Morning Five: 07.31.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2013

morning5

  1. Last year’s Armed Forces Classic between Connecticut and Michigan State on an air base in Germany may not have brought the same razzle-dazzle that the original aircraft carrier game in 2011 did, but it was easily the most compelling opening night game last season for any number of reasons. The weird midnight local time tip, the aircraft hangar setting, the wild military crowd in attendance, Kevin Ollie’s first game as a head coach, the start of UConn’s “lost season,” a Jim Calhoun appearance, and yeah, even a pretty good game. Next year’s event seeks to do us one better, as Andy Katz reported on Tuesday that the 2013 version will be held at US Army base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, resulting in the first college basketball game to be played in Asia since Ralph Sampson’s Virginia group was about to lose to Chaminade. The participants will be Georgetown and Oregon, with both teams expected to be good next season and hoping to get an early non-conference quality win. Georgetown certainly hopes this trip goes a little better than the last time it visited Asia, while Oregon’s representation continues the Pac-12′s ongoing push to marketing its products on to the other side of the Pacific Rim. We can’t wait. 
  2. Speaking of Pac-12 schools in the Beaver State, Oregon’s rival could be coming apart at the seams. Already on the hot seat for a middling 77-88 (31-59 P12) record in five years in Corvallis, Craig Robinson was hoping to have his most talented and experienced team returning intact next season. With the news released on Tuesday that starting frontcourt mates Devon Collier (13/6) and Eric Moreland (9/10) were suspended indefinitely for undisclosed team violations, there is valid reason for concern that the Beavers are facing a meltdown 2013-14 campaign. The good news is that the pair will be allowed to continue their strength and conditioning training as well as summer workouts, so perhaps these suspensions are merely of the ‘send a message’ variety. There’s one thing we can bank on, though. If Robinson doesn’t have Collier and Moreland at his disposal next season, he’d best polish off that financial services resume for a pending move back east.
  3. How about some better news? The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2013 earlier this week, and the names include some of the all-time greats in our sport. The headliners are 1968 NPOY Elvin Hayes (Houston) and 1975 NPOY Marques Johnson (UCLA), along with six-time NCOY Gene Keady (Purdue) and Villanova national championship head coach Rollie Massimino. Wichita State superstar Xavier “X-Man” McDaniel was also selected, in addition to Tom McMillen (Maryland), Bob Hopkins (Grambling), and a unique team inclusion: the entire 1963 Loyola (Chicago) national champions. That team was notable in that it started four black players on its title team, some three years before the more-ballyhooed Texas Western squad won its Brown vs. Board of Education game against all-white Kentucky. Former Washington State and USC head coach and Nike representative George Raveling was also chosen to the Hall for his work with the shoe company (a “contributor,” they call it). The ceremony will occur as part of the CBE Classic in Kansas City on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A deserving group.
  4. Among the latte-sipping class, you’ve pretty much arrived if you’re mentioned in The Economist. The high-brow publication from the United Kingdom has long been considered one of the most cogent analytical voices on international economic matters in the world, and particularly so among US policy-makers and business leaders. Rarely do sports, especially college sports, find space on the magazine’s pages, but last week the rest of the world was introduced to Ed O’Bannon and his lawsuit against the NCAA. Many people reading this kind of material are likely clueless about the history and importance of the NCAA, but the tone of the piece again shows how, as a matter of public perception, the organization has already lost the coasts. People all across America still love college sports — the eastern and western edges of the continent included — but the growing consensus among the educated and wealthy concentrated in those areas is that the NCAA is exploiting 18-22 year olds for its unjust enrichment. The O’Bannon case has a long way to go still, but don’t think that the judge and principals involved didn’t notice The Economist’s wandering eye.
  5. Every once in a while Deadspin comes up with some sort of analysis that doesn’t involve genitalia jokes or athletes (and their wives, sorry, WAGs) doing dumb things on Twitter. Last week Patrick Burns wrote up a comprehensive analysis of watching an entire year (2012) of the 11 PM ESPN Sportscenter to see which sports, teams and personalities received the most coverage. There were no surprises at the top of the list, of course, with the NFL (23.3% of all available minutes) and NBA (19.2%) in dominant positions, followed by MLB (16.8%) and college football (7.7%). But perhaps surprisingly given how pigskin drives all the money-making decisions at the school and conference level, Sportscenter spent nearly as much time talking about college hoops (6.8%) as it did on the gridiron. The most talked-about team, as you can imagine that year, was Kentucky (0.9% of all minutes). True, Sportscenter is but a single proxy for the importance of American sports culture, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Championship

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 10th, 2012

Our championship game pits fourth seeded Connor Pelton up against the fifth seeded, two-headed monster in Mark Sandritter and Jeff Nusser (CougCenter). Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

Connor Pelton

  • Head Coach – Slats Gill, Oregon State
  • Guard – Reggie Miller, UCLA
  • Guard – Isaiah Thomas, Washington
  • Guard – Chauncey Billups, Colorado
  • Guard – Baron Davis, UCLA
  • Forward – Kiki Vandeweghe, UCLA
  • Forward – Klay Thompson, Washington State
  • Forward – Richard Jefferson, Arizona
  • Forward – Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Center – Steve Johnson, Oregon State
  • Center – Robin Lopez, Stanford

Connor’s Take:

Obviously, CougCenter’s team is loaded with talent. Behind my own, of course, it’s my favorite in the field. But you can’t tell me that Darren Collison and Eddie House would even compete with Reggie Miller or Chauncey Billups in a game of two-on-two, or that David Greenwood is better than fellow Bruin Kiki Vandeweghe. Let’s take a look at the stats, shall we: My group of guards (Miller, Billups, Isaiah Thomas, and Baron Davis) averaged a total of 16.4 PPG throughout their college careers. Team CougCenter’s? A cute average of 13.2. At the forward position, the numbers are a bit closer, but my 15.0 PPG still prevails.

My side boasts a Basketball Hall of Famer, a five-time NBA All-Star, and three, two-time All-Pac-10 First Teamers. Miller and Billups are some of the clutchest players of all time, meaning they’ll pull out a Championship for me in this tight battle.

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Pac-12 Morning Five 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Washington wrapped up at least a piece of the conference title on Thursday night, blowing out USC at the Galen Center by 22 points. The Trojans actually shot the ball pretty well, limited Washington’s field goal percentage and turned the ball over less than the Huskies, but Washington absolutely dominated on the glass on both ends of the floor, grabbing 51.4% of their misses and 90.6% of USC’s. Five different Huskies had seven rebounds or more while no Trojan had more than five. If Washington can take care of UCLA on Saturday, they will win the Pac-12 outright, and they can also back their way into the championship with a loss and a Stanford win over California on Sunday. Tony Wroten’s chances for the conference Player of the Year award took a hit with a two-for-13 shooting performance that also included four more turnovers, while Terrence Ross bounced back from a weak performance last weekend with 18 points and seven rebounds. USC’s Byron Wesley continued his strong play in defeat, setting a new career-high for the third straight game, with 23 points.
  2. Meanwhile, in Eugene, Oregon went a long way towards clinching a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament by pouring on 54 second-half points in a come-from-behind victory over Colorado. The Ducks used a 35-18 run to open the second half to pull away from the Buffaloes, as seemingly everybody on the team got in on the act. E.J. Singler kick-started the run with six straight points, Carlos Emory chipped in a three-point play and a three-pointer later, Garrett Sim knocked down threes with abandon, and Devoe Joseph did a little of everything, including knocking down a key jumper after the final media timeout to staunch a Colorado run. With Utah coming up on Saturday, the Ducks are very much in the driver’s seat for a first-round bye, while the Buffaloes will need to win at Oregon State and get some help to avoid having to play on the opening day of the conference tourney.
  3. In the wake of the controversy surrounding the UCLA program and Ben Howland, the current Bruin team weighed in pretty heavily last night, throttling Washington State early and often on the way to a 32-point victory. While the players downplayed the effect of Wednesday’s Sports Illustrated article (senior guard Lazeric Jones, for one, said he didn’t ever read it), their performance sure seemed like a statement. UCLA led by 19 at the half, then ran that lead out to 30 early in the second half. While nobody on the team thought the performance had anything to do with the article, David Wear said the team “stood together as a team and a family” and Joshua Smith said “We had to show we were the same guys who have worked hard, gone to class and done what Coach Howland told us.” The Bruins will get another chance to make a statement on Saturday, when they can play the spoiler in Washington’s bid for a conference title.
  4. The final game on Thursday night was Oregon State’s ten-point win over Utah, the Beavers’ first win after five straight losses. Oregon State came out on fire in the first half, limiting the Utes to just 21.7% from the field on the way to a 36-15 lead at the break, but let off the gas a bit in the second half. Conference POY candidate Jared Cunningham had a fine, if understated, game, going for 17 points and six assists. If Oregon State can add another win on Saturday against Colorado, they could be on their way towards putting together some momentum for a possible conference tournament run.
  5. Back to Westwood briefly, for another look at the aftermath of the George Dohrmann piece, as Thursday a couple very important Bruins came to the defense of Howland. Former National Player of the Year Marques Johnson, father of Josiah Johnson, who played under Howland, noted that while he had some frustrations with the way the coach handled his son, in the end he things he “did the right things”, while Johnson also brought a dose of perspective to the issue of college kids experimenting with drugs, noting that it is part of the “college atmosphere. Meanwhile, UCLA’s all-time leading scorer Don MacLean chipped in, noting that the head coach can’t always be around to police the players and that those guys need to show discipline and not let their social life get in the way of practice and performance in games.
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Yeah, You Might Be Better than a UCLA Player

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2008

Imagine that during your senior year of high school, you manage to scrape and claw your way onto the varsity basketball team.  You sit the bench, but you’re the first number called by the coach in most games, and you provide leadership, hustle and smarts in the twenty games you see action for your 26-2 conference championship team.  But a D1 collegiate prospect you’re assuredly not - your 3.4 ppg and 2.5 apg averages don’t even rise to the level of your GPA (4.3).  So you send your college applications out like everyone else in the Class of 2008, and the year of varsity hoops is but one of your many extracurriculars that you hope will give you an edge in the process.  Good fortune intervenes as you are accepted into your dream school, and before you know it, you’re not only on the varsity of a national powerhouse team coming off of three straight Final Four trips, but sitting on the bench in uniform alongside several HS all-americans and actually seeing a minute-plus of playing time in a real game against a Big East opponent (he missed his only three, by the way). 

John Wooden with great-grandson Tyler Trapani

John Wooden with great-grandson Tyler Trapani

Preposterous?  Nah.  Meet Tyler Trapani, UCLA’s walk-on seventeenth man, who also happens to be the great-grandson of a rather illustrious presence around Westwood - John Wooden.   Normally, we’d be up in arms over this clear case of nepotism, but actually, we don’t have any problem with this story.  As Ben Howland said in a recent AP report, he’s just acting as a caretaker for Coach Wooden’s program, and it’s not as if Trapani’s presence on the team otherwise injures any current Bruin’s standing (apparently, for most games he sits in the stands in street clothing). 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

photo credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As part of the Wooden Classic festivities against Depaul on Saturday, the elder Bruin coach was there when Trapani (#4) played for ninety glorious seconds.  Given that the current walk-on Bruin once as a child told his great-gramps that he already knew how to shoot the ball when “Papa” was trying to correct his form, what was the WoW’s take on his 6’0, 185-lb. scion’s all-around game? 

He’s a little heavy-footed, but he works hard for a young fellow just starting college.  He doesn’t have the quickness for changing direction that I always like to have.

Translation: I was too busy recruiting players like Lew Alcindor, Sidney Wicks, Walt Hazzard, Bill Walton, Marques Johnson, et al., than to go after slow-as-molasses chumps like you.  Still love ya, though, kid. 

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