Pac-12 M5: 10.10.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 10th, 2012

  1. It’s that time of year where various pundits and prognosticators are breaking out their predictions for what is going to happen this season. We’ll do it ourselves here at RTC in the coming weeks, but on Monday the guys at CBS unveiled a ton of predictions, including conference winners, Final Four teams (including the eventual champion), players, coaches, and freshmen of the year, and the top 100 players in America. Arizona fans are most in love with Doug Gottlieb’s picks at this point, as the newest member of the CBS college hoops crew not only picked the Wildcats to win the conference and advance to the Final Four, but to win the whole thing. Along the way, Gottlieb tabs Sean Miller as the coach of the year and Brandon Ashley as the freshman of the year. Of the five experts polled, three picked Arizona to win the conference, with the remaining two choosing UCLA, reaffirming what has been the consensus since April – it’s likely going to be a two-team race at the top of the conference.
  2. Meanwhile, Rob Dauster of NBC Sports is definitely not in the UCLA camp this season. In unveiling his preseason top 25, the Bruins checked in at #25, possibly the lowest spot you’ll see them ranked prior to the season tip-off. His reasoning? Shabazz Muhammad hasn’t yet been cleared, Joshua Smith is still in poor condition and the situation at the point is still muddy – sound points all. Until we get word on Muhammad’s status and until we get a chance to see this team on the court a few times, the Bruins will remain one of the most controversial teams out there. The mere fact that there is such a wide range of potential extremes for the Bruins – this is a team that could be a Final Four team if things go well, or a underachieving mess if key questions fail to get answered sufficiently – will keep the spotlight squarely on the team from Westwood.
  3. Athlon Sports, however, sort of splits the difference on Arizona and UCLA. In unveiling its top 20, the Wildcats and the Bruins are the lone Pac-12 entries, with the Bruins checking in at #12 and the Wildcats at #7. For Sean Miller’s team, Athlon sees Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill as more or less givens, with the development of the ‘Cats four frontcourt underclassmen – sophomore Angelo Chol and freshmen Kaleb Tarzewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett – ultimately determining just how far the team can go. On the other side, Athlon sees the same questions marks for UCLA as Dauster does, they just have a slightly sunnier outlook for the Bruins. We’ll continue to check in with more predictions as they roll in.
  4. Way back in June we had the opportunity to talk with Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek, and one of the interesting bits of information he dropped was that he expects his team to “play as fast as anyone” in the Pac-12. Given his track record (in the past decade he’s never been higher than 209th in the country in adjusted tempo), we were a bit skeptical. But, with speedy and athletic point guard Jahii Carson ready to make his long-awaited Sun Devil debut, all signs point to ASU being committed to an uptick in tempo. Does that mean you’re going to see ASU rip off something like 70 possessions a game as Washington regularly does? Probably not. But expect to see the Sun Devils try to turn defensive rebounds into opportunities for Carson and guys like Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon to get out into the open floor. But, if ASU is unable to score in transition, they may settle back into the type of halfcourt offense we’ve come to expect from Sendek, resulting in perhaps a couple more possessions per game than last season.
  5. Way back in April, right around the time that UCLA was making news by landing Muhammad, Washington slid under the radar a bit by signing junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin, a two-guard who led all JuCo players in scoring last season with an average of 28.4 points per game. Hailed as a potential offensive spark for a Husky team losing quite a bit of firepower, he seemed primed to fit in perfectly with Lorenzo Romar’s attack. But then, early in August, McLaughlin announced he was leaving the team. Last week he reappeared, this time showing up at Central Washington, a Division II program. As Percy Allen details, this is the seventh college that McLaughlin has been tied to. The long, strange trip began when he committed to Washington State as a senior in high school, before de-committing and signing with Nevada. However, prior to going to college, he stopped off at a prep school for a year before backing out of his Nevada commitment and signing with Baylor. Then, prior to the season, he bailed on Baylor, transferred to Seattle University and actually spent two years there: a redshirt year and then an unimpressive (and delayed) freshman campaign. From there he headed off to his one year at Tacoma Community College (last year’s stop) before committing to Washington. Long, long, long story short: the Huskies are probably better off without the drama that McLaughlin was sure to bring.
Share this story

Wrapping Up The Pac-12′s Summer Exhibition Tours

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 13th, 2012

Seven Pac-12 schools took a foreign exhibition trip this summer. We recap them below with Drew taking UCLA, Utah, and Colorado, and Connor taking the rest.

