Back and Forth: Eight Memorable Exhibition Upsets

Posted by Judson Harten on November 4th, 2014

Each week, RTC columnist Judson Harten will profile some of the week’s biggest upcoming games by taking a look back at some relevant history relating to the match-ups. This is Back And Forth.

Exhibitions are a tease, really. College basketball fans wait with great anticipation for the first practices of the season, sure, but what they really want are games. Live game action… that’s what counts. Exhibitions don’t really provide the same juice. But as we wait for games that count to get started, two things are almost certain:

  1. Your team is “coming along well” this season, per every team’s coach.
  2. Exhibition games are all we have to go on until the season actually tips off in about 10 days.
Even the great Jim Boeheim isn't immune to the curious upset from time-to-time. (Getty)

Even the great Jim Boeheim isn’t immune to the curious upset from time to time. (Getty)

Most of the time, the games aren’t even close. The completely outmatched D-II/D-III/NAIA team that took the big paycheck to come get its whoopin’ is just a preseason sacrificial lamb for most of the elite programs. Sometimes the games are a bit closer than anticipated because it obvious that the coaching staff wants to test some new wrinkles in their game plan — strategies, lineups, etc. Rarely do these teams suffer losses, but they do pop up from time to time. This week Back And Forth takes a look at some of the few exhibition upsets in recent years, and what, if anything, they meant for the season ahead.

1. November 3, 2009: LeMoyne 82, #25 Syracuse 79

THE SKINNY: When I set out to find some of the better exhibition upsets of recent years, this was the first one that I found in the search engines and websites I checked. Christopher Johnson’s three-pointer with 8.3 seconds left pushed the Division II Dolphins past the Orange. A newly-eligible Wes Johnson – in his lone season playing for coach Jim Boeheim – finished with a game-high 34 points in the loss. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

One Year Later: Things in the Pac-12 Haven’t Changed A Bit

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 5th, 2012

Just a little more than a year ago, I wrote this article about the state of the Pac-12 and why the conference isn’t held to a higher standard than the other five power conferences. Seattle Pacific, Adams State, and Cal Poly had all beaten Pac-12 opponents just two weeks into the season. If it sounds familiar, you’re right. Nearly all of the preseason hype the league gained from the signings of guys like Shabazz Muhammad, Kaleb Tarczewski, and Grant Jerrett is gone. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Kyle Anderson, Brandon Ashley, or Josh Scott, all ESPN Top 40 players in their own right. UCLA and Arizona were being picked as Sweet Sixteen locks, and Stanford would definitely make the field of 68. And then there were the Californias and Washingtons, expected to make a run at the Tournament if they could put the right pieces together. But the bigger the hype, the bigger there is a chance of disappointment – and there’s certainly been a lot of that through the first three weeks of basketball in the Pac-12.

Games Like The Ones Colorado Has Played Against Texas Southern and Wyoming Has Tad Boyle Frustrated

The conference has lost a combined 24 games so far in the 2012-13 campaign, and an astounding 11 of those have been to teams in the non-power conferences. Basketball factories such as Sacramento State, SMU, Cal Poly, Pepperdine, Albany, and Wyoming have all notched victories against Pac-12 opponents, and there have been some near misses in other places. A Drake squad that ranks 254th in the nation in rebounding led California with 1:10 to play before eventually falling to the Golden Bears. A 1-7 Texas Southern team took Colorado to double overtime on the road before the Buffaloes pulled out a five-point victory. And then there’s UCLA, who entered the year ranked in at least the Top 20 of every preseason poll, getting taken to overtime by UC Irvine after the Anteaters missed two free throws – either of which would have won the game, with five seconds to play in regulation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

And You Wonder Why the Pac-12 Gets No Respect…

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 21st, 2011

Adams State, Seattle Pacific, and Loyola Marymount. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Cal Poly, Pepperdine, and Middle Tennessee. What do all of these teams have in common, you might be wondering? They have all posted early season wins over Pac-12 teams, causing much of the nation to already write off the conference as an elite power. People over here on the left coast love to point out “East Coast bias,” referring to the lack of love that the Pac-12 gets in terms of both rankings, publicity, and respect. But can you blame them after some of these losses? As it stands today, the league is 24-15, with an astonishing 11 of those losses coming against teams from outside the six power conferences.

You could make a good argument that Arizona is the best team in the Pac-12, yet they lost to Division II Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game earlier in the season. Behind the Wildcats is California, who has not yet been tested this season. But after those two, what does the Pac-12 have to offer? Washington lost by 13 against Saint Louis and only defeated Florida Atlantic by six. Surely not UCLA, who in the midst of chemistry issues has fallen to LMU by 11 and MTSU by 20. God knows what will happen when they play at Chaminade tonight and against Pepperdine (who beat Arizona State) a week from today. It’s reasons like these that people around the country stop paying attention to the Pac-12 in December, something that hurts the conference considerably on Selection Sunday.

Missed rebounds like this one by Arizona forward Angelo Chol led to a Seattle Pacific upset of the Wildcats. The game started a chain reaction of early season losses for Pac-12 teams (credit: Arizona Star)

Bad non-conference losses are nothing new to the Pac-12. Last year featured upsets like San Jose State and Idaho over Oregon, and Seattle University, Texas Southern, Utah Valley, and George Washington over Oregon State. In 2009-10 there were losses by the Beavers against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sacramento State, Illinois-Chicago, Seattle (again, this time a 51-point defeat), and Boston U, while UCLA lost to teams like Cal State Fullerton, Portland (by 27), and Long Beach State. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 ATB: Arizona is Back!

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 18th, 2011

The Lede.  After a loss against Seattle Pacific and mediocre performances in the their other four games, the Wildcats had a big question mark above their heads going into last night’s meeting with St. John’s. Arizona answered most of those questions in its 81-72 victory over the Red Storm on Thursday. Sparked by junior guard Kevin Parrom, playing in his first game after being shot below the knee two months ago, the Wildcats blistered Steve Lavin’s team from behind the three-point line. The Wildcats also flustered the SJU offense all night by stealing the ball seven times, all of which led to some kind of fast break for the Cats.

Steve Lavin's Red Storm had their chances against Arizona, but too many turnovers would eventually doom St. John's

Despite their hot shooting and tenacious defense, the Red Storm did have many chances to win this one. Leading 68-67 with 4:45 remaining, Phil Greene missed a point blank layup that would have put SJU up by three. From there the Wildcats would cruise to a victory as they closed the game on a 14-2 run. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 SYT: 11.17.11

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 17th, 2011


See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

There have been a handful of interesting games so far this week, but today begins a stellar weekend (yes, as Buffalo Wild Wings says, “weekends start on Thursdays”) of Pac-12 action. Today we get the two appetizers, which include St. John’s-Arizona and USC-San Diego State.

St. John’s vs #16 Arizona – 6:30 PM PST on ESPN2 (****)

Freshman guard/forward Maurice Harkless leads the Johnnies into Madison Square Garden tonight.

  • I find it hard to believe that the Wildcats are ranked 16th after they have struggled against teams like Seattle Pacific, Humboldt State, and Duquesne. But they are, and that means the Red Storm and the pro-St. John’s crowd at Madison Square Garden will make it even tougher on the young and restless Wildcats. For Arizona to advance to the championship of the 2K Sports Classic Friday night, step one will be defending the SJU big men. God’s Gift Achiuwa and Maurice Harkless have been unstoppable so far this season, averaging 17.7 and 16.7 PPG, respectively. Guarding the pair will be Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill, both of whom have had solid campaigns in their own right this season. The key to an Arizona victory will be on the shoulders of those two, both on the defensive side of the ball but also on the glass.
  • It’s tough to see this game going one way or the other. Both teams have been so inconsistent, looking great one minute but terrible the next. While this game will definitely come down to the play inside, a tight matchup like this one is usually decided on a late three-pointer or some clutch free throw shooting. And while (once again) both teams have been inconsistent with their shooting, the Cats have the edge in this category. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Pac-12 Media Day Recap: Part One

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 31st, 2011

The Pac-12 Basketball Media Day took place Friday in Los Angeles. Here is part one of our coverage, where we will take a look at the top three quotes from each of the six northern schools.  Tomorrow morning we’ll cover the southern schools.

Washington (full transcript available here)

  • Coach Lorenzo Romar on the importance of playing schools like Duke and Marquette in nonconference play: “I think as we’ve seen over the last several years, our conference usually is evaluated based on our nonconference schedule in terms of a national perception. Sometimes an opinion is formed in the preseason, and then sometimes the nation doesn’t look back to see what teams are doing. So, again, we’re faced with it. There are a number of teams in our conference that have high profile, non-conference games. I think it’s important that we do well in those games.”
  • Coach Romar on Seattle Pacific-Arizona: “My thoughts are that in an exhibition game, it’s a time to experiment. It’s a time to teach. It’s a time to learn. I am very fortunate. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have an exhibition game last night, trust me. The way I see it from a coach’s perspective is I’m sure they got a lot out of it. Seattle Pacific went in there and obviously gave them a great ballgame and challenged them. That they have some new players as well. Some young players. That gives them a perspective of what level you have to be at at this level. So a game like that can do a lot more good for a team than if they were to play someone and blow them out by 50 or 60 and give them a false sense of who they were.”

UW Fans Are Hyped About the Arrival of Local Hero Wroten

  • Coach Romar on freshman point guard Tony Wroten, Jr.: “Tony Wroten, I can almost guarantee you, not a hundred percent, but I can — I’m willing to say that people will be surprised at Tony Wroten, and I’m not talking about the level of player he is, he’s an exceptional basketball player. But when they see how he will get on the floor and dive for a ball. How they can see that playing defense and things like that are really some of the intangible things that are important to him. When people see that, I think people have a different impression of what they thought he was going to be like. I think he’s been labeled somewhat of a show boat, show man, and that’s all he cares about. I think if you’re a Husky fan, people will be pleasantly surprised but that’s not totally him. He has fun. He enjoys the game. But at the same time, he’s a really tough competitor. So he’s done well.

Thoughts: Wroten, Jr., sounds even better than originally advertised, which is still pretty great. Definitely has the potential to be the next Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy for the Huskies.

Washington State (full transcript available here)

Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 10.28.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 28th, 2011

  1. The first exhibition game for a Pac-12 team this year went down on Thursday night, and while the rest of the sports world was enthralled by a magical World Series Game Six, or even Case Keenum throwing like nine or 12 or 15 touchdowns (sorry, lost count) against Rice, defending Pac-10 champion Arizona was busy losing to Seattle Pacific. Sure, it was an exhibition game, and sure, anyone who wants to overreact to this game needs to remember Syracuse losing to Le Moyne a few years back and then proceeding to be a top five team all year, but we got a couple of things out of the game Thursday night. First, and foremost, we got to watch college basketball again, and we got to see an entertaining game and a close finish. More importantly for the long haul, we got a look at the new Arizona. Freshman guard Nick Johnson looked like a guy unafraid to take a big shot in the closing minutes, while back court mate Josiah Turner looked very much like a freshman playing in his first collegiate game. He got the start at point over Jordin Mayes, but despite a few flashes here and there, he looked like a work in progress. For a bit more detail on this surprising game, check out our debut version of After the Buzzer, Pac-12 Edition from late last night.
  2. As was mentioned in yesterday’s Morning Five on the main RTC site, a scrimmage between current Washington players and Washington alumni was cancelled after head coach Lorenzo Romar mentioned the game on a local radio station and some of the players invited fans on Twitter. Holding the scrimmage would not have been a violation, but publicizing the scrimmage in such a manner would have qualified as a secondary violation. Dumb, right? Well, luckily for the players (both current and former), the scrimmage did occur, with former Huskies like Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Quincy Pondexter and others apparently playing  for the alumni team. Unfortunately for fans, security was in place keeping anybody from seeing the game. Well done, NCAA.
  3. USC’s redshirt sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon is just one among the several Trojans battling injury concerns in the early going (Jio Fontan and Curtis Washington, the two other prominent injuries on the roster). But for Dedmon, at least, there is a bright side to his injury. A natural lefty, what little basketball Dedmon has played (he didn’t start playing organized basketball until his senior year in high school), he has mostly played with his right hand. However, since breaking his right hand on October 11, Dedmon has spent the past few weeks giving his left hand some work. While the injury may not be ideal for the undermanned SC roster, head coach Kevin O’Neill thinks “in the long run, it’s going to help.” Dedmon’s hand will be re-evaluated next week with the hope that he’ll be ready to go when the Trojans open their season on November 11 against Cal State Northridge.
  4. In yesterday’s Morning Five, we talked about how Arizona State was toying around with the idea of using two seven-footers, sophomore Jordan Bachynski and junior Ruslan Pateev, in the lineup at the same time. If you wondered why, consider these troublesome stats: Last year ASU didn’t outrebound a single conference opponent, opposing post players typically went off against the Sun Devils (for example, career-highs for Derrick Williams, DeAngelo Casto and Matthew Bryan-Amaning in three straight games, which were preceded by double-doubles by Josh Owens and Markhuri Sanders-Frison), and the trio of Kyle Cain, Pateev and Bachynski combined to average 10.6 points and 8.5 rebounds in Pac-10 games. Suffice it to say, there is room for improvement up front for ASU, and with Cain bulking up and Bachynski getting more comfortable after a two-year Mormon mission, advances should be on the horizon.
  5. Finally, we’d like to unveil a little Friday fun at the five spot. Connor and I will engage in a little pick ‘em on Friday mornings, starting with Pac-12 football games for now, but moving onto some of the more interesting basketball games as the season progresses. Each week we’ll put our picks for the weekend games here, keep track of them as we go along, and eventually declare a winner and award Paul Bunyan’s Old Oaken Skillet (okay, we’re still working on the name) at the end of the year. Each week we’ll pick the most interesting game and try to call a score on that one (in bold below), while the other games we’ll pick straight up. Here are our picks for this week:
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Washington at Arizona Washington Washington
Colorado at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
California at UCLA UCLA California
Washington State at Oregon Oregon Oregon
Oregon State at Utah Utah Oregon State
Stanford at USC Stanford 35-28 Stanford 38-23
Share this story