Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.20.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 20th, 2012

  1. We begin in Seattle, where the Pac-12 Game of the Week took place at Hec Edmunson Pavilion. And while we named it the game of the week, it also happened to be one of the best of the season. It was a tale of two halves with Pac-12-leading California building a quick lead and slowly building on it. The Golden Bears would eventually lead by 10 at halftime, but Washington let them know it wouldn’t last from the outset of the second half. Trailing by 13, the Dawgs went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 47-42. From there both teams played great basketball. Cal led by 11 with 11:30 remaining, but Washington would come right back to cut the deficit to four a few minutes later. A pair of David Kravish free throws with 6:55 to play seemingly put the game as the Bears led by eight, but the Huskies would battle back yet again. A Desmond Simmons layup made the score 66-63 with 1:05 left, and a Terrence Ross three to answer two Cal free throws made the score 68-66. Justin Cobbs would then split his pair of free throws with eight seconds to play, giving Washington one last chance to force overtime. Darnell Gant got a good look at the buzzer but the ball would not go down, sending the Bears to Pullman in sole possession of first place.
  2. It was a good night for both Oregon schools as Oregon and Oregon State both posted victories against their visitors from Los Angeles. The Ducks got their win first, but not without some nail-biting. Neither team played particularly well on Thursday, but the Ducks were able to get some crucial stops late to hang on for a 65-62 victory. Senior guard Garrett Sim led the Ducks with 20 points. Forty-five miles up the road and two hours later, it was the Beavers getting a much-needed win over UCLA. Earlier today I was critical of Ahmad Starks’ play on offense, but he sure proved me wrong tonight. The sophomore guard poured in 13 points to go with three assists and sparked a big Beaver run to give Oregon State some breathing room. Still, the Beavers can’t rely on outshooting their opponent every night if they want to steal an NIT bid.
  3. You wouldn’t be able to tell by the final result, but one of the more entertaining games of the evening was between Arizona and Utah. The Utes came out inspired in their first game without star Josh Watkins and were able to play the Wildcats tough for 22 minutes. That’s when Arizona, leading 35-32 at the time, went on a 20-2 run in just six minutes and seven seconds. The run sucked the energy out off Ute fans and players, but I’ve got to admit, I’m starting to like what I see from coach Larry Krystkowiak. Obviously, this season was lost in the first couple of weeks, but don’t be surprised if the Utes finish the year with two or three more conference wins.
  4. The most surprising result of the night came from Pullman, where Washington State exploded in the second half to blow out Stanford, 81-69. Trailing 50-39 with 13:30 remaining, the Cougars went on a 26-6 run over the next six minutes. From there, it was all Washington State. The Cardinal were able to get within six a couple of times, but those bursts of hope for Stanford were quickly answered with a mini-run for the Cougs. Brock Motum and Fasial Aden were huge for Wazzu, with Motum posting 16 points and six rebounds, while Aden added a ridiculous 33 points and five boards off the bench.
  5. This article is a little old, but with Aden’s outburst last night and considering we could all use a good laugh to start the weekend, I present this. Craig Powers of CougCenter is the mastermind. I’m just trying to pick out my favorite quote. Is it: “When I walk into a living room with some finely woven wicker, I immediately command attention”; or, “And there is an obvious connection to the game of basketball and baskets. I mean, it is right there in the name.”
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.11.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 11th, 2011

  1. Colorado comes into the season losing their four top-scorers from a year ago, so all five Buffalo newcomers are going to have to play huge roles in 2011-12. Leading the newcomers is senior guard Carlon Brown, a transfer from Utah. Brown averaged 12.6 PPG two years ago with the Utes before transferring due to repeated “clashes” with the coaching staff. Also in the CU backcourt will be freshman Spencer Dinwiddie, who will bring a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio into Boulder. Dinwiddie is a true point guard in every sense of the word, something that the Buffaloes will surely miss after losing star guard Alec Burks.
  2. Washington begins play on Saturday against Georgia State and Clifford Kahn has the season preview. The article focuses on the youth this season on Montlake as 9 out of the 14 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomoroes. While the five guys that aren’t in that group will certainly make some noise (Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, Brendan Sherrer, Scott Suggs, and Darnell Gant), sophomore Terrence Ross and freshman Tony Wroten, Jr., will be looked at to lead the team on the court.
  3. On a night when games like Central Arkansas-Stanford dominate the Pac-12 slate, no opening night Pac-12 game is anticipated more than Oregon-Vanderbilt. If it wasn’t for a certain game between North Carolina and Michigan State earlier in the evening, UO-VU would be the best game of the day. By far. The new-look Ducks, coming into the season with high expectations, will venture into Memorial Gymnasium Friday night to face the N0. 7 Commodores. The game is full of intrigue, but can the Ducks keep it close?  If their exhibition game last week against Grand Canyon is any indication, then no, Oregon will be lucky to be in it at halftime. But if the Ducks can build an early lead on some hot shooting, who kows, maybe we’ll be talking about a huge upset tomorrow morning.
  4. Down the road in Corvallis on Saturday, the opponent might not be Vanderbilt, but the game will still be huge. It is the second annual Nike N7 Game, an event meant to bring sport to Native American and Aboriginal youth. Oregon State coach Craig Robinson and center Joe Burton (Who grew up in the Soboba Indian reservation) welcomed the idea, originally formed by Sam McCracken, manager of Nike’s Native American business. “We were looking for a cause to get behind, as a program,’’ Robinson said. “Coaches vs. cancer is everywhere – we didn’t think we’d be able to make an impact. We were very supportive, but we wanted something we could put our imprint on.” The game will tipoff at 1:30 PM PST against Cal State Bakersfield.
  5. The battle for the Civapple Axellcup continues into its third week with me clinging on to a one game lead. The pick of the week last weekend belonged to Drew though, who not only correctly picked UCLA to beat Arizona State, but also picked them to win by one point. Low and behold, thanks to missed field goal at the gun, UCLA defeated the Sun Devils, 29-28. This week’s slate is highlighted by two games; Washington-USC and our “predict the score” game, Oregon-Stanford.

Here’s the picks:

Game Connor (9-3) Drew (8-4)
Arizona at Colorado Arizona Arizona
Washington at USC USC USC
Oregon State at California California California
UCLA at Utah Utah UCLA
Oregon at Stanford Stanford 46, Oregon 43 Oregon 41, Stanford 34
Arizona State at Washington State Arizona State Arizona State
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.10.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 10th, 2011

  1. The early signing period began Wednesday, and Oregon State signed a pair of three-stars on the first day of the week-long period. The first to sign was Langston Morris-Walker, a small forward out of Berkeley High (CA). Morris-Walker could see immediate playing time next season if current Beaver Jared Cunningham decides to forgo his senior season and move on to the NBA. He also had offers from Colorado, Utah, and Washington State, among others. The second to sign was center Maika Ostling. While Ostling is a solid prospect, he will most likely redshirt his freshman season as he will be behind Chris Brown, Joe Burton, and Angus Brandt in the OSU lineup.
  2. Pundits around the nation are picking California to either win the Pac-12 or come pretty close to it, and the reason for those high hopes are centered on senior shooting guard Jorge Gutierrez. Gutierrez grew up in Mexico and was lightly recruited out of high school, but coach Mike Montgomery took a leap of faith on him. That leap was well worth it as Gutierrez averaged 14.6 PPG last season and was named to the all-conference team. There is no doubt this season that this is his team, “At first, I thought I didn’t belong here,” Gutierrez said. “But now it’s my house. This is my court, and you play the way I want you to play.” Big words, but he has earned the right to say them.
  3. Sticking with the Golden Bears, California signed two players yesterday. We already alluded to Tyrone Wallace in yesterday’s M5, but Wallace made it official by putting ink to paper on Wednesday. The other signee was Kaileb Rodriguez, a 6’8″ power forward from Thunder Ridge High (CO). Rodriguez could see a lot of playing time next season since there is only one other “true” power forward on the roster (Bak Bak). The two signees put the Bears at 12 scholarships for 2012-13, one below the NCAA limit. They are still waiting on decisions from forward Zena Edosomwan of Harvard-Westlake school (CA) and forward/center Landen Lucas of Westview High (OR).
  4. Wednesday was also a big day for both USC and UCLA, as both schools signed two players each. The first signee for the Trojans was J.T. Terrell, a transfer from Wake Forest who just began playing this season at Peninsula College. The 6’3″ guard should see immediate minutes because of his size and the overall lack of talent at the position for SC. 6’8″ forward Strahinja Gavrilovic was the other player to sign with Kevin O’Neill’s team. Highlighting the Bruins’ day was Kyle Anderson out of St. Anthony High (NJ). Coach Ben Howland says that he expects Anderson to contribute immediately next season at the point.
  5. Regular season play continued last night in Tucson, where Arizona struggled with Duquesne for 30 minutes before finally pulling away for the 67-59 victory. The Wildcats continue to underwhelm fans across the nation, as Arizona has looked far less-than-impressive in their first four outings. Their first was an exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific and that was followed by a closer-than-comfort exhibition win over Humboldt State. Their first two regular season games against Valparaiso and Duquesne have not been decided until the final minutes. The trend of Sean Miller’s Wildcats’ in not putting teams away will definitely be something to watch for Pac-12 fans in the coming days and weeks.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.09.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 9th, 2011

  1. Washington State heads into this season with lower-than-normal expectations after the departures of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. Thompson and Casto were arguably the best two players on the roster a year ago, so this season the Cougars will need to rely on experience and chemistry if they are to return to a major postseason tournament. If they are to make the NIT or NCAAs, it will be because of their guard play. Marcus Capers and Reggie Moore both return in the backcourt, and with the additions of Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd and freshmen DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew, the Cougars feel like they can go up against any group of guards in the nation. Washington State’s season will get underway next Monday night when they take on Gonzaga in Spokane [ed. update: head coach Ken Bone said Tuesday that Moore is questionable for Monday's game with a groin injury].
  2. Three regular season games have already tipped off across the nation, but the season doesn’t officially start at most places until Friday. That means the previews are still rolling out, including this look at each Pac-12 team and the best players in the conference. They have California guard Jorge Gutierrez and UCLA center Joshua Smith highlighting the first All Pac-12 team, while Oregon guard E.J. Singler and California forward Harper Kamp highlight the second. The All-Freshman Team includes four guards, highlighted by Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Washington’s Tony Wroten, Jr.
  3. Bakersfield High (CA) combo guard Tyrone Wallace committed to California on Monday, and in this interview with Jim McGill he talks about his decision. “I’m going to play the one and two, play combo,” says Wallace. “It depends on whatever we need. I’m versatile so Coach (Mike) Montgomery said they’d play me where I’d fit best at any given time.” Wallace is a four-star recruit coming out of high school and could see some major minutes next season with Gutierrez graduating. Wallace was down to Cal and Colorado before his commitment.
  4. Not only did Utah lose a game last Friday night, but they also lost a pair of key players for several weeks. The biggest loss was to starting center David Foster, who is out indefinitely after a foot injury. “We need Dave,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the game. “When Dave went down, it put us in a little bit of a whirlwind.” The Utes have also lost junior shooting guard Chris Hines to a rib injury. The designated “sixth man” of the team will be out three weeks. The injuries mean that the Utes will only have eight scholarship players for their first six games of the year. Expect them to struggle mightily.
  5. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins is hoping that the meaningful minutes most of his freshman played last year will translate into victories this season. While Dawkins knows that the majority of his team is still mostly sophomores (seven of them, to be exact), the Cardinal doesn’t have much of a choice. If players like forward Dwight Powell, guard/forward Anthony Brown, and center Stefan Nastic all have big years and get some help from senior center Josh Owens, this team could be on the rise again.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.07.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 7th, 2011

  1. Real games start TONIGHT, but it was all about the exhibitions this weekend. On Saturday night in Pullman, Washington State hammered Lewis-Clark State, 88-41. Considering that the Cougars were without their best player, junior point guard Reggie Moore, this was a great result for Ken Bone’s team. Moore went down with a groin injury in a scrimmage against Montana on Oct. 30. He and senior shooting guard Fasial Aden, who suffered a concussion in the scrimmage, are both questionable for the Nov. 14 season opener at Gonzaga. In Moore’s place was freshman combo guard DaVonte Lacy, who led the Cougars with 21 points. Another newcomer, Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd, had 14 points for the Cougs.
  2. Arizona State played on the road for its lone exhibition game, something only one other D-I team has done so far this year. The Sun Devils spoiled the opening of Grand Canyon’s new arena, using a 52-point second half outburst to propel them to a 89-69 win on Saturday afternoon. With the lack of a true center, the Devils used a three-guard lineup for most of the game. Three starters — Chris Colvin, Keala King, and Trent Lockett — led the team with 15 points each. Colvin was the biggest surprise, as the Palm Beach CC transfer let everyone know the Devils would be just fine at point for however long Jahii Carson is out. “He played with a lot of confidence,” coach Herb Sendek said. “He does have some good swag to his game.” Next up for Arizona State is their regular season opener against Montana State on Friday.
  3. Seattle Pacific couldn’t possibly do it again, could they? After beating Arizona a couple of weeks ago, they hung with Washington for a half on Friday night, but in the end Tony Wroten, Jr., and company were just too much for the Falcons. The former Garfield High (WA) star stole the show with ten points, six rebounds, and four assists, one of which was an alley-oop that brought all of the 9,481 in attendance to their feet (start at the 5:30 point). Seven freshmen made their debuts in a Husky uniform, but only Wroten, Jr., and wing Martin Breunig had good performances. Breunig had eight points and two turnovers. Next up for Washington is the regular season opener against Georgia State on Saturday.
  4. The surprise of the weekend came in Salt Lake City, where Adams State shocked Utah thanks to a Chris Webber-like technical foul with 11 seconds left. With the game tied, Utah freshman guard Kareem Storey signaled for timeout when the Runnin’ Utes did not have any left, giving Adams State two free throws. Deray Wilson put one of the two away, which would prove to be enough after the Utes threw away the ensuing inbound pass. Even though it is just an exhibition and the players have said all of the right things, this could really hurt a young team’s confidence, especially since they had virtually none to begin with. If they come out with a less-than-stellar performance in their regular season opener against San Diego Christian next Monday, the season might be over before it really even gets started.
  5. If you have not already, be sure to get your votes in for the first round of our microsite ESPNU Pac-12 Logo Tournament. Due to a bigger-than-anticipated response, we expanded the first round so everyone had a chance to vote over the weekend. But the quarterfinals will begin Wednesday, so make sure to check back and vote for your favorite before we close the polls at Midnight tonight!
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.03.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 3rd, 2011

  1. The Pac-12 sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament last season, but apparently that isn’t enough to be “relevant.” The loss of Derrick Williams, close exhibition wins (and losses) so far this year, not playing on ESPN enough, and only having two teams in the Big Dance two years ago are the reasons for this, FoxSports’ Billy Witz says. “It’s the quality from top to bottom that gets you progress,” says California coach Mike Montgomery. “There’s been the notion that the Oregon States and the Washington States weren’t any good, so it didn’t make any difference if you beat them because they’re not any good anyway.” The same is true in nonconference play; if UCLA or California gets a big win against a Top 25 team but Oregon State loses to Utah Valley State on the same night, the wins don’t even matter. In fact, the losses will sometimes get more attention. If the Pac-12 is going to be relevant in everyone’s eyes across the nation, teams like Oregon are going to have to prove themselves by beating or at least staying close with the Vanderbilts and Nebraskas of the world.
  2. Washington will face Seattle Pacific in an exhibition tomorrow night and Percy Allen has the preview. The Falcons, as you surely recall, knocked off Arizona last Thursday in Tucson and will look to do the same thing against the Dawgs in Seattle. Wins against D-I opponents aren’t anything new though for SPU, as they defeated Eastern Washington and Nevada as well last season. “It’s been fun,” coach Ryan Looney said. “Our coaches have done a good job preparing for those games and obviously our kids are motivated to play them too. The Falcons outrebounded the #16 Wildcats, 29-20, so yeah, I’ll say they were pretty prepared. “You always would like to win, but I think what’s really important is that we go through game preparations the way we’re going to go through it next Friday in our nonconference opener (against Georgia State),” coach Lorenzo Romar said. It may be just me, but I think only a coach who was worried about losing that game would say that.
  3. In other exhibition news, Oregon won the only Pac-12 game of the night, an 82-75 victory over Grand Canyon. The Ducks looked anything but impressive in the first half as the Antelopes threw out some unique defensive combinations that seemed to confuse the Oregon guards. UO had 17 turnovers on the night, but the key stat was 33 — as in 33 free throws made. If not for GCU fouling so much (which seems to be a common theme among D-II opponents this year) the Antelopes could have very easily won this game. Instead Dana Altman’s team, led by forward E.J. Singler and center Tony Woods (16 points each) escaped with a win. The game was played in front of 6,271 people at TTATT.
  4. Derek Hart previews the UCLA in this article. The Bruins have been picked at or near the top of the Pac-12 by pretty much every preseason publication out there, mainly due to their frontcourt. They have the deepest group of big men in the conference, and possibly the nation, led by junior forward Reeves Nelson and sophomore center Joshua Smith. Both averaged double figure points last season. The addition of the Wear twins, David and Travis, not only bolsters the depth in the paint but on the perimeter as well. Due to renovations at Pauley Pavilion, Bruin home games will be spread out across the greater Los Angeles area this year. They will play14 games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (former home of USC),  four at the Honda Center in Anaheim, and one game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
  5. The fate of Arizona State’s season relies on forward Kyle Cain and guard Trent Lockett, the latter of whom is featured in this story by Doug Haller. With freshman guard Jahii Carson most likely ineligible due to academics, this will be Lockett’s team to lead. In his first year he was named to the Pac-10 all-Freshman team; last season he was second-team all-Pac-10; and this year he wants to climb the ladder even higher. Before he does that though he needs to improve the range on his jumper. There might not be another guard in the league that has the mid-range jumper AND offensive rebounding ability that he has, but if this Sun Devil team is going to make a respectable postseason tournament, Lockett has to be able to knock down the three with consistency.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.02.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 2nd, 2011

  1. David and Travis Wear will be eligible for their first season at UCLA after transferring from North Carolina after the 2009-10 season. This Ben Bolch article focuses on the Wear twins and the roles they will take on with the Bruins this year. David is expected to make the immediate impact early on at small forward because of his jump shooting ability. With David, Reeves Nelson, and Joshua Smith all down low, the Bruins will have the best frontcourt in the Pac-12, if not the nation. Travis and Anthony Stover will spell Smith at the center position. When the Bruins need points they will turn to Travis, while Stover is the defensive/shot-blocking specialist.
  2. If there was a theme for Pac-12 frontcourts in 2011-12, it would be “big.” There are 40 players at 6’9″ or bigger on Pac-12 rosters this season, including 7’3″ Utah center David Foster and 7’2″ Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski. Percy Allen breaks down the bigs of the conference and points out who is excelling and struggling so far this season.
  3. Exhibition basketball continued last night with two games, Humboldt State vs. Arizona and UC San Diego vs. California. We begin in Tucson, where the Wildcats bounced back from their loss against Seattle Pacific last Thursday to defeat the Lumberjacks, 60-51. Arizona still has a lot of kinks to work out, mainly on offense as they shot just 20% from behind the arc. Humboldt State didn’t do anything to help its cause, though, by putting Arizona on the line for 38 free throws. UA only made 22 of those, but that was still the difference in the game. Next up for Arizona is their regular season opener against Valparaiso on Monday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer.
  4. Up in Berkeley, the Golden Bears blew by the UC San Diego Tritons with ease. After a slow ten minutes in which Cal could not find its touch from around the rim, Mike Montgomery’s team quickly pulled away from the overmatched opponent. The lead was only nine at halftime but a 22-4 burst by the Bears to start the second half put away any thoughts of a preseason upset. Minnesota transfer Justin Cobbs was the star of the game, leading the Bears with 17 points and four assists off the bench. This was Cal’s first and only exhibition game, and they will begin regular season play against UC Irvine on Nov. 11.
  5. Arizona shooting guard Nick Johnson has drawn rave reviews so far and needs to be on the court more according to his head coach, Sean Miller. Miller has already tried moving senior shooting guard Kyle Fogg to small forward in order to create extra minutes for Johnson, and he is also considering playing Johnson at the point in order to get he and Fogg on the floor together. “We have to look at Nick playing another position if he continues to progress,” Miller said. “But it’s hard to play two positions as a freshman. For the most part, with freshmen, we keep them at one spot.” In last night”s game against Humboldt State, Fogg and Josiah Turner, Arizona’s other fabulous freshman, got the start at guard. However, they all played close to equal amounts of time (Fogg-24, Turner-22, Johnson-21). Johnson and Turner led the group with eight points each.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.01.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 1st, 2011

  1. We start in Los Angeles, where Baxter Holmes takes a look at Shabazz Muhammad’s unofficial visit to USC over the weekend. Muhammad attended the Stanford-USC football game Saturday night and also went to Sunday’s “Salute to Troy” basketball luncheon at the Galen Center. The article also features many quotes from Muhammad’s dad, Ron Holmes, who played wing for the Trojans from 1981-85. “He really enjoyed himself,” said Holmes, but also added, “Sometimes he’ll like one school more than another, sometimes that changes constantly.” This does sound like wishful thinking on the parts of USC and Holmes, but it certainly isn’t a bad thing for the Trojans. If SC were to land Muhammad, the Trojans would be stacked in 2012. Both Maurice Jones and Jio Fontan would return at the guard position and center Dewayne Dedmon is back as well. Add Muhammad to that mix and you have a team that could easily compete for the Pac-12 title. For additional reading, make sure to stay tuned as Drew Murawa will highlight Muhammad’s status with Pac-12 schools later today.
  2. It seems as if every site/blogger on the web has college basketball previews going up right now, and to be honest, the Pac-12 ones just aren’t very good. However, Fox News’ (who knew?) look at the Pac-12 is surprisingly thorough and is a must read if you are looking for a quick capsule on any Pac-12 team. They have California winning the Pac-12 regular season championship, but they are picking Washington to win the conference tournament. With Washington’s depth they are a good pick to win the Pac-12 Tourney, but I doubt they finish fourth in the regular season as they are predicting.
  3. While Muhammad is waiting until the spring to announce his decision, Bishop Gorman (NV) teammate Rosco Allen decided to end the suspense regarding his commitment. Allen announced that he was going to Stanford and intends to sign on Nov. 9. The Cardinal beat out UNLV and North Carolina for the 6’9″ forward who is also great in the classroom. Allen will most likely back up current Stanford forwards Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell next year.
  4. In more commitment news, St. Mark’s (MA) center Kaleb Tarczewski verbally committed to Arizona over Kansas yesterday. Many people thought that Tarczewski would be a lock to go to KU, but Sean Miller and the Arizona staff kept after him. “I had great programs and great coaches recruiting me.” “It just felt right at Arizona,” Tarczewski said. I’m guessing weather played a factor as well. Would you rather go to Lawrence or Tucson after living in Massachusetts all your life? The only current center that will be on Arizona’s roster next season is junior Kyryl Natyazhko, so Tarczewski will be battling him for the starting spot next fall.
  5. If you’d like to see a list of all Pac-12 commitments so far, Percy Allen has one put together. Allen also ranks each team, has a small breakdown of their class so far, and recaps a crazy recruiting week in the Pac-12. He has Arizona ranked #1 in the conference right now after the Wildcats have pulled in three ESPN five stars, including Findlay Prep (NV) star Brandon Ashley. Says Allen, This class is loaded with three players in the top 10 on ESPN’s list. Coach Sean Miller is rebuilding a dynasty in the desert.”
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 10.31.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 31st, 2011

  1. Washington point guard Abdul Gaddy was one of the top recruits in the country when he came aboard in 2009, but after a disappointing freshman season and a torn ACL midway through his sophomore year, Gaddy has since fallen off the radar. But while the preseason focus is on guards Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross, Gaddy will also be looked at to lead this team because of his experience. Percy Allen has a great feature on Gaddy, which includes some background and an interview with the point guard. The best part of the interview is when Gaddy talks about his summer shootarounds with former Husky Isaiah Thomas where the junior guard says he shot 18,000 jumpers in 22 days.
  2. Hopes are high in Corvallis this season, as coach Craig Robinson says he finally has the talent to “compete in every game this season.” However, no one seems to be asking the question, “Craig, you do realize that you don’t have any new talent in this year’s starting lineup?”, but I guess that’s besides the point. This team does have talent, but the top two newcomers (Challe Barton and C.J. Mitchell) will be lucky if they see any meaningful minutes. The fact of the matter is, Robinson needs to do a better job coaching the players he has if the Beavers are to have a good year.
  3. Fresh and new talent is the name of the game at Oregon this year, as the Ducks welcome in nine new players. Some of them are high school standouts, some of them are transfers, but all of them have Pac-12 talent. From freshman Jabari Brown to Devoe Joseph, the transfer from Minnesota, Oregon has the talent to pull an NCAA Tournament bid if things go well. There are also freshmen Brett Kingma and and Bruce Barron joining Brown and Jospeh as newcomers in the backcourt, both of which were highly-touted recruits in their own right. Barron did miss miss Oregon’s summer exhibition tour, but he is expected to be game-ready by Oregon’s Nov. 11 opener against Vanderbilt. “Bruce is probably just coming into his own” coach Dana Altman said about Barron after his arthroscopic knee surgery. Joseph D’Hippolito breaks down all of the new players here.
  4. California head coach Mike Montgomery is cancer-free after his Oct. 19 surgery. Montgomery was diagnosed a month ago with “high-grade bladder cancer,” he told members of the Pac-12 media on Friday. He said that he will have no physical limitations while coaching, and senior guard Jorge Gutierrez added that the player-coach relationship between them has grown more personal since he learned of the situation. “We didn’t really have much of a connection outside of basketball, but he opened up a little bit more, so I think that helped us to relate with him more,” Gutierrez said.
  5. USC guard Maurice Jones was thought of by many as the nation’s most underrated freshman in the nation last season. Jones averaged 9.9 PPG along with 3.2 APG and is being looked at to lead a USC team that is lacking in the talent department. Seth Rubinroit has a nice feature story on the sophomore standout, the only one in his class to represent a team at Pac-12 Media Day. Jones, the only returning starter from last year’s team, will be asked to carry the load at guard all year long after the season-injury to Jio Fontan. Coach Kevin O’Neill went as far as to tell fans, “Don’t come to the games, it’ll be ugly. Don’t show up. If we don’t have this guy, it’ll be very difficult for us to be competitive in major college games.”
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