Not Every Team Went Tropical, But All of Them Learned Something

Arizona

  • Where: The Bahamas
  • When: August 11-13
  • What: The Wildcats swept their two games against Bahamian competition.
  • Why: As Arizona transitions from an NIT one-and-done to having at least NCAA Third Round expectations, this trip was all about integrating instant-impact newcomers Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, and Mark Lyons into the rotation. Setting lineups and seeing what groups of players meshed well together was much more important than the actual play against less than stellar competition.
  • Who: Lyons and fellow senior Kevin Parrom were the stars of the trip, each averaging 18.5 PPG. The most anticipated freshman to don the cardinal red and navy blue in a while, Tarczewski, scored eight points in each game on the trip. Arizona absolutely destroyed their lowly competition, winning both games by a combined 112 points.

Colorado

  • Where: France, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • When: August 11-22
  • What: The Buffaloes went 2-3 in five games against European professional teams.
  • Why: With CU breaking in six scholarship freshmen, the trip gave head coach Tad Boyle a chance to build camaraderie between the talented new guys and their six returnees from last year’s Pac-12 championship team. The trip also gave the freshmen a chance to build an identity of their own, evidenced by the fact that Boyle sat out the core returnees from last year’s squad – Andre Roberson, Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen – in one of the games, allowing five of the freshmen to start the game together.
  • Who: While Roberson was his usual magnificent self – he averaged 14.4 points and 13.8 rebounds – freshman Josh Scott eliminated any doubt that he could be an immediate impact player. Scott led the Buffs in scoring in four of the five games, coming up a point short of the leaders in the opening game; he averaged 17.4 point per game for the trip. His classmate Xavier Johnson also made a statement, averaging more than ten points to go with seven rebounds for the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Washington Week: Reinforcements Arrive Among Three Newcomers

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 12th, 2012

The list of newcomers is short and sweet for Lorenzo Romar in 2012-13, but that doesn’t mean the pair of redshirt freshmen and junior college transfer won’t make an impact. Thanks to Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross departing early for NBA, a pair of Northwestern kids will be big parts of the Husky offense next season at both the one and two. Darnell Gant is also leaving his post due to graduation, so Romar will turn to another redshirt to provide depth down low. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those three newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.

  • Andrew Andrews, Freshman, Point Guard, 6’2” 195 lbs, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Oregon – Andrews established himself as a quick, tough, and fearless point guard throughout last season in practice. With the departure of Wroten, he will be second in line to get playing time at the one, but if he can show coaches early in the season that he has the same good scoring ability that he had in high school, he could earn much more playing time as a combo-guard. After all, there’s always room for guards with athletic, scoring ability in Romar’s offense. Andrews underwent hip surgery in late March, but that shouldn’t have any effect on his game come October.
Andrews Is The Type Of Slashing Point Guard That Can Score When Needed, Perfect For Coach Romar’s Offense (credit: Steven Gibbons)
  • Mark McLaughlin, Junior, Shooting Guard, 6’6” 205 lbs, Tacoma Community College – McLaughlin’s lights-out shooting ability has him heading into the season as the backup two guard. He is transferring in from nearby Tacoma Community College, where he led all junior college scorers with 28.4 PPG in 2011-12. Before transferring there, McLaughlin played under Cameron Dollar at Seattle U in 2010-11. He didn’t have a bad season by any means, averaging 7.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG,  but he only saw action in just over half of the Redhawks’ games, so he decided to move south to Tacoma. The guy has tremendous upside, but you have to wonder if playing at his third college in three years, and fifth school in seven years, is problematic. Regardless, if he can shoot the ball like he did last season, he will find his way onto the floor in no time. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Washington Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 9th, 2012

