Last night was as March as games not broadcast on CBS get. Every game saw a tie or lead change in the final five minutes (if not the final two minutes) and EVERY SINGLE ROAD TEAM WON. I’m not going to data mine to see if there has been a three pronged road sweep on a single night this Pac-12 season. But considering there have been only 44 road wins across 100 Pac-12 games, I don’t think we’ve seen it. Welcome to March.
Arizona @ Oregon State
I don’t know if this was a trap game or what it projected to be but I do know that there are some damn fine ball players on that Oregon State roster. They have size all over and Roberto Nelson is a scorer. Unfortunately, this was my mom’s analysis of the game, “It looked like one team had a plan and the other didn’t.” Well guess who won? Arizona did and was fortunate to do such if you’re asking their coach. He cited the Wildcats’ inability to rebound and so I present to you the expected rebounding numbers and the actuals and subsequently how Oregon State stayed in that game:
Colorado @ Stanford
If we break the game into quarters, the Colorado Buffaloes have been outscored by 45 points in the third quarter during conference play this season. That’s an average of about 2.7 points per game and worse on the road: -3.5 points, -25 collectively. Conversely, the Stanford Cardinal come out of the half and are plus 21. It’s a theme worth diving deeper into at another time but here is how last night’s battle for a bid played out:
In what appears to be that critical third quarter, the Buffs managed to play things even, maintain their lead, and subsequently close the game. Oh, and this was critical at 2:01
DWIGHT CHARGES WITH FOUR FOULS OVER JOSH SCOTT WITH FOUR FOULS. THAT WAS LIKE TWO LIONS FIGHTING FOR A GAZELLE
While this group doesn’t hold a candle to the collective guard talent, there are some formidable pieces. The conference has brought in solid transfer bigs and we could see a record fall in Tempe. I’ll propose the question: What is Kyle Anderson and why’d ya do it, Eric Moreland? The bigs:
Arizona – Three five-stars that each bring a completely different set of skills to the table. You can push Aaron Gordon to the three and he can talk all about his desire to play there, but the fact of the matter is, the kid plays above the rim. That’s Kaleb Tarczewski big. The impending health of Zach Peters (recently cleared) offers another six-feet-and-ten-inches of unique skill set (shots).
Stanford – Maybe they haven’t won much but between Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis you’ve got everything you’d want in a front court. Each has springs and can play physical. Powell can score from all over the place while Huestis is about as tough defensively as they get.
UCLA – I already gave Kyle Anderson some back court love, but last season he was asked to be more of a forward and he excelled at that – averaging nearly a 9 boards/game. The Bruins already feature the Wear family who’s been formidable and while Travis is out injured right now, David is healthy again and should have an improved season from a year ago. The unknown to this group – and the piece that could make them a pretty scare team – is the improvement and conditioning of Tony Parker. It’s an unfortunate annual event that we discuss the conditioning of a Bruin big but if one of them ever gets it about them to be in shape, look out.
Colorado – Josh Scott had a great first season and particularly when he had fresh legs. His output tapered some as the season dragged on but that’s what sometimes happens with freshmen. He’s now a year aged and while he lost his rebounding running mate, Xavier Johnson projects to fill in nicely at the wing-forward spot while Buffs fans are also very high on Wesley Gordon.
Oregon – One of their starters was suspended but that’s not the key piece. Mike Moser has proven to be a terrific power forward. In 2011-12 he was amongst the nation’s best players. Then a year later he wasn’t. Who is Oregon getting? I’m thinking it’ll be a lot more of the former than the latter. If Ben Carter can recover from his salesmanship and produce, this group could be tough with all those guards.
ASU – Depth maybe isn’t their strong suit up front but if Jordan Bachynski can replicate last season, he will be the Pac-12’s All-Time leading shot blocker. That’s saying something.
Oregon State –Let’s note right up front that Eric Moreland will be out for 14 straight games. We’ll also note that he’s a very good basketball player and flirted with the NBA. The First Team also has Devon Collier and returns everyone’s second favorite Aussie, Angus Brandt. In most any other system, I think these guys might be a top-four front court. But this is a school averaging just 15 wins a year the past three seasons. Sigh.
California – I’ve said it before, I like Richard Solomon. I think he could have a big year. But to this point he’s been a foul prone athlete in Cal’s paint. His services have been supplemented by a walk-on named The Thurmanator. Solomon has the skills to be great, but will he? The other big in Haas is David Kravish who has a very sound skill set, a solid big, but he’s just not that big. Front court depth will also be a Bear-issue.
Washington – They lose their anchor in Aziz but they’re bringing in a very interesting piece that LoRo says has the “potential to lead the team in scoring.” That’s nice – and scary, frankly, considering CJ Wilcox is on the team – but what I like the most about the addition of Perris Blackwell is that he’s a big body who’s going to let all those guards run amuck. Between him and the Rain Man Jr. (along with Desmond Simmons), the Dawgs have a few guys to get dirty in their second attempt at the high post offense. And this.
Utah – This ranking hinges squarely on the fact that Jordan Loveridge is fantastic, he’s a double-double about to happen. Maybe he’s manning the middle alone now (bye Jason Washburn), but he’s man enough to do it. Worth noting, K did mention an improved and healthy Renan Lenz.
USC – I don’t think these two are well suited for Andy Enfield’s tempo but they are serviceable bigs. Omar Oraby and DJ Haley are just too big for Dunk City. This is an offense that needs to get out and move and 7’2″ and 7′ tends to be a bit rigid when it comes to the fast break.
WSU – Uhhhhh. They have their full allotment of scholarship athletes?
I’m not about to sing the glowing prospects of a team who’s best player has been accused – by the coach – of being a Beer Leaguer – and who’s other top-two players were indefinitely suspended. No that doesn’t quite equate to a shining review and, quite frankly, the future is only about a mild squint’s bright in Corvallis. Craig Robinson is once again telling us his team is dedicated to the defensive end (more later).
Why I love them: And who doesn’t like bigs? I’m 6’5″ and always get picked up at open gym. In the Pac-12, 6’5″ isn’t going to get you much beyond a shooting guard and in my case an assistant associate to the video coordinator’s assistant. But enough about me. OSU touts Eric Moreland (9/11), Devon Collier (13/6), and Angus Brandt (12/9 before busting his knee). Each is greater than 6’8″ and is going to be further supplemented by the playing time of 6’9″ Oakhill Academy product, Daniel Gomis. This kid is 2010 and has been at OSU since that time with nary a minute played. Additionally, you have to like Roberto Nelson (guard) because he looks like Drake.
Why I hate them: Last season the Beavers committed to man-to-man defense and promptly posted a 101.1 AdjD – good for 167th in the nation and last in the conference. They also placed last in the Pac and so it makes good sense that Robinson sees a need for further commitment to that side of the ball. Moreland – who is suspended for 14 games of the season and a further reason to dislike their prospects – was one of their better defensive players; snatching boards at the fifth highest rate in America (27.5%) and blocking 2.5 shots per contest. Robinson called him irreplaceable despite needing to replace him. At pachoops, we call that an “unenviable, self-inflicted predicament.” Of a similar self-inflicted vein is Beer League basketball players. Robinson previously felt his senior leader, Nelson, was in All-Beer League shape. He’s since sung Nelson’s praises for getting into shape, but earning that hoppy honor is an inauspicious start to a defensively oriented season.
Stat you should know:
Number of .500 or better seasons OSU has posted since 1992. Other popular things from 1992 include: The Dream Team, Aladdin, and the birth of Miley Ray Cyrus. It hasn’t been the greatest 2+ decades in Corvallis basketball.
“Don’t pooh‑pooh the All‑Beer League. I’ve been on some beer league teams, and we have beaten a lot of guys.” – Craig Robinson
Outlook: I won’t soon pooh-pooh the beer league – I had my first softball game on Monday in which I had to pitch after blowing up my ankle in beer league hoops – but I am going to pooh-pooh OSU’s defense. I can’t quite buy this team as contending for much better than 8th in the conference. Moreland’s absence isn’t helping things and neither is the fact that this is the strongest Pac-12 conference since Robinson joined the league.
The First Program is in a critical year. CRob hasn’t filled lofty expectations but he has delivered the school’s first winning season since what feels like the Lincoln administration. Some good pieces there in Corvallis. Smile.
Oh Come On – Half the questions asked of Craig Robinson at Media Day were surrounding last Tuesday (hint: election night). Well Barack Obama (aka Robinson’s brother-in-law) was re-elected President and that’s got to make this program happy.
Hearts Out – It’s what Roberto Nelson did according to George Dohrmann in his book, Play Their Hearts Out, and he’ll need to continue to do so for the Beavers to have any success this season.
Wee Man – Ahmad Starks ain’t big. He’s listed at 5’9” on the school’s website and if you’ve ever been a part of filling out an info sheet, you know that listed height and weight is inflated. Irrelevant. He can play. Coach Robinson says that he alone could replace Jared Cunningham’s 18ppg but they won’t necessarily need that of him. He’ll play a very sound point for OSU.
Vazannion – Not sure who will be under center but, come on, you know you’re a little pumped for the Civil War.
Timber – Robinson has called this his “best front court” since arriving in Corvallis. Let’s discuss: Devon Collier, Angus Brandt, Joe Burton, Daniel Jones, and a slew of sizable newbies. There’s experience and versatility there and my-oh-my does Collier have a chance to break out this year. DYK he quietly went for 14/6 last year? Solid.
Can’t Get Enough – He’s gone and this was two years ago but it’s still dirty
Unblemished. Let’s revel in this first weekend’s perfection because it’s never bad to see an empty L’s column. After what we endured as Conference-o-Champion fans a season ago, we deserve this moment of loss-less glory.
And welcome back. It’s been a second and it sure was nice to gander at my phone Friday night and see this:
Don’t judge the edge network, I was well en route to a seaside cabin built in 1967 by my buddy’s grandparents and where progressive thinking grandparents hand build cabins, the cell towers don’t tend to follow. Happy birthday, Seth.
But how’s about that TV deal, eh? Look, it’s flawed and it’s not going to deliver games to the backs of our retinas a la 007 or Ethan Hunt, but it got me a Colorado-Wofford game and an Oregon-NAU game i otherwise never would’ve seen. I got Arizona without hunting down obscure channels or pirated radio feeds or making backroom deals at bars I don’t want to be in. That network is a glorious work in progress and no matter what it’s better than FSN.
And now, three brief paragraphs into the first Weekend Review, it’s time to get over that unblemished record. It’s not going to stay that way and we need to see some RIP boosters. Just because Charleston Southern and NAU can keep games against Arizona and Oregon tight into the final minutes doesn’t mean anyone’s accomplished anything. This is the time of year where teams cut their teeth against opponents with numbers next to their name and in hostile environments. This is when you begin earning your cupcakes because you’ve garnered a four-seed and they’re a thirteen. But fear not, that will get going shortly as a handful of squads tip off in tournaments this week.
The season has begun!
Leader in the Clubhouse: I’m not going to spend much time on this section early in the year as it’s all speculation. If indeed this conference is a two horse race featuring UCLA and Arizona, UCLA did more to impress between the two. So, one game deep, UCLA is the best team in the Pac-12. But – food for thought – Oregon State is the only 2-0 team? Next subject.
Game of the Weekend: Tough here. There was nothing particularly riveting about this slate of games. No Major-on-Major action or even Major-on-Intriguing-Mid-Major action. Arguably the marquee game was Oregon State hosting New Mexico State which turned into somewhat of a ho hum affair in which Ahmad Starks fulfilled his coaches promise that he could single-handedly replace Jared Cunningham’s scoring. The wee PG dropped 33/5/5, including four steals. But I must award this to someone so I’m going to go ahead and give it to the Pac-12 Conference. The GOtW, in Week One, is awarded based on the fact that there were indeed games. 13-0.
The Big Loser: No one lost and one weekend in I refuse to call anyone a loser. Except, maybe, Colorado football [sad face].
State of the Conference: Here’s a new section stemming from the company line every coach took at Pac-12 Media Day. Sean Miller went so far as to lay out his cheering plan, “I can remember a long time ago when I played, I would always cheer against the teams in our conference because I didn’t want them to do as well as us. And those days have ended a long time ago.” So Sean’s a fan of the Conference but so is every other coach. They each talked about depth, improvement, etc. It was like they were Larry Scott’s Pac-12 Promotoinal Pinocchios; the Triple P’s. They did well because I gobbled it up, hook-line-and-sinker. But I’ll keep beating the dead horse and remind us all while pinching myself, the actual games are being played now and that’s the true measure of the company improvement line.
Favorite Stat Line: Another new section for the new season, I wanted to take a peak around the league and highlight that which statistically impressed. This week there were a lot of candidates. I’ve already mentioned Ahmad Starks’ 33 point effort and I really liked that the most important piece of Stanford’s success, Dwight Powell, dropped a cool 27 points. Gotta shout out to Colorado’s freshman behemoth, Josh Scott, and his 14/6 while shooting 10/11 from the stripe. Also receiving votes would be the least heralded of UCLA’s freshman class, Jordan Adams, going off for 21/7 in leading the Bruins in New Pauley. Not receiving votes was Josh Smith’s 5/5 or Devon Collier’s 0/1/1 foul out against NMSU. Sigh. No, my favorite stat of the weekend was ASU’s 79 point outing. This is a big year for the Herbivore who’s been cited as the owner of the warmest seat in America. He’s promised a faster offense and in game one, against Who-Really-Cares-U, the Sun Devils scored 79 points – a total they surmounted just twice last year. This energized pace, arguably lead by Jordan Bachynski’s flirtation with a triple-double, sparked the yet-to-be-viral meme, #HustlinHerbs. As I’ll expand in the next section, this is just one game against grossly inferior competition, but the Devils’ pace is something we’re already keeping an eye on and they seem to be taking it seriously.
What We Learned: Absolutely nothing. This opening weekend’s schedule was built to go undefeated. This isn’t synchronized swimming where style counts. It’s basketball, wins and losses. Everyone won and that’s the Week One take away. A few things have piqued my interest but I’m really going to try my darnedest to draw zero conclusions from this weekend. If business was taken care of, then we tip our hats and read up on the next game otherwise we’ll lose our minds (just wait for the YouTuber below). If we do get weird, I’d pick apart the fact that Arizona played like their 2011-12 selves or Devon Collier’s performance or start to call Bachynski, Bogut. Nope. Can’t let that happen. But after that keep it in your pants rant, isn’t it fun to have things to discuss? It’s tangible, it’s there, I can see it and formulate opinions based on fact and not speculation. Fans: We are better than the stock market.
The YouTuber: Does Warcraft make everything funnier? Keep a level head and Roll. Damn. Tide.
Last week the Pac-12 announced the media’s preseason predictions. They’ve picked Arizona to win it although they awarded more first place votes to UCLA – indicative of the unstable state that program appears to be in. Alas, we can’t have this be our only predictive conversation.
Following last season, we awarded the Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards. The Dorothy, The Steinbrenner, The Grecian, and others were all awarded to the most deserving of candidates. Now, on the cusp of a highly anticipated 2012-13 Pac-12 basketball season, I present, the Not So Pac-12 Media Preseason Awards:
The Casey Jacobsen: Awarded to the player most likely to frost his tips
Pick: Ken Bone, WSU
Look, sometimes its tough to look cool when all you do is stand on a sideline and shout. And, with so many players getting busted for possession, Ken Bone needs to find a way to better relate to his team. Maybe a stop by the stylist is his best option.
Others considered: Rosco Allen (Stanford), Roster (ASU),
The Jorge Guitierrez: Awarded to the player most likely to piss off opposing players and fans
Pick: Mark Lyons, Arizona
Not only is he a seemingly unprecedented transfer with title implications, but by all accounts he’s got a mouth, is havoc on the defensive end, and became renowned for his participation in the Xavier-Cincinnati melee. He’s going to beat you – or at least try real hard to – and then let you know about it.
Others considered: Aaron Bright (Stanford), Jio Fontan (USC), Nick Johnson (Arizona), EJ Singler (Oregon)
The Brock Motum: Awarded to the best player you’ve never heard of
Pick: Devon Collier, Oregon State
It was hard not to pick Brock himself as the dude barely gets any love already despite projecting to have another stellar season lost in Pullman. But Collier has only gotten better year-over-year and projects to flourish with the departure of Jared Cunningham and the pending emergence of Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks.
The Josiah Turner/Jabari Brown: Awarded to the player most likely to miss expectations by a year and a mile
Pick: Shabazz Muhammad
At this point, this isn’t even a preseason pick, we’re just giving it to him. Odds are he won’t play a game in new, old, or otherwise Pauley; but if he does I’ll swallow the crow whole. His commitment to UCLA had Howland and crew a pre-pre-season top-10 team. Now they’re not.
Others considered: Dominic Artis (Oregon), Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona), JT Terrell (USC)
Player I Want to Party With: (no criteria provided)
Pick: Brock Motum (WSU)
If you’ve never traveled abroad and stayed at a hostel with an Australian, I suggest you do it.
The RomCom: Awarded to the player that most resembles a cast member of Love Actually
Pick: Angus Brandt
Others considered: Unanimous decision
The 2007 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to lose you money
Pick: USC Trojans
Here is the team that’s super interesting and I’ve called the hipster pick but they were 1-17 last year! Sure they’re grossly revamped but we know absolutely nothing about them but everyone keeps picking them. What if they’re wrong and the juice is flowing the wrong way?
Others considered: Arizona Wildcats, UCLA Bruins
The 2001 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to make you money
Pick: Washington Huskies
Not many people are high on the Huskies but they have heavy experience at three critical positions at the point, wing, and center and a wild card in RS senior Scott Suggs. Maybe, just maybe, the Huskies can eek out a competitive season and spoil the preseason predictions.
Others considered: Stanford Cardinal, USC Trojans
The Golden Mane: Awarded to the most luscious locks in the conference
Pick: EJ Singler
He cut them. They’re gone and he looks like an everyman but we’re awarding him this for potential. What if he grows it out over the season? I want it to happen. Make it so.
Others considered: Angelo Chol (Arizona), John Gage (Stanford), Sabatino Chen (Colorado),
Best Iranian: Awarded to the best Iranian born player in the conference
Pick: Arsalan Kazemi
Uh…pretty sure he’s the only one to play D-1 ball. Ever.