Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.15.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 15th, 2011

  1. With UCLA’s 60-47 win over Eastern Washington on Wednesday night, the Bruins moved to within one game of .500 on its disappointing season. UCLA played mostly man-to-man defense after having used quite a bit of zone in their previous win, and was successful in limiting EWU to 30.2% eFG, but their ineffectiveness on the glass is just the newest of concerns for an underachieving team; UCLA allowed EWU to grab 41% of their offensive rebound opportunities while taking 80% of the defensive rebounds. Nevertheless, senior point guard Lazeric Jones continued his strong run, leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and threes.
  2. UCLA played without sophomore forward Travis Wear, who spent the evening in the hospital with a skin infection, possibly related to a the cut he sustained on his left foot while snorkeling in Hawaii following the Maui Invitational. Wear was given antibiotics and apparently responded well to them, meaning he is likely to be released from the hospital on Thursday. With UC Irvine next up for the Bruins on Saturday, Wear is in no rush to come back, but the team is quite a bit thinner up front than had been expected, as reserves Anthony Stover and Brendan Lane each got 18 minutes on Wednesday night.
  3. Sticking with the Bruins for a bit longer, Jordan Adams, one of UCLA’s two current signees for next year, believes that the #1 recruit in the nation, Shabazz Muhammad, will be headed to Westwood next year. He also thinks Tony Parker, the #31 ranked recruit according to ESPNU, is headed to the City of Angels as well, giving the Bruins what would likely be one of the top three recruiting classes in the nation. Adams is so sure, he’s already even volunteering for sixth man duties. UCLA may be down in the dumps right now, but that foursome would provide a big boost for a team in a temporary lull.
  4. California is set to beef up its non-conference schedule in the next couple of years with a home-and-home series with Wisconsin. The Bears will travel to Madison next season before hosting the Badgers in 2013-14. Dates are not yet set, but looking ahead to next year, Cal will be without  Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp, while Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor will have moved onto greener pastures, but matchups like Traevon Jackson vs. Justin Cobbs, not to mention Bo Ryan vs. Mike Montgomery, will be sure to make that matchup one to keep an eye on.
  5. Finally, two nights ago, Oregon State freshman Eric Moreland pulled down 14 rebounds in just 19 minutes against Illinois-Chicago, making it his third game in his young career with double-figure rebounds. Playing limited minutes, Moreland is grabbing 30% of the opposing team’s missed shots, and almost 16% of his own team’s missed shots, numbers that would be among the best in the nation if he played enough minutes to qualify. Moreland, who transferred from UTEP prior to last season before sitting out a year with a shoulder injury, is still getting used to his 6’10” frame (and 7’4” wingspan) after growing five inches between his junior and senior years of high school, but if this is him prior to being comfortable in his own skin, just wait until he embraces his NBA-ready body.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.07.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 7th, 2011

  1. Tuesday night saw the Pac-12 conference lose yet another non-conference game, as Marquette knocked off Washington by a bucket in a back-and-forth game that provided a nice nightcap to the Jimmy V Classic in New York. The Huskies had plenty of chances down the stretch to earn a more positive outcome, but three turnovers on their last six possessions, plus a wild Abdul Gaddy attempt on the final play with Lorenzo Romar sitting on his last timeout put the Huskies on their way to their second straight defeat. With Duke on deck on Saturday, Romar’s club has its work cut out for it.
  2. In what is getting to be a tradition here with the P12 M5, we’ve got player suspensions to talk about. Oh boy! First, in an announcement that surprised exactly no one, UCLA suspended Reeves Nelson indefinitely for the second time this season. It was originally reported that Nelson had been dismissed from the team, but head coach Ben Howland corrected that later in the day. Nelson was benched for the second half of Saturday’s loss to Texas for, among other issues, blowing a defensive assignment at the end of the first half that led to a Clint Chapman dunk, then was later seen laughing on the bench as fans in the crowd called out for him. Nevertheless, he remained supportive of his teammates from the bench, leading the cheers down the stretch as the Bruins attempted to mount a comeback. With Howland and Nelson clearly at odds and the end of the semester at hand, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the UCLA program to see if the junior forward becomes the latest Bruin big man to leave the program.
  3. Meanwhile in Tucson, just a day after head coach Sean Miller hinted that point guard Josiah Turner might be on his way back into the starting lineup, the freshman missed practice and was suspended for Arizona‘s game tonight against Florida. Turner had already been benched for a game against Ball State earlier in the season for behavioral issues, and reportedly has been kicked out of practice on one other occasion. Turner had been starting to come around on the court in recent games, and the Florida game would have been an excellent chance for him to announce his arrival to a national television crowd, but despite all his talent, the youngster can’t get out of his own way so far. Jordin Mayes will need to take on a bigger role for the Wildcats in Turner’s absence.
  4. The Daily Wildcat noted that this Arizona/Florida series is the result of a friendship between Miller and Florida head coach Billy Donovan. The two first met when Donovan was a senior at Providence and Miller took a recruiting visit to the school, and has continued throughout the years as the players went on to become two of the best coaches in the land. For now, the series doesn’t extend beyond next year’s game when Florida returns the trip, but here’s hoping these two schools can make this an annual affair. We can never have too many interesting non-conference matchups.
  5. Lastly, in the wake of Monday’s suspension of their leading scorer Josh Watkins, Utah is preparing to take on Cal State Fullerton tonight. While Watkins worked out with assistant coach Andy Hill yesterday, the rest of his team was preparing to move on without him, at least temporarily. Freshman Kareem Storey will take over at the point, and he’ll need to play a big role for the Utes, but more importantly, the team needs to improve their effort, according to head coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted that the coaching staff has had to “coach effort more than you’d like to.” Junior forward Dijon Farr was less diplomatic, saying that “some people just quit.” With a long slog of likely losses ahead, it would be quite a testament to Krystkowiak if he can get this team back on track, at least in the effort department.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.05.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 5th, 2011

  1. It was another busy weekend for Pac-12 basketball teams, and replicating previous weeks, it was another weekend piled high with losses and roster turnover. To kick things off with relatively happy news, USC had expected sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon to miss four to six weeks with a stress fracture. As it turned out, it was closer to four to six days that Dedmon missed, as he returned to action Saturday when the Trojans traveled to Minnesota, losing 55-40. Dedmon showed up to the game with a boot on his right foot, but played anyway, and although he didn’t contribute much worthwhile, for a roster that needs all the warm bodies it can get, his return is welcome.
  2. Okay, enough with the marginally good news; on to the carnage. In Arizona, we can officially close the books on Sidiki Johnson’s run as a Wildcat. Career totals: seven minutes, one point, two rebounds. In news that surprises no one, the university announced Sunday that Johnson has left the program and will transfer out. Meanwhile, up in Berkeley on Saturday, California announced the indefinite suspension of sophomore forward Richard Solomon for behavior “contrary to university and athletic department values.” He didn’t travel with the Golden Bears to San Diego on Sunday, as Cal dropped a one-point game to San Diego State.
  3. We knew well before the season started that this year’s Utah squad would be bad. On Saturday, a 30-point loss to Fresno State dropped the Utes to 1-6, the worst start in the history of the basketball program. The team’s lone win was a 58-55 squeaker over San Diego Christian, a NAIA team that isn’t even much good at that level. Fresno State had previously lost to teams like Texas-San Antonio, Manhattan and North Dakota State, meaning the Utes didn’t even get blown out by a good team. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this squad and root for them to get a win here and there, but it is an awful shame that for the school’s first year in a major conference, they have to be cursed with the worst team in the history of the school.
  4. Okay, enough negatives. There were some positives around the conference this weekend (and yes, this means I won’t even mention Washington’s overtime loss to Nevada or UCLA folding like a tent against Texas). To begin with, Arizona State played its first true road game of the season on Saturday, and came away with a 67-64 win against a Tulsa squad in the middle of an absolutely brutal stretch in their schedule. Still, give credit to the Sun Devils who saw sophomore Keala King notch 18 points, four assists and three steals (nevermind the six turnovers) to lead the team, while junior center Ruslan Pateev scored as many points Saturday as he had in the previous six games combined. ASU was helped by the Golden Hurricane missing six of their nine free throw attempts in the last four minutes, but still, a win is a win. And, just to get ASU fans’ hopes up, the university expects to hear about Jahii Carson’s eligibility on Monday.
  5. There were a couple more big wins this weekend, the first one a literal big win, as Washington State crushed Eastern Washington by 26 points behind 20 points and 13 rebounds from senior center Charlie Enquist. WSU has won its last two games by a total of 58 points, holding its two opponents to an effective field goal percentage below 30%. Enquist, who had scored a total of 50 points and grabbed 41 rebounds in his 54 total games prior to this season, had career highs in virtually every category on the stat sheet. A more impressive win for the conference came Sunday afternoon, when Stanford rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to defeat North Carolina State. Josh Owens led the way for the Cardinal (now 8-1 and knocking on the door of the Top 25) with 19 points and seven rebounds, while freshman guard Chasson Randle continued his strong run, scoring 16 points, grabbing six rebounds and playing some smothering defense during the Cardinal’s second half run. Stanford now takes nearly two weeks off as their student-athletes deal with finals.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.01.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 1st, 2011

  1. Just when you thought things were about to turn around a little bit for the Pac-12, and just when you thought Colorado was on the verge of being able to string together a few wins in a row following a solid win over Georgia on Monday night and a manageable schedule in front of them, the Buffaloes go and shoot 44.8% from the free throw line and lose a tough one against in-state rival Colorado State. CU fought back from a ten-point deficit early in the second half to tighten things up, only to have the Rams jump back out to an eight-point lead with under 90 seconds remaining. However, a 10-1 run over the next 75 seconds capped by a Nate Tomlinson steal of a CSU inbounds pass and an ensuing layup gave the Buffs a brief lead. But CSU’s Dorian Green took the ball out from coast to coast and hit a jumper in the lane to give CSU the lead right back. Tomlinson was almost the hero again, but his three-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out.
  2. The other two games Wednesday night featured Pac-12 wins against uninspiring competition, with USC holding UC Riverside to 35 points in a 21-point Trojan victory at UCR. While Washington State, you know, the same team that lost to the UC Riverside team on Sunday, took out their frustrations on a now 0-6 Grambling team with a 69-37 thrashing. Brock Motum had 11/10 for the Cougs, while point guard Reggie Moore handed out seven assists, but WSU will need to tackle some tougher competition before anybody believes anything they’re selling.
  3. This season hasn’t exactly been the stuff of dreams for Utah in their first season in the Pac-12, and plenty of that can be attributed to a series of defections from the basketball team over the past two seasons. But at least some of their struggles can be attributed to the absence of their 7’3” senior center David Foster in the middle. Foster played six minutes in the Utes’ exhibition game against Adams State on November 4, but left the game with a broken right foot. At present, it is still undecided whether Foster will take a medical redshirt and return for next season or if he will come back when able this season. Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak would prefer to have Foster return this season and play the last four-to-six weeks of the regular season with the Utes, while Foster and his dad are holding out for the possibility that a redshirt season may be the best bet. While his immediate future is unclear, what is clear is that the Utes are significantly worse off without the 3.2 blocks he provided in 20 minutes per game last season. Last year the Utes defense wasn’t great (112th in the nation according to kenpom.com), but this season it is abysmal – 288th in the nation.
  4. You may have heard that the UCLA basketball program is struggling a bit this year. It’s true. With surprising losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee to pair with more predictable losses to Kansas and Michigan, the Bruins are off to a 2-4 start. So, what’s their problem – aside from chemistry issues and a general lack of athleticism or outside shooting, that is? Jeff Eisenberg asked the coach of a team who has already beaten the Bruins this year to give an assessment of Ben Howland’s club. Long story short: Their guards can’t make shots, Joshua Smith’s conditioning is terrible, the Wear Twins are incapable of guarding athletic small forwards and they need to get freshman guard Norman Powell more involved in the offense. Any good news? The coach expects the Bruins to get better as the season goes on, if only because he believes they’re a well-coached team.
  5. Oregon State junior guard Jared Cunningham earned a lot of attention after scoring 37 points in the Legends Classic semifinal, after having scored 35 points in his previous game against Hofstra – both career highs at the times. Since then, Beaver opponents have put their defensive effort into slowing Cunningham’s offensive attack. Vanderbilt sent senior forward and defensive savant Jeffery Taylor at Cunningham with additional eyeballs on him at all times, while Towson put its defensive energy into slowing him as well. Cunningham had better get used to other teams keying on him, because as sophomore guard Roberto Nelson put it, “they’d be stupid if they didn’t.” Still, even if other teams are able to limit his ability to score, Cunningham is still able to influence the game in other ways. He is an excellent defender capable of not only taking the opposition’s best guard out of his rhythm, but also forcing turnovers and creating easy transition opportunities for the Beavers. He is also very capable of drawing defenders to him and finding open looks for his teammates. And, if he can keep improving his jump shot (clearly the main weakness in his game), Cunningham can still get his points.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.29.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 29th, 2011

  1. It’s a new week and a new day for the Pac-12. Nothing but sunshine from now on, right? There hasn’t been a whole lot of good news to report around the conference, so we’ll take the occasion of four wins and zero losses in a single night to be grateful for. Sure, most of the wins came against teams that major conference teams should have no reason to fear, but one of the newest Pac-12 teams posted the most impressive victory of the night as Colorado came out of the halftime locker room with a 28-14 run over the first 17 minutes of the second half against Georgia. The Buffs held on to seal a 70-68 victory that was nowhere near as close as the final score. Buffalo freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie led all scorers with 16 points and fellow freshman Askia Booker added 14, while Andre Roberson had 15/15 in his fourth double-double of the year.
  2. Meanwhile down south, UCLA earned its first win of the season over a Division I opponent with a 62-39 victory over Pepperdine in a game whose score looks a lot more impressive than the actual play on the court. Sure, the Waves were never in this game at all, getting outscored 28-11 in the first half, but still, for UCLA, the two guys who were supposed to be the heart and soul of this team – Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith – combined for six points and eight rebounds in 22 total minutes. Nevertheless, there were good signs for the Bruins, namely Travis Wear, who took some time off from exploring coral reefs to grab ten first-half rebounds (including five on the offensive end) and freshman guard Norman Powell, who earned 22 minutes and rewarded the coaching staff with ten points, a couple of threes and a ton of defensive energy. There’s still a long way to go, and Pepperdine is certainly no Loyola Marymount, but it is baby steps for the Bruins at this point.
  3. Down the street from the Bruins’ temporary home, their cross-town rival, USC, got some good news Monday as their sophomore point guard Maurice Jones was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week, mostly on the strength of his 28-point outburst against South Carolina in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational this weekend. Jones hit all seven of his three-point attempts in that game, getting his three-point percentage for the season back in the respectable range (he started the year 8-32 from deep) and more importantly, getting his team back within one game of .500.
  4. Sticking around Troy for a bit, Rick Majerus was back in the Southland this weekend, taking his Saint Louis team to the 76 Classic in Anaheim, and while there he was asked to talk about his reasons for backing out of the USC job just four days after he had accepted it in 2004. Long story short, despite his claims at the time that it was his own health that caused him to back out, in fact Majerus’ mother was fighting cancer at the time and she asked him to not accept the job so that he could remain closer to her. Perhaps just as interesting was Majerus’ claim that he thought he could have won a national championship at USC. After seeing what Majerus did with Ball State, Utah and now Saint Louis, I’m inclined to trust him.
  5. Finally, Jeff Borzello takes a closer look at the struggles that Arizona State has been going through this season and ties it back to its inability to take care of the ball. So far ASU is turning the ball over on 26.9% of its possessions, an abysmal figure good for 325th in the country. Part of the problem can be chalked up to the Sun Devils missing Jahii Carson, the heir apparent at point guard who has yet to be declared academically eligible. But Iowa State transfer Chris Colvin, who has handled most of the point guard duties so far and who the coaching staff spoke highly of in the offseason, has yet to display any comfort as the lead guard, turning the ball over 23 times thus far in 150 minutes of action. And every other starter for the Sun Devils has averaged at least two turnovers a game thus far. If Carson isn’t coming through that door, and if ASU continues to turn the ball over at this rate, this season is not going to get any better.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: Turkey Hangover Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 25th, 2011

  1. This basketball season just keeps getting better and better for the Pac-12. Thanksgiving brought three more losses in tournaments from the Bahamas to Anaheim, with Utah losing by 28 to Harvard in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Arizona State dropping an ugly one to Fairfield in the Old Spice Classic, and Washington State capping off a brutal night with a 15-point loss in the 76 Classic to an Oklahoma team that was 14-18 last year. Not only is an 0-3 record definitely not something to be thankful for, but there wasn’t even a close game or a particularly good effort mixed in there; the tightest final margin was ASU’s 11-point loss in a relatively down-tempo game (approximately 62 possessions per team). The conference is now a combined 33-23 on the year, with a 5-9 record against teams from other BCS conferences.
  2. While Oregon fans are still holding out hope that somehow Jabari Brown winds up back in Eugene, rumors began circulating Thursday that Brown would end up at San Diego State next season. Steve Fisher has been rolling out the welcome mat for talented transfers who have struck out elsewhere, and while this would be a great get for an Aztec program that should be pretty strong next season, it looks like Duck fans can extinguish that last little flame of hope that Brown would return to Dana Altman’s program.
  3. The big game around the conference tonight is Stanford’s battle with Syracuse for the NIT Season Tip-Off title, a game we’ll discuss more later this morning. But USC kicks off an intriguing couple of days at the Las Vegas Invitational, with UNLV tonight and either North Carolina or South Carolina tomorrow night. The Trojans are just 2-3 on the season, but have lost their three games by a combined total of 11 points (including one double-overtime loss). Given that USC has shot 57.1% from the line in those three games (and just 62.9% for the season), you can see why head coach Kevin O’Neill says that free throws are killing them.
  4. Across town, UCLA is in much worse shape than the Trojans. While SC has at least been competitive every night out, and even managed to post a couple of wins, UCLA is still winless on the year against Division I competition. Worse yet, they haven’t been close – four losses by an average of almost 16 points a night. The closest they’ve come is an 11-point loss to Loyola Marymount. This UCLA roster is certainly not awash in hyper-talented individuals, but as Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times points out, the lack of commitment from several important members of the team is the bigger problem.
  5. Well, there’s always football. Nevermind that there is still a scenario whereby the winner of the Pac-12 South division isn’t eligible for a bowl game – it’s still better off than the basketball side of things. And given my own struggles in simply picking winners in Pac-12 games (I was 2-4 last week), I feel like I should be made an honorary member of the conference. Anyway, games kick off tonight on the football side and if everything breaks my way this weekend (including a highly improbable UCLA win over USC – I swear I’m not yet drunk as I write this), I can still catch Connor.
Game Connor (16-8) Drew (13-11)
Colorado @ Utah Utah Utah
California @ Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Oregon State @ Oregon Oregon Oregon
Louisiana-Lafayette @ Arizona Arizona Washington
Washington State @ Washington Washington State Arizona
UCLA @ USC USC 28, UCLA 17 UCLA 21 USC 20
Notre Dame @ Stanford Stanford Notre Dame
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Another night, another underwhelming set of outcomes around the conference – and that’s me being generous. Let’s start things out in Kansas City, where California got absolutely drilled by Missouri in the championship game of the CBE Classic, losing by 39 points in a game that was equally mismatched in both halves. Not only could the Golden Bears not get anything going offensively, they had no chance of stopping the Tigers on the other end of the court. Mizzou held Cal to a 31.6 effective field goal percentage on the game, posting a 68.6 eFG% of their own, partly a result of some easy shots generated by the 21 turnovers the Tigers forced. Not only was Cal senior guard Jorge Gutierrez harassed into four turnovers and 4-11 shooting, but sophomore wing Allen Crabbe was held to just 1-8 from the field, and the Cal frontcourt was wholly incapable of taking advantage of an undersized Mizzou front line. The Cal loss leaves Stanford as the sole remaining undefeated team in the conference, with the Cardinal prepping for some tough matchups in New York in the NIT Season Tip-Off beginning tonight.
  2. From the middle of the country, let’s head to the middle of the Pacific, where another preseason conference favorite was getting whooped at the hands of another Big 12 school, as UCLA fell by 16 to Kansas in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. Unlike the Bruins’ first two losses of the year, at least this time out they showed a little bit of fight, coming back from a 20-point deficit to cut the lead to as little as five late, before the Jayhawks woke back up and strode back out to the final margin with ease. Reeves Nelson played 28 minutes, although he is still coming off the bench in the wake of his recent behavioral issues, but showed the good emotion that gets his teammates inspired rather than the negative emotion that helps deflate his teammates. And then there’s sophomore center Joshua Smith who fouled out in 13 minutes of play, scoring one point and grabbing one rebound. That’s an absolute crime for a guy as talented as he is.
  3. The good news of the night for the conference was USC handling Morgan State at home by three and needing last minutes heroics by Maurice Jones and Aaron Fuller to seal a comeback from a 15-point deficit. It was a surprisingly efficient offensive performance for both teams, as each team shot over 50% from the floor, but the difference was the Trojans forcing Morgan State into 21 turnovers. Junior college transfer Greg Allen, a highly-regarded three-point shooter, scored 14 points for the Trojans, including 3-5 shooting from deep, accounting for his first points at the Division I level. With the limited offensive firepower on this USC team, Allen could be an important piece this season for Kevin O’Neill.
  4. Oregon travels to Nebraska tonight for a matchup with the Cornhuskers (6:00 PM PST, Big Ten Network), and they’ll do so without freshman guard Jabari Brown, who quit the team this past weekend. Head coach Dana Altman still maintains the door is open for Brown’s return, with no deadline for a final decision from the youngster. In the meantime, however, the Ducks have a replacement for Brown’s minutes just waiting, as Devoe Joseph, a transfer from Minnesota, regains his eligibility on December 10. The irony that they’ll be replacing a guy who quit on his team in the middle of a season with another guy who quit on his team in the middle of the season isn’t lost on anybody. There was good news for Oregon, however, as X-rays on the injured right ankle of 6’11” center Tony Woods proved negative, and while Woods’ status for the Wednesday night game is still unknown, he at least is well enough to make the trip to Lincoln.
  5. In the wake of Washington’s first loss of the season to Saint Louis on Sunday, head coach Lorenzo Romar plans to clamp down a little on the freedom he gives his players on the offensive end. After the Huskies struggled executing their halfcourt offense, Romar plans to use that game as a learning experience, saying that “offensively now guys probably won’t have get as much freedom… to take chances and experiment.” It’s a fine line for Romar, as his team’s offensive strengths are in an open court, up-tempo system, but at the same time, the Huskies need to make sure they are taking good shots, something that was obviously not the case at times on Sunday. On the injury front, junior wing C.J. Wilcox, who suffered a concussion during the loss on Sunday, did not practice with the team on Tuesday and remains a question mark for Friday night against Houston Baptist.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 21st, 2011

  1. Let’s face it. It has been an ugly start to the season for the Pac-12 conference. Bad losses have been piled upon off-the-court problems and injuries to create some struggles out of the gate. The UCLA losses are the poster children for this epidemic, while Utah and Arizona State, to name just two, haven’t done much to help either. All that being said, Saturday night’s USC game was a new low. It’s not just that the Trojans lost to Cal Poly, a team that is a halfway-decent, middle-of-the-road Big West team. It is the manner in which the Trojans lost. They scored 36 points in the game. They scored 16 points in the second half (which, really, was only slightly worse than the first half). It’s not like they had a ton of possessions (roughly 54), but still, that works out to 0.67 points per possession. They turned the ball over on 22% of their possessions, and when they didn’t turn it over, they posted a 32.9% eFG. They only grabbed 65.7% of available defensive rebounds and just 16.7% of available offensive rebounds. Their best player, sophomore point guard Maurice Jones hit just one out of 11 field goal attempts, and now has just a 29.7% eFG this season. The good news is that there are some good young players on this USC squad which should provide a good foundation upon which to build this program; the bad news is, Trojans fans might need eyeball replacement surgery if they watch too much of this team this season.
  2. Washington had a bad day from start to finish on Sunday. It started out with the Huskies getting absolutely taken apart by Saint Louis in the morning, a game in which they fell behind by 25 points at the half before making a bit of a run at the end to only lose by 13. While the Billikens are a very good team and played a terrific game Sunday morning, the Huskies were exposed in their first loss. First and foremost, the relentless ball screening by SLU caused Washington all sorts of problems defensively, creating wide-open looks for threes and clean entry passes into the post. Secondly, because the Huskies were forced to take the ball out of the net so many times, they were forced to play a lot of halfcourt offense and struggled to get good looks out of their sets. Really, we know that the Huskies are going to improve as the season goes on and SLU is some good competition so this is by no means a crushing loss, but it does mean that the Huskies will be working their tails off in practice this week. Still, the long day wasn’t done for the Huskies when the final whistle blew because their flight back to Seattle was forced to make an emergency landing in Spokane and wait for an hour for the next jump back home.
  3. Colorado wrapped up their disappointing weekend in Puerto Rico on Sunday by salvaging seventh place in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a win over Western Michigan. The Buffaloes were able to seal the win despite playing much of the game without sophomore forward Andre Roberson, who fouled out in just 11 minutes of game action. Senior forward Austin Dufault and sophomore center Shane Harris-Tunks picked up the slack for Roberson on the glass, each snagging eight rebounds, while senior wing Carlon Brown did the bulk of the scoring, hitting  eight of his 14 field goal attempts for 23 points while adding six rebounds and four assists. The win sends the Buffs home with at least something to feel good about, despite dropping winnable games in the first two rounds against Wichita State and Maryland.
  4. Just when you thought the Reeves Nelson soap opera at UCLA was done (at least until the next thing goes wrong on the court), Nelson missed the team bus to the airport on Saturday for the team’s flight to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. He was allowed to take a later flight to Maui and is expected to play today when the Bruins start the tournament by playing the host, Chaminade. Head coach Ben Howland also confirmed on Sunday that the whole Nelson suspension thing was first started when he was late for a team meeting the day after the Bruins’ season opening loss to Loyola Marymount.
  5. Oregon State is in the middle of an 11-day, three-game east coast trip, and got their travels off to a good start on Saturday night with an overtime win over Texas in the semifinals of the Legends Classic. We’ll have more on the Beavers later today, but this morning we wanted to share with you a peek inside their program from the perspective of the players, specifically senior Kevin McShane and sophomore Roberto Nelson (collectively McBert, apparently) who are keeping a blog about their road trip. The first entry gives you a glimpse at the practice and travel schedule of college athletes, while the second captures the emotions following their big win on Saturday night. Great stuff from an otherwise dismal Pac-12 landscape this weekend.
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