Team Capsules and my Pac-12 Championship Game Fandom for Sale

I’ll spare you the details of my Thanksgiving indulgence. Most of us indubitably did it and if you didn’t I admire you. For me, the ubiquity of food and rain placed the “go outside and be active” threshold far too high to go outside and be active. But seriously, was it a first down?

Alas, while I’ve spared you my Thanksgiving, I thought I’d note that I’m likely headed to Friday’s Pac-12 Championship game and my fan allegiance is completely for sale. So what’s it to you? What would you pay or provide to have the self-proclaimed preeminent Pac-12 basketball blogger cheer for your (football) team in the dimly attended Pac-12 Championship Game?

A brief review of my Pac-12 championship game resume:

  • Championships attended: 1
  • Rooting interest record: 0-1
  • Rooting interest margin: -38
  • Seating fortune: Covered during rain
  • Average time of arrival: Legal to drink on CalTrain
  • Average time of departure: Early 3rd quarter
  • Post-championship beverage of choice: Pisco Sour

I encourage you to take the above into serious consideration as you – Colorado and Washington fans, or even USC fans rooting for Washington and subsequently the Rose Bowl backdoor – prepare offers. For convenience purposes, I own several black pieces and one purple. Thus, attire will not be required but appreciated.

Finally, Pac-12, post-Feast Week, team capsules in no particular order (we’re not ready for Power Rankings):

Arizona: Someday Allonzo Trier will play basketball again and that’ll be nice. He’s a phenomenal talent and will make that team much better. Which team? I dunno. How much better? If it’s the 2016-17 Wildcats that’s increasingly difficult to say. This group hasn’t been particularly impressive. By no means have they been bad. There’s a lot going on. However, for a team replete with youth and inexperience, it’d be nice to see consistency if not improvement from the most experienced players:

Kadeem Allen:


Dusan Ristic:


Those are drops in offensive efficiency of greater than 15%. For Allen, there’s an incalculably significant collapse in assist rate (I could calculate it but this is the first time PacHoops will post the word “incalculably,” I checked!). Of course Arizona is fine. They’re a good team. But this is a group that’s going to need a lot more time than a pre-season #10 ranking might suggest. Especially without Trier raising note of what the shorthanded Wildcats may be missing. Arizona isn’t feeling the effects of Terrence Ferguson to Australia so much as the departures – and presumed development – of Justin Simon and Elliot Pitts (or even Craig Victor) and the genetics of Ray Smith. The freshmen have been nice, but unless they’re lottery picks (Lauri probably is one which is nice) they’re not to be depended upon.

Oregon: Have you followed the 2016 memes and how seemingly everyone wants to kick it in the ass and get it off the calendar? That’s Oregon sports right now (Helfrich had to call Mullens about his own job status). The future remains bright on the fir-ed hardwood but, because we’re process people, doubt has to be creeping in. Continuing the above theme of comparing players to themselves, let’s look at Casey Benson:


And Tyler Dorsey:

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-05-53-pm screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-06-00-pm

Dorsey hasn’t been too bad and had a nice game last night against Boise State last night. Meanwhile, Benson’s production has dropped way off. We could expect that to some extent as his 2015-16 4.9:1 assist-to-turnover ratio was outrageous; as was his 125 Ortg. It’s lofty. Things will likely normalize for Benson, perhaps not to 125 but not 94 anymore either. He’s a ball conscious guard who isn’t soon going to forget how to pass/dribble/decision make. The concern, however, might be in style for Dorsey who is taking a far higher percentage of his shots from the perimeter and not getting to the line. Is this a product of system and having an increase in guards or just a slump? The former could be concerning for Oregon’s offense. The latter is like whatever.

Utah: While I think non-conference schedules are a little overrated, especially as it pertains to Power-5 conferences, Utah’s is pretty weak. It ranks 333rd per KenPom. That’s not a criticism, just a note that for a team that brought in as many new bodies as they have, we’re really not going to know much about them. In recently hosting Butler (cool name!) they were competitive but lost and the Bulldogs (unoriginal name!) completed their Pac-12 sweep (RIP my Wildcats’ undefeated season). Oh, and Kyle Kuzma is for real.

Arizona State:territorial-cupShoot. I should keep this professional. After all, my mom and aunt had a very serious and long (about 45-seconds which is eons in mom-sports-talk-years) about how upsetting it was that the Ohio State fans (remember, mom and aunt grew up in Columbus) would boo both the Michigan players and band. I thought to interject but chose to appreciate – or perhaps more aptly, be thankful – that mom spoke about sports. On to professionalism: Arizona State lost 115-69 to Kentucky so at least ASU bros got a chuckle out of team output.

Colorado: Home of the Pac-12 South Champs AND Derrick White. The D2 transfer has been very solid thus far and that’s both impressive (to me) and encouraging (to Buffs fans). Because as I saw it, this season didn’t hinge on him but rather on the return of Xavier Johnson and progress-if-not-leadership of Wes Gordon. Let’s check in on the two seniors:

Xavier Johnson 15 6.3 1 120 7.4% 10.3%
Wesley Gordon 6.7 9.5 1.8 (really!!?) 102 11.8% 25.5%


Stanford: I was really hoping that this team would go full Roy Williams (recall: Jerrod Haase learnt everything he’s ever learnt about basketball from Roy) and play at a pace that only Lorenzo Romar could outpace. Alas, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. But this is a team that’s already defending at a very high level (19th highest defensive efficiency which I’m also inclined to believe is a combination of pace and opposition) and that’s already been to Shanghai. Also, while all eyes are on the Pac-12 freshmen and Chris Boucher on the cover of SI, don’t forget about Reid Travis Reid.

USC: Did anyone read any blogs about Elijah Stewart being a breakout player? Well he currently has a 124 offensive rating and is shooting only 46% from 2pt FG range. Ok, so this is a sustainability concern as I’d prefer to see him connecting more effectively inside the arc and drawing more fouls (already at a career high FTrate). But the junior is a career 39% 3FG% so I don’t see that going anywhere any time soon. The Trojans haven’t yet been thoroughly tested but a true road win at Texas A&M speaks loudly of this team’s toughness when it was perhaps questionable following last season’s late meltdown. It’s a long season though.

Washington State:

/begin analysis

Home loss to 1-3 San Jose State.

/end analysis

UCLA: 100% of Bryce Alford’s 19 three pointers this season have been assisted. In his previous three seasons his shots from distance have been assisted at rates of 63%, 58%, and 83%. In those seasons he shot 37%, 39%, and 39%, respectively. This season he’s shooting 44%. An assisted three is an easier three and now consider yourselves further warned because I said he’d shoot 43% for the season. Look out. This is the Pac-12’s best team right now and it isn’t close. Furthermore, I’ve only mentioned your least favorite Bruin. Lonzo Ball is currently the Pac-12 MVP, TJ Leaf has given more effort than Tony Parker gave during the entire second half of last season combined, and Isaac Hamilton hasn’t missed a beat despite career low minutes (career high usage, however, for all you Bryce haters).

California: Forget Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird! Welcome to the Charlie Moore show. I mean, who doesn’t love a feisty Chicago guard? And if you don’t know, Moore has carried Cal through its first five games, taking a Jaylen-esque usage (27.7%) at a Rabb-like efficiency (124 Ortg).

Washington: The Dawgs are matching last season’s 13.6 average possession length! Well, it’s currently 13.5 and is the third swiftest in the nation behind only Savannah State (normal) and BYU. Let’s keep an eye on this, promise? In the even more fun fact department, Washington is about to play the rare TCU Horned Frog back-to-back. They played each other in the championship of the Global Sports MTE Classic (that name just feels classic, right?). That was Saturday and the Huskies lost to Jamie Dixon’s new team, 80-93 (Fultz had 27). Next up, however, is TCU, tomorrow, in a scheduled home game, begging the question: Is Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion worth 14 points?

Oregon State: I’m not sure how to look this up but I’m curious the most 2-pt field goal attempts in a game has been without a free throw attempt? Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks scored a career high 32 points on 15-21 shooting inside the arc. In taking 10 shots at the rim and 11 shots just beyond (according to hoop-math and not Synergy), Eubanks was fouled only once. I find this odd for a big man. But if you consider the opponent (Southern Oregon) perhaps it makes more sense. Congrats, Drew.

2 thoughts on “Team Capsules and my Pac-12 Championship Game Fandom for Sale

  1. Some early observations…

    I watched UCLA in person last weekend at the Wooden Legacy. Their floor spacing and player movement is only surpassed by their willingness to make the extra pass. They are talented and skilled, but the parts fit. Their defensive deficiencies will show up against higher level competition (allowing guard penetration and second shots). But they aren’t a complete sieve on that end. They are long and have depth in their front court.

    I don’t expect them to march in to Rupp and put up a hundy on the Cats. Not at all. I don’t think they will win, but it should be competitive. They get Prince Ali back in time for conference play, but he doesn’t really have a role on this club – might carve out 5-10 minutes as a slasher? Point is this best version of Bruins basketball under Alford. They are going to get better.

    I feel for Arizona. The injuries and absence of Trier is just too much to overcome. I’ve watched them a couple times and keep waiting for them to score the ball easier. That’s been my main complaint of Sean Miller’s tenure. I do like Markkenen alot.

    USC is legit. The transfers have been a little better than I thought they’d be and the Trojans are getting it together. I’m not crazy about their shot selection all the time, but they are long and athletic and make things difficult on the defensive end.

    Oregon is really missing Elgin Cook…and Dwayne Benjamin. Ducks are going to be good by the time conference rolls around, but Cook was the defensive stopper on the wing and made a bunch of big shots for them last year. They just don’t appear as explosive, it’s early…

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