Takeaways From the Pac-12′s Weekend Games

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 7th, 2014

It was a busy Pac-12 weekend around the conference. Here are some thoughts on each of the weekend’s five games.

Colorado 100, Oregon 91

  • It was a game that largely lived up to the hype, with both teams looking good for long stretches. But over the last 10 minutes of the game, it was – get this – Colorado’s guard play that was the deciding factor in the game. It was supposed to be the undefeated Ducks with the bevy of play-making guards that had the advantage on the perimeter, while the Buffaloes were going to need to take advantage of a weak Oregon frontcourt in order to win this game at home. Instead, over the final quarter of the game, Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for 25 of Colorado’s 39 points, sophomore guard Xavier Talton chipped in six more, and Jaron Hopkins was the guy to get everything started with a three off a Dinwiddie dime. All told, the five Colorado guards outscored Oregon’s by a total of 66-52.

    Askia Booker, Colorado

    Big Game Askia? Who Knew? (Patrick Ghidossi, BuffaloSportsNews)

  • Meanwhile up front the Ducks were just okay against that tough Colorado frontcourt. On the offensive end, they were great, grabbing better than 41 percent of their own misses and getting a terrific 24-point performance out of Mike Moser. But the bigger concern is their ability to defend on the interior, and here they were exposed a bit, allowing Colorado to grab better than 46 percent of their misses, leading to lots of easy putbacks for the Buffs. Oregon’s guards are going to keep them in a lot of games, but they need to clean up their frontcourt issues in order to reach their potential.
  • For some of the surprises in this game, the most expected angle proved completely true: Colorado is going to be really, really tough at home. With a strong seven-man rotation plus a couple other guys ready to provide spot minutes, the Buffs are deep, athletic, big, strong and – most importantly – good. And the Coors Events Center is a great homecourt advatange. KenPom.com has the Buffs expected to win their next six games at home by an average of just under 10 points per game, but that only takes us to February 22 when they’ll host Arizona in their last home game of the season. Right now that KenPom projection is Arizona, 68-65, but in what could be Dinwiddie’s final home game, the early inclination is to lean Buffs. Not that trying to project a game seven weeks out is good practice.

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Pac-12 M5: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on January 6th, 2014

pac12_morning5

  1. As Drew reported last week, Oregon State decided junior forward Eric Moreland was eligible to return from his 14-game suspension two games early, meaning that he could appear in the Beavers’ Pac-12 opener last Thursday at Colorado. His return sparked some energy into a team that has had an up-and-down non-conference slate, using his lengthy frame to force bad shots and his athletic ability to grab 10 rebounds. Head coach Craig Robinson ended up misunderstanding the terms of the big man’s suspension that was handed down last summer, thinking that it was for half of all games played, when it was actually measured by days of the season. Moreland came back down to earth on Saturday at Utah, only playing 19 minutes as he, along with the entirety of the Oregon State starting lineup, lacked energy. The result was a forgettable one-rebound, four-point performance in an 80-69 loss to the Utes. The return of the junior was expected to lift the Beavers to at least an NIT run, but if the first weekend of conference play is any indication, it could be another long winter in Corvallis.
  2. The nation is now down to six undefeated teams — and the Pac-12 to just one — after Colorado exploded for a 100-point performance against previously undefeated Oregon on Sunday afternoon in Boulder. The Ducks were able to survive despite giving up 105 points to Mississippi and 96 to BYU earlier in the season, but the Buffaloes in their home building proved too much to handle. They now sit at 13-1 and are likely to drop out of the top 10 when the national rankings are released later today.
  3. The USC-UCLA crosstown basketball rivalry wrote another chapter yesterday, with the Bruins throttling USC for a 107-73 win. The 107 points scored by UCLA ties the record for the most points from a winning team in the history of the rivalry. Both teams are of course led by first year coaches, Andy Enfield with the Trojans, and Steve Alford with the Bruins, and it was just the fourth time ever that each entered conference play with new coaches at the same time. Enfield has quickly learned in his stint with at USC that anything and everything he says about the team in Westwood will be reported and scrutinized, and they are surely already looking forward to a rematch at the Galen Center on February 8. UCLA improved to 12-2 with the win, while SC fell to 9-5. Both teams get to stay home this week and will host the difficult Arizona schools.
  4. Sticking with UCLA, Bruins Nation rates the full Bruins’ lineup after non-conference play. The UCLA roster is loaded with talent, but it’s tough to know just how far the team could go in March when it dropped its only two challenging non-conference games. Sophomore guard Jordan Adams leads the team in scoring with 18.5 PPG, while wing Kyle Anderson is contributing at a 14.5 PPG clip and leading UCLA in rebounds with 8.7 boards a game. Next up for the Bruins is what a lot of people assumed would be the Pac-12 game of the year before the season began, a visit from top-ranked Arizona on Thursday at 6:00 PM. This will be the only time that the Bruins and Wildcats will meet in the regular season.
  5. We close today with some recruiting news, as Arizona has emerged as a major player in the courting of class of 2015 power forward Carlton Bragg. Head coach Sean Miller is working hard in preparing for the future, as his talented Wildcat frontline featuring Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley won’t be around Tucson forever. Bragg would be a huge addition to the program, a five-star player who already has offers from Michigan State, Indiana, and UCLA, to name a few.
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New Year’s Resolution For Power Conference Teams? No More Cupcakes – Conference Play Is Here

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 4th, 2014

With conference play arriving almost everywhere this weekend (it’s about time!), let’s take a peek at some of the major Saturday (and a few Sunday) games and storylines in college basketball’s seven major conferences.

Say What You Want About The AAC, But The New League Will Pose A New Challenge For Memphis: Real Tests In January And February. The First Of Those Examinations Comes Today Against Cincinnati.

Say What You Want About The AAC, But The Recently-Birthed League Will Pose A New Challenge For Memphis: Real Tests In January And February. The First Of Those Examinations Comes Today Against Cincinnati.

AAC. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first-ever weekend of American Athletic Conference basketball! OK, so maybe it isn’t that exciting, but an old Conference USA matchup does offer the league a headlining game on 2014’s first Saturday. Cincinnati visits Memphis (12:00 ET, ESPN2) in an early match-up of presumed upper-echelon AAC teams, but look elsewhere if you seek a battle of stylistic comrades; the deliberate, defensively stout Bearcats (286th nationally in tempo, eighth in defensive efficiency) will look to put the clamps on an explosive Memphis squad that rarely presses the pause button (39th nationally in tempo, 19th in offensive efficiency). UConn and SMU, both 0-1 in league play, offer an alternate viewing option (2:00 ET, ESPNU), and with a visit to Louisville coming next, Larry Brown’s SMU team would be well served to get a win Saturday to avoid staring down the barrel of an 0-3 league start.

ACC. Will there be life after Jerian Grant for Notre Dame? If yes, then a visit from Duke (4:00 ET, CBS) will offer the Irish the chance to provide a more convincing affirmation than they offered in their first game without Grant – a gut-check overtime victory over Canisius. Garrick Sherman should have a chance to exploit the smallish Duke interior, no matter what Doug Gottlieb thinks about his beard. Elsewhere, Pitt and Syracuse join Notre Dame in making their ACC debuts. The Panthers visit NC State (12:00 ET, ESPN3), while the Orange play host to Miami (2:00 ET, ESPN3). And if you like defense, two of the nation’s 10 most efficient defensive units are set to meet in Tallahassee; Virginia and Florida State (5:00 ET, ESPN2) will tussle in a race to 50 between ACC sleepers.

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Breaking Down The Unbalanced Pac-12 Conference Schedules

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 2nd, 2014

Back in the old days of the Pac-10, comparing the different conference schedules of league teams was largely an academic affair; with an 18-game balanced schedule, each team played every other team in the league both home and away. But with Utah and Colorado now on board, we’re in the era of the unbalanced schedule. Each team in the league still has a travel partner (UCLA and USC, Cal and Stanford, Colorado and Utah, the Arizona schools, the Oregon schools, and the Washington schools), so, for instance, when Arizona goes on the road to play California and Stanford, Arizona State does the same in reverse order. The only difference is that, now in unbalanced schedule land, each set of traveling partners skips a trip to one other set of travel partners and loses a visit from another pair as well. Below we’ll take a look at who skips whom, who gets the benefit of the unbalanced schedule this year, and whatever other little nuggets we can find in the conference slate as we get started tonight.

The Arizona schools

  • Road trip skipped: The Washington schools
  • Homestand skipped: The Los Angeles schools
Arizona Shouldn't Be All That Pumped About Skipping The Washington Road Trip (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

Arizona Shouldn’t Be All That Pumped About Skipping The Washington Road Trip. (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

In one form or another, Washington and Washington State are consistently regarded as two of the three worst teams in the conference this season (and, honestly, usually the worst two). In other words, missing out on a couple of dates with the Huskies and the Cougars is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to conference standings. Consider that a strike against Arizona, a team that figures to be very much in the hunt for the conference championship. On the other side of the coin, however, skipping those two will give Arizona State a couple more shots against higher RPI squads, and given that the Sun Devils figure to be bubblicious come March, trading out the two Pacific Northwest RPI killers may come in handy. One other note in favor of the Sun Devils is that they’re possibly in line to benefit from traveling with the Wildcats. Arizona is going to get everybody’s best shot this year, especially as long as they remain atop the national standings, meaning ASU could be a trap game on a regular basis. Imagine, for instance, Oregon hosting Arizona on February 6 — win or lose that night, the Ducks could be in for a serious letdown two days later when they host Jahii Carson and his Sun Devils.

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Pac-12 Team-By-Team Non-Conference Wrap-Up

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 2nd, 2014

It’s the unofficial (and un-mathematically correct) halfway point of the college basketball regular season. Non-conference play is, for the most part, in the past, and we’re getting ready to jump right into conference play with a full slate of Pac-12 games beginning today. So, as we look back at what we’ve learned so far and look ahead at what we think might happen from here until we all head to Las Vegas in early March, today we’re going to take a look at what each team has done and pin some rough odds on their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Teams are ranked below in order of how impressive their resume is to this point.

Following A Successful Non-Conference Slate, The Wildcats Have Put Themselves In A Good Position To Earn A Good NCAA Seed (Casey Sapio, USA Today Sports)

Following A Successful Non-Conference Slate, The Wildcats Have Put Themselves In A Good Position To Earn A Good NCAA Seed (Casey Sapio/USA Today Sports)

  • Arizona (13-0, RPI: 11, Best Wins: at Michigan, neutral site vs. Duke, at San Diego State) – The Wildcats may be third in the Pac-12 in RPI at this point, but they’re #1 in the polls and deservedly so. They’ve challenged themselves with a tough non-conference slate featuring a pair of tough true road games, a pair of good neutral-site NIT Tip-Off wins, and some solid visitors to the McKale Center. But even more important than these accomplishments is how good they’ve looked doing it — displaying one of the nation’s best defenses and an offense that still has plenty of upside for a young team that should be much improved by March. At this point, it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Wildcats are left on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday. Odds of Making NCAA Tournament: 99.9%

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Pac-12 Non-Conference Superlatives

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton128) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 1st, 2014

As part of the conclusion of the non-conference slate, it’s time for Connor and Drew to recognize some of the Pac-12 highlights through nearly two months of the regular season. We’ll cover all the basics: Player of the Year; Coach of the Year; Freshman of the Year; an all-conference team to this point; as well as the biggest surprises and disappointments. And we’ll give you our rationale on each. So let’s get right to it, and let us know where you disagree.

Player of the Year – There’s still a lot of hoop left, so we’ll each give you our current top three picks in this category and some reasons why.

Connor’s Picks:

  1. Joseph Young. Young has been the cornerstone of Oregon’s offense, scoring in double figures in each game and acting as the guy to lift them whenever they hit a scoring lull.
  2. Roberto Nelson. The conference’s leading scorer has put up at least 17 points or more in each game the Beavers have played, save the contest against Towson in which he was ejected for attempting to throw a punch eight minutes into the contest.
  3. Jahii Carson. Jahiisus, who just might be the quickest point guard in the country, steps up whenever he is called upon for Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils. Whether it’s been a 40-point performance at UNLV or a 23-point showing to beat nationally-ranked Marquette, no stage is too big for the super sophomore.
Oregon's Junior Transfer Joseph Young Top's Both Of Our Voters' Picks For The Player of the Year Leader At The Halfway Mark (AP Photo)

Oregon’s Junior Transfer Joseph Young Top’s Both Of Our Voters’ Picks For The Player of the Year Leader At The Halfway Mark (AP Photo)

Drew’s Picks:

  1. Joseph Young. Might as well make it unanimous. While Young has had plenty of help in Eugene, he’s been the best offensive player on a team chock-full of them.
  2. Jahii Carson. Expectations were high enough for Carson coming into the year so that his 19.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.9 RPG and 51.4 percent three-point shooting are seen as almost a disappointment. Which is ridiculous. Expect him to be a big part of the Pac-12 POY conversation when all is said and done.
  3. Delon Wright. He’s come out of nowhere and hasn’t exactly played against great competition, but his production has been fantastic across the board. If he can keep this up, he’ll be in contention for this award come March.

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Pac-12 Roundup: Week Seven

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 31st, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the seventh week of Pac-12 basketball. 

Power Rankings (as voted upon by Connor Pelton and Andrew Murawa):

Arizona is once again the unanimous top choice, with the next four slots all agreed upon as well. From there, things get somewhat muddied but we both agree that there isn’t a lot of difference between the two Washington schools and, say, Arizona State. The #6-#10 spots are the most interesting, so check the results below.

Sophomore Forward/Center Tony Parker Came Up Huge For UCLA On Saturday, Scoring 16 Points In The Bruins Win Against Alabama. (credit: Katie Meyers)

Sophomore Forward/Center Tony Parker Came Up Huge For UCLA On Saturday, Scoring 16 Points In The Bruins Win Against Alabama. (Katie Meyers/AP)

  1. Arizona (13-0, 2 Points). Comment: “The Wildcats have steamrolled the teams you’d expect them to and answered the bell against each of the talented opponents it has faced. But there’s probably even a higher gear the team is capable of and will need to bring out to perform like they are expected.” – Bryan Doherty (@BDohertyCFB)
  2. Oregon (12-0, 4 Points). Comment: “There may be other backcourts that are more efficient, but nobody has more weapons than the Ducks. The firepower is nearly impossible for an opponent to guard on a regular basis.” – Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein)
  3. Colorado (11-2, 6 Points). Comment: “Coming into the season, the biggest question mark surrounding this team was whether they could find a way to make up for the 11 rebounds per game that Andre Roberson took with him to the NBA. With the non-conference portion of the schedule now complete, the Buffaloes can confidently answer that question with a “yes.” – Brian Howell (@BrianHowell33) Read the rest of this entry »
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Who’s Got Next? Justin Jackson in Chapel Hill Along With Desi Rodriguez and Malik Marquetti

Posted by Sean Moran on December 31st, 2013

http://rushthecourt.net/mag/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/whosgotnext.jpgWho’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Justin Jackson is Ready for Chapel Hill

The top prospect in Roy Williams’ No. 4 rated recruiting class of 2014 is a rather unorthodox Top 10 recruit. Small forward Justin Jackson has been on the national radar since his freshman year in high school, a year that included a Sports Illustrated feature as a 15-year old. But he won’t be labeled a one-and-done prospect the minute he puts on a Carolina jersey like many of his highly-touted classmates. Standing at 6’8” and only 180 pounds, the No. 9 ranked player in the country has a slender build that belies a diverse skill set. In the summer of 2011 Jackson was primarily known as a three-point specialist on the Houston Hoops AAU team that was comprised of kids two years older than him. Now in his senior year, Jackson is anything but a long-range specialist, instead relying heavily on his strong mid-range game.

Justin Jackson is headed to North Carolina. (Bart Young/USA Basketball)

Justin Jackson is headed to North Carolina. (Bart Young/USA Basketball)

A rarity in the analytics age of close shots around the basket and corner threes, his patented shot is a floater from eight to 12 feet along with a soft one-dribble jump shot. During the spring and summer of 2013, Jackson teamed up with two other Top 10 prospects in Kelly Oubre (#6 overall – 2014) and Justise Winslow (#10 overall – 2014) to become one of the most efficient players on the AAU circuit. He averaged 17.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. He also shot 40 percent from the three-point line, but only attempted 37 treys in 24 games. Previously just an outside shooter, it seemed as though Jackson was not as confident in his jumper entering his senior season and discussed areas for improvement with Scout.com‘s Evan Daniels. “Definitely get stronger and just getting my three-point shot back,” Jackson said. “I’ve been working on it.” Ten games into his senior season, he is averaging 31.7 points per game and was recently named the Most Outstanding Player at the High School OT Invitational held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ranking the 37 Pac-12 Basketball Uniforms: Part III

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 30th, 2013

After a month and a half of basketball, the Pac-12 teams have debuted 37 different uniforms. Here we rank them in a three-part series, starting from the bottom and working our way up. Today, #12 to #1. Make sure to check out parts one and two as well.  

12. Washington’s Golds

Senior Guard C.J. Wilcox Modeling His Alternate Gold Jersey (credit: Washington Athletics)

Senior Guard C.J. Wilcox Modeling His Alternate Gold Jersey (credit: Washington Athletics)

We opened our last post of this series with a gold jersey, and we do the same here. I like Washington’s version because it’s not a very flashy gold, more low-key. One of the best alternate uniforms in the conference.

11. Oregon’s Regular YellowsThis is Oregon we’re talking about, so we do have to distinguish between its different yellow uniforms. The Ducks like to break these out at home, and for good reason. The black lettering looks great on the bright contrast.

10. UCLA’s Powder Blues

Sophomore Guard/Forward Kyle Anderson At Madison Square Garden (credit: Jason DeCrow)

Sophomore Guard/Forward Kyle Anderson At Madison Square Garden (credit: Jason DeCrow)

Some classic uniforms are boring. Others are iconic, like these powder blues from the Bruins. They open our top 10 and I’m loving the way the block gold lettering is big and bold, yet doesn’t take away from the beautiful blue. You also have to love the dedication to John Wooden in the upper right quadrant. A pyramid with his initials is a great way to honor the late great legend.

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Ranking the 37 Pac-12 Basketball Uniforms: Part II

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 25th, 2013

After a month and a half of basketball, the Pac-12 teams have debuted 37 different uniforms. Here we rank them in a three-part series, starting from the bottom and working our way up. Today, #24 to #13. To view part one, click here

24. USC’s Golds

Roschon Prince  usc

Roschon Prince and USC’s Gold Uniforms

I like gold. Lots of people like gold. It is shiny and it looks good underneath the cardinal lettering. Like I have mentioned before with the Trojans, the curved team name is appealing too.

23. Utah’s BlacksThe black and red combination here is quite solid, and the block letters spelling out “UTAH” look great. This would have been rated higher, but the number is a bit too large and distracting.

22. Colorado’s WhitesIf you read the first installment of this series, you know that I don’t have a great affinity to white uniforms. But something about the black lettering, numbers, and font on this one just makes it work.

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Pac-12 Roundup: Week Six

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 24th, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the sixth week of Pac-12 basketball. 

Power Rankings (As voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa, and Adam Butler):

Arizona is once again the unanimous top choice, with the next four slots all agreed upon as well. From there, things get somewhat muddied but we all agree that there isn’t a lot of difference between the two Washington schools and, say, USC. The #6-#10 spots are the most interesting, so check the results below.

Chasson Randle, Stanford

Chasson Randle Had A Terrific Week For The Cardinal, Scoring 22 Points At Connecticut And 18 Against Michigan (credit: Stanford Athletics)

1. Arizona (13-0, 3 Points). Comment: “The Wildcats have proven the most in college basketball. That is something I have no issue saying.” – Bryan Doherty (@BDohertyCFB)

2. Oregon (11-0, 6 Points). Comment: “So the Ducks stay undefeated, but Altman’s got a chore ahead of him in figuring out what his rotation is gonna look like.” – Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa)

3. Colorado (10-2, 9 Points). Comment: “Despite the good things the Buffs did on Saturday (vs. Oklahoma State), they left knowing that a better effort on both ends of the floor could have produced a win, rather than a disappointing defeat.” – Brian Howell (@BrianHowell33)

4. UCLA (10-2, 12 Points). Comment: “Pauley Pavilion drew more fans than it had all season (against Weber State). Those lucky 7,013 could have witnessed the first Bruin to have two career triple-doubles (Kyle Anderson).” – Jack Wang (@thejackwang)

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Ho Ho Ho: Delivering Christmas Presents To Each Pac-12 Team

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 23rd, 2013

We here at the Pac-12 wing our in the holiday spirit, so we decided to give a gift to each team in the conference. I took the six “north” schools, Drew took the six “south” ones, and the results are below. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Washington - Here’s hoping 12th year head coach Lorenzo Romar wakes up Christmas morning to a clean bill of health for his Huskies inside his stocking. Washington has been unfairly plagued by injuries all season long, and it started in early November when junior forward Desmond Simmons went under the knife for arthroscopic knee surgery. Simmons did return this weekend against Connecticut, but he was definitely needed a couple weeks back when the Huskies lost a tight one at San Diego State. Three days after the Simmons news, Romar learned they lost another big man who was poised for a breakout season, Jernard Jarreau. Jarreau tore his ACL in the season opener against Seattle and will miss the entire season. There’s been others on the Husky roster with some dinks and bruises throughout the year, causing headache after headache for Romar.

Washington State - What’s that under the tree? Just what you wanted Cougar fans; a new shooting coach! And boy does Washington State need one. It ranks dead last in the conference in shooting percentage, and it’s not just the simple fact of shots not falling. They are off target, rarely close to going in, and with terrible backspin. The Cougars need to go back to the basics or they’ll find themselves dead last come March and looking to replace Ken Bone.

Oregon - What do you give the team that already has everything? Some help for coach Dana Altman setting his ten-deep rotation would be nice. While the Ducks have looked terrific so far, roles are still being defined, and that could spell trouble come Pac-12 play.

Dana Altman, Oregon

Altman’s Ducks Are 11-0, But They Have Yet To Set A Solid Ten-Deep Rotation. (credit: Drew Sellers)

Oregon State - Beaver fans are the naughty kids that find their parents’ present stash before Christmas morning. But they like what they see as they get the return of junior forward Eric Moreland, who will come back from a 14 game suspension on January 9 against Stanford. The Beavers are an upper half Pac-12 team with the big man in the lineup, using his long wing span on the defensive end of the court to deny any shots inside the paint. On the other side, Moreland has improved his offensive game and can power his way to the hoop. It will be interesting to see how much he can improve even more with the new block/charge rule, something that got him in trouble a lot last season.

California – Santa’s bringing the Golden Bears a dose of consistency this Christmas. The first two month’s of California’s season has been a roller coaster ride, starting with a five game winning streak, then a stretch where it lost three of four games. Cal now enters the holiday on a one game skid after a pathetic showing at Creighton, a game it lost 68-54.

Stanford - The Cardinal enter the holiday break after a brutal road trip, topping Connecticut in Hartford and losing a nail-biter to Michigan in New York City. What they did show was some great defense, coming as a huge surprise after giving up 112 and 88 points to BYU and Pittsburgh earlier this season. So, Johnny Dawkins gets a re-gift of sorts; the continuation of solid defensive play. If their long perimeter defenders continue to play tight defense, this is a team that can compete for a league title, even without the services of senior guard Aaron Bright, who is out for the year with a dislocated right shoulder.

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