Week 5 Pac-12 Hoops Review

I propose a study of the hematological anomaly that is Justin Cobbs. My hypothesis is that researchers would discover not a mixture of hemoglobin (red blood cells), leukocytes (white cells) and plasma, but rather ice water. Or something of that ilk. Inexplicably it is not blood delivering oxygen and nutrients through the body of Cobbs but the coldest water on record. This proposed study won’t soon fly with the Food and Drug Administration or Mike Montgomery, but it could shed light on how the senior from Los Angeles can hit fading jumpers with tenths of seconds remaining in the face of seven-foot behemoths. Seriously, ice, hielo, glace, 冰:

Leader in the Clubhouse: Once again we could award this to the 7-1 Arizona Wildcats who, despite sustaining their first loss of the season and news they’d have to make their run to Dallas without Brandon Ashley, are still playing the best defense in the country (unless it’s Justin Cobbs who has the ball). Context: These Wildcats are giving up just 86.7 points per 100 possessions in conference. The next best team, UCLA, yields 96.7 points per 100 possessions. The ten point difference between first and second is equal to the difference between second and ninth. Sean Miller coaches a defense of a different color. But we’re going to divvy the clubhouse leading love and this week’s leader was the Oregon State Beavers. Craig’s team defended Gil Coliseum from the Angelinos and put themselves surprisingly into third place (we’re ignoring the fact that it’s a five-way tie for third and that doesn’t include the two-way tie for second ahead of them). And defend they did. Despite being the 10th “best” defense in the conference, they limited the second best offense (UCLA) to just 67 points. For just the third time in conference play, they held a team to less than 1 point per possession (that includes a game against WSU, by the way). Yeah, I’m lauding the defensive efforts of a Craig Robinson team; the same team that conversely has the best in conference offense and who beat the aforementioned Bruins despite Roberto Nelson delivering the following pre-Super Bowl: 2-8, 12pts, 5r, 4a, 6TO. That was ten points off of his average and double his turnovers. I mean that guy ranks 16th in usage percentage yet the Beavers prevailed with him contributing five percentage points less than his normal usage. A team-ish effort.

Biggest Loser: I want to meet the VooDoo Witch who allowed Arizona to remedy their free throw issues in two-nights at the expense of a Nick Johnson’s jumper and Brandon Ashley’s bones? Not cool, but this is:


Of course beyond that I thought the Ski Skirmish on Saturday morning was going to be a back breaker one way or the other. Brandon Taylor wasn’t about to let that happen – ONIONS – but it unfortunately just falls into the growing lore of Utah’s road woes. My hypothesis won’t be proven until the Utes take the court again (Thursday hosting Washington) and I hope I’m wrong, but getting so close but so far can only sustain energy levels so long. For as much as we want to applaud the Utes – they’re climbing up KenPom’s ratings, they’re perceived as a tough out, Delon Wright is one of the five best players in the conference – the fact remains that they are 3-6 and 10th in the conference.

What We Learned: This weekend was further confirmation that winning on the road is a miserable task. So difficult, in fact, that Pac-12 road teams rank 26th amongst 33 D-1 conferences. Of the 54 conference games that have been played, just 17 have been won by the weary traveler. And this weekend did not deviate as only ASU and UCLA won outside of their respective homes with the former needing overtime to do it. Now this is an important point as we head into the second half of the season. There’s a log jam within the conference standings and someone is going to slip up. Additionally, what a scary proposition a Utah road win is!

In Defense Of: I’m going to do it here. I’m going to defend Stanford because they are 5-4 in conference and 14-7 overall with a nice win over UConn and a bad loss to Oregon State (despite everything I said above OSU is still barely in the KenPom and RPI top-100). That’s a resume in need of defending. It’s ain’t sexy in the eyes of the committee and I think this team is really taking note. Had you been in Maples last Wednesday you’d have seen a man possessed in Stefan Nastic. Dwight Powell, seemingly relegated to the role of facilitator on this team, scored 41 points this weekend. Josh Huestis flirted with back-to-back double-doubles against the desert schools. The theme I’m illuminating here is that these three seniors, half of Dawkins’ 2010 recruiting class without mentioning John Gage (116.7 ORtg on 14.7% usage), Anthony Brown (115.7, 18.2%), and the injured Aaron Bright. These seniors are beginning to realize their fleeting eligibility. This is a talented team and they have nine games to act like it. From my perch, they’ve already begun. But things aren’t about to get easy for them. They’ll kick off this latter half with three consecutive roadies beginning Wednesday at Cal and followed by a trip to Washington. It’s going to be tough to right this ship, but everything worthwhile is.

The YouTuber: Cobbs bookends this review:

2 thoughts on “Week 5 Pac-12 Hoops Review

  1. Arizona losing Ashley for the year will, likely, affect the team most offensively. The Cats were already struggling on that end and Ashley was their second best player and a match up nightmare. York and Jefferson will get more opportunity to shine and possibly thrive with increased minutes, but Ashley was such a key player for Miller because he was a stretch four. The Cats offense needs to have a forward that is a viable threat from outside to allow Tarczewski to operate in the post without fear of an aggressive double team. The bright side of the injury, if one can be found, is the Cats have time to figure out a new offensive identity and they will need to find one. Their depth will be a challenge moving forward. Tough break for an outstanding team, I’m a UCLA fan, but hate see any players get injured. UCLA lost Adams last year and they never recovered. Dinwiddie went down for the Buffs and took their season with him. Arizona has nine conference games and a post season to rewrite their ending…
    Complete sidebar – take a look around the country it’s becoming obvious that the championship is again going to be a wide open chase. Michigan State isn’t close to the same team without Payne and Dawson. Duke is a very good team, but too dependent on the three. Wichita State and San Diego State have all the look and feel of last year’s Gonzaga squad. Kentucky is way too up and down and immature to win this year. I thought Kansas was legitimate and they got exposed by a good Texas team. Oklahoma State has zero discipline or inside prescence. Michigan is good, but they don’t pass the eye test. What I’m saying is a team nobody is talking about – St. Louis, Cincinnati,Virginia, heck I think Stanford has all the pieces too – will enevitably crash the party and kill all those people with designs on Buffett’s Billion. This year looked like one that the Pac-12 (Arizona and Colorado) had a legitimate claim to the throne and just like that it went from a scream to a whimper. Life’s not fair man…

    1. OK, let me begin by quoting a few things you said that were awesome:

      1) “Arizona has nine conference games and a post season to rewrite their ending…” which reminded me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MqFeGCsT8
      2) “…crash the party and kill all those people with designs on Buffett’s Billion”

      You’re absolutely right. Tomorrow I’m posting nine observations from the first half and #1 is that injuries suck. York and RH-J will be playing increased minutes and will be relied up on for their shooting and slashing, respectively. Ultimately, Arizona was going to go as far as their defense could take them so…here we really go.

      Taking that national perspective, it really is a wide open year. And isn’t that the beauty of this sport? Furthermore, I don’t think it’s wide open in that we’ve got bunch of crap as we’ve perhaps had in the past. This is about as unique and talented a crop of teams as we’ve seen in a long time and it’s fun. March can’t come soon enough and Marc, I hope you win Buffett’s Billion (and share some with me).

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