Thoughts On The Pac-12 Quarterfinals, Afternoon Session

Posted by AMurawa on March 14th, 2013

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 Conference. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s Pac-12 Tournament session in Las Vegas.

First and foremost, let’s congratulate the Pac-12 conference on finally having a relevant conference tournament. Even in the glory days of the Pac-12 when NBA lottery picks littered rosters up and down the west coast, the tournament at the Staples Center was never a great event. First, while Los Angeles is a fine city to live in (at least according to this Angeleno), it isn’t a great destination for out-of-towners. It’s spread out and the area right around the Staples Center is not exactly the type of place that is incredibly inviting for vacationers. Then there’s the Staples Center itself – a cavernous arena much better suited to the soulless grind of the NBA than the excitement of March college hoops, made even worse when a mere fraction of the seats were occupied. Then there was a theory – which never meant much in practice – that it was a home court advantage for the Los Angeles schools.

The New Home Of The Pac-12 Tournament Has Been A Rousing Success

The New Home Of The Pac-12 Tournament Has Been A Rousing Success

Well, all of those worries are out the door with the move to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It is certainly a destination spot, it offers plenty of affordable and centrally-located hotel options, the arena itself is big enough to welcome in fans from around the conference yet small enough to be intimate and loud, and this is clearly a neutral environment. I can’t imagine that this tournament is going to be held anywhere other than Las Vegas for a long, long time.

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RTC’s 2013 Pac-12 Tournament Preview

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2013

The 2013 Pac-12 Championship is upon us. If you want to know who the favorites, dark-horses  and long-shots are, or are just looking for a possible team to make a run all the way from Las Vegas to the Final Four, here is your guide.

bracket

While the Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the nation, this is going to be one of the most competitive conference tournaments of Championship Week. Any of the top nine seeds are capable of winning it, and every team playing in the first round of the tournament needs at least one win to feel safe on Selection Sunday. Outside of that top five, every team will be playing for their NCAA lives, which could make the first day of the tournament surprisingly entertaining. To make a run through a conference tournament, especially when you need to win four games in four days, you need three or more really solid players. UCLA has Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, Travis Wear, and Kyle Anderson; Oregon has E.J. Singler, Carlos Emory, and Damyean Dotson; and Colorado has Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Andre Roberson, and Josh Scott. Those groups of players can lead their teams through the tournament, but the rest of the field behind them has only one or two solid players they can count on.

Two teams that aren’t currently locked into the field of 68 have a possibility of getting at-large bids through their play this week. Colorado may be in regardless, but they can lock up an at-large this afternoon with a win against Oregon State. Arizona State is about the seventh or eighth team out of the tournament at this point, so anything short of three wins in Vegas will keep the Sun Devils in the NIT. They also need help from the contenders in front of them, meaning ASU fans should be rooting for quick exits by the likes of Iowa, Southern Miss, and Mississippi.

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Favorite: UCLA. Carrying the momentum off a regular season conference title, the Bruins come in as slight favorites for the tournament. They’ll likely face Arizona in the semifinals, a team they have more or less dominated in their two previous meetings. Any one of the top four seeds could win this thing (even the top five), but UCLA has the star power to carry them all the way through.

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Award Tour: The Ballot Is In and the Best Player, Freshman and Coach are…

Posted by DCassilo on March 12th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Believe it or not, when this all started guys like Mike Moser, Jamaal Franklin and Isaiah Canaan were in the top 10. But soon the top players in the country started to come into focus. Only four players (Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott and Deshaun Thomas) stayed in the rankings all season, while only one freshman (Marcus Smart) could say the same. And finally, below, we have those few players that separated themselves from the pack. The best part of it all is that as fun as this regular season was, it will likely only provide a small percentage of what we remember about college basketball this year. But before we get to the best part, here’s who is taking home the hardware.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
Regular season stats: 16.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG

Otto Porter Led the Hoyas to a Special Win (TheDaily.com)

Otto Porter Jr. has a lot to be excited about. (TheDaily.com)

In times of adversity, greatness rises, and that’s the primary reason Porter is the choice for the top spot. On January 8, the Hoyas’ second leading scorer, Greg Whittington, played his final game. It was a crossroads for Georgetown, who looked like they might be headed down the Big East standings very quickly. Instead, though, the team went 14-2 and grabbed the Big East title. Over those 16 games, Porter was unstoppable. He averaged 19.9 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while shooting at least 50 percent from the field in 10 of 16 games despite facing plenty of double-teams. And the Hoyas got the most out of their best player too. He played at least 39 minutes in each of his last five games.

What Porter was able to accomplish with such a thin supporting cast was remarkable. There was no Cody Zeller down low like there was for Victor Oladipo, and the Hoyas finished first in the Big East, not fifth like Trey Burke did in the Big Ten. He was the best player on Georgetown, and everybody knew it, yet they couldn’t stop him. Now he’s the best player in the country.

First Team All-Americans

  • Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
  • Trey Burke – Michigan
  • Victor Oladipo – Indiana
  • Mason Plumlee – Duke
  • Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga

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Pac-12 M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 12th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. The Pac-12 released its awards and “all-conference teams” on Monday, and I put that in quotes since the conference doesn’t care to follow one of the most simple rules of basketball. Regardless, end-of-the-season awards are always fun to review, so here we go. Leading scorer Allen Crabbe was named the Player of the Year in the conference, with Jahii Carson and Shabazz Muhammad named as Co-Freshmen of the Year. Oregon head coach Dana Altman took home the Coach of the Year award after leading his Ducks to a 23-8 record, and received the honor despite losing their final two regular season games to Colorado and Utah. In addition to Crabbe, Carson, and Muhammad, Spencer Dinwiddie, Solomon Hill, and Dwight Powell headlined the All-Pac-12 first team list. Kyle Anderson, Damyean Dotson, and Josh Scott rounded out the All-Freshmen team. To view the Rush the Court Pac-12 honors and all-conference teams from yesterday, click here and here.
  2. Additional news of a Spokane bar fight featuring several USC players broke on Monday afternoon, and not long after, interim head coach Bob Cantu announced that senior center James Blasczyk and junior forward Dewayne Dedmon had been suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule. In a statement released by the school, the program acknowledged the investigation into the alleged incident but refused to comment until more is known. There was an interesting statement from Spokane Police Officer John Gately, which said, “We had a large fight. We have not been able to find any connection to any sports team.” More on the situation will surely be released in the coming days, but the immediate reality is that the Trojans will lose their top rebounder for their opening Pac-12 Tournament game against one of the hottest teams in the league. Uh-oh.
  3. Washington State senior Brock Motum has dropped an average of 16.5 PPG against Washington so far this season, and Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar knows the big Aussie will be the biggest road block between his team and a quarterfinal match-up with Oregon. Even more concerning are the recent stats that Motum has been putting up — he’s scored 20+ points (including one 31-point outing) in three of Wazzu’s last four games, and has averaged 8.0 RPG in that timeframe.
  4. The Power Rank has an interesting tool for college basketball addicts, featuring an interactive projected NCAA Tournament bracket and breaking down the probabilities for each of the 68 teams to advance through the bracket. Using Jerry Palm’s projected bracket from March 7 and the site’s calculations from their own rankings, you can see the odds for your favorite team advancing through each round. The calculations say Arizona has the best chance of a Pac-12 team to win the national title, coming in at 2.1%. Oregon and UCLA are the next closest at 0.2%, and just as a point of reference, the team with the best chance of winning it all is at 12.8%, Florida.
  5. Colorado head coach Tad Boyle has never been angrier at a loss during his tenure in Boulder than he was after Saturday’s head-scratching, 64-58 loss at home to Oregon State. And for good reason, too, as the loss sent CU back to the bubble, a place they thought they were done with coming into the final week of the regular season. In an interesting twist, the Buffaloes now must face the Beavers again in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday afternoon, a game that could very well be a must-win in order for the Buffaloes to make the field of 68. On the other end of the court will be the Beavers, which even though they come into the tourney with a #12 seed, are riding some momentum for the first time in a month. Craig Robinson knows all about playing spoiler on Championship Week, as last year the Beavs knocked regular season champion Washington off the NCAA bubble with a quarterfinal win. If history repeats itself, Colorado fans will be wise to root against the likes of La Salle, Virginia, and Alabama in their respective conference tournaments this week, as losses by those teams would help its cause. Going off the same thread, an OSU win would likely mean a second straight trip to the CBI for the Beavers, while a loss could mean being left out of the third-rate tournament.

Steve Politi’s Sunday column in the New Jersey Star-Ledger contains some great anecdotal history from the Big East Tournament’s humble inception. To put this week’s highly orchestrated, sold-out event in perspective, consider the following. In 1981, the second year of the tournament, four ticketless Georgetown fans entered the bowels of the Carrier Dome donning various animal costumes, including a penguin suit. Each told oblivious security guards –– who had no clue what a Hoya was supposed to look like –– that he was the official school mascot. And astonishingly, it worked, which merely underscores how many of the league’s most intimate modern rivalries were predated by striking unfamiliarity, and forged only through time and competitiveness.

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The RTC Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

Earlier today we released our picks for the conference awards, handing out, among others, Player of the Year to Allen Crabbe and Freshman of the Year to Jahii Carson. Not surprisingly, those two players lead our picks for the All-Conference team as the only two players to wind up on the first teams of all four of our voters’ ballots. While the Pac-12 goes a little insane this time of year and somehow decides to put together a 10-man All-Conference First Team, we’re going to follow, you know, the rules of basketball and field a five-man team (with a second team for good measure).

First Team All-Conference

  • Jahii Carson, Freshman, Arizona State (17.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG) – Our Freshman of the Year, Carson led a resurgence for the Sun Devils, helping his team double its win total from last season and likely earning it a spot in some postseason tournament somewhere. He played 91% of his team’s minutes, and was a catalyst repeatedly for all of his team’s offense.
  • Allen Crabbe, Junior, California (18.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG) – Our Pac-12 Player of the Year, Crabbe paired up with backcourt partner Justin Cobbs to turn around the season for a once-floundering Golden Bears team helping reel off 11 wins in the team’s final 13 games to put them firmly in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Sophomore, Colorado (15.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG) – A skillful leader for Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, Dinwiddie earned a spot on the first team on two of our four ballots. Nearly equally adept at scoring from behind the arc or in the lane as he is at creating for teammates or getting to the line, Dinwiddie blossomed in his sophomore campaign.
Spencer Dinwiddie Took Over As The Buffaloes' Leader In His Sophomore Campaign (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

Spencer Dinwiddie Took Over As The Buffaloes’ Leader In His Sophomore Campaign (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

  • Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, UCLA (18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG) – The most-talked-about freshman in the nation, Muhammad came to Westwood with a reputation as a great scorer and he did not disappoint. The nation’s leading scorer among freshmen, Muhammad’s offensive punch was a key factor in UCLA’s run to the conference title. Muhammad was picked as a first team member by three of our four voters.
  • Dwight Powell, Junior, Stanford (15.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG) – A 6’10” jumping jack who averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season, Powell exploded into the upper echelon of Pac-12 players this season, establishing himself as a versatile threat with a promising future on his way to winning RTC’s Most Improved Pac-12 Player award.

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Pac-12 Postseason Honors

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

With the Pac-12 regular season now two days in the books and with the first Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on the immediate horizon, we’ve got a brief moment in time to look back at the regular season and wrap up all we’ve gone through over the past 10 weeks. And we’ll start that out by doing what every self-respecting college basketball writer is doing about now – handing out some awards. We’ll get to our all-conference teams a bit later today, but for now, let’s get right to it as Parker Baruh, Adam Butler, Andrew Murawa and Connor Pelton compile their votes and their reasoning as we go through all the usual postseason awards.

Player of the YearAllen Crabbe, Junior, California

Crabbe was a unanimous selection for this award, earning all four votes.

  • Connor Pelton: “He puts up the quietest 18.6 PPG you’ll ever see, but leading the conference in scoring is no small task. And to do it while bringing your team from the bottom fourth of the league all the way to an NCAA Tournament lock in the final month of the year is the icing on the cake.”
  • Adam Butler: “Allen Crabbe was the best player on the most surprising team. He’s the most feared offensive threat in the conference.”
Allen Crabbe, California

The Conference’s Leading Scorer, Allen Crabbe Is Also Our Unanimous Player of the Year. (Ben Margot/AP)

  • Parker Baruh: “A case can be made for Jahii Carson, but given Cal’s resurgence in the Pac-12, Crabbe being the leading scorer in the conference, and his spectacular 31 point, 12-of-15 shooting performance against Arizona on the road, the nod goes to Crabbe.”
  • Andrew Murawa: A month into the conference season, Crabbe probably wasn’t even on my radar for this award. Then came the 31-point explosion in a win at Arizona and the post-shove streak down the stretch against USC, all part of a seven-game winning streak for Cal that found Crabbe, in particular, playing his best ball of the season.”

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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 17

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

The regular season is behind us, so today we award our final weekly honors for the Pac-12. Doing a little housecleaning before we get to this week’s honorees, for the year, Arizona won our Team of the Week more often than anybody else, earning four nods, including three straight way back in the non-conference slate. Unfortunately for Sean Miller and company, they haven’t been the best team in the conference since Week 12, back at the end of January and the start of February. As far as Player of the Week honors, we’ve had 14 different players win the award at least once, with three guys earning two nods – Justin Cobbs, Allen Crabbe and C.J. Wilcox. The Newcomer of the Week has been slightly less muddy, with only 12 different players earning that nod. But that award has definitely been dominated by one guy – no, not Shabazz Muhammad, who only won the award once – but Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, who won the award five times this year, perhaps a hint at the winner when we announce our Freshman of the Year later today.

Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs Are Two Of Just Three Guys Who Have Won Our Player Of The Week Multiple Times

Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs Are Two Of Just Three Guys Who Have Won Our Player Of The Week Multiple Times

Team of the Week – Washington State

It took all year long, but somehow the Cougars have finally started to hit their stride just as the season ends. For the first time all season, they swept a conference home stand, dispatching both of the Los Angeles schools with relative ease. Even more impressively, they won both of those games sans guard DaVonte Lacy and with senior guard Mike Ladd only returning for the final game. The Cougs remain a long shot to do much damage in the conference tourney, but they sure are hitting their stride at just the right time.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.11.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Following UCLA’s terrible performance Wednesday night against Washington State, it looked like the Bruins had tossed away their chance to win the outright Pac-12 regular season title. But with a solid win over Washington on Saturday coupled with Utah upsetting Oregon, the Bruins went down as the Pac-12 champion for the first time since 2007-08. Following the game, the team assembled in the hallway at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, borrowed Washington’s 2011-12 conference championship trophy and staged their own impromptu celebration. While the team still has plenty of goals left to chase, for a day at least, expectations have been met and the criticism can maybe not cease, but at least pause.
  2. In advance of this week’s conference tournament, there is a chance that USC, already an underdog, could be playing shorthanded due to a case of late-season stupidity. There are reports out of Spokane that following USC’s Saturday night blowout loss to Washington State, “several basketball players” were “shouting anti-Spokane rhetoric” (which may well be my favorite phrase of the season) outside of a downtown bar. Fights (at least two) ensued and the end result was four people getting sent to the hospital. No names of players involved have been released as of Midnight on Sunday, but there are reports of a seven-foot, 260-pound center (there are three different USC players who could fit that general description) looking drunk and belligerent and who, according to the reports of an employee of one of the bars in the area, “basically admitted to hitting several people, including two women.” Stay tuned.
  3. Colorado’s conference tournament will start off with a rematch, as they’ll face a last-place Oregon State team that just beat up on them on Saturday. But prior to that game, Tad Boyle will make sure his Buffaloes show up in Las Vegas with something to prove. With Andre Roberson apparently in a battle with mononucleosis which may well end his season, Colorado is going to have to find somebody else to step up and lead this team as tournament play begins. Another point to think about: If the selection committee is going to make choices based on their current rosters, could CU get dinged and perhaps left to the NIT if Roberson’s season is in jeopardy?
  4. If Colorado can get out of that first round game with Oregon State, who will be waiting for them in the quarterfinals but their new-found rival, Arizona. The Wildcats slipped all the way to the fourth seed in this week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Vegas and we could be due for a tiebreaker. After January’s infamous Sabatino Chen monitor-reviewed shot, Colorado bounced back to easily handle the Wildcats in Boulder, but heading into the most important stretch of the season, neither team is playing particularly well.
  5. Later today, we’ll unveil our Pac-12 awards, just as the conference will. But if you want a preview as to what those awards might look like, Peter Yoon of ESPN LA has your rundown. He’s got Allen Crabbe sneaking out the Player of the Year award over Shabazz Muhammad and Jahii Carson, Dana Altman taking down Coach of the Year over Ben Howland and Mike Montgomery and Muhammad squeaking out a win over Carson for Freshman of the Year. Plenty of discussions could be have over all of these picks (and the rest of the picks Yoon makes), as none of the candidates are clear winners in any of the categories.
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Marching To Vegas: Time to Check the Monitors as the Regular Season Expires

Posted by AMurawa on March 8th, 2013

From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.

We set out on this march to get to Vegas to determine a champion. From our armchairs or the stands, we’ve watched and discussed and texted and blogged and done it all over again trying to determine the ins and outs of what’s proven to be quite the march. And if you’ll recall, it all began with Sabatino Chen’s shot. The one where he was frantically trying to not dribble out the clock of a tie game, the ball with him despite having connected on just a handful of career shots, let alone threes. He heaved the ball, right over Kevin Parrom’s outstretched arm – our eyes collectively following its trajectory, our breaths collectively held. Glass. Nylon. The officials would then see something on their monitor replays that perhaps the rest of us did not.

A Season That Started With This Suspense Has Seen Many Surprising Stories

A Season That Started With This Suspense Has Seen Many Surprising Stories.

Which is not unlike the fact that none of us saw Oregon making a run through Pac-12 play as the wire-to-wire conference leader. Projected to finish seventh, the Ducks have spent all of, what, one day not in first place? They’ve received POY-worthy efforts from Arsalan Kazemi and COY-worthy leadership from Dana Altman. Again, if we’re looking into our own monitors, we probably wouldn’t have seen this or even E.J. Singler hitting a season-long shooting slump or Dominic Artis’ MVP value. We also would have missed Arizona’s late season implosion – perhaps a bit steep of a word – but this is a team that was once 14-0 and ranked third among more than 340 D-I teams. Today they’re not third in their own 12-team conference. Never saw that coming. Or that the Wildcats’ own vaunted class of bigs would average just 6.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG.

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Award Tour: Burke vs. Porter, McLemore vs. Smart and Larranaga vs. JTIII

Posted by DCassilo on March 8th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

With just one regular season game to go, nothing is decided. It’s another example of how unpredictable this season has been. For Player of the Year, it’s down to Trey Burke and Otto Porter Jr. Both players have carried their teams and made everyone around them better. Then there’s Freshman of the Year, which is down to Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart. They are a couple of players who have been impacts guys from the opening game. And Coach of the Year? It’s Jim Larranaga’s to lose, but lately, it looks like he’s trying to lose it.

The final update of this will run on Tuesday of next week, so make sure to look out for it.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3 SPG

I’ve written about Smart so many times this season that I need to give myself a moment to step back and admire how well-rounded he is as a player. His 3.0 SPG are third best in the country. He’s a guy I’ll always want on my team.  This week: March 9 vs. Kansas State

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG

A rematch of this 2012 Final Four matchup highlights the best of the remaining Big Ten non-conference games.

Thomas and Withey are in the top-10.

Oddly enough, the Buckeyes have played their best basketball when Thomas has played his worst. Still, he’s scored at least 14 points in each game of this four-game winning streak. In most other conferences, he would be the Player of the Year. This week: March 10 vs. Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 7 RPG

You would be hard-pressed to find many players that are more efficient than Olynyk. The junior shot 68.8 percent from the field while attempting over 10 shots per game. It will be fun when the rest of the country figures out who he is this March. This week: Regular season over.

7. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.5 PPG, 8. RPG

It will go down as a disappointing year because of the expectations, but Zeller still improved his scoring and rebounding averages in his sophomore season. The most surprising thing, though, is that there is a Hoosier ahead of him on this list. This week: March 10 at Michigan

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 23.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG

McDermott closed the regular season out in style with 41 points against Wichita State. Although he will probably get a few first-place votes, what ultimately held him back was the struggles of his teammates. This week: Regular season over.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 6th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. So, yeah, quickly, the top candidates for the head basketball coach at USC: something like Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, interim head coach Bob Cantu and, um, former USC head coach Tim Floyd? Wait, run that last one by me again. Floyd is currently the head man at UTEP, a position he’s held for a few years after resigning from the USC gig (something about how he didn’t feel supported by then-USC athletic director Mike Garrett in the wake of allegations that guard O.J. Mayo accepted impermissible benefits from an agent). Floyd has long maintained a complete lack of involvement in the issue and plenty of investigations (both by USC and by the NCAA) have failed to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing on his part. Still, let’s not consider Floyd a leading candidate just yet. The meeting between Floyd and now-athletic director Pat Haden may have just been a way for the new AD to build a bridge over the bad blood in the wake of the parting, and Floyd, for his part, is using the surprising news as a way to get the word out publicly that “hey, I didn’t have anything to do with that.” Still, for a stretch there, Floyd put together four straight winning seasons including three in a row with 20-plus wins and NCAA Tournament invitations, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
  2. Across town, UCLA head coach Ben Howland let it slip, rather innocently and honestly, that Shabazz Muhammad was in all likelihood headed for the NBA Draft. And that’s not the only opinion he has on the state of the NBA, as he mentioned on Monday that he would prefer changes to the NBA’s eligibility rules that would end the one-and-done era. Howland’s plan would be similar to the rules presently used by Major League Baseball, whereby players would have the option to go straight from high school to the pros, but that once they wind up in college, they have to stay for a few years before being eligible again. Howland also knows that there’s not a chance that change gets made, at least anytime soon.
  3. Speaking of the NBA Draft, we posted our opinions here yesterday on the draft prospects of potential early entrants around the Pac-12, including Arizona State freshman guard Jahii Carson (we’re hoping he stays and develops a jumper). But Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek claims that he hasn’t given the idea much thought, preferring instead to focus on this season. Still, we’re not buying the idea that it hasn’t even crossed his mind. Cal’s head coach, Mike Montgomery, however, was right to the point when asked about Carson’s pro prospects: “Doesn’t shoot it well enough yet.” The key there may be the word “yet.”
  4. If Carson does stick around for another season in the desert, he’ll have a new competitor in the state at point guard, as Arizona will unveil Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell as their new lead guard. The Daily Wildcat sees a parallel between McConnell’s skill set and the skills of UCLA point guard Larry Drew II. Compared to present UA point Mark Lyons, McConnell is more of the traditional pass-first, shoot-second floor general (of course, compared to Lyons, Allen Iverson is more of a traditional point guard). As Wildcat fans begin to grow weary of Lyons’ all-or-nothing style, the future is starting to look real good, even if that envisioned future is based on little more than partial information.
  5. Lastly, as we look ahead to this week’s games, Washington may be out of the race for the conference title but it still has a chance for some input, as the Huskies will host UCLA on Saturday night. Head coach Lorenzo Romar is hoping that his team can finish the regular season in style. They’ve put together a 13-3 record in the final four conference games of the previous four seasons, and are well on their way to a repeat of that mark with two wins last week. But with USC and UCLA both playing well, the Huskies have their work cut out for them this week.
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Morning Five: 03.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2013

morning5

  1. One of the many traditions of March is the avalanche of columns on a couple dozen coaches that are probably already living legends, but Kevin Armstrong’s great article on Steve Konchalski may be one of the few that you read on one of the great underappreciated coaches in college basketball having already piled up 826 wins. If you are wondering why you have not heard of Konchalski it is because he coaches in Canada and frankly very few people in the United States are even aware of Canadian college basketball. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were more familiar with Steve’s brother Tom, a New York City scout who has been the subject of several articles recently. Still it a worthwhile read on Canada’s Coach K, who might be a tad bit more fiery than the American version as the finger-biting story will illustrate.
  2. Over the weekend Ben Howland created a mini-firestorm when he said that Shabazz Muhammad would be leaving for the NBA after the season. The idea that Muhammad would be turning pro was not exactly groundbreaking, but the fact that his coach would say that at the beginning of March raised more than a few eyebrows. Yesterday, Howland backed off those statements and apologized for saying that without having discussed it with Muhammad, who later said he is still deciding. We are not exactly sure what made Howland come out with those statements (or play beer pong over the weekend with UCLA students), but while it was a questionable decision we are glad to hear a coach open up every once in a while even if he is only stating the obvious.
  3. We have seen plenty of straw men arguments over the years, but this column by David Woods on whether Butler could miss the NCAA Tournament is pretty high up there. We are willing to acknowledge the fact that Butler’s play as of late would be considered spotty at best and the possibility that a program of Butler’s caliber might miss the NCAA Tournament is not exactly unique (see last year), but we doubt that a team that has knocked off the #1 and #2 teams in the polls (like Butler did with Gonzaga and Indiana earlier this year) would ever miss the NCAA Tournament. Although Woods acknowledges that the possibility is far-fetched we think he is underselling just how unlikely it is.
  4. One of the best parts of March is watching an unheralded team shock a powerhouse program and make themselves known to the nation. We would be hard-pressed to include Lehigh in that category this year after their stunning upset of Duke last March, but they had the potential to play the role of Cinderella this March if they were able to get C.J. McCollum back from injury. Unfortunately it appears that McCollum may not be back in time for the Patriot League Tournament, which would most likely mean the end of his college career. Lehigh fans can hold out hope for a surprise run to the Patriot League title without McCollum (they are still tied for 2nd without him), but if this is the last we have seen of McCollum it was a pleasure watching him play in a Lehigh uniform.
  5. We don’t appreciate the competition, but we do appreciate the thought behind SI.com’s new basketball blog “One and One” spearheaded by Andy Glockner. Although it is early in the blog’s life we are interested to see what writers who have traditionally focused on writing magazine-style pieces will produce in the more modern blog format. We aren’t sure how many of Sports Illustrated‘s other writers will join in (Luke Winn has produced his own blog in the past), but if Glockner’s “68 Reasons We Love College Hoops in March” is any indication we are hopeful that they can create insightful/humorous pieces.
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