Pac-12 M5: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 15th, 2012

  1. With the departure of Tony Wroten, Jr., Washington is currently without a defined leader on the team. When asked who might be the face of the team after the second day of practice, senior guard Abdul Gaddy replied “The team is the face of the team.” That’s a stark change from last season, when Wroten was the go-to guy whenever the Dawgs needed a late bucket or to break out of a dry spell on offense. There’s certainly no problem with having no set leader going into the season; after all, it’s one of the bigger clichés in college sports that every team needs one of them. As long as someone, whether C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs or whoever, is willing to have the ball in their hands in the waning minutes and has the ability to make a play, there’s no problem. However, there is such a thing as being too unselfish, and close wins will soon become losses if that happens in Seattle this winter. The Huskies will play their one and only exhibition game on October 24 against Western Washington.
  2. Oregon State finished the month of March last season with a record of 6-2, an eight-game stretch in which leading scorer Jared Cunningham didn’t play very well. With Cunningham now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, that stretch gives Beaver fans the hope that players like Ahmad Starks, Devon Collier, and Angus Brandt can keep up the same offensive output without their star guard. Even more important than the trio above, however, will be the play of junior shooting guard Roberto Nelson. Nelson will be the Beavers’ only non-starter-turned-starter from a year ago, but he did play in all 36 games. According to head coach Craig Robinson, Nelson has matured and built on the experience gained from playing in each and every contest as a sophomore, and is ready to take the next step needed in 2012-13.
  3. Just one year removed from a cancer scare before the start of practice, California head coach Mike Montgomery is healthy and ready for the 2012-13 season to tip off. The tone was much different last year at this time, as Montgomery underwent surgery October 19 for bladder cancer, and subsequently he was declared cancer free and able to work the entirety of his 31st season as a head coach. The Golden Bears were the only Pac-12 team to gain an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament last season, and if they are to return it will be behind the play of sophomore guard Ricky Kreklow and junior guard Allen Crabbe. Both are strong shooters but need to show the ability to get to the free throw line more if the Bears are to compete for a Pac-12 championship.
  4. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and practices across the nation are beginning. That means it’s time for some preseason predictions. Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, like everyone else around the country, said that he’s been wrestling on whether to put Arizona or UCLA at the top of the Pac this year. He eventually went with Ben Howland’s Bruins, with Arizona and the two Bay Area schools rounding out the upper third of the league race.
  5. We close with some recruiting news, and some big news at that. Class of 2013 small forward Jabari Parker, largely considered to be the top recruit in the nation, named Stanford as one of his final five schools on Friday. Parker’s ability to score from anywhere on the offensive end of the floor makes him this year’s can’t-miss prospect. The Simeon Career Academy (IL) product is also considering BYU, Duke, Florida, and Michigan State. Noticeably missing is Kentucky, who just got verbals from the second and fourth best players in the country on October 4 in the Harrison twins.
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Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

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Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

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Washington Week: Reinforcements Arrive Among Three Newcomers

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 12th, 2012

The list of newcomers is short and sweet for Lorenzo Romar in 2012-13, but that doesn’t mean the pair of redshirt freshmen and junior college transfer won’t make an impact. Thanks to Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross departing early for NBA, a pair of Northwestern kids will be big parts of the Husky offense next season at both the one and two. Darnell Gant is also leaving his post due to graduation, so Romar will turn to another redshirt to provide depth down low. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those three newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.

  • Andrew Andrews, Freshman, Point Guard, 6’2” 195 lbs, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Oregon – Andrews established himself as a quick, tough, and fearless point guard throughout last season in practice. With the departure of Wroten, he will be second in line to get playing time at the one, but if he can show coaches early in the season that he has the same good scoring ability that he had in high school, he could earn much more playing time as a combo-guard. After all, there’s always room for guards with athletic, scoring ability in Romar’s offense. Andrews underwent hip surgery in late March, but that shouldn’t have any effect on his game come October.
Andrews Is The Type Of Slashing Point Guard That Can Score When Needed, Perfect For Coach Romar’s Offense (credit: Steven Gibbons)
  • Mark McLaughlin, Junior, Shooting Guard, 6’6” 205 lbs, Tacoma Community College – McLaughlin’s lights-out shooting ability has him heading into the season as the backup two guard. He is transferring in from nearby Tacoma Community College, where he led all junior college scorers with 28.4 PPG in 2011-12. Before transferring there, McLaughlin played under Cameron Dollar at Seattle U in 2010-11. He didn’t have a bad season by any means, averaging 7.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG,  but he only saw action in just over half of the Redhawks’ games, so he decided to move south to Tacoma. The guy has tremendous upside, but you have to wonder if playing at his third college in three years, and fifth school in seven years, is problematic. Regardless, if he can shoot the ball like he did last season, he will find his way onto the floor in no time. Read the rest of this entry »
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Washington Week: Evaluating The Recent Past

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 9th, 2012

Despite winning the regular season Pac-12 title, a conference Coach of the Year award, and a run to the Final Four of the NIT, 2011-12 was considered a mediocre year by many in Seattle. That’s what happens when you make three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances coming into last season. Between the 2008-09 and the 2010-11 seasons, Washington posted a combined 76-30 record, with 11 of those 30 losses coming against teams ranked in the Top 25. Last season was a rollercoaster ride with too many “downs” for the selection committee’s liking, even if there were a lot of “ups” to go along with it.

Despite Being Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year In 2011-12, Lorenzo Romar and The Huskies Weren’t Dancing On Selection Sunday (credit: North and South of Royal Brougham)

The Huskies knew going into the season that there would be some early roadbumps after losing do-everything players Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas. Grouped with what turned out to be a season-ending foot injury for guard Scott Suggs that was suffered during preseason workouts, the Dawgs limped out of the gate. Washington struggled to beat a Florida Atlantic team (the Owls finished the year with an 11-19 mark) at home in their second game of the season, and a week later would lose by 13 points against Saint Louis. The hits would keep on coming, as it would go on to lose three of its next four games after the trip to Missouri. Midway through that stretch, Washington announced that Suggs would redshirt the 2011-12 season. And while this was obviously a good choice for the future, it felt at the time being as if the Huskies had already given up some hope of a successful season. The low point of the season came in the first two games of its five game mid-December home stand. After limping to a 87-80 win over UC Santa Barbara, the Huskies were blown out of their home arena by South Dakota State, suffering a 19-point loss to the Jackrabbits. And while SDSU would go on to have a great season, they were just three days removed from a 19-point defeat of their own — at the hands of vaunted North Dakota.

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 07.06.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on July 6th, 2012

  1. We skipped last week because of a dearth of news as we head into the dead days of summer, so now we’ve got a couple week’s worth of catching up to do. The biggest news in the past two weeks was the NBA Draft, where more Pac-12 players heard their names called than conference teams did on Selection Sunday. Washington, who won the regular season title but was banished to the NIT, had two players – Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten, Jr. – get drafted, while Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham became just the 13th Beaver picked in the first round – the first since Corey Benjamin went with the second-to-last pick of the first round in 1998. The Huskies, meanwhile, have had much more recent success on draft night, with nine players drafted in the past eight years, six of those in the first round, a record that head coach Lorenzo Romar is making sure gets heard. With many elite recruits using college as a mere launching point toward NBA careers, Romar’s success at sending players to the NBA can only help his recruiting efforts.
  2. The Huskies also landed a new player this week when it was announced that seven-foot center Gilles Dierickx would be transferring into the program from Florida International. Dierickx (gee, thanks basketball gods – I only just got used to confidently spelling Krystkowiak) was a freshman last season with FIU, where he played just under 15 minutes a game and averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. He’s a face-up stretch four who will be eligible to play for UW beginning in 2013-14. But, as Ben Knibbe at the UW Dawg Pound points out, this leaves Romar with just three open scholarships for the 2013 class, a highly regarded recruiting class in which the Huskies are pursuing several five-star talents. As we’ve seen elsewhere, the fact that a program has a player under scholarship doesn’t preclude the possibility of a coach running off one or more players who are no longer necessary in order to make room for a more desirable prospect, but with the Huskies putting so much emphasis on the 2013 class, this is something of a head-scratcher.
  3. At this point in the summer, no news is generally good news for most collegiate programs. It means that nobody is getting into trouble with the law, nobody’s getting injured while working on their game, and nobody’s making a late decision to transfer. About the only really exciting news for a program at this time of the year is the announcement of the upcoming schedule, something Utah did last week. And, wow, is it ever underwhelming. The first three home games are an exhibition against something called Simon Fraser, then the season opener against Division III Willamette, followed by a match-up with Sacramento State. Now, to be fair, SSU was actually ranked higher than the Utes in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings last season (#292, compared to UU’s #303). The next three home games are part of a four-team round robin event on the Utah campus over Thanksgiving weekend, when the Utes will play Central Michigan, Idaho State and Wright State. Elsewhere in the non-conference schedule are games against Evergreen State of the NAIA and Cal State Northridge. There’s also a home-and-home series with SMU, a visit from Boise State, a trip to Texas State, and their renewal of their annual rivalry with BYU at the Cougars’ Provo campus. In other words, the Utes should be ready to dial up significantly more wins than the three non-conference wins they posted last year, while the ever-important RPI number should still remain in the gutter. Also of note, the Utes also finalized their plans for their trip to Brazil this summer, where they will play five games against Brazilian teams over the course of their 12-day trip.
  4. Another thing to keep an eye on as the summer progresses is landing spots for Pac-12 players who weren’t drafted by the NBA. For instance, former Colorado point guard Nate Tomlinson is heading back home to Australia to play professionally for the Melbourne Tigers. And he’s even trying to do a little recruiting of his own, trying to get former teammate Austin Dufault to follow him along, although he is also considering Europe and China. Meanwhile, Carlon Brown hasn’t yet given up on his NBA dreams despite going undrafted. The 6’5” wing is hoping to catch on with a summer league team and may need to go the D-League route. Elsewhere, Washington State forward Abe Lodwick will be playing professionally in Germany, while Arizona’s Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender both still harbor dreams of NBA careers, with Fogg set to play for Houston’s summer league team and Lavender putting on an Atlanta Hawk jersey for the summer.
  5. Lastly, we’ve got a couple of previews to point you to. First, we did so a few weeks back, but the always-excellent Doug Haller at The Arizona Republic last week broke down the returnees for the Arizona State team. And then there’s Dick Vitale, who gives his thoughts on the Pac-12, eyeing UCLA and Arizona as the clear favorites, while pointing to Stanford as the dark horse and predicting an improved conference from top to bottom.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tony Wroten, Jr.

Posted by AMurawa on June 4th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Tony Wroten, Jr.

School: Washington

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 205 lbs.

NBA Position: Combo Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Tony Wroten, Jr. Has Plenty of NBA-Caliber Traits, But Needs To Patch Some Glaring Holes

Overview: Tony Wroten heads into the NBA Draft as one of the most divisive figures in recent memory; if you ask two different people their opinion on him, you’re likely to get two (or more) different takes. For instance, in his lone season in Seattle, there were plenty of people who considered him the best player in the conference and a strong contender for conference player of the year, while there were others (me included) for whom Wroten wasn’t even on the radar for second-team all-conference. There is little doubt that he has all the physical tools necessary to become an excellent NBA player, but to this point in time, for every eye-popping positive that Wroten brings to his team, there is one serious negative to go alongside it. He’s got a great first step and a willingness to get into the lane and try to make plays, often drawing fouls along the way, but once he gets to the line he’s flat out a bad free throw shooter. He’s got brilliant court vision and is able to make spectacular passes to set up teammates for easy hoops, but far too often makes the difficult play rather than the easy one, resulting in a nearly 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. He possesses quick hands and good defensive instincts but gambles far too much leaving himself out of position and his team at a disadvantage. His entire “career” at Washington was summed up in the Huskies’ final Pac-12 Tournament game, where Wroten was spectacular in the second half, scoring 17 of a career-high 29 points, only to miss four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds to effectively end the Huskies’ NCAA Tournament hopes. As of right now, that’s what you get with Wroten; you’ve got to take the good with the bad. But, he’s got the talent to clean up his numerous shortcomings and become an impact player at the next level; it’s a matter of seeing who will roll the dice in the hopes that improvement comes.

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Morning Five: 04.04.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 4th, 2012

  1. Syracuse will play San Diego State on the USS Midway Museum on November 9. This event is similar to the Carrier Classic from last November except that it is being run by a different corporation and will not be on an active duty carrier. We have not heard how tickets will be allocated as the security presence at the event should be significantly less than what was seen last year as this is not an active duty ship and is in fact a museum that you can visit on a regular basis. We are also not sure if President Obama, who may or may not be returning to Washington for another term depending on the outcome of a small straw poll a few days earlier, will be coming to the game.
  2. There are conflicting stories on the report that the Sun Belt Conference would be adding Georgia State to its conference. A report filed early yesterday suggested that the move was imminent, but a subsequent report including a quote from the Sun Belt Conference’s commissioner appears to indicate that the decision is still very much up in the air. Given our history of hearing conflicting reports we are going to side with the initial report as it is more likely that Sun Belt is trying to conceal its hand until everything is certain and also to potential build up some buzz about the new announcement well at least as much buzz as a Sun Belt Conference move can have.
  3. The 2012 NBA Draft will not be short on point guards as two more probable first round picks–Tony Wroten Jr. and Damian Lillard–put their names into the Draft. For Washington the loss of Wroten is compounded by the loss of Terrence Ross will leave them significantly weakened as they try to rebound from a disappointing season. For Weber State the loss of Lillard will likely take them off the national radar for the time being. To us the interesting thing with these announcements is just how much talent there will be available to the NBA with Wroten and Lillard joining Kendall Marshall and Austin Rivers (ok, maybe he is a stretch as a point guard) as almost certain first round picks who have left school early. Will the presence of four such highly coveted point guards lead other point guards, who might have otherwise considered leaving (like Marquis Teague) to stay in for at least another year?
  4. Derrick Nix‘s offseason got off to a bad start as the Michigan State rising senior was suspended indefinitely following an arrest for marijuana possession and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs. Nix probably will not miss any significant time for the Spartans, but the arrest may indicate a lack of maturity and leadership for the Spartans as Nix was their lone rising senior. Tom Izzo says that he wait until the legal process works out before making a decision on Nix’s punishment. We would be surprised if the punishment is anything more than missing a game or two.
  5. There were a lot of “way too early” 2012-13 preseason polls released yesterday, but there was one poll that was different from the others–the final ESPN/USA Today Poll. The rankings are not particularly surprising, but they do place a heavy emphasis on the NCAA Tournament. With few exceptions teams are ranked based on how they finished in the NCAA Tournament. The big moves (up and down) were the “Cinderellas” that made deep runs and the highly ranked teams that were upset on the opening weekend.
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Pac-12 Game Of The Week: Washington at Oregon

Posted by Connor Pelton on February 9th, 2012

Looking at the rest of the Pac-12 slate, it’s tough to find a bigger game than the one coming up tonight in Eugene. That’s where first place Washington meets fourth place Oregon in a game with huge conference crown implications. For the visiting Huskies, a loss won’t make or break their chances at a conference crown, but they need every good win they can get if they want to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. On the other side is Oregon, who are losers of its last two games against upper-half conference teams. Not only does that create seperation between the Ducks and the top of the Pac, but it also gives those teams tiebreakers over the Ducks for Pac-12 Tournament seeding. Obviously, a win tonight would be huge for the Ducks. While the ship for an at-large bid has sailed, the Ducks need to do everything they can down the stretch to finish in the top four of the Pac-12. That would mean a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tourney, giving Oregon a solid shot at taking the Pac-12′s automatic bid. There’s no better time to start that journey than tonight.

Oregon guard Devoe Joseph leads the Ducks with 15.8 PPG. (credit: Eric Evans)

If Oregon is to have a chance in this one, it will need to shoot the ball better than it did in the first meeting between these two teams. In that New Year’s Eve ESPN2 affair, the Ducks shot just 21.7% from behind the arc. Guard Devoe Joseph was targeted and shut down by the Husky defense, going 0-5 from three and scoring just four points overall. In order to contend with the plethora of Husky sharpshooters (C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy, and Terrence Ross, to name a few), Joseph needs to have a huge night shooting the ball; Not to mention Johnathan Loyd and Garrett Sim. Read the rest of this entry »

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20 Questions: Pac-12 Style

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 30th, 2012

Inspired by last week’s “21 Questions” with Indiana, UNLV, Syracuse, and Murray State, here’s a look at 20 questions (and answers) related to the Pac-12 after the first half of conference play.

Jared Cunningham (left) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (right) are two favorites for Pac-12 Player of the Year. (Elaine Thompson)

1.  If you could pick one remaining game as a must-see for everyone in the country, what would it be?

  • Washington at Oregon on February 9 will be a thriller. Not only is it a rivalry game in one of the best arenas in college basketball, but the winner will have a huge say who goes on to win this conference.

2.  Which team from the bottom half of the conference has the best chance of coming back and winning the Pac-12?

  • My money would be on UCLA and the Wear twins, but wins at Washington (February 2) and home against California (February 11) will be huge in deciding that.

3.  Will Oregon State win a conference road game?

  • They should win in Salt Lake City on February 4, but I don’t see another opportunity besides that. [Ed. Note: And obviously Oregon now.]

4.  Since the Pac is in such a down year, let’s see how bad they really are. Starting at the top of last week’s “The Other 26”, how many mid-majors would knock off any Pac-12 team on a neutral floor?

  • I would say seven, with the streak ending at Memphis. But I would comfortably take Gonzaga, Whichta State, Creighton, etc. against any Pac-12 team.

5.  Down three with a minute left, who is the one player in the conference you turn to for the tying three?

  • Tony Wroten, Jr. Although he is just a freshman, that doesn’t really matter this late in the season. I’d give the ball to him without a doubt.

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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Ten

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 18th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew and I have compiled after the tenth week of Pac-12 games. Here we go!

1. Stanford, 15-3 (5-1): Going into the week, most Cardinal fans would have said they expected a big win over Utah and a grind it out, nail biting victory against Colorado. Instead, the opposite happened. But the Cardinal still went 2-0, and they are still on top of our power rankings after ten weeks of basketball. While the Cardinal have already been on a road trip to face the Oregon schools, they will be tested even more this week when they visit Pullman and Seattle. Up Next: 1.19 @ Washington State

2. California, 15-4 (5-1): Unlike their rival from across the bay, the Golden Bears barely got past Colorado on Thursday. After a terrible first half of shooting, Cal found itself down seven heading into the locker rooms. But when the two teams came out to begin the second half, it was like they switched identities. The Golden Bears would outscore Colorado by 14 in the second half en route to an ugly 57-50 win. Cal wrapped up the week with a 36-point win over the Utes. Up Next: 1.19 @ Washington

California guard Allen Crabbe leads the Golden Bears with 15.7 PPG. (credit: Ben Margot)

3. Oregon, 13-5 (4-2): The Ducks are the talk of the conference after sweeping the Arizona schools on the road this week. Thursday night they got a closer than comfort nine-point win over Arizona State, but the real damage was done on Saturday. Oregon went into the McKale Center and dominated Arizona for 35 minutes, and despite a late flurry of points from the Wildcats, held on for a thrilling 59-57 win. Up Next: 1.19 vs. USC

4. Washington, 11-6 (4-1): Two less-than-mediocre in-state rivals filled Washington’s slate this week. On Tuesday night Washington hosted Seattle University, and the Redhawks hung around all night before eventually falling, 91-83. On Sunday it was Washington State who came calling for the first Apple Cup of the season. The Cougars gave it all they had, but in the end the mixture of Tony Wroten, Jr., Terrence Ross, and Darnell Gant was too much for Washington State. The final was 75-65, bringing the UW winning streak up to three. Up Next: 1.19 vs. California

5. Arizona, 12-6 (3-2): The Wildcats ended up splitting on the week, but it was in uninspiring fashion. First there was the near-brawl, overtime win against Oregon State, and then there was Saturday’s meltdown against the Ducks. The Wildcats need to win beat both Utah and Colorado this week to keep their small at-large hopes alive. Up Next: 1.19 @ Utah

6. Colorado, 11-6 (3-2): Definitely a letdown week for Colorado after starting conference play 3-0. On Thursday they were able to play California tough, but Stanford totally dismantled the Buffaloes with an 84-64 thrashing Saturday afternoon. Up Next: 1.19 vs. Arizona State Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… the Pac-12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences.

Reader’s Take

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Problem Children – The overriding theme in the Pac-12 thus far this season has been problems: chemistry problems, behavioral problems, injury problems, and probably problems on top of those problems. (You know how when you repeat the same word a lot you realize how weird it sounds? Problem is a weird word.) The most high-profile of all these categories has been a handful of student-athletes around the conference creating problems for their teams out of thin air. The Reeves Nelson meltdown at UCLA has been the most high profile, with Jabari Brown’s premature defection from Oregon not far behind, but elsewhere around the conference there have been issues as well. At UCLA, senior point guard Jerime Anderson, a guy who should have been in a leadership position for this team, got busted for stealing a laptop this summer, pleading guilty to a couple misdemeanors and was suspended for two games (including one exhibition game) at the start of the year. On the same squad, ultra-talented big man Joshua Smith came back to the team this year ultra-big, looking as big or bigger than the 300+ pounds he showed he was unable to play at last year, then followed a loss to Loyola Marymount loss by making a fool of himself on Twitter. Over in Arizona, Sean Miller has had troubles of his own with freshmen Josiah Turner and Sidiki Johnson. Johnson is currently suspended, while Turner has displayed some chemistry problems of his own, causing him to be banished to the bench for a game by Miller. In short, aside from some bad basketball on the court, there have been a handful of players around the league making negative headlines off the court as well.

Problem Programs – Nobody really expected the Pac-12 to be a great conference this season, but the expectation was that it would be roughly as good as last year and primed for a big upswing next year with a batch of new highly regarded freshmen joining the talented youngsters currently littering conference rosters. Instead, through Tuesday night’s games, the conference had posted a combined 30-18 record, had just one remaining team (Stanford) still sporting an undefeated record and had a handful of teams in line for the title of worst BCS conference team. UCLA’s losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State have been well-documented, while USC’s 36-point disaster of a performance, in which enough bricks to build several wolf-proof houses were produced, is an excellent example of basketball at its ugliest. Nevertheless, as bad as UCLA and USC have been, one could easily envision both of those teams as middle-of-the-Pac contenders in the conference. That alone should tell you how bad the bottom of the conference is, but if further explanation is needed, look no further than Arizona State and Utah. The Sun Devils dropped a game at home to Pepperdine (a team that will challenge for the basement in the WCC) while Utah squeaked by NAIA also-ran San Diego Christian College (seriously, that’s a team that was 8-22 last year and lost 15 of its last 16 games) by three points before getting drilled by Boise State and losing to Montana State. As bad as the Pac-12 is, this Utah team is far and away the worst team in the conference.

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