Pac-12 M5: 01.24.14 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on January 24th, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. Utah hasn’t been to an NCAA Tournament since the 2008-09 season, but a couple of solid wins and a few near-misses against good teams has fans wondering if it is again emerging as a basketball school. Coach Larry Krystkowiak has certainly changed the culture and attitude around the program. Fan interest is growing; the Huntsman Center rocks for big games; and losing is no longer expected in Salt Lake City. It’s going to take more than a couple signature wins to regain the title of a real hoops school, but Krystkowiak definitely has the program headed in the right direction.
  2. With Arizona now sitting at 19-0 and still ranked #1 in the country, Tucson, or Lob Pueblo, is becoming the focus of the college basketball nation. Star freshman forward Aaron Gordon is rolling along with the stardom that goes along with his team’s success, going about his business and not letting it affect his on-court performance. The freshman is second on the team in with 12.4 PPG and first in rebounds at a 7.8 RPG clip. This ESPN feature on Gordon details his life as a child and what comes next for himself and the Gordon family, and also reveals the great tidbit that Aaron was born as an ice hockey player. Next up for his undefeated Wildcats is a visit from Utah on Sunday night.
  3. Arizona was in action last night in an ESPN2 game against Colorado, and the Cats picked up another quality win in front of a big audience. The Buffaloes struggled once again without Spencer Dinwiddie available, falling behind Arizona, 18-4, six minutes into the game. The Buffaloes actually outscored Arizona from that point on, but the hole was too deep and the final was 69-57. Wildcat guard Nick Johnson led all scorers with 18 points.
  4. If UCLA wants to be back in the polls on Monday morning it needs to get sophomore guard Jordan Adams some cleaner looks and Adams needs to convert when given the opportunity. The Bruins’ leading scorer has not scored at or above his average since January 5, and in that time frame he has only shot 31 percent from the field. “He’s a great shooter. We’ve got to work the offense to get him better shots,” head coach Steve Alford said. Long offensive droughts hurt UCLA mightily in its losses against Arizona and Utah, and those need to come to a halt if the Bruins are to contend for a Pac-12 title.
  5. With roughly one and a half months remaining in the season, we thought it would be a good time to start up our basketball pick’em contest. Adam Butler from Pachoops will join us through the end of the year in our prognostications, and important bragging rights are on the line. Each week we will also highlight the top game of the weekend, with a correct pick being worth two wins, and an incorrect selection worth two losses. We head to Los Angeles for that game this week, where UCLA will host in-state rival California.
Game Connor (0-0) Drew (0-0) Adam (0-0)
Oregon State at Washington Washington Oregon State Oregon State
Colorado at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Colorado
Stanford at USC Stanford Stanford Stanford
Oregon at Washington State Oregon Oregon Oregon
Utah at Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona
California at UCLA UCLA California UCLA
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Pac-12 M5: 12.27.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 27th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. With St. Katherine, a community college based out of Vallejo, California, in town on Saturday, what is worrying Utah head coach Larry Krystowiak the most this holiday week? How much his players are eating while home for four days on Christmas break. “I’m trusting them to do the things that they need to do to stay in good basketball shape,” Krystkowiak said. Also discussed in the linked piece is the quandary of whether to redshirt junior center Marko Kovacevic, who has just recently been cleared to practice following a broken wrist. The last time Kovacevic saw on-court competition was the 2011-12 season, when he averaged 11.7 PPG for Western Nebraska CC. The Utes would like another go-to option outside of sophomore Jordan Loveridge in the post when senior big man Renan Lenz gets into foul trouble.
  2. Arizona made it official on Monday night with its 33-point shellacking of in-state foe Northern Arizona. The Wildcats made it through non-conference play unscathed for a second consecutive season, entering Pac-12 play with a 13-0 record and as the top-ranked team in the nation. Next up is league play, which features the toughest Pac-12 top-to-bottom in quite a long time. They do, however, get a brief reprieve, facing arguably the two easiest teams in the league to open the Pac-12 slate: Washington State and Washington.
  3. Staying in Tucson, Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski is hoping that his right ankle is able to heal fully by that aforementioned game against the Cougars on January 2. Head coach Sean Miller hopes to have him close to 100 percent by then, all thanks to a rigorous regimen undertaken during Christmas vacation. The sophomore has been logging up to eight hours of rehabilitation work per day under trainer Justin Kokoskie’s guidance. This week will be spent focusing more on basketball-specific things and getting stability in the area surrounding the injured muscle. As Kokoskie points out, though, everybody can point to a different body part that’s sore at this point in the season. The break couldn’t have come at a better time, giving the guys a chance to recharge and get healthy.
  4. Seven Pac-12 teams making the NCAA Tournament? Just two seasons after only placing one team into the round of 64? It’s certainly possible. The Cats, along with Oregon, UCLA, and Colorado, all seem to be locks at this point, while strong performances in conference play by Arizona State, Stanford, and probably one of either Utah or California could all send that group dancing as well. Times are changing on the west coast, and boy is it going to be a fun next three months.
  5. Sticking with the same theme, Tony Jones wonders if the Pac-12 is the best basketball conference in the country. The league had a terrific showing against teams from other conferences, posting notable wins over the likes of Duke, Marquette, Kansas and Connecticut, to name a few. We also, of course, boast the current top team in the country in Arizona, and even two of the worst teams in the league have boasted wins over Maryland and Purdue, some 3,000 miles away from home.
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Hatin’ Larry Krystkowiak: Christmas Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 20th, 2013

A Pac-12 adaption of Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Hatin’ Steve Spurrier character. 

credit: The Grizzoulian

Larry is in a Holiday Mood This Week

  • Well, Barry Hinson, you may have gone viral and put Southern Illinois on the map for the first time in a while, but you’re not going to like what’s in your stocking on Wednesday.
  • Washington‘s two-game winning streak will likely come to an end this weekend against Connecticut. Will we see another two straight wins for the Dawgs this season? Are Idaho State and Tulane on the schedule again? The answer is in there somewhere.
  • Oregon State‘s celebrating Christmas in Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic, meaning it will have played games in the DC area, Chicago, and Honolulu in the first two months of the season. Someone tell Craig Robinson he doesn’t have to schedule every city inhabited by President Obama at some point or another.
  • Time to brag about my team. Nine wins y’all. What’s that you say about the third easiest schedule in the nation? Haters gonna hate.
  • It sucks that Roberto Nelson was ejected for throwing a punch (skip to 1:07 of the video to view) against Towson on Wednesday, but at least that’s the toughest defense the Beavers have played all season. Regardless, Nelson makes Santa’s naughty list.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 4th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Oregon head coach Dana Altman was rewarded after a quick start to the 2013-14 season with a three-year contract extension last week. The Oregonian takes a closer look inside his new contract, which reportedly includes a $100,000 signing bonus. Outside of the extra money, the most critical part of the extension is the increased job security, which will be big for Altman’s continued recruiting over the next several years. The amended contract allows Altman to earn $525,000 for an NCAA title, up from a $295,000 number on his initial one. Altman and his 7-0 Ducks return to the floor Sunday at Mississippi.
  2. Does the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis field boast one of the best eight-team fields in early season tournament history? It’s certainly possible, what with each of the eight schools either a traditional power or providing some intrigue. Just like in the 2013 version, the Pac-12 will be represented by one of the Los Angeles schools, this time with UCLA heading to the Caribbean. North Carolina, Georgetown and Florida are the other powers headed to the Bahamas, while Butler, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and UAB (who just beat the Tar Heels on Sunday) are all solid names to round out the bracket.
  3. Arizona won its eighth consecutive game to open the season on Tuesday night, jumping in front of Texas Tech early and coming out with a dominant 79-58 victory. The Wildcats were up 10-0 on the Red Raiders before they had a chance to blink, and it was 23-10 Arizona almost as quickly. Freshman sensation Aaron Gordon led the Cats with 19 points in the 21-point victory, but next up is a bit of a stiffer test, a visit from UNLV at the McKale Center on Saturday afternoon.
  4. Former Wildcat head coach Lute Olson joins the growing list of big names to voice his displeasure in the new way games are being officiated. His top complaint is also mine; the new rules were created to add more flow to the game, especially on offense, but in the first three and a half weeks of basketball, I’ve only seen a handful of games with actual rhythm. Teams are scoring more, but that has more to do with trips to the foul line than better flow to the game. Will teams eventually adjust? Absolutely, but it is getting pretty bad.
  5. Are there people out there still questioning the Larry Krystkowiak hire at Utah? Krystkowiak has made that team fun to watch and competitive, and after winning its first six games this season, the Utes went into Boise on Tuesday night and nearly shocked a Broncos team that went dancing last March. Even though Boise pulled out the 69-67 win, Utah proved that its great start wasn’t necessarily because of a soft schedule and that it should be feared once Pac-12 play rolls around.
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Hatin’ Larry Krystowiak: Volume I

