Firsts are often celebrated and so, for the first time in PacHoops Podcast history, Spencer Smith did not join us. But the show had to go and this week I got to talk all types of sports with David Piper and Matt – both formerly of the fantastic Oregon blog, Addicted to Quack. David is in fact the ATQ founder and Matt was there with Spencer and I for the first Pac-12 tournament in Vegas. There are a few stories.
To synopsize our discussion: football hiring, a great transition back to hoops, Oregon talk and Tyler Dorsey love, rules changes and the flow of the game, Matt rips Bryce, more on the rules and general style of play discussions, fandom, Oregon, fandom, and a promise that we’ll do it all again. Missed ya Spence. Continue reading →
Ben Carter dismissed a Nick Johnson shot and then Washington State beat the hell out of UCLA and now Vegas. Those were the waning moments of Pac-12 regular season basketball and we had Matt from Addicted to Quack on WANE to discuss that Oregon game and everything forthcoming in Las Vegas.
Give it a listen, we go deep:
0:00 – Matt’s work all over that intro
0:40 – Spencer admits that Eugene is different when you’re not an undergrad, but no-less fantastic.
1:38 – Really strange moment where everyone admits they’re not really sure what’s going on with regards to recording and logistics. You learn a little about how we make this happen.
2:20 – Things get existential
3:26 – We are going to handle this podcast by asking questions and then we note that Utah vs. Washington is an awesome way to kick this thing off.
4:33 – Tangent on Washington State and Spencer admits he was a little butt hurt to see the Wildcats lose in Eugene then poses a great argument for said WSU upset of UCLA.
7:40 – WHO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TEAM – OUTSIDE OF SAY….ARIZONA – IN THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT?
18:57 – WHICH TEAM HAS THE MOST TO GAIN?
24:24 – DOES ARIZONA STAND TO HAVE THE MOST TO GAIN…A NUMBER ONE SEED?
29:41 – WHO IS THE PLAYER TO WATCH?
38:14 – Money, sent to me in a won bet with my father, arrives.
39:37 – THIS IS HOW YOU DEFINE STANFORD. BRAVO, MATT!
41:42 – After diving into the number of ridiculous guards in this conference, how’s about the big kids?
47:10 – Adam with a major buzzkill on his stance on conference tournaments
48:02 – WHAT IS THE BEST POTENTIAL MATCHUP IN THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT?
57:26 – Spencer, the only of us going to Vegas, with the last word
In the inaugural season of the world’s preeminent Pac-12 basketball blog, we saw the First Ever Pac-12 Coaches Death Match. It presented a horrifically hard fought battle that saw Sean “Whooping” Miller walk away the winner. And now we’re pitting the mascots against one another because it’s tournament time, we need to pick things, we need more anthropomorphism.
Here’s what I did. I reached out to friends of the world’s preeminent Pac-12 basketball blog to explain to us why their favorite mascot would win. They did and I’m appreciative. Read on to see how each crushed it. We’ll keep the same seeding and format as the basketball tournament in Vegas. Other than that, there are no rules. It’s a death match.
And now the writers have got the anthropomorphs’ backs. Here we go:
#8 Swoop vs. #9 Dubs
Dubs from Jack Follman of Pacific Takes The Husky mascots used to be fluffy balls of poof that were not even intimidating to a two-year old junior Dawg fan, but Dubs is a different beast. Built for the modern era, Dubs is svelte, speedy, ferocious and regularly outruns the entire Husky football team down the sidelines as the run out of the tunnel at home games on Saturdays. Most importantly though, Dubs is a Husky and huskies take part in a little something called the Iditarod which is a race that is longer than 1,000 miles in the coldest place in the entire country. Obviously Dubs hasn’t taken place in this race, but he has the blood of his hardy ancestors who have ran the race that regularly kills competitors coursing through his veins.
Swoop from Robby Jackson of Utah Scout Swoop, the mascot for the Utah Utes, is not a member of the Ute Indian tribe and as a matter of fact, he doesn’t have anything to do with the Utes. But, he is our mascot and despite how random he may be, we’ve got a soft spot in our hearts for Swoop. Most red-tailed hawks have wings because you know, they’re birds, but Swoop is blessed with enormous arms that would most definitely win many arm wrestling matches against a duck, beaver, sun-devil or a tree. To make up for his lack of wings, Swoop also has red laser beam eyes that burn the logo of the opposition during the halftime at Utah basketball games. Find me a bear, husky, wildcat, cougar, trojan or a buffalo that can withstand the heat of laser hawk eyes and I’ll find you a liar. Though he may look more like a chicken than a hawk, Swoop aint nothing to play with.
#8 Swoop vs. #9 Dubs
#8 Swoop (60%, 154 Votes)
#9 Dubs (40%, 102 Votes)
Total Voters: 256
#5 Chip vs. #12 Traveler
Chip from Ben Burrow of Rumblin Buff
I guess, ostensibly, I’m supposed to be talking about Chip, our Mickey Mouse with horns made available for the kiddies. However, if you’re going to talk University of Colorado athletics, there is only one mascot that matters – the ton of rampaging bison known as Ralphie. Often a source of confusion, let me confirm that Ralphie is, in fact, a female. It’s an important distinction, because, if we were to let a male bison loose, death would ensue; after all, a buffalo is an unstoppable goring machine when pissed off. With the lady involved, we’re only talking serious bodily harm, if you’re lucky. So, come at me with your anthropomorphic plush toys. I got a frickin’ buffalo, and you don’t.
Traveler from Jacob Freedman of Galen Central The best part about Traveler is that he’s less of a mascot, and more of an actual, real-life horse capable of inflicting havoc. There’s no costume, no student inside and if you ask me, a horse is much more powerful than the dogs and cats we see across the Pac-12. He’s also cunning; we’ve all heard the story about the Trojan Horse. Just as he stomps the ground of the Coliseum before every fourth quarter, he would stomp his way all over the other mascots, whether they be animals, trees, or a Ute.
#5 Chip vs. #12 Traveler
#5 Chip (86%, 255 Votes)
#12 Traveler (14%, 41 Votes)
Total Voters: 296
#7 Puddles vs. #10 Benny
Puddles from Matt of Addicted to Quack Ducks are ferocious fighters. They have the ability to fight both on land as well as in water. Their beaks are their main weapons but also a great defense mechanism. To understand Puddle’s manliness and ability to win a fight, first you have to realize he doesn’t wear pants. I mean seriously, you know you’re pretty proud of your manhood if you’re going to go around 24/7 without pants on. And do you really want to start a fight with someone that isn’t wearing pants? Second, there’s only been one other time that another mascot has dared to challenge Puddles. Let’s just say that didn’t end well for him.
Benny from Connor Pelton of Rush the Court
Benny is a beaver, so by definition he is one of the most badass animals in the wild. His versatility cannot be rivaled, from dam building to speed. I also have a feeling that the committee may underseed him, but similar to the NCAA Tournament, that will hurt his opponent more than anybody. Benny is a player and he’ll put up if you try and take his girl. So vote for him, because players gotta play.
#7 Puddles vs. #10 Benny
#7 Puddles (50%, 118 Votes)
#10 Benny (50%, 116 Votes)
Total Voters: 234
#6 The Tree vs. #11 Butch
The Tree from Kevin Danna of Pac-12 Networks and the NBADL
The Tree don’t concern itself with human concerns like mascot deathmatches. Ralphie, Sparky, Oski and such can be as menacing as they want- what the hell are they going to do to a tree? You think Wilbur is going to be able to claw through a 200-year-old redwood, or that Sparky’s pitchfork is going to be able to get it to topple over? Ooh, a fighting duck?! Hell, hawks live in trees. The Tree will take on all 11 other mascots at once and win by not doing a damn thing. So while all the other mascots try to kill each other with assorted sharp objects and body parts, the Tree will roll up a fatty, smoke one of his own kind and win by attrition. The only lumberjacks I see reside in the Big Sky and Southland.
Butch from Michael Preston of Coug Center He looked more badass before his costume change (made in the name of safety) but Butch T. Cougar is still all that embodies WSU. The dude rides an ATV at full blast onto the field before a football game for cripes sake. He has been known to photo bomb even the most carefully planned sorority pose picture and he isn’t shy about acting his age…which we don’t know but we assume he’s in his rambunctious teenage years. More important than any of that is how much he’s beloved by every single WSU fan from ages 3 to 103. He’s one of the best known mascot in the country for a reason: everyone, even visiting fans, want a picture with the gregarious fella with the long tail. Do you see any other Pac-12 mascot pop up on your Facebook feed as often as him? I didn’t think so.
This WANE marks the mid-way point of conference play. For fear we’d give the wheelbarrow of awards to Wildcats, Spencer and I brought on Matt from Addicted to Quack to make sure we curbed our homerism and showed some love the conference-wide. Which is actually really easy to do in a season like this with gross amounts of talent occupying the West. Draft Express projects four first rounders and a recent Bracketology projected seven Pac teams dancing (a number you can trust about as much as Frank Underwood – yeah it’s back! ). Also, in talking about how great the Pac’s talent levels are, we don’t once qualify it by noting that Jorge Gutierrez will not win POY. I’m maturing.
0:00 – Dana Altman discusses the Super Bowl and STILL REFERS TO ARIZONA AS #1 IN THE COUNTRY (though it could’ve been record
2:33 – Matt uses adjectives to describe Oregon basketball.
3:18 – Could we have seen this coming from the Ducks? This 3-6 front half, that is.
4:30 – Front court vs. Back court. What’s the root of the defensive woes and Arsalan Kazemi is mentioned.
6:40 – Matt gets some one year overdue love!!
8:14 – On Ducks in the desert: Is two wins possible and Adam makes a demon chuckle. Matt thinks some additional ball pressure could help the Ducks, especially considering their depth.
9:33 – Jahii Carson tangent.
10:14 – ….and Spencer brings the conversation out of Tempe and back to Tucson.
12:52 – Adam plugs hoop-math and PacHoops and Addicted to Quack
14:15 – Gabe York’s role has increased, is he needed for defense or offense or…how much do you miss Brandon Ashley already?
