Tag Archives: Andrew Wiggins

Three Pac-12 Teams Are So Sweet

Pretty good time to be a Pac-12 blogger if you ask a Pac-12 blogger. Three teams are tasting the sweetness of March while another three ended their seasons. And even two of those defeats were in spectacular fashion. Actually, all three of the departed left in spectacular fashion – Colorado’s case was just a little…different than the others?

General Thoughts: If this doesn’t stir up some dust in whatever room you’re in then I’m not entirely sure we’ll get along.

mcdermott1This is real life Field of Dreams but on a basketball court without racist ghosts. This is life’s simplest and universal beauty – father, son, ball – on the biggest stage we can conjure. They both called it special and I’d venture to call it perfect. Thank you, McDermotts.

And while we’re on the topic of perfection, Wichita State-Kentucky. That ranks amongst the greatest games I’ve ever seen played. I hate that we think this somehow legitimizes or otherwise the Shockers. One game does not define a team or a season. It doesn’t define a conference or a schedule. But it can tell you a helluva lot about what’s underneath a jersey. That game was all guts. It was onions and stones and ice. If WSU was going out it was tooth and nail. If Kentucky was going out it was as the team we thought they’d be. And if you still need rationalization for the legitimacy of Wichita State, I challenge you to find a better game Kentucky has played all season. It took a roster of 4-7 first round draft picks playing their best game of the season to knock those kids off. Read this. That game was everything we could’ve wanted. Yeah, I wanted banked threes and Cleanthony steal-n-dunk and that Young three. Perfect. Also, how wrenching is 35-1? Can’t even imagine.

This:

#1 Arizona Wildcats

You guys want to talk about Arizona’s free throws? Yeah, me either. I’m off the pageantry wagon. This is the time of year when you survive and advance. Survival isn’t about looking cute, it’s about not dying. Aron Ralston cut his own god damn arm off to not die. He drank his own piss. So if Arizona beats a sixteen seed by 9 and misses a handful of free throws in doing, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. Because they could also turn Gonzaga over on nearly 30% of their possessions and thunder their way into the Sweet Sixteen. We know what teams can and can’t do at this point. Arizona can roll you and wants to:

“I don’t like the term `survive and advance,’ “ Gordon said. “I like the term `dominate and advance.’”

#4 UCLA Bruins

I could dive into the Bruins’ two wins – look into the terrific play of Jordan Adams and what an ex-factor Norman Powell is. I could note that UCLA is yielding less than 1 point per possession. The kind of defense the supplements perhaps the most high octane offense remaining in this tournament. Could get into some Steve Alford love as he heads to his second ever Sweet Sixteen (kudos). But ultimately UCLA’s games were uninteresting, only briefly competitive, and played against Tulsa and a school seemingly named after a Wrestler and TV character (though 32-3 is a very impressive season). I’m passing on all of that and ignoring that this is a review because I’m so excited for that UCLA-Florida game on Thursday. The Bruins are on a three game March losing streak to the Gators. The Bruins are a phenomenal offensive team. The Gators are a phenomenal defensive team. Will Yeguete guarding Kyle Anderson. The Wear family guarding Patric Young. Gimme this game.

#10 Stanford Cardinal

Johnny Dawkins going full Steve Lavin on us I see. But credit where it’s due: our guy, JD, outcoached Bill Self. He has the talent to do it but to exact a plan that gets Andrew Wiggins just six shots and four points is impressive. It was the second fewest shot attempts he’d take on the season. Sunday was not coming up Wiggins though I watched some of the weirdest basketball transpire in that game. There was a sequence where it seemed Stanford committed four straight turnovers and gave up three offensive rebounds in the process of trying to break KU’s press. Kansas came out of that sequence with no points and Stanford managed an Anthony Brown breakaway layup plus harm. Johnny Dawkins did well but Kansas was not meant to win that game. Also, I can’t tell if I love or hate the fact that Robbie Lemons – a walk-on with the 2010 class of Powell, Huestis, etc. – gets crunch time tick. I suppose it’s growing on me because it’s March and my emotions are heightened and so I’m really hooked on this idea of the underdog. Besides, there’s so much fun to be had with his last name. Because when life hands you lemons, you beat Kansas and go to the Sweet Sixteen.

#7 Oregon Ducks

Close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades, and meeting Jennifer Lawrence, but man was that one close. The Ducks looked the better team for much of that game and delivered blows, absorbed blows, and came up just short. Joseph Young was terrific and it was a treat to watch Jason Calliste and Mike Moser – the traveled and hungry seniors – refuse to let their careers end. It unfortunately came down to another senior exacting his own will to not retire, Ben Brust. We already talked about learning about what’s underneath the jersey – guts and heart – and these Ducks were all of that across the season’s final month-and-change. That was one helluva run.

