Pac-12 M5: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 4th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Utah played its one and only exhibition game on Saturday, and the result was a mixed bag. The Utes began pulling away from St. Martin’s late in the first half with their athleticism and depth, and the final score was 91-54. Jordan Loveridge played well in the post, scoring 21 points and adding six rebounds. Delon Wright also impressed in his new role for the Utes, playing the majority of the time at the one but still grabbing eight rebounds. However, it was apparent that they still don’t have a second presence in the frontcourt, something head coach Larry Krystowiak needs to figure out before their first regular season game on Friday.
  2. Colorado wasn’t happy when the AP Top 25 poll came out on Thursday and the Buffaloes were left off it. The Buffs were fourth among Pac-12 teams in the AP despite coming in third, and even garnering a first place vote, in the Pac-12 Media Poll. Tad Boyle’s team isn’t too far out of the rankings, however, being listed fifth in the “Also Receiving Votes” category. Preseason ratings really have no meaning, but if you can use it as motivation for being snubbed like Spencer Dinwiddie is, more power to you. Colorado opens the season on Friday against Baylor in Houston.
  3. The annual NBA D-League Draft was held on Friday evening, and two former Washington guards were taken in the first two rounds. Scott Suggs was taken in the first round by the Santa Cruz Warriors, and Abdul Gaddy was selected one round later by the Iowa Energy. As usual, the entire Pac-12 made a strong showing at the minor league draft, with eight alums being picked throughout the 12 rounds. Former Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett was taken with the first overall pick by the Tulsa 66ers. More Wildcats, Kevin Parrom and Salim Stoudamire, was taken by Rio Grande Valley and Fort Wayne, respectively. In addition, a pair of USC forwards were taken in the third round, and the Springfield Armor took former Oregon big man Joevon Catron early in the fourth.
  4. Also taking place Friday night was Washington State‘s lone exhibition tune-up, and the Cougars handled Central Washington for a 93-56 victory. The Cougars debuted their new pressure defense for much of the game, making the Wildcats execute their offense on all 94 feet of the floor. Ken Bone‘s team also shot the ball well, making 33 of 66 field goal attempts. The race to replace all-everything forward Brock Motum is also underway, and while senior big man D.J. Shelton led the team in points, it was freshman power forward Josh Hawkinson that surprised the most. Only playing ten minutes for Washington State, Hawkinson grabbed eight boards and scored six points. That will definitely be a position battle to watch as Washington State approaches its regular season opener on November 8 against Cal State Bakersfield.
  5. Oregon State held its “Beaver Fan Jam” Friday afternoon before the Oregon State football game against USC, and a dunk contest highlighted the festivities. Junior forward Eric Moreland took second place in the contest, producing this nice tomahawk jam and an over-the-”car” dunk in the second round. However, it was freshman point guard Malcolm Duvivier that took home the inaugural slam dunk title. He won it with this 360 beauty, leaving Beaver fans hoping to see it in actual game action one day. Oregon State hosts Concordia to close out its exhibition season Tuesday night in Corvallis.
Share this story

Washington Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 22nd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Washington.

What Went Right

The Huskies opened Pac-12 play with three straight road wins, then backed that up by knocking off Colorado at Hec Ed and it looked like the team was on the verge of turning things around after a horrid non-conference schedule. C.J. Wilcox was leading the way in scoring, having led the team in seven of its last eight games (all wins), Aziz N’Diaye was chipping in offensively and doing his normal yeoman’s work on defense and on the glass, and things were, all of a sudden, running smoothly. And then….

C.J. Wilcox's Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

C.J. Wilcox’s Offensive Burst Was The Biggest Bright Spot In An Otherwise Disappointing Season

What Went Wrong

And then the Huskies proceeded to revert to non-conference form (you know, when they lost home games to Albany, Nevada and Colorado State, the latter by like a million points), dropping eight of their next 10 games and averaging 0.88 points per possession over the losses in that stretch. Abdul Gaddy frustrated Huskies’ fans, Scott Suggs was only occasionally involved in the offense, Wilcox struggled with an ankle injury, N’Diaye reverted to his old familiar offensively incoherent self, and the wheels fell off. Worst of all, it was awfully hard to watch at times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Mike Moser To Washington: Does He Have a Position in Seattle?

Posted by AMurawa on April 6th, 2013

Though it is not official yet, news came down on Friday that Mike Moser, formerly of UCLA and most recently of UNLV, may wind up at Washington for the 2013-14 season. He’s expected to graduate from UNLV this summer, making him eligible to play his final season immediately in Seattle. There remains a chance he will make himself eligible for the NBA Draft this season, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, but most likely he will spend his final season of collegiate eligibility playing for Lorenzo Romar. Aside from the fact that this would make for a wild, back-and-forth college career for the 6’8” combo forward, it gives Romar and the Huskies a much needed talent boost as they try to earn their way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After Stops At UCLA and UNLV, Mike Moser May Be Wrapping Up His College Career At Washington (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Huskies lose Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, and Scott Suggs from this year’s middle-of-the-Pac team, but with wing C.J. Wilcox expected back for his senior campaign (although he has submitted paperwork to he NBA Undergraduate Committee to gauge potential interest if he were to leave school early), and with McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss expected to step right into the starting point guard spot, the addition of Moser could put the Huskies back into the conversation in the Pac-12. Coming on the heels of a miss on highly regarded recruit Aaron Gordon, the addition of Moser would go a long way towards patching an athleticism gap on this team. He had a nightmare of a junior season in Vegas, where a dislocated elbow conspired with his inability to play effectively alongside freshman phenom Anthony Bennett knocked Moser from preseason All-American consideration down to a guy who averaged just seven points and six rebounds per game (huge drops from his 14/10 averages as a sophomore. Still, he is a long and lanky athlete with a great nose for a rebound, the ability to knock down threes and the frame to be a terrific and disruptive defender.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 4th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. The annual McDonald’s All-America Game was played on Wednesday night, and fresh Arizona commitment Aaron Gordon was named the game’s MVP. Gordon scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the West to a 110-99 victory. Washington signee Nigel Williams-Goss was the West team’s best player off the bench, scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists. Jabari Bird, who is headed to California in the fall, added nine points in just 13 minutes of action.
  2. The Huskies still have one available scholarship for next season after Gordon spurned Lorenzo Romar for Arizona. The Husky Haul takes a look at where that extra scholarship should go in this piece. LoRo will likely go the JuCo route, opting for a post player with maturity and experience. Remi Dibo or Octavious Ellis would both be solid options for the Dawgs, a pair of face fours that would add a great scoring punch after the departures of Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy. As the article states, if Romar wants to add a player straight out of high school, Lennard Freeman or Junior Etou would likely be the only options.
  3. I still find this story ridiculous, but after yesterday’s complaining from Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh, USC has backed off the use of the “Dunk City” phrase. Stating that the moniker belongs in Florida, athletic director Pat Haden says that the Trojans are going to create their own cute phrase. Andy Enfield signed a six-year deal with the Trojans on Monday.
  4. Keeping it in the Southland, USC officially introduced Andy Enfield as its new head coach on Wednesday. While speaking at the introductory press conference, Pat Haden listed Enfield’s ability to develop talent and his up-tempo style of play as the main reasons he wanted the former FGCU head man so badly. Haden mentioned bringing the Trojans program back to relevance, and resetting the basketball culture from the slow-down style of Kevin O’Neill is of highest priority. Whether you agree with the qualifications of Enfield to become a Pac-12 head coach, there’s no question he has brought excitement back into the SC program. And that’s important, because it was slipping quickly.
  5. Also dropping Wednesday was the news out of Berkeley that junior California guard Allen Crabbe will forego his senior season with the Golden Bears to enter this summer’s NBA Draft. The move makes sense, as Crabbe has either been near the top of the league or at it in the scoring category the past two seasons, and he now wants to see how his game will translate at the next level. Crabbe is projected by most to be picked late in the first round.
Share this story

Pac-12 Burning Questions: Pac-12 Tournament Dark Horse?

