Monthly Archives: December 2014

Utah is Playing in Kansas and I have Questions

When a Pac-12 school schedules a game against the Kansas Jayhawks, I’m going to pay attention. But, because I’m the preeminent Pac-12 blogger, I need some help. I can’t know this conference and, say, the Valley. So I brought the questions to Brian Goodman,  the lead writer for Rush The Court’s Big 12 microsite. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

Questions and answers:

Kentucky made Kansas look really, really small and lots of other things. But Kansas isn’t actually that team. They’re quite good, right? What does this team do that makes them elite?

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THREE FOR BART: Mike, Millennials, Pace

  1. Everybody Loves Mike – There are lessons to be learned from Mike Miller. Not necessarily basketball ones but lessons about how to be successful. Miller has made himself a success the good old fashioned way: by helping people out. Sure he’s busted his butt and has god given skills that have made him – say – an NBA lottery pick and champion. But no one makes it alone. Miller helped everyone else. It’s helped him. In some regard it’s business 101: Listen. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
  2. A Day in the Life of an Uber/Lyft Driver in San Francisco – I’ve thought about becoming a driver and was intrigued by this article. But then I read it and got to thinking about something else. Is this the Millennial tone? Are we cynics? Unending critics of a presumably unsupportive  capitalist society geared towards selfish ends? Do we hide entitlement behind feigned self-deprecation? It’s disheartening to find the bad in everything, particularly one’s everyday life.
  3. This Will Probably Be the Slowest College Basketball Season Ever Played Thought I’d revisit this one after attending my first game of the season! It was Arizona against Utah Valley and did not project to be much of a contest. It was not. Furthermore, I was bringing eight co-workers who knew little to nothing about college basketball. I took it upon myself to educated them. Whether or not they learned anything or even appreciated it is unknown. I kept telling my co-workers what a slow game this would be. Here’s how I explained it: This game was going to be slow but not necessarily by possessions but rather by actual game time. UVU plays an offense designed to take its time. That was then coupled with Arizona’s defense which is designed to make an offense take it’s time (20.2 seconds per possession vs. 19.5, respectively). UVU wanted to take their time and was then going to be allowed to. And then, what happened, was the Wolverines (UVU) went ahead and fouled Arizona at the highest rate they’ve fouled anyone all season. It was the only green spot (defensive FTrate) on their KenPom page. Long possessions and lots of fouls made for a lot of “action” with an unmoving clock. KenPom – in the above article – notes further reasons why this could be the slowest season ever, but on Tuesday night, it was the confluence of offensive strategy, defensive strategy, and the referee’s whistle that made this thing s-l-o-w. Of Note: 1) My co-workers loved McKale, 2) This game was actually well ahead of the average pace (71 AdjT vs. about 67). This was instigated by the fouls and the 25% TOrate from UVU.

PacHoops Power Rankings: Our debut and we need a title

We’re going to give Power Rankings the old college try. Hike up the back of our drawers, grunt twice, and force rank folks one-through-twelve. My focus could meander, I make no promises on continuity or sense. Here’s our PacHoops Power Rankings debut.

But…before we get started, I’m open to suggestions on what to call this. Hit me up.

1) Arizona Wildcats

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Utah Wins: The Changing Luck of the Utes

A couple weeks ago, as I was contemplating a content calendar, the idea of Luck came up. I’ve previously written about Utah’s luck but decided not to address it. I figured the stat wasn’t worth diving in to as it ultimately supplements the narrative – nice – wasn’t necessarily going to help us understand this year’s team.

Until last night. Continue reading

THREE FOR BART: Close, Rock, Titus

  1. Coming close just isn’t good enough in college football It isn’t good enough in anything. Read through those tales of thiscloses and tell me that some agonizing realizations don’t come to mind? I can think a certain missed field goal or another shot that was never taken or a baseball that was stopped by but a single toe (ask me about it). Anyhow, we’re always so close and we just come back because someday – and I promise you that someday – it’s gonna happen.
  2. In Conversation with Chris Rock – I always find interviews with comedians to be fascinating. They see the world through such a different lens that whether you agree with them or not, there’s always a very unique perspective. Further, on what’s wrecking comedy, I recently went to New York’s Comedy Cellar; a place Rock discusses extensively. It’s a great place but since I’d last been there (about 5 years ago) the tone had grown in severity. The doormen and wait staff were less patient with the patrons. I don’t need coddling, I’m there for laughs, but if the comedians’ craft is being compromised by small devices with the power to crush material, I get it. No one of Rock’s notoriety appeared while we were there but the comedians were certainly pushing the boundary of appropriate (it was hilarious). Tightening what the patrons can get away with allows them to do that. To get better.
  3. Titus’ Top 12 NCAA Power Rankings: Guess Who’s Number 1 – Always an entertaining read and it was nice to familiarize with Gonzaga. Read this just to watch the GIF of Kyle Wiltjer celebrating the 2012 Kentucky title.

A Wichita State – Utah Q&A…With Me!

Tonight’s main event? #8 Wichita State at  #25 Utah, the first top-25 game in SLC since 1999. Which naturally means the Pac-12 has an unknown opponent for us to learn about. And who else would we ask to scout the Shockers than…me! Yup, couldn’t track down a Shoxpert so the preeminent Pac-12 blogger will be a momentary Valley critic. Arch Madness. Tip is at 8pm PST, 9pm MST.

So if I were a Wichita State basketball fan and was asked to answer questions about my favorite team – the Shockers, of course – this is how I’d presumably respond. Considering I once dated a girl – now married to someone else – from Kansas, I think this qualifies me. I also once went to Allen Fieldhouse and a friend of mine spent Thanksgiving in Kansas. I kinda have a Judy Garland crush. I could go on.

Nevertheless, those Shockers are headed to the Huntsman Center for a top-25 showdown. Here’s what you need to know about a less familiar WSU, from me, by me: Continue reading

THREE FOR BART: Goodbye, Trolls, Dictatorial

  1. Journalism professor’s lesson lives on – A Thanksgiving message from Plaschke and a good one. It’s unfortunate that a passing often highlights for us that we didn’t tell those who meant something to us exactly that. Just prior to Thanksgiving we lost my first little league coach and dear friend’s dad. He taught us baseball, the game we’d play into college. He drove us to games and watched me play probably at least one baseball game a year (and many many more than that) from the age of 4-through-19. He was at nearly every practice. Traveling to every tournament he could. Maybe he wasn’t calling the pitches, but he was still Coach Chuck. He’ll be missed.
  2. How to Get the Biggest Stars in the World to Insult Themselves I found this article to interestingly not note the Supreme Court’s current hearing of online threats in which Justice Elwood went so far as to cite Eminem during hearings. I imagine Kimmel isn’t having celebrities read their death threats or anything that extreme, but as our digital personas are being drawn out from behind their keyboards by Late Night television hosts, so too is the Supreme Court. Both serve as a warning to think twice before you click ‘send/tweet/post.’
  3. Pac-12 Burning Questions: Ideal Non-Conference Opponents – In which Andrew leads with:  “…Adam Butler could not be contained and, given his dictatorial powers and what-not, he prescribed almost entire non-conference schedules for all of the teams in the conference.”

Washington Won the Wooden Legacy

This week we’re going to hear all about strength of schedule, quality wins, and conversations about who beat whom and by how much. Many conversations about resumes, upset scenarios (and I know all of them), and the human element. Debate. Baylor has hired a PR firm to help bolster the conversation surrounding them. All of which will lead to a Selection Sunday – and we love those.

So while college football is headed to its first playoff, a tournament, for which no one can explicitly prepare, college basketball teams have been playing tournaments all over the world and in front of no one. From Maui to New York to the Bahamas, preseason tourneys (otherwise known as non-exempt events) have filled our November-into-December plates. They are crowded events preparing teams for the sport’s biggest stage.

On this past Sunday night, Washington won the Wooden Legacy tournament!

washington wins

It maybe wasn’t the biggest tournament (that was Maui with 12) or the sexiest (that was the Battle for Atlantis with 63% of the field holding a national title) but they won. Previous Wooden Legacy winners include:

  • 2013 SDSU (Sweet 16)
  • 2012 Cal (Second round)
  • 2011 St. Louis (Second round)
  • 2010 UNLV (First round)
  • 2009 West Virginia (Final Four)
  • 2008 Wake Forest (Second round)

…and so on. Now winning this tournament most certainly does not guarantee an NCAA invitation. But it seems there is a precedence. Further, and of obvious importance, Washington has been playing improved basketball to win themselves a tournament crown.

A season ago was the worst defensive team Lorenzo Romar has put on a basketball court. By a long shot (or rather by a lot of shots that went in). Thus far, and I know we’re early, but the Huskies are yielding just 94.5 points per 100 possessions which is 10 points fewer than last season. That ranks a relatively pedestrian 62nd in the country, but it’s 10 points per 100 possessions fewer than last season (worth noting: a 94.5 DRtg would’ve ranked 14th last season). All we can ask is that they improve. Through six games, they’ve won a tournament and they’ve improved! The Huskies rank 15th in the country in defensive eFG% (39.4%). The Dawgs are defending!

Individually, I’d like to highlight Shawn Kemp Jr. Last year he was committing 7.2 fouls per forty minutes. That’s comically bad. It’s fouling out nearly two-and-a-half times per contest. This season, however, he’s dropped that number to 3.5 fouls per forty minutes. Consequently he has nearly doubled his minutes played per game and has led the Huskies in scoring three times. He’s averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 boards each night. Needless to say, these are career highs. If we thought the Huskies were missing a low post presence it seems they needn’t look far. They maybe just needed a way to keep him on the floor.

Shawn Kemp Jr

Adding further depth to the front court is big man – and former question mark – Robert Upshaw. He’s working his way into the lineup but when in there, he’s wildly effective. His usage is at 23%, he’s blocking shots at the highest rate in the nation, and he’s absorbing missed shots like Kemp used to absorb illegal contact. I presume he’s working into improved playing shape as he’s seeing minimal court time (just 16.5 mpg) but his high usage and maximal efficiency (119 ORtg) suggest that his presence will soon be more regular.

I could probably go on but so too must the season. We’re early in this thing and we’ve got a Selection Sunday to prepare for. Furthermore, you don’t need me to regurgitate statistics. Just tune into a UW game and you can see for yourself – they look like a much improved team. Nigel Williams-Goss can create; Jernard Jarreau is a healthy weapon; Andrew Andrews has the same name twice; and Donaven Dorsey is in a nice situation by which to develop and contribute.

So let’s be clear: There’s reason for optimism in Seattle and not just because of recruiting. These Dawgs are tournament champions.

THREE FOR BART: Why, Defense, Family

  1. Hope and dreams of a small town team – It’s always hard to rationalize why all of this matters. Does it really matter? I don’t think it does. But it has to because we keep coming back and people keep telling beautiful stories like this one about having a team to root for and strangers to follow because it meant ignoring the sunset or embracing your dad.
  2. Kentucky stifles Providence 58-38, could this be the season of defense? – It’s a great question especially considering last season was an historically offensive season with the new rules changes. In researching an article posting later today, I found that Lorenzo Romar’s team is allowing just 94.5 points per 100 possessions. Last season that number would’ve ranked them 14th in the country. This season? 62nd. Let’s keep an eye on this trend.
  3. Why your family drives you crazy – Put into the context of sport, think about how you perhaps shout at the television when your team does something positive or negative? Are you more reserved with compliments for your own squad? Quicker to criticize? Anyhow, I’m always going to take my team and my family over most anything else. As big of a jerk as I might be to ’em.

After the Turkey Team by Team on Cyber Monday

And on this side of the break I hope you find yourselves thankful, that you had a better homecoming than Chasson Randle (like seriously, Stanford, you promise the kid two homecoming games and manage a 1-1 record and yield 1.19 per possession to DePaul who was wearing a home loss to Lehigh) and that your team won the Pac-12 South because – let me tell you – that’s fun. See you in Santa Clara.

Which of course means that football is winding down, heading into its long winter before reemerging at the turn of the year to give it their best, and first, shot at a March. Basketball will soon becomes our primary collegiate focus; when familiar foes travel to familiar venues and the grind. Eighteen conference games of unpredictability. Vegas. Selection Sunday. The weekends. A football stadium. Continue reading