Monthly Archives: October 2013

Getting to know Oregon State: Beer league defense

I’m not about to sing the glowing prospects of a team who’s best player has been accused – by the coach – of being a Beer Leaguer – and who’s other top-two players were indefinitely suspended. No that doesn’t quite equate to a shining review and, quite frankly, the future is only about a mild squint’s bright in Corvallis. Craig Robinson is once again telling us his team is dedicated to the defensive end (more later).

Why I love them: And who doesn’t like bigs? I’m 6’5″ and always get picked up at open gym. In the Pac-12, 6’5″ isn’t going to get you much beyond a shooting guard and in my case an assistant associate to the video coordinator’s assistant. But enough about me. OSU touts Eric Moreland (9/11), Devon Collier (13/6), and Angus Brandt (12/9 before busting his knee). Each is greater than 6’8″ and is going to be further supplemented by the playing time of 6’9″ Oakhill Academy product, Daniel Gomis. This kid is 2010 and has been at OSU since that time with nary a minute played. Additionally, you have to like Roberto Nelson (guard) because he looks like Drake.

Why I hate them: Last season the Beavers committed to man-to-man defense and promptly posted a 101.1 AdjD – good for 167th in the nation and last in the conference. They also placed last in the Pac and so it makes good sense that Robinson sees a need for further commitment to that side of the ball. Moreland – who is suspended for 14 games of the season and a further reason to dislike their prospects – was one of their better defensive players; snatching boards at the fifth highest rate in America (27.5%) and blocking 2.5 shots per contest. Robinson called him irreplaceable despite needing to replace him. At pachoops, we call that an “unenviable, self-inflicted predicament.” Of a similar self-inflicted vein is  Beer League basketball players. Robinson previously felt his senior leader, Nelson, was in All-Beer League shape. He’s since sung Nelson’s praises for getting into shape, but earning that hoppy honor is an inauspicious start to a defensively oriented season.

Stat you should know:

3

Number of .500 or better seasons OSU has posted since 1992. Other popular things from 1992 include: The Dream Team, Aladdin, and the birth of Miley Ray Cyrus. It hasn’t been the greatest 2+ decades in Corvallis  basketball.

Quotable:

“Don’t pooh‑pooh the All‑Beer League.  I’ve been on some beer league teams, and we have beaten a lot of guys.” – Craig Robinson

Outlook: I won’t soon pooh-pooh the beer league – I had my first softball game on Monday in which I had to pitch after blowing up my ankle in beer league hoops – but I am going to pooh-pooh OSU’s defense. I can’t quite buy this team as contending for much better than 8th in the conference. Moreland’s absence isn’t helping things and neither is the fact that this is the strongest Pac-12 conference since Robinson joined the league.

Pac-12 Basketball Media Day: What I Did

I appreciate the opportunity to attend Pac-12 Basketball Media Day (#pac12hoops) provided to me by Rush the Court. It was a great experience and a fun day. To be honest, absolutely nothing was said the day long but – and you get the feeling everyone senses it – there’s a hovering excitement that this whole thing’s about to start. Like JENGA, no one is  going to come close to that linchpin block, sliding out a bunch of middle pieces and passing to the next. The boat shall not be rocked before the journey.

Except, I suppose, for Spencer Dinwiddie who dropped the saltiest line of the day when he said, “But we don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, and everybody else in the rest.  We view ourselves as the cream and everybody else can fight for the rest of the spots.” SHOTS FIRED! Eh, not really. I actually appreciated it from the standpoint of leadership and culture and I’m going to elaborate on that later (next week amongst a lot of my previews).

HERE ARE MY TEAM-BY-TEAM CAPSULES FROM MEDIA DAY WITH RUSH THE COURT

And speaking of next week and all of my previews (and in the coming weeks leading up to 11/8),  I’m going to drop my team-by-teams, top backcourts and frontcourts, my predicted finishes, a new podcast with @spencerbsmith, and I don’t even know what else.

But for now, quick thoughts on each team after spending a little time with them yesterday:

Washington State: Ken Bone went in on just how deep the conference is and how the conference perhaps deserved the lashing it took for being so awful in year’s past but that those days are over. Well now his team is projected to finish last, so…

Oregon State:

Hey Dana….

ItWasme
Utah: Larry Krsytkowiak said that playing hard is a talent and while I really appreciate what he’s doing at Utah, saying that playing hard is a talent means you’re still not good. They’ll be better. But still not good.

USC: I didn’t realize there’s a little bit of twang to Andy Enfield. He played everything correctly in deflecting his UCLA comment but he’s sparked interest in USC basketball and, if nothing else, JT Terrell tells us that there’s “lot’s of people getting dunked on in practice.” Well practice does make perfect, JT, so carry on.

Washington: Lorenzo Romar was asked about impact newcomers to the conference and he talked about Aaron Gordon and Mike Moser. #AWKWARD. Aside from that he seemed very encouraged by Perris Blackwell – the transfer out of USF – who LoRo says is going to give them a low post presence they “haven’t had in years.”

Stanford: I asked Johnny Dawkins “You mentioned returning a lot of players and talent to this team, yet last year you finished 9‑9.  What might you see different this year, if anything?” I’ll mention that he’s returning 84% of his 2012-13 minutes played. He basically told me that they’re thinking about things differently. Dwight Powell told me the same thing, later. They went through SEAL training (like the Navy) and used the word synergy (so startup Stanford). My point here is…we’ll see, I might be selling.

That is me.

That is me.

ASU: Jahii Carson was much more thoughtful and articulate than I expected. Struck me as much more together than I expected and had some very high compliments to drop on his new running mate, Jermaine Marshall. I was also blown away by Herb Sendek’s hyperbole and quickness to jump into the national conversation. Dropped a lot of “best ofs” in the country/nation/game lines. Company man award for sure.

Colorado: Like I said, Dinwiddie dropped the bomb on Media Day by calling his own team the cream rising to the top. Why the hell not? It’s a shifting culture in Boulder and as my high school baseball coach taught us, once you start hoping, you’ve already lost. Sounds like Spencer’s a believer.

Cal: Someone asked Mike Montgomery how he would apprehend a thief if he were faced with a similar situation as Larry Krystkowiak when he tackled a bike snatcher. Montgomery said nothing about a two handed shove to the chest. And he talked a lot about how he likes having veterans (Solomon, Cobbs, Kravish) and tried to taper the expectations of Jabari Bird.

Oregon: Dana talked about a lot and even said he and his team should be practicing right then and not at Media Day. But he was there and someone asked a seventy-five word question about whether or not Oregon has a competitive advantage with Uncle Phil. Dana slowly, like only a mid-westerner can, said, “Well, we updated our arena.  I think we had the second oldest arena in the country.  We built an arena that’s very nice.” Really fair point there, Dana. He continued, “I think every university has benefactors that benefit their programs, athletically, academically.  Ours just happens to be someone that runs Nike.” That’s right! Everyone has boosters, how is this any different? He came full circle, “You know, we had an update because Mac Court was just really old.” Dana Altman, you are a smooth cat.

Arizona: One of these days Sean Miller is going to jump out of that humility suit of his and just throw down some heat…wait, he already did that:

UCLA: I think I got a good idea of what the Steve Alford era at UCLA is going to be like. He’s going to be a touch understated, predictable and solid. He looked the part in the sleekest suit of the day and he didn’t rock the boat. He dropped a Wooden reference and the word excellence. Like going down a checklist of how to be UCLA’s coach and not screw it up. He did just fine up there and he’s going to be a fine UCLA head coach. Is that enough?

Pac-12 Basketball Media Day: What I’m Doing

At posting of this here…post… I’m on a BART train that didn’t go on strike, exiting the Powell Street station, declining to yield my change, and walking to the Pac-12 Networks’ studios to watch men talk about themselves. In some circles, this is a Thursday.

For me this is my second Pac-12 Basketball Media day. #Pac12hoops is the searchable label for the quick stuff on the Twitter; here is where you can stream the whole thing starting at 10am PT; this is the site (Rush the Court) where some of my tales will be housed; these are my objectives in attending:

1) Absorb the 9am officiating session starring Bobby Dibler with a specific ear for vacation destinations, the line between professionalism and comedy, whether Jordan Adams had his hand on the basketball Mark Lyons was dribbling, and what this whole MWC-Pac officiating conglomerate is all about. Basically: What’s a charge?

2) I want to see what this Los Angeles collegiate scene is shaping up to become. Between O’Neill and Howland we didn’t really hear much between the two rivals. With two new sheriffs in town, this:

and other spice. I want to see exactly what his bravado is about. Is it bravado? Is Alford’s relative silence the coy disinterest of savvy vet or a man overmatched by his title? Some of this can only be perceived; others bits will hopefully be swagged about for all to see. It’s LA after all.

3) I’m going to get to know Dwight Powell. Pick his brain a little about Canadian prep basketball and what it’s like to be a senior. What’s that mean to him? I sincerely want to know if there was any material he would not run through when Ray Lewis implored him to get pissed off for greatness. Is he pissed off for greatness? What time is coach Madsen’s dance class? I’m not a big predictions guy, but what goals has Dwight set for himself? I’m going to let him know that my cousin shares his name.

4) I’m not going to ask Craig Robinson one question about the President.

5) By day’s end I will know whether or not Nick Johnson prefers Nico’s, Los Betos, or Beyond Bread. Also what he thinks of his newest backcourt-mate, TJ McConnell. Are the Aaron Craft comparisons valid? Nick’s guarded them both. Are comparisons even worthwhile? Is Aaron Gordon really a better dunker than you?

6) I’ll laugh or appreciate your great questions when you tweet them @pac12networks because:

Which translates to: It will be read on a microphone. Which further translates to fame and fortune. Try it.

7) Sean Miller and Andy Enfield grew up 200 miles apart. I’m going to ask if they knew each other.

8) Three. Twelve. Twenty-four. These are the amounts of seconds that the Hustlin’ Herbivores of Tempe now have to get across mid-court, take a shot, and  get a shot off before a turnover (shot clock), respectively. Practice makes perfect, so how have they been practicing? Stats would suggest that Marshall will fit nicely with Jahii getting in to the lane (shooter with just 15% of his shots at the rim), have they?

9) Observe the seniors. Their mannerisms and responses. I want to see how they handle this literal stage and how that might translate to the court-stage. After all, the senior is my favorite kind of athlete. Taking to the field of competition on their swan song just looking for hats and t-shirts. How will CJ Wilcox, Dwight Powell, JT Terrell, Roberto Nelson, Justin Cobbs, and Johnathan Loyd look up there? Bestowed upon each of them is a coach’s trust and a team’s identity. Who are they going to be?

10) Enjoy myself. Because, hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

Brad’s Pac-12 Haiku: First Poem

photo-15Brad writes a weekly Pac-12 haiku. This is his first haiku:
One sold out scrimmage,
One Team, jerseys red and blue,
One dream beginning.

I got posts in other places: Buff’s, Pac-12, Media Day

Yesterday was a happy birthday to me. A cheers to you mom and dad and I hope you guys are having a blast in Mexico.

Now this past weekend in a roommate-less apartment I did whatever I wanted. This sums up to a lot of college basketball preparation. I streamed Arizona’s Red-Blue game in the stead of watching college football. I’m into this stuff.

And I also re-upped my seasonship with AllBuffs. I’ll be dissecting and appreciating the Colorado season with those guys on a weekly basis and you can read my first post for them BY CLICKING ON THIS BOLD AND HYPERLINKED TEXT. I’m pretty intrigued to see what steps Boyle-and-program take this season. A tipping point of sorts with expectations high in The Keg. They don their first target top.

And, in the case that you missed it, I’m knocking out social media posts for the Pac-12 on a weekly basis, too. Captioning photos and collecting sweet moments from around the conference’s sports. Tweet at me if you come across a doozy, I’ll try to include it and give you a big shout out. You can read this week’s post BY CLICKING ON THIS BOLD AND HYPERLINKED TEXT.

I’ll also be going to Pac-12 Basketball Media Day on Thursday and covering it for Rush the Court. Very excited to head to that for the second straight year especially considering the jump most players take from their freshman to sophomore year.

BY CLICKING ON THIS BOLD AND HYPERLINKED TEXT you can follow me on the twitter for a live tweeting of Thursday’s events. I encourage you to suggest some dynamite questions for me to sprinkle in between getting feedback from Andy Enfield on my healthcare start up.

BB: The excitement of a Red and Blue game

It was just a scrimmage. Just a coach evenly pitting half of his team against the other half with even the walk-ons contributing. Merely 24 minutes of intersquad Arizona basketball. Simply a glorified event, a promotional spectacle, meant to generate excitement and buzz surrounding the Wildcats’ upcoming season.

It worked.

More than 14,500 people attended the event with fans lining up as early as 7am. Tickets sold out faster than any other Red-Blue event, ever. Myself and 18,562 other devices streamed the thing online while Washington didn’t fake any injuries en route to losing the decade. There were recruits and prospects and kids wide eyed to become a part of it. This:

Excitement galore as the 1994 Final Four team – with two former players now on the current coaching staff – was honored. Arizona’s video production team agaub did a phenomenal job cutting up the history of the school’s signature program and setting it to tunes that make you go goosebumps. Lute Olson was there and the current team was introduced to the enthusing sounds of John Williams’ 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sean Miller set cheering sections by name dropping every retired jersey in program history.

Hell yeah I watched a basketball practice.

Yet you can’t really take much away from two, twelve-minute halves of pageantry. I greatly appreciate Kaleb Tarczewksi’s 18 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s length and ability to slash. Brandon Ashley showed flashes of dominating moves en route to 14 points and 12 rebounds. A dynamic post he shall become. I finally got to see TJ McConnell play defense and I enjoyed it.

Conclusions aren’t going to be made today, 24-hours removed from our first glimpse of this vaunted squad.

But hear you me, Aaron Gordon is different than the other kids. If you follow this stuff then this is not the first place you’ve read that. On Saturday, he didn’t necessarily play fantastic –  finishing with 12 and 13 and leading all participants with three assists – but he was in the thick of everything. He won the dunk contest by doing what no one else could:

At risk of being a hypocrite – having already said conclusions can’t be made from this game – Gordon confirmed he has the ability to change the course of a season. There’s a reason he’s been called “auto-correct.” As October-looking shots sloppily made their way up and around the rim, Gordon was there, more often than not, to secure the rebound or the basket. While it’s been widely noted  the kid has a non-stop motor, he has a non-stop motor.

Am I excited about this season? You’re damn right I am and the Red-Blue production I streamed did nothing but confirm that excitement.

And at risk of being a further hypocrite, my primary takeaway despite Tarczewski’s 18 points is that Sean Miller is going to have a helluva time keeping Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the floor. Basketball is played by just five players at a time and sometimes it might seem that the lengthy freshman, on paper, could be the odd man out (considering the leash allotted Tarczewski last year).

Now Note: I’m all for giving seven-footers the room they need to dominate. But sometimes, just sometimes, you have better options. That’s not to squeeze Kaleb out by any stretch of the imagination, but don’t be surprised if crunch time includes the southpaw from Philadelphia.

But I’ve digressed.

Because Saturday was more about the celebration of a forthcoming months of college basketball competition and the promise of the further excitement it promises. Competition ensues against colors neither blur nor red. There’s a left column to fill up.

Ready.

Aim.

AT&T.

West Coast Recruits and Pac-12 Chair Temps

Last week the West Coast saw three top-75 recruits commit to schools not named Pac-12 schools. Per Scout ratings, #23 Kameron Chatman of Oregon/LA is headed to Michigan; #60 Namon Wright of Los Angeles is off to BF-Missouri; and #71 Trey Kell of San Diego is staying home at SDSU.

Additionally, Shaq Aaron of Seattle (Scout’s #32 prospect) isn’t staying in Seattle. He’s off to Louisville, following the same path as Peyton Siva who saw great success in the Bluegrass State (ring). Josh Perkins (#25) had already bolted the West (from Colorado to prep school in West Virginia) and will return but not to a Pac school. He’ll be a Zag.

Horace Greeley most certainly did not encourage any young men to “go east.”

This is unsettling news despite what appears to be a reinvigorated Pac-12, poised to have its best season since before the great recession. But gone they are and while this isn’t about to undermine this 2013-14 campaign, I did notice another preseason list (gotta love those) that this perhaps does undermine. Or at least plays a significant role in:

The Top-10 Coaches on the Hot Seat

NBC’s College Basketball Talk cranked out their national list of coaches needing to fill the left column to keep their university paychecks. Four of the listed ten are Pac-12 coaches. Is there a correlation between losing backyard talent and your job? Me thinks, YES.

As it were, in a piece I worked on that might never make the interwebs because it’s become a 2500+ word blob, I found that UW has had their most success with nearby, if not in-city, talent. 77% of their draft picks since 2002 have been locals (or damn close to it as Terrence Ross was from Portland). Easy pickins for Mr. Romar, representing a sustainable and mirrorable model. And sure, not every city is pumping out McDonald’s All-American’s like SeaTown, but you can’t tell me it’s easier for Ken Bone to get a kid to Pullman from New York than it is to get a similar talent from the Bay Area.

The toasty chairs of Johnny Dawkins, Craig Robinson, Herb Sendek, and Bone extend beyond the recruiting  but I can’t help but see some parallels to these talent escapes and their job security.

Herb’s best season at ASU was guided by James Harden (LA), Jeff Pendergraph (LA), and Derek Glasser (LA). He is now finding himself in his second straight season with a patchwork lineup of little continuity. Jahii Carson is a lovely local piece, building  upon it would be the the next step. Is that going to happen with another grad transfer?

And it’s certainly not  a matter of  losing bluechippers. Their recruitment often takes a national tone and the idea of staying at home can be a trump card, but it’s not reprehensible to lose out in some of those occasions. The kind of talent that builds quality rosters in Pullman, Corvallis, and the like is precisely not that kid. He’s not $ingning. Rather it’s the players in that 50-100 range – the precise ones bolting right now – that can help in getting over the hump (read: dancing).

Is it easy to snatch these players up? Hell no! But if they’re already on the West Coast, the scales are already tipped in your favor. Take a look at these coaches’ rosters as they are. They’re littered with kids from the area. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re talented. And the kids who left would seem to be the types that could help a roster.

I guess I’m really just trying to be a proponent of keeping things simple. Ever dated long distance? I have and it sucks. I’d rather have the girl next door because the long distance thing eventually burns out.

And it just might be burning out for a few Pac-12 coaches.

Krystkowiak Will Steal Your Honey Like Someone Else Stole a Bike

I’ve long been a fan of his intensity. And by fan I mean petrified of it because I’ve received a few tongue lashings from coaches in my day and I still remember the best of ’em. And those best ones happened to come from a goatee’d man I’d still call coach.

But he wasn’t 6’9″ and he – to my knowledge – never ran down a bike thief.

And that’s what Larry Krystkowiak did this weekend and it’s piled upon the lore of wildly intense Coach Ks. He ran the fool down, held him until the authorities arrived, and then coached his team. Tweeted about it, too:

He’s drops Barney Fife on you. What?

And ss I’m one to brag I would like it known that I recognized these qualities long ago in the Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. Here’s what I forwardly had to say about Larry K after just a handful of games in the Pac-12:

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.

He’s taking those skills to the streets of SLC. What’s more, Utah is a biking state. People ride hard all over that place and Larry ran a bike thief down. That’s the stuff legends are made of. You don’t steal bikes in Utah. You steal Sugar Bowls from Bama. Roll damn Krystkowiak has a ring to it right?

Now if only he could do something about that left hand column…