Monthly Archives: November 2013

Six thoughts on Five Days of Pac Hoops

This first week of the college basketball season has really moved fast as we’re already going to have a new number one team and I’ve already completely written off Stanford’s season and proposed trading Washington State. It’s gonna be a good one.

Here’s a few observations from close-to-the-first week:

What if this really is Richard Solomon? And Ty Wallace?

Through just two games the big Bear has grabbed 26 rebounds. Maybe that’s not sustainable but I’ve long touted the necessity of his improvement for Cal to be a frightening contender. They’ve got the pieces to contend but to strike fear? That’s Solomon’s job. What’s more is he’s committed just four fouls in those two games. It’s obviously early but these are auspicious signs for Monty’s front court. And Ty Wallace is 18/5/4.

BUT OREGON SUSPENDS DOMINIC ARTIS AND BEN CARTER!

Old news, yes, but then Johnathan Loyd missed no shots, turned no balls over, and assisted on seven buckets as the Ducks beat JOSH SMITH’S Hoyas. I’ve said it a few times now but Oregon is the only team that could survive this suspension. They have more guards than jersey combinations. We ultimately, however, have no idea what Carter is going to bring to the table. Would he have helped to stop Josh Smith? Probably, but the front court will continue to be a place to focus for the Ducks as they shoot their way through these suspensions.

Tony Parker’s development at UCLA:

Luc and I agree that UCLA’s ceiling is primarily dependent on this kid’s development. He allows the Wear family to become role players and that’s what they are: very good role players. Tony Parker could be a star and if he is, Jordan Adams is going to rain Manna from heaven and it’s rumored that Kyle Anderson would shave. Here are Tony’s two stat lines:

  • vs. Drexel: 20min, 3-6 FG, 6pts, 5rbs, 1blk, 4fls
  • vs. Oakland: 34 min, 10-12 FG, 21pts, 12rbs, 3blks, 3fls

I’m going to conclude that Tony Parker plays his best basketball when he’s on the court. Fair? Keep him out of foul trouble and the Bruins just might have the big man they’ve coveted to open the floor for Adams threes and Wear jumpers. Going to elaborate on this one later.

You should probably get used to this:

And these dunklights:

The new starter

Much ado about Colorado’s returning of four starters. It’s a nicety for any team and a recipe for high expectations. They lost Andre Roberson who is actually averaging 2 rebounds a game for the Buffaloes this season despite not playing a game or even being eligible. But keep an eye on his replacement, Wesley Gordon. He’s a thick athlete (6’9″ 225lbs) and is swiftly putting up competitive numbers: 11 points, 8 rebounds. There’s a team-wide learning curve but those things tend to flatten out when there’s talent around. Wesley Gordon’s pretty talented.

 

Gross Conclusions and 1.26 Points Per Cougar Possession

And how much fun is this? We’re but a few days deep and now hours into a tip off marathon where I was watching hoops deep into the night and now once again peripherally at Tucson International. We have just begun and I’m making irrational snap judgments like Carrie Mathison (i.e. Gabe York:Russ Smith::Russ Smith:Gabe York; POY trophy as the Ty Wallace Cup; Joseph Young receiving an additional year’s eligibility; lodging in Arlington; instituting a coach swap where Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson just switch teams – like Dawk moves to Corvallis for the year and Rob to Palo Alto just to see why the hell not; replacing WSU with Coppin State). In reality, we know very little about the teams we’ve seen play but our expectations are being teased, not tempered.

To the point at which I’d like to elaborate on the Stanford Cardinal.

Against much of my better judgment (what’s that?) I’ve ignored those trying to temper my expectations of Dawkins’ squad. I’ve thought so highly of Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle for so long now that I foresaw no way in which a team led by those two could sustain back-to-back disappointing seasons. Their talents, after all, were supplemented by Josh Huestis, Aaron Bright, and a deep cast of formidable role players. They returned oodles of experience (80% of their minutes played) and isn’t experience one thing you can’t teach? The crux of the matter, however, might not be about what you can’t teach so much as whether you can teach at all.

This comes to the forefront as Stanford – a perennial top-100 defensive unit under Dawkins – yielded 112 points at home to the WCC’s Brigham Young Cougars. That’s 1.26 points per possession. Matt Carlino just scored agai — Tyler Haws, too. Oh sure the Cards dropped 100+ themselves but who damn cares? This is a major violation of early optimism. We were promised a “different way of thinking” by Coach Dawkins and crew. To which I ask: What are you guys thinking?

Watching the latter parts of that BYU thing, Seth Greenberg yelled on and on about how Stanford had many nice pieces – the same toys I’ve mentioned above. He’d then, inevitably, arrive at his caveat (of which I paraphrase), “But Stanford has really got to find its identity. What kind of team are they going to be?” Indeed what the hell type of team are they going to be because they could be so good. Or can they?

This was one man’s proposal to which I can’t completely disagree. A 19-15 (9-9) season is being fixed by thinking differently?

It might be time for me to start thinking differently about Stanford.

College Basketball Season Starts Today

The ball is tipped and here we are.

Such are the words Luther Vandross will serenade on CBS in five short months. But before that, before there’s a basketball game inside a football stadium and Jim Nantz puns and the TBS guys speak college and Martha from accounting kicking the shit out of your bracket and nnnnnnnnapa know how and three hour lunches at Hooters on a Thursday and glass slippers and schools you’ve never heard of and schools you have heard of and Kansas losing early and March, there are games.

There are games and they start today from Tucson to Pyeongtaek and they’ll continue right on up to the aforementioned. Are you excited yet? I most certainly am. This should be the best Pac-12 we’ve seen since 2009 when six of ten were invited. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – though I think we see seven tiny dancers this season – as there remains all those damn games to be played.

And let’s watch them.

We can watch them together or apart. We can converse via twitter or not at all. Follow some of these people and tell them they’re right, wrong, or otherwise. Just don’t be a dick.

It’s sports.

It is November.

It’s college basketball.

The season begins now.

jonah-hill-excited

Ranking the Pac-12 front courts

While this group doesn’t hold a candle to the collective guard talent, there are some formidable pieces. The conference has brought in solid transfer bigs and we could see a record fall in Tempe. I’ll propose the question: What is Kyle Anderson and why’d ya do it, Eric Moreland? The bigs:

  1. Arizona – Three five-stars that each bring a completely different set of skills to the table. You can push Aaron Gordon to the three and he can talk all about his desire to play there, but the fact of the matter is, the kid plays above the rim. That’s Kaleb Tarczewski big. The impending health of Zach Peters (recently cleared) offers another six-feet-and-ten-inches of unique skill set (shots).
  2. Stanford – Maybe they haven’t won much but between Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis you’ve got everything you’d want in a front court. Each has springs and can play physical. Powell can score from all over the place while Huestis is about as tough defensively as they get.
  3. UCLA – I already gave Kyle Anderson some back court love, but last season he was asked to be more of a forward and he excelled at that – averaging nearly a 9 boards/game. The Bruins already feature the Wear family who’s been formidable and while Travis is out injured right now, David is healthy again and should have an improved season from a year ago. The unknown to this group – and the piece that could make them a pretty scare team – is the improvement and conditioning of Tony Parker. It’s an unfortunate annual event that we discuss the conditioning of a Bruin big but if one of them ever gets it about them to be in shape, look out.
  4. Colorado – Josh Scott had a great first season and particularly when he had fresh legs. His output tapered some as the season dragged on but that’s what sometimes happens with freshmen. He’s now a year aged and while he lost his rebounding running mate, Xavier Johnson projects to fill in nicely at the wing-forward spot while Buffs fans are also very high on Wesley Gordon.
  5. Oregon – One of their starters was suspended but that’s not the key piece. Mike Moser has proven to be a terrific power forward. In 2011-12 he was amongst the nation’s best players. Then a year later he wasn’t. Who is Oregon getting? I’m thinking it’ll be a lot more of the former than the latter. If Ben Carter can recover from his salesmanship and produce, this group could be tough with all those guards.
  6. ASU – Depth maybe isn’t their strong suit up front but if Jordan Bachynski can replicate last season, he will be the Pac-12’s All-Time leading shot blocker. That’s saying something.
  7. Oregon State Let’s note right up front that Eric Moreland will be out for 14 straight games. We’ll also note that he’s a very good basketball player and flirted with the NBA. The First Team also has Devon Collier and returns everyone’s second favorite Aussie, Angus Brandt. In most any other system, I think these guys might be a top-four front court. But this is a school averaging just 15 wins a year the past three seasons. Sigh.
  8. California – I’ve said it before, I like Richard Solomon. I think he could have a big year. But to this point he’s been a foul prone athlete in Cal’s paint. His services have been supplemented by a walk-on named The Thurmanator. Solomon has the skills to be great, but will he? The other big in Haas is David Kravish who has a very sound skill set, a solid big, but he’s just not that big. Front court depth will also be a Bear-issue.
  9. Washington – They lose their anchor in Aziz but they’re bringing in a very interesting piece that LoRo says has the “potential to lead the team in scoring.” That’s nice – and scary, frankly, considering CJ Wilcox is on the team – but what I like the most about the addition of Perris Blackwell is that he’s a big body who’s going to let all those guards run amuck. Between him and the Rain Man Jr. (along with Desmond Simmons), the Dawgs have a few guys to get dirty in their second attempt at the high post offense. And this.
  10. Utah – This ranking hinges squarely on the fact that Jordan Loveridge is fantastic, he’s a double-double about to happen. Maybe he’s manning the middle alone now (bye Jason Washburn), but he’s man enough to do it. Worth noting, K did mention an improved and healthy Renan Lenz.
  11. USC – I don’t think these two are well suited for Andy Enfield’s tempo but they are serviceable bigs. Omar Oraby and DJ Haley are just too big for Dunk City. This is an offense that needs to get out and move and 7’2″ and 7′ tends to be a bit rigid when it comes to the fast break.
  12. WSU – Uhhhhh. They have their full allotment of scholarship athletes?

Ranking the Pac-12 back courts

This was no easy task. Back courts across the Pac-12 are loaded this season and a major reason why the Pac is Back. Thus, not coincidentally, this list most closely resembles how I think the conference will shake out. There are big guards and small guards and quick guards and shooters. Veterans and pups. I’d pit this group against any in the country. Alas, they’re just going to pick on each other like Miami Dolphins.

  1. Oregon – Sure the Ducks just lost Dominic Artis to entrepreneurship, but they replace him with the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament MVP. Oregon has guard depth as deep as this guy is drunk. Joseph Young (18ppg), Damyean Dotson (11ppg), Jason Calliste (11ppg), Johnathan Loyd (5ppg), Dominic Artis (9ppg). [somewhere Mike Moser smiles].
  2. Arizona – You can try and tell me that TJ McConnell hasn’t played at the highest level but I’m not about to knock him for that. I’ve watched mid-major talent the last four years in the Pac-12. I know what good looks like when I see it. He’s joined by the ever improving Nick Johnson with Jordin Mayes backing each of them up. I like these pieces.
  3. Colorado – Came very close to being second on this list. While Dinwiddie vs. McConnell is not a draw (Mayor wins out), Askia Booker’s propensity to shoot and to pull up and to fire as compared to everything Nick Johnson does….well I’m giving the collective nod to the Cats. But man, Spencer Dinwiddie is good.
  4. ASU – This might be too low of a ranking for the Devils. Carson is one of the nation’s best and the addition of Jermaine Marshall is an upgrade over the departed Evan Gordon. Did I mention Jahii Carson is good?
  5. California – Aside from Loyd (who will be filling in for Artis) Cobbs is the first senior to make this list (and I’m not counting Marshall, either). He’s joined by Jabari Bird, a McDonald’s AA who isn’t getting near the love he might deserve because of Commissioner (Aaron) Gordon. But the wildcard here is Ty Wallace who I think could have a monster year for the Bears.
  6. Washington – I’ve heard mixed reviews on Nigel Williams-Goss and that’s OK. Another burger All-American, he’s an incoming freshman so there’s going to be equal parts question marks and hype. I get it. But CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. Perhaps the best shooter in the conference is now a senior and very well could have the dynamic, distributing PG to get him even more touches in ideal spots. The rules changes should also help to get him even more open looks. BOMBS AWAY. (Andrew Andrews mention)
  7. UCLA – Their point guard is 6’9″ and goes by the name of slow-mo. That would seem inauspicious but Kyle Anderson is one unique talent. The Bruins are going to miss LD2 but Anderson’s play making and size will make UCLA a tough out. Oh, and that Jordan Adams kid is my favorite.
  8. Stanford – Last year I was very high on the prospects of Chasson Randle who I loved watching slash into the lane and get buckets. He could shoot it, too. His trajectory plateaued last season and he hit a cold streak from the field (44% from 3FG to 36%). This came inopportunely at the same time as Aaron Bright’s cold spell (44% from 3FG to 32%). So what’s the norm, I ask?
  9. Oregon State – Roberto Nelson is a fine player who can score with anyone in this conference. It appears, however, that he’s a one man show with Ahmad Starks (who was really high on him anyways?) departed. Challe Barton will get a crack at PG duties and there’s one more thing I want to mention: Malcolm Duvivier. Why you might ask? Because he’s definitively not Andrew Wiggins. But he is a Canadian prep star who reclassified from 2014 to 2013 to play American College Basketball. Ya hoser.
  10. Washington State – I’m a sucker for veterans – perhaps above talent? No – and the Cougars, for whatever their season will become, feature DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge. These two are nice players for Ken Bone, adding to the guard depth of the conference more than wins for WSU.
  11. USC – JT Terrell should benefit greatly from Dunk City as he’s an athletic guard who wants to get up and down the floor. Or at least get his shots up. Additionally Pe’Shon Howard is a nice pickup for ball handling duties as Enfield’s offense has a tendency for turnovers.
  12. Utah – I’m relatively high on Brandon Taylor. I liked his work down the stretch for the Utes but he’s a sophomore guard with little experience leading a team full of even less experience. His learning curve is steep and I wish him luck swimming in the deep end.

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Adult decisions

This set of ball games is wildly appealing to me but sometimes – and I hope you can relate with me here – other things get in the way of even Pac-12 basketball. Be it family, work, or the rotating Pac-12 schedule, I’m not going to go to these games. Now you might ask yourself, How do these differ from The Pac-12 Road Trip: Just absolutely cannot? And that would be a fair question. Those were games that I want to attend but almost literally cannot. Come on, I’m not going to South Korea for an Oregon game that’s released something like 100 tickets to the public. You think anyone not named NIKE is getting those? These are games that I could attend and would attend, but I’m choosing to do something else. Or save money. You know, being a growed up.

  1. UCLA @ The Bay Area, Wednesday 2/19 & Saturday 2/22, Maples & Haas, Berkeley & Palo Alto – Evidently I don’t hold this game or weekend trip in nearly the same esteem as ESPN’s Gameday. They’ve declared this 2/22 contest (UCLA @ Stanford) as their possible P12 destination that weekend. The other option is Sean Miller and team’s visit to Tad Boyle’s house. I’m making the right choice and heading to Boulder because, you know, great basketball. And Boulder. Alas, if you’re local in the Bay – and if I was I’d be there – these are the games to attend. UCLA is UCLA and will contend for the a top spot as could these Bay schools. Dunk city.
  2. Arizona @ Oregon, Saturday, 2/8, 2pm, CBS, The Matt, Eugene – In 2008 I was in Eugene long enough to wander on to Mac Court (RIP). It just looked loud. Alas, since my visit, Oregon basketball quickly declined and the school would quit that building. But then they hired Dana the Head Duck and, to date, this has proved a great move. I haven’t been back to Eugene. Dammit. I’m aiming to but this season it just isn’t going to work. I’ve got too many other March travels to make this work despite Allegiant Air’s best efforts (tardy they may be). This is also the final game of the season which holds some sort of intrigue but I also imagine both of these teams will have pretty clear pictures of their post-season placement by this point and my dollars are better spent heading home to Tucson for familial duties a week later.
  3. Arizona @ UCLA, Thursday, 1/9, 6pm, ESPN or ESPN2, Pauley, Westwood – You know when your day job gets in the way of driving down I-5 to get to the Arizona-UCLA game? So annoying, right? This is the only game scheduled between these rivals in the 2013-14 campaign and so I really wanted to catch it. I’ve also never seen Arizona win inside that building. But like I said, that day job thing is going to get in the way so I won’t be jetting to Westwood at drive time that day. 
  4. Arizona @ Washington, This game is literally not happening. Arizona does not have a scheduled game in Seattle and like I’ve said on repeat: I really want to get to HecEd. Looks like we’ll have to wait another year.
  5. Opening Rounds of Pac-12 Tournament, Wed-Fri, 3/12-14, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas – Broken record alert! These mid-week games are going to kill my Pac-12 watching soul. There’s an outside shot I make it here but the following week I’m due in Tucson for a big day for Baby Brother. I’m not going to make this one. But you should. I attended last year and it was a glorious. I flew into Vegas at an early hour (or late if you’re going by Vegas time) and soon hit open Bloody Mary’s, the final Big East tournament, and then oodles of Pac-12 basketball. I loved it and I want you to go, too.

Quincy Pondexter did it, who might this year?

Quincy Pondexter arrived in Seattle, a five-star recruit with the promise of NBA written all over him. A program changing prospect, expectations were high. But after his first three seasons as a Husky, those seemed like empty hopes. Not to say he was a total bust, but after he came in with expectations and posted a pretty solid freshman campaign (11/4/2, 109/22), his subsequent two seasons displayed minimal improvement.

Season Pts/Rebs/Assists per game Ortg/Shot%
Freshman 11/4/2 109/22
Sophomore 10/5/2 106/22
Junior 12/6/2 112/22

Consistently sound but was this to be QPon’s ceiling? His 2007 five-star contemporaries were being drafted if not leading their teams to great places. Pondexter got to dance in 2009 but headed into 2009-10, the Dawgs didn’t have particularly high expectations for their senior.

Season Pts/Rebs/Assists per game Ortg/Shot%
Senior 19/7/2 122/26

Pac-12 tournament champions. Sweet 16. Pondexter’s monster year came in the nick of time. And that’s the beauty of college sports. Maybe there’s corruption on the recruiting side of things and a product that’s not quite professional grade, but like watching a Snap Chat, there’s something to knowing that what’s right in front of you will soon be gone. The senior is that rare position in which it’s laid on the line for one full season. There’s no next because, as the commercial says, most of them will be going professional in something other than sports (though if you have a season like Pondexter you’re probably going professional in something related to sports, namely playing them).

Quincy embodied that for a season – a relatively rare accomplishment – and I’m sure we could each recount a moment in which a senior’s gut captivated us. But there is a precedent for what QPon did. I could rattle on about Jason Terry or Kyle Fogg from my backyard. Landry Fields, Carrick Felix, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aaron Brooks from elsewhere. These were guys that followed similar paths as the aforementioned QPon and erupted with their NCAA clock nearing expiration.

Player Fr-Jr Averages* Senior Year Sr Year Post Season
Jason Terry** 8p 2r 3a 22p 3r 6a NCAA 3 seed. Lost 1st round***
Aaron Brooks 11p 3r 4a 102.4/20.3 18p 4r 4a 117.7/25.1 NCAA 2 seed. Lost E8
Landry Fields 7p 4r 1a 101.1/21.8 22p 9r 3a 109.6/31.2 14-18. No tournaments
Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6p 4r 1a 94.5/20.2 15p 8r 1a 112.5/24.9 NCAA 7 seed. Lost 2d round
Kyle Fogg 8p 2r 2a 106.8/17.8 14p 4r 2a 110.6/23.1 NIT
Carrick Felix 8p 3r 1a 95.1/21.8 15p 8r 2a 110.4/22.2 NIT. Lost 2d round

*These are quick and dirty averages across their first three seasons on campus
**No ORtg and %shot data available
***Utterly broke my heart to see Michael Wright mistakenly step onto the court before inbounding the ball late and sealing a first round exit for one of the greatest Wildcat seniors of all time which I watched alone in my bedroom on an antennaed TV on a Friday afternoon that somehow was a middle school half day.

And so I ask, who could do that this year? Who amongst the statesmen of the Pac-12 can embrace their impending eligibility and have a monster swan song?

John Gage, F, Stanford – This biggun was called the best shooter in the Pac-12 by Jeff Eisenberg. Not many 13mpg players get called out as being the best shooter in a conference. What’s more, Gage is a member of the senior class Dwight Powell stuck around to take care of unfinished business with. With Andy Brown unfortunately off the roster, Gage should have further chances to play that stretch forward position.

Richard Solomon, C, Cal – Another biggun making the breakout senior list, Solomon has tremendous up side that he has yet to realize. I love his athleticism and think he’s on a roster where that athleticism can flourish. He’s foul prone, sure, but if he can manage to refine his game a little, look out.

Angus Brandt, C, Oregon State – He spent last season injured and was poised to break out then. He’s now going to be relied upon even further as Eric Moreland won’t soon be joining the team.

Jermaine Marshall, G, ASU – He put up very solid numbers one season ago at Penn State (15/4/3) and then he graduated to Tempe (not from Tempe). Those are already gaudy numbers but I could see him having the opportunity to go even bigger with Jahii Carson making moves throughout the lane for this spot up shooter.

JT Terrell, G, USC – Terrell is a shooter and would likely seem to thrive in a shooting system. Exit: Kevin O’Neill. Enter: Andy Enfield. Dunk city is going to give Terrell further freedom to fire it up. He’s the top scorer returning to the Galen Center and should likely receive the lion’s share of touches.

Mike Moser, F, Oregon -This one maybe isn’t quite deserving of making this list but as compared to his previous season, Moser is poised to have another monster season. He’s in a system that doesn’t have Anthony Bennett and he’s already shown just how good he can be (2011-12 Moser was 14/10).

Somebody really cool that we barely know about who’s role is suddenly expanded or talent realized because of the fleeting nature of his time on the campus where he’s fallen in love with coaches and teammates and fans and the experience since arriving a green, 18-year-old with aspirations of t-shirts and hats – Any names come to minds?

Dominic Artis and Ben Carter Suspended

Oregon took a selfie on Tuesday afternoon and it unfortunately did not involve a cheerleader. Sorry to disappoint but evidently you can sell yourself for autographs but not your free tees.

No the disappoint lay in the action of two projected starters for the Ducks who sold team apparel. Domninc Artis and Ben Carter did their best Terrell Pryor and Dana Altman did his worst Jim Tressel (didn’t lie, self-reported) and the University of Oregon had to be the centerpiece of NCAA compliance – again – during a week in which they’re doubly starring on ESPN. Between Thursday’s football game and Friday’s South Korea game, the Ducks are all over the worldwide leader.

And this news ain’t helping. Certainly not on the heels of sanctions for the football team and certainly not on the heels of the Joseph Young news. The latter was reason for gross optimism surrounding UO hoops. Tuesday’s news, however, serves to dampen some of that excitement. But not too much.

I love college basketball and one of the reasons I love it is because it allows teams to grow and develop. Get a little hot, a little cold, time your runs and that’s a season. But ask this very Duck program what one loss meant to their 2012 football season.

Artis and Carter won’t play and my biggest concern for the Ducks isn’t that they’ll drop the Georgetown game or even a lesser non-conference game (the apparel sellers project to miss about 9 games). Those are all nice contests to win and Oregon would be expected to win with these two. No my concern isn’t on the wins or losses column so much as it is on the minutes played column for Carter. Here’s a guy many folks are very high on and are expecting big things from – his coach likely not withstanding – who played only a handful of minutes last season. He recorded just 10.4 minutes per contest with an introductory 13% usage rate. Ben Carter didn’t contribute a ton last year.

But we’ve been expecting him to significantly contribute to a revamped Duck front court (HI, MIKE MOSER) and the only way he’s going to improve is by recording more court time. To increase his usage and minutes played because that’s how you get better at things. 10,000 hours isn’t a joke and it isn’t achieved during self imposed suspensions.

Oregon is going to weather this storm but perhaps at the cost of Ben Carter’s development. They’ll replace Artis with reigning Pac-12 Tournament MVP, Johnathan Loyd. How many teams can say that? But the effects of this suspension could have ripple effects as the games grow in magnitude after the calendar turns over into Pac-12 season.

In his stead, the Duck front court will turn to guys like Waverly Austin and transfer Richard Amardi. True, they’re no more experienced than Carter, but he was the one projected to start and the one who many felt would solidify an already outstanding lineup.

I guess we’ll just have to wait.

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Just absolutely cannot

Yesterday I told you about the games I ain’t gonna miss. Things are lined up for me to attend and yell and shout. But you can’t always get what you want. And while I really want to get to these games below – they’re either in great places or feature great teams, the adventure of travel meet the drama of sport – it’s just not in the cards. I want to, but can’t swing it.

  1. Oregon vs. Georgetown, Friday 11/8, 5pm PST, ESPN, Camp Humphreys, South Korea – OPPAGANGNAM STYLE! Yes I want to go to South Korea and crush noraebang and barbecue. Take in a dynasty and some temples and perhaps rekindle a brief flame that moved out there with her ex-boyfriend to teach English. A boy can dream. I could also get a look at Dana Altman’s revamped squad of graduate students. In this, his fourth Duck season, we’re presented yet again with a brand newish squad – the perfect excuse to get over to Asia. I’d naturally leverage this into a trip to Tokyo and maybe Southeast Asia, too. Worth noting is that this game will be held on a military base which we cannot assume is for marketing or morale purposes so much as a security measure considering Georgetown’s history in Asia.
  2. Arizona vs. Duke, TBD, ESPN #, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I just can’t swing this thing over Thanksgiving. Too many traditions would be broken along with Grandma’s heart. Can’t do it. My conciliation prize? High school 10-year! Alas, this game isn’t guaranteed to happen. Standing in Arizona’s way is likely a triumvirate of Farleigh Dickinson (this game is definitively scheduled), Rhode Island (I see you ghost of Jim Harrick), and then probably Rutgers in MSG. The Dookies are looking at – as the two-seed mind you – UNC-Asheville, East Carolina, and Anthony Grant’s Rolling Tide. The bracket. Everything goes to form and it’s Arizona-Duke. Goodness I want to be there. The Blue Devils want a shot at revenge and I want to watch Jabari Parker vs. Aaron Gordon amongst so many other match ups (Nick Johnson vs. Rasheed Sulaimon; TJ McConnell vs. Quinn Cook; K vs. Miller). But what’s more is this would play out like Cameron-North. A flame to the flickering light of bandwagondom in a city bereft of college basketball success, NYC hasn’t seen college success since the Red Storm featured World Peace. Duke has been adopted inside that arena and I want it Red. No, I can’t travel there, but I sure as hell wanna.

    photo(4)

    The pride of Krzyzewskiville

  3. Kansas @ Colorado, Saturday 12/7, 1:15pm MT, ESPN2, The Keg, Boulder – It wouldn’t really be fair to call Colorado’s role in this matchup “kid brother” as the Buffs didn’t even sniff that familial level as a member of the Big-12. Boulder was a Jayhawk respite, a welcomed escape from roadies to Norman, Stillwater, Lubbock, Aimes, Waco, and Manhattan. A fact confirmed to me by a former UT hoop star (because Austin is awesome by all accounts). But what I’m getting at is B12 Colorado sucked. P12 Colorado is pretty darned tough but when they went to Lawrence last season they asserted nothing of the sort. The Jayhawks maintained the modus operandi and rolled Ralphie by 36. Well now I want in on this action. It’s a new generation of pissed off Ralphie inside The Keg that used to fill up with Hawks. I’d imagine this thing to be rock chalk full of Buffaloes and I want to see Andrew Wiggins with my own face. Don’t you? Besides, last I went to Boulder for a game with some vitriol behind it, Tad’s team came to play. I imagine they’ll do the same for Bill’s boys.
  4. USC @ Battle for Atlantis, 11/28-30, ATLANTIS RESORT, Paradise Island, Bahamas – USC projects to be a not so great team but it’s the Bahamas in November. With the means and time I’d go. There’s the Dolphin Cay where I’d swim with sea creatures and a water park to destroy slides. It’s all inclusive so…well so everything would be included. There’s a teaser on the resort’s WHAT TO DO PAGE that says, “When the waters of Atlantis grow dark, the fun is just beginning.” There’s going to be two Andy’s – Wiggins and Enfield – and one of their wives. I challenge you to give me a reason not to go. Oh, it’s over thanksgiving and my grandparents don’t travel well and I’m due in Coolidge, Arizona for the umpteenth consecutive Turkey Day where we pretend that the ham is “pink turkey” so as not to upset my overbearing Jewish mother? I guess I’ve gotta handle that.
  5. UCLA vs. Duke, Thursday, 12/19, 4:30pm PT, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I’m going to see Duke inside of MSG before I die. And before K retires. Have to. I would’ve liked to see Duke-St.John’s there when that match up provided some heat but one can’t really complain about taking in Duke vs. the most successful program in the history of the sport. Granted, UCLA is amidst a transition period that is hard to contextualize or grasp or understand on really any level, but it’s still UCLA and there’s still rhyme and reason to see them. Particularly against the most successful program of the past handful of decades. As previously mentioned, MSG is a second home of sorts for Duke and I just find that fascinating and exciting for a west coast opponent to take on. You wanna talk tournament tune up? Additionally there’s the appeal of being in NYC around Christmas time (said the Jewish guy). I get it. There’s a romanticism to the snow and the giant tree at the Rockefeller Center. Who didn’t become enthralled by that in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York? There’s no guarantee that the Alford version of Bruins – particularly this crew – will be good or even exciting. But they’re going to be interesting because it’s UCLA and a new regime. And it’s Duke, too.

Others receiving votes: 

  • Arizona @ ASU, 2/14 – Valentine’s in Tempe just sounds awesome
  • Oklahoma St vs Colorado, 12/21 – Dinwiddie vs. Smart? Yes, please. In Vegas [devil grin emoji]
  • UConn @ UW, 12/22 or Indiana vs UW (in NYC), 11/21 – Dying to get up to HecEd and those Eastern Huskies project to be solid while I think this is a FASCINATING year in the developing history of Tom Crean.

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Games I ain’t missin’

These games are happening. Signed, sealed, delivered and booked I’m going to each of the following and if you want to join me you’re welcome to. Alright, not all of them are booked as I’m gonna strategically await that Black Friday SWA sale but I’m on board. Committed like R.P. McMurphy.

  1. Arizona @ Michigan, Saturday, 12/14, 10am MST, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor – This will prove to be the most single minded Wildcat trip of my career/life. I’ll be flying into the Bankrupt City on a Friday afternoon and storming a college town of significant renowned. I’d request that the Crisler Center prepare itself but I also understand that this isn’t a football game. It’s no doubt a big game but basketball will never be the game in Ann Arbor. That’s ok. It’s the game in Tucson and that’s why I’m going. And to exact some revenge for my man RichRod; and my grandfather who will litter you with stories of his time in an Ohio State fraternity. What’s more, while I have this platform, allow me to ask if you’re drinking all this Mitch McGary Kool-Aid? He’s being cited as an All-American talent but I refuse to drink from that pitcher. Sure he had an All-American dance but on the season he was dropping 7/6 with the court being opened up by National POY, Trey Burke. He’s good but not 1st Team AA good. Enough hoops. I’ll be needing one of these “winter coats” and something about johns that are long? I’m unfamiliar as San Francisco is the coldest place on earth by my calculations. Soft? To be certain. But maybe the fifteen years worth of tOSU hoodies I received were just preparing me for this moment.
  2. Arizona @ Colorado, Saturday, 2/22, TBA, ESPN or ESPN2, The Keg, Boulder – I want victory. I want blood. I want College Game Day to be there with me to watch as I think this is a damn no brainer to attend. I got into a bit of a heated conversation about whether or not Game Day should be headed to Boulder. The counter argument was that on a national level UCLA vs. Stanford holds greater esteem than Colorado vs. anyone. I argued that while America may name recognize the other two, Texas-UCLA drew 2,797 people last season and those programs have combined to win 3,428 basketball games. Game Day is about entertainment value and CU-Arizona projects to not only be a great basketball game (Arizona leads four games to three since 2009 by a margin of just 21 points) but it will also be hosted in Boulder. A school that has made multiple top-10 appearances on multiple top-party school lists. As opposed to Palo Alto which hasn’t seen excitement since they last had twins manning the paint or some dropout IPO’d. Hell yeah I’m attending this game and I’m missing my ex-girlfriend’s wedding to attend it. In fact, Game Day can have Palo Alto. I’m making the right choice here and my red shirt will shine bright in that blacked out Keg. It’s a run back of Valentine’s 2013 and I’ve recruited Buffs (I see you roommate, Fish) and Wildcats to join. The next Southwest Airlines 48-hour sale can’t come soon enough. [BART SCOTT’S CAN’T WAIT]
  3. Opening Weekend in Tucson, Fri-Mon, 11/7-11, McKale & Arizona Stadium, Tucson – Bless my dear friend Rachel and her soon-to-be-husband, Evan, for promising to be wed on Sunday, November, 10. The timing of such allows me an opportunity to work from Tucson on Friday and the following consumption: Cal Poly in McKale, UCLA in Arizona Stadium for homecoming, wedding, LBSU in McKale. That’s what I call a weekend. Mom has expressed concerns that she won’t see me but I’ve promised her all non-Wildcat time will be spent with her. But that’s a lot of Wildcat time. It’s the tip off weekend any fan would dream of and maybe – aside from the celebration of Rachel and Evan’s love – I’ll call it the first step to on the road to Dallas.
  4. Arizona @ Stanford, Wed 1/29, 7pm ESPN2, Maples, Palo Alto & Arizona @ Cal, Saturday, 2/1, 830pm, P12N, Haas, Berkeley – My time in the Bay has treated me well. The alumni association thinks I’m a member (starred on their website) and who really objects to CalTrain, BART or Party Bus to your team’s game? There’s also winning and telling people about it:
    Brothers on TV.

    Brothers on TV.

    This year I’m eager to see Sean’s best Wildcat team against what should be a pair of veteran teams in the Bay. And one perk to living here is you meet the local flavor who has a propensity to either hook you up with tickets or hate your guts. Nah they rarely hate you – and they rarely hook up up with tickets – but they’re always good to tell you about their favorite Wildcat. Love the Bay.

  5. Pac-12 Tournament Championship, Saturday, 3/15, Fox Sports 1, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas – I’ve got to be honest with you – I’m not entirely positive I can make this one. That aforementioned brother of mine will be learning his professional fate the following week in Tucson and city hopping may not be in the cards. For brother, he’s entering what’s like the draft for doctors. The announcement of his residency – Match Day – is an experience I’ve learned loosely resembles the Hogwarts  Sorting Hat. Or that Sunday we love when 68 teams are selected. Whatever the sorting or selecting case, brother’s future will be determined – location, medical practice, happiness – and we’ll be needing to celebrate. I’m gonna be there for that. However, if I can swing both, I most certainly will. Stay tuned.