Category Archives: Uncategorized

Week 8 Pac-12 Hoops Preview: The Jet in Tucson. Harden in Tempe.

Finally everyone’s favorite socks will have their jersey hang in the rafters of the McKale Center. It’s been a long time coming for Jason Terry’s #31 but it’s well deserved. And because we adore a game that celebrates its moments, I thought it fitting to share one of my favorite Jason Terry moments (Stanford game-winner was hard not to link aside from its lack of a web presence).

First, let’s note that The Jet won a national title and was named the national Player of the Year. He was the Pac-10’s 1999 Player of the Year, made the bench cool, wore the socks and played basketball with the enthusiasm of 1000 Sean Miller practice plans.

Pure Terry: Continue reading

Week 7 Pac-12 Hoops Preview: The World in Flux

Between Brian Williams’ impending job status, John Stewart stepping down, and the fact that I watched Junior Varsity basketball last night, I’d say the world is in flux. I don’t own any The North Face clothing and I’m going to Seattle on Friday. Maybe we can find clarity in a week of Pac-12 basketball?

Game of the Week

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PacHoops Power Rankings: Good Weather

In New York they postponed two basketball games due to weather. As a reminder, basketball is played indoors, presumably a weather protected sport. In Brooklyn, they’re not playing indoor basketball because of weather. Meanwhile, I spent my Sunday at the beach. I went to Cal and Stanford in jeans and a shirt. A light jacket was in tow and today I’m lightly sunburnt, sunkissed if you will (don’t tell my dermatologist brother). So while the Pac-12 is maybe only getting three teams in this year’s dance (although I do discuss Oregon State’s chances below, HBD Tink), the Conference of Champions wins. Because while winning isn’t everything, neither is winter.

12) CALIFORNIA (-1)

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Q&A With Torn By Sports’ Grant Bagby: Previewing the AZ-UU game

Saturday is the first ever matchup of Pac-12 teams in the Top-10. To be clarifying, the Pac-10 has had many such instances, the most un-recent of which occurred in January of 2010. This game, as it were, is significant.

Which naturally means I need to talk to someone else about it. To scratch that itch, we’ve got Grant Bagby – the man, myth, and legend behind the multi-faceted Utah blog, Torn By Sports.

Let’s get to know Utah, from the perspective of Utah, as we head into the biggest conference basketball game since, like, ever: Continue reading

Week 3 Pac-12 Hoops Preview: The Broadcast Team

There’s so much to discuss. From Oregon’s run to the national title; my trip this weekend to Denver for a Bar Mitzvah where I’ll be either the oldest kid or the youngest adult but where either scenario ends with me at the kid’s buffet; this power movie; the conference’s first Top-10 showdown since everyone liked UCLA’s coach (January 12, 2008 #4 WSU @ #5 UCLA); the texts I got from my grandpa, a tOSU grad, all Monday night; or just an extra 80-words on the direction of the Tinkle tenure.  But in reality, this is all that matters:

Yes, kids, must hear television. We get Bilas and Walton this week. I don’t know what we did right, but let’s keep on doing it. Our week:

Game of the Week

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PacHoops Power Rankings: Happy Hangovers and a new #1

The last week of Pac-12 hoops has looked real 2011-12. The conference wore losses to Stony Brook, UNLV, Hawaii, and Cal State-Bakersfield. No one is impressed. It was like there was an onslaught of Holiday parties and everyone showed up to work the next day prepared to send two emails and take a 90-minute lunch at Hooters (guilty). Of course Stanford beat Texas in Austin, which we predicted. But the Cardinal also took a two week break at the beginning of December to handle any Holiday partying. Additionally, they’re just weird. We’ll call it the KU-Dayton Theory.

In other news, someone got me a copy of The Interview [fist bump emoji]. Kim Jung Un has not showed up at my house. Yet.

Happy New Years Everyone. See you on the 15. Conference play starts this week. Continue reading

25 play-by-play announcers worse than Bill Walton

Last night Bill Walton was in Tucson to do play-by-play for the broadcast of Oakland @ Arizona. And he was great.

Last week, a petition was created – and signed by more than 1,500 lost souls – to never have that scenario play out again. Interested? Here’s the link and know that I did not sign it. I will not sign it. In fact, I’ve come up with a list of 25 people (tip of the iceberg) who would be worse at calling a U of A basketball game. Twenty-five people who wouldn’t compare Gabe York to Ray Allen or tell us about a 67-acre mushroom. A quarter-hundred people who don’t have a Tipi in their backyard; who didn’t nearly walk out on the winningest legend to keep a beard. Because you’d rather hear about the defensive efficiencies (1.31 ppp vs. Arizona) of the Oakland Grizzlies playing a red eye removed from East Lansing.

In no particular order:

  1. Lute Olson – Great coach. GOAT? Yet you never knew how much you liked the Grateful Dead until you heard all of Lute’s “uhhhs.”
  2. Dick Vitale – Do you really need me to?
  3. Jerry Garcia – Couldn’t provide a  quarter of the basketball insight that Walton provides about The Dead.
  4. Jenny Finch – Has many fine features and Wildcat knowledge.
  5. Ernie Kent – Unless of course Arizona is playing Washington State in which case it would improve Arizona’s chances to win. Or would it?
  6. Digger Phelps – Is the devil.
  7. Craig Robinson – The man can charm a room – he’s learned from the best – but he can leave something to be desired on the mic.
  8. Kyryl Natyazkho – The former Wildcat – who once Bernied in the NCAA tournament – dabbled in media which was actually quite an interesting perspective. But let’s keep the big Ukraine of the mic.
  9. BYUTv – The single most homer broadcast that ever was. Jimmer also dropped a billion on the Wildcats so whether you liked ’em or not, you won’t soon be seeing/hearing/experiencing BYU vs. Arizona anytime on the round ball side of a Las Vegas Bowl.
  10. Tim McCarver  – Indubitably the worst. Ever. All time. He’s so bad that when you listen to his broadcasts you don’t enjoy the broadcasts because he explains things so longwindedly and in such elementary terms that he manages to confuse you even about the most simple of things like telling you that Tim McCarver is not the best play-by-play guy.
  11. Kevin Danna And I love Danna! Listen to this call. And this call. But Dannaman didn’t hang banners.
  12. Ed O’Bannon – He was 5-3 All-Time against the Wildcats – destroyed ’em – and now he’s trying to deamateurize our athletes? Wait, the latter’s a good thing.
  13. Spencer Smith – He’s not even an expert. But does have a media medallion on reddit/cfb.
  14. Adam Butler – The self-proclaimed “preeminent Pac-12 blogger” would likely spend the entire broadcast texting his brother and other friends throughout the country.
  15. This Lady – Not a chance she distinguishes between Kaleb Tarczewski and TJ McConnell.
  16. Sean Eilliott – And Boogie Cousins agrees.
  17. Patrick Butler – My father, at the slightest of great plays, does this miserably loud GASPSHOUTYELL that is not only startling but the point of countless familial battles. The things I do for ‘Cats games…
  18. Sarah Kezele – Because it seems she’d only talk about Walton.
  19. Lou Holtz – The master motivator’s motivation would be lost amidst everyone already being so fired up over things like Arizona Basketball.
  20. Steve Kerr – He has the basketball acumen, the Arizona pedigree, and the booth experience. But he’s got bigger fish to fry (21-3, if you need a hint).
  21. Colin Cowherd – Because we can’t commercialize everything.
  22. Craig James – He’s got a senate race to tend to anyhow.
  23. Casey Jacobsen – But big kudos because I’ve heard him admit, on air, that the tip-frosting phase was a mistake.
  24. Ray Lewis – That Stanford locker room tho…
  25. Brian Collins – Or maybe this would be great because – you know – boom goes the dynamite?

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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Non-Conference Strength of Schedule and the Post-Season

The non-conference slate is about to get really heavy tonight. With multiple top-25s in action against other top-25s and Utah playing their most significant Non-Con game since before Harry Dunn was Will McAvoy, I wanted to know how any of it might matter.

The study, without further adieu, was to see whether or not there was any truth to the adage that a strong non-conference schedule prepares teams for March. Often we revere teams that “challenge themselves” outside of conference play. But is there any merit to doing it? Does playing a really good team in November help me beat them in March? Continue reading

What Are We Watching For?

There is always a moment. It’s a look or a touch or a feel or something that only you can understand. When defining the things that are most important to us, we prescribe them to a single moment. One. You could say that it shines and that would befit the lead of a basketball article dropping on season’s eve. But there is always a moment. We need to remember that.

One glance, perhaps a word said, insignificant to her but it meant the world to him. It maybe went unnoticed by a thousand people, but there was something – nuance – that resonated and it was yours. A moment uniquely your own, clarity amongst the masses.

No matter how your life is led it’s moving faster than you care to admit. We miss things. I’m not lauding you to slow down. Maybe you should? I can’t make that call. But there are moments and when they can be captured, no matter their brevity, hold on. It needn’t be explainable or rational. Hold on to it.

These are your stories.

We connect.

arizona bench

Kids. A game.

Sometimes it feels silly. Childish to focus on a collegiate sport for which I have no bearing on the outcome. It’s silly to be so invested in something that doesn’t affect my life. No matter how hard I clap or which seat I’m in –  not even the shirt I wear – nothing I do will determine a winner or loser. The game’s outcome will be determined by others who have practiced and prepared, who play. I’ve read? Researched? I’ll never be a member of Club Trillion.

We are fans. I am a fan. Sometimes it feels silly to have my emotions drawn because of a game played by teenagers I’ll never meet. Some of whom I followed since they were 16. I’m 30. It feels silly.

And sometimes it feels silly to know that Kyle Anderson distributes the ball well. That his passes yielded a certain number of shots at the rim. It’s perhaps silly to extrapolate that and discover how many possessions of Kyle’s turn into a score at the rim. I did that.

To overnight to Los Angeles or disappear from work or StubHub or Tweet or phone stream or take three hour lunches or brackets or blogs or alienate during a coaching hunt or viscerally react to maroon or bravado. It feels silly.

And in reality it is. Ask me why I do it and my cheeks will shade blush. I’ll grow embarrassed at my trivial choice in pastimes, chuckle, and concede that maybe I have to grow up. Confidence isn’t always a strong suit. I question my decisions. I don’t make them. I question but I come back. What am I doing? What are we doing? Why?

Sometimes it feels silly to feel. We’re supposed to feel.

We connect.

josh huestis

Uncontrollable outcomes.

I sat in the semi-far reaches of Anaheim’s Honda Center. The tickets were gifted to brother and me from dear friends who’d perhaps put their eggs in the Dallas basket. We benefited from their perceived foresight. Ultimately their oversight. Arizona lost to Wisconsin. They never went to Dallas’ Final Four. In that weekend Nick Johnson scored a flurry of points to bury the Aztecs and Aaron Gordon heroically grabbed all of the rebounds. Frank Kaminsky put on a performance they’re still talking about. The Wildcats never got the final shot off.

That’s sport.

But in those semi-far reaches were two brothers who’d grown up familiar with one of the schools on the floor. Their dad had brought them to countless games, sharing stories about a white haired man. Sixteen years earlier, dad had brought them to the same, semi-far reaches of Anaheim. The Wildcats lost that one, too.

I remember that trip in 1998 as time with my dad and brother. When I tell you that Rick Majerus masterfully out-coached Lute Olson that afternoon, it’s because I read about it somewhere else. Others, perhaps not there with their dad and their brother, took great notice. Their own study of Kyle Anderson.

Sixteen years later the brothers found themselves in a familiar seat. They couldn’t sit. Their team wasn’t winning and the game demanded their noise. Everyone’s noise. In those semi-far reaches, with the game unfolding in a manner the brothers disapproved of, their seats were barely touched. The Wildcats were losing. At the first media timeout of the second half, one turned to the other:

I mean…it would make sense that we switch seats right now.

We really should.

Let’s.

Let’s.

They exchanged seats. The Wildcats outscored the Aztecs from that point forward. Arizona won. In the semi-far reaches of the Honda Center we were mother-fucking sorcerers. We do not control the outcomes. I’ve been switching seats with him for 28 years and it’s failed us before but on that night it worked. The game is a blur. I know my team won and I know Nick Johnson scored that flurry of points. There was a critical steal. The game is a blur. Details were captured through literature and worldwide networks.

We switched seats. I’ll never forget it. A moment as silly as intimately following collegians for five-months just to wind up in a seat next to your brother in an arena built for a team based on a Disney film. Silly mother-fucking sorcerers.

We connect.

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Section 407, Row B, Seats 3 & 4.

Sigmund Freud suggested that a crowd allows an individual to tap into their simplest emotional state, to act almost primitively. As more complex emotions are reserved for higher states, the crowd allows the individual to operate at their lowest common denominator. Collectively it is called a “primal horde.”

Further theories suggest that crowds are derived from a complete deindividualization. One loses their sense of responsibility or control through the anonymity, unity, and arousal afforded by the group. Such lessening tempts members into the perhaps irrational activity of the mass. Attention is paid to the group, not the individual, further desensitizing an already susceptible individual to act outside of social norms.

Gustave Le Bon, a French sociologist, postulated that a crowd emerges after an initial stage of what he called submergence. This occurs when an individual loses their sense of responsibility, their conscious gone, lending themselves to the subsequent stages of crowd development: contagion and suggestion. It’s the first phase, however, that other theorists have centered upon, the common thread across crowd psychology: losing one’s self. This loss perhaps diminishes the individual but, as a crowd member, it simultaneously elevates the individual as a powerful part of a growing whole. As I read it, “an invincible power.” The Le Bonian stages of crowd suggest aggression. Research has shown that a crowd does not specifically rise for evil.

A crowd is necessary.

Cal on Court

We run at each other to meet in the middle.

Self-categorization and social identity, theories developed by John Turner, demonstrate a multitude of levels by which an individual associates. From the most basic – “I” – building to the highest level of abstraction – “humans” – identifying within a given category is important to the individual. They can be, for example, a Christian, a Democrat, a Bruin, a Beaver, a Duck. This is important to the individual. Joining a crowd is natural.

Being a fan categorizes you. It subscribes you to a group. You self-categorize, joining and deinvidualizing to become a part of something bigger than yourself. A loss of ego in which we’re moved by something we can’t necessarily control. Remember, we don’t control the outcomes.

There’s a phrase for this, a sports encounter, which is unique to this categorization. The communication between fans contains a perceived knowledge of sport, an understanding of the intricacies of the chosen self-categorization. Researchers have made note that sports fans more openly share their emotions at perhaps unprecedented levels. A 1989 study recognizes that sports are one of the few forums within which men openly share their emotions with other men.

We congregate to watch games. Crowds sourced within this categorization, allowing individuals to dissociate from themselves, become a part of collective thinking and cheer, in this instance. Crowd psychology proposes that this allows us to act irrationally, differently than we might when we’re uniquely ourselves.

The ball is tipped and the individual is lost.

We connect.

COLORADO-BUZZER-BEATER-BENCH

We lose ourselves.

That night, greater than 17,000 people inside the Honda Center didn’t know we switched seats. Most notably not one person actually playing basketball. Further, the reality of the matter is no one knew where we were sitting. We did. It mattered to us.

Moments aren’t tangible. I can’t tell you when or how to recognize them. They’re unique and only available when we allow ourselves to be a part of them. It’s always happening. Pay attention. Because the scoreboard isn’t always going to read the way we want it to. No matter how hard we try. No matter which seat we’re sitting in. It can read wrong.

We don’t always win. Life rolls on, leaving us to determine our reactions to whatever the scoreboard says. Sometimes we lose. Things fall outside of our control. We do our best. We have to keep the moments; those perfect, personal instances amidst our loss of self in a crowded experience. Pay attention. Silly as it may be.

So dive in with me. I don’t know what the water’s like but that’s probably the point. We don’t control the outcomes. The nice part is knowing we aren’t going it alone. It’s why you jump. You’re going to have someone to switch seats with.

Pay attention because there’s always a moment.

We connect.

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