making progress — a hallmark of Boyle-coached teams. Against Oregon on Thursday night, a game-winning bucket by Andre Roberson was a good metaphor for this squad’s whole week. After getting his layup attempt swatted from behind by Arsalan Kazemi, Roberson persevered by grabbing the ball and putting it back in for the go-ahead win. On Sunday night, Spencer Dinwiddie was the CU hero, making all of his shots on the night (6-of-6 from the field with four threes, and 8-of-8 from the line) and providing a calming presence down the stretch. With their chance at revenge against Arizona coming up this week in Boulder, the Buffs have a chance to put themselves squarely in the middle of the Pac-12 race.

Allen Crabbe, California

Allen Crabbe’s Big Second Half Helped Cal Knock Off Arizona on Sunday Night (Ben Margot/AP)

Player of the Week – Allen Crabbe, California

When Crabbe’s got it going, he’s one of the nation’s elite scorers. And Crabbe definitely had it going on Sunday night. He and his Golden Bears had a decent first half against Arizona; he scored 12 and Cal was within five of the nation’s #7 team at the break. But the Cal wing earned this honor as a result of what happened after halftime. Crabbe scored 11 points before the first media timeout in the second half as the Bears put together a 17-2 run from which they would never look back. As the half progressed, every time the Wildcats got back within striking distance, Crabbe would hit another big shot, twice drilling threes after Arizona pulled within four then hitting a big jumper late after the ‘Cats had pulled within two. All told, Crabbe wound up with 31 points on the night, missing just three three-pointers out of his 15 attempts from the field. For the week, Crabbe averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a block per game, all while shooting a 63.6% effective field goal rate.

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Pac-12 Bracketology: February 9 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 9th, 2013

As we dive into the back nine of conference play and approach the home stretch of the season, it’s time to take a look at the three postseason tournaments and where each Pac-12 team fits into the picture. I’ll make my full bracket projections each week (or two) for the NCAAs, NIT, and CBI, and then report where the Pac falls on the list.

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Definitely Dancing: Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA are all locks at this point in the season. I have the Wildcats just a bit higher than most prognosticators at number four in the nation, as they have been one of the few consistently good teams that doesn’t have any bad losses (barely). In an interesting second round matchup, they square off with the best 16 seed, Charleston Southern. Of course, the two teams already met in the season opener, with CSU hanging around for a good portion of the game before fading quietly down the stretch.

Oregon is so much of a lock that it would basically have to lose each of its remaining games to miss the tournament. It may be hanging onto a four seed by a thread, but good wins over the likes of UNLV, Arizona, and UCLA give them the nod over any bubble team if it ever came down to that. I currently have the Ducks matching up against a mildly dangerous Louisiana Tech squad at 13. The Bulldogs have a nearly impeccable 20-3 record, but the schedule has been fairly soft.

UCLA’s recent two game skid has made things much more interesting for the Bruins, but this year’s bubble is so soft that they are fine for now. That’s in part due to their Top 50 RPI standing and good wins against Indiana State, Missouri, Colorado, and Arizona. However, the recent struggles don’t go unpunished. Dropping down to a low eight seed means as challenging a tournament opener as you’re going to get, and that comes in the form of a 19-4 Colorado State team.

Bubble In: Colorado and Arizona State are the other two Pac-12 teams I see making the field of 68, but both will likely be sweating bullets come Selection Sunday. The 15-7 Buffaloes are actually seeded pretty high considering their record, due in part to a Top 25 RPI that’s keeping Tad Boyle and company on the good side of the bubble. There are five remaining key games on CU’s slate (home against  Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon, at the Bay Area schools), and if the Buffs come out on the good side of three of them they should be a lock for the Big Dance.

Arizona State is on even thinner ice. The Sun Devils are the final team in my rankings before the dangerous 12’s begin, and while their record (17-5) is much better than Colorado’s, an SOS of 110 is holding them down badly. Regardless of where they land in the field, this ASU team will be a sneaky bunch come tournament time. A meeting with head coach Herb Sendek’s former school in the opener would be quite a sight, and a chance for the Pac-12 to get some major recognition on a national level.

Freshman Point Guard Jahii Carson Has Led Arizona State From The Bottom Of The Pac To The NCAA Bubble (credit: Zach Long)

Freshman Point Guard Jahii Carson Has Led Arizona State From The Bottom Of The Pac To The NCAA Bubble (credit: Zach Long)

NIT Locks: Washington is the next team up for the Pac-12, and while its recent poor play means the Huskies won’t be in any NCAA bubble discussion, an NIT lock is definite. The Huskies currently sit at an uninspiring 13-10, but they have been in most every game they’ve played (only two losses were by double digits, and the last three were all by five points or less). Combine those factors with the fact that Alaska Airlines Arena typically draws well, and the Huskies made a run to the semifinals of the same tournament last season, I like Washington right now a solid four seed. That means they would host at least a first round game, and I have them playing an interesting Xavier squad in the opener.

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