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 15th, 2013

A Pac-12 adaption of Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Hatin’ Steve Spurrier character. 

credit: The Grizzoulian

Larry Krystowiak (Credit: The Grizzoulian)

  • It’s just not hoops season until Washington loses to a Big West team by 14 at home. Thanks, UC Irvine.
  • Who doesn’t love the new foul rules? Two and a half hour games. Fifty fouls. This game is about flow, kids.
  • Oregon’s at it again, guys.
  • I’ve got more important things to do at 7:00 AM than watch a Quinnipiac-La Salle game. Slackers.
  • Is there a coach with more job security than Craig Robinson after losing to a lower-level MEAC team? Is there a coach other than Craig Robinson taking his team to the White House this week? The answer is in there somewhere, folks.
  • Robert Morris will look to continue its dominance of Kentucky on Sunday in Lexington. LOL.
  • How many more times does Stanford have to give up 100 points before Johnny Dawkins is fired?
  • Grand Canyon has opened its season at 0-2. Stockholders ain’t gonna be pleased.
  • Gary Payton II has committed to Oregon State. They call him “The Mitten.” That’s not a joke. Really.
  • Yeah, we lead the nation in points scored. Play someone other than Evergreen State, you say? Haters gonna hate.
  • The Marshall Henderson show is back. Once a Ute, always a Ute, is what I say.
  • Colorado has found the key to student attendance – bacon. No word on how USC’s free Ferrari promotion is working out.
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Pac-12 M5: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Utah played its one and only exhibition game on Saturday, and the result was a mixed bag. The Utes began pulling away from St. Martin’s late in the first half with their athleticism and depth, and the final score was 91-54. Jordan Loveridge played well in the post, scoring 21 points and adding six rebounds. Delon Wright also impressed in his new role for the Utes, playing the majority of the time at the one but still grabbing eight rebounds. However, it was apparent that they still don’t have a second presence in the frontcourt, something head coach Larry Krystowiak needs to figure out before their first regular season game on Friday.
  2. Colorado wasn’t happy when the AP Top 25 poll came out on Thursday and the Buffaloes were left off it. The Buffs were fourth among Pac-12 teams in the AP despite coming in third, and even garnering a first place vote, in the Pac-12 Media Poll. Tad Boyle’s team isn’t too far out of the rankings, however, being listed fifth in the “Also Receiving Votes” category. Preseason ratings really have no meaning, but if you can use it as motivation for being snubbed like Spencer Dinwiddie is, more power to you. Colorado opens the season on Friday against Baylor in Houston.
  3. The annual NBA D-League Draft was held on Friday evening, and two former Washington guards were taken in the first two rounds. Scott Suggs was taken in the first round by the Santa Cruz Warriors, and Abdul Gaddy was selected one round later by the Iowa Energy. As usual, the entire Pac-12 made a strong showing at the minor league draft, with eight alums being picked throughout the 12 rounds. Former Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett was taken with the first overall pick by the Tulsa 66ers. More Wildcats, Kevin Parrom and Salim Stoudamire, was taken by Rio Grande Valley and Fort Wayne, respectively. In addition, a pair of USC forwards were taken in the third round, and the Springfield Armor took former Oregon big man Joevon Catron early in the fourth.
  4. Also taking place Friday night was Washington State‘s lone exhibition tune-up, and the Cougars handled Central Washington for a 93-56 victory. The Cougars debuted their new pressure defense for much of the game, making the Wildcats execute their offense on all 94 feet of the floor. Ken Bone‘s team also shot the ball well, making 33 of 66 field goal attempts. The race to replace all-everything forward Brock Motum is also underway, and while senior big man D.J. Shelton led the team in points, it was freshman power forward Josh Hawkinson that surprised the most. Only playing ten minutes for Washington State, Hawkinson grabbed eight boards and scored six points. That will definitely be a position battle to watch as Washington State approaches its regular season opener on November 8 against Cal State Bakersfield.
  5. Oregon State held its “Beaver Fan Jam” Friday afternoon before the Oregon State football game against USC, and a dunk contest highlighted the festivities. Junior forward Eric Moreland took second place in the contest, producing this nice tomahawk jam and an over-the-”car” dunk in the second round. However, it was freshman point guard Malcolm Duvivier that took home the inaugural slam dunk title. He won it with this 360 beauty, leaving Beaver fans hoping to see it in actual game action one day. Oregon State hosts Concordia to close out its exhibition season Tuesday night in Corvallis.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 22nd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Instead of an exhibition game or two, the USC‘s men’s and women’s teams announced yesterday they’ll be hosting the “Trojan Tipoff” on Sunday morning. The day will open with a FanFest, which includes a meet and greet with Trojan coaches and players, but the highlight will be the intrasquad scrimmages that come later in the day. It will be the first glance at the new-look Trojans, now under the guidance of uber-promoter Andy Enfield. Hopefully SC provides some type of streaming for the event for us out-of-towners interested to see how Dunk City looks on the west coast. The men’s team opens the season November 8 at Utah State, in a game to be televised by CBS Sports Network.
  2. Across town, the fallout continues from Enfield’s “If you want to play slow, go to UCLA” comment made last week. First year Bruins head coach Steve Alford issued another denial to the quote on Monday, pointing out that his teams at New Mexico were always first or second in scoring in the Mountain West. He also said that while there are no problems between he and the other new coach in Los Angeles, he understands that there is a rivalry between the schools. Before the session was over, however, Alford couldn’t resist getting a low-key shot in at the Trojans. “You look at history and tradition, UCLA and USC, there is quite a bit of difference there.”
  3. Some leftovers from Thursday’s Pac-12 Media Day, as Arizona Desert Swarm sat down with junior guard Nick Johnson recently. Johnson discusses playing in the backcourt with point guard T.J. McConnell, how he handles game-by-game expectations, and the Wildcats’ hidden shooting ability at the three and four spots, among other things. Johnson averaged 11.5 PPG for Arizona last season in over 30 MPG, and if the Wildcats are to live up to the expectations being put upon them in the preseason, he will need to contribute double figures again. Even more important will be his perimeter defense, which gave a huge lift to Arizona at times last season. His pressure and ability to get his team out on breaks energized things whenever the offense struggled. Johnson and the Cats will open regular season play against Cal Poly on November 8.
  4. This is the year that Larry Krystowiak will need to show some of the strides Utah has been making, this being his third year at the helm and the Utes’ third in the Pac-12. He thought that the best way to get started on that this offseason was to get in better shape, and the Deseret News reports that his team has more or less accomplished that. Post players Jordan Loveridge, Renan Lenz, and Marko Kovacevic have lost about 20 pounds each as Krystowiak is looking for more active players inside. As far as the guards go, Brandon Taylor and Parker Van Dyke are no longer two of the smallest players in the conference, with each gaining around 15 pounds over the summer. On the court, Krystowiak reports that the Utes are having “spirited and competitive” practices so far this fall. They will have their annual “Night with the Runnin’ Utes” on Wednesday evening of this week.
  5. Tad Boyle‘s Colorado team has developed a reputation as one of the best teams in the league at taking charges, and Boyle worries that the Buffaloes will be at a disadvantage this season with the NCAA’s new rules on how to interpret the violation. Bobby Dibler, the Pac-12′s new coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, broke down the guidelines at Media Day last week and said that he expects more blocks to be called this season. The modification states that once an offensive player has started an upward motion with the ball, the defender can not move into that player’s path or it will be a blocking foul. This is a welcome change after many players had became masters of sliding under a player already in mid-air to draw the charge. As probably expected, Boyle is not a big fan: “We’re going to have to adjust, but I don’t like the rule.”
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Morning Five: 10.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 7th, 2013

morning5

  1. With Louisville set to begin their title defense in about a month, they got some more good news when it was announced that Kevin Ware, who suffered a horrific compound fracture in the team’s Elite 8 game versus Duke, had been cleared to practice with the team. Although we do not know what this means in terms of when Ware will actually start suiting up again for the Cardinals it does suggest that he is ahead of the timetable–a return to playing in games in 2014–that Rick Pitino had previously set for him. We have all seen the clips of Ware’s rehab including ones of him dunking, but it remains to be seen whether Ware will have his explosiveness back and if he will be able to play at full intensity or if the injury will continue to be in the back of his mind.
  2. Ware’s injury and his progress might make more headlines due to the high-profile way he sustained it, but the right ankle of Gary Harris is probably more significant to this season’s national title picture. According to Jeff Goodman, Harris is “about 75 percent” and expected to return to practice this week. The Spartans return four of their five starters from last season and should be aiming for nothing less than a national championship, but it is Harris who is their most dynamic player and if they are to win a title he will need to be healthy, which is not a given as he already spent much of last season nursing a right shoulder injury.
  3. If Larry Kryskowiak gets fired from his job at Utah and is unable to find a job in basketball again, it appears that he could have a career in law enforcement to fall back on. The third year Utah coach, who caught a bicycle thief about a week ago, helped catch a suspect who is believed to have stolen several thousand dollars worth of equipment from the Utah athletic department. According to reports, the basketball team’s video offices were among several offices in the athletic department that were targeted by the individual. When the campus police distributed a description of the suspect, Krystkowiak told his team to be on the lookout for the individual and when a former player took a photo of a suspicious individual other eyewitnesses confirmed it was the suspect. When a track coach notified Krystokowiak that he had seen the suspect on campus, Krystowiak and several of his assistants began to chase the suspect around campus before finally cornering him in a locker room and waiting for the cops to arrest him.
  4. It turns out that there are actually some people at North Carolina who are legitimately bothered by all of the ridiculous stuff going on at the school. Jack Halperin, a tutor at UNC for 23 years, resigned his post in an open letter to Roy Williams that was published in Friday’s Daily Tar Heel citing Williams’ decision to allow PJ Hairston to remain on the team. While we do feel that the way that Williams has handled the Hairston leaves something to be desired, the decision is far from the most embarassing thing that the school has been involved in (see the investigation into the school’s African and Afro-American Studies program). Still we guess that everybody reaches their breaking point and Hairston just happened to be Halperin’s.
  5. This year was already going to be a challenging one for Tom Crean, but now that the third of his three four-star freshmen–Stanford Robinson–is injured it might be time to adjust the expectations for Hoosier fans. Robinson, a guard out of Findlay College Prep, is out indefinitely after injuring his right knee during Hoosier Hysteria on Friday night. The type and extent of Robinson’s injury has not been disclosed at this point, but he is the third Hoosier freshman to sustain an injury with Troy Williams (right hand) and Luke Fischer (left shoulder) being the other two. Even Noah Vonleh, the Hoosiers’ top recruit, is getting over an ankle injury. While none of the injuries appear to be that significant on their own the string of injuries will only make it more difficult for the young team to get used to playing together and could lead to more early-season struggles for the Hoosiers.
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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Arizona Wildcats

Posted by BHayes on September 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

Sean Miller’s fifth season in Tuscon could easily turn out to be his best. Despite the graduation of key seniors Solomon Hill (a first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft), Mark Lyons, and Kevin Parrom – in addition to the surprising departure of freshman Grant Jerrett to the professional ranks, Miller has assembled the most talented roster that Arizona has seen in quite some time. A solid Pac-12 conference and challenging non-conference schedule will challenge the Cats’, but a nice blend of returnees and newcomers should give the man at the helm ample leeway to steer this storied program deep into March.

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more -- both on and off the court -- for this young but talented Wildcat team

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more — both on and off the court — for this young but talented Wildcat team

  • Team Outlook: This will be a new-look Arizona team, as last year’s squad was built around departed seniors Lyons and Hill. Some familiar faces will be back and poised to fill leadership roles this time around, with junior Nick Johnson (11.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG) most prominent among them. The athletic two-guard shot the ball better from three-point range as a sophomore (39% after 32% as a freshman), and should also serve as the Cats’ best perimeter defender in 2013-14. Sophomores Kaleb Tarczewski (6.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 22.2 MPG) and Brandon Ashley (7.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 20.5 MPG) return to anchor the frontcourt, with each likely seeing a slight minutes increase, despite the arrival of a duo of freshman studs in the same frontcourt. Both Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were McDonald’s All-Americans last spring, and immense immediate contributions from both freshmen would surprise no one. Gordon especially shapes up as a good candidate for a jump to the NBA after a season of stardom in Tuscon, as he is currently projected as a Top-20 pick in the 2014 draft on NBADraft.net. Gordon’s production will be one of the keys to this Wildcat season, but he may not be Sean Miller’s most important player. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell (11.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.8 SPG in 2011-12) will be filling Lyons’ shoes and running the show in Tucson this season. McConnell was an efficient lead guard in the Atlantic-10 and should quickly acclimate to the Pac-12, but the absence of proven ball-handlers elsewhere on the roster means his transition has to be a smooth one for Arizona to be successful. He will be a welcomed change-of-pace for teammates used to the shoot-first Lyons dominating the ball, and his steal % of 4.7 (12th best in the nation in 2012) is ample indication of a dedication to both ends. The talented youngsters around him will keep expectations low for McConnell individually, but don’t be shocked if he emerges as the leader of this club. Read the rest of this entry »
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Four Thoughts on the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 16th, 2013

Day three of the Pac-12 Tournament is complete, and teams have made their may through the 12 team field to tonight’s championship game. The first team through was top-seeded UCLA, who used an 18-7 run late in the second half to erase an 11-point deficit and pull out a two point win over Arizona. In the second game of the night, Oregon took advantage of a tired Utah team and led the Utes by 14 at halftime before cruising to a 64-45 win.

Here are four things that stood out on day three of the Pac-12 Tournament:

UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad Scored 11 Points and Grabbed Six Rebounds As The Bruins Advanced To The Pac-12 Championship (credit: USA Today)

UCLA Freshman Shabazz Muhammad Scored 11 Points and Grabbed Six Rebounds As The Bruins Advanced To The Pac-12 Championship (USA Today)

  1. Adams’ Last Game? – UCLA freshman Jordan Adams may have played his last game as a Bruin last night after breaking his fifth metatarsal in his right foot on the final play of the game. Adams led all scorers with 24 points before breaking the foot trying to defend Solomon Hill’s last shot. A few weeks back Adams said he did not want to discuss his future and just wanted to focus on finishing the rest of the season. With his season complete, look for an announcement in the coming days on whether the star guard will go to the NBA this summer.
  2. Pac-12 Refs - With 4:35 remaining in the game and Arizona leading 56-54, point guard Mark Lyons drove into the lane, had the ball slightly dislodged by a Bruin defender, caught the ball, and resumed his dribble. This was inexplicably called a double-dribble by the officiating crew, and then the officials compounded their mistake by T’ing up head coach Sean Miller. The calls resulted in two made free throws to knot up the score, the first time the score was not an Arizona lead since the 14:30 mark in the first half. Pac-12 refs gonna Pac-12 ref – nuff’ said.  Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 M5: 01.31.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 31st, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Losses to teams like Albany and Utah yet victories over the likes of Stanford and Colorado have Washington fans confused and wondering what the next step is for a program with potential and frustration at every turn. The immediate future likely holds an NIT berth for the Dawgs, but as The Husky Haul points out, this year’s recruiting class could answer the question of when Washington returns to national prominence, and if Lorenzo Romar is the one to lead it there. Landing Archbishop Mitty (CA) wing Aaron Gordon would be a big first step in that direction, as the five-star senior has the bounce and athleticism to turn a team around instantly. At the moment, however, the Huskies have more important things to worry about, as number eight Arizona comes calling tonight in Seattle.
  2. Behind Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, and Brandon Ashley, Gabe York played a bit of the role of “forgotten freshman” early in the 2012-13 season. But York has improved his play significantly the past couple of weeks in practice, and he has continued his success in game situations. The freshman guard dropped a pair of threes on Saturday against USC en route to a career high seven points in Arizona‘s 24-point thrashing of the Trojans. As the feature points out, York needs to step up his play on both ends of the court (averaging just 0.2 SPG) before he sees any extended action for the Cats. But you can never be too deep once we hit the home stretch of the season, and York provides a nice option on Sean Miller’s bench.
  3. Drew noted yesterday of yet another Pac-12 Player of the Week award for Arizona State wing Carrick Felix, and House of Sparky takes a wider look here at how the senior has led the Sun Devils from a 10th place finish last season to the NCAA bubble in 2012-13. Felix’s constant positivity and willingness to give up some of his touches to freshman Jahii Carson has paid dividends for Arizona State, as the Sun Devils find themselves at 16-4 and 5-2 in conference play heading into the final month and a half of basketball. The duo is now one of the most fun to watch in the league, as opposing defenses have to continually be on high alert for a streaking or backdooring Felix awaiting a dime from Carson. And then there’s this, which is on the short list for my favorite play of the season thus far. The Sun Devils visit Pullman tonight and will look to add to their two-game winning streak.
  4. DISASTER. For once, that’s not exactly hyperbole surrounding the UCLA hoops program. In front of a lackluster blued-out crowd at the new Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday, Bruin fans felt extra blue as they fell behind by as many as 15 points and were upset by crosstown rival USC in overtime. UCLA is still safely in the field of 68 at this point, but it has to be careful in eight days when Washington comes calling. Another trip-up against the Huskies would mean a three-game skid and the rumblings would be back in earnest in the Los Angeles basin.
  5. Utah will honor the late Rick Majerus on Saturday by hanging a replica sweater inside the Huntsman Center during its “rivalry” game with Colorado. Majerus took the Utes to seven NCAA Tournaments while in Salt Lake City and will be the first coach honored with a retirement ceremony by the university. “We need Rick in the building. The sweater is going to be there and some of what he has created around here,” current head coach Larry Krystkowiak said about the pending events.
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Pac-12 M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 8th, 2013

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  1. Three months ago, Malcolm and Marcus Allen committed to Stanford. But as we get into the thick of hoops season, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a nice feature on the twins yesterday. The Allens, out of Centennial High School (Nevada), have both earned astounding 4.8 GPAs while in high school, which resulted in offers from Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, among others. When asked why they chose Johnny Dawkins and the Cardinal over the rest, the brothers said that Stanford’s perfect mix of athletics and academics was just too good to pass up, not to mention the fact the Pac-12 is a “premier conference.” The one and two guards will be battling Chasson Randle for minutes in their freshmen season next year.
  2. It was painful for fans of upsets everywhere on Saturday afternoon when Arizona continued to give Utah chance after chance at beating the Wildcats on their home floor, only to see the Utes tighten up in the closing minutes. Scoring has been a problem in the Larry Krystowiak era, but as of late, it’s been the three-point shot that has plagued the Utes. Utah missed three of its final four shots from behind the arc, a stinging stat considering the Utes suffered only a three-point loss. Utah’s leading scorer, Loyola Marymount transfer Jarred DuBois, is in the midst of a big slump, and it seems to be contagious. Their outside stroke won’t be needed to earn a split on the weekend, considering offensively-challenged USC rolls into Salt Lake City on Saturday, but if the Utes have any shot at an upset of UCLA earlier in the week, DuBois and the rest of the team need to do some serious slump-busting.
  3. The guys over at House of Sparky continually churn out great stuff, and yesterday they took a look at why the Sun Devils’ win over Colorado was so huge for the program. The first sentence pretty much sums up my thoughts on the win. I had been skeptical for all of November and December of the Sun Devils, thinking that their win total was just the product of an easy schedule. But on Sunday, Arizona State proved it was legit. The Devils completely took Andre Roberson out of the game, and with a combination of Jahii Carson, Carrick Felix, and Jordan Bachynski all attacking the ball, ASU gave the Buffaloes a migraine on defense. If they can keep up this level of play for the next two months, an NCAA Tournament bid isn’t out of the question.
  4. Sticking with HoS and Arizona State, if the Sun Devils do want to return to the Big Dance, they’ll need to knock down clutch free throws as games wind down. They haven’t done a great job in this area so far in 2012-13, shooting at less than a 63% clip from the charity stripe. One thing that is becoming a noticeable trend with ASU is that all of its shots — but specifically free throws — are falling short towards the end of games. And of course, that makes sense; the more tired you get, the tougher it is for players’ legs to launch the ball to the hoop. But I want to start talking about Herb Sendek‘s guys as a legitimate Pac-12 contender, and contenders make big shots down the stretch rather than leaving them short when their bodies start wearing down.
  5. For every “make you feel good” underdog story, there is another one to tell on the other side of the spectrum. The team lost in the shuffle after the first week of Pac-12 play was Colorado, who looked flat-out awful in the 45 minutes following Sabatino Chen‘s waved off game-winner at Arizona on Thursday. But as head coach Tad Boyle points out, nothing is given to you in conference play, and the Buffs need to have a short memory. Because as he puts it, they’re currently on the road to 0-18, and if they don’t prepare well for a visit from the LA schools, that road will get quite a bit shorter by Saturday night.
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