The Pac-12 tournament isn’t so much an exercise in basketball competition (that was great) as it is an event. A destination for hoopniks to congregate in a city that allows them to stay up past their bedtimes and participate in all manner of fandom. I watched eleven basketball games. Some of them were close and others were sharpied at the second media timeout. I met Ken Pomeroy and completely froze in the moment. I wish I’d asked if he could tell when exactly his numbers were predictably significant. After all, the college basketball season is only about 30 games long. That’s brief. Is that sample size significant to predicting a team’s performance? Similarly it’s been just three tournaments in Las Vegas. What do we really know about it? Is the fun we’ve had the shiny newness? The experiential equivalent of Washington being ranked 13th in the nation. It’s a small sample size and very few would be quick to celebrate the tournament’s Los Angeles iteration. Continue reading
We were a three pointer by a struggling if not disinterested first teamer from having the 10, 11, and 12 seeds advance. That’s contrary to the norm. The least tightly contested game featured the two most closely ranked teams. That’s contrary to the norm. Dan Kingma had nine points. That’s contrary to the norm. Of course we didn’t come to Vegas expecting chalk or things to go precisely according to plan (although I did remember to bring my ID to the airport for this trip. Big win.).
So what was Day 1 like? Maybe we call it a practice run? The MGM Grand Arena wasn’t quite bubbling to the top but – and this needs to be said – the PA guy called 4 games with unwavering enthusiasm. And he’ll be back at it again for Day 2. As for the basketball?
Yesterday the conference announced it’s awards. These were voted on by the coaches, a means to acknowledge the work of their peers. The same group that competes with one another, tells one another they’re out of their weight class, take all of the California recruits, chastises the pace of another’s play, know nothing about police situations, or whom just simply don’t like each other. I mean, Apple ain’t soon declaring the Galaxy winner of a usability test, are they?
So, yes, this group justly voted for the conference superlatives so you should put a lot into them.
I had considered deviating from our traditional weekly preview format in favor of an IF/THEN layout of Pac-12 tournament seedings. (Are you going? I’m going.) Here’s how far I got in that excerise: Continue reading
It’s the second to last week of Pac-12 hoops and the NCAA tournament couldn’t feel any further away. As Spencer and I hammered through Tuesday’s WANE, I felt like any declarations made about NCAA tournament invites were as solid as the World Cup in Qatar. There’s so much significant basketball left to be played. Even this week feels like we’re approaching the elimination stages. Of course the beauty of this game is that there is always the automatic bid carrot looming. Ask Colorado about it, maybe not Washington.
What that also means is that we’re headed towards Senior Days and those guys are my favorites. They embody the inevitability of sudden death that we’re so drawn to hopefully avoid in College Basketball. This whole thing culminates in a 68-team death match. We hope our team survives. Seniors are the Maximii of the game. We know we’ll lose them, but we can hope for a last gasp of heroism before they’re gone. So here’s to you, our stretch-run crew:
TJ McConnell, Anthony Brown, Chasson Randle, DaVonte Lacy, David Kravish, Stefan Nastic, Delon Wright, Shaq McKissic, Joe Young, Shawn Kemp Jr, Mike Anderson, Norman Powell, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Bo Barnes, Jonathan Gilling, and Askia Booker
Let’s see what you’ve got. Continue reading
Last night I passed on two Pac-12 games that both went down to the wire to watch West Coast Conference basketball. I went for the chance at a more traditional court storming but when it comes to pack mentality, there really is no such thing as logic. Get excited, spill onto the floor. Conversely, if you’re a coach, you can wear your jacket or take it off. I’ve long tried to track Johnny Dawkins’ tendencies here. Whatever, let’s Pistol-Hammer this Friday:
A Celebrity on the Floor
We are halfway through this season and it’s evident that 2015 is a tough season to cover. Basketball is being played at nearly two fewer possessions per game with nearly 6% less scoring per game (learn more here). The Pac-12 – the conference that chose me – is playing at nearly 2012 levels. Sure the top of the conference is better and the talent levels far surpass that which we saw in the fateful Pac-12 inauguration. But at least in 2012 there was a multitude of teams vying for a shot to dance. What crap could rise to the top? You can’t look me in the blog and tell me anyone but Arizona or Utah is going to win in Vegas. It’s seemingly foregone in early February. This is increasingly looking like a two-horse race to Selection Sunday. After that, 2015 has been…a rebuilding? That’s not going to stop us. Because Askia Booker has shots to take and so too does DaVonte Lacy. Kevon Looney is going to be the only freshman in the country to average a double-double. Have you watched Oregon State’s zone against everyone but Arizona State? Watch Elgin Cook pursue a shot, Gary Payton II defend, and Ty Wallace play. These are the last nine games you’ll see of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, Norman Powell, and Booker. You’ve got plenty of reasons to perhaps quit on this season. But champions never quit. This is the Conference of Champions (plus the page views, comments, tweets and shares make me feel good).
Game of the Week
The Pac is avoiding afternoon broadcasting this Sunday. Fortunately, conference games that day feature the two worst teams in the Pac (USC and Cal). I suppose I’ve tipped my hand surrounding this week’s Game(s) to Avoid, but maybe you’ll be at a house of favorable fandom. Which really just proposes that you’re at a house choosing to optimize the magnitude of the day’s events with the requisite accompaniments of next-level junk food. Like I want to hear about food consumption that has you in a funk so Monday that you think ‘Ernie Kent for the rebuild’ is a great idea. Of course that puts all eyes on Husky fans (no pun intended) who will have dual watching privileges (Cal @ UW 12pm + Super Bowl). So if the Pac-12 is going to try and avoid competing with the Super Bowl, we can oblige! And while it seems that everyone hates both the Seahawks and the Patriots, both produce two very lovable characters. And Tom Brady is awesome.
Game of the Week
A lot of things to keep an eye on this week particularly on Wednesday. Five of the conference’s top six teams will be in action that night including our GotW: Stanford @ Washington. This game features our two leading amoeba candidates with identical 14-5 overall records. Washington hasn’t had quite the conference success of the Cardinal and now will be short their tallest asset: Robert Upshaw. Nevertheless, #TakingCareOfBusiness at home has been a major part of Pac-12 basketball. They have the second highest conference home winning percentage. This bodes well for Washington. The Upshaw story bodes well for the Cardinal.
And while it’s not a game, The Drive, debuts tonight at 9pm PST on The Networks. Expect reviews of that.
Game to Avoid
The aforementioned Sunday slate may be unavoidable. If I’m parked with a booming game day bucket, Taco Bell, ‘za, wings, cheap beer, expensive beer, mid-priced red (someone’s inevitably going to invite this friend), a Chinese spread, why-not-Thai, an assortment of Hostess products, fuggit-a-pie, ice cream, and Tums® then I won’t be opposed to watching Pac-12 basketball, too. Maybe let’s make a handful of prop bets for the weekend? Let me know if you want in on this action:
- Herb Sendek gets extended: 3-1
- Spencer Dinwiddie given 6 week D-League assignment in Boulder: 4-1
- Robert Upshaw transfers to Oregon: 6-1
- Robert Upshaw transfers from Oregon: 6-1
- Bryce Alford plays 41 minutes in regulation: 9-1
- BruinsNation writes something nice about it: OFF
- Jordan Adams admits he touched the ball: 18-1
- Larry Scott admits Jordan Adams touched the ball: 5000-1
Something to Prove
They’re paying the team they knocked off a return visit and I can’t imagine the McKale Center is going to be all too kind to the Oregon State Beavers. You have to appreciate that Wayne Tinkle has said that this season won’t be the “year we beat Arizona.” Beating one team does not a season make. Since breaking down in his news conference after beating then #4 Wisconsin, Eddie Jordan’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 0-4. They’d just won their championship. Conversely, Tinkle and his Beavers are 3-1 with their eyes on bigger things. Yes, winning in Tucson and sweeping the Wildcats is a tall order. But beating ASU on the road is far more reasonable, conceivable, and immediate accomplishment.
Something to Lose
Washington evidently had someone to lose and it’s in a big way. We won’t dwell on that even though last week we thought Colorado had their season to lose while playing short some critical talents. Turns out, just giving a good effort is enough to earn some PacHoops love. Good job, Buffs! Washington still isn’t our team with the most riding on the line this week. I think that distinction belongs with the Stanford Cardinal. They’ve navigated the circle of suck, as Spencer noted, to a 5-2 conference record. They’ve won at Texas and held court against Connecticut. But they now take all that on the road where Dawkins’ teams are 31-50 All-Time. Woof. At this point, however, the Cardinal are playing the role of expected victor not enigmatic maybe. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown are granite not sandstone. Is this the year Stanford rides that soundly into the NCAA tournament? It seems that way today, a road trip to Washington could alarm us otherwise.
Texts From Family Members
Before embarking on our fourth week of Pac-12 play, allow me a brief State of the Pac address. SOTP, if you will: Continue reading
Before we get too serious with things, I want to remind all Oregon fans that there are two games this weekend – in Eugene – and their attendance would likely be appreciated. That said, if you’re preoccupied, I’d understand. Hell, Dana Altman might even get it. SCOOOOO BUCKS DUCKS. Allow me to remind you that I’m a heart divided. Grandpa – who’s daughter is featured at the tail of this post – gave me a different Ohio State sweatshirt for the first 13 years of my life. I grew up in scarlet hoodies – for the weekend a year that I’d wear one in Arizona – and dad telling me what an asshole Woody Hayes was (great story about my dad’s law partner and Woody Hayes, ask me about it some time). But after grandpa, grandma, a buncha cousins, and a video of my mom telling me she’d root for OSU over Arizona (her alma mater) I have some really good Duckships (which is friendships with Duck fans). Am I split? Probably not. Let’s talk Monday around 10 PST. I love all y’all.
Week 2 Preview:
Game of the Week
The obvious call here is the first ever CFP championship game in which Oregon or Ohio State will arguably earn themselves the moniker of MOST DESERVING COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPION EVER. That’s literally what I’ll run with. In the hoops world this is – to be honest – a really uninteresting week of Pac-12 basketball. Can we say that in week two? Am I supposed to hype something that’s unhypable? Neverthless, I think the game I’m most interested in is Stanford’s visit to UCLA. It’s doesn’t feature the two best teams to face off or arguably anything even that close to it. But Stanford came it at #3 in our Power Rankings this week suggesting, they’re good. Good enough to beat UCLA in Pauley. For UCLA, that would be six straight. Reeling. Conversely, this would be a really big win for a team that needs a really big win. The Bruins are capable of doing it but will they? I’ll be watching to see if Bryce Alford can connect on his first three point bucket of 20-Quinceañera.
Game to Avoid
This one’s pretty clear to me but if you disagree, you have the opportunity to channel hop. Simulcast with our GotW – Thursday at 6pm PST on FS1 – will be Arizona State’s visit to Corvallis. While I like what Oregon State is doing with Tinkle Time, and think this is one of their best opportunities at a distinguishing win, I really don’t think this is remotely must-see. You can probably save yourself the thumbing, stick to ESPN and the ‘Furd-UCLA game, and use TV timeouts for things like the restroom or calisthenics.
Something to Prove
Sorry to be redundant but it’s got to be UCLA here. They’re losers of five straight and in unimpressive fashion. But, because I’m not going to harp on one team throughout our Week 2 Preview, the team with the most to prove could be the Oregon Ducks. On WANE this week, Spencer and I talked about this being a sleeping giant (can you call a team that mid-season? I feel like that’s a phrase reserved for the “Program” level and perennially used to make ASU football fans feel good). The Ducks have played well for the most part and host the Wildcats who haven’t won in Eugene since 2010 (which is misleading because it was December 30th 2010 but nevertheless it’s been quite awhile).
Also going to give a Colorado mention. They played better against the LA schools, got a kick in the emos from Xavier Johnson, did it all without Josh Scott (whom they’ll get back tonight at Utah) and won’t be lost in the thin air of Salt Lake. Further, they’d kicked the demons of never beating UCLA so why not this curse, too:
Well, streaks are meant to be broken, right? The last time CU defeated a Top 10 team on the road was Jan. 15, 1973 (at Mis- souri,81-79 (ot)
— JG (@jgisland) January 7, 2015
Something to Lose
UCLA? Nah. OK but seriously. UCLA. But for serious, we’re so early and the schedule is so light that there isn’t much for people to lose. If forced to pick – and I’m forcing myself to pick – I’m going with the Cal Bears. After a big win over UW they lost to WSU suggesting anything is possible. So losing to USC on the heels of that would be bad. Malo if you’re speakin’ Spanish.
Texts from Family Members
This is our newest feature where I text my mom or another family member about the happenings of last week’s Pac-12 to see what she or they have to say. I already can’t wait for next week: