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Team Capsules and my Pac-12 Championship Game Fandom for Sale

I’ll spare you the details of my Thanksgiving indulgence. Most of us indubitably did it and if you didn’t I admire you. For me, the ubiquity of food and rain placed the “go outside and be active” threshold far too high to go outside and be active. But seriously, was it a first down?

Alas, while I’ve spared you my Thanksgiving, I thought I’d note that I’m likely headed to Friday’s Pac-12 Championship game and my fan allegiance is completely for sale. So what’s it to you? What would you pay or provide to have the self-proclaimed preeminent Pac-12 basketball blogger cheer for your (football) team in the dimly attended Pac-12 Championship Game?

A brief review of my Pac-12 championship game resume:

  • Championships attended: 1
  • Rooting interest record: 0-1
  • Rooting interest margin: -38
  • Seating fortune: Covered during rain
  • Average time of arrival: Legal to drink on CalTrain
  • Average time of departure: Early 3rd quarter
  • Post-championship beverage of choice: Pisco Sour

I encourage you to take the above into serious consideration as you – Colorado and Washington fans, or even USC fans rooting for Washington and subsequently the Rose Bowl backdoor – prepare offers. For convenience purposes, I own several black pieces and one purple. Thus, attire will not be required but appreciated.

Finally, Pac-12, post-Feast Week, team capsules in no particular order (we’re not ready for Power Rankings): Continue reading

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Our Best Laid Schemes: On Process, Mice, and Ladders

The first draft of this essay(?) was composed the weekend before the season tipped off last Friday. I’d intended to post on Thursday, November 10th with a full slate of games the next day and because Thursdays tend to recognize high viewership.

But last week just wasn’t going to lend itself to my usual auto-editorial process. And so we find ourselves 24 Pac-12 games deep and I’m just now posting about the season’s beginning. As it were, the best laid plans was the exact narrative of this composition. It’s consequently led to this lead and feels about as fitting as ever.

A little more on planning and college basketball:

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet. He passed in 1796 after publishing countless volumes of poetry and wielding great influence beyond the written word. His works were a bedrock to Romanticism, celebrating the emotional aesthetic within art, literature, music and even politics. It paved the way for liberalism and nationalism. American greats such as Dylan, Salinger, and Steinbeck have cited Burns’ poetry as deeply inspirational, even foundational, to their work.

And in 1785 he published a poem entitled “Tae a Moose.” When translated it reads “To a Mouse.” A strange figure to pay homage to but it’s perhaps fitting a romantic. The verses describe a man ploughing his field preparing for winter when he discovers he’s disrupted a nest. Towards the end, Burns addresses the creature he has disrupted:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

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PacHoops One-Today: Arizona.

I’ve previewed all of the teams except ASU (11th best team so…pass and really just no time). It’s been a distracting week. College basketball is here. This is the preview of my team. Here’s where I previewed the others!

Arizona preview

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At initial writing, Chance Comanche was still suspended, indefinitely, from playing for Arizona (it’s since been announced that he will play today vs. Michgan State). His suspension allowed us a gloriously tragic photo narrative. Because Allonzo Trier is officially not in Hawaii; Ray Smith sustained his third ACL tear (terrible) and has retired from basketball; Graduate transfer and native Tucsonan, Talbot Denny, also tore his ACL in the pre-season and is out for the year; recall that former Arizona commit Terrence Ferguson headed down under to pursue a paycheck in lieu of college. That’s five scholarship players disappearing in three months time, with one reappearing just this week (Comanche). Consider that another of the allotted 13 schollies is held by Dylan Smith, an ineligible transfer, and Arizona was briefly left with seven scholarship players right:mag7

Of course Comanche is back now but eight isn’t miles better than seven. Consider a practice. Consider a full season grind, an injury here or a tweaked body part there. While depth is overrated in college basketball as quantified by the % of bench minutes used by Final Four teams, it’s not overrated when it comes to protecting against the trials of a season (i.e. Dylan Ennis (foot) <> Casey Benson, Allonzo Trier (hand) <> no Elliott Pitts (last year), Xavier Johnson <> George King)

Last season on Anywhere but Anaheim

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PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Ski Schools (CU and Utah)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)

Colorado preview

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Has Tad Boyle built a program? There’s a big distinction between programs and individual teams, collections of talent that achieve something nice. Chauncey Billups’ Buffs? Team. Mark Few at Gonzaga? Program. Follow? In the latter half of this post we’ll explore Larry Krystkowiak’s program. It’s a good one. But for now, what do we make of Boyle’s six years in Boulder? At the surface, they’re great. Some readers have suggested statues. That’s a little much but four dances in six years isn’t just unprecedented out of The Keg, it’s – well – statue conjuring. So in considering Boyle’s program, this is a critical year. We could excuse a chunk of the past to Josh Scott; a local talent who blossomed into a transcendent player. He was fantastic. An All-Time Buff. But J40 isn’t suiting up in 2017. And what we’re left with, according to resident CU expert Ben Burrows in his monster CU preview, is:

I get the feeling that this, finally, is what the ideal Tad Boyle roster is supposed to look like.

If that’s indeed the case, we’ll have a really good feel for what the Tad Boyle program looks like and likely further optimism oozing out of Boulder.

Last season on The [other] Rise

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PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Bay Schools (Cal & Stanford)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)

California Preview

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We’re entering year three with Cuonzo which is his average tenure. He stayed three years at Missouri State before earning a Sweet Sixteen and a ticket to Knoxville where petitions were started to oust him. The people demand Bruce Pearl! And now we’re here. He’s got an outbound lottery pick, a four-year-five-star, a Columbia grad transfer, and Marcus Lee on the bench. His athletic department has significant deficits but Cuonzo got a contract. Alas, that’s a grim outline for what’s generally viewed as a promising season. The Bears were picked to finish 4th this season and, despite my run down, all can’t be bad in Berkeley (I have friends that live there!).

Last season on “Everybody Love Cuonzo”

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PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Los Angeles Schools (UCLA & USC)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)

UCLA Preview

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At what point is the 15-17 record exhausted? What about the letter? You’re unfamiliar? Perfect. Let’s be besties. The Bruins concluded 2016 with their 4th losing season since 1948. That’s a minute. And because it was the fault of the defense (199th nationally, 9th in the Pac-12), Steve Alford returned his contract extension bonus ($5.2M) and apologized to fans. We’ll get further into things below. But UCLA basketball hasn’t felt like UCLA basketball for awhile. What’s going to change this year? Is it a top-5 recruiting class? Seen it. Is it a new attitude? Heard about it. What? Will? Change?

Last season on “Keeping up with Wooden”

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PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Civil Schools (UO and OSU)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy.

Oregon Preview

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The Ducks wear a lot of different jerseys and are famous for it. What do you think a bullseyed Duck looks like, then? Well, Nintendo crafted an entire game around such and it looked like this:

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Although in this 2016-17 version of Duck Hunt I don’t foresee too many other anthropomorphized creatures chuckling in the reeds. There’s absolutely nothing funny about the Killer B’s (Brooks, Boucher, Benson, Bell, Borsey and BEnnis). Chris Boucher is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and I think he’s their third best player. Arizona’s best player was just listed as “OUT: Reason Unknown.” There is no anthropomorphic giggling here.

Last season on “Roster continuity”

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PacHoops Two-A-Days: The Apple Schools (UW & WSU)

We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy.

Washington Preview

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The Ringer debuted its college basketball coverage with a thorough breakdown of Lorenzo Romar’s employment. That surprised me and if it didn’t surprise you then I imagine you follow Chris Hansen’s every funding move. Alas, the Huskies bring a team to the Dawg Pound that probably isn’t going to look a lot different than last year’s. They just played an 80+ possession game and yielded 103 points to a D2 school. Two of those D2 players achieved greater than 20 points and to this I shout out to Derrick White. Husky hoops is pace.

Last season on “The Fast & The Furious: Seattle Drift”

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Podcast of Participants. The Pac-12 stunk

If you’ve followed this podcast you know that – or at least I think that – Spencer crushed our intro. Sound editing with great clips that demonstrate moments (IT’S MARCH AND WE LOVE MOMENTS) in Pac-12 basketball. It’s fantastic. To open this Pod, he crushes (different use) the Pac-12 right during that very intro. It’s also fantastic.

And then I also crush the Pac and explain why no, right now, I don’t #BackThePac.

Subscribe?

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Podcast of Champions. Madness previewed (Vegas reviewed)

A historic number of Pac-12 teams are dancing which is what Spencer and I discuss on a day that also saw Johnny Dawkins and Yann Hufnagel fired (which is unequivocally a distraction no matter what he says and especially if he says this).

By tuning in you’re exposing yourself to: a Vegas breakdown (it was a straight forward tournament but Spencer makes a hygiene admission) and team-by-team big dance thoughts.

Listen and also subscribe and review: