Monthly Archives: November 2012

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Pauley Pavilion

The UCLA Bruins have a fascinating 2012-13. I, for one, cannot wait to see what this team does because there are so many story lines I don’t know where to begin. Alas, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  1. Home – After the Road Show last year in which the Bruins played home games at both the Anaheim’s Honda Center and the Sports Arena, they’ll return home the Pauley Pavillion. The miserable days of home games on USC’s campus are over and the days of playing games in an outdated and spectator un-friendly Pauley are, too.
  2. $40M – That’s how far under budget the new Pauley Pavillion project was. That’s damn impressive. Yay California state projects!
  3. Norman – At media day, Howland told us that Norman Powell would be a guy who’s going to surprise us with his progress. That’s something the Bruins really need. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen talent progress within this program and Powell doing such could mean there are some improving pieces to what’s already solid talent in Westwood.
  4. Five – The max number of timeouts Howland can call per game. Had to.
  5. Healthy Competition – There are some talented big bodies in this frontcourt. Each of Tony Parker, Josh Smith, and the Wear family comes in at 6’10” and that depth should help them to A) beat other teams, and B) make each other better. Perhaps the best news? Reeves Nelson will not hit them.
  6. Clearance – After so much discussion surrounding whether or not he could play, Kyle Anderson has been cleared by the NCAA and will get a full freshman campaign. Howland has said he can play every position on the floor and that he’ll be asked to do a little bit of everything.
  7. Interest – There’s going to be plenty of people interested in the how the Bruins rebound from the tumultuous year that was 2011-12 and how coach Howland recaptures his group. But I want to talk about the low interest rate at which UCLA borrowed for the Pauley makeover. The down economy has rates at an all-time low and UCLA got in on that. As the economy recovers and interest rates return to gaudy levels, the Bruins will sit back in their beautiful new arena knowing they’re paying pennies on the dollar. Yes, I discussed this extensively with Ben Howland. No joke.

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in the Galen Center

USC has a lot to look forward to this year and it has become somewhat of a national dialogue as they return a whole new look from last year’s injury debacle.

  1. Demon Deacons – The Trojans welcome two former Wake Foresters in JT Terrell and Ari Stewart. Terrell has the bigger upside with regards to immediate impact as he’ll be asked to light it up from distance; something he certainly can do.
  2. The Keck School – In case you’re unfamiliar, that’s USC’s medical school. A place that’s now nursed Jio Fontan, Dewayne Dedmon, and Aaron Fuller back to health. That’s a lot of injured talent the Trojans were missing last year and now regain.
  3. Sweat – KO has repeatedly called this the hardest working group he’s ever coached which is saying something considering the demanding nature of KO-ball. And, as we’ve learned from an early age, hard work usually translates into success!
  4. Shoulders – I’m not talking about Aaron Fuller’s now healthy ones. I’m talking about the chip on the collective Trojan shoulder. KO has referenced it and one has to believe that any group cast off as many times as this patchwork lineup has been, would likely have an axe to grind. Or a chip on their shoulder, pick your cliché.
  5. Two – That’s the number of conference games they’ll need to win to improve on last season’s total. Hey! Baby steps.
  6. Quack – Another shot at the Ducks! Too soon?
  7. Lottery – KO once called Dewayne Dedmon a future pick by a team on a Ping-Pong ball. His 2011-12 campaign was shortened by knee injury as the seven-footer continues to learn the game. If in his time off he’s pieced together a little more basketball acumen, look out, the Trojans just might live up to their rebuilt hype.

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Wells Fargo Arena

The glass has to be half full. It must with nary a game yet played. For such, over the next few days, I’ll be posting why each of the conference’s twelve teams have reasons to be optimistic.

    1. The League – The Herbivore went out and reloaded his coaching staff with NBA veterans Eric Musselman and Larry Greer. Time will tell if the move pays off but any time you can get some NBA minds in your locker room and on your bench it can’t be terrible.
    2. Eric Gordon – OK, if the Eric Gordon was on this team there would be a lot more hype surrounding their season. But they do have his little brother, Evan, who transfers in from Liberty where he averaged 14/3/2 before departing. He’ll play Robin to…
    3. Pace – Herb Sendek has vowed to make his offense move faster. Why? Because usually it doesn’t, ranking at 281, 296, and 326 in adjusted tempo the last three seasons.
    4. 80/5 – That’s the dollar amount (in millions) over years the Houston Rockets will pay former Sun Devil, James Harden. That is so much dollars.
    5. London – There were two Sun Devils who played basketball in the summer games, Harden and Ike Diogu (Nigeria). Won’t lie to you, that’s pretty cool.
    6. Toreros – No one knows what happened in the super-secret scrimmage the Devils had against USD and maybe we should keep it that way.
    7. Utah – Little did we know – or perhaps the writing had been on the wall, but still – that adding the twelfth winningest basketball program in college history (as measured by most wins) would likely keep the Devils out of the cellar (excluding USC’s 2011-12 anomaly) for two consecutive years. Utah was bad last year and likely won’t be much better this year. Also, you can’t tell me you’re not surprised to hear that Utah’s won the twelfth most games in college hoops history. Impressive.

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in the McKale Center

The glass has to be half full. It must with nary a game yet played. For such, over the next few days, I’ll be posting why each of the conference’s twelve teams have reasons to be optimistic.

  1. Big People – One season ago, the Arizona frontcourt was manned by a 6’7” and 6’6” tandem. Today the Wildcats’ lane will be occupied by nearly fourteen feet of human. A difference maker indeed and Sean Miller had this to say about it:
  2. Grad School – It’s not unprecedented but Mark Lyons’ transfer to Tucson from Xavier to begin graduate work and play basketball could wind up being cited as one of the most impactful transfers, ever. Hyperbole to be sure and the horse is well ahead of the carriage; but this smells a lot like Russell Wilson to Wisconsin for a Rose Bowl, the basketball version.
  3. Time – Kevin Parrom had a hellacious 2011-12 that he’s asked to not be asked about. We all know the story by now so now let’s celebrate that we’ll get to see a tough, fun, and now healthy basketball player thrive as a senior.
  4. Padded Chairs – Nearly everyone sitting on one was a four-star recruit or better and is going to make these Wildcats the deepest team in the conference if not the country.
  5. 1988 – This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Arizona’s first Final Four and one of the greatest teams in school history. That ’88 squad went on to win a gaggle of NBA Championships and included Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Kenny Lofton, Jud Bucheler, Tom Tolbert, and others.
  6. Zeus – Not the Greek God but if Kaleb Tarczewski erupts in season one, he may be considered one in Tucson. Seven-footers are good old fashioned difference makers. A monster season will have Zeus in the lottery and the ‘Cats playing deep into the Madness.
  7. Maturity – There may be young pieces, but this is a mature group lead by senior statesman, Solomon Hill. At Pac-12 Media Day Hill let everyone know how he’s embraced his role as leader, teaching the mature-beyond-their-years underclassmen of sacrifice and passing on the parties that are always going to be there. A subtle jab at the departed Josiah Turner? Whatever it is, the Wildcats are focused on winning.

Your Not-So-Pac-12-Media Preseason Awards

Last week the Pac-12 announced the media’s preseason predictions. They’ve picked Arizona to win it although they awarded more first place votes to UCLA – indicative of the unstable state that program appears to be in. Alas, we can’t have this be our only predictive conversation.

Following last season, we awarded the Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards. The Dorothy, The Steinbrenner, The Grecian, and others were all awarded to the most deserving of candidates. Now, on the cusp of a highly anticipated 2012-13 Pac-12 basketball season, I present, the Not So Pac-12 Media Preseason Awards:

The Casey Jacobsen: Awarded to the player most likely to frost his tips

  • Pick: Ken Bone, WSU
  • Look, sometimes its tough to look cool when all you do is stand on a sideline and shout. And, with so many players getting busted for possession, Ken Bone needs to find a way to better relate to his team. Maybe a stop by the stylist is his best option.
  • Others considered: Rosco Allen (Stanford), Roster (ASU),

The Jorge Guitierrez: Awarded to the player most likely to piss off opposing players and fans

  • Pick: Mark Lyons, Arizona
  • Not only is he a seemingly unprecedented transfer with title implications, but by all accounts he’s got a mouth, is havoc on the defensive end, and became renowned for his participation in the Xavier-Cincinnati melee. He’s going to beat you – or at least try real hard to – and then let you know about it.
  • Others considered: Aaron Bright (Stanford), Jio Fontan (USC), Nick Johnson (Arizona), EJ Singler (Oregon)

The Brock Motum: Awarded to the best player you’ve never heard of

  • Pick: Devon Collier, Oregon State
  • It was hard not to pick Brock himself as the dude barely gets any love already despite projecting to have another stellar season lost in Pullman. But Collier has only gotten better year-over-year and projects to flourish with the departure of Jared Cunningham and the pending emergence of Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks.
  • Others considered: Dewayne Dedmon (USC), Scott Suggs (UW), Davonte Lacy (WSU)

The Josiah Turner/Jabari Brown: Awarded to the player most likely to miss expectations by a year and a mile

  • Pick: Shabazz Muhammad
  • At this point, this isn’t even a preseason pick, we’re just giving it to him. Odds are he won’t play a game in new, old, or otherwise Pauley; but if he does I’ll swallow the crow whole. His commitment to UCLA had Howland and crew a pre-pre-season top-10 team. Now they’re not.
  • Others considered: Dominic Artis (Oregon), Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona), JT Terrell (USC)

Player I Want to Party With: (no criteria provided)

  • Pick: Brock Motum (WSU)
  • If you’ve never traveled abroad and stayed at a hostel with an Australian, I suggest you do it.
  • Others considered:

The RomCom: Awarded to the player that most resembles a cast member of Love Actually

  • Pick: Angus Brandt

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Others considered: Unanimous decision

The 2007 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to lose you money

  • Pick: USC Trojans
  • Here is the team that’s super interesting and I’ve called the hipster pick but they were 1-17 last year! Sure they’re grossly revamped but we know absolutely nothing about them but everyone keeps picking them. What if they’re wrong and the juice is flowing the wrong way?
  • Others considered: Arizona Wildcats, UCLA Bruins

The 2001 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to make you money

  • Pick: Washington Huskies
  • Not many people are high on the Huskies but they have heavy experience at three critical positions at the point, wing, and center and a wild card in RS senior Scott Suggs. Maybe, just maybe, the Huskies can eek out a competitive season and spoil the preseason predictions.
  • Others considered: Stanford Cardinal, USC Trojans

The Golden Mane: Awarded to the most luscious locks in the conference

  • Pick: EJ Singler
  • He cut them. They’re gone and he looks like an everyman but we’re awarding him this for potential. What if he grows it out over the season? I want it to happen. Make it so.
  • Others considered: Angelo Chol (Arizona), John Gage (Stanford), Sabatino Chen (Colorado),

Best Iranian: Awarded to the best Iranian born player in the conference

  • Pick: Arsalan Kazemi
  • Uh…pretty sure he’s the only one to play D-1 ball. Ever.
  • Others considered: Unanimous decision