Round 2 voting has closed. Read about the fights here.
Michael Buffer already said it. Rumbling is upon us and that means Round 2 is here. Last time in the cage, the top seeds advanced, handling their opponents with varied levels of ease or otherwise.
But now we found ourselves at Round 2. The top seeds enter. WHO. WILL. SURVIVE?
(Voting closes 3/2)
#8 Lorenzo Romar vs. #1 Kevin O'Neill
#1 Kevin "Bruisin' Boozin' Bozo" O'Neill (51%, 138 Votes)
#8 Lorenzo "HecEd Hammer" Romar (49%, 130 Votes)
Total Voters: 268
The HecEd Hammer rolled in his first round victory but now faces the Bruisin’ Boozin’ Bozo. The man who hasn’t given a rat’s back end since, well, never. Problem for KO is that LoRo does nothing but care. It’s kind of like when Voldemort swiftly kills Harry in HP7b and he finds himself dead in that white-on-white-on-white train station talking to Gandalf with that weird fetus thing under the bench but manages to come back to life because he’s so damn loved. LoRo is Harry. KO is Voldemort. Could these two re-write the Greatest Story Ever Told?
#5 Sean Miller vs. #4 K
#5 Sean "Whooping" Miller (76%, 254 Votes)
#4 K (24%, 79 Votes)
Total Voters: 333
Our second matchup involves Whooping and K. The first year guy at Utah has been called intense and why not? He’s an unsettling 6’9″, sports that goater and made the league out of the University of Montana. HAM no doubt. But he will be fighting Whooping:
Please catch the ball when it is passed to you, Angelo.
#7 Tad Boyle vs. #2 Johnny Dawkins
#7 Tad "Colorado Cranium" Boyle (81%, 229 Votes)
#2 Johnny "Cruel Cardinal" Dawkins (19%, 53 Votes)
Total Voters: 282
The huge dome served Tad well in Round 1 but now he faces the smileless-wonder, the stone grilled assassin, the Cruel Cardinal, Johnny D. Considering his Cardinal just lost to the worst team (Utah) to ever join a major conference until USC’s 2011-12 season, I’m guessing the Cruel Cardinal is vying for blood. But Boyle isn’t about to roll over and surrender to the frown. He’s the coach that killed a bear after all and has hands the could choke a blue whale. We’re in for blows.
He’s been described as unassuming, simple, and soft. He’s also defeated a haunted horseman who rides around carrying his own goddamn head. Are you kidding me? I ain’t messing with that guy and he so clearly DGAF that this happened. The Capacious Corvallian, with the help of lil’ sister and her husband’s bevy of ear pieced aid, may (or may not) have their hands full with the crazy eyed gangle-body from Pullman.
Then it leaked or was released or was just read by a lot of people before it was actually in Sports Illustrated or on SI.com or I don’t know what happened surrounding the release of this damn thing but it was confusing. My point is, I started reading stuff about the contents of this article and after suspecting that it would have a whole lot of stuff that we already assumed about Howland and his bunch of malcontents, it was confirmed.
Is it that surprising that kids take advantage of a toothless bark? That players leave a program that isn’t going to necessarily teach them anything new, push them to new heights, or challenge their skill? Rightfully run from bullies and the mishandling of attitudes?
When I finally had the opportunity to read the publicized piece I was underwhelmed. It felt like the nerdy kid in high school tattling on the cool kids.
I was most offended by Howland’s temperature demands in the film room. Dude, you live in LA, it’s perfect there year ’round. Get over it.
Will this cost Howland his job? Absolutely not. Anyone already close to the program knew all of this and I can’t imagine any outsider is shocked by these allegations. But it does grossly highlight the lack of accountability in the program and the structure of misaligned priorities that will ultimately bring about the demise of the Howland tenure.
Could Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and whatever other combination of 2012 recruits commit to UCLA – potentially including #1 Shabazz Muhammad and #20 Tony Parker – salvage this black eyed program? Absolutely. Wins are the ultimate PR remedy and talent can contribute just that.
It may not be fair and it may not be right but it’s the sports world we live in. Ultimately college basketball – and more immediately the Pac-12 – are best suited when UCLA is good so someone in Westwood needs to figure it out soon.
If looking for the positive side of things, Howland and Guerrero no longer have the opportunity to hide behind the veil of privacy they assumed they had. They had a chance to be accountable to each other and to the school and to the student-athletes they taught.
Now that veil has been lifted and all eyes are on them.
If you watched Kyle Fogg’s effort against the Washington Huskies in Tucson back on January 28, you saw him trying.
The senior tried so hard. He knew what a win meant and he wanted to win. I maintain it was the single greatest example of trying to do too much I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. He made two of his four shots, all of which were attempted in the first half, grabbed no rebounds, and coughed the ball up five times.
And if you could stand to watch him during the post game press conference, dejected doesn’t even begin to describe how the senior looked. Slumped in his shoulders, mumbled in his responses, blank in his gaze, he looked defeated. As if the toll of four transitional and trying years, an underwhelming 5-4 start, and the weight of Tucson’s collective basketball focus had finally become too much.
It was not.
Since sitting in that small room after the Washington game, Fogg has been the best player in the Pacific-12 Conference. He’s twice won the conference’s Player of the Week award and take a peak at these numbers: 16.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 spg.
But here’s the biggest number: seven. The Wildcats are 7-1 since that potentially finishing loss at home and Fogg has been the centerpiece of that. Ensuring that Arizona will not go quietly into the 2012 off-season. That Fogg will not be the first Arizona senior in more than twenty years to play in just two NCAA tournaments.
You realize before he picked this team up on his back they were all but dead? A game over five hundred in arguably the worst major conference ever with two home losses and a pending road trip to the Bay Area? All but dead indeed and he didn’t let that happen, winning the first of his two POW awards during the Bay sweep.
This perfect little run very well could have Fogg and his Wildcats dancing but it’s really just icing on the cake for the least suspecting four-year starter in recent Arizona Basketball history.
When it’s all said and done, Fogg will have started at least the sixth most games in Arizona basketball history. Up there with the likes of Frye, Stoudamire, and Cook. Those aren’t names you’ll soon forget. And you shouldn’t soon forget Kyle Fogg, either.
He never wowed us with skill, often looking the part of a project when this program needed him to be a star. Fogg was lightly recruited to say it nicely and didn’t receive a scholarship offer until the Arizona program was at rock bottom.
The unranked, unoffered, unassuming kid from Brea will now likely be a First Team All-Conference player. One of the hardest, most self-made players to wear an Arizona jersey. Just like in that Washington game, he’s tried.
So take yourself back into that room with Fogg. Down – oh so down – but clearly he wasn’t out. Because there were at least nine more games to start. To be remembered as the great Wildcat he is.
Swift blows, heavy hits, judo chops, piledrivers, closely contested bouts. Whatever verbiage you’d like to use here, four men are moving on. Four are gone. Eight remain. [insert the striking of Zeus’ bolt, here]
The 8/9 matchup opened tight. Altman and the Nike brass threw all they could at sweet LoRo until they became just another moment that MJ will list as a failure for his post-third-retirement This is Why I Succeed poster. Reality of it is that the HecEd Hammer ended Dana; slapping him up and down the ring with a stack of Uncle Phil’s Benjamin’s until he cried “uncle” because Altman looks like a dude who needs to surrender by saying “uncle.”
Soon after the cleanup crew scraped the neon out of the mat, Boyle and Monty took center stage and this one went the distance. The eno-weathered veteran used his tact, wit, and GSW mandated self-defense to stay close to the thunder paws of the Colorado Cranium who never quite controlled the match but does appear to have the ability to kill a bear (see below). Alas, Tad advances.
Courtesy of SkidMark at allbuffs.com
And then the Westwood Wailer and Capacious Corvallian decided to go ahead and take it to another level. Or was it a match no one wanted to win? However you slice it, this bout was decided by three votes. Three votes. Or roughly two fewer halves than Reeves Nelson was suspended for prior to being ousted not unlike his maligned coach by the biggest of Beavers.
The final tilt was not your classic case of saving the best for last as it was indeed the worst for last. Whooping took the Tempe Terror to task and didn’t look back. He received the most votes (110) in annihilating the Herbivore who received the fewest (35) then curled up in James Harden’s beard for a soft cry.
Be ready, get ready as Round 2 begins tomorrow and you know the top-4 seeds are itching to battle.
In fact, Bruizin’ Boozin’ Bozo just ate the entire backside of a cow and washed it down with a bottle of Jack while doing his clown makeup and staring down Ichabod who was simultaneously juggling (borrowing Bozo’s flaming juggling daggers) and holding crane posses for Miyagi in a fruitless effort to get the Cruel Cardinal to smile while he watched the Worst Cry Ever on repeat utterly stone faced. Of course K was just in the corner chewing metal.
Awhile back we examined how the relevant (read: not ASU, USC, or Utah) Pac-12 teams paralleled the Oscar Nominees for Best Picture. Last night, The Artist, won the award.
This was the film that I felt most closely paralleled the Oregon State Beavers and so we can now conclude that A) these analogies were not based on odds of winning, and B) in revisiting that post, Brad’s rant on War Horse was nothing short of remarkable. However, with things still highly questionable regarding the POY race, could The Artist’s Jean Dujardin’s claiming of the Best Actor award be foreboding for Jared Cunningham?
The weekend of yawnable must-wins turned into something of an edge-of-your-seater as teams began realizing that this thing is really coming down to the wire. That, or the teams out of the race were pissed off enough to finally do something about their abysmal seasons. Your pick, there were some doozies.
Leader in the Clubhouse: Washington stands alone in first place so this one’s undebatable. They overcame a 13-point defect in the second half of their road Apple Cup victory and some questionable coach from Ken Bone, but – and this has been a theme of late – they won. That’s all that matters this time of year, just ask Cal. The Huskies have themselves poised to win the school’s twentieth regular season crown – their second since 1985 – but not without some work to do. The leaders head to Los Angeles to tackle a UCLA team that – while closing a mess of a season – had the Huskies all but beat until Terrence Ross took over the final few minutes. And this time it’ll be on the ever challenging road, a place Romar etc. have historically struggled to win the big ones.
Game of the Weekend: There were some tight ball games this weekend. Saturday and Sunday’s games had an average margin of victory of four points. Tightballgamesindeed. Good stuff for a whole bunch of games with little surface intrigue but heavy tournament and title implications. In our Preview, we said the GotW would be Colorado and California in a title tilt; a huge game for the Buffs in which they could “catapult themselves into contention for a conference title.” Well, that game was indeed huge for the Buffs and they came out guns blazing and won big. But, as they say, “when you assume you make and ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me'” so we must also revisit the fact that I wrote, “Assuming Colorado beats Stanford tonight.” An ass I am. Getting back to what was arguably the best game of the weekend from an entertainment standpoint, I’m giving that nod to the oldest rivalry in college sports: The Civil War. In a must wins for the Ducks, Garret Sim scored a career high 25 points as Oregon won on the road by just one. Oregon State used a late rally to cut the Duck lead to three when they had the ball and 9 ticks remaining. They got a good look at a three that resulted in a tip-dunk and subsequent one-point loss. My favorite for POY, DeVoe Joseph, added sixteen points and is averaging 17.1 points per conference game (Jorge: 13.3 ppCg, Ross: 15.3 ppCg, Wroten: 16.7 ppCg).
The Big Loser: Easy. The Stanford Cardinal lost to the Utah Utes of 260 RPI, 301 KenPom, and 296 Sagarin-lore. The worst team amongst the BCS conferences beat Stanford. Doesn’t matter to me that they handled Colorado. You don’t lose to teams that are that bad. You just cannot. I’m struggling with words, to make an analogy so I give you this:
What We Learned: The teams with a chance to dance are getting drum tight. As I said previously, UW needed to overcome a 13-point defect, Cal got straight up beat, Arizona and Oregon won despite doing everything they could to do otherwise, and Colorado was rolled at home. Loosen up fellas! You’ll play better. So let’s take a look at what’s left to go for each of the “contenders,” or teams with a fighting chance of finishing in the top-4.
Washington, 13-3: The Huskies will travel to LA and have already guaranteed themselves a top-4 finish. Assuming (yeah, I said it again!) they beat USC, they’re guaranteed a top-2 finish. In short, UW is sitting pretty with a great opportunity to be champs. Right??
California, 13-4: What happened in Boulder? Anyhow, it happened and Cal likely cost themselves a conference title. Now they’ll head south to close in The Big Game at Stanford. And who knows what’s going on in with that Dawkins squad? But this is about Monty’s veteran-ish squad with dwindling careers in a rivalry game. I like Cal’s chances, but at this point it’s to finish in second. They do hold the tie-breaker over Washington, however.
Arizona, 12-5: One to play and it’s in Tempe against the lowly Sun Devils. A win and the Wildcats are guaranteed a fourth-place-or-better finish and, in all likelihood, are dancing. If that doesn’t scream “trap game” I don’t know what does.
Oregon/Colorado, 11-5: I’ve lumped these two together because they’ll have the opportunity to control their respective fates head-to-head Thursday night (SPOILER: I will be calling this the Week 10 GotW). Last time these two faced off, it came down to the wire as Nate Tomlinson won it with a free throw in the final seconds. Will Oregon get sweet revenge? Or will the Buffs get that coveted first (big) road victory in the nick of time? Then of course there’s still the Saturday games. No asses here.
Early Week YouTuber: As the season is quickly coming to a close, we always wonder what it would be like if just a few things were different. What if just one more shot had fallen for Arizona against Colorado, Oregon, or Washington? What if Cal doesn’t drop the ball against OSU and WSU? Or Colorado closes out Cal in Berkeley? These events didn’t happen and this isn’t what a bar scene usually looks like. But what if?
Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal completed the season sweep of the Colorado Buffaloes last night in Boulder. Stanford beat Colorado by an average of 22 points per game this year. It was the Buffs first home loss in conference play and all but ended their chances of dancing or winning the conference title.
Now get over it.
Colorado is a team with remarkably unsuspecting and unproven talent. The only player not named Andre who received any national attention before this season was on BIAH’s All-Name Team (Sharpe and Harris-Tunks).
An arm sleeved Aussie? A North Dakotan with a WASP of a name? A transfer from Utah? An Askia and a Dinwiddie? No wonder this group was picked to finish next to Ski Trip companero, Utah, at the bottom of the Pac.
News flash: they didn’t, they haven’t, they wont.
Boyle’s Boys, a group no one believed in, has played in the top-three of their new conference from the start of this thing and still can finish there. Sure it’s a down league but it’s a league – like every other – where each team plays a full schedule, accumulates a record, and standings are established. When such a scenario unfolds and you’re finding your team’s name closer to the top of the list than the bottom, that’s good!
Judge yourself on a body of work, not an individual performance.
Sure Stanford rolled the Buffs but that’s an outlier in the course of a 30+ game season. Have you seen He’s Just Not That Into You? Exceptions and rules.
Embrace the fact that Boyle and the program he’s building is a rule. A group that may not wow you on paper but who cares because the rule is: if you score more points than your opponent more often than you don’t, you’re a good team.
Colorado is a good team. A growing program.
And last night was an exception to the fact that the Buffs have pieced together one helluva season. Colorado isn’t dead. They’re growing.
Round 1 of the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match opens today and voting will remain open through Monday, 2/27. Vote, share, comment.
#8 Lorenzo Romar vs. #9 Dana Altman
#8 Lorenzo Romar (63%, 96 Votes)
#9 Dana Altman (37%, 57 Votes)
Total Voters: 153
On the surface, this would appear to be a cutesy battle. The ever grinning, cordial and kind LoRo squares off against the unsuspecting and perhaps aptly named, Dana Altman. A couple of Pacific North Westerners all granola, jogging, and North Face? Nah. The Nike Knuckler could care less if nary a swear word left Lorenzo’s smiling lips. He wants to put that legacy Husky into the canvas almost as bad as Romar would like to send Dana-poo right back to Creighton and his fourteen years of mid-major mediocrity. A Dawg and a Duck. Barks and quacks. Who’s louder?
#7 Boyle vs. #10 Montgomery
#7 Tad "Colorado Cranium" Boyle (53%, 84 Votes)
#10 Mike "Bay Hopper" Montgomery (48%, 76 Votes)
Total Voters: 160
The Colorado Cranium, no doubt an attacking fighter, will have his hands full in this trap of a 7/10 game. Do you really think after seeing what happened to an ill prepared PJ Carlesimo that Monty would take coach’s self defense lightly? No way. Like the Civil War, this should be a war of attrition, in which Boyle and his jumbo paws pound away at Papa Monty until one of the becomes an opportunist; at which point either Monty swiftly wins or Boyle wears him out for an eventual kill. The crafty vet should have something up his sleeve and is no softy – someone had to teach Jorge. Will Boyle bruise his way to the win or can the Bay Hopper finagle his way to Round 2?
Yeah Robinson family, Let’s Move indeed. As the Capacious Corvallian looks to smash some domes – wouldn’t you if you lived in Corvallis while your kid sister flew Air Force One? – the Westwood Wailer needs a spark. And this time hiring an guru on the AAU circuit to reignite your recruiting efforts ain’t gonna cut it. This is “to the heart stop” if you read the non-rules and it’ll take more spine than suspending a malcontent for one half. Will CRob and the Secret Service handily eliminate Howland or could there be a little wizardry coming out of Westwood once again?
#5 Miller vs. #12 Sendek
#5 Sean "Whooping" Miller (76%, 110 Votes)
#12 Herb "Tempe Terror" Sendek (24%, 35 Votes)
Total Voters: 145
Awkward! Sendek used to be Miller’s boss. Now the boy faced Pittsburgher basically tells the Herbivore how it is. Or does he? Yeah, he pretty much does but maybe – just maybe – the Tempe Terror can conjure up and be his own James Harden and do something other than be just OK. While this one appears stacked well against Sendek, Whooping did spout off about the XU-Cincinnati fight and how it wasn’t all that bad. Have you seen Xavier’s record post melee? 9-10. So maybe he can rile himself up for this one, but will it translate?
Share this post with someone if you’re tired of minute by minute changes to bracketology and hearing about Big East schools.
Yes, we’re at that time of year where you’re only as good as your last game and perhaps rightfully so. The big race in the Pac-12 might be to avoid the five seed and get yourself into that bye game seat. But, like I said, you’re only as good as your last box score so just win. We said it after Washington was rolled by Oregon and the concept remains true. Especially while looking at a weekend such as this one in which there’s a whole slate of uninteresting must-wins.
And here’s the thing, relying on the conference tournament for a tourney birth is mid-major stuff. Win some ball games and let the Conference of Champions logo and Larry Scott take care of you. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s how it works in the Big East and for all that I want to knock it they get into the tournament. It’s not like New Coke. There’s one recipe: winning. Stick to it.
Say, speaking of tournaments, you oughta get over here and vote in the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. How does your coach stack up? Vote, comment, share.
TV Complaint: The best team in the conference and the team ESPN and others have refused to call a tournament “lock” – but what’s that really matter with two weekends left and conference tourneys to play – won’t be aired tonight. This fact further confirms my issue from Monday’s opener that Utah is the black hole of the conference right now and renders their opponent – regardless of RPI, prestige, standings – completely irrelevant. Then, of course, there’s the web airing of UCLA’s game which I don’t know what to make of. ASU and UCLA represent the two largest population bases in the conference and will have their game – regardless of RPI, prestige, standings – also rendered completely irrelevant. However, unlike our other game of irrelevance, the Bruins and Devils are at fault.
Game of the Weekend: It’s not UCLA and Arizona. That used to be an edge of your seat game in which champions and regional seedings were determined. Now it’s reluctantly broadcast on CBS as two teams with underwhelming resumes battle in one of the more unique must-wins in recent Arizona history. Alas, none of that equates to a game of the weekend. That prize swiftly and obviously goes to Sunday’s Colorado-California game (assuming Colorado beats Stanford tonight which may or may not be a leap assumption). The Buffs are undefeated at home in conference play and quietly sit alone in third place. A win here and the Buffs catapult themselves into contention for a conference title. Real talk. When these two faced off in Berkeley – a game I attended – Boyle’s Boys outplayed the Monty Crew in a tightly contested battle. I’m excited to see what happens A) in the CEC B) with Cal having a chance to secure the conference title, and C) who Ben F picks on The Bachelor (seriously read that blog if you know what’s good for you).
Game to Avoid: Too easy here. USC visits ASU. Blah, blah, these two are so bad but maybe it’s like that wedding where you grossly disapprove of the marrying pair. He’s overly involved in her, the bend over backwards type. She’s beyond high maintenance, a Bridezilla so miserable WE Tv wouldn’t even take her (googled that reference). Everyone disapproves. But it’s going to be an open bar so you’re going to go. Nah. This game isn’t even worth the open bar.
Something to Prove: This one is falling squarely on the shoulders of the Colorado Buffaloes. There’s a case to be made for Arizona and Oregon again as they’re both in contention for quality seeding or to at least avoid the five seed. But they each had a shot to jump in the standings and dropped that ball. So now it’s the Buffs’ turn. They’re 1.5 games out of first and get a shot at Cal at home. Should they sweep out and Washington drop one down the stretch, the Colorado University Buffaloes would be your 2011-12 Pac-12 Conference Champions. Let that sink in. It’s possible and it starts Thursday against a struggling and beatable Stanford Cardinal in the CEC. #YouCantWinAtAltitude has been the most sure fire thing in the Pac-12 thus far, so why should it fail them now? Toss in that this is the last home slate for seniors Austin Dufault, Nate Tomlinson, Trey Eckloff, and Carlon Brown and you just may have a recipe for winning…the league.
Something to Lose: While first place is currently shared, I still think it’s the Washington Huskies who stand to lose a lot more than Cal anytime soon. Despite their top spot, UW can’t sit cozily in the dance with the resume they’ll be handing out to committee members. They must keep winning. Their schedule is such that they should do just that but those damn UCLA Bruins tend to throw a wrench in everyone’s assumptions. I’ll say it, “THEY’RE SCARY.” But they’re also not. Anyhow, no need to analyze those guys at this point as UW and the Wroten/Ross show are seemingly rolling but not yet into the big dance; which is precisely what they have to lose at this point. This weekend the Huskies head to Pullman for the Apple Cup rivalry game. A trip they’ve returned victorious from just twice in the last six years. And this year doesn’t appear to be getting any easier. Brock Motum has been torching Pac-12 defenses and one of the softest spots in the Husky defense has been power forward. Brock plays the four? G’luck LoRo and crew.
Weekend YouTuber: With the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match upon us…
Introducing the first ever Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. This is a no holds barred, rule-less, lawless tournament style bout to the heart stop in which we’ve diligently seeded the twelve coaches of the Conference of Champions and pitted them in respective bouts. Winners advance based on your voting and the tournament format mirrors the Pac-12 tournament.
Vote, comment, share. Often.
Round 1: Voting is open from 2/23 – 2/27. The opening round bouts will feature the 5-12 seeds as the top 4 seeds received a first-round bye.
Round 2: Voting is open from 2/29 – 3/2.
Semifinals: Voting is open from 3/5 – 3/7.
Finals: Voting is open from 3/8 – 3/11 and the winner will be announced on 3/12.
The seeding process was extensive and executed by James of allbuffs.com and myself via gchat, gmail, and the consult of Google image search.
Finally, the contenders:
Kevin “Bruisin’ Boozin’ Bozo” O’Neill, USC – Anyone who has fought a booster – the backbone of all things collegiate – is fearless. It wouldn’t surprise me if school giving saw a spike soon after his tiff with that AZ booster but this ain’t about old money. It’s about one crazy man who looks like a red faced, psycho clown with a tremendously biting wit throwing Trojan crosses and haymakers. Plus he has the look of a man who can handle his bourbon. Bozo brawling.
Johnny “Cruel Cardinal” Dawkins, Stanford – Have you ever seen him smile? One time the left side of his mouth lightly curled when Trent Johnson took the heat for not recruiting Jeremy Lin but then he remembered that his starting PG was Aaron Bright.
Ken “Ichabod” Bone, Washington State – It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the crazy in the dog. Ichabod got a lot of crazy, significant reach, and Miyagi riding shotgun.
K, Utah – Dude’s 6’9” and you can’t pronounce his last name which is the same qualifications as that guy Jason Bourne killed with a ball point pen. And sure that dude may have died, but he took Bourne to the brink. Savage.
Sean “Whooping” Miller, Arizona – Don’t let the incessant cough fool you, Whooping is tough as nails and loves to fight. Do you want to come after a guy who was proud of the XU-Cincinnati melee? Me either and bear in mind that he has Joe “Pele” Pasternack in his corner.
Craig “Capacious Corvallian” Robinson, Oregon State – Not only is he a big dude but he’s backed by the Oval Office. It was hotly debated whether or not the Secret Service was permitted but ultimately their activities are secret so how would we ever know? Toss in the fact that he isn’t the tightest body and lil’ sis runs Let’s Move to fight childhood obesity so clearly he DGAF.
Tad “Colorado Cranium” Boyle, Colorado – Disrespected in the preseason hoops polls. Disrespected here. Sleeper? Dude’s also 6’4” with a dome that looks like a place jabs go to die and hands the size of Andre The Giant’s torso.
Lorenzo “HecEd Hammer” Romar, Washington – Don’t let the smiles and sweetness soften you. It’s rumored he doesn’t even swear. But it is in fact this very sensitivity to his community that makes him a contender. He’ll be channeling the anger of disenfranchised Sonics fans, growing in strength with every Harden, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Durant basket.
Dana “Nike Knuckler” Altman, Oregon – It’s hard to take someone in a fight named “Dana” seriously (unless there’s Jell-O/KY/poles involved in which case bet the farm), but when you have full access to Uncle Phil’s checkbook, the narrative tends to shift. Plus he’ll probably come out in something more advanced than Bruce Wayne could ever conjure up – although it’d still be matte black (Note: during seeding we did not succumb to a significant opportunity at financial gain which I am not at liberty to discuss further).
Mike “Bay Hopper” Montgomery, Cal – Having coached every relevant team in the Bay Area (Stanford, Golden State, Cal) has Monty grown soft like a Napa Winery? Never. Do not discredit the now longtime Bay Area local. After all, he was the head coach of the Warriors – the same position held by PJ Carlesimo – and excelled in his mandatory self-defense coursework.
Ben “Westwood Wailer” Howland, UCLA – He has the scowl, the bark, the crazy eyes, the look. He also has a 2011-12 season in which he’s seemingly lost the will to live. You might too if your boss was Dan Guerrero and your fan base UCLA’s. The most exciting thing about the Westwood Wailer’s involvement in this tournament is when he disrobes we’ll finally see that he had been going tattoo for tattoo with Reeves Nelson. Gnarly.
Herb “Tempe Terror” Sendek, ASU – OK, so he’s roughly 4’11” and 90lbs sopping wet. And looks like your accountant. And tweets things like this, this, and this. He clearly doesn’t have the look of a killer, but maybe that’s exactly how he’s about to roll you?
This post can also be read at ryanrecker.com and because you’re a Pac-12 fan and know all about awful announcing, listen to Ryan’s latest podcast with Matt Yoder of awful announcing.com.
Happy President’s Day. Or, as it’s also graciously known, Happy Last-Paid-Holiday-Until-May.
If where you live was anything like San Francisco this weekend, it was hard for you to sit inside and watch hoops. If you did, however, you were treated to quite a grouping of Pac-12 games (more on that later). Let’s first mention what Utah does to this conference right now. Colorado, who sits alone in third place, was been rendered completely irrelevant this weekend because they had to play in SLC. The Buffs are legitimate contenders right now with a chance to knock off Cal at home this week and could find their way into second place if not first heading into the final weekend. First Place. No one has said a peep because they had to play Utah. Sigh.
But despite the atrocity that is the bottom of this conference, I think we’re starting to see that there are a few teams (namely five) I wouldn’t want to play on a neutral court in a big tournament with Clark Kellogg sitting sideline. And because I wouldn’t want to play them, that means someone should have to play them. Choose wisely committee.
The weekend of close games.
Leader in the Clubhouse: Dare we acknowledge some separation here? Cal and Washington sit atop the league holding a 1.5 game lead with just three to play. The remaining schedule favors Washington (vs RPIs 179, 230, 120) as Cal battles the daunting RPI gauntlet of 272, 73, and 105. But let’s get real for a hot second and call a spade a spade. If either of these schools is to win the conference and expect to dance (Cal is in) then they better sweep. No questions. So assuming they both do such, I believe Cal wins with a head-to-head tiebreaker but who’s the better team? Rather, who’s the more frightening? As tough as Cal is and veteran as they may be, there’s no part of me that would want to play Washington. Terrence Ross is as smooth as they get and Tony Wroten can get to the rim easier than three halter tops into XS. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on Jorge as the conference POY but I’m not buying it. I’m giving it to Wroten or DeVoe Joesph before that leader of a Cal point guard. Alas, I think the Pac is in good hands with these two teams comfortably atop the conference and their improved play behooves my three-bid prediction so long as Arizona and/or Oregon closes strong (read: doesn’t lose) and plays well at Staples.
Game of the Weekend: One week removed from a snoozefest of hoops, we were treated to quite the slate of games. Dismissing the two worst games of the weekend as determined by margin of victory – Cal over OSU by 14, WSU over ASU by 22 – in the remaining eight games, the victorious squad won by an average of 5 points. That’s ridiculous when you consider heading into the weekend we were again faced with the opportunity for some insane multi-team tie. While we may have discovered our true leaders, the fact remains that the competitive teams in this league are no easy out and will not roll over for anyone. Hell, even Utah’s stuck around in their last two against Arizona and Utah. My message to the tournament committee is such: if you want to look good, pick that third Pac-12 team. It’s a better choice than Iowa State, Middle Tennessee, or Central Florida and will make for a more entertaining field of 68. All of that tangentially said, the GotW was Thursday’s Oregon-Cal game that came down to the final possessions. It was pretty close to make-or-break for the Ducks but they battled their way through the Bay (split) and certainly made some believers. Not to mention DeVoe Joseph’s stellar game at Cal, dropping 33 in the biggest game of their season. And, not to knock Jorge, but the Bears were carried by Justin Cobbs’ 28 pointer, compared to 2-7 for 7 points, 3 boards, 4 assists for Jorge while not slowing Joseph.
The Big Loser: A part of me wants to call Colorado the big loser this weekend as everyone else got plenty of air time and an opportunity to prove themselves while the Buffs traveled to oblivion. Boyle’s Boys left with an underwhelming win and for such, they are not the biggest loser as they sit alone in third place. The reality is that seven teams’ seasons are over and so the big losers – while they both still have an opportunity to dance – are Arizona and Oregon. Each had a chance to knock off the teams above them in the standings and both failed. Arizona teased themselves for 35 minutes before succumbing to bad shooting and the Ross and Wroten show while the Ducks couldn’t hold on in Haas. 10-5 is strikingly different than 11-4 and fifth place is far from third. Especially when you consider the layout of the Pac-12 tournament and how the top-4 teams get a first round bye. I believe the ‘Cats have a better chance to dance but Oregon is not out of it. There’s just going to have to be a lot of brooming.
What We Learned: Nothing about the POY race. The list includes Brock Motum, Jorge Gutierrez, Jared Cunningham, DeVoe Joseph, and Tony Wroten. An argument for each can be made. An argument against, as well. Can you give it to a guy on a sub .500 squad? A guy who leads his team in no statistical category? A turnover machine? So here’s what I’m curious about: the rules. It’s an award given out by coaches vote and I want to know what the criteria is for these post-season awards which are ultimately meaningless but a glorious talking point. If I were a Cal homer, I’d be all over the Jorge for POY campaign. He’s a four-year grinder and the quintessential player you want on your team because everyone else hates him. He’s terrific at that. He’s not going to wow you with stats but when push come to shove (often literally for the fiery kid) he’s a winner. But is that how the award is defined? If it’s an MVP deal, then yeah, maybe. If it’s a best player thing, hello Brock. That dude has destroyed the stat sheet and seems to be the least guardable Pac-12 player. But his team sucks. So does Jared Cunningham’s. DeVoe Joseph can fill it up but has he done much else beyond that? Enough I’d argue. So while I don’t have a vote, I do have an opinion. DeVoe for POY barring a monumental Duck fart.