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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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 13

Posted by AMurawa on February 11th, 2013

Here’s another installment of the weekly Pac-12 honors, as handed out by the Pac-12 microsite.

Team of the Week – Colorado

All season long, the Buffaloes have had problems closing. Dating back to the Charleston Classic when they did their best to give away their semifinal game to  Baylor, continuing most famously through the Arizona game and on several other occasions, end-game scenarios have been downright scary for Tad Boyle’s club. Coupled with the truth that the Buffs have struggled in their two Pac-12 seasons on the road (a record of 4-10 coming into this weekend), the fact that this team went on the road to the Oregon schools and came away with two hard-fought wins in which they performed admirably down the stretch shows that the Buffaloes are indeed making progress — a hallmark of Boyle-coached teams. Against Oregon on Thursday night, a game-winning bucket by Andre Roberson was a good metaphor for this squad’s whole week. After getting his layup attempt swatted from behind by Arsalan Kazemi, Roberson persevered by grabbing the ball and putting it back in for the go-ahead win. On Sunday night, Spencer Dinwiddie was the CU hero, making all of his shots on the night (6-of-6 from the field with four threes, and 8-of-8 from the line) and providing a calming presence down the stretch. With their chance at revenge against Arizona coming up this week in Boulder, the Buffs have a chance to put themselves squarely in the middle of the Pac-12 race.

Allen Crabbe, California

Allen Crabbe’s Big Second Half Helped Cal Knock Off Arizona on Sunday Night (Ben Margot/AP)

Player of the Week – Allen Crabbe, California

When Crabbe’s got it going, he’s one of the nation’s elite scorers. And Crabbe definitely had it going on Sunday night. He and his Golden Bears had a decent first half against Arizona; he scored 12 and Cal was within five of the nation’s #7 team at the break. But the Cal wing earned this honor as a result of what happened after halftime. Crabbe scored 11 points before the first media timeout in the second half as the Bears put together a 17-2 run from which they would never look back. As the half progressed, every time the Wildcats got back within striking distance, Crabbe would hit another big shot, twice drilling threes after Arizona pulled within four then hitting a big jumper late after the ‘Cats had pulled within two. All told, Crabbe wound up with 31 points on the night, missing just three three-pointers out of his 15 attempts from the field. For the week, Crabbe averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a block per game, all while shooting a 63.6% effective field goal rate.

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Pac-12 Report Card, Volume V: The Delinquents

Posted by AMurawa on February 6th, 2013

Professor Pac isn’t pleased with all of his pupils. Four teams will be spending time in detention this week for their misdeeds in their most recent performances.

Washington State – D+

Two home losses equal the Cougars third D+ of the year. A really, those grades have probably only been that high out of pity.

Focus on: Brock Motum. There are plenty of problems around Pullman, but perhaps the biggest one is the lack of enough offensive playmakers to create quality looks for and distract opponents from focusing on Brock Motum. While the senior Aussie has still produced at a laudable rate (he’s averaging 18.3 points per night and hasn’t failed to score in double figures yet this season), he’s had to put in much more work to accomplish what he has and as a result, his efficiency has suffered.  Only twice in conference play has he delivered a game with an eFG% better than 50% and he’s probably spending too much time bombing from three.

Looking ahead: The Cougs travel to the Los Angeles schools this week where they’ll need Motum to get help from guys like Mike Ladd, DaVonte Lacy, and Royce Woolridge to have a chance at a successful weekend.

Brock Motum, Washington State

Brock Motum Has Been Putting The Ball In Bucket Regularly, But Needs More Help From His Teammates (Dean Hare/AP)

Oregon State – D+

Five weeks into conference play and this is the Beavers’ second-highest weekly grade. Suffice it to say, this semester is not going well for them. This week they got solid offensive performances, rebounded the ball particularly well and still, just couldn’t stop anybody, giving up 1.23 points per possession. For the year, the Beavers have far and away the worst defense in the conference; they’re the only team in the conference with an adjusted defensive efficiency higher than 100. And that’s happening with two of the longest, most athletic, dialed-in defensive players in the conference in Eric Moreland and Devon Collier. Craig Robinson has been mostly trying to play man-to-man defense, but this weekend we saw much more of his 1-3-1 defense. With Moreland at the point of the attack here and with the ability to sort of hide Joe Burton in the middle, this may be the best solution for the Beavers.

Focus on: Joe Burton. Speaking of Burton, he may not be even remotely useful on the defensive end, but he sure is a fun watch when the Beavers have the ball. He’s got the prototypical old man game. I’m not sure he could leap over an iPhone, but he does a great job of carving out space for himself with his 300-pound frame, he’s got great vision, he’s capable of making spectacular passes and will occasionally even break out the sky hook. This week he averaged 15.5 points, nine rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Yeah, so he probably assisted in giving up 30 points a game, but it was entertaining at least.

Looking ahead: The Beavers have 11 losses, but only once all season (the Pac-12 opener against Oregon) have they lost by more than ten points. In other words, they’re going to keep things close, they’re going to play entertaining games and they’re going to continue to be worth watching. And, somewhere along the line here, they’re going to string a couple of wins together, even if by accident. This week they host Utah and Colorado. They can win those games.

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Pac-12 M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 16th, 2013

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  1. We are still probably a couple months away from when USC will announce its next head coach, but everybody’s got an opinion about who that might be. I tossed out the usual suspects and a few sleepers a few days ago, but Andy Katz, who’s certainly far more tied in than I, has a few interesting big name possibilities of his own: Texas’ Rick Barnes, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Washington’s Lorenzo Romar. Katz’s reasoning is that these are all guys who might want to get out of their current jobs ahead of getting fired in exchange for a nice brand new contract and a new landscape, citing Herb Sendek as a real pioneer in this field. While I don’t see Romar as approaching the hot seat yet (although, if he doesn’t land Aaron Gordon, maybe we can talk about that possibility approaching), it is an interesting angle. And, given that Romar is a native southern Californian, anything is possible.
  2. Whoever winds up in the USC job is going to have to do a much better job mining the copious amounts of basketball talent in the Los Angeles area than Kevin O’Neill ever did. In fact, they’re probably going to have to do a better job than even Ben Howland is currently doing at UCLA. As friend-of-the-blog Adam Butler writes, those Los Angeles schools have done a terrible job in recent years keeping elite local talents at home, citing guys like James Harden, Jordan Hamilton, Kawhi Leonard, and Derrick Williams as kids who got away. If Pat Haden can find a guy who can simply land a handful of the high quality recruits right in his own backyard, he has the opportunity to shift the landscape in the Pac-12. And really, everywhere out west.
  3. In the wake of UCLA’s road trip to the Rocky Mountains that coincided with a big snowstorm, the team’s MVP for the week goes to not Shabazz Muhammad, not Kyle Anderson, not Jordan Adams, but… the bus driver? As Rahshaun Haylock of Fox Sports West reports, the Bruins were in danger of not making it to the arena due to adverse weather conditions and a well-placed hill. But the driver saved the day with a lead foot and an iron constitution.
  4. Colorado was UCLA’s last victim on its recent road trip, and in the wake of three losses in four games, the Buffaloes are trying to do everything they can to right their ship, including a players-only meeting on Sunday initiated by Sabatino Chen and Andre Roberson which ran for 30 minutes. The coaches too are trying to figure out what they can do to shift the tide, but one thing Tad Boyle is longing for is the leadership ability of departed senior Nate Tomlinson, who brought a win-at-all-costs nature and a vocal quality to the team that is now missing. Still, Boyle recognizes that this team isn’t far away from being where it needs to be and hopes somebody can grow into the team’s new leader.
  5. Lastly, David Piper of Addicted to Quack has a good statistical profile of what makes Oregon a conference contender. While the Ducks have struggled with turnovers in the early going in part due to a pair of freshman guards, Piper notes that those numbers are dropping while UO’s three-point shooting (which got off to a terrible start) is rising. Combine those factors with rock-solid numbers elsewhere, including a defensive efficiency number good enough for 20th in the nation, and the Ducks are not only understandably good, but they are improving.
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Pac-12 M5: 01.14.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 14th, 2013

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  1. With all of the Pac-12 microsite correspondents in the middle of battling hellacious flu-like symptoms, we’ve taken some time out over the past few days to have our headquarters fumigated. But, as a new week dawns, we’re grateful that we’ve had some good basketball to distract us from our discomfort and look forward to a week of feeling better and another batch of interesting games. Week two of the Pac-12 season ended Sunday night with Oregon holding off Arizona State in yet another entertaining ball game, with the battle between freshmen point guards Dominic Artis and Jahii Carson headlining. The Ducks vault to 4-0 and a first-place tie with UCLA (with the two teams set to square off on national television Saturday afternoon), but even Sun Devil fans should come out of this game with confidence in their team’s viability in the Pac-12 race.
  2. While folks around these parts have known that the Ducks are legit for some time now, the national audience got a heads up about their credentials on Thursday night when they knocked off previously unbeaten Arizona. The Wildcats bounced back strong on Saturday evening by sending Oregon State off to an 0-3 conference start with a full-team effort. While Sean Miller was loathe to single out one player for recognition, I’ll just mention that this was the first conference game in which the three freshman bigs all played well; Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett combined for 25 points, 17 boards and six blocked shots (well, Jerrett got all of those) on ten-for-16 shooting in 64 minutes of action. Really, that’s about the baseline for that trio ; the ceiling is still to be determined.
  3. Meanwhile, the other traditional Pac-12 heavyweight is getting back to throwing its weight around, as UCLA went on a Rocky Mountain run this weekend and rolled back into LAX with a 4-0 conference record and a nine-game winning streak to show for its troubles. Jeff Goodman writes that where the Bruins were a punchline on Thanksgiving Sunday night, they’re now a team that has the attention of their conference foes and are beginning to remind people why they were considered a potential top ten team prior to the season.
  4. Meanwhile, the Bruins’ last foe, Colorado, has some soul searching to do, after their third loss in four games leaves them looking up from the back half of the conference standings. While there is some solace to take in the fact that the team fought back from a late deficit to give itself a chance on Saturday, Tad Boyle knows that if things are going to get turned around in Boulder, it needs to start with defense and rebounding, two areas that were once thought to be potential strengths for the Buffaloes which have been weaknesses of late.
  5. Lastly, circling back to the 0-3 Beavers, they played their two games against the Arizona schools this week without the services of sophomore forward Eric Moreland, who was suspended indefinitely, along with freshman Victor Robbins, prior to Thursday night’s game against Arizona State for an undisclosed violation of team rules. While Robbins will be cleared for action by head coach Craig Robinson for Saturday’s game against USC (not that Robbins, who has played just 63 minutes this season, is expected to play a big role), the head coach is said he will decide Moreland’s fate today. Moreland is expected back with the Beavs this season and, according to Robinson, both players have responded to the situation “about as good as you can.”
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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Eight

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 9th, 2013

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew, Parker, Adam, and I have compiled after the eighth week of Pac-12 games (delta in parentheses):

  1. Arizona, 14-0 (2-0, -): By the skin of its teeth, Arizona remained undefeated through eight weeks of basketball. Visiting Colorado built up a 17-point lead against the Wildcats, only to see Zona climb all the way back and pull even at 80 with 10 seconds left. It appeared as if Buffalo guard Sabatino Chen banked in the winning three as time expired, but the officials controversially overturned the call on the court and sent the game into overtime. The Wildcats shut down a deflated Colorado squad in the extra session, and would pull out another closer-than-expected game against Utah two days later, 60-57. They now take their spotless record on the road, venturing to the great Northwest to face the Oregon schools. Up Next: 1/10 @ Oregon.
  2. UCLA, 12-3 (2-0,^2): UCLA added to its winning streak by dispatching California and Stanford in week eight. The Bruins didn’t have much trouble in doing so against either, winning by an average of 11 points. On Thursday, the Golden Bears hung with UCLA for 35 minutes before falling apart and eventually losing by 14. The Stanford game ended up with a closer score than it probably should have, thanks to the 11 points scored by Chasson Randle in the game’s final 80 seconds. UCLA’s seven-game winning streak will be put to the test as the Bruins trek to Salt Lake City for their first road game of the year, and that of course will be followed by a visit to the Coors Events Center to face Colorado. Up Next: 1/10 @ Utah.

    Slo-Mo and His Team Are Surging Into Conference Play

    Slo-Mo and His Team Are Surging Into Conference Play

  3. Oregon, 12-2 (1-0, -): Oregon’s week, while short, was a very successful one. The Ducks marched into Corvallis for a Sunday night, nationally televised Civil War battle, and came out with a 66-53 win. Damyean Dotson imposed his will all night long against the Beavers, getting to the rim with ease and single-handedly breaking the Ducks out of multiple scoring slumps. The win now sets up a huge showdown with Arizona on Thursday. Up Next: 1/10 vs. Arizona.
  4. Colorado, 10-4 (0-2, ٧2): Despite coach Tad Boyle‘s best efforts, Colorado just wasn’t the same team in Sunday’s game against Arizona State after losing in that type of fashion against the third best team in the nation. Late woes were again to blame in Tempe, as the Sun Devils went on a 21-13 run in the final eight minutes to defeat the Buffs by nine. Up Next: 1/10 vs. USC. Read the rest of this entry »
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