Pac-10 Tourney Daily Diary: Finals

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the Pac-10 Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the championship game.

Washington 79, California 75

  • Right before the game started, the Washington band got the fans going with a stirring rendition of the NCAA/CBS lead-in song…  was that prescient or just lucky?  I heard eight different pep bands this weekend, though, and none of the other ones did that song, so maybe they were on to something.
  • This was my first experience at the Pac-10 Tournament, but as someone who has been to the ACC and SEC Tournaments before, I leave completely underwhelmed with the fan support.  The Staples Center does a great job with their facilities and Los Angeles in general is an enticing destination (although not so much the downtown core), but where are all the fans?  I can’t believe that there aren’t more than a couple thousand Washington and Cal fans in the SoCal metro area who can’t be bothered to buy a ticket for an afternoon of exciting basketball that may result in your team making the NCAA Tournament.  I’m willing to give this year a slight pass because of the poor quality of the teams in this league, but I seriously question whether it was all that different in 2008, for example, when there were six or seven really good teams in the conference.  This article written prior to the Tournament touches on some of the problems I too noticed with the choice of venue (downtown LA, not the Staples Center).
  • I noticed about a half-hour before the game that Lorenzo Romar was standing alone in the tunnel area seemingly enjoying the quiet for a few moments.  He was looking out onto the court, but it was clear that his mind was working to take in the moment.  Coaches have a stressful job, and it was an interesting insight into how this particular one deals with the pressure.
  • In the first half, Washington held Cal to 37% shooting and Jerome Randle to 4 pts.  In the second half, it was 48% and 8 pts.  Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin were phenomenal (17-26 for 45 points), but the Cal starting backcourt was completely flummoxed today.  Randle and Patrick Christopher combined for 6-22 shooting and 2-11 from behind the arc for a total of 23 points.  The game really comes down to that.  As Mike Montgomery said after the game, they didn’t hit shots they normally hit.  When Cal has that kind of a night against a good team, they lose.
  • Washington seemed more aggressive most of the day, as if they realized they were in a little more trouble with the Selection Committee.  Quincy Pondexter (18 pts) and Isaiah Thomas (16 pts) both played under control and utilized good shot selection.  It showed, as the Huskies hit 53% for the game and 94% from the line.  I’m not predicting great things for this team as a #12 or #13 seed next week, but if they catch a break and play a relatively unathletic team that isn’t a gifted scoring team as well, they’ll have a chance to pull the upset.
  • In the postgame presser with Mike Montgomery, I referred to Seth Davis’ comment that Cal is one of the more interesting bubble teams in some time, having won the regular season Pac-10 title with ease yet not having a single top-50 win all season long.  Monty visibly bristled at the suggestion that Cal is even being talked about on the bubble.  The word he used was that he would be “astounded” if Cal doesn’t make the NCAAs, and that people (Seth?  me?) need to “do their homework” with respect to evaluating their losses with key players out of the lineup earlier in the year.  He clearly thinks (as many Pac-10 folks do) that if you win the conference regular season title, that should be enough.
  • The All-Tourney team actually had three Bears on it versus two for Washington.  Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin made it, while Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas (the MVP) were the two for UW.  Michael Roll from UCLA was the other player voted on.  Maybe it’s like this everywhere, but they took our sheets with two minutes remaining… what if Cal’s Randle produced a 15-point explosion in overtime?  Seems like a bad way to handle that in a close game.
  • So that’ll close out our trip to the Pac-10 Tournament.  The championship tilt was the best game of the tournament (well, the play-in game was good too, but it was the play-in game so I don’t count it), and it probably ended up as a best-case for the league in that two teams will go dancing.  The hope here is that the league improves the next couple of years so that the fans start coming back to this event and the quality of play will also end up better.
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RTC Live: Pac-10 Championship – California vs. Washington

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

Welcome back to the Staples Center for what should be the best matchup of the weekend in the 2010 Pac-10 Tournament this afternoon.  Both California and Washington have looked relaxed and confident in their two games leading up to this point, and why wouldn’t they be — they have the two best teams in the league and the two best players as well in Jerome Randle and Quincy Pondexter.  The two teams played twice this year, each winning comfortably on their home floor, so it stands to reason that a neutral environment such as this would produce an evenly matched contest.  At least that’s the hope.  As for NCAA Tournament implications, Washington might be feeling a little squeezed especially in light of Houston’s upset victory in Conference USA earlier this afternoon.  The Huskies have 23 wins including a solid victory over Texas A&M in the nonconference slate, but both Zach Hayes and Joe Lunardi have the Huskies on the edge.  A blowout loss today could be enough justification in the Committee’s minds to keep them out.  Cal, on the other hand, is safe, but the Bears would certainly like to move into top-8 seed territory if they can.  A win today might get them there.  It should be a great afternoon here in downtown Los Angeles this afternoon — feel free to stop by.

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Pac-10 Tourney Daily Diary: Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the Pac-10 Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the semifinal games.

Washington 79, Stanford 64

  • It’s not difficult to see why Washington (along with Cal) was picked at the top of the Pac-10 this season.  There’s a lot of bounce in those legs.  Basketball is such an athletic sport, it’s easy to be enticed when you see a team like UW sailing around the arena like they are on pogo sticks.  But it’s a game that also requires strategic use of your resources, and wanton jumping around won’t get you very far against teams that understand the game better than you do.
  • I referred to this above, but the athleticism that Washington has is among the top fifteen or twenty we’ve seen this year.  Lorenzo Romar definitely tries to recruit a certain type of player for his system, which makes their defensive shortcomings all the more frustrating.  They’ll turn you over, but they just don’t guard people in the halfcourt like they could or should given the athletes at their disposal.  Supposing they committed to defense, they’d be a top ten team and the bubble would be left to other teams to worry about.
  • Lorenzo Romar was asked about the bubble situation after the game and he said that he doesn’t worry about it much but that he definitely wants to take the decision out of the NCAA Selection Committee’s hands.  Personally, I think they’ve done enough at this point, and both Zach Hayes and Lunardi agree.
  • I know the Stanford band is supposed to be quirky and weird and that’s the point of it all — total irreverence as opposed to what Cal does.  But man, it’s almost like they had to have tryouts to find the weirdest-looking bunch they could find over there.  The tree, however, is, and remains awesome.  Love the tree.

Love the Tree

  • Highlight of the night was UW forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning tomahawking a dunk in the second half over Drew Shiller.  Check it out…
  • Talk about deja vu.  That dunk was remarkably similar to one that MBA threw on Shiller earlier this year.  Hey Shiller, stop trying to take charges under the rim, fella!  This isn’t Duke.

California 85, UCLA 72

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RTC Live: Pac-10 Semis – Cal vs. UCLA; Washington vs. Stanford

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

We’re back at the Pac-10 Tournament for semifinal Friday night at the Staples Center.  Unlike most of the major conference tourneys that get to the semifinal stage, only one team — the Cal Bears — is safely into the NCAA Tournament.  The other three — UCLA, Washington and Stanford — are looking to steal an automatic bid from another team somewhere out there sweating in bubble-land.  For UCLA and Stanford in particular, it’s win or go home, as both teams come into tonight with losing records and will end their season with the next loss.  In the first semifinal, Cal will face UCLA in an interesting battle in that even though the Bears are the top seed, UCLA will undoubtedly have the home crowd advantage.  Ben Howland teams rarely miss the postseason and the two teams split the season series, so we should expect the Bruins to come hard at the Bears in this one tonight.  In the second game, Washington is one of Zach Hayes’ last four teams in at this point, but the Huskies don’t want to put the committee in a tough position with a cinderella like Stanford continuing on to the Pac-10 championship game.  For what it’s worth, Lorenzo Romar’s team found the matchups with Stanford very beneficial, beating the Cardinal by 17 in Palo Alto and 33 in Seattle.  Join us tonight for a couple of key games with respect to the bubble picture on RTC Live!

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RTC Live: Pac-10 Qtrs – Washington vs. Oregon State

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

Welcome back to RTC Live for another quarterfinal game at the Pac-10 Tournament from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.  This city takes a lot of heat for a lot of different things, but they know how to put on a solid event, and the Tournament so far has been buzzworthy.  Tonight we’ll see if one of the league’s two bubble teams in Washington can continue to improve its resume for the Selection Committee by getting past an old foe, Oregon State, a team that the Huskies defeated twice this season already.  The Huskies are led by Pac-10 POY runner-up Quincy Pondexter, and many believe that he should have won the award over Cal’s Jerome Randle.  Oregon State has had a middling season, but the Beavers are capable of springing the upset, having won eight games in the Pac-10 this year.  This game is also a contrast in styles of play, as OSU is one of the slowest teams in the country in terms of tempo, while Washington looks to run on nearly every possession.  If you haven’t had enough hoops on this glorious day of college basketball across the nation, stop by with a coffee for a little late-night action.

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RTC Live: Pac-10 Qtrs – California vs. Oregon

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

We’re here at the conference tournament quarterfinal round at what we like to call the best mid-major league in America, the Pac-10 Conference.  Cal might be a ‘favorite,’ but that term is relative in this year’s league as even the Bears won the regular season with five losses.  The Bears are only at about a 40% shot to win this thing, and the odds of a team that’s nowhere near the bubble getting into the NCAAs using a weekend run is pretty high at 16% (normally, it’s south of 2%).  As for this particular matchup, Cal won both previous games handily, but the Ducks have been playing much better in recent weeks than they were when they faced Mike Montgomery’s team, having won four of five.  Then there’s the additional incentive that the Duck players have in trying to send their coach out on a positive note after reports have surfaced that Ernie Kent will be gone from the UO job at the end of the season.  Will it be a good game?  We think so, but in this wild and wacky league, you really never know.  Join us at 2:30 pm PT for a little afternoon hoops from the Staples Center with Cal and Oregon on RTC Live.

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Pac-10 Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Final Standings

  1. California    (13-5, 21-9)
  2. Arizona State    (12-6, 22-9)
  3. Washington    (11-7, 21-9)
  4. Arizona     (10-8, 16-14)
  5. USC     (8-10, 16-14)
  6. Oregon State     (8-10, 14-16)
  7. UCLA     (8-10, 13-17)
  8. Stanford    (7-11, 13-17)
  9. Oregon      ( 7-11,  15-15)
  10. Washington State     (6-12, 16-14)

Conference Awards

  • Player of the Year: Quincy Pondexter, Sr, Washington. Pondexter won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award a record five times this season while averaging 20 points and eight rebounds a game (second and third in the conference, respectively) for the third place Huskies.
  • Coach of the Year: Herb Sendek, Arizona State. After losing two starters from last year’s team to the NBA, the Sun Devils were expected to take a big step back in the conference. Instead, Sendek kept his team in the race for the regular season title until the last weekend and put his squad in position to possibly earn an NCAA tournament bid.
  • Freshman of the Year: Derrick Williams, Arizona. The freshman from La Mirada High School in Southern California averaged 15.7 point and seven rebounds per game for the Wildcats and connected on 58.8% of his field goal attempts to help coach Sean Miller post a winning record in his first year in Tucson.
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Seth Tarver, Oregon State. Tarver led the Pac-10 with 2.3 steals per game and led his Beaver squad in rebounding, all while manning the point in coach Craig Robinson’s zone defense.

All Pac-10 First Team

  • G Jerome Randle, Sr, California
  • G Nic Wise, Sr, Arizona
  • F Quincy Pondexter, Sr, Washington
  • F Landry Fields, Sr, Stanford
  • F Derrick Williams, Fr, Arizona

All Pac-10 Second Team

  • G Isaiah Thomas, So, Washington
  • G Patrick Christopher, Sr, California
  • G Ty Abbott, Jr, Arizona State
  • G Klay Thompson, So, Washington State
  • F Nikola Vucevic, So, USC

All Pac-10 Freshman Team

  • G Reggie Moore, Washington State
  • G Trent Lockett, Arizona State
  • F Derrick Williams, Arizona
  • F Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
  • F Reeves Nelson, UCLA

Pac-10 Tournament Preview

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Mulligan (Part 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2008

Short recaps now since I’m running short on time before the selection show starts.

– This deserves a lot more attention because UGA should be the team of the day even if they got a huge no-call against Kentucky in their early game and Dennis Felton was whining before the night game about having to play 2 games in a day. UGA managed to beat UK and MSU in the same day, which is a pretty impressive feat. Arkansas beat Tennessee 92-91, which will cost the Vols a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
– Prediction: Arkansas. We think the fatigue will catch up with UGA the day after.

Pac 10
– UCLA overcame the absent Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (sprained ankle) and an injury to Kevin Love (back spasms) to beat Stanford 67-64. This time they used 28 points from Darren Collison instead of shady officiating to beat the Cardinal. The win wraps up the #1 seed in the West for the Bruins who should be good until the Sweet 16 even without Mbah a Moute.

Big 10
– Wisconsin used a big steal late and Michigan State’s inability/refusal to get the ball to Drew Neitzel late to beat Sparty, 65-63. In the other semi, Illinois beat Minnesota 54-50. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to add here because we took the same attitude Bobby Knight had when asked to predict the game on ESPN (“Who cares?”).
– I guess it goes without saying that we like Wisconsin this afternoon.

Big 12
– We could just use the recap of the previous 2 Big 12 tournaments for this. Texas and Kansas advance to the finals for the 3rd year in a row. The winner will most likely get the #1 seed in the Midwest.
– We’re going with Kansas here to get the #1 seed in the Midwest.

We’d also like to congratulate Coppin State for earning a spot in the play-in game as the first 20 loss team in tournament history.

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Conference Tourney Mini-Previews: Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2008

Next Up:  Pac-10 Tournament.  The best conference in America this year should provide us with more entertainment this weekend, as there are arguably nine teams who have enough talent to make a run and win this thing.  One question – why is it in the Staples Center every year?  Memo to the Pac-10 commisioners: there are other NBA arenas in Phoenix, Oakland, Portland and Seattle that would also make great venues for this event. 

Where:  Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Pac-10 Tourney Bracket

The Favorite(s).  Vegas Watch doesn’t have the Pac-10 odds up yet, but UCLA is sitting on a 94% chance at a #1 seed in the NCAAs, and they’re playing about ten miles from campus, so we’re going to go ahead and anoint them the easy favorite here.  There is some evidence that Ben Howland teams don’t take this tournament seriously, though, with three first-game losses in his four years at UCLA (although the Bruins did win the Pac-10 Tourney in 2006). 

The Darkhorse.  Take your pick.  The #9 seed, Cal, just played within a blown call and a circus shot of beating UCLA at Pauley last week.  The #7 seed, Arizona, took Kansas to overtime at Lawrence.  The #4 seed, USC, starts two potential lottery picks.  We could go on, but you get the point.  The Pac-10 is loaded, and anybody but the hapless Oregon St. Beavers could make a run at this title. 

Bubble Buster Game.  Arizona v. Stanford in round two.  Arizona has a tremendous computer profile with the #2 strength of schedule in the nation and a #29 RPI according to KenPom, but that 17-13 (8-10) record leaves a lot to be desired.  They’ll beat OSU tonight, but they really need to beat Stanford tomorrow to get to .500 in conference and add one more quality win to their resume.   If the Cardinal mails it in like they did last weekend at USC, Arizona should have a very good chance to win that game.  Oregon (#54 RPI) could also stand to beat Wazzu, but they’re terrible away from home this year, so we don’t expect that to happen.

Cinderella.  USC.  The Trojans have been playing a lot better lately, and if UCLA dumps the first game again, they should have a relatively easy path to the finals on Saturday.  Even if UCLA doesn’t dump that game, they’ve already defeated the Bruins once and played them very tough in another game.  Also, playing in familiar environs doesn’t hurt. 

Games We Want to See.   Basically, all of them.  No other league has as much individual talent or intriguing contrasts in style of play as the Pac-10, so this should be a great tournament.  If it comes down to it, though, we’re hoping for a third matchup between the two LA schools, followed by Stanford getting another shot against the Bruins on Saturday. 

Champion.  We’re not sure Stanford will ever recover from their collapse and screwing in Westwood last week, nor do we have enough faith that the Bruins will put their best foot forward in this event.  Wazzu and ASU are good choices to fill the void, but we really like the way USC has been playing in recent weeks, and we think maybe they’ll put it all together this weekend to make a nice run (only to get overconfident and drop their first round game next week, of course).  So our champion is USC.    

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