Night Line: Cardiac Cats Continue To Find A Way

Posted by BHayes on January 4th, 2013


Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

March may still be well in the distance and conference play just beginning, but the Arizona Wildcats have already crafted a season’s worth of last-minute escapes. Early December saw Mark Lyons take over a game that was tied with seven minutes to play at Clemson. The Xavier transfer would provide more heroics a week later, as his runner with seven seconds left shocked Florida and erased a six-point, final-minute deficit. Then, in a back-and-forth Christmas Day affair, Nick Johnson delivered Wildcat fans a final Christmas gift when he blocked Chase Tapley’s layup attempt with only ticks remaining, giving Arizona the Diamond Head Classic title in yet another wild final minute.

But none of this drama compared to the scene at the McHale Center on Thursday night. Not only did Arizona need to erase a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes to ultimately win this one, but they also needed to find a bit of good fortune when referees went to the monitor to review Sabatino Chen’s apparent buzzer-beating winner. True to form, the Wildcats ended up on the right side of the bang-bang call, and then (in equally appropriate fashion), Lyons and company displayed the killer instinct that has become a trademark of this unbeaten run.

Mark Lyons Has Brought a Swagger To The Cats, And The Wins Have Followed

Mark Lyons Has Brought a Swagger To The Cats, And The Wins Have Followed

As is usually the case with teams using “imaginative” methods of winning, skeptics will point out that relying on late heroics is not a recipe for sustainability. On the other side of the ledger, Wildcat fans will rightly point out that their team is 13-0 and one of just four unbeaten teams left in the country, so they have to be doing something right. The question then becomes, how good is this Arizona team? The answer, also per usual, falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Ultimately however, this is a talented, veteran Wildcat team, and the dramatic nature of their first 13 games should not be held against them.

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Marching to Vegas: The Wildcats, The Buffaloes and The Zebras…

Posted by AMurawa on January 4th, 2013

From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.

I had this whole thing on Arizona State thought up. I was going to spew some stats about Herb Sendek’s “fastest” team since 2003 and the promise he’d made about playing with more pace and whether or not there was a correlation to victories. After all, his group is off to a 12-2 start. Had I continued on this route of statistically analyzing the Devils, I’d also mention their strength of schedule or lack thereof and direct you to Ken Pomeroy’s blog post about hopping off of Kevin O’Neill’s back for the opposite (too strong of a schedule). ASU has played the nation’s 211th most difficult schedule.

But then Arizona made its comeback. Or did Colorado hand it away? Or did the refs egregiously misuse the monitors? These were the questions that perplexed me Thursday night as I sat in my apartment and tried to wrap my Wildcat mind around that game. On the one hand, I was ecstatic, WHAT A COMEBACK! I knew I’d been presented the ultimate scenario with which to stick Buffalo noses in but that’s not my style; certainly not on an undeserving play. The other thought would be that the Buffaloes lost that game. They wound up scoring fewer points than their opposition and by the definition of competition, that’s a Colorado loss. It’s also not exactly becoming of a winner to forgo a nine-point lead and go 3-of-8 from the free throw line while committing two turnovers in the final 1:47. That is not a recipe for winning. The final thought surrounds the striped men and I never like placing a game on their shoulders but…well… I mean… I suppose… well…



So to revisit my three questions:

  1. Did Arizona win?
  2. Did Colorado lose?
  3. Did the refs blow it?

To answer these questions, of course, would be to get us to the resolution of the contest. Or even better, it could settle our minds about a controversial game in which Colorado spent a grand portion of time exposing Arizona as perhaps a poor shooting team with evolving bigs. Conversely, the Wildcats wore down what may be a group of Buffaloes with a short bench, what could ultimately spell the Buffs’ demise. And there’s the age old debate over Pac officiating…

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Pac-12 M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on January 3rd, 2013


  1. Despite being a senior, Kevin Parrom doesn’t mind that he’s coming off the bench for Arizona. Even though Parrom isn’t starting, he’s still averaging over 21 minutes per game and has been a key contributor thus far for the Wildcats, most notably in his last game where he had 17 points in the Diamond Head Classic final against San Diego State. As long as the Wildcats keep winning, Parrom will continue to be happy coming off the bench.
  2. For Utah, there are no more easy games. In the non-conference season, the Utes played teams like Wright State, Texas State, and Idaho State, but that won’t be happening in conference play. The Utes fell on the road to Arizona State last night in overtime, and it won’t get any easier going forward as they will take on a top five Arizona squad on Saturday. If Utah wants to have some success in conference play, they will have to continue to get impressive games out of Jordan Loveridge and Jason Washburn while continuing to play strong defense.
  3. Now that non-conference play is over in the Pac-12, CBS Sports‘ Jeff Goodman believes that it’s clear that the Pac-12 has certainly improved from last year. Arizona is back to being nationally relevant and has a chance to earn a #1 seed come March, while UCLA, Colorado, and Oregon all look poised to receive at-large bids. Stanford and Cal have been inconsistent and will need to prove themselves more in the conference season in order to be in the discussion on Selection Sunday. There still are the disappointments such as Washington and USC, but overall, the conference as a whole has much more respect than it did at this time last year.
  4. Kameron Rooks, a seven-foot center and the son of former Arizona player Sean Rooks, announced Tuesday via Twitter that he has committed to California. Besides the Golden Bears, Rooks had received offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, and Connecticut. Cal could end up being the best fit for him, though, as they don’t have a trio of developing big men like Arizona and will most likely need Rooks’ play right away next year. He is listed as a three-star recruit according to Scout and Rivals, but like most seven-footers he is mostly potential at this point in his career. For Mike Montgomery, Rooks adds to a class already featuring top 25 prospect Jabari Bird and should help Montgomery continue his success at Cal.
  5. Former UCLA center Josh Smith is transferring to Georgetown. It’s no secret that Smith had a troubled career at UCLA in battling weight issues and dealing with criticism from Ben Howland. He averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game his freshman year, but saw his numbers decline with 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game during his sophomore year, followed by a 5.2 point, 4.2 rebounds per game stat line in six games this season. Smith decided to go with Georgetown over Kansas, but if the talented but troubled big man cannot control his weight, it won’t matter whose uniform he puts on next season.
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Pac-12 M5: 12.28.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 28th, 2012


  1. After a quiet period surrounding Christmas, things pick back up again beginning tonight with a pair of games involving Pac-12 teams. The most high profile game is UCLA hosting Missouri in a chance to see whether the Bruins’ recent improvements on the offensive end are enough to have them ready to compete with very good teams. Missouri is coming off its most high profile win of the season, a nine-point win over Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game, but they have also handled Stanford and Virginia Commonwealth in a pair of quality wins in the Bahamas. The Tigers will be playing a bit shorthanded, though, as reserve forward Tony Criswell – he of 18 minutes, six points and five rebounds per game – will miss the game with a broken finger.
  2. Utah is the other Pac-12 team to break its Christmas fast and return to the court tonight, as they will host the College of Idaho, an NAIA school. While the Utes already have more wins this year than they earned all of last season, they still left quite a few on the table. Despite a 7-4 record, if the Utes had simply been able to hang on to three different second-half double-figure advantages, they could be 10-1 at this point. But with a young team that is still getting used to the idea of winning games, closing out victories is still a work in progress.
  3. Oregon State gets back in the swing of things on Saturday when they host Towson at Gill Coliseum. And in a cool bit of marketing for the program, the first 1,000 fans into the venue will get a free Alamo Bowl t-shirt and everyone is invited to stick around after the game and watch the football game (vs. Texas) as well as participate in an autograph session with OSU players and coaches. Way to take a simple, relatively unappealing basketball game for which the students will be out of town and turn it into a blockbuster day for Beaver fans to spend enjoying both of their big-time sports programs.
  4. Oregon got back from its Christmas break and resumed practice yesterday in advance of a meeting with Nevada on New Year’s Eve, and they are hoping to repeat last year’s improvement following their time off. Last year the Ducks got run over by Virginia then coasted through three uninspired wins over bad teams prior to Christmas break, before coming back and tearing through Washington State to kick off a strong conference run. Dana Altman recognizes that the parts are in place for the Ducks to again compete for a conference title, but he’ll have his team spending the next few practices working on offensive execution and defensive communication.
  5. It seems like all week we have had a little something about the big Arizona win over San Diego State on Christmas night, but for the most part we have focused on Nick Johnson’s highlight-reel blocked shot in the waning moments. Head coach Sean Miller notes that, while Johnson’s play was great, senior Kevin Parrom put a bow on the game by running down the loose ball after the block and making sure that the Aztecs were unable to get a second-shot opportunity. That, coupled with Parrom’s offensive contributions, made him a underrated key to Arizona’s Diamond Head Classic title, even though teammates like Johnson, Solomon Hill, and Mark Lyons may normally get more publicity.
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Six

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 27th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew, ParkerAdam, and I have compiled after the sixth week of Pac-12 games (delta in parentheses):

  1. Arizona, 12-0 (-): Arizona will be the only Pac-12 team to go through non-conference play undefeated, thanks to three walk-over wins and a last-second thriller in Honolulu in the Christmas-extended week six. After dispatching Oral Roberts in Tucson and East Tennessee State and Miami (Florida) on the islands, the Wildcats met San Diego State in the Christmas night final of the Diamond Head Classic. And if not for a game played 10 days prior in the desert, this one would have made a good choice for game of the non-conference season. Just like Arizona, the Aztecs came into Tuesday winners of their last 11. And at two points in the second half, it looked as if SDSU would leave with its 12th. But trailing 45-37, freshman Brandon Ashley made his mark on an otherwise lackluster night. Ashley scored six points and had a key assist in just over five minutes, and along with some help from Solomon Hill, pulled Arizona even at 52-all. The game would go back and forth from there, with the lead changing nine different times, and both teams tied at seven different points. The Wildcats’ perfect non-conference record was finally secured with an out-of-nowhere Nick Johnson block and controversial Kevin Parrom rebound as time expired. Up Next: 1/3 vs. Colorado.
  2. Oregon, 10-2 (-): Played in front of more fans but a lesser national audience, Oregon was entangled in its own thriller last Wednesday in El Paso. And this time, the Pac-12 team didn’t come out on top. UTEP appeared to be practically begging Oregon to win the game, but the Ducks gave away chance after chance before the reluctant Miners finally closed out a 91-84 triple overtime win. Up Next: 12/31 vs. Nevada Christmas Came Early For UTEP Fans, While Arsalan Kazemi And The Ducks Left The Don Haskins Center Disappointed. (credit:

    Christmas Came Early For UTEP Fans, While Arsalan Kazemi And The Ducks Left The Don Haskins Center Disappointed. (credit:

  3. Colorado, 9-2 (-): The Buffaloes hold steady at number three after destroying an awful Northern Arizona team, 98-51. Askia Booker and Xavier Johnson led all scorers with 17 points a piece in the victory. Up Next: 12/29 vs. Hartford.
  4. Oregon State, 9-2 (-): Another week, another pair of unimpressive wins for Oregon State. The good news is of course that the Beavers are winning games, and that is the point of playing these contests. The bad news is that if they put out the type of efforts we saw against Howard and in the second half against San Diego, conference play is going to be a disaster. Up Next: 12/29 vs. Towson. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 M5: 12.26.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 26th, 2012


  1. Saint Nick came through in a big way on Christmas night for Arizona, as sophomore guard Nick Johnson swatted away a potentially game-winning layup attempt by San Diego State’s Chase Tapley to preserve the Wildcats’ perfect season and earn the Diamond Head Classic title. While the first half was stodgy and slow, the two teams lived up to expectations in the second half and delivered a terrific performance. Once again, it was seniors who led UA, this time Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom doing the job as Mark Lyons never really got into a groove, hampered by foul trouble, turnovers and erratic shooting. And then there was, of course, Johnson, who struggled shooting the ball but was terrific defensively, and helped out initiating the offense and made the athletic play in the waning moments to seal the game.
  2. Former Arizona star Miles Simon, who won the Most Outstanding Player in the Wildcats\’ 1997 run to Lute Olson’s sole NCAA Championship, worked the Diamond Head Classic as the color man for ESPN. And, despite the fact that UA’s backcourt may not match up with the traditional ideal of true point and scoring off-guard, Simon is impressed with the duo of Lyons and Johnson. He sees the duo as complementary parts with Johnson capable of helping Lyons out with some areas (initiating offense and getting other players involved) that he is weaker in. I would add that their ability to have Hill also share some of the ball-handling load means that, even without the proverbial “traditional” point, Arizona’s guard play is not a significant concern.
  3. UCLA’s Tony Parker has been a little-used piece for Ben Howland, averaging under nine minutes a game despite his team’s lack of depth along the frontcourt. Following another eight-minute appearance against Fresno State, he tweeted out “A lot of told me this wasn’t for me I wish I would’ve listened.\” Given Howland’s recent issues with players transferring out of his program, this tweet and other recent tweets from Parker referencing homesickness indicate that he may not be long for the Bruin program as well. And, of course, Bruins Nation took this as a chance to rip Howland again. The other side of the coin is that Parker missed time early due to injury and has been inconsistent in the minutes he has received, playing ineffectively on the boards, fouling at far too high of a rate and getting lost defensively, and this type of complaining public message probably does nothing to help him earn more playing time. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, as Howland likely should have found some more minutes against UCLA’s weaker competition, but the fact of the matter is, Parker hasn’t done a whole lot to earn those minutes yet.
  4. Tying up one loose end, Oregon State’s Eric Moreland earned the official Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for his pair of double-doubles and 17-point and 11.5-rebound average last week. We opted for Jordan Adams as our pick (and oddly enough, neither Adams nor any other Bruin was even nominated by the school for the award), but Moreland was certainly a worthy recipient as well. Always known for his defensive ability, Moreland has shown a significantly improved offensive game this season. Where last year he was little more than a garbage man on offense, he’s added the ability to beat his man off the bounce, his jumper is significantly improved and he’s converting shots around the lane at a high rate, all while continuing to defend and rebound like a madman.
  5. And lastly, back to UCLA. As some Bruin fans continue to root for Ben Howland’s ouster as head coach, Bruins Nation put together a post with some of the great moments in his time in Westwood. Worth a look for hoops fans, but sure makes you remember just how good UCLA was going just a few years back. Could you have imagined after Howland’s third straight trip to the Final Four that he would be on the chopping block inside of five years, minus any type of serious NCAA investigation into improprieties in his program? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Five

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 18th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew, Parker, Adam, and I have compiled after the fifth week of Pac-12 games (delta in parentheses):

  1. Arizona, 8-0 (-): Arizona continued to carry the Pac-12 flag in week five, outlasting fifth ranked Florida in a Saturday night thriller. Thanks to never giving up and some key Gator miscues down the stretch, Arizona erased a six-point deficit in the final minute to pull out a 65-64 win. For a team that gained preseason hype via its recruiting class, Zona relied on its seniors to get the signature victory. While the three true freshmen only averaged three points a piece on the night, guys like Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Mark Lyons combined for an average of 13 a piece. Who can forget about sophomore Nick Johnson, either? Not letting the underclassmen be completely outdone, the sophomore went for 15 points and four huge steals. For anyone that was waiting to say so, it’s safe to say now that this Wildcat team is legit. Time and time again they have made late runs in the final eight or so minutes of games to keep their clean record alive. Now the question is; where does it end? Up Next: 12/18 vs. Oral Roberts.
  2. Oregon, 9-1 (-): A terrific defensive performance from Oregon offset its second-to-worst offensive output of the season on Saturday. The stingy Duck defense forced 16 Nebraska turnovers in the 60-38 victory, improving Dana Altman‘s squad to 9-1 as they enter Wednesday’s road test at UTEP. Up Next: 12/19 @ UTEP.

    Senior Forward Arsalan Kazemi Was The Star Of Oregon's Defense On Saturday, Recording Four Steals And 17 Rebounds. (credit: Chris Pietsch)

    Senior Forward Arsalan Kazemi Was The Star Of Oregon’s Defense On Saturday, Recording Four Steals And 17 Rebounds. (credit: Chris Pietsch)

  3. Colorado, 8-2 (^2): The Buffaloes jump up two spots after obtaining a solid road win at Fresno State. Junior Andre Roberson led all scorers with 17 points in the victory. With games against Northern Arizona and Hartford left on the non-conference slate, it looks as if Colorado will enter Pac-12 play with a 10-2 record. Up Next: 12/21 vs. Northern Arizona.
  4. Oregon State, 7-2 (-): Oregon State held steady, but lost a couple of points in this week’s rankings despite going 2-0 and picking up its first road win of the season. Perhaps the panel decided to drop the Beavers due to the closeness of the two outcomes. They were barely able to outlast a Portland State team that hasn’t beaten a division one team so far this season, and sloppy play against 3-9 Chicago State resulted in only a 87-77 win. Up Next: 12/19 vs. Howard Read the rest of this entry »
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#5 Florida at #9 Arizona: Keys to the Game

Posted by DPerry on December 15th, 2012

In a Pac-12/SEC microsite joint venture, contributors Andrew Murawa and Doug Perry tell us what the Wildcats and Gators need to do to gain the upper hand in this weekend’s premier matchup.

Arizona will win if…

Lyons Will Be Key Tonight (US Presswire)

Lyons’ Handling the Ball Will Be Key Tonight (US Presswire)

  1. They can limit turnovers. Arizona’s turnover numbers look real bad (they’re averaging turnovers on 22.2% of all their possessions), but the fact is, they’ve been inflated by a couple horrific games. Against Southern Miss, they gave it up on better than 38% of their possessions, and against UTEP it was turnovers on 30% of possessions. But, in their biggest game to date last weekend at Clemson, they only turned it over 11 times. Most concerning, however, is the fact that Solomon Hill, the player most responsible for getting the Wildcat halfcourt offense into gear, was responsible for five of those turnovers. Florida does a great job of pressuring opposing ball-handlers, with Scottie Wilbekin in particular harassing opponents into turnovers on a regular basis, so if Arizona can make solid decisions and take care of the ball, that will be a major first step in securing the big win.
  2. They can force bad shots. Florida doesn’t really have a ton of weaknesses, but historically, guys like Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario have been known to go into chucker mode from time to time and throw up baffling shots. While the seniors won’t necessarily be rattled by the spectacle of the McKale Center and the national stage, Arizona can help them along the way to bad shots by using their length to dissuade post-entry passes, by employing physical perimeter defense, and by, perhaps most importantly, sticking with Erik Murphy through picks and pops and rolls and whatever else he does, limiting his good looks at the hoop. If the Wildcats can do their best to limit the impact of guys like Murphy and Patric Young on the offensive end, Boynton and Rosario will have to take it upon themselves to win this game. And frankly, Sean Miller would likely rather take a chance getting beat by those guys than getting beat by the Florida bigs.
  3. The veterans play like veterans. Arizona’s freshman trio of big guys – Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett – are serious gonna-bes. They are all gonna be major players, not only at their current level of basketball but likely at the next level. And, while they’ve shown the ability to make a major impact on the outcome of the current season, this is, in reality, their first big-time game. As such, while each of those guys needs to live up to the responsibilities that the Arizona coaching staff tasks them with, the eventual outcome of this game will be determined by whether Arizona’s vets – seniors Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and, to a lesser extent, sophomore Nick Johnson – live up to their ends of the bargain. Each of them have been very good this season, but this is the first real test. Not only are these guys going to need to knock down shots, make smart plays, and sell out defensively, they’re going to need to provide a positive example for the youngsters as to how games of this caliber should be approached. If the vets can play as vets should, it will not only bode well for Arizona’s chances in this big game, but it will be the first positive step towards success in the following big games.

Florida will win if…

Can Patric Young have another monster game against the Wildcats?

Can Patric Young have another monster game against the Wildcats?

  1. They limit Arizona’s three-point shots. The Wildcats aren’t shy about putting up shots from long range. Arizona ranks in the top 15 nationally in three-point percentage (40.5%) and three-pointers/game (8.6), and defending perimeter shots is not Florida’s specialty (132nd in opponent three-point percentage). The Gators have a propensity to be aggressive in passing lanes, earning steals on 12.7% of their opponent’s possessions, but they should be careful not to overplay against a team that’s so dangerous from long distance. The McKale Center will be bumping, and a parade of made threes is exactly what Arizona will want to keep their fans as loud as possible. Florida is one of the most experienced teams you’ll see in college basketball’s elite tier, but a passionate fan base eager to see the Wildcats thrust into the national title conversation can rattle even the most seasoned team.
  2. They don’t forget about the big guys. Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario are great perimeter scoring threats, but they aren’t exactly famous for their discerning taste in shot selection. If the two gunners spend the night forcing shots that they shouldn’t, I can’t see the Gators flying back east with a victory. Patric Young has been somewhat of an afterthought in Florida’s offense this season, but I guarantee that Arizona isn’t overlooking him. The junior center had the best game of his career against the Wildcats last season, racking up 25 points and 10 rebounds on 12-of-15 shooting. Admittedly, Arizona’s frontcourt has added a ton of size since last season, so Young’s massive frame won’t be as great of an advantage, but he’s an option that Billy Donovan would be foolish to ignore. Forward Erik Murphy has cooled off a bit since his hot start, but he’s capable of a monster game.
  3. They can handle Mark Lyons. Arizona’s stellar freshman class steals the headlines, and they’ve shown flashes so far, but Sean Miller’s crew can’t hang with Florida on youthful talent alone. No, the Wildcats will go as far as their upperclassmen will take them, and Mark Lyons is the best of the bunch. He isn’t a model of consistency (0-7 from the field against Southern Miss), but the Xavier transfer is coming off his best game of the season, scoring 20 points and adding four rebounds and four assists in a tough road environment at Clemson. He’ll have the home crowd’s support on Saturday night, but the Gators’ defense presents a much tougher challenge. Guards have an especially tough time scoring on Donovan’s sound defense, but outside of maybe FSU guard Michael Snaer, they haven’t yet faced a perimeter scoring threat with the big-game pedigree of Lyons.
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Pac-12 M5: 11.27.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 27th, 2012

  1. With a 10-day break between games for Arizona, head coach Sean Miller is currently in the process of deciding which of the four frontcourt players will get the start for the Wildcats going forward. Brandon Ashley, one of the top surprises so far this season throughout the league, was called on last Monday to start in favor of fellow freshman Grant Jerrett, and he responded by posting Arizona’s first double-double of the season. The three spot is of course occupied by Solomon Hill, with a terrific backup in Kevin Parrom behind him. Freshman Kaleb Tarczewski has been getting the call at center, and has responded by averaging 6.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG thus far. The decision of who starts at power forward isn’t as pressing against Northern Arizona as it will be on Saturday at Texas Tech, so Wednesday’s meeting with the Lumberjacks can be used to mix and match lineups and get all of the kinks worked out. The Cats are desperately in need of a sixth man when Parrom is having an off night, so the decision is critical both for the starting unit and bench rotation.
  2. With the beginning of a new week comes, of course, the new polls. The Pac-12 got some recognition in the AP as Arizona broke into the Top 10 with its 3-0 record. Colorado rose four spots after dispatching Air Force on Sunday night, and Oregon received votes at #31 after its big upset at UNLV on Friday. California’s 6-0 start got them recognized, but they still have a ways to go at #36. Right ahead of the Golden Bears is Wisconsin, a team they’ll meet on Sunday in Madison. As expected, UCLA’s awful loss to Cal Poly dropped them out of the Top 25 completely and down to #29 in the Others Receiving Votes category.
  3. The Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers says that the NIT is a realistic goal for this year’s Oregon State team, even with the loss of center Angus Brandt. Sitting at 4-1, Craig Robinson and company have an excellent shot at entering Pac-12 play with an 11-2 overall record. If the Beavers manage a .500 record there (certainly manageable with only one game each against Arizona and UCLA), and can pick up a win in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, Eggers should be correct in that assumption.
  4. Anytime you add 10 different transfers to a roster, there’s going to be some ups and downs early. USC coach Kevin O’Neill has experienced that firsthand this season through just 17 days of game action. So far, the Trojans have dominated a solid Long Beach State team, defeated Texas, hung with a pair of good teams in Marquette and San Diego State, and got embarrassed against Illinois. And that’s just the first two weeks. As Rich Hammond points out, if SC wants more ups than downs then they need to find someone to pull out these close games; someone willing to take the big shot down the stretch.
  5. We close with a great feature on Arizona graduate manager JayDee Luster, via Bruce Pascoe. Luster is a well-known name for us Mountain West followers out here on the left coast, but he also drew some national attention when his Wyoming Cowboys upset UNLV last February in Laramie. Luster’s fresh credibility gives him instant recognition among the Wildcat roster, and as a former defensive star, he certainly has something to bring to the table during practices and workouts. And who knows — maybe this will be the beginning of a long and illustrious coaching career for Luster.
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Pac 12 M5: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on November 21st, 2012

  1. Although Colorado and Tad Boyle are pleased with their early season performance and championship in the Charleston Classic, not everyone is content on the Buffaloes. Wesley Gordon, a surprising redshirt freshman who many thought would impact the Buffaloes this year due to their lack of depth in the front court, has not been able to help the Buffaloes early on this year. Gordon chose to redshirt, but in the final of the classic against Murray State, the Buffaloes’ Andre Roberson and Josh Scott both got into foul trouble and Colorado had to rely on players like Xavier Johnson and Jeremy Adams to step up. Neither Adams Nor Johnson are 6’8″ and 225 pounds like Gordon and neither has the defensive ability that Gordon possesses. Even though Gordon did choose this on his own for betterment of the program, early on, he seems to be adjusting to his decision slowly.
  2. With the Oregon Ducks losing three starters in Devoe Joseph, Garret Sim, and Olu Ashaolu last year to graduation, there were doubts about this team, but the defense has picked up the slack to start off the year. For the second consecutive game, Oregon held their opposition to 20 points in the first half. Adding Arsalan Kazemi to a team with Tony Woods up front certainly has helped. The Ducks have registered 40 steals in their first four games and blocked 17 shots. Even better for Dana Altman, the players believe they have a long way to go still on defense, which isn’t good news for the rest of the Pac-12.
  3. The other team in Oregon, the Oregon State Beavers, are still dealing with the season-ending injury of Angus Brandt. Coach Craig Robinson seems unfazed by the injury as he still believes his team can make the NCAA Tournament. In Brandt’s absence, the Beavers will have to use more of the 6’9″  freshman Olaf Schaftnaar off the bench and most likely start other 6’7″ freshman Jarmal Reid in Brandt’s place. Additionally, the Beavers will need more out of Joe Burton, Eric Moreland, and Devon Collier. The Beavers are fine from a depth standpoint to replace Brandt, but they’ll need to improve their overall play up front to truly make Craig Robinson forget Brandt’s injury.
  4. As if the Washington State Cougars didn’t have enough trouble last night, getting dominated by Kansas 78-41, they also lost DaVonte Lacy to an apparent knee injury. Lacy left the game after only five minutes and was unable to play tonight in the Cougars’ 55-54 loss to Texas A&M, a result that could have changed were able to play. No news has come out yet on Lacy’s injury as he will be evaluated today in Pullman, but a loss of a starter and 8.5 PPG so far this year would be a major problem for the Cougars if he’s out for a prolonged period of time. Given that was Lacy is a major contributor for the team-wide project of finding a replacement for the dismissed Reggie Moore, the WSU problems at the lead guard position may have just gotten worse.
  5. Everything is still the same for Sean Miller down in Arizona. If you can shoot the lights out and score on offense, it won’t matter if you can’t play defense. That’s exactly Kevin Parrom‘s dilemma. Parrom went 5-5 from three putting up 15 points in 20 minutes, but Sean Miller said his playing time will be predicated on how he plays defense. The Wildcats gave up 14 threes to Long Beach and Parrom’s guarding of Long Beach’s shooting guards was a main reason for this. Parrom knows he has to improve on defense, and if he does, he will continue to see the floor. If not, guys like Jordin Mayes and freshman Gabe York are more than willing to steal some minutes.
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