#8 Colorado Buffaloes

I mean…tough. We knew it was a mis-match and that things really weren’t stacking up in Colorado’s favor. But that was rough. Pittsburgh did and got whatever they wanted, the Buffs seemingly took it, and went back to Boulder in lopsided fashion. I ultimately think it’s a great learning experience for the program. I thought CU was given something of a favorable seed for their accomplishments over the past few years. A perhaps earned honor but one that could bite them in the ass. And it did. But like I said, learning experience. The tournament is never given to you. No matter whether you’re playing a sixteen or a one, sixty-eight teams are here to compete. If you’re not ready, that can happen to you. There is plenty of good hoop ahead for this Colorado program, the Pitt game was not a set back, but a warning flare that this is some very real stuff.

#10 Arizona State Sun Devils

You all know how I pretty much don’t like this school. I’m from Tucson and grew up understanding that we hate the Sun Devils. But this? I can probably joke about it in a few months – maybe years – but can’t right now. This image is every reason why we love this tournament. No, not because it’s ASU losing, but because the thousand words this picture tells us is the thousands of hours that went into even getting into that moment. To have your career leading shot blocker have one more opportunity to dismiss a game winner; to furiously come back from down a dozen. All of these opportunities for shining moments. And sometimes it doesn’t shine.ASU-bench-reaction-to-loss-to-Texas-720x375

Askia Booker for Three

I’m not even going to tell say I told you so. I won’t remind you that I’ve sung the importance of his testicular fortitude for a year-and-a-half now because as Askia Booker euro-stepped past that Sherron Collins-lookin’ bulldog of a KU #0, there wasn’t another player on the floor prepared to make that play. Not NBA bound stars Spencer Dinwiddie or Andrew Wiggins. Not Josh Scott or Xavier Johnson or Tad Boyle. You don’t euro-step past a defender with two-seconds remaining in a tense and climactic ball game unless ONIONS.

While a lot of the Sabatino Chen three-pointer in Tucson narrative has resurfaced, I see few similarities beyond the timing. Chen wound up with the ball by utter mistake. He heaved a basketball he wasn’t supposed to be holding at a rim he wasn’t sure was there from behind a line he’d shot behind less than twenty times. Sabatino Chen was not supposed to take that shot.

Askia Booker was born to make that shot.

Or at least he believes he was and that’s all that matters. “It felt really good,” he’d say crammed next to ESPN anchors and coeds. Damn right it felt good and he’d go on to talk about the confidence instilled in him by his coaches and teammates. Because when you fire up shots the way Askia does, you’d better have the support of those guys. They love him because he’s not afraid to take those shots. Sans conscience, Askia Booker gives Colorado swagger. Dinwiddie and Scott provide credibility and Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon bring muscle. Jaron Hopkins, Tre’shaun Fletcher, and Dustin Thomas offer depth. Ben Mills has a scholarship.

But Booker provides that intangible characteristic of not giving a f***.

And who doesn’t need that every once in a while? Who doesn’t need that as your team is exhaustively holding off the sixth best team in the country who calls your arena the western version of their own? The Keg has been a Kansas house for years and it had every reason to remain Phog-West as Perry Ellis bullied his way into the lane for the tie. Xavier Johnson was so ill prepared for the immediacy and magnitude of those two points that he nearly inbounded the ball to the Jayhawks; giving them possession 30-feet from their rim. But Johnson didn’t quite give it up. Tad collected his team and ensured the ball would be in the hands of the one man he knew feared nothing of this moment.

Askia Booker was born to make that shot.

Or at least he believes he was and that’s all that matters. Tad Boyle knows this so he let his scrappy off-guard do his thing and he did it and then everyone else came to join him.

This isn’t a resolution. Booker still has his flaws and may shoot Colorado out of – or dangerously close to – a few games. But as I said a few weeks ago: Askia Booker is the hero Colorado needs and deserves.

Askia Booker knew he was going to make that shot. It’s all that matters.

Big Pac-12 Weekend So I Preview it and an Anniversary

I don’t love doing game-by-game previews as there are smarter and better basketball analysts out there. But this weekend is a big one for the Pac. Today also marks the 16th anniversary of my becoming a man. Mazel tov. photo(5)

But enough about me and more about the Conference of Champions. Big weekend.

ASU @ DePaul, Friday 4pm PST –  The Devils are hobbling into this one as they’ve lost two of three and then kicked the hell out of Arizona to host the Pac-12 Football Championship game in which they are a 3 point favorite over Stanford. What the f***. Look for DePaul’s Oliver Purnell to be wearing an oversize light colored suit

Cal @ UCSB, Friday 7pm PST – Both Cal and UCSB ranked lower than my alma mater – UCSD – in a recent list of smart as hell schools. Basically I shouldn’t waste my time here. But I once played 3/5 of the UCSD starting five in pickup and won. So I do care and I want to note that Cal is undefeated when Richard Solomon is in the lineup. He projects to be in tonight’s lineup. Interesting note brought to my attention by @jgisland, these are the lines of UCSB’s games against P-12 opponents in sequential order: -14 at Colorado, -11.5 at UCLA, pick ’em hosting Cal.

