There’s a phenomenon known as the Sunday Blues in which life hits you like a Sean Miller Pac-12 tournament tirade and you just get sad. It sucks. But when it was settling in for me this weekend, I remembered I still had three Sunday evening games to absorb. So we got a giant pasta bake going, watched sports, and picked up a couple of bottles of red and boom! blues-be-gone. I’m not sure the same holds for Colorado (0-2 at -32), Washington State (0-2 at -38), Cal (0-2 at -20), or Utah (0-2 at -15). I just feel really strongly that I won Sunday.
Leader in the Clubhouse: We could very easily award this to the undefeated and top-ranked-for-eight-weeks Arizona Wildcats. The team allowing Pac-12 opponents to score 10 fewer points per 100 possessions than any other team. I’d rather cite our clubhouse leader as someone else in the midst of some odd Pac times. Hello, UCLA Bruins! They impressively and resoundingly held serve in Pauley this weekend. The Bruins are a road hiccup at Utah (what’s proving to be a pretty damn tough team) away from being a top-15 team. This weekend, however, the Bruins played precisely their brand of hoop – forcing 31 total turnovers and getting 38 points in transition. Also helped to get a Jordan Adams appearance. He was 6 for 11 (55%) en route to 19 points against Stanford. In all other Pac-12 conference games, Jordan is shooting just 34%. Oh by the way, welcome back to the win column, D. Nothing like playing the Cougs to jump start your defense!
Biggest Loser: There’s an unfortunately long list of teams this weekend. Utah has yet to win a road game, Cal lost to USC, Colorado can’t score, and Washington State is. And let’s be honest, I have issues with decisiveness. But for you guys – for us – let’s pick one. If we run with Utah then we forget the fact that they were on the road and played very competitively (second best ppp vs. Arizona in conference play). The road is tough to win – always – which is why I’m even inclined to ignore part of Cal’s transgressions. They had been playing pretty out of character good and they were due to come back down to earth. Biggest loser seems a tough label. A similar argument can be made for Colorado who lost their best player and has since played three of their four best opponents (per KenPom). Remarkably bad timing. Then, to call WSU the biggest loser just seems mean. Wait. Did I just talk us out of making any decision? Dammit.
What we Learned: There are some really good players in this conference. From Roberto Nelson and CJ Wilcox scoring all over the place in the Northwest; to Josh Scott and Delon Wright doing their respective things in the mountains. Need a tiny guard shout out? Jahii Carson and Chasson Randle are terrific. None of them are as good as Nick Johnson and Kyle Anderson. Johnson is playing with at a level I didn’t know he had. He has asserted himself as the unquestionably best player on the unquestionably best team in the country. He’s scoring and stopping the best player on your team. Meanwhile, Kyle Anderson is a one stop shop of effectiveness. Points and passes and rebounds and shooting; I think he’s more versatile than Myles Jack. I love POY races and so I present to you the Pac-12’s. It’s gonna be awesome.
In Defense Of: I used 175 words to basically defend every team that got swept away this weekend so I’m not entirely sure I’ve got anyone to defend. As an eternal optimist, however, and in light of some negative commentary I had regarding the turn of this Pac-12 season, I’m inclined to defend this Conference of Champions. Parity is a word that gets thrown around to excuse shit. That’s really just the way it is. But there’s something to it. There’s something to noting that a team can blow out Washington and Oregon, then lose to USC (Cal). KenPom discusses it and says that this year, amongst all others, there may actually be true parity – or at least moderate discombobulation – across the country. I don’t intend to excuse what I perceive as a rough 3 weeks for the conference, but perhaps Utah is just a good basketball team? Maybe Oregon just hit their growing pains a little late? Suppose Jahii Carson just hit a wee slump? The damn Sunday Blues, I’m tellin’ ya.
The YouTuber: I’ve watched this at this point now but knew I had to include it, sight unseen, because it sounded perfect. And it is. Or at least bear with it until the end: