Tag Archives: Chasson Randle

powell-dwight-randle-stanford

A Sweet Preview and Some PacHoops Art

I’ve been to Honda Center a handful of times. Most notably when it was called The Pond and we were all Might Ducks fans. Classic. For now, however, I want to discuss what I expect the gym to look like on Thursday when I’m there. It will be full of Badgers, Aztecs, Wildcats, and then the Baylor Bears. Here is my rendition of what the inside of Honda Center will resemble:

HondaCenter

Inside the Honda Center

Tell me I’m wrong?

 

Arizona v Colorado#1 Arizona vs. #4 San Diego State

Storyline: I love what Arizona has a chance to do here (shocker, right?). Should they advance to do what KenPom says they have the second best odds to do, Arizona would have beaten both SDSU and Gonzaga in doing such. Fitting. Last year the Zags were the first Western-based one-seed since UCLA in 2008. They were bounced like Shockers (round of 32). As for the Aztecs - between 2009 and a December 2012 loss to Arizona – SDSU won seven straight games against Pac-12 schools. They haven’t lost to a California based school in something like two Steve Fisher lifetimes (42+ games to be more exact). The Pac-12 was simultaneously doing things like not sending their conference champion to the NCAA tournament and so SDSU and Gonzaga were staking legit claim to the crown of West Coast hoops. But then Arizona beat SDSU in Hawaii (as far West as it gets) and again this past November. Arizona is reestablishing itself as the coast’s elite, San Diego State is trying to win the MWC’s first Sweet 16 game since 1991 (of current MWC members). I like the Wildcats’ pursuit of big things.

Style to keep an eye on: Look, let’s make no bones about it: San Diego State struggles to score. As in their offense ranks just a spot ahead of Northern Colorado and below Northwestern State. #GillingIt. They shoot the 304th ‘best’ FG% on their 2pt jump shots. This does not bode well for them. Arizona’s #1 rated defense is going to force them to take a lot of these shots. Their defense – as we’ve discussed – is predicated on forcing this shot and they do it better than anyone else in the country. So if you want me to run the math for us, I will: Arizona is going to force SDSU to take a ton of shots they don’t make. That’s a rock and a hard place framing that Aztec. And they really do themselves any favors. SDSU is already offensively inefficient and they assist on the third lowest percentage of FGs in the country. For a bro school, they’re really not being bros. Share the rock.

Match up to keep an eye on: Sean Miller doesn’t think there’s a “better guard in the country.” Never mind that his own off-guard is an All-American, Miller effused about Xavier Thames. And rightfully so. He’s putting up 27 per tournament game and draws fouls at a nearly 60% rate. Trouble with a capital DEPTH ISSUES FOR ARIZONA. But this is our match up section. That All-American we mentioned? He happens to be really good at guarding big guards no matter their skill set. Ask Jordan Adams, Roberto Nelson, Chasson Randle, Justin Cobbs, or Xavier Thames. Last time around, Thames got his points (note that aforementioned foul line) but he had to work for it; shooting 5-16 and just 3-12 from inside the arc. As noted, Thames is hot and the Aztecs have needed about every one of his buckets. The game hinges on his play.

Norman Powell, Xavier Talton#4 UCLA vs. #1 Florida

Storyline: The Gators have eliminated UCLA in three of their last six NCAA tournaments. That’s interesting by itself but now let’s note that one of those eliminations came in the national title game and another came in the national semifinal (Final Four if you need an assist). Florida won back-to-back titles and UCLA watched Ben Howland lose his team, program, and eventually his job. We could play the Sliding Doors game and note the ‘what ifs’ but that’s just mean (Like I don’t dwindle on Tim Floyd or Kevin O’Neill thoughts as an Arizona fan). This one means something to the UCLA community no matter who struts that sideline.

Style to keep an eye on: All of it. UCLA wants to get shots up, owners of the 15th shortest possessions in the country. Conversely (a key word as we walk through this match up) Florida forces teams to take the 2nd longest possessions in the country. The Bruins do one helluva job stealing the ball and turning that into transition offense. I writed all abouts it. They’ve got the 4th highest steal rate in the country feeding the 39th highest percentage of transition offense. The converse? Florida’s offense has a very mediocre steal rate (ranks 188th) but have the 13th best transition defense. Are you with me here? These two have very opposing styles which makes for one terrific match up. It projects to be a lot like the Pac-12 championship game which was phenomenal. Hooray the March sport!

Match up to keep an eye on: I’m going to list a few because I’m interested in this. First, Kyle Anderson and Will Yeguete. Few people can stop let alone slow, Slo-Mo. He’s too big for traditional guards, too crafty for bigs, and too good for the rest of the floor. Will Yeguete, however, may have the guile (read: size and athleticism) to contain the point-forward-center-wing. Yeguete is Florida’s 6’8″ garbage man. A crazy thought if you consider just how much dirty work a guy has to do in order to be considered the guy that does the dirty work on a Billy Donovan team. He just might be dirty enough to stop Anderson. Conversely (I’m using it again), there’s nothing dirty about Michael Frazier’s jumper. It’s a thing of beauty. He connects on 44% of his threes and Shot Analytics went ahead and reminded us just how good he is (spoiler: quite good). And UCLA’s defense poses the match up here. They allow the fourth highest percentage of shots to come from distance. Me thinks Michael is going to get some looks. Also, I’ve got to mention the transition D (Florida) vs. transition O (UCLA), again. SUCH A GREAT MATCH UP THAT I’M NOT GOING TO GET TO WATCH WITH THE SAME TIP TIME AS AZ-SDSU. Uggggh.

Stanford v Connecticut#10 Stanford vs. #11 Dayton

Storyline: Three weeks ago Stanford was dead to rights. They had just lost at home to Colorado on a weekend that probably couldn’t see them lose at home to Colorado. And then, on the season’s final Saturday, I was looking up at the television to see Utah with the ball down a point, with a shade less than a shot clock of time remaining, and presumably a play drawn up to sink Stanford’s dancin’ chances. Evidently the Utes didn’t have a play as they dribbled everywhere and eventually off themselves and Stanford won. And they’ve subsequently beaten Kansas, too. Yup, the Kansas Jayhawks lost to Johnny Dawkins’ Stanford Cardinal. The Card have now claimed two of their four biggest wins since joining the biggest stage. So what’s beating KenPom’s #44 team, Dayton (rated below ASU and Utah)? Let’s just say the Stanford Cardinal – dead to rights, playing for their coach’s job – have a very legitimate shot to be playing for a Final Four against a team (UCLA) they’ve already beaten. Think about that. And why the hell not? Stanford beat Kansas - Kansas – without making a single three pointer! The Jayhawks hadn’t limited an opponent to zero 3-pointers since 11/26/2010 when Ohio went 0-18 and Kansas won 98-41. Reread that score. A week later the Jayhawks did the same thing to North Texas as they went 0-12 and Kansas won 93-60. Stanford went 0-9 from deep and beat Kansas.

Style to keep an eye on: Don’t expect Stanford to win going oh-fer from distance this time. Not necessarily because of Dayton – they actually defend the three quite well – but because of the law of averages. Alas, this game won’t soon hinge on the three pointer. This is a game Stanford should win. They’re the bigger, stronger, faster kids who just beat – arguably – the biggest, strongest, fastest team. They’re playing as good of defense as they have all season (0.85 ppp in the tournament) and it really doesn’t matter what they’re doing offensively if they can do that. Similarly, Dayton has been playing sound defense, allowing teams under 0.9 ppp in the tournament. Granted, they’ve upset Syracuse and Ohio State who are (were?) more defensively than offensively oriented, but that shouldn’t take away from their defensive efforts. Meanwhile, the Flyers haven’t particularly scored it well. They are well below their average offensive efficiency in the dance. This could come down to a battle of who can out ugly the other, garnering a few easy baskets off turnovers or offensive rebounds (looking at you Josh and Dwight, though the O-boards aren’t Stanford’s game). I’ve been saying it for awhile, that I’m no longer concerned with pageantry, but if you need to see something that looks good, avert your eyes from this game.

Match up to keep an eye on: The best match up here is Stanford staring down the barrel of Father Time. I’ve spoken about it all over the place – how this is Johnny Dawkins’ group of seniors that stayed. I could note Devin Oliver, Dayton’s stretch-ish four. A 6’7″ 39% 3FG% who is still taking 36% of shots at the rim and leading the team in rebounding…and assists. A similar player to Dwight Powell in that versatility. But at this point, it’s all about Stanford. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing. They are on their last legs. A team on some semblance of a mission to play one more game together. And then another. And another. Until there just aren’t any more games to play.

Hooray the March sport, indeed.

tony parker

A Review & A Preview: Expect the Unexpected

The combined score differential yesterday was 75 and no one saw that coming. Noting such would suggest that it wasn’t a great day. Ben told me he felt gypped. Free throws aside, Utah didn’t score for 692 seconds. Oregon missed all of the threes and the Pac-12′s defensive player of the year? Good job and good effort. Stanford posted the highest offensive efficiency against the Sun Devils of anyone this season. You can also read that as ASU’s worst defensive effort.

Point being, yesterday was March. We asked for the unexpected and we got it. Utah had lost 10 games prior to Thursday by a combined 41 points. Then lost by 32. Oregon and UCLA had previous battled to the tune of even double overtime and last second Wear. Wasn’t Thursday’s case. Oregon had been shooting 47% from three in their previous nine games. Shot 30% last night. ASU’s defense.

And with that context, our worst game was Cal-Colorado (not our worst game). These two played almost the identical game as they did on Saturday, so much so that Colorado scored the exact same number of points in regulation (59). Cal couldn’t quite get there so, naturally, they lost. Justin Cobbs had two chances at Cobbsicles but missed. I hate watching seniors lose.

So we asked for the unexpected and we got it. We asked for the dramatic and the final shots and we got it. Pretty nice little Thursday.

PREVIEWS!

There are two games before it comes to fruition and I’m a big fan of this:

But there are two games. Arizona will attempt to achieve the double trifecta – defeating a team three times in one season – which I cannot confirm as a first or not. However you slice it, the assumption is that it’s difficult but then Arizona beat Utah by 32. I suppose there’s a precedence both ways. However you slice it, Colorado has won three of four (all wins coming by a score of 59-56, odd) and is playing about as Colorado as it gets: effective and opportunistic offensively (transition, Josh Scott, and hot shooting), solid defensively (0.91 ppp allowed in Vegas). But solid and effective aren’t enough to beat what appears to be the most focused Arizona has been all season. Utah looked the Wildcats in the eyes and Medusa turned them to stone. Colorado tried that once, too. Didn’t work out too well (-27 at home).

The evening slate pits Stanford and UCLA. They split the season series, holding home court in both instances. We could rattle off more speak of Stanford’s seniors or UCLA’s transition game, but these are topics we’ve exhausted. What we need to note here is that the games they split, were both rather lopsided. In Westwood, the Bruins won by 17. In Palo Alto, the Cardinal won by 9. Now margin of victory doesn’t always tell us much but – as we noted at the top of this page – it may be fair to expect something lopsided. If these two have played two games that they each ran away with, who’s to say we won’t see a tight one tonight? I’m not opposed. KenPom predicts it at as a 76-75 game, Bruins edge. Tony Parker went off in blowing out the Cardinal. Can he do that again? Stanford shot 62% to beat the Bruins. Can they do that again?

I predict more of exactly what we want: college basketball in March.

TJ McConnell Team

Week 8 Pac-12 Hoops Review

If I was the selection committee of college basketball road trips I’d give the Pac-12 the number one overall seed and then anoint them the champion and let everyone else battle it out. How many other conferences offer Gameday worthy basketball and Olympic worthy skiing in the same weekend? The Pac-12 is a destination. Good weekend.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Just as UCLA was creeping into things and Colorado had rattled off four in a row and ASU knocked Arizona seemingly down a peg, the Wildcats went ahead and flexed everything, destroyed Colorado by 27 on the road and shot 60% in doing such (the highest FG% allowed by CU since 12/22/2010). Their defense was its standard great self, limiting the Buffs to 32% shooting. Colorado didn’t garner a FG for the game’s first 10:07. Meanwhile, UCLA lost at Stanford and ASU won nothing and Colorado was on the wrong end of red Saturday night. But this section is less about others and all about the Wildcats. There are but two weekends remaining and they’ve built themselves a two game lead and could clinch this week. The team’s first goal of the season has been to win a Pac-12 regular season title and sweeping the Ski Schools was a huge step in moving towards that goal. And that’s just the numbers of it. Because those other teams were sneaking into the conversation and because it looked as if the Wildcats were reeling. After beating Utah in overtime on Wednesday, Sean Miller felt that just getting the win would be good for his team’s psyche. Then Saturday night happened and it was as if the Wildcats were reminding everyone exactly who they were: the best team in the country.

Biggest Loser: I’ll struggle to note that ASU was the biggest loser because winning on the road is a very difficult task. Last week we noted Stanford was our BL but it wasn’t really a fitting title for them. This section, however, is beginning to take the form of a power ranking where I’m not soon to rain on a cellar dweller but rather note the team that did the least to A) Impress us, B) Improve their NCAA tournament chances. If we’re taking that approach to dolling out this recognition, ASU would seem to fit the bill. Their three headed monster (Bachynski, Marshall, and Carson) combined to shoot 27% for the weekend (17-62). That’s not a recipe for dancing. Moving forward, expect to hear a lot of talk about that Arizona win when you hear about the Devils’ resume.

What we Learned: We certainly confirmed once again that winning on the road is difficult but we’d learned that a long time ago. So for the second week in a row I’m struggling to realize what it is we might’ve learned we’re 8 weeks into the conference season and nearly four months into the whole damn thing. It’s hard to recognize any new truths. But then, this morning, I saw this tweet and I realized we did have something to learn:

Utah has sustained heartbreaker after heartbreaker. The luck thing (again) but I keep expecting to see this team finally fold. They give Arizona everything they can and more – are a missed free throw away from knocking them off – yet come up short. In some regards it would be excusable for them to collapse. At any moment. They don’t and they haven’t and Larry K has a lot to do with that. After barely eclipsing 50 regulation points on Wednesday the Utes quickly dispelled any semblance of a let down and double up ASU, 51-26, in the first half. That’s an impressive level of maturity, discipline, and focus befit a team possibly capable of a Pac-12 tournament run:

But I’ve also got to make note of this so that it’s on the record: Oregon. That might be all I have to say about that but the Ducks are looming in the 35-45 RPI range (sweet bubble) and still have games against UCLA, AZ, and ASU remaining. They are the winners of three straight and Mike Moser scored 41 points this weekend. So what I’m saying is that I’m just saying: Oregon. Also, Stanford. Third in the conference, winners of three straight, and playing like the group of seniors that realizes they’re seniors. That said, should the Cardinal finish third in the conference with a sound 12-6 record, is Chasson Randle (18/4/2) a POY candidate?

In Defense of: I need an excuse to mention TJ McConnell’s weekend. Because so often, as the calendar turns to this time of year and the games turn to CBS, the importance of guard play gets magnified. They have the ball most regularly and there’s a reason TO% is a part of the Four Factors. Now allow me to show you what TJ did this weekend in a pair of critical road games with his team seemingly in a tailspin and the conference’s top spot on the line:

20 points, 16 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 wins

His running mate, Nick Johnson, also added 35 points on the weekend but McConnell’s play – I mean ZERO turnovers – was the stuff of special. It’s long been said what a critical piece he is to the Arizona puzzle and this weekend may have been the greatest example of just that.

Also, quick defense of UCLA. They stomped all over Cal on Wednesday and it was equally as impressive as Arizona’s win at Colorado. Haas was loud and ready for that game and the Bruins did as they pleased from wire-to-wire. They lost on Saturday but such is travel. UCLA is still a very good, very scary team.

The YouTuber: Oldie but a goodie and if you haven’t ever seen it, you’re welcome:

Anderson Slow Mo

Where They Affect the Game: Kyle Anderson

At this point in the season if you haven’t picked up on my new found fascination with shot location data then I should welcome you to the blog. Welcome! But as different shots hold different values, and different players different skill sets, I wanted to learn how and where different players are affecting a basketball game. This is the story of how I got to asking the question.

The transit between my first two BART stops on the way home from work gets no cellular reception. If I’m able to get a Twitter refresh before frantically boarding, it means I scour over the last few hours of tweets. That night I came across this:

In a further panic than the aforementioned refresh, I managed to email myself that tweet as it had piqued my interest. I then went home, ordered $45 of Indian food and watched Elysium with my brother. He passed out while I grabbed my laptop. I was setting out to answer Nieves’ question. Where does a specific player (Kyle Anderson in this case) most effectively and frequently affect a basketball game?

We first needed to know how often Kyle even had a chance to affect the game. One component of this would be to look at a player’s %poss or usage rate. This tells us how often a player is shooting, passing, turning over. It’s a great number but without context it just shows us where the ballhogs are (for better or worse). KenPom often marries usage with ORtg to see if players are being efficient with the possessions they get. It’s a far better marriage than anything Kardashian but not good enough for Neal’s answer.

I needed to know how much of Kyle’s usage was coming at the rim or otherwise. From the hoop-math, I can tell you Kyle’s FG%, percent of shots and assists at the rim, on 2-point jumpers, and from three. I could have told Neal some of these numbers and perhaps satisfied his question. But I wanted to answer it. I knew we’d have to marry up KenPom and hoop-math.

From Pomeroy we could capture Kyle’s possession data and from hoop-math his location data. Our first calculation was to understand how often he had the ball, uncovering how many possessions Kyle was involved in per game. It’s a complex stat but after consult of greater minds than my own, we agreed that the following would suffice in ball parking Kyle (or any player’s) individual possessions per game:

Individual Possessions/game = (team possessions per game)*(%min)*(%poss)

This is taking into account the total number of possessions a player’s team is getting per game, the percentage of minutes he’s on the floor for those possessions, and the percentage of possessions he’s involved in. With this number we understand approximately how many shots, assists, and turnovers Kyle is a part of. More visually:

Player Team PP % Min % Poss Poss/Game
Kyle Anderson 71.20 0.82 0.26 15.37
Slow-Mo gets the third most possessions per game amongst ‘participants’ in my initial study involving the Pac-12 elite (only Roberto Nelson and Jahii Carson were getting more touches per contest). With the knowledge of how often Anderson was doing something, it was time to discover where he was doing it.
Here is where I have to tell you that our final answer is going to be inexact. That’s ok, right? A study like this is a fun examination into that great middle ground between perception and reality. Without Synergy Sports I’m not soon going to look at all of Kyle’s possessions to discover how often he is indeed getting into the paint and scoring or dishing. But the perception is that he’s doing it often; it’s why Nieves asked the question and I imagine you’ve noticed it too because I know your team’s struggled to stop it. What we’re figuring out here is approximately how often Kyle Anderson is helping his team be successful from inside the arc. Kapeesh?

And so how often are those 15-ish possessions resulting in something around the rim?

Player % poss resulting in rim score % poss resulting in play at rim Success % at Rim
Kyle Anderson 33.57% 41.64% 80.63%

So more than 40% of the time Kyle Anderson is involved in a play, it results in something happening at the rim. And on 34.51% of Anderson’s possessions, someone in powder blue (Anderson or otherwise) is scoring at the rim. Stand alone numbers are rarely significant but let me tell you something: that’s significant. I’ve exhausted rim data on the blog but if the average FG% at the rim is 61% then it would seem to behoove your team to shoot there. Kyle Anderson ensure that it happens more than 40% of the time!It was the fourth highest percentage of possessions in the study but the third most scores at the rim per game (5.16) against the fifth most plays there (6.4).

And he’s not just flailing in there, diving recklessly into the paint with no where to go. Looking at the difference between his scores and plays at the rim (those last two numbers from the paragraph above), we find that 80.63% of his rim possessions are resulting in two for the blue. That’s the fourth best percentage amongst the guys I studied. By comparison, Jahii Carson has 40.06% of his possessions at the rim (shot taken or assist made) but only 62.05% of those result in a rim score (more on Carson later this week).

Here is the full table ranked by success at the rim:

Player % poss resulting in rim score % poss resulting in play at rim Success % at Rim
TJ McConnell 44.25 49.84 88.79
Nick Johnson 28.04 32.18 87.13
Delon Wright 50.65 61.23 82.71
Kyle Anderson 33.57 41.64 80.63
CJ Wilcox 21.80 27.25 80.00
Pe’Shon Howard 38.34 48.54 78.99
Nigel Williams-Goss 26.17 35.09 74.59
Askia Booker 29.00 38.95 74.45
Justin Cobbs 29.93 40.62 73.68
Brett Comer (2013) 51.18 72.47 70.63
Roberto Nelson 26.96 40.43 66.67
Chasson Randle 20.96 33.14 63.25
Jahii Carson 24.86 40.06 62.05

This is a ranking of effectiveness when making plays at rim (third column). The players chosen was essentially arbitrary and ad-hoc based on who I thought was driving and dishing. Email or tweet me if you want me to get your guy. There are infinite depths by which to dive further into this and I intend to do that on a team-by-team basis over the coming weeks. But above is a Pac-12 snap shot.

Oh, and you’ll notice Brett Comer. Brett was Andy Enfield’s Florida Gulf Coast point guard and I figured the leader of Dunk City would be an interesting study. Turns out I was right as he CRUSHES the Pac-12 guys in percentage of plays at the rim (72.47%). Anyhow, more on that later.

Back to your question, Neal. Kyle Anderson is creating a play at the rim 6.4 times per game and turning 5.16 of those into a score or assist. Only Delon Wright creates more scores at the rim and he’s a freak (7.08). But as the question asked about Kyle’s time in the paint, we could also include the two-point data. I was hesitant to do such considering that’s a much bigger and less effective shooting range. Plus, the Wear twins love shooting twos with their foot on the arc and ain’t nobody but evidently Kyle Anderson got time for that.

As it were, amongst those studied, he creates the second highest percentage of scores from 2-point range (3.92/game, 25.5% of his possessions). He’s the fourth most successful at converting these plays to points (54.75%). Once again, Anderson is setting his teammates up to be successful, but like I said, the two-point data doesn’t fully scratch the itch. The rimformation answers Nieves’ trigger question.

But to examine Anderson as a complete game affecting package, we had to see what he did in creating threes, too.

Anderson blows the rest of these players out of the water when it comes to effectively creating three pointers. Of his possessions that result in a trey,  78.95% of them are successful. Next best in conference is Jahii Carson’s 69.93% (which is why I believe he has such a low rim success rate but, again, more on him later). And this isn’t even a diluted stat. Anderson creates the second most three point scores per game (3).

So between the rim and three data, I’m drawn to three conclusions: 1) Kyle has a great ability to draw multiple defenders to himself, 2) he’s very adept at finding the man left or the hole created, and 3) his own shooting. Slow-Mo in an efficient 22-42 from distance this year and so he’s either shooting a good three or passing to one.

To summarize (again): 80% of Kyle Anderson possessions that result in a rim shot or three point shot go in the hoop. Kyle’s helping you help him.
Steve Alford Kyle AndersonWe’ve long known Anderson was a terrific basketball player and we’ve long called him a unique talent. As we said early on, this was a look at the balance between perception and reality. We assumed this about Kyle, we’ve proven this about Kyle. Only he and TJ McConnell rank in the top four of all three locations by way of success percentage and he’s the only one who is 6’9″ within that two-man subset. Unique to be certain.

I’m going to use this information to hopefully learn a little more – and share -about each of your teams. As I mentioned, I found the Dunk City stuff to be fascinating as well as the Jahii Carson stuff (Jahishalls are real). Stay tuned and thanks for reading through this 1567 word marathon.

Andre and Nick

#1 Arizona Wins at Maples: How and Why

Dwight Powell’s six-foot-ten-inch frame had just taken the ball baseline for a reverse layup in a fashion few other six-foot-ten-inch men can do. The score was tied with less than one minute remaining. Crunch time, as it were, and Maples Pavilion had the acoustics of Y2K. Tiger Woods wasn’t there but Andre Iguodala was. Johnny Dawkins was more this, than this.

And if you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a quick breakdown of what Arizona does really well, their brand:

  • Defensive eFG% – #1 in the nation
  • Defensive efficiency – #2 in the nation
  • Offensive rebound % – #11 in the nation
  • Nick Johnson

These are the things that Arizona does so well and what they’ve ridden to an unblemished mark. Knock them off of these pillars and you have a good chance to win. Here is what Stanford did up until the game’s 9:58 point (more on that later, or rather, everything on that later):

  • 46% shooting – would’ve been third highest against AZ this season – to the 9:58 mark
  • 38% free throw rate and more stats that suggest Arizona’s defensive efficiency was threatened but it’s a wildly complex stat so I can’t really provide you context. Know that no other team has out-rebounded Arizona this season and Stanford did.
  • 2 offensive boards. That’s how many Stanford allowed Arizona to get up until the 9:58 mark. Arizona averages 13/game. The Cardinal’s work was roughly the equivalent of just one Belieber passing out at a Bieber show.
  • 9 points for Nick Johnson. He averages 17.

As I’ve often said before, Arizona does a phenomenal job of disregarding an opponent and playing their own brand of basketball. A brand defined by the former set of bullet points and a brand not being upheld as evidence of the latter set. Kudos Stanford on their first 30 minutes and 2 seconds of work.

So with Stanford’s effort as our backdrop, let’s look at that final 9:58, the final minutes, and how Arizona played Arizona basketball.

Powell’s bucket was Stanford’s first FG since the 9:58 mark. They were 1-9 during that 8:37 dry spell. They closed the game 1-10. We could include Powell’s two missed free throws in that window, too; but I learned in second grade that if the numerator is zero the answer is zero no matter the denominator. It’s not worth our while to include Powell’s free throws. They made just the herculean, NBA-esque Powell layup and two free throws Arizona intentionally made Chasson Randle shoot.

Defensive eFG%? Check.

Across roughly fifteen possessions, the Cardinal managed just the Powell layup on their sixteenth. Arizona forced two turnovers and had two blocks. They committed just the one foul and allowed just one offensive rebound.

Defensive efficiency? Check.

The play initially wound up in the hands of Brandon Ashley who had previously broke the back of the Wolverines. But he missed; and for all the aforementioned defensive success of the Wildcats, they were not matching it on offense. They were 3-13 in the same 8:37 window of Cardinal ineptitude plus one turnover. From 9:58 to end, Arizona grabbed four offensive boards. And so up went Ashley’s shot with seemingly a 77% chance of missing. It did and the live ball was grabbed by Kaleb Tarczewski.

Offensive rebounding? Check.

Yup, tied and ear splitting, we had a ball game. The giant, Polish, New Hampshite (?) had procured an offensive rebound which Arizona does at an elite level because they miss shots pretty regularly. Darwinism. Out the ball went and Nick Johnson squared up to his fourth three-point shot of the night – a fresh :35 be damned. This shot, like two of the three prior, went in. 58-55, Arizona. Johnson would grab the ensuing rebound on Chasson Randle’s eleventh miss of the night (Johnson, while we’re on it, guarded Randle the whole game and forced him into 3-15 shooting, 20%. Randle’s average game is 6.0-12.5, 48%). He’d sink two more free throws (we’re ignoring the one-and-one front he missed because I have a narrative to fill), head to the lockers with 16 points (game high), 5 boards, 4 assists (game high), zero turnovers, Arizona’s final 7 points, and get love from gold medalist, Iguodala. Arizona wins.

Nick Johnson? Check.

wane

WANE: We didn’t watch all the games. Or even any.

WANE regroups despite a lot of distractions during a three-day weekend. My parents were in town and Spencer just had to jump on the Forty Niner bandwagon and absorb all the energy an NFC Championship Game brings to a metropolitan. It was also absolutely gorgeous in the Bay Area so a bunch of mid-day hoops was going to be tough. I did catch the end of Oregon State-Oregon which was…well, we talk about. Listen:

 

The triumphant return of the table of contents:

0:00 – Completely unprepared

0:19 – The Confession begins – Segways and hangovers

1:43 - Actual first reference of Pac-12 basketball…then a return to Segways

3:19 - Adam makes a remarkable pun using ‘segway’ and Spence talks about the abuse of his own body

4:07 – A return to basketball!

4:37 - We begin discussing the 1-4 Oregon Ducks and there’s a Nate-Rob reference. But one and four…

5:58 - First reference of Arizona. As in the Arizona Wildcats. Maybe you’ve heard of them? We thought it was their most complete game of the year. And more on that game

6:59 – Spencer references seven Wildcats in double figure for the second time in one minute

8:01 - JAHISAHLL

8:35 – Onto the Arizona-Colorado rivalry and a brief look in to gambling. But not really. We talk a lot about Askia Booker again and I don’t think we even reference Josh Scott which is probably a disservice to Arizona fans because many eyes should be on him for Thursday’s contest. But Booker’s weekend…

12:31 – A transition into the Colorado-ASU game and how those two teams really match up in an interesting way.

13:13 – PAGING ROGER GOODELL: CONCUSSION REFERENCE

14:20 – Abruptly Spencer brings Utah into the conversation and we VERY passively move into prediction mode. Who should be more successful in their trip to the desert?

17:48 - And so begins a conversation about travel theory. Who would you rather play and when? And segues into What is the toughest road trip in the conference?

19:16 – Spencer makes like a dictionary. Seriously he makes a Webster-like reference about Stanford. How fitting.

20:49 - An all too long discussion about the liquor laws and where to acquire that vice when visiting the state of Utah.

22:07 – Traveling to play Washington isn’t all too bad. But Washington State you might have to go to Moscow. Idaho of course. And another liquor law issue arises.

24:19 – Obligatory reference of the road trips we haven’t discussed.

24:39 – While talking about how tough traveling through the Apple State might be we then still declare it the easiest road trip.

25:50 – Just listen to this series of communications out of Spencer’s mouth

26:30 – Another gambling reference-ish, with regards to Arizona and Cal as the leaders of the Pac

26:53 – Computer! My computer makes an appearance!

28:33 – Adam makes a pun involving Cal

30:46 – Tangent: NCAA Ski and Water Polo championships. University of the Pacific makes it’s WANE debut.

31:43 – One last thing that Spencer wants to discuss: The Stanford Cardinal.

32:56 – Prolonged goodbye with Dr. King references, a thank you to presumed listeners, Spencer gets a fact egregiously wrong, roommate Time is mentioned but not heard, I call myself an Adult (ha!), and a salute to Chasson Randle. Also a hopefully NOT empty promise.

JohnnyDawkins

Gross Conclusions and 1.26 Points Per Cougar Possession

And how much fun is this? We’re but a few days deep and now hours into a tip off marathon where I was watching hoops deep into the night and now once again peripherally at Tucson International. We have just begun and I’m making irrational snap judgments like Carrie Mathison (i.e. Gabe York:Russ Smith::Russ Smith:Gabe York; POY trophy as the Ty Wallace Cup; Joseph Young receiving an additional year’s eligibility; lodging in Arlington; instituting a coach swap where Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson just switch teams – like Dawk moves to Corvallis for the year and Rob to Palo Alto just to see why the hell not; replacing WSU with Coppin State). In reality, we know very little about the teams we’ve seen play but our expectations are being teased, not tempered.

To the point at which I’d like to elaborate on the Stanford Cardinal.

Against much of my better judgment (what’s that?) I’ve ignored those trying to temper my expectations of Dawkins’ squad. I’ve thought so highly of Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle for so long now that I foresaw no way in which a team led by those two could sustain back-to-back disappointing seasons. Their talents, after all, were supplemented by Josh Huestis, Aaron Bright, and a deep cast of formidable role players. They returned oodles of experience (80% of their minutes played) and isn’t experience one thing you can’t teach? The crux of the matter, however, might not be about what you can’t teach so much as whether you can teach at all.

This comes to the forefront as Stanford – a perennial top-100 defensive unit under Dawkins – yielded 112 points at home to the WCC’s Brigham Young Cougars. That’s 1.26 points per possession. Matt Carlino just scored agai — Tyler Haws, too. Oh sure the Cards dropped 100+ themselves but who damn cares? This is a major violation of early optimism. We were promised a “different way of thinking” by Coach Dawkins and crew. To which I ask: What are you guys thinking?

Watching the latter parts of that BYU thing, Seth Greenberg yelled on and on about how Stanford had many nice pieces – the same toys I’ve mentioned above. He’d then, inevitably, arrive at his caveat (of which I paraphrase), “But Stanford has really got to find its identity. What kind of team are they going to be?” Indeed what the hell type of team are they going to be because they could be so good. Or can they?

This was one man’s proposal to which I can’t completely disagree. A 19-15 (9-9) season is being fixed by thinking differently?

It might be time for me to start thinking differently about Stanford.

SpencerDinwiddieNickJohnson

Ranking the Pac-12 back courts

This was no easy task. Back courts across the Pac-12 are loaded this season and a major reason why the Pac is Back. Thus, not coincidentally, this list most closely resembles how I think the conference will shake out. There are big guards and small guards and quick guards and shooters. Veterans and pups. I’d pit this group against any in the country. Alas, they’re just going to pick on each other like Miami Dolphins.

  1. Oregon – Sure the Ducks just lost Dominic Artis to entrepreneurship, but they replace him with the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament MVP. Oregon has guard depth as deep as this guy is drunk. Joseph Young (18ppg), Damyean Dotson (11ppg), Jason Calliste (11ppg), Johnathan Loyd (5ppg), Dominic Artis (9ppg). [somewhere Mike Moser smiles].
  2. Arizona – You can try and tell me that TJ McConnell hasn’t played at the highest level but I’m not about to knock him for that. I’ve watched mid-major talent the last four years in the Pac-12. I know what good looks like when I see it. He’s joined by the ever improving Nick Johnson with Jordin Mayes backing each of them up. I like these pieces.
  3. Colorado – Came very close to being second on this list. While Dinwiddie vs. McConnell is not a draw (Mayor wins out), Askia Booker’s propensity to shoot and to pull up and to fire as compared to everything Nick Johnson does….well I’m giving the collective nod to the Cats. But man, Spencer Dinwiddie is good.
  4. ASU – This might be too low of a ranking for the Devils. Carson is one of the nation’s best and the addition of Jermaine Marshall is an upgrade over the departed Evan Gordon. Did I mention Jahii Carson is good?
  5. California – Aside from Loyd (who will be filling in for Artis) Cobbs is the first senior to make this list (and I’m not counting Marshall, either). He’s joined by Jabari Bird, a McDonald’s AA who isn’t getting near the love he might deserve because of Commissioner (Aaron) Gordon. But the wildcard here is Ty Wallace who I think could have a monster year for the Bears.
  6. Washington – I’ve heard mixed reviews on Nigel Williams-Goss and that’s OK. Another burger All-American, he’s an incoming freshman so there’s going to be equal parts question marks and hype. I get it. But CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. Perhaps the best shooter in the conference is now a senior and very well could have the dynamic, distributing PG to get him even more touches in ideal spots. The rules changes should also help to get him even more open looks. BOMBS AWAY. (Andrew Andrews mention)
  7. UCLA – Their point guard is 6’9″ and goes by the name of slow-mo. That would seem inauspicious but Kyle Anderson is one unique talent. The Bruins are going to miss LD2 but Anderson’s play making and size will make UCLA a tough out. Oh, and that Jordan Adams kid is my favorite.
  8. Stanford – Last year I was very high on the prospects of Chasson Randle who I loved watching slash into the lane and get buckets. He could shoot it, too. His trajectory plateaued last season and he hit a cold streak from the field (44% from 3FG to 36%). This came inopportunely at the same time as Aaron Bright’s cold spell (44% from 3FG to 32%). So what’s the norm, I ask?
  9. Oregon State – Roberto Nelson is a fine player who can score with anyone in this conference. It appears, however, that he’s a one man show with Ahmad Starks (who was really high on him anyways?) departed. Challe Barton will get a crack at PG duties and there’s one more thing I want to mention: Malcolm Duvivier. Why you might ask? Because he’s definitively not Andrew Wiggins. But he is a Canadian prep star who reclassified from 2014 to 2013 to play American College Basketball. Ya hoser.
  10. Washington State – I’m a sucker for veterans – perhaps above talent? No – and the Cougars, for whatever their season will become, feature DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge. These two are nice players for Ken Bone, adding to the guard depth of the conference more than wins for WSU.
  11. USC - JT Terrell should benefit greatly from Dunk City as he’s an athletic guard who wants to get up and down the floor. Or at least get his shots up. Additionally Pe’Shon Howard is a nice pickup for ball handling duties as Enfield’s offense has a tendency for turnovers.
  12. Utah – I’m relatively high on Brandon Taylor. I liked his work down the stretch for the Utes but he’s a sophomore guard with little experience leading a team full of even less experience. His learning curve is steep and I wish him luck swimming in the deep end.
StanfordSeals

Getting to know Stanford: Same but different?

Obviously in the words below I’ll dive into these Cardinal but I’d like to begin with Maples Pavilion. I grew up watching the backboards sway and the floors bounce. We’d turn down the TV volume as Arthur Lee’s Cardinal became Jason Terry’s daddy. We’ve seen Tiger act-a-fan court side (hated it but appreciated it). It’s an intimate venue and an easy place to catch a game. It should be every bit of the 3.5 point home court advantage and then some. Currently, however, it is not. The team hasn’t won at Monty levels in awhile and hasn’t been subsequently supported. It’s a shame because – living in the Bay Area – I want to see some rowdy. Do I really have to head to USF for Gonzaga’s visit?

Why I love them: Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, John Gage, and Aaron Bright. That was Johnny Dawkins’ 2010 recruiting class and every single one of them is on this team. “There’s unfinished business,” Dwight Powell says. You’re darn right there is and that’s coming out of a senior who just may be feeling the urgency of his imminent graduation. But boy do I love seniors and boy do I love seniors that are supported by a junior, Chasson Randle. This team has talent at every position and has the quintessential PG to run a Stanford basketball team. Then there’s the whole do-it-for-Andy storyline where these guys have a teammate, Andy Brown, who will be sorely missed from this team. This off-season he suffered his fourth ACL tear, ending his Cardinal career. He’s no longer on the team but promises to be he’ll continue to be a part of the team. Powerful stuff.

Why I hate them: They ain’t done shit! As stated, this is one helluva crew and I love their makeup and the things they appear to be capable of. But that aforementioned senior class is just 26-28 in Pac-12 play with two NIT appearances (I will begrudge them a 2012 NIT championship  but will also note they closed their season 5-8 to “earn” that un-invitational). College basketball is a dance recital and the Cards haven’t been dancing. Not since 2008 when there were two guys who looked alike who you might’ve heard of (Hi, Brook! Hi, Robin!). Maybe that’s why they signed Marcus and Malcolm Allen? No, shared DNA ain’t fixing this. And I’m not entirely sure I’m buying what Johnny Dawkins and Powell were telling us about what’s different for this team, “We’re thinking differently.” What does that even mean? The team did go through NAVY Seal training (see below) and have tested and pushed themselves in ways they supposedly have not before. I applaud that. I understand and appreciate culture shifts. I actually talked to a close friend who is a Red Sox fan about John Farrell’s work in Boston. He’s taken a dumpster fire and last place team with seven free agents to the World Series and baseball’s best record. Shifts are possible. But that also included a leadership change and that’s a path I never like to head down. I’m selling the “change of thinking” thing and buying – speculatively – the urgency of seniority.

Stat you need to know:

88%

That is the usage percentage returning to Maples this season. Compare that to the next most in Pac-12: Colorado’s 69%. Frankly, I’ve already gone in on this whole what-will-they-do-with-all-that-returning-skill thing so I’ll just say remind you they’re returning a 9-9 team.

In their words: My man, @kevo408, calls D-League hoops for the Santa Cruz Warriors, is all over the Pac-12 Post, and attended this here Stanford spot. Thanks, Danna Man.

Marcus is the scorer and Malcolm the passer from what I recall. Marcus is certainly more highly touted but I’m not sure they’ll be the major factors. It’s really a do-or-die year for the Card. They’re going to be tested early with Bucknell, BYU, Northwestern, a trip to Denver and UCONN. They’ll take on Beilein’s Wolverines in Brooklyn and could draw Pitt there as well in the Legends Classic. They haven’t proven yet they can close a team out. I can’t count the number of ways these guys lost games last year: Powell missing a DUNK down two at USC; Powell not knowing the clock and making the game tying layup after the buzzer; Randle fouling beyond mid-court with less than a second left in a tie ball game. Do they haveit? I don’t know. But I want to see them in the Dance.

Quotable:

“”I just want to thank all of my teammates.”
- Andy Brown

Outlook: I want desperately to say I like this team’s prospects but they return that 9-9 team that underwhelmed me season long (except when I saw them demolish Oregon). Have I mentioned that? Everyone else across the conference is rolling out rosters that  make the Cardinal an afterthought. I keep thinking about them and I can’t imagine three guys named Allen (Marcus, Malcolm, and Rosco) making a tournament changing impact. Which means that if we’re going to believe in these Cardinal, well we have to believe something different; the same approach Dawkins and team are taking. I’m all for mental fortitude I just don’t know if you can force it. I’ve seen my fair share of players asked to be leaders and get handed the How to Lead for Dummies book. That usually turns into a disingenuous, untrusted teammate. These aren’t bad guys. Just guys who are asked to be something they’re not (perhaps reference: Lyons, Mark). But I’ll tell you what, if any school was going to be clever enough to figure this stuff out…

A video:

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Week 6 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Am I alone in feeling like that first half just blew past? Like I don’t really feel as if Selection Sunday is just thirty-nine days away or that the Pac-12 Tournament is just thirty-five days away. However, judging by my return airfare purchased yesterday, the Pac-12 Tournament is right around the goddamn corner.

What definitely is right around the corner – just one week away – is my trip to Colorado’s Blackout of the Arizona game on Valentine’s Day. Damn I’m going to look good in red.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves because this is a very interesting weekend. I think Stanford has a chance to play off of some of their momentum garnered last week and Oregon-Colorado could be one of the most physical games of the year. The Wednesday/Thursday slate of games is as good as it’s been all season. And things are just getting started.

Because this is the point where you can see the horses coming around the distant but final turn. It’s the approach to the home-stretch where we begin to see some daylight between contestants as fatigue and attrition kick-in. Which horse can handle a bump in the track? Who’s capable of digging a little deeper and finding another level? Who will the strongest horse be?

Let the second half begin!

Also, if you’re interested, here are some of my other hoops thoughts posted today:

Game of the Week: This is pending Wed/Thursday’s results – particularly the outcome of the ASU game – but I’m really interested to see Stanford’s visit to Tempe. Stanford is the more talented group but ASU has been the better team to date. I could see an assortment of things transpiring but I ultimately think these two teams match up very interestingly. Bachynski offers an obvious mismatch for any team while Powell does the same at just a different position providing a very game-turning battle. Josh Huestis and Carrick Felix somewhat cancel one another out and so I think this one could really boil down to which of the guards play best. Randle and Bright versus Carson and Gordon. So it matches up interestingly and as of publishing, ASU was tied for third in the conference at 6-3 while the Cardinal sat at 5-4, tied for fifth. Even if Stanford drops to 5-5, I still find this a spicy one for tournament – of the Pac-12 variety – seeding. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the first reference to any place but first on PacHoops this season. Leave it to ASU.

Game to Avoid: I really, really like what Larry K is doing at Utah. I told y’all about it earlier this week. And I really want to like Craig Robinson and the teams he’s compiled in Corvallis. The scoring potential of his group – between Starks, Moreland, Collier, and Nelson – is terrific. The defense has just never caught up. Meanwhile, Larry K just doesn’t have a good roster and you’ve got a lot of important things to be doing on your Wednesday night. 2-7 versus 2-7 just isn’t must watch anything. Particularly in poker.

Something to Prove: Every time I look at this section – or others like it such as “The Biggest Loser” in our reviews – Colorado comes to mind. And this time came as no difference. Is there anything left for them to prove? Alas, that shining, shimmering, beautiful RPI ranking of 24 continues to keep me believing. They pop up in every bracketology because they have proven to us that they are a good team. But time is starting to run out and they’re going to have to start resting on the laurels of some big wins of their own and not on computer calculations. That said, why not start this Thursday at Oregon? This should be one damn good ball game as it should feature two teams that are wildly hungry for a win after disappointing weekends in Salt Lake and the Bay.

Something to Lose: The Stanford Cardinal really began to conjure up some good mojo this past weekend, particularly after utterly destroying Oregon. So it would appear they grabbed onto momentum and could ride it into the second half of conference play and maybe right on into the Dance. Of course they managed to turn things around – or at least we optimistically think so – just as they head to Arizona for the conference’s most difficult road trip. The Arizona schools have the opportunity to completely deflate the sails on this Stanford season. Getting swept would drop them to 5-6 with a trip to Oregon and a hosting of UCLA and Colorado still remaining.

The YouTuber: I think I’m late to the Kid President train but I too hope you do awesome: