I maybe could’ve skipped this week’s Power Rankings considering the release of the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer. But that felt disrespectful during the biggest week for Star Wars nerds since they played the extended trailer during that awful Monday Night football game (I tuned in). Speaking of big weeks, the Pac-12 was supposed to have one! Turns out they had a couple of really impressive halves:
- Winning in Kansas City (Go Beavs!)
- Down one in Lexington (Go Devils!)
- Up double digits at home against Saint Mary’s (Go Bears!)
Well the Beavers and Devils would lose by double figures and Cal needed a late three to beat the Gael’s at home. Oregon took a road loss (but outscored the Broncos in the second half!) and Utah’s return trip to Wichita wasn’t victorious (led for all of 28-seconds). Meanwhile the Bruins continue to win the tougher parts of their schedule (Got them Zags!). The weekend wasn’t quite this:
But you could still feel like this:
He did it! Granted there was no defender but Gabe York finally got that dunk (and made the #SCTop10):
But you know what else got got? Allonzo Trier got the Pac-12 Player of the Week award and seems to be figuring out the college game. He’s connecting on 83% of his shots at the rim. Last week he made 13 baskets…and missed 5. Of course, Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright combined to shoot a cool 6-23 FG so all is not totally right in the Arizona back court.
Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton did what other teams have been doing to the Zags – they torched their abysmal guards. That tandem combined for 33 points (Arizona’s Trier and York tag teamed 32). But that’s not the story. The Bruins have cracked back into the Top 25 heading into another big one against UNC in Brooklyn. I don’t think we have to ask if this team is “for real.” They are who they are: A composite of good players that – when they take care of the ball – can play enough defense to beat just about anyone. And hell, if that doesn’t work they just might outscore ya anyways.
I’ll have a lot to say about Utah’s “struggles” later this week but for the time being, let’s just note that Brandon Taylor is shooting 20% from distance and only Jakob Poeltl managed to reach double figures at Wichita. I’m not soon to judge this team based on a road loss against Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, but Brandon Taylor is not playing well.
The Buffs haven’t really beaten anyone but they also haven’t lost. In a season like this – seriously, look around and you’ll a ton of parody – that’s saying something. Spencer had the ranked 21st in his Reddit National poll and the national polls had them in the top-30. And don’t look now but this is the most efficient offense Tad Boyle has coached since his 2011 Alec Burks-led squad. Tad-ball? Whatever works, right George King?
The injury bug began with Dylan Ennis and Jordan Bell. Then Tyler Dorsey went down. In Boise, neither Dwayne Benjamin nor Casey Benson finished the game (injuries). This was tweeted:
— David Piper (@atqdave) December 13, 2015
You can hear that Podcast here.
6. Arizona State
I was at Haas on Saturday watching Cal be disappointing but updated my phone to see that ASU was down just a bucket in Lexington!!? Didn’t make sense. They’d lose but what makes even less sense than the 32-31 halftime score was Skal Labissierie’s stat line:
13 minutes, 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 5 fouls
I want to be critical of the Bears but the hype is not their fault. I don’t like their assist rate (302nd), the way they generally defend (mathematically equal to last year), that they have two players in the Pac-12’s top 10 for shot percentage (as in, two players take all of the shots and none of them is Ivan Rabb), and this:
Ivan Rabb makes 80% of his shots at the rim and takes 28% of his shots there. NCAA averages are roughly 59/43. Get. Him. The. Ball
— Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) December 15, 2015
I guess I was critical.
8. Oregon State
I’ve been diving deep – deep – into the KenPom and Hoop-math data sets and came to an interesting realization about Gary Payton II:
- 63% of shots at the rim (above average – particularly for a guard)
- 67% FG% at the rim (above average – particularly for a basketball player)
- 21% FT rate (way below national average (33%)
All of this strikes me as odd when you piece it together. Here’s a guy who clearly can attack the rim, does it at elite levels, but is not getting fouled. How do we explain this? Maybe he just jumps over the potential foulers:
Can he maintain that high FG% at the rim? He did it last year – but not nearly at this volume. Alas, that’s my nerd hole. What’s worth noting is a halftime lead in Kansas over the Jayhawks. It fell apart, sure, but Tres Tinkle (5-7 3FG, 20pts) wasn’t afraid of the big stage. Always tough to lose, but this was a great experience for the Beavers.
They don’t move in my rankings but I’m increasingly needing – I think – a reason to do it. Upward movement, to be clear. Ain’t happening after a home win to Yale, however. Yet in the case that we need a fun FYI for our Trojan segment, Bennie Boatwright – a 6’10” freshman – has made the third most threes (22) in the Pac-12 while shooting 39% from beyond the arc.
Teams are shooting the 6th lowest eFG% in the nation against Washington. I thought we’d generally focus a lot of these UW blurbs on offense – they remain insanely fast – but in this instance I’d like to look at how – in fascinating mathematical fashion – the Huskies have elite level FG% defense and yet still don’t quite rank as an elite defense. Well, it’s because for as good as they are at limiting total makes, they’re miserable at defensive rebounding and fouling. They rank 303rd in defensive rebounding rate and 312th in defensive foul rate. Teams might be missing tons and tons of shots against UW, but UW continues to let them take shots and continue to let them take free shots. OF NOTE: UW beat Texas (and lost to them, too) and Texas beat North Carolina.
Washington St is probably the most underrated power 5 team in terms of sheer athleticism
— Jordan Majewski (@jorcubsdan) December 13, 2015
What do we do with this information?
They played and beat Dartmouth in a 56 possession snoozer. Home dogs to Texas on Saturday.