Posted by KDanna on October 29th, 2012
- The beginning of the regular season is 11 days away, so that means exhibition season is starting to heat up. Oregon takes the court tonight against Concordia, a game that was originally scheduled for November 1 before the Pac-12 Media Day was announced for that day (all coaches have to attend Media Day, so the game was pushed up three days). While E.J. Singler will reportedly miss the game with tendinitis in his knees, the exhibition will be a good opportunity for Dana Altman and staff to see how the eight newcomers (or seven, with Arsalan Kazemi’s status for this season still up in the air as he hopes to be granted a hardship waiver) look in game action. The one most likely to make the biggest impact is Dominic Artis, a four-star recruit out of famed Findlay Prep. Although Jonathan Loyd is still on campus, Artis has the tools to be the next in line of dynamic smaller guards for the Ducks, following in the footsteps of Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter. In somewhat related exhibition news, Western Washington lost an exhibition at Duke by a score of 105-87. Remember, the defending Division II national champion Vikings made Washington sweat out an 88-78 decision in favor of the Huskies after the game was tied three times in the final 10 minutes. Not that the transitive property is ever accurate in sports, but if Washington won beat Western Washington by 10 and Duke won by 18… Also, the Blue Devils’ victory was much more of a rout, as the game was never closer than 11 points in the second half.
- After supposedly being suspended for academic reasons for the 2012-13 season, former USC Trojan Maurice Jones declared his intentions to transfer. Well, the diminutive guard has made his decision, announcing that he will be taking his talents to Ames to play for Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State Cyclones. According to the Ames Tribune, Jones will enroll at Iowa State for the spring semester and can suit up to play in a game for the Cyclones at the conclusion of the fall 2013 semester, which will be somewhere around mid-December, as a junior. Jones figures to be the second straight transfer to run point for the Cyclones, as former Michigan State Spartan Korie Lucious will quarterback the offense for his last year of eligibility in 2012-13. What is perhaps most interesting from the article, however, is that Jones claims he was not academically ineligible for the upcoming season, rather saying he was suspended from USC for a year for a matter unrelated to his grades. Since neither Jones nor the USC sports information department will comment on the real reason for his suspension at USC, it makes one wonder what actually happened there.
- Late last week, the NCAA released its annual report of graduation rates for all sports (you’ll have to fill in the appropriate drop-down menus to see the report on Pac-12 men’s basketball), and Stanford led the Pac-12 with a graduation success rate (GSR) of 91 percent, followed by Oregon (85 percent) and the Washington schools (both at 78 percent). Bringing up the rear was USC, which checked in with a GSR of 43 percent. Nothing too shocking from this report, as Stanford usually finds itself at or near the top of the conference list in GSR, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Oregon tie the Cardinal for the best federal graduation rate (90 percent) in the Pac-12. On the glass-half-empty side of things, it’s disconcerting to see California, a school with a great academic reputation, not duplicating that educational success with its athletes. The Golden Bears are tied for 10th with Oregon State with a GSR of 50 percent. With the figures based on entering classes from 2002 through 2005, this academic mediocrity largely didn’t happen under Mike Montgomery’s watch, so there is certainly potential for that percentage to shoot up over the next couple of years.
- Also a little bit of old news, but the preseason AP Top 25 Poll came out just after the Friday M5, and, like the USA Today Coaches Poll, it features two Pac-12 teams: Arizona at No. 12 (the Wildcats are ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll) and UCLA at No. 13. The “others receiving votes” list was a little less kind to the Pac-12, as Stanford only received two points, down from seven in the USA Today poll. With the conference coming off such a down year, having two teams ranked in the middle of both top 25 polls is as good as it was going to get for the Pac-12, but Stanford, Cal, Colorado, USC, and maybe even Washington might have a legitimate shot to get into the rankings at some point this year. And, if everything goes according to planned and all NCAA hurdles are cleared, the Pac-12’s two ranked teams just might be making a push for Atlanta in the spring.
- Lastly, UCLA unveiled its new statue of John Wooden in front of the new and improved Pauley Pavilion last Friday. The bronze statue of Wooden stands eight feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. As our Andrew Murawa wrote leading up to the statue unveiling, this should be a time to celebrate UCLA basketball with the renovation of Pauley Pavilion and a star-studded recruiting class coming to campus, even if two of the biggest pieces of that class still are not cleared by the NCAA. From a conference perspective, a strong and healthy UCLA only helps the Pac-12 and its perception around the country, making that Legends Classic in Brooklyn (where UCLA will face Georgetown and possibly preseason top-ranked Indiana) all the more important.