15:41 – Aaron Gordon is 9-37 in his last three games.
16:05 – Adam stumbles through a question about Oregon’s rotation. Matt explains that Dana’s methodology is to let the cream rise to the top. It hasn’t and he’s still trying to find that rotation. There’s an SMH.
19:04 – March 5, 2011. The last time Arizona beat Oregon.
19:19 – Matt dives into what he thinks of Oregon’s chances to make a run into the tournament. Bubble talk.
21:27 – Transition into our MID-SEASON AWARDS TALK! We start with freshman of the year talk.
25:10 – We move in to Player of the Year talks and we discuss that award in a much more organized fashion.
30:50 – Matt asks for a guess. Adam gets it right! Jordan Adams leads the conference in steals. Boom. And then some Alford and UCLA love.
35:55 – How many teams dance and who and how they’re going to get there including an all too long of a conversation about Oregon State basketball. Yes, we discuss Oregon State for the majority of a segment about the NCAA tournament.
41:22 – Noting Bill Walton leads to a collective ripping on all towns and cities not associated with the Pac-12. Sorry we’re not sorry Big-12 country!
44:48 – Matt on Matt Knight. How is it?
46:26 – A big telling sigh from Matt that…”yeah, this WANE is probably over.”
47:18 – BUT WAIT! Matt and my bet of Aaron Gordon vs. Mike Moser
I’ll miss them. You will, too. And with the wrap of this season, reality has sunk in that some of our favorites will move on. Cue the Vitamin C, it’s graduation time.
And this crop of seniors saw some stuff. They endured but did not define one of the worst stretches in Pac-12 hoops there’s ever been. By way of historical context I have none. But anecdotally can you tell me I’m wrong? These seniors saw the winner of their conference not play in the NCAA tournament. The Pac-12 was bad.
But they won’t be defined by this period of ineptitude. They’ll be defined by the fight we saw and the resilience we cheered. As a slew of fantastic writers boasted of their favorite seniors’ careers (all below), I was reminded that we’re not always fans for the wins and losses. We’re drawn to the human components of this game, the universal truths that we all struggle in an effort to succeed. Which is why it was so rewarding to see EJ Singler in his first Big Dance. And Solomon Hill lead down the home stretch. And see Brock Motum score 79 points in his final three games. And see the career transformation of Larry Drew II. And Joe Burton play the role of cultural ambassador.
Maybe they didn’t win any titles and reached just a single Elite 8 collectively, but they were the seniors of our teams and sometimes that’s about all we need to be a fan.
The 2012-13 Pac-12 Seniors – or at least those who were so kindly discussed by those who follow them closest for the Waxing Seniority series:
And like that, it appears the Johnathan Loyd era is over – or at least soon to return to its supporting role – in Eugene. This, of course, means that Dominic Artis will (should?) be returning to action this Thursday as the Ducks host the Beavers in the Civil War. I know for a fact that this has my Oregon friends excited:
Artis has a large brace on his leg, but seems to be moving and cutting without much problem. Shooting well, too.
Indeed the return of Artis is great news for Dana’s Ducks but it also begs the question: How well did Johnathan Loyd do in the super freshman’s absence? If quick on the trigger, we’d have to say poorly. They were just 5-4 in Artis’ absence (aka with Loyd at the helm) and averaged 18 turnovers per game for which Loyd was responsible for 2+ of.
But the Ducks maintained their first place standing and that has got to count for something everything.
Because I do not believe any team in this conference could have withstood the loss of their point guard and maintained their conference position, let alone first place. Hell, most of the teams can barely hold their own current place so why would we think that any other team could maintain following the loss of a player handling 24% of the team’s possessions and 24% of the team’s shots.
Without a doubt Arits was Oregon’s primary ball handler and shot taker. Shall I rattle off a few other names? If I do it, you have to promise to imagine that player not playing for his team for nine games and the ramifications of such. The following players lead their team in shot %:
Mark Lyons, 15/2/3, Arizona
Jahii Carson, 18/3/5, ASU
JT Terrell, 11/2/1 USC
Shabazz Muhammad, 18/5/1, UCLA
Roberto Nelson, 17/3/3, OSU
CJ Wilcox, 17/4/2, UW
Brock Motum, 18/6/1, WSU
Askia Booker, 13/4/2, CU
Jordan Loveridge, 12/7/2, Utah
That’s a damn All-Conference team. Which isn’t necessarily surprising but I can’t see many, if any, team maintaining whatever level they’ve played without the above players. But Oregon managed and a lot of that has to do with Loyd’s play.
Additionally, the peripheral benefit of this is the confidence gained by Johnathan Loyd and what he’ll bring to the Ducks off the bench as they head into the depths of March with…well…increased depth. Loyd should be commended for his starting services and, if I’m Dana Altman, I’m making it poignantly clear that he is an invaluable member of this team in whatever capacity he’s contributing. As a starter it was 6/1/4. Off the bench, following his previous nine games? Time will tell.
The race for the Conference Title is about as tight as it can get and just one of the three favorites – and lurking Golden Bears – is coming to full strength.