Morning Five: 11.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. Over the years we have seen a lot of championship rings go on sale, but we cannot remember the last time we saw such an item from an active player on the auction block. So you can imagine our surprise when we saw an auction for a 2012 Final Four ring from Chane Behanan. Now on some level we can understand why Behanan would not have a specific attachment to a ring that might symbolize a loss to Kentucky when he has a championship ring from a year later, but we are almost certain this would be considered a violation if it is Behanan selling the ring based on what happened to the Ohio State football players and Oregon basketball players. We doubt that Behanan will admit to selling the ring so we are just wondering what excuse the Louisville administration will come with as to how this ended up on the auction block.
  2. There were a couple of interesting announcements yesterday. The one that will probably garner the most attention is Oklahoma State announcing that suspended guard Stevie Clark was not with the team “due to personal matters”. The school has not released any more information and the best insight into the matter that we have is that Clark’s mother agrees that he deserved to be disciplined. We have no idea as to when Clark will return to the Cowboys, but fortunately their schedule is so soft that they probably won’t need him for a while (they most likely will not play a ranked team until January 18). On the other end of the spectrum is San Francisco guard Cody Doolin who decided to leave the team “due to personal reasons”, which sounds similar, but suggests that the departure was of his own volition rather than being imposed upon him. Clark may be more well-known due to his team’s prominence, but the loss of Doolin, a senior point guard who was averaging 13 points and 7 assists per game this season will likely have a more detrimental effect on his team.
  3. Yesterday, Washington disclosed that Shawn Kemp Jr. had been diagnosed with Graves’ disease in September. We won’t get into the details of the disease (here’s a basic primer if you want information). We are also not sure what led the school to disclose the information since it is a fairly common diagnosis that is a benign condition if treated by competent medical professions, which Washington certainly has, and it has been nearly three months since he was diagnosed so we are not sure that it is particularly newsworthy outside of the fact that the school disclosed his medical condition without any apparent reason.
  4. We love the passion that college students bring to college games. It is one of the reasons we wish more early-season tournaments would play games at on-campus sites. Unfortunately sometimes those groups go overboard. One stark example of that comes from the Missouri student section where a group of students known as the Antlers were thrown out of their second game this season for yelling a variety of unimaginative, offensive things at opposing players. Our general tendency is to forgive people for doing stupid things, but based on what the group is saying with their Twitter account it is pretty clear that they don’t get it. At this rate we imagine that the group might eventually get banned from going to any sporting events at the school.
  5. We are still trying to figure out what Joe Nocera’s angle is at The New York Times where he appears to be spending quite a bit of time trying to be their NCAA attack dog (perhaps a book deal?). His latest article on ”The North Carolina Five” focuses on the state of North Carolina attempting to prosecute individuals for essentially acting as agents to players who were still in school at North Carolina. To be honest we are not that familiar with Nocera’s writing from before his current crusade, but his logic seems pretty weak in this article. If we have any issue with the state of North Carolina taking on these cases it is that they should probably be focused on more important things (like fake academic departments at state institutions).
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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.

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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.

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Pac-12 Report Card, Volume V: Solid Students

Posted by AMurawa on February 6th, 2013

Yesterday, Professor Pac handed out good grades to all his pet pupils. Today, he takes a look at a few students who might not be quite as pleased with their most recent grades.

Arizona State – B+

A pair of road games in Washington, a delayed flight out of Pullman to Seattle, and a split with the last game being at least partially decided on a very questionable no-call at the end? There’s no way I’m going to punish the Sun Devils too much for that week. Still, when you shoot, as they did against Washington — a nearly 75% effective field goal percentage — and still come away with a loss, you need to examine exactly what you missed on defense. ASU gave up better than 1.26 points per possession to an often uninspiring offensive team, got absolutely manhandled on the glass (the Huskies grabbed nearly 44% of their own misses and 92% of ASU’s misses), and were outscored from the stripe, 21-6. While there may have been a missed call at the end, the Sun Devils had plenty to do with their eventual demise.

Focus on: Ruslan Pateev.  Not long ago it was in fashion to marvel about how Pateev had come from being invisible in the non-conference to make a nice impact in solid minutes in the middle of conference play. Well, this past week we came to a combination of those two things, wherein Pateev played solid minutes and yet was still invisible. In 20 total minutes against the Washington schools, Pateev grabbed two rebounds and made his only field goal attempt. He’s not the sole reason the Devils got killed on the glass, but he certainly didn’t help much.

Looking ahead: The Sun Devils host Cal and Stanford this week at Wells Fargo Arena and, especially against a suddenly hot Stanford team that doesn’t see all that interested in playing a ton of defense, we could be on our way to seeing ASU both score and give up 90 points or more in a game for the third consecutive week.

After Missing Time Early With A Knee Injury, Shawn Kemp, Jr. May Be Fully Healthy Again (Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times)

After Missing Time Early With A Knee Injury, Shawn Kemp, Jr. May Be Fully Healthy Again (Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times)

Washington – B-

A home split is never a great thing; you want to be able to take care of business at home. But, a home split against the toughest pair of traveling partners in the league where the one loss came by four points to a team that is in the top ten in the nation? I’ll gladly show some mercy on the Huskies, especially since they showed some serious offensive punch against Arizona State.

Focus on: Shawn Kemp, Jr. After starting the season as a spectator due to a knee injury, it has taken some time for the sophomore forward to earn back some minutes in the Washington rotation. But I think we can safely say he’s back now. Kemp has scored 37 points in 65 minutes of action in his last three games making 17 of his 24 field goal attempts over that span while showing a good nose for the ball on the glass. Coupled with Desmond Simmons and Aziz N’Diaye up front, the Husky front line has turned what was a weakness early in the year into one of the team’s biggest strengths.

Looking ahead: The Los Angeles swing is next up for the Huskies, with UCLA on Thursday evening and USC on Sunday. They’ll need that frontcourt trio to bring it against the Bruins in order to exploit one of UCLA’s biggest weaknesses.

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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.
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Pac-12 M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 5th, 2012

  1. Tonight, prior to its game against Boise State, Utah will pause to commemorate the life of former head coach Rick Majerus, who died on Saturday night of heart failure. The university will observe a moment of silence, then they’ll show a video in the Huntsman Center celebrating Majerus’ time in Utah and the team will wear black patches on their uniforms for the remainder of the season. Later in the year, they’ll raise a replica of the white sweater that Majerus wore during his time there. The athletic department had tried to work out a time to have a ceremony for Majerus last season, while he was still a head coach at Saint Louis, but the two parties could never find a suitable time. Lastly, while there have been a lot of great remembrances of the coaching legend in recent days, it goes without saying that Utah fans, where Majerus enjoyed his greatest success, had a good perspective on the man, and Block U in particular laid down another in a long line of touching tributes.
  2. And speaking of the game against Boise State, that contest kicks off a big week for Utah, as they’ll also travel to face BYU on Saturday. Both games mark significant upgrades in terms of competition for the Utes, and they represent the clear high water mark of the non-conference schedule. Ken Pomeroy gives Utah a 17% chance of knocking off the Broncos and an 8% chance of winning in Provo, but more important to the program may not be the focus on earning any Ws this week, but playing up to their potential and showing improvement from last week’s split of a two-game road-trip to Texas to face SMU (a seven-point loss) and Texas State (a five-point win).
  3. On Monday, we handed out our Pac-12 Player of the Week award to C.J. Wilcox of Washington, but the official POTW award went to Arizona State’s Carrick Felix, who averaged 21 points, nine boards, nearly five assists and a couple of blocks in a pair of wins for the Sun Devils. He was the first ASU player to earn the honor since Ty Abbott won it in March 2011. After a bumpy first couple of seasons in Tempe marked by great athleticism but poor shooting, Felix has dialed in his long-range jumper in a big way this season, hitting nearly two threes a game at a 44.4% clip. As Doug Haller reports, head coach Herb Sendek attributes Felix’s improvement to perseverance and “habits of excellence” as well as understanding his strengths and being comfortable with who he is on the basketball court. Throw in the fact that Felix, a senior now, is surrounded by the most talent he’s seen in his time at ASU and there’s a good chance this run at the start of the year is not just a fluke, but the new normal.
  4. Washington has been without the services of Scott Suggs since before Thanksgiving, and they’ve been without Shawn Kemp Jr. for the entire year. But, both are nearing their returns, and if they can get through practices on Thursday and Friday without any adverse affects (a big if), they will be ready to play on Saturday against Nevada. Kemp tore a patellar tendon in his right knee back in October, and even if he is available for Saturday’s game, it will likely be for limited minutes. Suggs, who has been struggling with plantar fasciitis, is a better bet to play on Saturday, but head coach Lorenzo Romar warns that Suggs’ injury is one that could linger throughout the season.
  5. Finally, Scott Gleeson of the USA Today asked the question yesterday, is the Mountain West better than the Pac-12? Gleeson came up with the right answer, which is, “of course!” And he could have gone a step further with, “and it has been for at least three years now.” But despite three MW teams in the Top 25 compared to just one for the Pac-12 and a current 4-2 advantage on the season, we’ll get a clearer answer to the question this week as we’ll see five different match-ups between the two conferences. We already mentioned the Utah/Boise State game tonight, but there are a pair of other contests between the conferences tonight, as Colorado State visits Colorado and USC visits New Mexico. Then, over the weekend, we’ll see a couple more games, with Nevada traveling to Washington on Saturday and UNLV visiting California. And, there will be at least three other match-ups (and potentially a San Diego State/Arizona Christmas present in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic) between the conferences prior to the start of 2013, giving a large enough sample to declare a winner in the unofficial Pac-12/Mountain West Challenge. My guess on the final tally? The Pac-12 finishes strong and pulls out a 9-6 record in the long run, with Colorado getting back on track tonight against Colorado State and California scoring a key win over UNLV on Sunday.
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Pac-12 M5: 11.26.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 26th, 2012

  1. Things are getting bad up in Seattle. Washington has dropped three of its last four games, and hasn’t won a game in regulation since its opening night back on November 11. Being outplayed on the boards, by a HUGE margin, has been the main problem for the Huskies. Combine the poor effort on the glass with injuries to the likes of Scott Suggs and Shawn Kemp, Jr., and the Dawgs are off to a worse start than the one we saw last season. That campaign saw losses to Saint Louis, Nevada, and South Dakota State all before Christmas. Hopefully Washington gets more competitive as we roll along up until Pac-12 play, if only to help the rest of the conference’s overall RPI. And to help me look better too, as I picked UW and Aziz N’Diaye to be the surprise team/player in the conference this year.
  2. In its first game since the loss of senior center Angus Brandt to a torn ACL, Oregon State took advantage of its lone, pre-Kansas warmup game by outlasting Montana State yesterday. It was “fill-in by committee” for Craig Robinson’s squad, with nearly everyone tasked to the job stepping up nicely to lead the Beavers to a 13-point victory. An energized Joe Burton saw increased touches on his special “N7″ night at Gill, and he responded by pouring in 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman forward Olaf Schaftenaar even came off the bench to drain a trio of triples, his first points of the season. The Beavs now have five days to prepare for their meeting with Kansas on Friday night in Kansas City.
  3. A pair of technical fouls in the final two minutes of the game doomed USC’s chances in the Pac-12′s only game against a ranked opponent yesterday. After a terrible first half in which the Trojans only managed 23 points, Eric Wise led the team to a 18-4 run coming out of the locker rooms to cut the deficit to two. The comeback would prove futile, however, as San Diego State pulled out a key interconference 66-60 victory at the Galen Center.
  4. CBSSports’ Matt Norlander sums it up perfectly with this column after UCLA was upset by Cal Poly last night in Los Angeles. Quite frankly, it’s time to panic in Westwood. Of course, Ben Howland has lost some head-scratchers in the past; defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount, Middle Tennessee, and Montana come to mind, but there’s always been some excuse to explain it. Not this time, not with guys like Jordan Adams, Shabazz Muhammad, and Travis Wear out on the floor. If the Bruins can’t find a way to salvage a split of their next four (Cal State Northridge, San Diego State, Texas, Prairie View A&M), the local grumblings for Howland’s job will start being heard nationwide.
  5. Sunday had already gotten off to a bit of an inauspicious start for UCLA when it was announced that junior guard Tyler Lamb would be transferring. Lamb had trouble working his way back into the rotation after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October. And with the clearance of Muhammad by the NCAA a little over a week ago, it was widely understood that Lamb would receive very limited action in 2012-13. Lamb did not specifically specify a reason for the move, nor did he release any names of schools he’d be interested in, but the wing averaged 9.o PPG as a sophomore in 2011-12 and will presumably be a nice pick-up for some enterprising team.
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Pac-12 M5: 11.07.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 7th, 2012

  1. In an election night shocker, word came out of Los Angeles last night that Shabazz Muhammad could be available to play in UCLA’s opener on Friday night against Indiana State. No Bruins fans, this breaking news doesn’t have anything to do with the NCAA clearing the heralded freshman but rather more to do with the fact that he may be ahead of schedule in his return from a right shoulder strain. You see, NCAA rules allow for a 45-day window during which players who are under NCAA investigation may play with their teams. And Muhammad didn’t get the clock started on that window until about a month ago. So, as long as his shoulder cooperates, Muhammad may have a chance to play in games against Indiana State, UC Irvine and James Madison, possibly even the Georgetown and Indiana games of the Legends Classic (although, really, don’t get too greedy, Bruins). As for his longer-term prognosis, there is still no timetable for an NCAA decision, although at least NCAA investigators did finally get around to talking to Muhammad’s parents last week.
  2. Just yesterday we ran off a list of Huskies pressuring Desmond Simmons for the starting four-spot for Washington. Well, news broke yesterday afternoon that one of those guys – Shawn Kemp Jr. – is out of the running for now, as he’ll be laid up for the next six to eight weeks as the result of a torn patellar tendon. As Lorenzo Romar put it, this injury “doesn’t impact the rotation, but it impacts a guy that was turning the corner.” In other words, the Huskies were planning on rotating four guys at the two big man spots. With Kemp’s injury, Desmond Simmons, Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig are all locked into significant roles alongside starting center Aziz N’Diaye.  Unfortunately, now Kemp, who was by all accounts starting to display a solid offensive game, will lose out on not only a couple months worth of practice, but will also miss out on the invaluable game experience and chemistry-building that occurs in the non-conference schedule. Still, he should be back in time for the conference slate, and unless Simmons, Jarreau or Breunig really impress, Kemp should have the opportunity to earn playing time once he returns.
  3. Another guy we talked about yesterday was Kaleb Tarczewski, the Arizona freshman center who had an impressive game in the ‘Cats first exhibition game against Humboldt State. Well, last night Zeus didn’t have quite as much success against Chico State, struggling to get any rhythm going, scoring just seven points, failing to grab a rebound, and fouling out midway through the second half. While he’s clearly got lots of upside, he’s going to be a work in progress throughout the year, while fellow freshmen Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley may be more apt to be serious contributors early.  The other big question for the Wildcats is how well Mark Lyons will fit in at the point, a question that may linger for some time. While Lyons did score 20 on seven-of-nine shooting last night, he only handed out three assists.
  4. Oregon wrapped up its exhibition season on Monday night with a 17-point win over Southwestern Oklahoma State that was largely unexceptional except for one point that is becoming clear: Dominic Artis is gonna be the man for the Ducks. Sure, E.J. Singler is a veteran who will do plenty of dirty work and make key plays for Dana Altman’s squad, but Artis led the Ducks in scoring in both exhibition games and had the ball in his hands all the time. So long as he can keep from turning it over, it appears that he’s going to get a long leash this season.
  5. For some reason, it seems like Mike Montgomery has been at California a lot longer than four years. But, in fact, his first year in Berkeley was Jorge Gutierrez’s freshman season. So, for the first time in his tenure there, the Golden Bears begin a season without their fiery guard on the roster. No matter though – Montgomery has a pair of veteran guards who are more than capable of filling in for the departed Gutierrez in juniors Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. Both are good scorers, and Cobbs in particular is relishing the chance to take over Gutierrez’s role as the team’s best perimeter defender, but Montgomery points out that they’ll also need to act as playmakers by getting other guys on the team involved in the offense. Case in point was last night in an exhibition against San Francisco State, as Crabbe, Cobbs and fellow veteran guard Brandon Smith combined to score 31 of Cal’s first 34 points. On one hand, that’s great production out of the starting backcourt; on the other hand, at some point you’ll need to get some kind of help out of your big guys.
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Morning Five: 11.07.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 7th, 2012

  1. The NCAA came down hard on one of this year’s national title favorites and it probably isn’t the one that you expected. Yesterday, the NCAA announced that it was suspending two of Indiana‘s top incoming freshmen – Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin – for nine games each because they received benefits in high school from a man the NCAA deemed an Indiana booster. Pretty simple case, right? Not exactly, since the booster obtained his status by giving Indiana $185 over 20 years ago. As you can imagine, quite a few people are up in arms over this including at least one notable Kentucky fan who has been known to use the #iulol Twitter hashtag on more than one occasion, but who now is willing to wield a pitchfork alongside his Indiana brothers. For what it is worth, Indiana will appeal the ruling and perhaps the suspensions could be reduced but there’s no telling what to expect with such a strange case.
  2. According to a report from The Los Angeles TimesUCLA may be getting a special opening night surprise on Friday with the possible return of Shabazz Muhammad from a right shoulder strain and a temporary reprieve from the NCAA’s investigation into his family’s financial dealings. The recovery from the right shoulder strain should not need any explanation (when he is healthy, he is ready to come back), but the NCAA issue is a little more tricky as the rules allow a player to practice and play with a team for 45 days while the NCAA goes through its investigation. Muhammad started working out with the Bruins approximately a month ago so he would have about two more weeks to play with the team before his window runs out. While this is a possibility we don’t think it would be wise for the UCLA coaching staff to introduce a player who they know may not be eligible for some early season games given the chance that he may not be playing with them again for quite a while.
  3. Apparently the weather in San Diego isn’t perfect all the time as a chance of rain has led the the promoters of the Battle of Midway to postpone the game between Syracuse and San Diego State from Friday night to Sunday. While the decision to move the event back two days was made to keep the event outdoors rather than forcing it into a more mundane indoor environment, it will likely create a variety of issues for individuals who were travelling to the game and for the networks intending to broadcast the game. Early reports indicate that a variety of cable networks will still show the game, but likely to a much smaller audience (competing against the NFL). Given the events of the past few weeks we have become accustomed to sporting events getting postponed due to inclement weather, just usually not a basketball game to the risk of a shower.
  4. We usually don’t comment on injuries to players who averaged 1.6 points and 0.8 rebounds per game last year, but most players are not named Shawn Kemp Jr.  either (passing on the easy paternity jokes). The Washington sophomore forward was expected to have a greatly expanded role this season, but a torn right patella tendon is expected to keep him out for the next six to eight weeks. That timetable should allow him to return for most of Pac-12 play, but until then the Huskies will have to rely on several other players whom Kemp was expected to split minutes with this season. If Kemp returns and becomes an offensive force down low for the Huskies it could be a big boost for a team that lacks much of a consistent inside offensive presence.
  5. George Mason suspended a pair of sophomores – Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray – for three games each because of “student-athlete conduct violations.” Losing a pair of players who averaged a combined 7.1 points per game last season for a few games is not a significant setback, but it could cost the Patriots later in the season from an RPI perspective as the duo will miss games against Virginia, Bucknell, and Mercer. The latter two games should be relatively comfortable wins even without the extra depth that Copes and Gray provide, but the season opener against in-state rival Virginia is another story, and if the Patriots lose the game and wind up on the bubble on Selection Sunday it may be a game that their fans look back on ruefully.
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Pac-12 M5: Election Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 6th, 2012

  1. Hey, you might have heard about this presidential election thing that is happening today. What with the complete lack of commercials on television, advertisements coming in the mail and signs in front of my neighbors’ houses, I almost forgot about it myself, but I guess it’s true. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson is the brother-in-law of the guy who currently holds that office, and while he’ll be heading to Chicago to hang out with President Obama and his wife Michelle tonight, the Beaver team doesn’t exactly get to play hooky. Instead, it is business as usual for OSU as it prepares for its opener Friday night against Niagara.
  2. Beaver fans got a good first glimpse of their team on Sunday night when Oregon State hosted Lewis & Clark in an exhibition at Gill Coliseum. The highlight for the coaching staff was the team’s defensive effort, especially from their four newcomers, as they held their opponent to 58 points in 68 possessions. Given how bad the team was on the defensive end last year, that’s a very good sign, even against a clearly inferior opponent. Unfortunately, even against a clearly inferior opponent, the team was not very good on the glass, allowing Lewis & Clark to grab 18 offensive rebounds (40.9% OR). Cleaning the glass on the defensive end was another significant weakness for last year’s team, so you can bet that improving there will be a point of emphasis in practice over the next few days.
  3. During the waning weeks of last year’s 6-26 season, there were some USC basketball fans (yes, a handful of those do exist) calling for the head of coach Kevin O’Neill. However, athletic director Pat Haden looked at all the extenuating circumstances and the overall direction of the program and determined that O’Neill deserved another chance. Now, with a roster almost completely remade by transfers and players returning from injury, the expectation is that the Trojans will be greatly improved. And, it had better be, writes Michael Castillo, because this season may determine O’Neill’s long term viability in Los Angeles.
  4. After playing last season with a starting frontcourt that featured a 6’7” Jesse Perry ostensibly playing center, Arizona is looking forward to life with an imposing frontcourt. The crowning jewel of Arizona’s top five recruiting class last season was seven-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, and he lived up to expectations in the Wildcats’ exhibition game with Humboldt State, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 boards while playing against an overmatched Division II opponent. However, for a guy whose role will be almost solely down on the block, he’ll still need to prove that he can score over, rebound against, and defend bigger and more athletic competition than what he faced last week. For instance, in the Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage, “Zeus” struggled against the tougher competition, picking up three early fouls as he adjusted to the speed of the game. While he’s got a bright future ahead of him, it remains to be seen just how quickly he’ll develop in the desert.
  5. With stars Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross gone early to the NBA draft, Washington may not be in rebuilding mode but they do have plenty of questions that need to be answered in the early part of the season. Percy Allen picks the five biggest ones, asking who is going to help Aziz N’Diaye rebound the basketball, and a related question, who is going to be the fifth starter? Desmond Simmons started the Huskies’ exhibition game, but he’s got three different guys – Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau, and Martin Breunig – all chasing him for that spot. Another big question is whether the new and improved chemistry around the program could help their defensive weaknesses. Part of their struggles on defense last year could be tied back to Wroten’s tendency to gamble and find himself out of position, but his athleticism and playmaking abilities were undeniable. Senior Scott Suggs will be taking Wroten’s spot and could be a defensive upgrade in that position for UW.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington Huskies

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington Huskies.

Strengths: Overall, the Huskies have a solid group of guys. They won’t be as explosive as last year, but a report from the Seattle Times has noted that this year’s team has better chemistry. That probably is due to the presence of Abdul Gaddy, who has really developed into a solid floor general and knows how to find his teammates while taking care of the basketball – his 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio was second in the Pac-12 last year. One such teammate who will be a benefactor of Gaddy’s decision-making is C.J. Wilcox, who is one of the best pure shooters in the country. Now a junior, Wilcox shot 40 percent from downtown last season, good for ninth in the conference. He will be joined on the wing by Scott Suggs, another good shooter who is returning from a broken foot that forced him to redshirt last year. The Huskies also have one of the most physically imposing returning big men in the Pac-12, as seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye will patrol the paint for head coach Lorenzo Romar, who will transition this year’s team to a high-post offense. That’s a good move for the 2012-13 Huskies, as they are more suited to play in a more structured half-court set than the typical motion offense they ran in previous years. It also doesn’t hurt that the Huskies play in Alaska Airlines Arena, which gives the Huskies a huge home court advantage; in fact, the Huskies have won more games at Hec-Ed than any other NCAA team has won at a single facility.

Wilcox Has No Problem Knocking Down Jumpers With Defenders On Him, But It’s Even Easier When No One Is Within A Five Foot Radius (credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses: Washington loses a ton of firepower in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, both of whom left early to become NBA first round draft picks. The loss of the duo is probably as good of a reason as any to move away from a motion look, because these were the two guys who really made the Huskies go. However, the Huskies lost more than just firepower with these guys; they also lost a lot of the patented “U-Dub swag” that has been a feature of Romar-coached teams in recent memory. This is where the loss of Darnell Gant also comes into play, as he probably played to the Hec-Ed crowd as well as anybody on the Huskies. With the power forward spot up for grabs, in addition to losing three of the four guys who averaged five rebounds a game or more from last year, defensive rebounding could turn into an issue for this team; as it was, the Huskies finished eighth in the Pac-12 last year in defensive rebounding percentage.

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Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

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