Tag Archives: CJ Wilcox

Getting to know Washington: Name game

For whatever reason I’m compelled to open by citing that the Abdul Gaddy era in Washington has officially come to a close with…the emergence of a promising local, five-star point guard expected to be a game changer. Anyhow, the parallels are always funny but that’s the beautiful promise of change. And change the Huskies have, going all high-post offense and sh** while missing on Mike Moser and Aaron Gordon. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s Nigel-time.

Why I love them: I can’t figure out whether or not I love that there are Huskies named Nigel, Giles, and Perris. Those are some James Bond villains right there and have you seen Giles Dierickx’s bio pic? Allow me:

GilesDierickx

C K X

The guy’s name ends with three consonants. Three consecutive consonants is a sound. If a seven footer with an onomatopoetic closing to his last name doesn’t dispel some of the Huskies’ post issues, then I don’t know what will. If you listen to Romar, however, he feels it’s going to be Perris Blackwell – a USF transfer weighing in at 275lbs – who’s going to give the Dawgs a post presence they haven’t “had in years.” Romar told us he could threaten for leading scorer which is saying something considering the reason I really do love the Huskies is their guard play. CJ Wilcox can flat stroke it and carried this team for much of last season. He lead the team in both percentage of shots taken AND ORtg. Gotta like that combination. If nothing else, the thick bodies of Perris and Shawn Kemp Jr can set monster screens for that guy to get open. Additionally, his running mate doesn’t just have two first names, but rather TWO OF THE SAME NAMES! Andrew Andrews, folks.

Why I hate them: They’ve lost Aziz and really don’t have anything proven in the post besides a guy better recognized for his name than his game: Shawn Kemp, Jr. They run a high post offense which is to ask a lot of their bigs to be decision makers. Good decisions – like wisdom – generally come with age and familiarity and unfortunately the Husky frontcourt returns players who posted the following in % of minutes: 59.3% (Desmond Simmons), 37% (Kemp), 28.7% (Jernard Jarreau). Now, inexperience is not the kiss of death, but it sure ain’t helping me love the Huskies any more. Blackwell helps, though.

In their words: More coming here but the guest post was so damn well done it’s going to get it’s own posting.

Stat you need to know:

183

That is the KenPom AdjT ranking of the 12-13 Huskies – their first in the high post offense. That  pace was the lowest a LoRo offense has ever ranked by 146 spots. That’s right, the previous LoRo slow was ranked 57th in the nation at 70. Last year they paced out at 65.7 – nearly the only ever Romar team in the 60s. Alas, after finishing 18-16, Romar has vowed to pick things up again.

Quotable:

“The heat will get hotter unless there’s a noticeable shift upward either this season or next. The good news for Washington is that freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is the type of prospect who could spark a turnaround.” – CBS Sports’ UW preview

Outlook: These Dawgs are increasingly interesting as I absolutely love senior guards and the Huskies have CJ Wilcox. Their frontcourt pieces are intriguing but not necessarily promising like their backcourt. Nigel Williams-Goss is a pleasant addition and I always love a Lorenzo Romar offense. A season ago he was missing the depth to really get things going. It seems the Dawgs have the opportunity to regain some of that high octaine swagger we all know and love from Seattle. I don’t think Washington fights for a Pac-12 championship or really even much of an NCAA birth. They’re going to spend the season causing problems for people and then giving us a few head scratchers. They’ll pose a threat inside HecEd but I can’t see this group getting mentioned on a Sunday afternoon CBS show.

Pac-12 Player of the Year: A VOTE!

Criteria for such an award are oft debated: Is it the best player? The most valuable player? The most impactful? What’s the breakdown of numbers vs. intangibles vs. wins? In the real world, the award is voted on by the coaches and sometimes they do things like award it to Jorge Gutierrez (career achievement?). Sean Miller recently said Larry Drew II would be his pick for POY. Against Arizona, Drew2 is averaging 11 points and 9 assists and is a convincing 2-0. Against everyone else it’s 7/7. So there’s that.

Whatever the case, it often boils down to a gut check; a conglomerate of components that make up a POY ripe for discussion, criticism, and debate.

To help you in determining the winner, I’ve pieced together my ideas of the top candidates with some of their numbers and of course left you a write in vote. Of note, the “Big Game Numbers (BGN)” are the players ppg/rpg/apg against the conference’s top four teams (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Cal).

Alas, without further ado and without prefacing much by way of candidate qualifications, the Candidates:

Allen Crabbe, G, California

AllenCrabbePOY

[Note: Open Crabbe snipped with shoving joke]. OK, that’s out of the way so we can get to his ears? Double joke fail? Crabbe has filled the tin with the best of them and been Monty’s rock all season long. He’s the safest pick amongst the field as he’s been the best player on a top team. His performance in Tucson (31/7/5 on 12-15 shooting) was likely the best game of the year.

  • 18.5 ppg , 6rpg, 2.6 apg
  • 109.6 ORtg (11) , 25.2% possessions used
  • 22.8 PER
  • 5.3 win shares
  • BGN: 18.6/4.3/2.6 (4-1)

Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State

JahiiCarsonPOY

Please advice that the following is all nice things about Jahii Carson, alert his mother. ASU waited a long time (year plus) for this kid and he proved worth the wait. The native Phoenician has been a program changer (10 wins in 2011-12, 20 wins in 2012-13) in leading the Devils onto the NCAA bubble conversation (at least for more than a hot second). I have big respect for the effect he’s had on this program, but winning has got to count for something (a lower half finish ain’t great).

  • 17.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5 apg
  • 102.0 ORtg, 28.6% possessions used
  • 19.0 PER
  • 3.5 win shares
  • BGN: 17.6/4.2/4.3 (2-3)

Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

ShabazzMuhammadPOY

Up in the air whether this guy would ever play in Westwood, he finally debuted in Brooklyn – adjacent the home of NBA headquarters; perhaps telling of the Gucci wearing small forward’s intentions. Alas, once both the hype and Shabazz settled, he proved one helluva basketball player. Similar to Crabbe, Bazz is susceptible to the mono-dimensional critique, yet another best-player-on-a-top team argument can be made for his candidacy.

  • 18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.9 apg
  • 108.9 ORtg, 28.1% possessions used
  • 23.0 PER
  • 3.1 win shares
  • BGN: 16/5.8/1 (3-2)

Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Colorado

SpencerDinwiddiePOY

Big guards cause havoc and The Mayor is no different. And he rocks a swag ‘stache. He’s a dynamic force on the offensive end, commanding the floor and getting in the lane at will, while defensively he’s capable of locking down smaller guards – which is generally most of them. And he rocks a swag ‘stache. The Buffs haven’t had quite the conference season they expected but they should be dancing in March and Dinwiddie is a major part of that. And he rocks a swag ‘stache.

  • 15.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg
  • 115.9 ORtg, 23.8% possessions used
  • 22.9 PER
  • 4.8 win shares
  • BGN: 14.4/2.6/3.8 (2-3)

Arsalan Kazemi, PF, Oregon

ArsalanKazemiPOY

Like Muhammad, this guy’s eligibility was in question. Unlike the Bruin, however, Kazemi was never seen in a cutesy satchel (no more backpack jokes); just a dirty stache (no more ‘stache jokes). Kazemi joined the Ducks and quickly started doing a lot of everything for them. He undoubtedly embodies the concept of guy that does the dirty work but that’s just what the Ducks needed. And he’s done it well. The following won’t WOW you until you get to the efficiency stuff. Wow.

  • 9.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
  • 121.2 ORtg, 16.3% possessions used
  • 25.3 PER
  • 5.1 win shares
  • BGN: 9.8/10.8/.8 (2-2)

Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona

SolomonHillPOY

In a surprisingly long lineage of point-forwards at Arizona, Hill has endured the strangest of times at Arizona. But he’s done so to blossom into a tremendous talent and one that’s deserving of mention in such a candidacy. The data isn’t about to overwhelm you, but watch a game or two and the talent just may.

  • 13.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
  • 112.9 ORtg, 21.6% possessions used
  • 20.2 PER
  • 4.3 win shares
  • BGN: 14.8/6/2.8 (0-4)

The Field

POYCandidates

Andre Roberson (11/12/2), CJ Wilcox (17/4/2), Carrick Felix (14/8/2), Roberto Nelson (18/3/2), Brock Motum (18/6/1)

Pac-12 Player of the Year

  • Spencer Dinwiddie (55%, 174 Votes)
  • Allen Crabbe (35%, 110 Votes)
  • Shabazz Muhammad (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Arsalan Kazemi (3%, 9 Votes)
  • The Field (3%, 8 Votes)
  • Solomon Hill (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jahii Carson (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 318

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Cats and Dawgs Lives Up to the B1G Hype

Weird basketball game.

I mean, mid-broadcast Walton called it B1G ball which by Pac-12 standards and certainly by Washington-Arizona standards, that’s an insult. Or at least a gross miscalculation of pace and scoring output. But when the play produces an eye tearing .78 points per possession, well, it’s hard to argue with. Do you realize the epic 2005 Adams v Roy Seattle Battle featured 191 total points and a combine 1.06 ppp? Or that in that game four players (Adams and Shakur for AZ, Roy and Williams for UW) combined to outscore both Arizona and Washington last night 113-110?

It was indeed a different brand of basketball which isn’t to say it was an awful thing, just different. Like when your girlfriend moves out but says you’re not breaking up. Not bad, just different. Or something like that

Because the game itself was still competitive. That was defense for good stretches of that game. Yeah, there was utter slop at times and Washington’s final possession – the alley-opp that was ill-advised, errant, poorly executed, mistimed, inappropriate, a bad decision, out of control, ignorant, stupid, abysmal, a clusterbang, GADDDYYY – was about as bad as it gets. Seriously, that was one of the worst final possessions I’ve ever witnessed and that’s considering I watched Arizona dribble out the clock last year in Colorado. Or even how they closed the first half of this game.

Arizona managed to lock down the dynamic scoring threat that is CJ Wilcox. That was impressive. They also managed to yield six of the Huskies’ first ten points to Rain Man Junior in his first start of the season. I always thought Brandon Ashley was a considerate defender.

But my favorite aspect of this game beyond the game itself was that when Arizona needed a player to step up, as Washington was pulling away early and the contest was taking the shape of the UCLA game and the Arizona veterans were giving the ball up like candy on Halloween, Kaleb Tarczewski was the Wildcat. It may not have been pretty but the big NorEaster made plays when it seemed as if no one in a navy top could do anything. He alone went on a 5-0 run when the Cats were down 16-8. Sure the Huskies kept pouring it on but Tarczewski did not shy away from this moment, perhaps heeding my cry from a week ago to get assertive. And he did. And I enjoyed that.

All in all, the game lived up to the Cats and Dawgs hype and HecEd appeared rocking. The Seattle monkey may never get completely off Sean Miller’s back but he no doubt enjoyed getting his first win up there.

Montlake Madness: A Q&A on My Favorite Rivalry

Off the bat you need to know that Washington-Arizona is my favorite rivalry. Competitively it’s been phenomenal. From The Block I and II, to Cold Blooded, to Roy v. Adams in 2005, the purple and red have had no shortage of high paced games full of points and story storylines. I love it and still hate Ryan Appleby’s t-shirt.

Maybe I’m biased as my best friend from college was from SeaTown – a Mercer Islander named Jared – who both point-guarded our rec efforts (a team who’s shooting guard was an ASU fan and somehow the three of us managed to cohesively wreck shop between a Cat, a Dawg, and a Devil amongst all the UCSD Tritons) and busted me out of whatever shell I needed busting out of us an awkward 21-year-old. For such I felt indebted and thus hosted Jared in 2008: second row, mid-court in McKale! As he wore his purple tank and accepted compliments from Wildcat fans about what a wonderful city Seattle is, Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger were dropping 51 en route to an 84-69 Wildcats victory. Jared has never hosted me in HecEd.

But enough about Jared and me. This is about the rivalry and what my man Griffin (also opperates @MontlakeMadness) has to say about his Dawgs. You see, Griffin and I go back to last year’s Cats and Dawgs fight when he graciously did a Q&A with me (my first!). He runs the great Dawg Blog, Montlake Madness – which recently made the transition on to SI – congrats. He’s worth a follow and a read to be certain. That is if you like thorough insight and quality work. If that’s not your bag then…I really don’t know.

Game time:

Going to come right at it: What is this Husky team’s identity?

That’s a great question. I can tell you that it SHOULD be hard-nosed defense and perimeter shooting. The team is built with long athletes that should make it difficult for teams to score. They also have two exceptional shooters in Wilcox and Suggs who can give teams nightmares.

During the first four games of the Pac-12 season you saw what this team could be. Unfortunately, they don’t have the testicular fortitude as a team to sustain those types of efforts on a nightly basis.

This team is an army without a general. The long-time players like Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, and CJ Wilcox don’t have the types of personalities that inspire a team. UW has been blessed in the past with players like Isaiah Thomas, Nate Robinson, Jon Brockman, and Brandon Roy who could pull a team together in a timeout and fix things then and there.

This team just stares into each other’s eyes and hopes it will just fix itself.

Tell me about Abdul Gaddy’s career? What do you make of it?

It’s so tough to talk about Gaddy. One of the hardest working, nicest, best teammates I’ve ever seen at UW. Unfortunately it seem like he was doomed from the beginning of his career. As many know, he came in as the second highest rated PG in the nation, a five star, McDonalds All-American and it seems like he was never that player to begin with.

His confidence was shot early when he didn’t meet those insanely high standards and Isaiah Thomas was already here and he was clearly the superior player and took up a lot of time at PG.

In 2010/11 he looked like he was making the jump as through 13 games he was averaging 8.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, and shooting 40% from three but then he tore his ACL and everyone would say that he’s lost a step or two ever since then.

Now he has no momentum, no confidence in his shot, a better and younger PG behind him (Andrews), and the entire leadership load on his shoulders. He’s gotten crushed under the constant pressure during his career and all of Husky Nation is ready to move on.

What is his legacy?

To be harsh: one of the biggest busts in Husky history. I will remember him as a teammate that every player loved and a guy who just wished he could hit the reset button once.

Have you ever ended a 151-game winning streak?

Yes! I love that you asked me this one again. I’ll tell anyone who’s willing to listen as it’s the pinnacle of my athletic career. Long story short, I played football at Bellevue High School (Bellevue, WA) and we ended De La Salle’s (Concord, CA) 151 game winning streak, the longest in HS Football history.

Glory days are great.

There you are, they’ve picked you, Griffin, to be First Captain and the lineup at the schoolyard includes Terrence Ross and CJ Wilcox, who are you taking?

Terrence Ross, especially for a pickup game. Wilcox may have the better shot but Ross can do everything. Even though he certainly made the right choice in leaving early and getting drafted 8th overall, his presence on this UW team probably would have salvaged this lost season and sent them back the NCAA tournament.

Wilcox is turning into a very special player, though. He’s just starting to gain confidence in his dribble-drive game as he’s finally developing a better handle on the ball. As most know in the Pac-12, he has the best shooting stroke in the nation. As this season continues to fall apart, UW fans are starting to look forward to next season and we hope he doesn’t leave early to the NBA. 

What’s the song you’re telling everyone about these days?

Well, as a Seattleite, I’m required to recommend Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ new album The Heist. All of it is just amazing. As for one song though, “Wild For The Night” by A$AP Rocky ft. Skrillex is probably my most played lately.

Cold blooded. Go ahead…

Perhaps the pinnacle of the rivalry right there. Now if we could just get Isaiah Thomas and the Kings to move up to Seattle…

The MillerCats are just 2-5 against the Dawgs and he talked about that at Media Day. Thoughts on this rivalry: 

It has been insanely entertaining. Even before Miller arrived, they were the must-watch game. I fell in love with the match up back in 2005 when Arizona beat UW in double overtime in Montlake on New Year’s Eve. It was the single greatest college game I’ve witnessed.

There has been no better rivalry over the past decade than UW/Arizona in the Pac-12. None.

As Romar teams have done over the years, they almost always play up to their opponent and Arizona has always brought the best out of them.

Give a grade and additional comments for Romar’s work this season.

This is a real tough one. The hiring of Brad Jackson as a new assistant has really helped with implementing the new high post offense but everyone knew there would be some struggles in year one of the transition. Romar’s number one criticism over the last few years is a lack of a half-court offense so it’s a much needed change.

The real struggle of this team is a lack of motivation, especially to start games. They come out flat often and have to play from behind. Now is that an issue that Romar can fix? I’m not too sure. Usually that’s up to the captains and players to figure out on their own.

Another criticism of Romar is that UW had zero recruits come in this year. They had a couple transfers but they have to sit out the entire year. It’s really hurt their bench and overall versatility. That can certainly be pinned on him.

What makes this group of Huskies tick? How do they – if you think they can – win this ball game?

I thought these Huskies thrived on adversity and playing up to the challenge but their efforts in last week’s Oregon road trip certainly proved that wrong. Honestly, I think UW has no shot at winning on Thursday. Arizona is everything that UW wants to be in terms of pace, athletes, and experience. Barring a complete collapse from Arizona, I would be shocked if UW kept it close in the second half.

Prediction time, go!

Arizona 75, UW 63. Hopefully this marquee game finally awakens the Hec Ed crowd and that energy helps fuel the Huskies but my faith in this team is non-existent.

For those of you watching the game at home, I suggest playing the Gaddy Drinking Game. There’s only one rule: drink every time you find yourself saying “GADDY!!!!”! You’ll get a good buzz going by halftime.

/endQA

Big thanks to Griffin for his insights on the Huskies, music, and helping to relive the glory days. At PacHoops we choose not to believe we peaked in High School so long live the dream. I also really think I could get into that drinking game: GADDYYYY!!!!

See you guys on the other side.

Is Colorado Still Reeling from the Monitors?

I love the momentum of sport. For all of our advanced stats and my sophomoric understanding of them, there is no way to quantify the ramifications of a fortuitous bounce, well-earned technical foul, or a botched whistle. Timeouts are used to slow it and, arguably, entire game strategies are executed to limit it. Have you watched a Bo Ryan game?

So when the stripes went to the monitors two weeks ago to examine whether or not Sabatino Chen had just beat the third ranked team in the country on their home floor, the Buff’s claim to momentum laid in the balances. They’d blown a big lead but were handed the chance to garner it all back as Chen banked home the proposed game winner.

The rest will become history.

Since that moment the Buffs are 1-4 and scratching their heads as to how they got here. Two days after that moment Colorado jumped out to an explosive 17-4 lead on the host Sun Devils and looked the part of a team that prepared to take care of business. But ASU would not go quietly and wound up grinding out a victory. For arguably the second straight game, momentum was ripped right out of Buffalo hands.

Against Arizona, in regulation, Tad’s team shot 10-15 from three. Terrific. For the season these Buffs have been limiting their total number of threes (I like) despite shooting a very respectable 36%. However, since those three men waved away from the monitors, Colorado is shooting 12-65 from distance. To be clear on two fronts: 1) that includes the Arizona overtime, and 2) the math suggests that is an abysmal 18%. I don’t love a reliance on the three point bucket but regardless of dependencies, a sub 1-in-5 success rate is not good begging the question, slump or fact? By my feeble attempt to quantify momentum, the Buffs seem to have lost it since it was snatched from their hands.

And watch a Colorado game. They don’t seem to be able to grab momentum when it’s ripe for the taking. Take last night for example: The Buffs came out playing staunch defense and were chipping away at UW’s eight point lead. They had it cut to five, allowing just five shot attempts for the Huskies in the opening five minutes. Comparatively the Buffs – who we’ve noted are having shooting issues – got up ten shots connecting on just one. Alas, all things defensive clicking and momentum at their fingertips…Scott Suggs…four…point…play. Momentum.

As it were today, it appears history was written that night in Tucson. Colorado has perhaps let the magnitude of that moment best them; not necessarily the mark of a champion. But the season is young still and momentum can turn on a dime; a shot here, a block there, a whistle, a bounce, an affirming gesture. Where it comes from no one knows.

So for the Buffs, momentum remains in the balances, the coveted and inexplicable asset. I suppose for some help we could ask CJ Wilcox about it.

 

Week 2 Pac-12 Hoops Review

Last night I saw Silver Linings Playbook. Last month I saw The Hunger Games. Today I am in love with Jennifer Lawrence. This is far less surprising than, say, an undefeated on the road Washington Huskies team. She’s gorgeous and these are great and entertaining films (respectively speaking). Conversely, the Dawgs have been far from gorgeous or entertaining at times. Their Albany gaffe and the as-reported-to-me lackluster home crowds would be examples of such. But they’re winning and that’s PacHoops’ favorite statistic. And they serve as a further lead here as Silver Linings is a movie that dives deep into the pains of mental illness. Bradley Cooper plays the role of a bipolar man struggling to keep it together. His life seemingly in shambles, he spends his days plotting to get back together with his wife; an end result he believes will fix everything. Enter the stunning a equally dysfunctional Jennifer Lawrence. Together, whether they see it as such or not, they seek some semblance of solace amongst their crumbling lives. Arguably some consistency and familiarity. Perhaps not unlike a Tuesday-Saturday schedule and the familiar foes of the Pac-12. To date, the analogy plays.

And I’ll leave this teaser of a lead with this: In the Hunger Games – where people run amuck in the forest seeking to kill one another until there is one surviving – there are 12 participants. Boom.

**Since publication, Kevin O’Neill was fired at USC. I’ll be weighing in shortly because this is a big deal.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Well the Oregon Ducks have sure opened up conference play with a bang. On Thursday they jumped on the Beat-the-Unbeatens bandwagon started by Boise State in Wyoming and were soon joined by the NC State Wolves and OSU Buckeyes. Then beat ASU. I like what Oregon’s done and the above speaks to my feelings about Washington. But it’s hard to keep the undefeated UCLA Bruins out of my top spot. They may be methodical and jump shot dependent but they’ve taken care of the schedule impressively. Whatever the back story, they will always be UCLA and are going to get everyone’s biggest swing. They’ve handled four such blows. Additionally, can we just go ahead and say that Jordan Adams is really good? He and teammate Shabazz Muhammad have such tremendous command of their mid-range game which is wildly impressive for two freshmen. It will be curious to see the sustainability of this Bruin streak as their depth and interior play remain question marks. They’ll likely (if it hasn’t been announced already) jump into the top-25 along with Oregon this week and that will be a lovely publicity spike for this little conference that could. Of course then those two tip off next week possibly knocking one or the other back out of the rankings. Can’t win ’em all (ask Sean Miller, too soon?).

GotW: For tip-to-buzzer entertainment value, the GotW will be handed to Washington over Stanford on Saturday night. This tilt featured fifteen lead changes and nine ties and CJ Wilcox going off. While individual efforts are rarely the recipe for victory, goodness do I love those. The junior, who is prone to big shooting nights, had himself quite a trip to the Bay in leading the Dawgs to a sweep. Both Oregon games were good as was UCLA at Colorado. To be honest, there was little flashy to the weekend. Certainly nothing that compares to the second half of the Seahawks-Falcons game.

The Big Loser: I remember last year having to write about the Stanford Cardinal a lot more often than I would have liked in this segment. They were a really odd team one season ago – entering conference play with a tidy 10-2 record and beginning to look the part of a contender. Then they jumped out to a 5-1 conference start and things were looking really nice. They would finish the season 10-8 in conference. They fell apart before rediscovering themselves in the NIT and giving us all hope of a terrific, wire-to-wire, 2012-13. So what’s to be learned of this? Perhaps this is just a really enigmatic group – bipolar, if you will. Unable to capture an identity and run with it. Whatever you want to make of it, and expectations aside, the Cardinal are now 1-3 in conference play with a home loss on their schedule.

What We Learned: ASU is for real. This is not a team to sleep on and from what I’ve seen of them to date versus a season ago is they just play smarter (insert shocked face here). They’re playing improved defense which will generally help anyone’s case to be a better or contending team. This weekend they demonstrated that they are for real, that their 14-3 start is not necessarily a fluke. They handled Oregon State for forty minutes and gave the Ducks all they could handle. Back to the smart fact: the Devils have cut their turnover rate by 8%. That’s to say they keep the basketball 8% more often which is HUGE for an offense the hovers below the D-1 tempo average. Possessions are precious to Herb.

Start of the Week YouTuber: From earlier this week and from a sworn Pac-12 enemy. But my goodness…

Week 6 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

This post also reads well at ryanrecker.com. He’s just posted two new podcasts and was mentioned on Howard Stern. Big league.

BREAKING: Stanford’s remaining home games will be moved to the Palo Alto Elementary School on the courts behind the permanent trailer next to the warmer of the two drinking fountains. Maples Pavilion will be used to safeguard Facebook employee windfalls.

OK, on to less enviable topics. The second half is here and, are you ready for it? The second bit of major news I’m going to drop on you in five lines of blog? A bold prediction:

“The Pac-12 will have three teams in the NCAA Tournament.”
– Me, 2/2/12

Yeah, I said it and I can name names of the people who think I’m insane. But I think it’s going to happen. A few things are going to have to play out but they’re not entirely outlandish: Cal and UW repeat their first halves, Arizona/Colorado/Oregon jumps to 7-2 with a little run through Staples (not necessarily winning it all). But that’s it for prognostication for if we learned anything in the first half of this season, the Pac is un-Nostrodomis-able.

So allow us to tip this second half off with a full slate of games on both Thursday and Saturday. The schedule.

TV Complaint: The aforementioned full slate of classic Conference of Champions Thursday/Saturday games will include three blackouts (25%). While this continues to be frustrating, rest assured that the unviewable games are being delegated to the unviewables (ASU, Utah, USC) unlike the days when great games went unaired (Cal @ UW). But let’s run with the positivity bender dripping off my three-bid prognostication. Washington will be making their second straight appearance on ESPN Thursday night as UCLA comes for a visit and the games you’re going to want to see (AZ-Cal/Stanford, CU-Oregon) will be aired on the one and only Fox SportsNet. If the weather’s unfavorable, find yourself a cable, a cold one, and tweet me, I’ll be in Berkeley then Palo Alto.

Game of the Weekend: I think this one is an under-the-radar doozy. While everyone else is sleeping on the Pac-12 (or raining on it), Colorado and Oregon are legitimately fighting for a spot in the dance. The 6-3 foes (as of today and this entire segment may be for naught should either lose tonight), soundly in second place, have each sustained losses to the conference leaders and one lesser foe (UO lost to OSU at home, CU lost at UCLA), while maintaining an air of uncertainty about them. Can Boyle’s Boys win on the road? How far can Dana’s Ducks ride the hot hands of their seniors? Can either of these second year coaches really have this competitive of a team? So much questions and that is why they play the games. This particularly telling game will be played Saturday evening on the Root Network. It features two of my favorite players in the conference: Devoe Joseph and Carlon Brown. These two transfer seniors are playing like they’ve been in green/yellow and gold/black, respectively, for four years and are carrying their teams through bridge seasons. The under appreciated senior guard is perhaps my favorite position in sports and these two are about as fun as they get.

Game to Avoid: I’ve previously promised not to rain on the unviewables and seeing as how the majority of their games will not be on TV this weekend, I’ll pick on just one of the lowly three, ASU. But it shouldn’t be their fault that things, from an athletic standpoint, have fallen apart down on the farm. ASU should not bear the grunt for no one going to the Stanford-ASU game as no one goes to games down there. Uggh, it’s even frustrating to type it. Here’s the view from last year’s Arizona-Stanford game:

Where's Tiger?

And Arizona was good! Alas, if no one’s going to go to the game, then no one should watch the game. Toss in the fact that Stanford has lost three straight and is losing steam, I’d recommend passing on the Cardinal Thursday night.

Something to Prove: For all the noise they’ve made for not winning games, the UCLA Bruins have a shot to win a few additional games (preferably not at their makeshift homes) and make a little something of this presumably lost season. They’ll of course have to kickoff this half of the season on the road with all eyes on them. ESPN has picked up their game against Washington so there will be nowhere for big Josh Smith, the Bruins’ three point ineptitude, and lack of guard depth to hide. Not to mention the Huskies are playing some pretty solid ball these days. UCLA isn’t a miserably bad team, they’re just a team that doesn’t quite have an identity – the same holds true for much of this conference. But for the Bruins to indeed do something about their season with nine to play, they’re going to have to work for it. It’ll have to start on the road and what better place than Sea-town?

Something to Lose: The Block, Part II put UW back into the conversations they used to be a part of as one of the most talented teams in the conference if not coast. Have you seen Terrence Ross play? Did you notice the way Tony Wroten commands the floor? Woof this team is good and they’re hot as a pistol after leaving Tucson. But their season may still be a little bit like this tweet from their football coach. Odd, no? Alas, I’m buying Husky stock because they have a cakewalk of a second half schedule. They don’t play either of the Bay schools, already made the Ski and Desert trips, and play an unviewable or WSU or OSU in five of their final nine. So while I build ’em up, build ’em up, build ’em up, allow me to ask: am I setting them up for failure? Have they set themselves up for failure? He may have the court presence of a Greek God but Wroten can’t turn the ball over five times a game if he’s going to have the ball for more than a third of UW’s possessions. And Terrence Ross, the talent-of-talents, cannot disappear like he has. CJ Wilcox didn’t practice this week with a sore foot (he’d missed three games with the injury before playing in Arizona) but this team could use him back. Like I’ve said, this team ain’t bad – at all – but they’re still a LoRo team and a home split to the LA schools would not behoove the impression of Washington’s legitimacy and certainly not their resume. I’ll decide on some special award for the first team not named Utah to lose to USC.

Weekend YouTuber: Oh that furry little chubster is going to crawl out of his burrow and see something but it’s generally irrelevant because we’re here on the best coast and it’s probably sunny and warm where you’re at or sunny and ski-worthy. There may be just a single win over a top-50 RPI squad but at least we’re not in Pittsburgh. Plus, Bill Murray’s kid was on the Arizona staff for a bit. Everyone’s a winner when there’s more Bill Murray: