Pac-12 M5: 12.18.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 18th, 2012

pac12_morning5

  1. Yesterday was Monday, meaning a pair of new polls were released to lift fans from their post-weekend doldrums. Arizona was of course the highlight for Pac-12 fans, coming in at number four in the AP and fifth in the coaches poll. The argument could be made that there were four Mountain West teams better than the top Pac-12 team at most points in 2011-12, so that shows you just how far the top-tier of our conference has come in a year. The Wildcats are one of just seven undefeated teams ranked in the Top 25. The only other team without a loss is Wyoming, who comes in at #29 in the AP and #30 in the coaches.
  2. Washington State coach Ken Bone has reinstated sophomore guard Brett Kingma following a possession of marijuana arrest and subsequent suspension in late October. The Cougars could certainly use some assistance from Kingma, as DaVonte Lacy has been the only reliable scorer in the Coug backcourt. Kingma was a freshman at Oregon in the 2011-12 season, but transferred within the conference after playing just 9.8 MPG that season. He was arrested in the middle of preseason camp on possession of “several grams” of marijuana, as well as exhibiting the effects of consuming alcohol in a public place.
  3. After taking a 10-day break for Finals, Utah will return to the court tonight to face SMU. Head coach Larry Krystowiak and the Utes focused on a few different items during the layoff, with an emphasis coming in taking care of the ball and rebounding. They’ve turned the ball over at a clip of 14.4 miscues per game, including 17 in their odd, previous meeting with the Mustangs. SMU dropped Utah by a score of 62-55 in that one, but Krystowiak and company will have a chance to avenge the loss in a conference play-like second game of a home-and-home.
  4. UCLA got a nice surprise on Monday morning when former Bruin great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke to the team during its shootaround. Coach Ben Howland asked the all-time scoring leader in the NBA to speak to the team after taping an interview for a local news program. The current Bruins exclaimed that it was an “eye-opening experience” and a clear reminder of the legacy the UCLA program holds. The Bruins, who have started the season a disappointing 7-3, host Long Beach State tonight.
  5. It may seem silly to think about for a team ranked as high as Arizona is, but Pac-12 fans always seem to cringe nowadays when a trap game arrives on the schedule. The Wildcats are doing the best to avoid that situation, quickly getting back to business to prepare for tonight’s meeting with Oral Roberts. The game comes sandwiched in between last Saturday’s thriller against Florida and a trip to Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic, where the Cats could face a pair of high-profile teams in Miami (FL) and San Diego State. But first up are the Golden Eagles, a team that won 27 games a year ago. As the article points out, ORU faces its own challenges preparing for the match-up, having to shake off both mental and physical rust that comes from not playing a game in nearly two weeks.
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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.21.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 21st, 2012

  1. Coach Larry Krystowiak and Utah picked up a huge commitment this week as San Francisco City College combo guard Delon Wright verbally committed to the Utes. Wright got a sense of just how loud and exuberant Utah’s student section, The Muss, could be when he took a visit to Salt Lake City for last weekend’s Holy War. Krystowiak is certainly getting the guys in place to rebuild a dormant Utah program (four-star small forward Jordan Loveridge is the other big catch, who will be a freshman in 2012-13). Wright will arrive for the 2013-14 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining. He also drew interest from Gonzaga, Washington, Washington State, and St. Mary’s.
  2. Arsalan Kazemi, the man who entered Rice three seasons ago as the first ever native Iranian to play D-I basketball, was granted a transfer from the Owl program on Monday. The senior power forward told Sports Illustrated that Oregon and Kentucky were early leaders for his transfer options. Fall classes at Oregon don’t start until next Monday, September 24, making the Ducks a sensible option. Kazemi also told SI he intends to petition for a hardship waiver in order to play immediately, although he did not say on what grounds the waiver request would include. With the Ducks losing Olu Ashaolu, who emerged as a solid go-to guy in the post toward the end of last season, this would be a huge pick-up for Dana Altman. Kazemi is also in talks with Cincinnati, Texas, Florida, and Ohio State, and has denied that he might turn professional. He is the sixth player to leave Rice this offseason, with the other one of most note to Pac-12 fans being center Omar Oraby. Oraby transferred to USC last Thursday.
  3. Stanford got a pair of commitments from Las Vegas twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen earlier this week. Marcus, a shooting guard, seems more fit to garner early minutes as a freshman, but both definitely have talent at the one and two positions, respectively. Both brothers have been praised for their knack in scoring, making them perfect Johnny Dawkins prototypes. Perhaps even more impressive is the work they’ve done in the classroom, though, with both of them earning weighted 4.8 GPAs in their three years at Centennial High School. Both brothers will be eligible to play beginning in 2013-14.
  4. Stepping away from the recruiting and transfer news that dominates this time of year, Jeff Goodman has a terrific article on the “second chance kids” that will try to bring USC back to national relevance this season. Things got considerably tougher on Kevin O’Neill and company when star guard Maurice Jones announced he was transferring out of the program just a little over two weeks ago. Ruled academically ineligible 10 days before the announcement, Jones wouldn’t have played the 2012-13 season anyway. But it brought back more of the “what else can go wrong” feeling that haunted the Trojans all of last season. Even despite the loss of Jones, the Trojans figure to be much more competitive this year through the play of returnees and newcomers like Jio Fontan, J.T. Terrell, and Eric Wise.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week Drew took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Stanford over USC and Utah over BYU) to pull within just three games of me.  Things should get really interesting beginning this week now that Pac-12 play begins in earnest. We’ve got a battle of the basement up on the Palouse (Colorado-Washington State), the Drew-Connor rivalry (Oregon State-UCLA), an in-state rivalry featuring two teams coming off close losses (California-USC), and our game of the week, Arizona-Oregon. Utah and Arizona State will also play each other, but I couldn’t think of anything creative for that one. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (26-7) Drew’s Pick (23-10)
Oregon State at UCLA UCLA UCLA
Colorado at Washington State Washington State Washington State
California at USC USC USC
Utah at Arizona State Arizona State Utah
Arizona at Oregon Oregon 31-17 Oregon 40-28
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RTC Summer Updates: Pac-12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 25th, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our Pac-12 correspondent, Andrew Murawa.

Reader’s Take #1

Summer Storylines

  • The More, The Merrier: The Pac-10 is dead. Long live the Pac-12. The conference welcomes in Colorado and Utah for their first season in the conference, the first expansion in the West Coast’s premier conference since Arizona and Arizona State were added 33 years ago. Along with the new teams comes a new schedule – gone is the full home-and-away round robin. While there won’t be divisions in basketball like there are in football, each team will play an 18-game schedule with home and away games against its traditional rival, with six other rotating home-and-away series and four additional single games against the remaining teams. For instance, Colorado and Utah will only play the Southern California schools and the Washington schools once each, while they will play the remainder of the conference twice. While neither of the new schools are expected to make a big splash immediately in the conference, their arrival, coupled with other changes around the conference, such as the huge new $3 billion TV deal with ESPN and Fox that begins in the fall of 2012, makes it an exciting time to be a Pac-12 fan.
  • Is There A Draft In Here?: Last summer, a big story around the conference was the dearth of Pac-10 players picked in the NBA Draft, as just two players from the conference were selected by NBA teams in 2010. After the 21 players that were picked in the conference between the 2008 and 2009 drafts, that was a precipitous fall. And, back before the season started, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of future high draft picks on the horizon. However, the conference had six players picked in the NBA draft, including three first-rounders and two lottery picks. Derrick Williams, the 2010-11 conference player of the year, led the way, getting snapped up by Minnesota with the #2 overall pick. Unfortunately for teams around the conference, 12 seasons of eligibility were left on the table between those six picks and the two early entries who went undrafted: Stanford’s Jeremy Green and Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto. And as a result, what had looked like a potential big-time bounce-back season for the conference now sees somewhat diminished expectations. Perhaps no team was hit harder by early defections than UCLA, who had Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee leave a total of three years of eligibility behind to go get second-round NBA draft picks (and the absence of guaranteed contracts that goes with them) at a time when the NBA labor situation is highly in doubt, but Washington State’s loss of Casto and lottery pick Klay Thompson also leaves the Cougars’ situation fuzzy at best.
  • Replacing Production: Between the early entries to the NBA Draft and departed seniors, the Pac-12 loses its top seven scorers from last season, and 11 of its top 20. Likewise, ten of the top 20 rebounders are gone. However, as always, a new batch of youngsters is ready to show up on campuses this fall and begin contributing immediately. While the Pac-10 inked only nine of the ESPNU top 100 recruits, seven of those players are exciting young guards, all ranked in the top 60 on that list. Arizona leads the way, signing point guard Josiah Turner (#14 overall, according to ESPNU) and Nick Johnson (#21), to go with a couple solid frontcourt signees (Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, #60 and #91, respectively). But Washington (Tony Wroten, Jr., #16), Oregon (Jabari Brown, #25), Arizona State (Jahii Carson, #49), UCLA (Norman Powell, #51) and Stanford (Chasson Randle, #59) all have their own big backcourt recruits ready to provide a burst of energy.

Derrick Williams' performances were one of the highlights of the 2010-11 season.

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Conference Report Card: Pac-10

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 13th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that received multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap:

After an awful 2009-10 season in which the Pac-10 had to limp into a second NCAA Tournament bid when Washington hit the gas pedal down the stretch, the four tournament bids the conference received this year was a huge improvement. With Arizona advancing to the Elite Eight, the Pac-10 advanced a team beyond the Sweet 16 for the first time in three seasons, and the conference was a much deeper collection of teams than last year. And without a doubt, that came as a result of the enhanced talent level across the conference. Coming into the season, there were just 17 seniors on rosters across the conference, and the youngsters showed vast  improvement this year, notably Derrick Williams (an All-American and national player of the year candidate), Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Honeycutt, and Klay Thompson with several other players making big strides in their games. While the Pac-10 still struggled to gain national respect, it was clear to fans that the level of play is on the rebound from its 2009-2010 nadir.

The Pac-10 was Derrick Williams' personal playground in 2011, and the Wildcats displayed perhaps the most impressive performance of the NCAA Tournament in their dismantling of Duke. (AZ Daily Star/M. Popat)

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