This post can also be seen at ryanrecker.com. Worth the visit if you like a good podcast or some legit prose. Ryan is the Sports Director at KVOA-Tucson.
The Pac-12 finally got their marquee non-conference win. Granted, it didn’t involve a basket or a ball or even a scoreboard. Arizona outdrew both the ACC (Florida State) and Big East (Pitt) combined in ESPN College GameDay attendance. BOOM! Put that in your calculator and RPI it!
Leader in the Clubhouse: This is a tough one to call so let’s talk it out:
Cal has the track record and has consistently looked like the team to beat
But Washington marched into Tucson and left with a win
But Cal just beat the Huskies in Seattle
But Washington couldn’t hold court against the Jackrabbits
But Cal has lost to the Cougars and Beavers
But Washington has the tougher SOS
But Cal has the higher RPI
Back-and-forth to be sure and I ultimately give the edge to Cal here, but the point isn’t the aforementioned bolds and italics. The point here is that halfway through the Pac-12 season I think the cream has finally risen to the top. Or, perhaps better said, the pretenders are showing their true colors. Allow ourselves some optimism and we’ll call it the former but whilst on the topic of true colors, UW showed theirs. By wrecking the whiteout, UW finally got that road win so many of us needed to see in order to take the HecEd homers seriously. The proverbial corner turned, Romar’s squad has pieced together what I’d call a nice in-conference resume. There’s still half-a-schedule to play but at 7-2, both the Huskies and Bears can rightfully claim to be the conference’s elite. These two, unfortunately, won’t tip off again this season (unless it’s in the Staples Center) and that’s really a shame because the one time they did it was a helluva game. Shout out here to USC for winning their first conference game.
Game of the Weekend: The Block, Part II OR The Foul, Part II. What do you want to call it? Presumably the former if you’re a Husky, the latter a Wildcat – you’ll recall this. While Tony Wroten’s block may not have had quite the drama of Derrick Williams’ a year ago, it was no less game saving and no less gigantic. The man-amongst-boys freshman may have efficiency, turnover, and overuse issues, but he owns the lead on a quickly improving if not good team and made the play of the game as the final buzzer sounded. Of course – and we’re back to asking if you’re a Husky or a Wildcat – the play of the game could also have been the blocking call with just over five seconds remaining in the newly tied game. There’s no doubt it was a foul but why did Josiah Turner need to try and draw a charge there? Freshman mistake? Lost in the moment? Did he just Horne-it? Whatever it was, it put the Huskies at the line for a chance to seal the victory which CJ Wilcox did. Cold blooded, if you will. But I need ask no question regarding your allegiance when I tell you that this was a terrific basketball game and fit the billing of the GOtW. Perhaps lost amidst the hectic finish to this game was Solomon Hill’s night. He missed two shots and took eighteen. Sweet efficiency did he have a ballgame finishing with 28 and 11, his third straight double-double. Also, Terrence Ross: good.
The Big Loser: A case could be made here for a number of teams: Colorado seemingly can’t get over the hump and win on the road; Oregon lost at home to Oregon State; Stanford and Arizona have dropped to 5-4; WSU lost to ASU; Utah lost to USC. Looking back over that list I’m reminded that we’d previously said we were going to be optimists in this post so I won’t mention the foul stench of sub-mediocrity. I digress and move on to my final answer: Stanford. Sure they lost on the road in a rivalry game but this team is offensively inept and it’s beginning to glare. They’ve lost three straight in which they’re shooting a cringe-worthy 36% from the field and 19% from distance, a shot the Cardinal rely far too heavily upon to shoot so poorly. I’d love to give Johnny Dawkins’ crew the benefit of the doubt and excuse this losing streak to playing on the road, but that’s too many excuses for a team that played a non-non-conference schedule. I’m selling my Cardinal stock but investing in their classmates.
What We Learned: Sometimes life just isn’t fair. You’ll recall that Arizona junior, Kevin Parrom, was shot in the hand and leg while visiting his dying mother on the heels of losing his grandmother? Yeah, that month occurred this past summer and the road back has been a long one for Parrom. But he was back. The Wildcats’ spark plug understandably needed more time than perhaps fan patience would allow but he was back, averaging 9/5/3 in the three games leading up to Saturday’s whiteout, demonstrating the complete and gritty style he’s come to be known for. And in that game, in leading the Wildcats to a halftime lead, the junior put up 7/3/2 in just ten minutes of play. Kevin Parrom was indeed back. But when the second half began, Kevin wasn’t back. He wasn’t on the court, he wasn’t on the bench. Nothing was said by the ESPN crew and when the cameras finally found him, he was wearing a boot. You see the human foot accounts for about one-eighth of the bones in an adult – a significant number in the grand scheme of things and subsequently an increased probability of breakage. Basic math, right? The odds played out on Saturday and Kevin Parrom’s season was declared over. A broken foot to blame. Grandmother, mother, mortality; no, life isn’t always fair. But maybe to break Kevin Parrom you must actually break him. Incapacitate him so he can’t be the heart-and-soul of a basketball team, recover from heartache amongst teammates and family, or play the game he loves. Nope. Not breaking Kevin Parrom can break Kevin Parrom. Just ask him.
Early Week YouTuber: This happened.