The RTC Podblast: Pac-12 Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2014

The regular season is over, Championship Week is here, and it’s now or never for all of the teams that have talked a rather big game but haven’t necessarily backed it up with their play on the court. To that end, we’re going to be rolling out nine RTC Podblasts this week, one to preview each of the seven power conference tournaments as well as the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West (to scroll through all that have been released, click here). In this, our Pac-12 Tournament edition, RTC microwriter Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) joins us to discuss what he expects to see this week in Sin City. And he talks some basketball too. The Big East, AACSEC and Big 12 Tournament pods were released on Monday, and the Big Ten preview came out earlier today. The ACC will drop a bit later this afternoon, with the A-10 and MW coming tomorrow. Enjoy!

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record.

  • 0:00-5:16 – With or Without Brandon Ashley – Arizona is the Class of the Pac-12
  • 5:16-6:57 – Disappointing Teams
  • 6:57-9:02 – Stanford Vindicates Drew
  • 9:02-13:02 – What the Pac-12 Bubble Teams Need to Do in Vegas
  • 13:02-13:58 – Teams With the Most to Gain
  • 13:58-19:02 – Non-Arizona Options to Win
  • 19:02-25:03 – Pac-12 Superlatives
  • 25:03- Previewing Drew’s Days in Vegas
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Thoughts on the Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Evening Session

Posted by AMurawa on March 15th, 2013

Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report after the second session of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

The evening pair of quarterfinals began with the expectation that there was no way it could live up to the atmosphere and excitement of the afternoon session. And, while it took some time for all of the fans to filter in from happy hour, by the second half of the first game, we had a really good crowd. And what a game that first one was as Utah stormed back from an eight-point second-half deficit against California, survived a seven-minute scoreless streak and got a miraculous Jarred DuBois three over the outstretched arm of 6’10” David Kravish in the waning moments to force overtime, where they would eventually win the game. Lots of little things to mention from this contest:

  • First and foremost, gotta give props to Larry Krystkowiak. Aside from rebuilding his roster from scratch, he’s also done a great job getting incremental improvements out of this team over the course of the season. Remember when this team lost to Stanford by 31? Or lost at the Oregon schools by an average of 14.5 points per game? Now this team is riding a four-game winning streak, shows all the hallmarks of being a well-coached team and is a deserving semifinal entrant. Just wait until the talent level gets to where he wants it.

    Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

    Larry Krystkowiak Has Done A Great Job Getting A Rebuilding Program Into The Pac-12 Semis

  • Utah freshman Jordan Loveridge struggled early, missing seven of his first nine shots, but then hit back-to-back threes to give Utah its first second-half lead, then hit another big three at the start of overtime to extend the Utes’ momentum. He’s had some ups and downs in his first year for the Utes, but he’s a special talent who will eventually, maybe as soon as next year, be an all-conference guy.
  • Richard Solomon continues to be one of my favorite/most-frustrating players in the conference. Dude’s got all the talent in the world, but his motor is often lacking. Case in point tonight: He got 37 minutes of action, probably competed really hard for about 20 of those minutes, and wound up with eight points, 11 boards and three steals.
  • Cal’s Ricky Kreklow, who has missed 24 of his team’s 31 games this season due to a foot injury, played 18 minutes tonight, his most in a game since November, and knocked down two big threes in the first half that kept the Bears sticking around when little else was going right. A lanky wing with a nice shooting touch, it would be a nice addition if he’s good to go without concern for his foot.

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The RTC Podblast: Pac-12 Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

With the start of the Pac-12 Tournament just hours away in Las Vegas, the RTC Podcast guys invited Pac-12 microsite writer Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) along for the discussion. In a rapid-fire half-hour podblast, the trio breaks down what we see as the key storylines and possible outcomes from an event as wide open as any power conference tournament in the country. Feel free to hop around to your areas of concern using the handy outline below, and make sure to check back frequently this week as we’ll be rolling out a new podblast for each of the six major conference tourneys.

  • 0:00-3:10 – UCLA’s Long Winding Road to the #1 Seed
  • 3:10-5:37 – Arizona’s Equally Up and Down Year
  • 5:37-9:35- Pac-12 Award Discussion
  • 9:35-12:14 The New and Improved Pac-12
  • 12:14-15:21 – Big Story Lines and Pac-12 Dark Horses
  • 15:21-20:12 Who is the Actual Favorite?
  • 20:12-21:05 – Not Much of a Bubble in the Pac-12
  • 21:05-22:19 – Team Capable of Screwing Up the Selection Committee
  • 22:19-23:57 – Pac-12 Tournament’s Breakout Star
  • 23:57-25:13 – Player You Don’t Want to Say Goodbye to
  • 25:13-26:16 – Game We Want to See
  • 26:16-29:32 Pac-12 Team Poised For a Deep Run in the Big Dance/Wrap


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Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – Big East, Mountain West, Big 12, Pac-12

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2013

The six power conferences along with the elite mids begin their league tournaments this week, with the Big East and Mountain West tipping off tonight. On Wednesday, the Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC will get under way, while Thursday will bring us the Atlantic 10, the ACC and the Big Ten. All of us have our own opinions about the favorites to win each conference tournament, but Las Vegas makes its business out of it. Today, we’ll examine the current odds for the leagues that begin Tuesday and Wednesday (excluding the SEC) — tomorrow, we’ll look at the remainder. There are some interesting disparities between general perception and the odds, and we’ll make note of those below (all odds reported from on Monday night).

BE Tourney 13 odds

The Big East Tournament is especially interesting in how it views top-seeded Georgetown. Not only does it give #2 seed Louisville nearly a three times greater chance of winning this tournament, but #4 seed Pittsburgh and #5 seed Syracuse are both considered better choices. Marquette, the #3 seed that tied for first place at 14-4 with the Hoyas and Cardinals, is not considered a significant threat to win this tournament with a less than 10 percent chance.

MW Tourney Odds 13

Home court advantage dominates here, as #3 seed UNLV is far and away the favorite to win the Mountain West championship this week. The rest of the odds pretty much fall in line with the seeds, as New Mexico, Colorado State, San Diego State and Boise State have a progressively worse chance to win this competitive league before the drop-off hits at #6 seed Air Force.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.14.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 14th, 2012

  1. UCLA made it official on Tuesday: Ben Howland will be back as the Bruins’ head coach in 2012-13. After missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and suffering through the aftermath of a critical Sports Illustrated article, there was some question. But, athletic director Dan Guerrero decided that he deserved another chance. The father of elite 2012 recruit Shabazz Muhammad issued a statement of his own, expressing his support for the decision and confirming that his son is still very much considering UCLA. Bruins’ fans did find out that one of their own would be laving early, however, as Brendan Lane, a little used reserve forward, would be transferring elsewhere next season as a graduate transfer, making him eligible immediately. No possible landing spots have been discussed, but Lane is considering downshifting to a mid-major program.
  2. Across town, it’s been known for some time that USC head coach Kevin O’Neill would be back next season. And, with players back from injury along with newly eligible transfers, the Trojans should be much better. Still, O’Neill understands that better is a matter of degrees, and mere improvement over this year’s 6-26 record is not enough. The challenge is clear; much like Howland’s UCLA team, O’Neill’s squad will likely need to go to the NCAA Tournament in order to save the head man’s job.
  3. The Pac-12 held a press conference on Tuesday to officially announce the move of the conference tournament to the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. While they become the fourth conference to hold its year-end tournament there, it is the first to actually have the event at a location on the Strip. Going forward, the event will be televised by a combination of ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Network, with ESPN and Fox alternating rights to the event every year. ESPN and Fox will each carry one quarterfinal game, one semifinal game and the championship game, with the Pac-12 Network carrying the remaining games.
  4. NIT play kicked off last night, and three different Pac-12 schools were in action. And, unlike real life, the fantasy world of the NIT is kind to the Pac-12, as all three schools won and advanced. Washington shook off a sluggish first half to knock off Texas-Arlington behind 23 points from Terrence Ross; they’ll face Northwestern in an interesting game that nobody will pay attention to on Friday night. Oregon hammered LSU by 20 with Devoe Joseph continuing his excellence (25 points); they’ll face Iowa on Sunday. And Stanford used a big second half to pull away from Cleveland State as they had ten different players score in an eventual 11-point win. The Cardinal will face the winner of tomorrow night’s Ole Miss/Illinois State matchup.
  5. Lastly, while Oregon fans enjoyed the win tonight, the idea that head coach Dana Altman may not be long for Eugene continues to gain steam. Altman and his wife still live in Nebraska, where he was born, raised and coached at Creighton until two years ago, and with the Huskers looking for a new head coach in the wake of Doc Sadler’s firing, he’ll certainly be among the first people called by NU athletic director Tom Osborne. Osborne and Altman developed a relationship when they were both at Creighton, and at the very least, Altman would listen to offers. George Schroeder at the Register-Guard is convinced that Nebraska is still a “dead-end job,” but with a brand-new practice facility and a brand-new arena, they have facilities at least on par with what Altman currently has in Eugene. In short, while nothing is set in stone, Duck fans would be wise to accept that there is at least a significant chance that they’ll be looking for a new head coach this offseason.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 3.13.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 13th, 2012

  1. After at least a week, and more likely months of conjecture, it’s official: the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament is head to Las Vegas. In a news conference schedules for this afternoon, the conference will officially announce the move of their season-ending even to the MGM Grand Garden for at least the next two years. For the past 11 years, the tournament had been held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but attendance and fan interest in that event has waned over the years, in part due to the decline in talent in the conference, but also, perhaps, due to the venue. The move to Las Vegas means that Sin City will now host four different conference tournaments, with the Pac-12, Mountain West and WAC all going on at the same time, with the West Coast Conference tournament taking place the week prior. Great. Just what I needed. Another reason to go to Vegas in March. Although the prospect of a Vegas summit for hoops fans is pretty enticing.
  2. It began yesterday, but in case you missed it, we are now officially in that time of year where you have to check the news daily for stories about coaches and players perhaps on the move. With the relatively new opening for head coach at Nebraska, and with current Oregon coach Dana Altman’s ties to the state (he was born in Crete, NE and was the head coach at Creighton, in Omaha, for 15 years), rumors are already swirling that a change may be afoot in Eugene. Altman, however, has been quick to shoot those stories down, saying he is “the coach at Oregon.” While that may not be the strongest possible affirmation of Altman’s intent to stay with the Ducks, it will have to do for now. But the fact that Nebraska has recently sunk a ton of money into its basketball program and that Altman is a Nebraska native should leave Duck fans on edge until that Husker job is filled.
  3. Sticking with the Oregon program for a bit longer, they received bad news today when it was learned that former coach Dick Harter died at the age of 81 on Monday. Though he only coached the Ducks for seven years (1971-1978), he left an indelible mark on the program. Perhaps the high point of his career was ending UCLA’s 98-game winning streak at Pauley Pavilion in 1976, but he built a reputation for his team’s defensive excellence. His “Kamikaze Kids” never won a Pac-8 title (Harter coached before the Arizona schools were added to the conference), but they helped continue the tradition of McArthur Court being an intimidating place for opposing teams to play. Future Oregon head coach Ernie Kent was among Harter’s key players, as was future New York Knicks head coach (and NBA executive) Stu Jackson.
  4. In an announcement that surprised exactly no one, Sean Miller confirmed on Monday that freshman point guard Josiah Turner will not play again this season for Arizona, after being suspended indefinitely prior to the Pac-12 Tournament last week. The only real question remaining surrounding Turner is whether he will ever wear a Wildcat uniform again. Last week’s suspension was Turner’s third disciplinary action in his brief career in Tucson. Miller left the door open for a possible return for Turner next year, saying “I’m not telling any player on our team that he doesn’t have the option to come back, but it’s more about the path Josiah wants to go from this point forward that will determine whether he’s at Arizona or whether he would choose to have a new beginning.”
  5. Let’s wrap up the Morning Five on a positive note: Colorado’s season continues. After taking home the Pac-12’s automatic bid in their first year in the conference, the Buffaloes move on to Albuquerque on Thursday to face UNLV. Though they’ll be an underdog, this is very much a game that the Buffs can win. And head coach Tad Boyle is not content to stop there: “We’re not going to be just happy to be here,” he said. “We’re playing for a national championship.” I appreciate the sentiment, but a win over UNLV on Thursday makes for an excellent season for the Buffs. A further surprise over (potentially) Baylor on Saturday is gravy, while any further advancement is pie-in-the-sky madness. But, stranger things have happened.
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The RTC Podblasts: Conference Tournaments (Big East, Big 12, Pac-12)

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2012

It’s an extremely busy week of basketball, with the Big East Tournament already beginning and the other power conference leagues all tipping off in the next two days. Instead of doing the standard early-week RTC Podcast this time around, we decided to break things up a little bit. First, we’ve got the shorter nationally-focused RTC Podblast, but we also brought in some of our microsite correspondents from each of the major leagues to riff a little about their upcoming tournaments. Today we’ll release the Big East Tournament Podblast (with Brian Otskey), the Big 12 Tournament Podblast (with Danny Spewak), and the Pac-12 Tournament Podblast (with Andrew Murawa). Tomorrow we’ll have the other three.




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    Pac-12 Tournament To Las Vegas? Yes, Please…

    Posted by AMurawa on December 21st, 2011

    Since Larry Scott took over as commissioner of the Pac-12, changes have come fast and furious. To begin with, when Scott accepted the position, it was a quaint 10-team conference playing most of its conference games outside of the eyes of ESPN’s cameras. Now, with this year’s additions of Colorado and Utah, there are more teams (and twice Scott almost succeeded in landing Texas and Oklahoma on his way to a 16-team conference), and with a $3 billion agreement with ESPN and Fox in tow, the conference and its member institutions have a new high-profile television contract and plenty of money to spend.

    But Scott’s nowhere near done remaking this conference. Recently he spent some time in China, investigating the possibility of playing regular season games across the Pacific, and last week it was announced that a group from Las Vegas had entered a bid to host the Pac-12 Tournament beginning in 2013. The Pac-12’s agreement with the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the conference tournament has been held since its re-introduction in 2002, expires following this season, and given the repeatedly low attendance at that location, a possible alternative venue is being explored.

    Staples Center, Pac-12 Tournament

    A Nearly Empty Staples Center Has Become An All Too Familar Sight For The Pac-12 Tournament (credit: Chris Fetters,

    Enter Las Vegas, and specifically the MGM Grand Garden, a venue that has never hosted a basketball event in its 18-year history. The venue would seat roughly 13,000 people in its basketball configuration, and although it lacks luxury suites, would provide a good neutral-site location for the tournament. There are five Pac-12 schools within a six-hour drive of Las Vegas, and the schools from the furthest reaches of the conference footprint are all within a 2½ hour flight. And perhaps more importantly, Vegas is an entertainment destination that would provide a good incentive for fans from around the league to attend the tournament while providing other options for fun should their team be eliminated early.

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    Morning Five: 07.01.11 Edition

    Posted by jstevrtc on July 1st, 2011

    1. The FIBA Under-19 World Championship is held every couple of years in some exotic locale. This year’s tournament is in Riga, Latvia (yep, that Riga) and the USA are the defending champs, having taken the gold in Auckland in 2009. Our boys had trouble in exhibitions against a couple of Lithuanian youth teams in the lead-up, but they won their first game against Egypt yesterday by 55 points. Obviously we’re keeping an eye on how the team does, but, as the Wall Street Journal points out, what’s just as interesting is seeing the huge surges next season in the skill and confidence of the players on the current team. The article mentions the most impressive one we can recall: Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs in 2009, who came back from New Zealand a changed man, averaging 4.7 PPG the season before his U19 squad membership and 15.7 PPG after it.
    2. The blog at the San Antonio Express-News has taken a San Diego writer to task regarding the question of whether or not Kawhi Leonard fell victim to some bad advice when he decided to leave San Diego State early for the NBA.’s Lee Hamilton says Leonard should have stayed, gone higher in next year’s draft, and hopefully wouldn’t have ended up with the Spurs whom he claims are a poor fit for Leonard. Tim Griffin of the SAEN feels that Leonard will be fine in San Antonio and this was the year to make the jump. Our stance: as much as we loved watching him in college, Leonard made the right call. You don’t know what will await a 15th pick next year, and 2012 will bring a deeper draft. Plus, even though the Spurs are unlikely to soon return to their recent championship form, you can do a lot worse than learn from Tim Duncan for a few seasons.
    3. Incoming coach Archie Miller would rather be back on campus while potential Flyers are making visits to the University of Dayton in August, but he won’t be there, poor guy. From August 8-18 he’ll be learning about his new team as they play exhibitions in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Color us jealous. As the linked article explains, Miller already has a reputation among his players as a coach who gives them a little more independence (read: responsibility) both on and off the floor. That said…a little advice, guys, given your destinations: 1) it’s called a bidet, 2) iPhone + no European voltage adapter = bad scene, man, and, 3) those aren’t the brownies you’re used to at home. Hey, Coach Miller, if you need someone to come along and blog the entire trip…
    4. For the past ten years the Pac-10 Tournament has been held in Los Angeles. And why not? Couple of schools reside there, huge city, basketball-friendly…but is it time for a switch? LA wants to keep it, and Phoenix has raised its hand for consideration, but the most interesting possibility in our eyes is Seattle. The 2012 Pac-10 Pac-12 get-together will still happen in Los Angeles, but a move could happen as soon as 2013.
    5. Rotnei Clarke isn’t the only guard leaving Arkansas. Razorback point guard Jeff Peterson will play his senior season at a third school (he was Iowa before transferring to Arkansas), this time Florida State. This is a different situation, though. Peterson has already graduated from Arkansas, and he’s taking advantage of that rule that allows student-athletes to change schools and play immediately if the school in which they’re enrolling has a graduate program in an area not offered by the previous school. Peterson averaged 6.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG and 2.4 APG in 21.8 MPG last season and will be going after a marketing master’s in the B-school. With the departure of these two gents, the Hogs have lost last year’s co-leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and will return only two guards who played more than 12.5 MPG.
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