Pac-12 ATB: Arizona is Back!

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 18th, 2011

The Lede.  After a loss against Seattle Pacific and mediocre performances in the their other four games, the Wildcats had a big question mark above their heads going into last night’s meeting with St. John’s. Arizona answered most of those questions in its 81-72 victory over the Red Storm on Thursday. Sparked by junior guard Kevin Parrom, playing in his first game after being shot below the knee two months ago, the Wildcats blistered Steve Lavin’s team from behind the three-point line. The Wildcats also flustered the SJU offense all night by stealing the ball seven times, all of which led to some kind of fast break for the Cats.

Steve Lavin's Red Storm had their chances against Arizona, but too many turnovers would eventually doom St. John's

Despite their hot shooting and tenacious defense, the Red Storm did have many chances to win this one. Leading 68-67 with 4:45 remaining, Phil Greene missed a point blank layup that would have put SJU up by three. From there the Wildcats would cruise to a victory as they closed the game on a 14-2 run. Read the rest of this entry »

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Predicting the All-Pac-12 Team

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 11th, 2011

With players like Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, and Klay Thompson departing for the NBA, the talent level from top to bottom in the Pac-12 this season isn’t exactly at its peak. That means guys who had a mediocre season or played a role on a team last year will be looked at to step up and become the next big stars of the conference. This is evident as we have compiled our best guess as to the All-Pac-12 team, and only one player from last year’s team has made the list. Here we go!

  • G Jorge Gutierrez, Sr, California – We begin with the only player from last season’s all-conference team. Gutierrez averaged 14.6 PPG and 4.5 APG in 2010-11, but he will be looked at to take on an even bigger role this year with the departure of Cal’s third-highest scorer, Markuri Sanders-Frison. Grouped in a backcourt with Minnesota-transfer Justin Cobbs, opposing defenses will be stretched to the max on the perimeter.
Jorge Gutierrez, Cal

Gutierrez Will Be Looked At To Lead The Golden Bears To The NCAA Tournament This Season

  • G Jared Cunningham, Jr, Oregon State – If you look at the stats from last season and the previews for this year, there isn’t a very strong representation from Oregon State. But from the returning scoring leaders to the “most entertaining” lists, Jared Cunningham is always a constant. Cunningham averaged 14.2 PPG last season, but his biggest contributions come on defense. Cunningham stepped in for the departed Seth Tarver as Oregon State’s top defender, averaging 2.7 SPG, most of which turned into immediate buckets for the Beavers. If he can make three-pointers with consistency (and if his exhibition performance was any indication, he will), Cunningham is a lock to make the All-Pac-12 team.
  • C Harper Kamp, Sr, California – Kamp is actually one of the smaller centers in the league, but his agility and great defense make him one of the most respected players around the conference. With the aforementioned loss of Sanders-Frison, California’s season could hang on how healthy Kamp is and whether or not he stays out of foul trouble. Kamp averaged 14.2 PPG in 2010-11, but his biggest contributions came on the boards. His 5.6 RPG was second only to Sanders-Frison’s mark last year. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.08.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 8th, 2011

  1. We begin in Tucson, where Arizona got the regular season started with a 73-64 win over Valparaiso. After a mediocre exhibition season, this was a fine win to open up the year for the Wildcats. Kyle Fogg broke out of his shooting slump with 16 points, but the surprise of the night was freshman Nick Johnson. Johnson continued to outperform freshman teammate Josiah Turner with 14 points and six assists, while Turner had a lackluster seven points and one assist. Turner got the start,but it is becoming more evident from head coach Sean Miller that Johnson will be the second guard in the lineup in crunch time. Matching Johnson’s 14 points was senior forward Jesse Perry, but even more impressive was the ten rebounds he collected. Up next for Arizona is a visit from Duquesne on Wednesday night.
  2. There is a serious lack of power in the Pac-12 this year after many stars left last season. As Patrick Finley points out, the top seven scorers in the league last year are now gone, not to mention eight out of the nine best rebounders. But while you may see less highlights on SportsCenter because of it, the lack of star players and exceptional talent could make for one of the best Pac-12 championship races in recent history. “I don’t know if there’s a team to beat,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told reporters. When you look at it, five teams (California, Arizona, Washington, UCLA, and Oregon) could all make a serious push for the conference crown. There will surely be upsets along the way as well, considering that the next tier of teams (Oregon State, Stanford, and Colorado) have enough talent to also compete night in and night out.
  3. If you were ever wondering how to build a basketball dynasty, Greg Hansen has laid out the steps that former Arizona coach Lute Olson used to take the Wildcats from conference cellar-dweller to national powerhouse. Included is everything from “playing nonconference road games,” to “acknowledging the fans,” to “running an up-tempo offense.” This is truly a great read for all Pac-12 fans, whether you want to take the trip back to memory lane or look to the future and see if your team is navigating the right steps on the road to a future dynasty.
  4. CBSSports has compiled its annual list of the Top 100 Best Players, and the Pac-12 is represented with a total of nine players at #’s 23, 24, 42, 46, 47, 49, 77, 85, and 88. Topping the Pac-12 portion of the list is Washington guard Terrence Ross. With the departure of Isaiah Thomas from Seattle, Ross is going to play a huge role in both the Husky offense and defense this year. Directly behind him is UCLA forward Reeves Nelson, who had a ridiculous 14 double-doubles last season. Nelson is both a threat from the perimeter and low post, making him a nightmare for opposing defenses. At #42 is a surprise pick, Bruin center Joshua Smith. Smith can certainly score, but constant foul trouble does not make him a Top 50 player in my mind. Josiah Turner, Jorge Gutierrez, Jabari Brown, Allen Crabbe, Jared Cunningham, and Trent Lockett round out the Pac-12′s representation on the list.
  5. Arizona State will be looking to change the attitude around the program when they take the court on Friday to open up the regular season. The Sun Devils have not won a postseason game of any kind since 2009, which was also the last time they went to the NCAA Tournament. While 2009-10 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, expectations were higher going into last season. Instead the Devils finished 12-19, last in the Pac-10, reviving old doubts about the program and the direction in which it was headed. We live in a world of “what have you done for me lately,” so the lack of NCAA Tournament appearances has coach Herb Sendek on the hot seat. “That’s definitely not what I expected, to be a junior (without) having played in an NCAA Tournament,” guard Trent Lockett said, reiterating the point. The Sun Devils will begin their quest back to relevancy when they take on Montana State at Wells Fargo Arena Friday afternoon.
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