Monthly Archives: November 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 10 Things We’re Pac-12 Thankful For

1) Andy Enfield’s Mouth
This thing has been a riot and I love it. The running of one’s mouth is a beautiful pastime of sport and perhaps one of the things I miss most about playing baseball. And the reason we talk so much shit in baseball is we have so much time to do nothing but run our mouths. So while Alford might be busy getting to the NCAA tournament, Enfield has all sorts of time on his hands to flap his gums and get us thinking about USC basketball. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s spice. And it’s anything but slow. Additionally, as someone who puts a high premium on where he lives (mom’s in real estate: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION) I absolutely love, cherish, adore, support, this quote:

“Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas.”

-Andy Enfield

2) Vegas
It’s taken just the slightest of urges from others attending the event for me to get back on the bandwagon. Now, to be clear, I was never not on the bandwagon, just trying to be fiscally and familial-ly conservative. I’m pretty certain I’m in and looking for financiers. Any takers? But seriously, this three year contract with the MGM is going to be renewed faster than you can detect testosterone in Seahawk piss. If you haven’t made the plans to do it, make ‘em. And if the conference runs back their 12/12/12 deal, you have to.

3) Hoop-math.com
Start down this rabbit hole and you’re going to learn so much about your team and other teams that you’re not going to know what to do with yourself. But let me give you warning: With great knowledge comes great power. Let me walk you through a recent conversation.

Roommate: Nick Johnson cannot slash. Never gets to the rim.

Me: He actually takes 40% of his shots – second most on the team – at the rim.

RM: Well he doesn’t finish well.

Me: As it were, Nick connects on this at-the-rim shots at a 90% clip.

RM: *silence

The moral of the story: Don’t use hoop-math to be a dick.

4) LobPueblo

 

5) Crime free school zones Larry Krystkowiak is a giant of a man and he hates thieves (so much so that Utah has hovered in the mid-200s by way of steal % rating the past two seasons). But locking fools up is exactly what K intends to do. And I’m not just talking about criminals. We’re transitioning to recruiting where K has garnered the last few mega-talents out of Utah in the thriving Jordan Loveridge and the soon-to-be-Ute, Brekkott Chapman.

6) Recruiting
While this has nothing to do with the Pac-12 directly, Cliff Alexander pulls the biggest dick move as component of the weirdest part of college hoops fandom. In this case, I couldn’t be happier this happened to Illinois:

CliffAlexander

7) Arizona State social media
Firstly, Herb Sendek posts lots of photos with lots of friends and fans and has some random quips about random stuff. That’s fine, it’s twitter, but give it a scroll and tell me there aren’t any head scratchers. And then there’s Jahii Carson’s mom giving new meaning to the term ‘helicopter parent.’ (it’s a blocked account but you can learn a lot from the mentions in that linked search) She trolls the internet for any criticisms of her son – which she won’t soon find here – and once even referenced marriage to him. Alas, she once complimented my article about Jahii so…I’m cool.

8) Graduate school
Last season’s first team All-Conference team touted one graduate and – as I’m revisiting this list – I’m confused as to how EJ Singler made first-team and Arsalan Kazemi was honorable mention. Alas, the point here is that there have been some wonderfully impactful graduate students in the Pac-12 and this year is no different. Keep a close eye on Mike Moser (Oregon), Jermaine Marshall (ASU), Pe’Shon Howard (USC), and Jason Calliste (Oregon).

9) Bags of cash and trips to Mexico
While that sounds like my weekend, that’s what was being offered up by the ousted head of officiating. Now can you imagine if Ed Rush had endured that whole scandal and then had to get on a mic and tell all of us that “this season, the rules are changing to be called even tighter so referees are going to be even more noticed in the outcome of a given game and the central topic of conversation in the season’s early goings.” I don’t imagine that would’ve gone over well so here’s to you, Bobby Dibler. Keep on keepin’ on.

10) You
I started this blog two seasons ago with no goal but to have my own basketball forum. We’ve evolved since that first post and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful to have you actually read this thing and I’m beyond thankful when we interact via email, twitter, g-chat, text, radio, comment fields, or just collective thought. Connecting with people is the spice of life and this awkwardly named website that my mom still thinks is pa-choops and others still think is a blog misspelled for guy named Paco has allowed me to connect with so many of you. Thank you. You’re the best.

Radio-microphone-440x360

My Interview with Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg

I got the opportunity, through my work with Pacific Takes, to interview Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg. He’s a hoops guru based in the west so he knows his westerly hoop. He’s also from the Bay and a UCLA grad so he really knows this conference. And the rest of the nation as well.

Alas, the assignment came through and I really had no idea what I was to accomplish with the thing. It was offered, I accepted. End of expectations.

LISTEN TO ME ASK JEFF EISENBERG QUESTIONS

The the whole thing jumped on me when I was told the interview would take place on Monday afternoon. Boom, I did it and let’s be serious, it’s always great talking Pac-12 hoops. This was my first venture into asking OTHERS about the conference and so there’s no doubt some amateurism shining through (I think I say absolutely following almost all of his questions. wtf). It was also my first dabble into Garage Band which I found to be remarkably easy. Note that the intro and close took a few extra takes to get to where they are because my roommate wouldn’t let me publish until I cut some “ummms.”

Despite this being a new venture for me, Jeff was the consummate professional and I appreciated his time. We chatted about the state of the conference, Arizona, UCLA, Andy Enfield running his mouth, Jahii Carson running the world, and what is the Stanford.

I’m hoping this serves as just the beginning to further vocal ventures and that you enjoy what Jeff’s got to say. I had fun.

Jahii-Carson-226x300

Yesterday it was anyone. Today: Jahii POY

Yesterday I wrote about the Pac-12 POY race. I introduced some new names and addressed the progress of some of the serious contenders. I even explained why a few guys would have great years but won’t win the award.

Jahii Carson is going to win the Pac-12 POY award.

Maybe it’s the Holiday Egg Nog and the spirit of hyperbole in this jolly time of family, giving, and caring. A Happy Hanukkah Eve to you and yours. But Carson does things on a basketball court that the other kids can’t. Quickly with the numbers: He plays has scored or assisted on 46% of the Sun Devils’ made baskets. He’s 5’10″ and he’s half their offense. And when he’s not on the floor:

Now I’ve already once mentioned hyperbole and I already made a prediction that he’d be the POY. We’re just 170 words into this party and that’s already transpired. But Carson is doing it. Doing everything. And on Monday night he did it again, leading ASU to their first win over a ranked opponent since January 8, 2010. One week after that win, in Tempe, I’d run my best Half-Marathon: 1:37:22. There’s no correlation between the two events, but note it has been a long time since ASU beat a ranked opponent.

Hell, with Jahii’s latest 23 point, 5 assist and >50% shooting effort, he made this happen:

You guys, I know Herb’s weird but that’s him doing what can only be described as a variation of the dirty bird – perhaps the unkempt fowl? – after a November win. November, not March. A home November win against a team that scored 35 points in a 40 minute basketball game.

Carson has people wildly excited about a program that’s had their coach on the hot seat for 2.5 years. As mentioned, it was the Devils’ first victory over a ranked opponent in 1418 days and even Buzz Williams might dance to that (though I doubt it).

I’m not going to dive into the stats on why Carson is so fantastic. You can already see and read and hear about that in a multitude of other places. Yesterday I asked Jeff Eisenberg if he thought we could put Carson in the National POY conversation. He wouldn’t bite but if the Devils start to become for real, rattle off a win against another ranked opponent this week in Creighton and garner themselves a top-25 ranking they can maintain, I say “Why no Jahii?”

But before we wrap this party, I’ll advocate for the Devil momentarily (I realize the irony in using that idiom here as any article that talks about how great an ASU student-athlete is intrinsically advocating for the Devil), he hasn’t won the big game just yet. He and the Devils have won just one top-25 game with the opportunity to do it again on Thursday.

I’ll be paying attention if I’m not in a turkey and pie coma. And everyone else should be, too. Maybe it’s the holiday hyperbole, but Jahii Carson is your Pac-12 POY.

AllenCrabbePOY

Egregiously Premature Pac-12 Player of the Year List

Oh you know it’s wildly early in the season and so we should judge every book by its cover, anoint a champion yesterday and fire all of the coaches. We can call this an egregious or just a Watch List. Semantics aside, here’s a little check-in on some of the conference’s best.

New-ish and very seriously in the conversation

Joseph Young – We knew that he was talented but the junior has been scintillating. I mean, his worst game has been a 12 point effort in which he still managed to piece together a 115 ORtg. Joe Young has been terrific and the Ducks are just five games away from getting better following Shoe-gate.

Jordan Loveridge – I mean no offense to Evergreen State but the Utah Utes have played absolutely no one. But SOS aside, Loveridge has been stat stuffing monster: 18 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, and a 129 ORtg. Sustainability will become the name of the game – along with whether he can do it against school’s not named after foliage.

Roberto Nelson – This Beaver has the third highest usage percentage in the nation at 39.1%. That means he’s putting up a shot four out of every ten Beaver possessions. That alone doesn’t say much beyond, perhaps, BALL HOG or duh-the-Beavers-needed-someone-to-jack-up-all-the-shots-after-Ahmad-Starks-transferred. But let’s note here what he’s doing with all those shots. His ORtg is 127.2 and his EFg is 55%. His turnover rate is sub-10% and he’s dishing assists at a top-40 clip (36.2%). The ball is in his hands and he’s doing nothing but good things. And he torched the Terps in College Park.

Chasson Randle – Long been a fan of this kid’s talent and was a little disappointed by his sophomore season. He cooled off in the shooting department, coming back down 44% shooting to 40%. He took more shots, however, and maintained his scoring average. This year, however, he’s shooting a blistering 52% and dropping 22 a game. The identity of this Cardinal team is still yet to be determined, but Randle seems to have his groove back.

The Usual Suspects

Jahii Carson – I’m not going to effuse here about how damn good this guy has been. He scored 40 points by making 14 layups. He’s 5’10″.

Kyle Anderson – Dude dropped a triple-double and is just thriving as a point guard. Slow-mo is every bit the unique talent we thought he was. His shot still hasn’t quite come around (20% from distance, 63% from the line) but that doesn’t always matter when you’re doing everything else on the basketball floor.

Jordan Adams – I think he might be my favorite player in the Pac-12. He’s just so smooth out there and he hasn’t missed a beat since last season when he unglamorously played thrived in the shadow of Shabazz. And when I say smooth, I mean he’s getting everything done. He’s the owner (producer?) of a top-100 ORtg, eFG%, and TS%. And because I just love the traditional stats, there’s this: 22ppg, 5rpg, 2apg, 3spg, 56% FG, 46% 3FG, 87% FT. Oh Jordan.

CJ Wilcox -

 Great players who won’t win the POY award
Aaron Gordon – He very well could be the best player in the conference but by way of the system he’s in and the talent around him, I don’t think he’s going to shine the way a POY tends to shine. Or needs to shine. He’ll get oodles of hoopla to be sure, but he might be out produced on his own team by Nick Johnson. Or Brandon Ashley.
Justin Cobbs – Fantastic player. Love his talents. But Monty has put together some additional skills around him that are allowing Justin to be a facilitator as opposed to threat and while this bodes well for the Bears’ ceiling, it isn’t doing him and POY favors. But who cares so long as you’re filling up the left column. His usage is down to just 17% compared to 23.1% last year. But his ARate has jumped to an outstanding 39%, translating to 6.3 dimes a night.
Time will tell
Spencer Dinwiddie – Few are going to question his talents. He’s great, but thus far he’s pretty much mimicked his output from last year. This is by no stretch a BAD thing but if he didn’t win POY last year, then having the same year would suggest he ain’t winning it this year.
Dwight Powell – Similarly to Dinwiddie, Powell is producing the same numbers from last season. In this year of thinking differently Dwight is playing the same aside from one key stat: Free throws. He’s shooting and making fewer of them (down to 57% FT from 80% last year) and the Cardinal have looked…mediocre?
UW Indiana

Briefly on Washington’s Boards

I didn’t have the opportunity to dive deeply into watching the Washington game. But even peripherally it appears that our concerns about Washington’s front court were affirmed by Tom Crean and company. The Dawgs yielded 102 points to Indiana despite trying to slow them in a zone (in stretches) and coughing up just nine turnovers. By most accounts, nine turnovers is a recipe for victory. The catch, is on the glass. Or otherwise said, a lack of catching, and this is where our front court hypothesis is affirmed

You see, while Washington only forfeit nine turnovers, they were out rebounded 50-29. Of those 50 boards, the Hoosiers snatched up 20 offensive boards and subsequently 20 additional possessions by which to approach the century mark. A mark they achieved.

We knew that Washington was going to miss the presence of Jernard Jarreau, but this much? Shawn Kemp Jr. joined us for nine minutes; or just long enough to commit five fouls but not long enough to grab more than one rebound. Giles Dieroidsajflkxvlkjasgcxz grabbed 100% more rebounds than Kemp (2). As I explained on a Daily Dose of Dyl (I start at the 4min mark) this week, Washington is still learning itself. JJ was to be a big piece of what they were doing and Nigel Williams-Goss is still getting his feet wet. CJ Wilcox is fantastic but he doesn’t necessarily create his own shot. Sure, Perris Blackwell has proven pretty formidable on the blocks (13/8). But if 20% of his offense is coming off of put backs, it suggests he’s still not a threat worthy of letting Wilcox get open.

More on the rebounding. Check this out and search for the patterns:

Wash Rebs Opp Rebs Opp Oreb Result
Seattle 37 41 13 W
UC-Irvine 38 43 6 L
E. Wash 48 35 12 W
Indiana 29 50 20 L

What’d you find? I’ll tell you what I found: get out rebounded and you’re likely to lose. In UW’s case, they’ve suffered this punishment twice and lived to see another day, once, when they danced with the Devil in Cameron Dollar form.

Austin Sefarian-Jenkins isn’t soon going to run out of the seven win tunnel to remedy this. He’s got an NFL draft to prepare for and Jon Brockman certainly isn’t on the way.

We knew the Dawgs were going to need some front court help. Who’s going to do it?

NickJohnson_JahiiCarson

Arizona Prep Stars aren’t always good, but when they are…

The state of Arizona has not produced a wealth of basketball talent. Just 19 NBA players prepped in the Grand Canyon State, Greg Smith the most recent and Sean Elliott the most successful. Mike Bibby, born in Phoenix and attended HS at Shadow Mountain, played the most NBA games of any Zonie, 1001. Arizona produced pros have played 125 cumulative seasons in The League. Comparatively, The Palmetto State (South Carolina) has produced 21 pros playing 170 seasons. Two additional pros, 45 mores seasons. By that sophomoric arithmetic, Arizonans generally aren’t that great of hoopsters. Those nineteen pros rank just 35th in America, ahead of Utah’s 17 (Shawn Bradley!) and behind the aforementioned 21 from SC (Jesus Shuttlesworth) and West Virginia (Logo).

So when players from the state move on to play Division 1 basketball, it’s a significant accomplishment. And when players in the state start scoring 40 points in a game or flirting with triple doubles, we’re on to something special.

Something special is what former Phoenix-area prep stars Jahii Carson and Nick Johnson are doing. Hailing from the same state as me, they chose to compete for rival universities and they’re currently crushing the college basketball scene.

*WITH A KISS* [Raftery voice]

*WITH A KISS* [Raftery voice]

Let’s start with Carson, the riquickulous one, who almost single handedly defeated the Runnin’ Rebels Tuesday night. He scored 40 points and dished 7 assists. He played 39 minutes and in case you needed a refresher, college basketball games are 40 minutes long. He shot 64% afield and bucketed 1.02 points per minute. He’s a measly 5’10” and made 14 of his sixteen shots AT THE RIM. Do you realize that UNLV has blocked the ninth most shots in the nation (30)? That their 7.5 blocks per game rank fifteenth nationally? The Rebels saw Carson driving the lane and they were licking their chops, ready to put Carson’s shot into XS. Instead, they’re licking their wounds as Carson tear dropped his way – and how beautiful a shot is that floater? – to 40 points and the Devil’s first 5-0 start since Arizona was one year into 27 consecutive NCAA tournaments. What Carson has done in Tempe is nothing short of angelic. On this, his farewell tour, Carson is about to make sure we won’t soon forget his name. He’ll be remembered in the same breath as Fat Lever, Eddie House, and James Harden.

But like Lever before him, he’ll be special because of his Arizona ties. Lever prepped in Tucson, at Pueblo High School. The same HS I never lost to as a starting baseball player and where I got a 4 on a botched administration of the AP Spanish test (though honestly it could’ve been a 3). He’s a legend in the state.

And while Nick Johnson spent a portion of his prep years at Findlay in Las Vegas, make no mistake that he has strong ties as an Arizonan. His father is Joe Johnson who famously held the world record for dunking on the highest rim (11’7”) and attended ASU. Nick grew up in Gilbert before honing his skills at prep school. He now finds himself the centerpiece of a Final Four contender. His role, a changing one according to Sean Miller, is to be the leader of that team. High stakes for anyone, let alone an Arizona prep star. Allow me some other names who’ve held similar roles: Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson. Just one of those players never attended a Final Four (Frye) and we’re not going to talk about it. Every one of them was a lottery pick. That’s the sort of rare and special territory Johnson now finds himself in.

On Tuesday night, Johnson continued his onslaught of Arizona’s non-conference slate. And while it’s not been the most impressive competition, Johnson has been the Wildcats’ rock. Though it’s really too early to try and quantify his season, I’ll qualify it by citing his 23 points inside a raucous and hostile Viejas Arena. Early in the game Johnson squared up and hit a deep three pointer. Across most possessions, this might have been considered ill advised. But I thought it served as a message to his team. That it was OK for them to compete and that he had their backs. Sure the bucket may have come well before the first media timeout, but it resonated across his bench: Game on.

That’s Johnson’s new role, while Carson’s remains about the same: to be really damn good. They’re both fine ball players who grew up playing with and against one another. As the adage goes, you’ve got to play the best to be the best. Today they find that they’re the best after years of Middle school, playground, AAU, high school, and now college competition. Challenging one another to get better and better.

NickJohnsonSDSU

Follow me, boys

And that drive and competition has perhaps left something of a legacy. Jaron Hopkins out of Dobson High (2013) garnered big offers before winding up at Tad boyle’s blossoming program in Boulder. Michael Humphrey’s (Sunnyslope, #80 2014) is a big out of PHX and is headed to Stanford with fellow Zonie, Dorian Pickins (Pinnacle, 2014). Meanwhile, Zylan Cheatham (South Mountain, #68 2014) is headed to SDSU.

But that’s the future and we can keep an eye on that for another time.

For now, let’s enjoy what Johnson and Carson are doing. It doesn’t happen often.

GordonDunk

Arizona on the break, Oregon Transfers, Pace

We prognosticated and assumed and ran with things that coaches or scouts told us before the season started. That’s well and good but now’s the time to begin the accountability train. Let’s take a look at a few thoughts I (we?) want to keep an eye on as the season progresses and what we’re learning about them.

Arizona in transition –

All the pre-season long we’ve glowed about Arizona’s need and ability to get out into transition. That they’d struggle from distance but that the team’s true strength came in the form of defensive length and  versatility which would lead to easy transition buckets. #LOBPUEBLO. So I took to hoop-math.com, paid the more-than-worth-it-$15 subscription to discover that Arizona ranks 117th in % of total FGA in transition. That seemed low. They’re getting just 21% of their shots in transition. The Cats are, however, pretty damn efficient at these buckets, dropping a 73.4% eFG (16th in the nation). #LOBPUEBLO. Anecdotally, Arizona sure seemed to get into transition last night against Fairleigh Dickinson in the most lopsided Wildcat win since Arizona’s coach had white hair – and was a good. Against FDU, the Wildcats took 26.5% of their shots (18) in transition, or slightly above the D-1 average. NOTE: This is not cause for concern. It’s just a notice that perhaps Arizona’s strength isn’t necessarily in transition. Or it isn’t their happy place or primary means of points. Whatever the case, Arizona seems to be effectively using its size, taking just 22% of their shots from beyond the arc and have the 14th best offensive rebounding percentage.

The pace of play in Westwood and Tempe -

Steve Alford’s Bruins have jumped out to a blistering 72.8 possessions per game. That’s 57th best in the nation and the fastest UCLA team since Bruins Nation on the Alford hiring. For further context, only Howland’s last team outpaced the rest of the nation; playing 3.6 more possessions than the average D-1 team. Every other Howland season played below the D-1 average pace including his best team, 2008, which operated at 65.6 vs. 67. We all knew he was slow and many complained that Alford was too despite a UCLA coaching hunt for a “different style.” Thus far – and I’m acutely aware of the infancy of this season – Steve’s baby blue baby bears are burnin’ the floor and Kyle Anderson is comfortable at the point.

Meanwhile, in the land of Herb, he’s been talking about picking up the pace since he had back-to-back seasons without reaching the teens in wins. Last season was really the beginning of it but did you know the Sun Devils were only average in the tempo department? The 2013 D-1 average was 65.9 while the Herbivores got 65.8 possessions. But improvement – increased pace in this case – is relative to the Herb system, right? Let’s look. In his previous six Tempe seasons, the Sen Devils put up an average tempo of 61.9. In 2013 they jumped that number by 6% to get to the Jahii-led, blistering tempo of 65.8. That’s significant and this year they’ve upped the anti to 71.2 possessions. Perhaps Herb’s 3-12-24 is working?

Assimilation of the transfer Duck -

Points Rebounds Assists ORtg %Poss %Shots
Mike Moser 20.5 6 3 143.1 21.6 32.7
Joseph Young 30 5.5 1.5 156.3 26.3 26.8
Jason Calliste 10.5 2.5 3.5 131.9 17.9 11.9

Next subject.

Recruiting

Pac-12 Basketball Recruiting: Early signing period links

Aside from Herb Sendek’s twitter account, recruiting is the weirdest thing in college basketball. I follow it but I hate myself for following it. It’s the future of your program and it’s lusting for 17 year-olds. I hate that I just wrote that. But LOIs have been signed – binding contracts more firmly kept than a Kardashian prenuptial – and the 2014 classes are taking pretty firm shape.

Here are some notes and links on the Pac-12′s early signing period:

Washington State -

Tremaine Isabell is a PG out of Seattle. He’s unrated by the scouting services but Jeff Nusser gives a good synopsis of what the Cougs are getting here. The question, of course, is who’s Isabell going to be playing for next season?

Washington - 

The Dawgs have inked two essentially local talents in Olympia’s Donaven Dorsey and British Columbia’s Tristan Etienne. Here, Percy Allen breaks down the significance of these post commitments. He has some interesting notes on Romar’s recruiting direction.

Oregon -

N/A as no one has graduated yet to transfer. I keeeeed! Dana’s bringing in four new players in Dwayne Benjamin, Michael Chandler, Ray Kasongo, and Casey Benson (a product from my home state!). Chandler might be the most interesting of these pickups as he’s a former top-50 prospect who couldn’t qualify and went the JC route.

Oregon State -

Another class that might not play for the coach they signed with, the Beavers signed four noobs: Isaiah Manderson, Chai Baker, Devin Watson and….THE MITTEN! Yes it’s Gary Payton’s son (Gary Payton Jr.) who has earned the nickname THE MITTEN in the shadow of his father’s glove.

Cal -

Monty has never been known as a mega recruiter but he picks up 4-star point guard, Ahmaad Rorie a season removed from an outstanding class including Jabari Bird.

Stanford -

Dawkins brings in an excellent class that is rated 14th by Scout. We of course aren’t positive if he’ll still be the coach in 2014 but that’s neither here nor there. We do know that the Cardinal are about to lose a lot of talent so garnering this class is imperative for the Cardinal to fight on ;).

UCLA - 

Kevon Looney picked UCLA in a late surprise but no one should really care about that part. The fact is that Alford has reeled in a talented big man for a season in which he’s about to lose the Wear family. This was a critical get and the first big one of Alford’s UCLA tenure. They also signed Gyorgy Goloman. I know nothing of this Hungarian but it is also worth noting that Isaac Hamilton is kind of a piece of this class as he’s “transferring” from UTEP.

USC - 

Any Enfield made the first big splash in the revamped LA coaching scene when he garnered a commitment from Jordan McLaughlin. Joining the LA-area guard in Enfield’s 2014 class are forward Malik Price-Martin and center Jabari Craig. Another transfer note is that the Trojans will pick up Katin Reinhardt amongst others but I can’t keep up with all the transfers so…good luck.

Arizona -

Sean Miller continues to own California as he grabbed both Parker Jackson Cartwright and Stanley Johnson out of LA. The Wildcats also got a commitment from 5-or4-star PF, Craig Victor who I sometimes call Victor Craig and vice versa. Kadeem Allen also joins the 2014 class as a Juco addition in the back court. Miller expects his class to grow (Justise Winslow on Wednesday? Myles Turner in the spring?).

Arizona State -

Herb is finding strength in numbers. He’s inked six kids to his 2014 class as he’s about to lose Jahii and Jordan and Jermaine (the killer J’s?). Here is his class: C Octavious Ellis (JC), SG Gerry Blakes (JC), SG Roosevelt Scott (JC), PG Tra Holder, C Connor MacDougall, PG Kodi Justice. Holder and MacDougall are 4-stars and the latter is a local kid out of Phoenix and that’s critical to successful programs.

Colorado –

As I noted in the above ASU snippet, garnering the locals is critical. While Tad Boyle missed out on mega recruit and Colorado native, Josh Perkins, he’s did manage to get Dominique Collier – a four-star recruit from Denver’s East HS. Joining Dom will be Tory Miller out of NH.

Utah –

Larry K has seemingly revamped his lineup in each of his three seasons at Utah. But he’s starting to get things done on the recruiting trail and is following my favorite model: the aforementioned keeping-local-talent. His 2014 class includes: Isaiah Wright, Kyle Kuzma, and Brekkott Chapman. Chapman is the gem of this class. He’s a local four-star, power forward and has a cool first name.

Miles Simon championship

BB: Stanley Johnson picks Arizona

Last night SDSU was beat on the same court  that Arizona won the 1997 national championship. I plastered this across chat boxes all the Thursday morning long and you can read about it at the bottom of this page. If you don’t read that then let me tell you that the playing surface at Viejas Arena is the same one used at the ’97 NCAA Final Four. In case you need a refresher, Arizona won that title. I reminded my friends, “HOLY NAPOLEON COMPLEX. You can’t script this stuff!”

But when I told a third party – a non-Wildcat with no emotional ties to what happened inside the late RCA Dome of Indianapolis in 1997 – I came to realize that the late-90′s was a lifetime ago. Seriously, someone born that year is driving today. A motor vehicle. And the Champions Classic so gloriously hosted on Tuesday didn’t bother to invite Arizona because Mike Bibby.

Arizona has been a terrific basketball school. They’ve danced on par with the elite and they’ve tasted success on an annual basis that few have. But the 1997 title was a long time ago. Much has transpired in the Old Pueblo since I watched the basketball team address fans in the football stadium on a spring afternoon. That was a glorious day and beautiful times.

But that third party highlighted for me that ’97 is approaching a generation ago. Do they snap chat? Arizona was uncomfortably close to being the snap chat of elite basketball programs: a flash genius and gone for eternity. But Sean Miller said yes to Jim Livengood’s pleas.

(And quick aside while we’re on this snap chat analogy. If you’re reading this blog then we are friends and as a friend I encourage you to say ‘yes’ to any offer that ends in billion.)

And so too has Stanley Johnson.

The athletic, competitive, strong, skilled, tough talent out of Mater Dei has declared himself a Wildcat. He joins an already sound 2014 class of Craig Victor and Parker Jackson Cartwright with more on the way. By just about every standard, he’s league bound. A game changer on the scale of Mater Deis before him:

Simon Says

Simon Says

Because that’s why players come to Arizona. It’s why Miller did and what Simon said is the reason you play the game. For two media days now I’ve sat and watched coach after coach, player after player effuse about their forthcoming season. Only Miller and his travel partners (Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson) have used the word “championship.”

The Wildcats are in the midst of a season with the potential to stand on a ladder with scissors, have a Jim Nantz pun thrown at us, and later visit the Obamas. 1997 was a long time ago but it’s imagery is as real as ever. It’s the banner Stanley Johnson and every other kid that’s agreed to Sean was sold on.

When the Aztecs cut last night’s lead to four, with The Show and the rest of Viejas swelling, Aaron Gordon absorbed the harm and dunked. Seats were re-acquired or exited. It was the kind of moment that suggests a team is built for big things. The kind of team and program Stanley Johnson wants to be a part. And wants to build.

Hats and t-shirts.

Basketball games in football stadiums.

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Interview with an Aztec: Previewing SDSU

The sixth ranked Wildcats head to the arena formerly known as Cox tonight. They’ll give just one point in taking the court against a team, SDSU, who has beaten them in two of their previous three encounters. Does Fish have Sean’s number? I’m not sure but I’m trying to get to the bottom of all things SDSU – a school with which I shared a city whilst a collegian. I’ve attended a game @SDSU and it was hilariously fun. I don’t usually preview games but when I do, I want it from the horse’s mouth and so I’ve grabbed co-worker, friend, and SDSU alum, Steve McDevitt, about his alma mater. After all, today is his birthday.

Now it’s worth noting that Steve recently became Poppa McD (otherwise known as “dad”) to the handsome and jet setting, Logan. He tells you about their adventures, misadventures, and beer on his blog, Pampers N Pints. And now he he answers my inquiries about SDSU hoops:

On a scale of one-to-there’s-a-statue-of-him-outside-of-Pauley-Pavilion, how much does Steve Fisher look like John Wooden?

If Wooden, Fisher, and Lou Holtz were all starring in a the same soft core porn, no way you could tell any of them apart. Hey, c’mon, everyone has fetish, right? I did, however, meet Fish a couple of times (porn unrelated). He used to come in to the cell phone shop I worked at and he’s a super nice guy. He turned the program around and probably had much better offers but stuck with the Aztecs. But hey, if you’re getting porn offers and living in San Diego, would you leave?

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Toss up.

Were you ever a part of The Show and are you proud of The Show?

The only show unfortunately on in my house these days involves catty, orange debutantes donning seven pounds of makeup and more extensions than the Geico claims department. I’m going to have to phone a friend here, Regis, and bring Aztec aficionado and starting power forward of my wedding party, Tony Busalacchi.

This is the part where we introduce you to Tony with an anecdote from him on his fandom:

Best story I have is I went to the Spurs vs Kings game when Jimmer and Kawhi faced off for the first time in the NBA,  Malcolm Thomas and Kawhi were on the Spurs.  I yelled at Malcolm across the court and yelled Aztec4life and pointed at my SDSU shirt.  Malcolm pointed my way and gave me a nod.   There really is a special bond between the players, students, & Aztec die hards that have witnessed a team that only won 3 games in Fisher’s first year to consistently being one of the top teams out West.
So basically I’ll be interviewing Steve and an Aztec fan from here out. “T” represents Tony. “S” represents Steve. Genius.
So to you, Tony, your thoughts on The Show?
T: I used to sit with The Show back in 2000-2001 when it was just a few members, but I was never a part of The Show.  I remember heckling Bobby Knight when he was the coach of Texas Tech and got him to look my way with a mean stare.  I  personally love the creativity of The Show. They are the original creators of the big heads. They truly intimidate visiting teams and do a great job getting under their skin.  The show also does a great job getting the rest of the fans into the game and developing a great home court advantage for the Aztecs.

Moving on to actual round ball, Jamaal Franklin sure was good, so good in-fact I read he was the only D-1 player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. How are the Aztecs going to replace that production, along with that of Chase Tapley and DeShawn Stephens? This is otherwise known as the what is SDSU good at question.

S: Tony…

T: Last year Maal was Mr everything for the Aztecs.  Tap was just  plain clutch. Early on will be a challenge as the team develops an identity.  As the year goes on, I feel we will be much more balanced and in fact have a better year even though we lost some key players.

I read somewhere that Josh Davis is basically Kawhi Leonard. Is Josh Davis an NBA runner-up?

S: I think I went to middle school with a guy named Josh Davis. Really great four-square player.

T:  Josh Davis does play like Kawhi & actually looks like him also.  He is a tenacious rebounder, freakishly athletic, & has a nose for the ball.  Josh will create his own legacy before the year is over

How awesome was The Beachcomber’s Thursday night, $1 You-call-its in college?

S: I don’t remember so… yeah… it was pretty awesome.

Is Arizona-SDSU a rivalry?

S: Back in 2004 or so, Arizona visited SDSU and we discovered that we could buy $3 student tickets and sell them to Arizona fans for $125 a pop. Rivalry? Not so much as we were gladly taking 800% better than our Jamba Juice salary. Although a battle between an Aztec warrior and a Wildcat might be a good match in the wild, so yes, I’d say it is a rivalry after all.

T:  I think AZ vs SDSU is going to become one of the best rivalries on the West Coast.  These are going to be THE two premier teams out West for years to come.  Shepard will be a breakout player for us this year.

/END TRANSCRIPT

Well that’s going to do it. Thank you Steve and thanks for jumping in Tony. Vegas says it’s going to be a ball game. I think we’ve got two teams that match wildly similarly: defensively oriented with a knack for rebounds. The x-factor could boil down to guard play where Arizona has an advantage with McConnell and Johnson above senior and WSU transfer, Xavier Thames. But here’s one additional thought: As both teams tout their strengths in the front court, this game could boil down to a power of wills. Strength vs. strength. Such match-ups often turn into epic games (see: 68-67, Arizona in Maui last year, also see below). As Tony mentioned, 6’8″ Winston Shepard is poised for a big year. The Aztecs are going to out-size many opponents and that will bode well for them in the MWC. This is the Pac-12 and Arizona has an NBA-esque front court that will gladly bang with the Aztecs (KALEB WANT CONTACT).

Worth noting: there’s a rostered SDSU player who’s last name is U’u and I think The Show is trolling at its best/worst/core.

HI, ANGELO!