Posted by AMurawa on March 13th, 2013

The beginning of a new era in Pac-12 basketball begins today, as the first conference tournament in Las Vegas tips off. With the top four teams receiving a bye, we’ve got teams #5 through #12 in action, so we asked our correspondents:

“Which Pac-12 team playing in the opening round has the best chance of springing the upset and winning the conference’s automatic bid?”

 

Adam Butler: I’ve struggled to figure out exactly what’s happened in Palo Alto this year. They have a very interesting group and a group we thought would play better than to the tune of .500 in conference play. They’ve looked equally good as they have bad at different times throughout the year. And I can’t tell if it’s fortunate or unfortunate for me — and I’ll argue unfortunate with regards to my prognosticating skills — that the two trips I’ve taken to see Stanford play this year were when they hosted Oregon (76-52, W) and visited Cal (83-70, W). Through stretches of these games, if not their entirety, the Cardinal looked unstoppable. For such, as a team capable of playing with any team in the conference, I like the #8 seeded Fighting Dawkins as the top Wednesday playing team to make a run at this thing.

The Pressure Is On For Johnny Dawkins And Company, But Can His Cardinal Spring a Big Upset? (credit: Danny Moloshok)

The Pressure Is On For Johnny Dawkins And Company, But Can His Cardinal Spring a Big Upset? (Danny Moloshok)

Connor Pelton: I actually like #6 Washington to advance furthest and have the best chance of winning the championship out of the eight first round teams. The Huskies have wins over the #2 and #5 seeds in the tournament and have shown they can compete against the other top teams in the field. What you need to win four games in four days are good shooters and a good bench. Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy have been shooting the lights out of the gym as of late, and while they may not put up huge numbers, Andrew Andrews and Jernard Jarreau can control the game and score from anywhere on the floor if they are called on to spell the starters. Most importantly, the Dawgs have one of the easiest paths to the title game. Washington State has been playing good ball as of late, but there’s no reason UW can’t pull out a win against the rival Cougars. LoRo and company hung with Oregon in their first two meetings, and I think they pull the upset in their third attempt against a reeling Duck squad. A date with California is likely for the semifinals, and if Washington’s only prior meeting with the Golden Bears is any indication, the Dawgs could be on their way to the title game. And once you get there, no matter who the opponent, anything is possible.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Honoring the Washington Seniors

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 9th, 2013

After a rough start to the season, Washington will honor three seniors this morning that have made great strides in leadership and maturity throughout their final season. From a four year, in-state star to a three-year transfer, all three graduating Huskies have had major impacts at separate points throughout the season. We break them down below.

Abdul Gaddy And Aziz N'Diaye, Shown Above, Along With Scott Suggs Will Play Their Final Game At Alaska Airlines Arena (Credit: Ted S. Warren).

Abdul Gaddy And Aziz N’Diaye, Shown Above, Along With Scott Suggs Will Play Their Final Game At Alaska Airlines Arena This Morning (Credit: Ted S. Warren).

After arriving on Montlake as one of the most decorated recruits in Washington history, Abdul Gaddy‘s first three seasons in Seattle were filled with injuries and frustration. But he is going out in style, playing some of the best all-around basketball of his career in the last four games. Gaddy’s defensive efforts have shut down some of the best scorers in the conference, and his late-game awareness has pulled out six wins for the Huskies in 2012-13. Playing with more confidence and leadership then ever before, Gaddy has accumulated an average of 11 PPG and 4.3 APG. While he may be remembered for his inconsistency, Gaddy is certainly going out in style. The only thing left to do is win four games in four days next week and finish up his UW career in the NCAA Tournament.

For all that Gaddy has done throughout the home stretch, Scott Suggs makes his numbers look silly. Suggs has averaged 19 points in UW’s last three games, and it’s these kind of streaks from Scotty that makes him so valuable. The guard had a pair of six game streaks in which he scored in double digits earlier in the year. And like Gaddy, his energy has only grown since the beginning of the season, leading vocally and by example for some of the key players behind him on the depth chart.

Finally, we get to Aziz N’DiayeRush the Court was one of the few to list N’Diaye to a preseason All-Pac-12 team, and he has proven us right. Sure, he hasn’t been an offensive force by any stretch of the imagination, but he doesn’t have to be with the Huskies. His size and presence inside has been huge for Washington, as N’Diaye has recorded games with 18, 16, and 12 rebounds, respectively. He figures to be a key player in today’s Senior Day meeting with UCLA after scoring 11 points and pulling down the aforementioned 18 boards in the two teams’ previous meeting.

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 03.05.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 5th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Championship Week Fortnight begins today, and the Pac-12 Tournament is right around the corner as well. This year’s tournament promises to be one of the more crazy ones in history, as any team seeded one through nine has the talent and potential to take the conference’s automatic bid. Washington is going to need that aut0-bid in order to go dancing, and rising fifth-year senior Scott Suggs looks to be an integral part of that run. The shooting guard had a streak going in February in which he only scored four points per game for four out of five games, but starting back on February 23 against Arizona State, Suggs found his stroke and no longer appeared lost within the Husky offense. He went for 16 points against the Sun Devils and for 23 points eight days later in the hardwood Apple Cup. If he can continue this kind of output through the next two weeks, the combination of he and C.J. Wilcox will make the eighth-seeded Dawgs a tough out.
  2. As we teased yesterday, Oregon State and Nike unveiled the results of a nearly two-year long re-branding of the Beaver program. The changes to the basketball uniforms were positive but minimal, as you can see here. The Beavers now have an all-white uniform in their repertoire and have the option of having “OSU” across the front of the jersey. The shorts are simple and clean-looking, with the new logo featured on the bottom side. The back of the tops are what I think is the highlight of the whole thing, as a basketball net and “ghost beaver” logo run from top-to-bottom. Even outside of basketball, a general change for all sports uniforms is the addition of metallic bronze as an accent color. The football uniforms were the highlight of the event, and I’ll leave you with those pictures here.
  3. Even if Arizona did not find a true point guard, the addition of Mark Lyons was a good one, and the right idea at the time by Arizona head coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats are in desperate need of a true point who can break down a defense and be a “pass-first, shoot-second” type of player, but that’s just not going to work with Lyons. So, UA fans will take what they can get at this point in the season. Right now, that’s a team full of shooters, and if that’s what can take them to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond, so be it.
  4. California is 9-1 since it was thoroughly outplayed on a late January afternoon in Boulder. At that point in the season, the Golden Bears were playing with no heart or hustle, sported a middling 11-8 record, and were on the outside looking in for an NIT bid. But there has been a remarkable turnaround, one that will likely result in Cal’s second straight NCAA bid, as Mike Montgomery has done some of his finest work as a head coach to get them to this point. California closes out the regular season with a visit from rival Stanford on Wednesday night, where the Bears will go for their eighth straight victory.
  5. UCLA may not need a Pac-12 Tournament championship to make the NCAA Tournament, but like Washington, the Bruins could use a big boost from junior forward Travis Wear in the coming weeks. Wear is still plagued by a right foot injury that sidelined him for two games stretching back to February 24, and coach Ben Howland is having to make up for his absences on the floor by playing brother David Wear for nearly the whole contest, or placing rarely-used Tony Parker in the game when Wear needs rest. The return of Travis Wear in a full capacity will be crucial for the Bruins, as it would be nearly impossible to win three games in three days without his big body on the court.
Share this story

Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VIII: Solid Students

Posted by AMurawa on February 27th, 2013

We’ve bragged about our pet pupils yesterday, and we’ll get to the folks in detention later, but for now, here’s the middle of the Pac from last week’s performances.

Washington – B

After getting run off the court on Wednesday night against Arizona, the Huskies rebounded nicely with a strong performance in knocking off Arizona State on Saturday. In recent weeks it has been as simple as equating made shots with wins for the Huskies. In seven games in February they’ve shot a better than 50% eFG three times and won all of those games. Of course, four times they’ve shot lower than 50% and lost all four of those.

Focus on: Scott Suggs. With C.J. Wilcox clearly hurting, the Huskies desperately needed Suggs – their only other proven scorer – to break out of his slump. And, against the Sun Devils, after scoring just four points in four of his previous five games, Suggs did just that. He provided some offensive punch right out of the gate on Saturday night, either scoring or assisting on 12 of the Huskies  first 18 points. With just three games remaining in the regular season of his final collegiate season, you can bet both he and Lorenzo Romar hope he can keep up that type of performance the rest of the way.

Looking ahead: The Huskies host Washington State on Sunday night as the Evergreen State gets to say goodbye to five really good seniors between the two squads in their final Apple Cup (basketball edition) game.

Once Branded A Glue Guy, Josh Huestis' Recent Streak Proves He's An All-Around Player (Ben Margot, AP)

Once Branded A Glue Guy, Josh Huestis’ Recent Streak Proves He’s An All-Around Player (Ben Margot, AP)

Stanford – B-

The Cardinal went on the road and got a split for the week; that’s a good thing, right? It certainly is, but for Johnny Dawkins and company to move themselves into range for an at-large bid, they really needed to get a win Saturday at Oregon. Unfortunately for them, they shot the ball poorly, turned it over far too much and even got beat on the boards as the Ducks backed Stanford into a corner, where they need to win the Pac-12 Tournament lest they be relegated in trying to defend their NIT title.

Focus on: Josh Huestis. He has previously shown the ability to score both inside and out, but with talented scoring guards and emerging star Dwight Powell on the same roster, the expectation was that Huestis was locked into a “glue guy” role. His occasional outbursts of offense, an expectation that was being met through most of January, the junior from Great Falls regularly grabbed more rebounds than he scored points. But, over the last month, Huestis has undergone an offensive renaissance, scoring in double figures in nine straight games, registering seven double-doubles along the way, and averaging 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game over that stretch. Somewhat unbelievably, Huestis is a legitimate first-team all-conference contender.

Looking ahead: The Cardinal host Colorado and Utah this week. There really isn’t a scenario whereby they earn an at-large bid to the NCAAs, so while neither of these games are must wins, they must build confidence and coherence if they hope to threaten to win the title in Vegas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Report Card: Volume IV

Posted by AMurawa on January 30th, 2013

Another week of classes, another week of grades from Professor Pac. As midterms approach, only Oregon is on pace for a A this semester.

Arizona State – A

Way back in June, Herb Sendek was talking about how his new Sun Devil team was going to get out and run and be as uptempo as anybody in the Pac-12. But, since getting run off the court by an athletic DePaul team back in early December, Arizona State had gone eight straight games without getting 70 possessions in a ball game. This past week when they hosted USC and UCLA and came away 2-0, they went over 70 possessions in both games and averaged 76 possessions – and 88 points – for the week. Sure, the USC game was aided by an extra five minutes of play, but the Sun Devils still played with more pace this past week than they have done in some time.

Focus on: Jonathan Gilling. We’ve talked a ton about Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski, we’ve touched on Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon on a regular basis, but Gilling is the fifth member of the starting unit, and criminally underrated. While his shooting percentages have dipped compared with his freshman campaign, Gilling is doing everything else better this season. He’s turned into an exceedingly effective rebounder and an underrated passer. He’s one of just two players in the conference to average seven rebounds and three assists per game (the other is Kyle Anderson) and as you could see by this week’s performance when he has 14 dimes, he finds exceedingly good looks for his teammates. Of those 14 assists, eight led to either layups or dunks, while four more ended in threes. And he’s an equal-opportunity distributor; Felix, Bachynski, and Gordon were each on the receiving end of four of Gilling’s assists.

While His More Heralded Teammates Get Most Of The Pub, Jonathan Gilling Has Been Great For ASU This Season (Jae C. Hong, AP Photo)

While His More Heralded Teammates Get Most Of The Pub, Jonathan Gilling Has Been Great For ASU This Season (Jae C. Hong, AP Photo)

Looking ahead: The Sun Devils are the toast of the conference this week, but with a road trip up north to the Washington schools ahead, things can go south in a hurry. The Cougars and Huskies may not be the most intimidating opponents, but they’re more than capable of knocking off the Sun Devils.

Colorado – A

Don’t look now, but after an extended hangover effect following the debacle in the desert, the Buffaloes have won three straight by an average of 13 points and are back to .500 in the conference. And while the offense has been steadily improving, they’ve been doing it with defense. They’ve held their three opponents in that win streak to a 40.5 eFG%.

Focus on: Xavier Johnson. Doomed to play roughly the same position as the nation’s leading rebounder, Andre Roberson, Johnson has been lurking in the shadows somewhat most of the year. But on Sunday, when Roberson was limited to just two first half minutes due to foul trouble, Johnson had his breakout game, notching his first double-double of his career and scoring 18 points on just ten field goal attempts. In fact, over the course of this Buff winning streak, Johnson has been a major contributor. He’s scored in double figures in every game and has been hyper-efficient; he’s averaging 14.3 points per game and shooting a 74 eFG%.

Looking ahead: The Buffs have a short week, with only a trip to Salt Lake City to face a Utah team coming off its worst performance of the season. If the Buffs don’t have a four-game win streak at this point next week, they may be the recipient of the year’s first F.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 21st, 2012

pac12_morning5

  1. The biggest news of the day doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Bruin Report Online is reporting that UCLA is currently leaning toward replacing head coach Ben Howland. Tracy Pierson notes that booster and donation support has diminished considerably, and the tip of the iceberg came when UCLA lost three of five games from late November to early December this season. Howland has already had a pair of players transfer out of the program in the first two months, and while that kind of stuff gets excused when you’re winning, losing games in front of small crowds to the likes of Cal Poly and nearly UC Irvine brings the issue to the forefront. This report comes at a time when the Bruins have won three in a row, and if they can extend that streak into Pac-12 play it would mean wins against Fresno State and Missouri. Gaining back respect from AD Dan Guerrero and Bruins boosters will start by winning that high-profile non-conference game.
  2. So far in this 2012-13 season, just about the only thing Washington fans should be happy about is the play of its backcourt. The one-two punch on the perimeter between fifth-year senior Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox is one of the Pac-12′s finest, with each player averaging at least 14 PPG. To show how important Suggs is to the Husky offense, the Dawgs dropped a game to Albany when the senior suffered a concussion just 90 seconds into the game. He also missed UW’s 18-point loss to Colorado State with a sore foot, and they nearly dropped games to Saint Louis and Cal State Fullerton without him. Needless to say, as Suggs goes, so does this Washington team.
  3. One of the more intriguing games/tournaments to be played directly around, and on, Christmas (okay, so these are the only college hoops games) features Arizona. The Wildcats are spending the holiday in paradise, and they’ll start play in the Diamond Head Classic tomorrow against East Tennessee State. The Bucs and Cats of course have a short but storied history, with 14-seed ETSU upsetting Arizona in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Tougher games will be in store for Sean Miller’s club as it progresses through the bracket, as possible meetings with Miami (FL) and San Diego State could be on tap.
  4. There’s nothing I love more than some good tournament talk, and the California Golden Blogs roundtable delivers in this discussion. As they note in the opening, California put up a big goose egg in its big three-game series, yet the Golden Bears were competitive for two-thirds of them. The general consensus between CGB writers is that Cal will receive either a 12-seed or flat out miss the tournament altogether, but it’s still too early to tell. At this point, I’d say they are firmly atop the NCAA bubble along with UCLA, and the two Bruins/Bears match-ups in January and February could go a long way deciding who gets the Pac-12′s final spot.
  5. Stanford missed out on one of the top recruits in the nation Thursday when Jabari Parker announced his intentions to play basketball at Duke. The Simeon High School (IL) forward also revealed that Stanford and BYU were the only schools in Parker’s top five to not make the final cut of three. What makes Parker so special is his versatility. He could have played anywhere on the floor for Johnny Dawkins, and his superb ball-handling and passing abilities would have helped the Cardinal as well.
Share this story

Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Illinois, Undefeated Teams, A Blown Call Nobody Noticed, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 11th, 2012

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

  1. Illinois fans, here is my mea culpa. I was wrong not to rank your team. On Saturday night, the Fighting Illini ventured up to Spokane and walked out of the Kennel with the best win of any team to date. Yes, better than Duke’s wins over Louisville and Ohio State. Why? There has not been a road win of this magnitude by any team through this early point in the season. The Illini proved they’re for real with a dominant second half against a very strong Gonzaga team. After taking the opening punch and falling behind 8-0 right out of the gate, John Groce’s team didn’t panic and made fantastic adjustments. Gonzaga’s game plan was clearly to feed the ball inside and try to dominate a less than imposing Illinois front line. Illinois’ defense suddenly picked up later in the first half, swarming the Gonzaga big men and forcing the Bulldogs into an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers. Illinois was able to speed the game up a bit and prevent Gonzaga from setting up its half court offense effectively. The Zags attempted 18 threes which is right about their season average but a lot of them were rushed and not something the game plan should have called for against an Illinois team without a significant inside presence. Brandon Paul looked like an All-America candidate with his performance not just on the offensive end but defensively against Pangos and the Gonzaga guards as well. Can Illinois keep this level of play up? I’m not sure but I know one thing: The Illini are way better than I thought. This team’s over-reliance on the three-point shot is concerning and is bound to catch up with them at some point, but Illinois has already proved it will be a factor in the loaded Big Ten.

    Brandon Paul Looked Like An All-American Candidate On Saturday Night In Spokane. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

  2. Another impressive performance played out in a different fashion on Saturday night in Clemson, South Carolina. Trailing Clemson by six points midway through the second half, Arizona absorbed the hit and put the pedal down in impressive fashion with a 26-5 run down the stretch to come out of rowdy Littlejohn Coliseum with a sneaky good road win. It was an impressive showing because this Arizona team had been highly touted but untested coming into the game. The Wildcats passed that test with flying colors as they head into a Saturday showdown with Florida in Tucson. Mark Lyons took control in the final minutes for Arizona but contributions from Nick Johnson (13 points, five steals) and Solomon Hill (10 rebounds despite an awful shooting night) illustrate the talent and depth of Sean Miller’s team. Although he didn’t have a great game, I was thoroughly impressed with the physique of freshman Kaleb Tarczewski. It was the first time I’ve seen him play and his body appears mature beyond his age. He’ll be a load for any opponent in the post. Arizona is clearly the best team in the Pac-12 and has the pieces to make a deep run in March. With the gritty Miller at the helm and a boatload of talent, this team will keep getting better as the year moves along. Make sure you watch the Wildcats take on Florida this Saturday night in what could prove to be the best non-conference game of the season.
  3. Another week, another confounding loss for Baylor. Just when you thought the Bears were turning the corner after winning at Kentucky, they put together an absolute stinker of a loss at home to a mediocre Northwestern team that had just suffered back-to-back home losses to Maryland and Illinois-Chicago. Baylor was dominated on the glass by a Northwestern lineup that isn’t all that physically imposing and allowed the Wildcats to shoot 51% for the game. It is inexcusable for a team with Baylor’s talent to have three losses at this point in the season but you know what I like to say, nobody does less with more than Scott Drew. When you look at the statistics, Baylor appears to be a pretty good team. But the chemistry and focus clearly is lacking, otherwise this team wouldn’t have lost to Charleston and Northwestern on its home court. Baylor is a highly talented team and has actually improved its turnover numbers significantly from previous years. Pierre Jackson is playing like one of the best point guards in America and Drew has seen junior forward Cory Jefferson take a huge step forward. Baylor has two more non-conference challenges before Big 12 play begins, against BYU in Waco and a tough trip to Gonzaga in back to back games at the end of this month. Even if the Bears enter Big 12 play at 8-4, I still believe this team is good enough to eventually earn a Top 25 ranking and fit solidly in the NCAA Tournament. At this point however, Baylor just isn’t there yet. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 12.10.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 10th, 2012

