2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Arizona Wildcats

Posted by BHayes on September 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

Sean Miller’s fifth season in Tuscon could easily turn out to be his best. Despite the graduation of key seniors Solomon Hill (a first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft), Mark Lyons, and Kevin Parrom – in addition to the surprising departure of freshman Grant Jerrett to the professional ranks, Miller has assembled the most talented roster that Arizona has seen in quite some time. A solid Pac-12 conference and challenging non-conference schedule will challenge the Cats’, but a nice blend of returnees and newcomers should give the man at the helm ample leeway to steer this storied program deep into March.

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more -- both on and off the court -- for this young but talented Wildcat team

Nick Johnson will be asked to do more — both on and off the court — for this young but talented Wildcat team

  • Team Outlook: This will be a new-look Arizona team, as last year’s squad was built around departed seniors Lyons and Hill. Some familiar faces will be back and poised to fill leadership roles this time around, with junior Nick Johnson (11.5 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.9 SPG) most prominent among them. The athletic two-guard shot the ball better from three-point range as a sophomore (39% after 32% as a freshman), and should also serve as the Cats’ best perimeter defender in 2013-14. Sophomores Kaleb Tarczewski (6.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 22.2 MPG) and Brandon Ashley (7.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 20.5 MPG) return to anchor the frontcourt, with each likely seeing a slight minutes increase, despite the arrival of a duo of freshman studs in the same frontcourt. Both Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were McDonald’s All-Americans last spring, and immense immediate contributions from both freshmen would surprise no one. Gordon especially shapes up as a good candidate for a jump to the NBA after a season of stardom in Tuscon, as he is currently projected as a Top-20 pick in the 2014 draft on NBADraft.net. Gordon’s production will be one of the keys to this Wildcat season, but he may not be Sean Miller’s most important player. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell (11.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.8 SPG in 2011-12) will be filling Lyons’ shoes and running the show in Tucson this season. McConnell was an efficient lead guard in the Atlantic-10 and should quickly acclimate to the Pac-12, but the absence of proven ball-handlers elsewhere on the roster means his transition has to be a smooth one for Arizona to be successful. He will be a welcomed change-of-pace for teammates used to the shoot-first Lyons dominating the ball, and his steal % of 4.7 (12th best in the nation in 2012) is ample indication of a dedication to both ends. The talented youngsters around him will keep expectations low for McConnell individually, but don’t be shocked if he emerges as the leader of this club. Read the rest of this entry »
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Andre Roberson Leaving Early: What Does It Mean For Him and Colorado?

Posted by AMurawa on April 29th, 2013

On Sunday afternoon, the final missing piece in the Pac-12 early entry decisions came down, as Colorado junior forward Andre Roberson announced his intention to bypass his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Roberson led the conference in rebounding the last two years (11.2 RPG in 2012-13, and 11.1 RPG in 2011-12) and was the Defensive Player of the Year, not only for his rebounding but also for his ability to match up with players at several different positions. Roberson had previously called a press conference for Friday to announce his choice, but cancelled that due to some remaining indecision. But now that the verdict is in, it will have a major impact on Roberson’s career going forward as well as the short-term prognosis for the Buffaloes.

Andre Roberson

The Pac-12’s Leading Rebounder The Last Two Years, Andre Roberson, Will Forego His Final Year Of Eligibility

For Roberson, it wasn’t a slam dunk choice. Yes, he’s an excellent rebounder and defender, but he’s still just a 6’7” small forward with a limited offensive game outside of the paint. As a result, he’s a borderline prospect at best – nobody projects him as a first round pick and there’s a strong possibility he will go undrafted in June. But that doesn’t mean he won’t have a future playing pro basketball. His athleticism and nose for the ball alone will make him a useful piece for somebody somewhere around the globe. But as far as his near-term NBA prospects? Project number one is to do everything possible to improve his inconsistent jumper. In his three seasons at Colorado, he hit a grand total of 50 three-pointers, with his long range average dipping from 38% in his sophomore campaign to 32.8% last season. Throw in an additional three feet in the NBA to earn that extra point and Roberson is clearly not a guy who should be expected to be a prolific NBA shooter in the immediate future. Still, if he can make strides in that area while focusing entirely on basketball over the next few years, he could be an NBA player in due time.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.12.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on April 12th, 2013

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  1. Steve Alford issued a statement yesterday apologizing for the way he handled the Pierre Pierce situation at Iowa. Alford constantly defended Pierce at Iowa after he was accused of sexual assault even after Pierce pled guilty. When Alford took over at UCLA last week, the topic came up once again when Dan Bernstein published a column entitled “Alford already lying at UCLA”. It was the right move for Alford to apologize, but it didn’t make sense that he waited nine years to do so.
  2. The Pac-12 has launched an independent review of the officiating that occurred at the Pac-12 Tournament this year. Even with Ed Rush’s resignation, the conference must determine whether the officials were influenced by external factors during the games in Las Vegas. Additionally, the review will focus on how to improve the officiating overall — a recurring hot topic among league fans. This is a step in the right direction for the Pac-12 given the inconsistent and often very poor officiating that occurred this season.
  3. Standout freshman Jahii Carson will return for another year at Arizona State. Carson was not going to be a lottery pick in this year’s draft and still needs to improve his jumper and scoring ability against bigger guards. With Carson’s return to Tempe, the pressure now will be put on Herb Sendek to produce results with his team. While Sendek has been in Tempe, he has only made the NCAA Tournament once in seven years, and that simply won’t cut it. The Sun Devils will lose Carrick Felix, but they return Jordan Bachynski and Carson and will need to make a run at the postseason.
  4. Tad Boyle said yesterday at his season-ending press conference that Andre Roberson is getting “misinformation” that may be preventing him from deciding on whether he will declare for the NBA Draft. Many projections have Roberson going in the second round and some have him possibly not even getting drafted at all. Boyle noted that this is a very different situation than that of Alec Burks two years ago, where it was almost certain that he would get picked in the lottery. There’s a lot more risk for Roberson as a result. If Roberson does decide to leave school, Colorado will be prepared to move on. The Buffaloes will return four starters, have a deeper bench, and bring in three talented recruits. If Roberson decides to stay, there will be a spot for him in the lineup and the Buffaloes could potentially be a Top 15 team with the 6’7″ forward around for another season.
  5. Kevin Parrom’s career at Arizona has officially ended. Parrom tweeted recently that he won’t apply for a waiver request that would grant him a fifth year of eligibility. There was a slim chance of this happening as Arizona was expected to appeal and include the adversity Parrom faced as a main reason for the player to receive another year. Parrom was shot and lost his mother and grandmother as well within a short period of time in 2011. In Parrom’s final season, he averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game — although he is unlikely to make a roster in the NBA, he certainly has the ability to play overseas somewhere.
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Pac-12 M5: 04.05.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 5th, 2013

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  1. Pac-12 coordinator of officials Ed Rush resigned on Thursday after it was revealed he put a bounty on Arizona head coach Sean Miller during last month’s Pac-12 Tournament. Multiple officials said that Rush offered $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if any official gave a technical to Miller during the tourney. The Wildcat coach ended up receiving his first T of the season in UA’s semifinal against UCLA, a game the Wildcats lost by two points. Conference commissioner Larry Scott announced earlier in the week that Rush’s comments were made “in jest” and that he wouldn’t be fired because of them. But after much national scrutiny and heat, Rush took care of things himself and avoided what would have likely been a mutiny among Pac-12 referees.
  2. Although an official announcement will not come until Monday, former Oregon State point guard Gary Payton will be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year. While in Corvallis, Payton was named the Sports Illustrated college basketball player of the year in the 1989-90 season. He also holds the Seattle SuperSonics’ franchise records in points, assists, and steals, and finished his career as a nine-time NBA all-star.
  3. Coming as a bit of a surprise yesterday was news coming out of Los Angeles that  UCLA has extended athletic director Dan Guerrero‘s contract through 2019. The extension comes on the heels of Guerrero’s hiring of new basketball coach Steve Alford, who comes from New Mexico fresh off a 29-6 record. He will receive $734,774 in base pay, with a 5% raise each year of the contract. Bonuses tied to academic and athletic achievements will also be available.
  4. Speaking of Alford, he’s got until April 29 to pay a $1 million buyout to New Mexico. Alford had just agreed to a new 10-year deal with the Lobos that would have been worth around $2 million a year. Under the new agreement, if Alford took another job prior to April 1, 2015, he or his new employer would owe the school $1 million. As the article states, UCLA officials said that Alford is responsible for the buyout, but that UCLA would help him work out the details.
  5. Jeff Goodman and CBS Sports released its initial list of postseason transfers from around the nation yesterday, and four of the 100 who were revealed will be leaving a Pac-12 institution. Junior shooting guard Jeremy Adams will be leaving Tad Boyle and Colorado, while Washington sophomore Martin Bruenig, who would have been in line for an increase in minutes in 2013-14, will also be departing. The other pair of transfers are freshmen; Kaileb Rodriguez of California and Justin Seymour of Utah.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.29.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 29th, 2013

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  1. Another day another UCLA coaching search update. With Shaka Smart officially out of the picture, talk about Butler’s Brad Stevens is starting to heat up. First, ESPN broke the completely obvious news that he is UCLA’s top target, while also briefly reporting that Stevens and UCLA were in contract negotiations. Later, FoxSports reported that Stevens was actually in Westwood in the middle of negotiations with UCLA. This report has not been confirmed anywhere, though. However, as should be expected of the calm and quiet Stevens, he’s not commenting on the job at all, other than to say he is still the coach at Butler. And all Butler president James Danko can offer is that he hopes his head coach stats. Elsewhere, N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried tweeted out that he is “committed” to staying in his current job, which really means nothing, as offering that statement does little but make him have to answer some tough questions if he were to wind up taking the UCLA job. Although you can probably read the tea leaves to find that Gottfried hasn’t received a whole lot of encouragement from those in charge of the UCLA search.
  2. One other thing on the UCLA coaching search: for some reason, writers tangentially associated with the Colorado program keep trying to float Tad Boyle as a candidate for the Bruin job. And for no apparent reason. Certainly he’s a fine coach and the job he has done taking the Buffaloes to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (and, let’s face it, it should be three straight – CU got screwed in 2011) while building up a passionate new fanbase is commendable. But the UCLA job search would probably have to go pretty poorly, with name after name passing on the job, before Boyle gets hired. Again, no offense to Boyle who I think the world of as a coach and expect to have a bright future, but at this point, as a “deranged buffalo” points out, he just hasn’t done enough quite yet to merit the attention of athletic directors at the six elite “blueblood” college basketball programs.
  3. Oh, and in case you forgot, the USC coaching job is also open, though there is nowhere near the speculation about it as there is across town. With some of the top candidates already out of the picture, names like Tommy Amaker, Tubby Smith, Tim Floyd, Mike Hopkins and, get this, Ben Howland, are at the top of the list.
  4. Speaking of coaching searches, Oregon head coach Dana Altman has been a party in a couple entertaining searches. First, there was the extended and wildly optimistic Oregon search that wound up landing Altman, only after like 600 (note: that number is only an estimate) other coaches turned down Nike U. But Pac-12 fans may have forgotten the 2007 debacle where Altman accepted Arkansas’ offer for their head coaching position, only to renege a day later after a change of heart. I only bring this up now because, (1) well, I needed an additional point for my morning five, but also because (2) it goes to show just how drawn out and dramatic these coaching searches can be and (3) it is a testament to how lucky Oregon is to have Altman, one of the best coaches in the nation.
  5. And, as we wrap up another week, we also wrap up the career of some great Pac-12 players, as Arizona’s demise in the Sweet 16 last night ends the college careers of Mark Lyons, Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill. Hill, for one, did not go down without a fight, as Bruce Pascoe writes. He scored nine-straight in the middle of the half to rescue the Wildcats from a rough patch spanning the half and to keep his team within shouting distance of Ohio State. While his career at UA is done, he does go down in the record books, tied with Kyle Fogg for most games played in Wildcat history.
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Rushed Reactions: #7 Illinois 57, #10 Colorado 49

Posted by WCarey on March 22nd, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #7 Illinois and #10 Colorado in Austin.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Colorado dug itself a hole in the first half. A major reason why the Buffaloes were unable to win this game was because they played terribly in the first half. Colorado should get credit for clawing back into the game – and briefly taking a lead – but it needs to be acknowledged that the first half was owned by Illinois. When Andre Roberson hit a jumper to trim Illinois’ lead to 24-21 at the 7:06 mark of the first half, that was the last time Colorado scored in the opening frame. The Illini went on a 13-0 run to finish the half and went into the half with what at the time seemed like a comfortable 16-point lead. The Buffaloes only shot 34.8% from the field in the first half and committed eight turnovers, which led to 15 points for the Illini.

    In a game defined by huge runs, Illinois ultimately tallied the biggest surge, giving its fans plenty to cheer about. (Getty)

    In a game defined by huge runs, Illinois ultimately tallied the biggest surge, giving its fans plenty to cheer about. (Getty)

  2. This was a game of pretty absurd runs. Illinois went on a 13-0 run to finish the first half. Colorado went on a 23-2 run to begin the second half. Illinois went on an 18-5 run to end the game. Usually it is pretty crazy when a game has one of the aforementioned runs, but this game had three of them and they occurred back-to-back-to-back. Both teams definitely deserve credit for fighting back from trends in the game that were extremely undesirable. Following the game Colorado coach Tad Boyle stated, “We ultimately just did not have enough,” which shows just how taxing the 23-2 run to get back into the game was for the Buffaloes.
  3. Illinois needs to play a lot better if it wants any shot of upsetting Miami on Sunday. The Illini were able to play with the fire and still get by Colorado, but if they want to pull the upset of a very good Miami team Sunday then they need to put forth a much more consistent effort. If Illinois allows Miami to go on a 23-2 run and only manages three field goals in one half, there is a very good chance it will be blown out by the Hurricanes. Guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are Illinois’ most important players and they were just a combined 8-of-26 from the field and committed a combined seven turnovers against Colorado. Miami has very strong guard play, so both Paul and Richardson are going to need shoot better and take better care of the basketball if the Illini want any chance of pulling the stunner.

Star of the Game. Brandon Paul, Illinois. Paul was just 3-of-12 from the field on the afternoon, but his very strong free throw shooting is what clinched the victory for the Illini. Paul finished 9-of-10 from the charity stripe and made 5-of-6 in the last 1:06 of the game. Paul’s strong performance from the line put the game out of reach for Colorado. D.J. Richardson was also considered, as his 11-point performance in the first half was a huge reason why the Illini were able to build a 16-point halftime lead.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.11.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 11th, 2013

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  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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Night Line: Buffs a Dangerous Team, Although Roberson’s Uncertain Status a Concern

Posted by BHayes on March 8th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Colorado has underachieved at times this year, but don’t look towards Thursday night for any further proof of that phenomenon. Even without Andre Roberson — their breathing, eating, walking double-double, the Buffaloes blasted the Pac-12 leading Oregon Ducks. The boys from Eugene will take their 23-point thrashing and now head to Utah, where focus for Dana Altman’s crew will shift to earning at least a share of the Pac-12 title. Back in Boulder much of the discussion will center around Roberson’s availability moving forward. Tad Boyle announced that a viral illness has the junior on the mend, with no official timetable set for his return. Roberson’s absence will surely have an impact – he is far too talented and effective for it not to. But if Thursday night taught us anything, it’s that these Buffaloes are more than capable enough to be a headache come Tournament time – with or without Roberson.

With Andre Roberson Sidelined, Tad Boyle Will Look For Even More Production And Leadership Out Of Spencer Dinwiddie

With Andre Roberson Sidelined, Tad Boyle Will Look For Even More Production And Leadership Out Of Spencer Dinwiddie

If the old cliché holds true and good guard play really does win in March, Tad Boyle has to feel pretty good about his odds this month. Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie may not be household names, but the duo makes up one of the best (and most underrated) backcourts in the country. Dinwiddie has seen his numbers rise across the board in his sophomore season, with his 15.2 ppg and 3.0 apg leading the team. He has struggled from the field of late –18-63 in his last five — but his ability to get to the line (and convert) has been a constant this season, as he has gone 39-43 from the stripe over that stretch. Same story for the dynamic lead guard tonight, with his 3-9 line from the field offset nicely by nine made free throws, seven rebounds, and six assists. His backcourt mate Booker is a more limited player, but the fellow sophomore chips in with over 12 points a game and is another capable ballhandler — a definite plus for a team with a relatively raw frontcourt.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.25.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 25th, 2013

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  1. Last week saw Washington State lose a dramatic game when an underclassman made a poor decision in the waning moments of the game. This week, Oregon State lost a tight one in part due to a poor decision made by an underclassmen in pregame warm-ups. You see, there’s this fairly ridiculous rule that makes dunking in the layup line prior to the game worthy of earning a technical foul against your team. Beavers freshman Olaf Schaftenaar, a guy well-known for his wide variety of aerial acrobatics (note to editors: please use the sarcasm font for that phrase), just couldn’t help himself and threw one down prior to the game. The refs caught the egregious act, penalized OSU with a technical foul, Allen Crabbe knocked down one of two free throws prior to the game, and the Beavers went on to, you know, lose by one. For a Beavers team that Ken Pomeroy currently has ranked as the third-least lucky team in the nation, Saturday’s bad luck reached ridiculous new lows.
  2. Arizona scored a couple of wins this weekend. First, on Saturday they coasted to victory over Washington State behind terrific shooting from senior Kevin Parrom, although head coach Sean Miller wasn’t entirely thrilled with his team’s effort. Then, on Sunday, Miller got a commitment from five-star recruit in the 2014 class, 5’7” point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The recruiting coup is not only a big score for what it brings to Tucson, it is also big because the Wildcats beat out Pac-12 rival UCLA for the Los Angeles-area product. Jackson-Cartwright will first play in the 2014-15 season at the same time that Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell plays his senior season in Tucson.
  3. Speaking of UCLA, junior forward Travis Wear missed Sunday afternoon’s battle with USC after spraining his right foot at the start of practice on Saturday. His brother David Wear got the start in place of him, while freshman Tony Parker saw a big increase in minutes and production as a result as well. Travis wore a walking boot on the foot during the game but was ambulatory without crutches and Ben Howland said after the game that he is considered day-to-day. Unfortunately, if the Bruins are going to get him back for their next game, he’ll have to be a quick healer, as they’ll host Arizona State in Westwood on Wednesday night.
  4. For some time now Arizona State has been right on the anticipated border between NCAA Tournament team and NIT participant, but the consensus was that the Sun Devils needed to finish strong in order to maintain that positioning. While they’ve still got cracks on the road at UCLA and Arizona, Saturday’s home loss to Washington may leave Herb Sendek’s team needing to win the Pac-12 Tournament in order to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. Freshman point guard Jahii Carson turned in one of his worst games of his young career, senior Carrick Felix was largely – and surprisingly – ineffective in his senior night, and once again, the poor free throw shooting from the Sun Devils helped conspire to leave them on the wrong side of the ledger at the final horn.
  5. The race for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award is well under way, with Arizona State’s Carrick Felix and Colorado’s Andre Roberson near the top of the list of contenders. Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle has begun making the case for his guy, by not only listing him as the top defender in the conference, but calling him the best defender in the nation. With guys like Aaron Craft, Victor Oladipo, Russ Smith and Jeff Withey already established and well-recognized as great defenders, there is little doubt that Roberson would fail to medal on the national stage, but in the Pac-12, his rebounding and his ability to guard multiple positions and make insanely athletic plays certainly has him on the short list for the conference award.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.20.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 20th, 2013

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  1. One side effect of the parity in the conference this season has been a lot of intensity as we head into the stretch run. We saw this most glaringly on Sunday night with Mike Montgomery’s now infamous “shove” of Allen Crabbe, but elsewhere around the conference there were more incidents. In Pullman, Oregon center Tony Woods was ejected for throwing an elbow to the head of Washington State’s Brock Motum. The Pac-12 reviewed the play and decided Woods would face no further suspension. Another pair of bigs got tangled up in Boulder on Saturday when Jordan Bachynski and Josh Scott fell to the floor in pursuit of a rebound. Scott wound up banging his head against the hardwood and sustaining a concussion from which he is still recovering. Colorado head coach Tad Boyle called that game the most physical game he has ever been involved in.
  2. It’s been a tumultuous season for UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, with an NCAA investigation delaying his debut and the flu catching up with him prior to the USC game back in January. Now, and again in advance of a USC game, Muhammad is dealing with pinkeye, which kept him out of practice on Tuesday. However, this issue isn’t expected to have any impact on Muhammad’s availability for Sunday’s game.
  3. Arizona State has compiled an 8-5 conference record largely on the strength of its starting five. Senior Carrick Felix leads the conference in minutes (38.3 minutes per night), while Jahii Carson and Jonathan Gilling both top out at over 36 minutes per game and are among the top five players in the conference in minutes. While head coach Herb Sendek admits that his heavy reliance on a small number of players is “a concern,” he doesn’t expect much to change for the rest of the year.
  4. Meanwhile, down south a little, Arizona head coach Sean Miller has been increasingly relying on a smaller number of players as well. And with his confidence in Jordin Mayes dwindling, Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson are becoming the only options in the backcourt for the Wildcats. However, unlike Sendek up the road, Miller may be ready for a change and could turn to freshman guard Gabe York for some spot minutes on the perimeter. York earned 16 minutes over the course of three games back at the turn of the month into February, but since then York has never left the bench in the last four games.
  5. Continuing the theme, Lorenzo Romar returned to freshman Jernard Jarreau this past weekend as an option off the bench. Jarreau won the starting power forward spot in preseason practice, but was ineffective while starting the first seven games of the season. Since then his role almost completely evaporated to the point where he played just 17 minutes over the course of six games prior to his emergence against Oregon State on Saturday. And Romar says Jarreau has earned a right to continue getting minutes in the hopes of building up his game to the point where he can be a contributor for the next three seasons.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.19.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 19th, 2013

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  1. The big item for the discussion around the Pac-12 is this: Early in the second half of a game against USC on Sunday night, Mike Montgomery greeted Allen Crabbe at the start of a timeout by getting in his face and shoving him in the chest in an effort to wake up his talented junior. As Montgomery said after the game, it worked, eventually. After continuing to float along for several minutes following the incident, Crabbe eventually caught fire at the end of the game and brought his Bears back from a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the Trojans. The Pac-12 officially reprimanded Montgomery for the incident, but the head coach will not face a suspension from the league or his employer. In the wake of the incident, everybody’s got an opinion about it ranging from the hyperbolic “it’s an outrage!” to the “no big deal.” Me? I think it is a big deal, but not necessarily because Montgomery’s behavior was shameful. The problem is, more than once this season now, Montgomery’s emotions have gotten the best of him as he has dealt with mercurial personalities such as Crabbe, Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon. If you’ve watched these guys float through games and underachieve as regularly as they have, you’ve probably wanted to shove them in the chest a time or two as well, even if you’ve got no rooting interest one way or the other. But for now, the hope is that this incident doesn’t overshadow the fact that all of a sudden, Montgomery is beginning to get production out of his group of kids, even if he’s using some unconventional and controversial methods to do so.
  2. In Salt Lake City Sunday, Arizona head coach Sean Miller unveiled a new starting lineup, featuring Kevin Parrom at the three, Solomon Hill at the four and Brandon Ashley moving to a reserve role. While nothing is set in stone, Miller says that he’ll probably stick with that starting lineup going forward. Miller notes that the move wasn’t made out of disappointment with Ashley’s production but rather out of a desire to get Parrom’s veteran leadership more actively involved in the lineup.
  3. Colorado’s Josh Scott suffered a concussion early in the second half of Saturday night’s loss to Arizona State when he and ASU center Jordan Bachynski got tangled up and fell to the floor. Scott took an inadvertent elbow to the head, left the floor and did not return to the game. Head coach Tad Boyle addressed the situation involving his talented freshman on Monday, saying that Scott will be fine but is currently considered day-to-day. Colorado next plays on Thursday night when it hosts Utah in a must-win game in Boulder.
  4. In a week that featured plenty of great basketball games, Saturday’s Washington State/Oregon tussle may have been the most entertaining. For 44 minutes and most of a 45th, the Cougars played the Ducks to a draw. Despite giving up an 18-point first half lead, the Cougs were still right there battling with the conference-leaders, as sophomore guard Royce Woolridge was going off in a career-day kind of way, including his sixth three-pointer that knotted the score up at 77 with just a handful of seconds remaining. As Oregon rushed up the court to attempt a last second potential game-winning shot, WSU sophomore Dexter Kernich-Drew intentionally (but inexplicably) fouled E.J. Singler, sending him to the line with under four seconds remaining. Singler made both giving the Ducks the win and Washington State players and fans are left wondering what exactly happened there.
  5. Lastly, just how good has Jahii Carson been this season for Arizona State? Well, compared will all the freshmen in the history of the Pac-12, he’s currently on pace to produce the 10th highest scoring average in the history of the conference. His 17.7 points per game comes in just shy of James Harden’s totals in his first season in the desert in 2007-08. Interestingly enough, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad is currently seventh on the all-time list at 18.5 PPG. Carson is also now just 22 assists shy of becoming just the 12th freshman in conference history to register 150 assists in a season.
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Pac-12 M5: 02.15.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 15th, 2013

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  1. Colorado got a big win last night against Arizona, avenging its controversial loss against the Wildcats earlier in the season by cruising to a 71-58 victory. The C-Unit reacted in joyous celebration, pouring onto the court as the final buzzer sounded to celebrate the top ten win with the Bufffalo players. In his post game press conference, head coach Tad Boyle said, “This is the last time we storm the court at home. We expect to win.” And while there is certainly no problem having confidence in your team, this is just the latest instance of coaches, players, and media personalities trying to limit court rushes and set parameters on how and when to do it. This needs to stop. Rushing the court is a spontaneous event in which you are just so happy that you have to share it with thousands of other students and the players that made you that way. WHO CARES IF IT’S UNWARRANTED? It doesn’t ruin court-rushes in the future, or take the specialness out of it. If one’s favorite team is about to pull a huge late-season upset, no one is going to stop and think in the final seconds whether Maryland’s storming after beating NC State was warranted. That’s because they’re ready to celebrate and have some fun. So please people, stop dictating and start rushing. Life will be a lot more fun.
  2. The rosters for the 2013 McDonald’s All-American game were released yesterday, and three Pac-12 signees/commitments will be taking part in the festivities. Rondae Jefferson, Jabari Bird, and Nigel Williams-Goss (signed or committed to Arizona, California, and Washington, respectively) are the three that will be playing Pac-12 ball season. Archbishop Mitty power forward Aaron Gordon will also play in the game. Gordon’s athleticism and ability to get to the rim make him one of the most sought after undecided prospects in the nation. He has narrowed his list down to Washington, Arizona, Kentucky, and Oregon.
  3. There is no doubt about it, Oregon basketball is back and relevant on a national level. It’s huge win at Washington on Wednesday clinched the Ducks third straight season with at least 20 wins, the first time that’s happened in Eugene since the 1935-1939 campaigns. Oregon’s gotten to this point by playing some incredible, in-your-face defense while starting point guard Dominic Artis has been out. Keeping the games low-scoring have keyed the current two-game streak the Ducks are on, and they have a pretty good chance to extend it to three on Saturday against Washington State.
  4. Is mediocre the right word to describe the Pac-12 this season? I don’t think so. It’s more of a case that anyone can beat anyone on any given night, resulting in some not-too-stellar conference records. In the Big Ten, the nation calls that great basketball. In the Pac-12, they use it as an excuse to put us down with the SEC in ranking of power conferences. Even the bottom of the league isn’t terrible. Washington State only lost by two to Gonzaga earlier in the season, Utah has dropped road games at BYU, Arizona State, and Arizona by a combined seven points, and Oregon State is probably the most talented tenth place team in the nation. Mediocre implies that this conferences boasts no good, just average teams. And while the Pac is far from their glory days, that’s just not true.
  5. Wednesday’s 60-55 upset over Arizona State was a big one psychologically for Utah, who may have been ready to call it a season if yet another second half lead was lost. The resilient Utes managed to knock down some key shots in the final two minutes, and mixed with some stellar defense and a loud student section, the Utes sent Arizona State to Boulder with a crushing blow to its tournament résumé. The key was staying calm and being patient, as too many times this season the Utes have gotten ahead of themselves and taken bad late shots. If they can continue this type of execution on Sunday against a reeling Arizona team, it might be time to start talking postseason.
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