Despite winning the regular season Pac-12 title, a conference Coach of the Year award, and a run to the Final Four of the NIT, 2011-12 was considered a mediocre year by many in Seattle. That’s what happens when you make three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances coming into last season. Between the 2008-09 and the 2010-11 seasons, Washington posted a combined 76-30 record, with 11 of those 30 losses coming against teams ranked in the Top 25. Last season was a rollercoaster ride with too many “downs” for the selection committee’s liking, even if there were a lot of “ups” to go along with it.

Despite Being Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year In 2011-12, Lorenzo Romar and The Huskies Weren’t Dancing On Selection Sunday (credit: North and South of Royal Brougham)

The Huskies knew going into the season that there would be some early roadbumps after losing do-everything players Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas. Grouped with what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury for guard Scott Suggs that was suffered during preseason workouts, the Dawgs limped out of the gate. Washington struggled to beat a Florida Atlantic team (the Owls finished the year with an 11-19 mark) at home in their second game of the season, and a week later would lose by 13 points against Saint Louis. The hits would keep on coming, as it would go on to lose three of its next four games after the trip to Missouri. Midway through that stretch, Washington announced that Suggs would redshirt the 2011-12 season. And while this was obviously a good choice for the future, it felt at the time being as if the Huskies had already given up some hope of a successful season. The low point of the season came in the first two games of its five game mid-December home stand. After limping to a 87-80 win over UC Santa Barbara, the Huskies were blown out of their home arena by South Dakota State, suffering a 19-point loss to the Jackrabbits. And while SDSU would go on to have a great season, they were just three days removed from a 19-point defeat of their own — at the hands of vaunted North Dakota.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Weekly Five: 06.22.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on June 22nd, 2012

  1. UCLA head coach Ben Howland’s recruiting success with the 2012 class went a long way towards re-establishing the thriving program we had come to expect after his first few seasons in Westwood, but questions remained about what he could do in the future. Some of those questions were answered this past week when Howland earned a commitment from 2013 guard Zach LaVine, a four-star player out of Bothell, Washington. LaVine has the reputation of a point guard prospect, but has enough size and scoring ability that he could play either position at the next level. Aside from getting UCLA’s 2013 class off to a strong start, it also shows Howland’s ability to go into other states and steal local kids from his Pac-12 opponents, as Washington, for one, certainly considered themselves a strong candidate to land LaVine.
  2. Speaking of Washington, head coach Lorenzo Romar confirmed this week that they are “pretty much done” with the 2012 recruiting class. Assuming no last minute surprises emerge, the new class for the Huskies is made up of just junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin and San Francisco transfer Perry Blackwell, who will not be eligible until 2013-14. However, Ben Knibbe of the UW Dawg Pound tells UW fans not to worry, because Romar has designs on a monster 2013 class, with his staff hot in pursuit of #1 overall recruit Jabari Parker as well as three other top-15 recruits: Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird and Isaac Hamilton.
  3. Also on the Lorenzo Romar front, he is the latest Pac-12 coach to hop aboard the Twitter express, signing up for the social media platform this week as @CoachRomar. With Arizona head coach Sean Miller buying in last week, now more than half of the league’s coaches have a Twitter feed, some of which are used more than others. However, if you California fans out there are waiting for Mike Montgomery to start tweeting, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
  4. Sean Miller, meanwhile, had plenty to be happy about, as he inked a contract extension with Arizona in the last week that will keep him prowling the sidelines (and, likewise, will keep the Wildcats very relevant nationally) through at least 2016-17. In his three seasons in Tucson, he has posted a 69-35 record with a Coach of the Year award and an Elite Eight mixed in, despite missing the NCAA Tournament twice over that span. While missing NCAA Tournaments is definitely not something that Wildcats fans are used to, most understand that Miller has done an excellent job keeping this program chugging along, especially considering his top three national recruiting class this past offseason.
  5. Lastly, David Piper of Addicted to Quack writes that this 2012 Oregon recruiting class will determine whether the Dana Altman era in Eugene will ultimately be considered a success or not. With 12 of the 16 most-recent Duck recruits having transferred out of the program, Altman needs to show that he can not only bring in quality recruits, but that he can keep them and use them to get Oregon back into the NCAA Tournament. Four-star point guard Dominic Artis heads the 2012 class, and he could be a key cog over the next four years, provided of course that he remains in the program.
Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.05.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 5th, 2012

