I could note that Steve Kerr first mentioned Lute Olson on the NBA Champion’s podium or that Adam Silver handed Andre Iguodala the Finals MVP Trophy. Could note that Luke Walton is tracking to be the greatest coach in NBA history or that TJ McConnell is the only player in League history to – it’s pretty ridiculous stat and godbless the kid who researched it – record 12 or more assists in 2 or more of his first 4 games. As Nike would have you know, Arizona basketball doesn’t stop (except for Adidas schools from the 30th State). And it doesn’t project to be taking this year off. Sure they’re out of the AP Top-10 for the first time since before Cuonzo Martin knew who Ivan Rabb was (and now they’re teammates!). But this is a notably new team. For starters, there isn’t a projectable lottery pick on the roster. There isn’t a 6’8″ freak that’s soon to be bullying in a West Coast arena near you. This team isn’t going to be the defensive stalwart you watched for the past two seasons. For Tucsonans, it’s going to be a season of change and they’re going to be uncomfortable with that. Embrace it. This is a year in which we’ll see Sean Miller flexing his coaching acumen. I’ll get into his roster options later, but this Arizona team, while not as sexy as years past, just might be the most fun.
- What’s Happening at the University of Missouri? – This is a terrific breakdown of the goings on at the University of Missouri over the past few weeks and months that culminated in yesterday’s resignation of school president, R. Bowen Loftin. I was struggling to figure out the entire story until I read this one. And while the entire picture isn’t completely clear, with hundreds of #HotTakes muddling my timelines, this article helped to think critically on the situation.
- Confessions of a non-‘naturally grown’ sportswriter – Which side of the sports media fence do you fall on? “Naturally grown” journalists or kids on a platform. The reality, as is the case in most he-said-she-said arguments, lies in the middle. We’ve examined this as ESPN shut down Grantland and every site aspiring to be Grantland stared wide-eyed. I got my daily sports email from The Lead Sports lamenting our loss an their sites to provide great content like G. The very article I linked to is a “blogger” writing for a blogging platform (The Cauldron) that was purchased by Sports Illustrated and is a takedown of a traditional journalist writing on his own blog. It’s all too meta. Fact of the matter is change drives change. Keep up.
- Luke Walton Q&A: Warriors’ dominant start, filling in for Steve Kerr and more – 35-year-old head coach of the best team in the NBA.
There is immediate reason for optimism in Tempe. Like right now. Maybe this isn’t an NCAA tournament team, but when has ASU ever been a tournament team? Well, funny you should ask: the Devils have mustered just five invites since the ‘85 expansion (or roughly one-sixth of rival Arizona). But if we’re playing the relatable numbers game, ASU returns four starters from a team that finished tied for fifth. They introduce Bobby Hurley – the NCAA’s All-Time leading assists man – to Wells and have already received a visit from Grant Hill. And even if James Harden’s Adidas contract is bigger than ASU’s, you can still wear your Jordans.
Why I love them
If you’ve spent any time parousing the world wide web, you’ve likely come across a comments section, message board, or tweet surrounding the NCAA legality of Cal’s most recent recruiting class. A brief history lesson on California sports and its fiscal management before we return to even greater levels of reality:
Cal has always stunk at money. They announced the elimination of five sports due to budget constraints in 2010 (including their Rugby program and its 26 titles and the baseball program which would go on to the 2011 CWS and is arguably a better Bay Area budget underdog than Moneyball). Financing of their upgraded Cal Memorial Stadium has been widely criticized, an upgrade balked at while Jeff Tedford had Cal football on the cusp of Rose Bowls. Todd Bozeman was a coach at Cal.
Now please remove your foil hat and come in close for this: Cal did a great job recruiting. They secured the third ranked class in the country and they didn’t send a bagman with the heaviest satchel into anyone’s living room. Of course Yanni Hufnagel could be throwing Dre McGee-esque parties starring the Madame of Berkeley and none of us – especially Cuonzo – know anything about. But this is recruiting. Grow up Peter Pan, Count Chocula. These are kids making decisions with a ton of whispers and shouts in their ears. Nothing is given. Nothing should be expected. Yes a kid from Marietta, Georgia can play at Cal. It’s happened before. And yes a kid from Oakland can play at Cal. It’s happened before. Coach Cuonzo Martin has got one helluva basketball team and they’re going to play at Virginia. Tune in. Ultimately I don’t care if this team’s Scout.com page looks like the Milky Way – it’s time to compete and this is a team sport played across 30+ games. Nothing has been awarded these Bears. Most certainly nothing earned.
What I love about them
- West Coast Bias: Opposing coaches assess five of this year’s top teams – Aside from this being a great series by Jeff Eisenberg, Cal State LA’s Dierter Horton explains to us that UCLA’s most effective lineup looks just like theirs did last year. Which is effectively what we said here on Tuesday. The specific, however, that I didn’t delve in to, was Aaron Holiday’s ability to play the role of Norman Powell – a supersized guard with defensive prowess. Powell was a bulldog, and while I’m not much of one for “replacing” players, if the Bruins can manage to not miss a beat with the losses of Powell and Kevon Looney (Horton says Bolden is great at being a long, versatile PF) then they’re a year up on everyone else.
- On Grantland and Sports Media – I really appreciate this article. It takes a very macro view of the entire happenings with Grantland. As I noted in Monday’s #34B the actions of the Mother Ship are consistent with their other activities. The Grantland product is highbrow in a lowbrow medium. It wasn’t making money and that’s a fact. Of course there are Skipper and Simmons’ proclaimed BSDs and now even stretches that Simmons’ podcast intro song (TuPac’s “Picture me Rollin'”) is a slight at his former employer. My big takeaway: the internet is the greatest mouthpiece an individual has for self-promotion. So please tell your friends about pachoops.com!
- Ranking every team in college hoops from Grambling St. (351) to UNC (1) – Dan Hanner and Luke Winn do it again. This is my favorite list as I believe it’s more comprehensive than the KenPom preseason ratings and more analytical than the AP (who usually isn’t far off in the preseason). Of course what none of the current polls can account for are the injuries to Robert Cartwright (shoulder done for the year) and Dylan Ennis (foot injury out one month). I tweeted this, but between Cartwright (PG), Ennis (combo/PG), Ray Smith (SF), and Xavier Johnson (PF) the All-Injured Pac-12 squad DOES NOT NEED A CENTER. Thanks and take care.
Allow me to make a mountain out of a mole-scrimmage. As a rule, we shouldn’t read into scrimmages. They’re for entertainment purposes, a means to generate hype around the team, program, and season. I’m not talking about the “secret scrimmages” sealed as tight as a government drone policy. But I can’t help being shocked that in Stanford’s brief (20-minute) Cardinal vs. White scrimmage, one team managed to outscore the other by sixteen. I confess, this is nothing to be startled over. But the final score was 40-24 and it made sense but it didn’t. Like how do you evenly split your team into a blow out? Or why not pause and mix things up to allow for even play? It’s your scrimmage. Like I said, this is admittedly making a mountain out of a molehill but it just seems odd. Arizona’s Red-Blue game yielded an 8-point scoring difference, Cal’s was 3…in three overtimes. Of course Oregon State’s scrimmage was a 77-54 blowout (NOTE: the Beavers never scored 77 points in a Pac-12 game last season) so who really knows. But because the conversation of Stanford basketball has often been player development, I’m curious who’s learning from such a game? This type of competition? Of course I didn’t see the game and – by rule – we’re not to make anything of it. But this feels fittingly familiar for the least familiar Stanford team we’ve seen in awhile. Gone is the “core” that won two NIT titles and beat Kansas. Is that Stanford basketball? It might be. But this year really doesn’t project to anything “special” which at this point at Stanford is an 18-11 regular season, .500 ball in conference, and a strange post-season (but a post-season nonetheless I suppose).
Why I love them
*turn on the new Adele album to read the following sections Continue reading
A 2015-16 conversation of UCLA basketball has to start with Bryce Alford. I polled everyone I live with and the coach’s son was unanimously voted the most polarizing player in the conference. In the interest of data journalism, I should inform you that I live alone. But you know I’m not wrong. Put aside you daddy issues as I’m going to take the tried and true measure of high-browing your perceptions with arrogant data. Here’s some Bryce:
- Improved his FG%, eFG%, 2FG%, 3FG%, and FT% from FR to SO year
- He shot 39% from 3FG% and just 54% of his threes were assisted (Read: pure shooter)
- He had a better eFG% than: Stanley Johnson, Askia Booker, Tyronne Wallace, and Chasson Randle
- Had a lower TO% than: Brandon Taylor, TJ McConnell, and Marcus Allen
- Averaged 19ppg in 3 NCAA tournament games (13ppg in 6 career NCAA tournament games)
- KenPom comparables include Yogi Ferrell and Matthew Dellavedova
You might not like him but don’t let it could reality. And sure I’ve breezed over some of his flaws (most notably his goatee, shooting at the rim (14% total shots, 46FG% there), defensive efforts). Nevertheless, unless you’re reading in Tucson, Palo Alto or Salt Lake, he’s played in a weekend of the tournament you haven’t.
Why I love them
- Adam Butler on Friday Night Live – The good guys at Radio 1190 in Boulder had me on this past Friday night to talk about CU and Pac-12 basketball. Jake Shapiro was kind enough to invite me and you won’t soon find me passing up an opportunity to talk hoops. If you want more, WANE is coming…
- Connelly Q&A: Editor-in-chief on what went right, wrong with Grantland – If you want to get really deep into the ESPN stuff, this is a really good Q&A with the man who took over Simmons’ title for the last few months. He’s as candid as I think he can be, being honest without being an asshole – particularly to his current employer: ESPN.
- The Young Man, The Myth, The Legend – Amdist all of this Grantland talk, let’s not forget that the internet – and even BIG BAD ESPN – still has a bevy of phenomenal writers. Take Wright Thompson, for example, and this linked story about Leonard Fournette.
“Well, that quote was from two and a half years ago off the record in practice when I was making a point. It wasn’t intended to be any disrespect to anyone else. So the fact that you bring that up, I forgot about that.”
And you know exactly who said that and what quote he’s talking about (except for my mom who says reading what I write is like a foreign language to her). But as reminder, that was our presser winning Trojan head coach, Andy Enfield!, being brash and arrogant just like the Trojans grow ‘em. And we haven’t heard much from him since. Which I suppose is a good thing. You can’t do much chest bumping and mouth running when you’ve only ever won six Pac-12 games. Furthermore, he’s currently BMOC as the football coaching situation is what it is. Andy Enfield is the most stable thing USC has right now. And yet we’re still not convinced of what he’s capable of doing. Is he out of his weight class? Or was the cupboard just that bare when he inherited Kevin O’Neil’s Trojans (yes, yes it was)? Rebuilding generally takes about four seasons. By recruiting measures, Enfield appears to be tracking quite well. The concern lies in 23 total wins and no signature victory. But maybe I’m not giving enough value to their first round Pac-12 tournament win (the classic 12/5 upset) last season. Of course beating ASU has rarely been the projection point for a basketball programs, but in the midst of rebuilding, you’ll take what you can get.
Why I love them
Grantland was shutdown last Friday afternoon. It wasn’t the most college basketball-centric site which is OK. CBB doesn’t draw gross amounts of eyeballs. And while we can be upset about the end of this site because we’re selfish consumers of their great product, I think I understand this move from ESPN. When have they ever been dedicated to digital media? There have been just nominal changes to the ESPN homepage and UX (amongst my favorite subjects) in the past 15 years. Universally, we’re still trying to figure how to monetize digital journalism. And while Grantland delivered some of our favorite, it wasn’t necessarily in line with the ESPN-way. Of course there’s the Simmons-Skipper dick measuring competition that needlessly cost us great content. But if ESPN is indeed losing market share and their direction is to cut costs at the “talent” level, then I get this. And talent endures. You’ll still read your favorite writers as their careers and digital journalism evolves. For today’s #34B, a few of my all-time favorites:
What an awesome couple of years, though.
— Andrew Sharp (@andrewsharp) October 30, 2015
- The consequences of caring – Because #SPORTS
- Confessions of a former die hard – Particularly relevant as Lowe’s Met’s fell last night. Always care.
- The Life and Death of Fandom – As much as Lowe wants you to think he’s a soulless, carefree sports abosrber, he’s not. Can’t be. You don’t write like he does without hope.
- Daring to ask the PED question – Happy to take this one offline. Lots of thoughts on the PED conversation but when it comes to baseball, no amount of needles in your ass will help you hit a 98mph sphere.