  1. Following this first weekend where the college basketball didn’t pale in comparison to the college football schedule, we start our week not recounting some of the action on the court, but rather action on a picket line. On Saturday, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (now there’s a phrase I never expected to type out for the Pac-12 Morning Five) declared a strike against the Pac-12 Network and set up picket lines at USC, Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon and Washington for those days’ games. The IATSE complaint centers on the fact that the Pac-12 Network has, in some markets, used non-union crews, and that employees on those crews don’t receive the benefits that union employees receive, such as higher wages, benefits and other protections. The Pac-12 issued a statement in response saying that it “respects an individual’s right to decide whether to be represented by a union” and not a whole lot else. Coupled with the conference’s impasse with DirecTV over carriage of their network, this is another bump in the road for the fledgling network. But, I gotta admit, the Pac-12 Networks are really cool. Just for instance, on Saturday you could have turned on the Pac-12 at 11 AM for Cal State Northridge and Arizona State and watched basketball straight through until the USC/Minnesota game wrapped up around 9:30 PM. And, something similar is on tap for next week.
  2. On to actual on-court action, brave basketball fans who showed up at Reliant Stadium for UCLA and Texas may have reason to go on strike against the sport after the two huge programs put on a horrendous display of basketball in front of a largely empty stadium. As Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports writes, the game may have set the record for most empty seats at a basketball game. The game was played at the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans and was capable of fitting some 43,000 fans. Let’s just say that the announced attendance (which was apparently an imaginary figure) missed that mark by somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 people. Why this game was scheduled at that location, I’ll never be sure. There was certainly no chance in hell that, even if UCLA had been playing well, the Bruins were going to bring any significant number of fans to Houston. And Texas, well, you guys know you do have a perfectly good Erwin Center that, even with its 16,000-some capacity would likely not have been filled for this game. As for the game itself, well, let’s just say Texas missed two point-blank layups on breakaways and neither of those likely qualify as the low point in this game.
  3. From one monstrosity to another, for those of you who maybe thought that Washington getting back the services of Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp Jr. would help turn this team’s season around, consider Saturday night’s loss at home to Nevada the cold water to the face to dissuade you of that illusion. The Huskies have now lost three home games to increasingly bad competition and, while Lorenzo Romar isn’t about to let his team give up, this looks to be headed to a lost season that will put 2007-08’s 16-17 campaign to shame. There were some extenuating circumstances Saturday night, as Abdul Gaddy was abused regularly by Nevada’s Deonte Burton early in the game and picked up three early fouls on a night when Andrew Andrews was out with injury, leaving the Huskies without a true point guard for 10 minutes, but that’s mere explanation rather than excuse. The schedule eases up significantly between here and a December 29 date with Connecticut, but this group is far away from congealing into a quality basketball team.
  4. After knocking off Boise State last week, Utah had a great chance on Saturday night to not only exceed last year’s win total, but also knock off in-state rival BYU to seal up a phenomenal week for the program. At the under-eight timeout, the Utes had a six-point lead, the Marriott Center was quiet and Utah looked to have the Cougars right where they wanted them. But then a pair of Matt Carlino threes and a Craig Cusick three as a chaser brought things back to reality. The Utes wound up scoring just one field goal in the game’s last 11 minutes, turned the ball over seven times and let a very winnable game slip away. But if you take a step back and look at the season as a whole, especially in contrast with last year, it is clear that progress is being made.
  5. Around the college basketball world, we’re into the dreaded time known as Finals Week, where the number of watchable games dwindles to a trickle. But, in the state of Oregon, both Pac-12 schools have wrapped up their exams and are ready to focus on basketball. Oregon’s finals were last week and they celebrated their first day of winter break with a demolition of Idaho State. But, rather than pick up on a whirlwind of cross-country travel in search of games, the Ducks will hunker down for a week, try to clean up some of the mistakes that Dana Altman has seen and prepare for next Saturday’s game against Nebraska. Meanwhile, Oregon State is on slightly different schedule. Having wrapped up their finals, the Beavers crushed Grambling State on Saturday in a game that was drastically different than its first game back from finals last year. But up next for OSU, rather than spend a week practicing in Corvallis, they’ll head up north to face Portland State on Wednesday night.
Share this story