  1. Lorenzo Romar met with local media on Wednesday and had a ton of news as Washington heads to the offseason. While the early entries of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross to the NBA are by now old news, it is newsworthy that freshman point guard Andrew Andrews underwent hip surgery and junior center Aziz N’Diaye is scheduled for wrist surgery, although neither issue is serious enough to impact their availability for next season. Romar also noted that although the Huskies have yet to sign any new recruits for next season, he expects to land two or three new players. Mark McLaughlin, a recruit from Tacoma Community College, verbally committed to the program but has yet to sign a letter of intent. And, among other things, Romar said an offseason focus would be on improving perimeter defense and finding an inside scoring presence. That last goal does not have an immediately obvious answer, although guys like Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig will all get a chance.
  2. When Trent Lockett announced his decision to transfer from Arizona State, he cited his desire to be closer to his mother who is fighting cancer at her home in Minnesota. So, while schools like Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all made perfect sense as possible landing grounds, the news that Gonzaga is somehow in the conversation comes as a bit of a shock. Still, Iowa State appears to be the leader for Lockett’s services, but the graduating senior must find a school that offers a graduate program that ASU does not in order for Lockett to be eligible to play next season.
  3. It’s no secret to anyone that’s read this spot this season, but Shabazz Muhammad is more or less a must-get for UCLA. If Muhammad goes to Westwood, it means Ben Howland has landed an elite recruiting class and it means the Bruins may even have a shot to land power forward Tony Parker as well. If Muhammad chooses Kentucky, it reinforces the idea that John Calipari and the Wildcats are the place to be for potential one-and-doners and it likely slams the door on the potential for Parker in blue and gold. Sure, the Bruins will still have a nice little recruiting class with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, but with Muhammad in tow, the Bruins are possibly the Pac-12 favorite and a force again on the national stage. My gut feeling? Muhammad will be wearing a blue and gold hat on April 10.
  4. A day after Muhammad’s decision will be announced on ESPNU, Tony Parker will announce his decision, with UCLA also among the favorites. On Wednesday, the Memphis Roar reported that Parker’s father had said that his son had cut his list of potential schools to UCLA, Duke and Memphis, but later in the day he retracted that statement, noting that his son would not be trimming his list until the April 8. Still, for the three schools on the supposed short list, this should be seen as good news, while the others – Kansas, Ohio State and Georgia – should probably start making other plans. And, if Brooks Hansen – the author of the piece – is to be believed, the Bruins are the leader in the clubhouse for Parker’s services.
  5. Arizona would certainly have something to say about the idea that the Bruins would be the Pac-12 favorite with the addition of Muhammad. After all, as of right now, the Wildcats have the best incoming recruiting class in the country. And, with the proliference of all the silly 2012-13 preseason rankings that have come out in recent days, it is interesting to see UA, presently sans a set-in-stone answer at the point guard, showing up near the top of many lists. Andy Katz, for instance, has the Wildcats at #12, but two writers at the Daily Wildcat have differing thoughts on such a lofty ranking. One thinks the love is deserved, even if Josiah Turner never wears an Arizona uniform again, while the other prefers to see the team prove it before giving them such praise.
Share this story