Pac-12 Report Card, Volume VII: The Honor RollPosted by AMurawa on February 20th, 2013
With the end of the semester in sight, some students are making big strides while others continue to underachieve. This week Professor Pac has a couple of A’s to hand out, while the rest of the conference is bunched together in the B’s and C’s this week. Check back later today for seven different C- performers.
Oregon – A
Still without Dominic Artis, the Ducks reaffirmed the fact that they belong among the teams at the top of the conference by going on the road and taking care of both Washington schools this week. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but with five games remaining on their schedule, including the next three at home, the Ducks not only have a one-game lead, but they also have wins over the two teams a game back of them, making it, in effect, a one-and-a-half game lead.
Focus on: Damyean Dotson. When the Ducks lost three games in a row, the easy explanation was that they missed Dominic Artis. While that is certainly true, it is also worth noting that Artis’ freshman backcourt mate hit a slide at the same time as well. In the first four games without Artis, a stretch that included those three losses, Dotson averaged 7.3 points per game and wasn’t even finding any good shots. In conference play, Dotson has only failed to put up 10 or more field goal attempts just five times, and four of those five occasions came in the first four games without Artis. But, over the course of the three-game winning streak, Dotson has regained his mojo, averaging 15 points per game and 13 field goal attempts per night. Certainly part of the reason for Dotson’s slide was the absence of Artis, but don’t forget the fact that Dotson may be just as important to Oregon’s long-term goals as Artis is.
Looking ahead: The Ducks host the Bay Area schools, beginning with the suddenly hot Cal Bears on Thursday night, but also including Stanford on Saturday. That game will be noteworthy because just a few weeks back, Oregon went into Stanford with a 7-0 conference record and got absolutely drilled, losing by 24 to the Cardinal. Oh, and the weekly Artis watch? Still no word as to his status for this weekend.
California – A
All of a sudden, the Golden Bears, once a team that looked like a lock for a lower division finish, have won three in a row, and five of its last six, including wins over Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA. In other words, they’re red hot, arguably the hottest team in the conference. But still this is a team led by upperclassmen who regularly seem disinterested for long chunks of the game, an appearance made all the more aggravating by the talent possessed by those guys. That aggravation caught up with Mike Montgomery to a large extent this weekend, but it isn’t the first time this season that he’s shown frustration with this team. Still, I suppose you can’t argue with success, and now the Bears are 8-5 in conference play and, where once their NCAA hopes were laughable, they’re now just on the good side of the bubble.
Focus on: Richard Solomon. When you see the good Solomon show up for five and ten minute stretches, you start projecting into the future and talking about, “hey, maybe this guy can put it all together in his senior year and be first-team all-league.” Unfortunately, the good Solomon doesn’t always show up. This week, however, he did, putting together perhaps the best week of his college career, averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks for the week while making 14-of-17 attempts from the field. Perhaps most importantly, unlike some other guys on his team, he looked into it for all 59 of his minutes this week.
Looking ahead: The Bears take their three-game winning streak to the conference’s leader tomorrow night and they’ll have just about everybody else in the conference rooting for them. The last time the Bears faced Oregon, Solomon double-doubled, they controlled the glass and they squeaked out a four-point win.
Utah – B+
A home split and the Utes are earning a good solid grade? Yeah, we’re grading this team easy, but the Utes put in another good week. Against Arizona State on Wednesday, they blew a half-time lead, found themselves down eight with seven minutes left, and then proceeded to outscore the Sun Devils 19-6 down the stretch on their way to a win. Then on Sunday, they stuck with Arizona for nearly all of the 40 minutes, for the second time this season. On the year, they’ve lost two games to the Wildcats by a grand total of seven points. Losing close isn’t always something to be happy about, but this team deserves credit for their toughness.
Focus on: Jason Washburn. If Washburn could have it his way, he’d play the Arizona schools every week. The first time around in Arizona, Washburn earned our Pac-12 Player of the Week award for his performance, and he backed it up this week. For the year, against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils he has averaged 19.3 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Looking ahead: The Utes travel to Colorado tomorrow night for their second crack at the Buffaloes. Utah took the first game 58-55 in Salt Lake City and would love to play the spoiler for the Buffs again.
Oregon State – B-
The Beavs went on the road to the Washington schools and came away with a split. And, they went a long way towards avoiding the basement by adding to Washington State’s woes by holding on to a 15-point second half lead and eking out a one-point victory. Certainly back in November, staying a notch ahead of a last place team wasn’t exactly the end goal for Craig Robinson and company, but after a terrible start to conference play, the Beavers seem like their finally shifting out of first.
Focus on: Challe Barton. It’s been a slow process, but Barton now seems locked into a major part of the Beavers’ rotation. He’s been a starter for five games now, after replacing Jarmal Reid in the starting five, but this week he provided his biggest contribution in his most minutes. He averaged 32 minutes this week and chipped in 9.5 points (on an 81.8 eFG%) and quality defense.
Looking ahead: The Beavers host Stanford and Cal this week. Three weeks back they played two wildly entertaining games against those two schools but came away without a win. This week they’d settle for boring games as long as they result in wins.
USC – B-
The Trojans brought a three-game win-streak into the week, extended that to four with a Thursday night win over Stanford and then took a ten-point lead into the final six minutes. From there, they were outscored 25-7 as Allen Crabbe happened to them. Still, this is a team that has made tremendous progress in season and are a team that could make some noise in the conference tourney.
Focus on: J.T. Terrell. What we’re seeing now out of Terrell is what we expected to see back at the start of the year. A free-spirited offensive player who never saw a shot he didn’t like, a decent defender when interested and a player with plenty of (at times unwarranted) confidence. In other words, he’s a volume shooter that isn’t always going to be hyper-efficient, but he is going to score. Over the past two weeks, Terrell has hit 13 threes in just 27 attempts (48.1%) while averaging 14.8 points per game.
Looking ahead: The Trojans host UCLA on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to earn a season sweep over their hated cross-town rival.