UCLA @ Missouri, Saturday 930am PST – UCLA’s first test! They’re heading across the country to play Frank Haith fresh off a five game suspension. Both teams are undefeated and only one is ranked. If you’re not yet on the Zach LaVine train, I suggest getting on board. And while there’s definitively not a Kyle Anderson express train, get on the boat. He’s good. Also, holy Walter White, Missouri.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ OSU, Saturday 12pm PST – Arkansas – Pine Bluff isn’t Arkansas – Little Rock which is the birthplace of one of our Presidents? Another fun fact is that the Golden Lions rank 333rd in KenPom which isn’t last! They also yield the 5th worst eFG% to their opponents while Oregon State has the 7th best eFG%. I don’t often gamble, but when I do, I pick OSU in this one. I think?

Kansas @ Colorado, Saturday 1215pm PST – Rock chalk Ralphie oooooeeeee we’ve been anticipating this one in the Keg. No one likes anyone in this one and Andrew Wiggins is a bust. Or has the flu. Or is overrated. Or is Canadian. Whatever the case, Spencer Dinwiddie had to bow out early from last year’s 54-90 contest in Lawrence. Is he a difference maker? Me thinks yes.

Fresno State @ Utah, Saturday 2pm PST – The other day I was talking with the Addicted to Quack guys and I said that Fresno State was a good challenge for Utah because it’s a school we’ve actually heard of. And I wasn’t kidding. The Utes of run out to a 6-1 record with a win over The Evergreen State Geoducks. Read about it. Throw in the Grand Canyon Antelopes coached by Thunder Dan Marjerle and you’ve got a regular RPI buster. Alas, Fresno’s KenPom rating isn’t in the 300s so it should pose some semblance of a challenge. And get to know Delon Wright 15/7/6.

UNLV @ Arizona, Saturday 215pm PST – Arizona is hosting this game as their Whiteout 4.0. Hate is a strong word and I don’t hate this idea but I’m not a huge fan of it. I’m of the “act like you’ve been there before” ilk and Arizona was last there on March 13, 2003 if you know what I’m talking about. Arizona wins this game and you’ll be hearing from me on Monday.

WSU @ Idaho, Saturday 7pm PST – Tabacco Road ain’t got shit on this Cougar-Vandals rivalry. These campuses are 6.7 miles apart. And unlike K vs. Roy you actually have to cross state lines to attend this game. There could be steep legal ramifications to that as I don’t know what the liquor laws are in these respective states. Or other weird laws like the fact that in Idaho: “You may not fish on a camel’s back.” How am I doing in hyping this one?

Washington @ SDSU, Sunday 12pm PST – Boise State head coach Chris Petersen holds up the trophy after his team defeated Texas Christian University (TCU) in the 39th annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale

Oregon @ Mississippi, Sunday 2pm PST – The only thing louder than Marshall Henderson in all of college sport is Oregon’s fashion. Additionally, on the theme of challenges, this will be Oregon’s first big challenge since South Korea and Georgetown. I love it when teams go on the road to face good teams so I’m proud of you, Ducks.

Boston College @ USC, Sunday 4pm PST– Steve Donahue played basketball at Ursinus College. Andy Enfield played basketball at Johns Hopkins University. They are both in the Centennial Conference. Now Donahue is a touch older than Enfield (another point I’m sure Enfield has talked shit about) so they never played one another, but I’m curious how vitriolic and deep the Ursinus Bear-Johns Hopkins Blue Jay rivalry runs.

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Just absolutely cannot

Yesterday I told you about the games I ain’t gonna miss. Things are lined up for me to attend and yell and shout. But you can’t always get what you want. And while I really want to get to these games below – they’re either in great places or feature great teams, the adventure of travel meet the drama of sport – it’s just not in the cards. I want to, but can’t swing it.

  1. Oregon vs. Georgetown, Friday 11/8, 5pm PST, ESPN, Camp Humphreys, South Korea – OPPAGANGNAM STYLE! Yes I want to go to South Korea and crush noraebang and barbecue. Take in a dynasty and some temples and perhaps rekindle a brief flame that moved out there with her ex-boyfriend to teach English. A boy can dream. I could also get a look at Dana Altman’s revamped squad of graduate students. In this, his fourth Duck season, we’re presented yet again with a brand newish squad – the perfect excuse to get over to Asia. I’d naturally leverage this into a trip to Tokyo and maybe Southeast Asia, too. Worth noting is that this game will be held on a military base which we cannot assume is for marketing or morale purposes so much as a security measure considering Georgetown’s history in Asia.
  2. Arizona vs. Duke, TBD, ESPN #, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I just can’t swing this thing over Thanksgiving. Too many traditions would be broken along with Grandma’s heart. Can’t do it. My conciliation prize? High school 10-year! Alas, this game isn’t guaranteed to happen. Standing in Arizona’s way is likely a triumvirate of Farleigh Dickinson (this game is definitively scheduled), Rhode Island (I see you ghost of Jim Harrick), and then probably Rutgers in MSG. The Dookies are looking at – as the two-seed mind you – UNC-Asheville, East Carolina, and Anthony Grant’s Rolling Tide. The bracket. Everything goes to form and it’s Arizona-Duke. Goodness I want to be there. The Blue Devils want a shot at revenge and I want to watch Jabari Parker vs. Aaron Gordon amongst so many other match ups (Nick Johnson vs. Rasheed Sulaimon; TJ McConnell vs. Quinn Cook; K vs. Miller). But what’s more is this would play out like Cameron-North. A flame to the flickering light of bandwagondom in a city bereft of college basketball success, NYC hasn’t seen college success since the Red Storm featured World Peace. Duke has been adopted inside that arena and I want it Red. No, I can’t travel there, but I sure as hell wanna.

    photo(4)

    The pride of Krzyzewskiville

  3. Kansas @ Colorado, Saturday 12/7, 1:15pm MT, ESPN2, The Keg, Boulder – It wouldn’t really be fair to call Colorado’s role in this matchup “kid brother” as the Buffs didn’t even sniff that familial level as a member of the Big-12. Boulder was a Jayhawk respite, a welcomed escape from roadies to Norman, Stillwater, Lubbock, Aimes, Waco, and Manhattan. A fact confirmed to me by a former UT hoop star (because Austin is awesome by all accounts). But what I’m getting at is B12 Colorado sucked. P12 Colorado is pretty darned tough but when they went to Lawrence last season they asserted nothing of the sort. The Jayhawks maintained the modus operandi and rolled Ralphie by 36. Well now I want in on this action. It’s a new generation of pissed off Ralphie inside The Keg that used to fill up with Hawks. I’d imagine this thing to be rock chalk full of Buffaloes and I want to see Andrew Wiggins with my own face. Don’t you? Besides, last I went to Boulder for a game with some vitriol behind it, Tad’s team came to play. I imagine they’ll do the same for Bill’s boys.
  4. USC @ Battle for Atlantis, 11/28-30, ATLANTIS RESORT, Paradise Island, Bahamas – USC projects to be a not so great team but it’s the Bahamas in November. With the means and time I’d go. There’s the Dolphin Cay where I’d swim with sea creatures and a water park to destroy slides. It’s all inclusive so…well so everything would be included. There’s a teaser on the resort’s WHAT TO DO PAGE that says, “When the waters of Atlantis grow dark, the fun is just beginning.” There’s going to be two Andy’s – Wiggins and Enfield – and one of their wives. I challenge you to give me a reason not to go. Oh, it’s over thanksgiving and my grandparents don’t travel well and I’m due in Coolidge, Arizona for the umpteenth consecutive Turkey Day where we pretend that the ham is “pink turkey” so as not to upset my overbearing Jewish mother? I guess I’ve gotta handle that.
  5. UCLA vs. Duke, Thursday, 12/19, 4:30pm PT, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I’m going to see Duke inside of MSG before I die. And before K retires. Have to. I would’ve liked to see Duke-St.John’s there when that match up provided some heat but one can’t really complain about taking in Duke vs. the most successful program in the history of the sport. Granted, UCLA is amidst a transition period that is hard to contextualize or grasp or understand on really any level, but it’s still UCLA and there’s still rhyme and reason to see them. Particularly against the most successful program of the past handful of decades. As previously mentioned, MSG is a second home of sorts for Duke and I just find that fascinating and exciting for a west coast opponent to take on. You wanna talk tournament tune up? Additionally there’s the appeal of being in NYC around Christmas time (said the Jewish guy). I get it. There’s a romanticism to the snow and the giant tree at the Rockefeller Center. Who didn’t become enthralled by that in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York? There’s no guarantee that the Alford version of Bruins – particularly this crew – will be good or even exciting. But they’re going to be interesting because it’s UCLA and a new regime. And it’s Duke, too.

Others receiving votes: 

  • Arizona @ ASU, 2/14 – Valentine’s in Tempe just sounds awesome
  • Oklahoma St vs Colorado, 12/21 – Dinwiddie vs. Smart? Yes, please. In Vegas [devil grin emoji]
  • UConn @ UW, 12/22 or Indiana vs UW (in NYC), 11/21 – Dying to get up to HecEd and those Eastern Huskies project to be solid while I think this is a FASCINATING year in the developing history of Tom Crean.