So we’ve kicked off another weekend of Pac-12 performances with a shaky UW home outing against crosstown rival Seattle U and their rounding coach, Cameron Dollar. It was a three-point game with as little as 1:27 left but winning is winning and the Pac-12 has put hefty beer goggles on the eye ball test so we’ll agree to just add it to the “W” column and move on. Next.
TV Complaint: As well as I can see, it appears every game this week will have television representation. That is something to celebrate but begs the question: what the hell is Root TV? I’ve seen it peppered all over the TV schedule and when googling said network (can we call it that?) it’s a page 2 result. But here’s what I managed to find out. Root TV is the renamed network of Fox Sports Northwest. Of course, right? Regardless, I don’t get it on my cable package which I just realized popped out of the introductory rate and is running us $150/month. So I pay an arm and a leg for regional broadcasting of University of San Francisco games. The same USF holding a win and OT loss to Pac-12 beaters, Northern Arizona and Loyola Marymount. Am I the big winner? No. We’re all still subjected to FSN or whatever name they want to call themselves. Losers, every last one of us.
Game of the Weekend: Presumed favorite hosts first place team. This is an obvious choice until you plug in the names. While Cal (presumed favorite) will likely play in a majority of the league’s intriguing games this season, did you think Colorado would exclusively hold first place? Ever? Anyhow, this game takes top billing because we’re going to get to see what the Buffs are made of – more on that later. For the meantime, let’s mention that this league is Cal’s for the taking. As we mentioned last week, holding serve at home is imperative and Monty’s crew is as prepped as any to do such. Important is the healthy return of Richard Solomon. The sophomore big has been sidelined for two of Cal’s four losses and played just eleven minutes in another (yes, he played in the Mizzou blowout). The Bears don’t seem to have much issue on the perimeter (I’d take Jorge, Crabbe, and Cobbs for my squad) and lead the conference in A/T ratio (1.6), but rank 9th in conference play in rebounding percentage; just two percentage points ahead of ASU who has played two conference games with only six scholarship players. So back to Solomon, a dude averaging 6.6 boards per game, the Bears could use him because, in case you hadn’t noticed, Andre Roberson is a vacuum (11.7 rpg). But regardless of advanced or remedial stats, I cannot see the Bears losing this one.
Game to Avoid: Don’t watch Washington State’s visit to Seattle. Sure it’s a rivalry game but why tune in to watch Tony Wroten dribble around or Faisal Aden miss shots? The Huskies have the 292nd best assist rate in the NCAA and turn the ball over at an 18% clip (274th in the country). HOLY BLACK HOLE, BATMAN! To address Aden, I present to you this EXCLUSIVE from CougCenter. Toss in that the game will overlap in part with the Packers-Giants game and I ask, why waste your Sunday evening? Look, I’m as big a Brock Motum fan as there is but he’s not worth the price of admission. You know who is? The guy once thought to be the best player in the conference, Terrence Ross. Well right now he’s the third best player on his team so I’m going to hold out until Ross decides to show up. When he does, it’ll look something like this. Oh, it also would be nice if Abdul Gaddy did more in his 33mpg (12.4 PER vs. average of 15).
Something to Prove: The Colorado Buffaloes have painted a target on their chest and let’s see how they wear it. They travel to the Bay Area for the toughest Pac-12 trip of the season and their first road games of the conference season. The Buffs also started 3-0 in Big-12 play last season before losing seven of the following nine. Could Boyle’s boys learn from last year’s flop? That streak likely cost CU a chance to dance and no doubt that was bitter. While this team was picked to finish eleventh (still could) in the conference, they currently sit atop it. Heavy weighs the crown and it will be interesting to see how the Mile High Hoopers handle Bay altitude. If they’re indeed going to focus on defense and rebounding – and they have in collecting these last three wins – someone’s going to have to fill it up on the other end. Enter, Carlon Brown. The red hot senior is as good as anyone; shooting 60% from the field in Colorado’s last six games (all at home, mind you). So, let’s see how he and his teammates handle the road.
Something to Lose: If we’re indeed going to annoint a weekly team du jour (contradictory, I realize, between english and french but you get my point), last week it was UCLA for their sweep of the Arizona schools. For such, UCLA finds itself in an intriguing trap game against USC. It’s one of those games they’re supposed to win but no one will bat an eye if they do. However, should they lose, well, the program is back in shambles as Howland remains bereft of his team’s attention continuing the Bruin spiral into out-of-Pauley obscurity culminating in the joint firings of Howland and Guerrero. Also, USC isn’t good. Let’s get that straight. But they play a style of basketball that no doubt keeps them in games and could emerge as a major thorn for a team (UCLA) that has had some focus issues. To boot, the Bruins have lost four of the last five to Kevin O’Neill’s scoreless wonders. The best news for the Bruins is that Josh Smith recently ran three miles according to Coach Howland and the Galen Center is just one-half mile from the Sports Arena. Run Josh, run!
Weekend YouTuber: Some would argue that the Pac-12 is in a free fall. I’d remind you that both Arizona has the top recruiting class in the nation with UCLA and Colorado rolling in at 15 and 25, respectively. The Bruins could quickly shoot up those rankings should they garner a long anticipated commitment from top recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, but free falling doesn’t look that bad, right?