Tag Archives: DJ Haley

Ranking the Pac-12 front courts

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. WSU – Uhhhhh. They have their full allotment of scholarship athletes?

Getting to know USC: They’re nice

Let’s get serious. If we’re going to discuss USC basketball we’re going to talk about Andy Enfield’s wife comments about UCLA, “Wanna play slow? Go to UCLA.” Boooom! And then he swiftly glowed about his respect for “Steve” and the UCLA program. I don’t doubt his sincerity, but I also don’t fully believe the fact that he wants that spice behind closed doors. In a recent meeting a co-worker told me that if you’re going to write a marketing email that everyone is going to like you’re going to be boring. No one likes boring. No one plays for boring. So Dunk City needed to make a splash. Dunk City has to come into Los Angeles – which is UCLA’ s town – and make itself loved. To be loved, someone’s gotta hate you. Because you’re either loved, hated, or forgotten. Andy Enfield aims to not soon be forgotten.

Amanda_Marcum-5

Why I love them: This team has almost nothing going for it from the standpoint of a talented roster. This is a predicament that – in the realm of sports – not conducive to left column. USC is not going to win many ball games. But they’re winning the press conference. They’ve won a recruiting battle. And Mrs. Enfield. Pe’Shon Howard is a nice transfer and Omar Oraby is gigantic. Byron Wesley returns after a sound sophomore campaign and JT Terrell is going to shoot more often than Lane Kiffin changes jobs. Darion Clark won a title at Oak Hill Academy and arrives in LA by way of transfer from Charlotte. DJ Haley brings all seven feet of himself to the Galen Center from VCU… along with his 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. So many nice parts, right?

Why I hate them: Ever asked someone how their date went and they say, “Good time. He was nice.” Yeah, game over. Nothing good is ever nice and everything inside the Galen Center just feels nice. JT Terrell is stoked to be let loose as an athlete (“Been a lot of people getting dunked on in practice”) as I imagine everyone else is. But when two of your greatest assets – at least on paper – are seven-plus footers (Oraby and Haley), well then your run-n-gun, up-tempo offense wouldn’t seem to have the right pieces. I’m excited about USC’s direction, but it’s just really nice right now.

Stat you need to know:

11:38:56

Andy Enfield’s time on stage at Pac-12 Media Day. Worth noting, Steve Alford’s time on stage was 14:54:45. Who’s faster?

Quotable:

“We play up-tempo basketball here. If you want to play slow, go to UCLA.” – Andy Enfield’s quote that ain’t going anywhere.

Outlook: I suppose it’s a loaded question because, amongst all of the teams we’ve previewed, in the long term USC has the greatest ceiling. Or at least they’ve got the best opportunity to become a regular dancer. They’re sure as shit not there yet. Katin Reinhardt is riding the pine and won’t take the court until Jordan McLaughlin arrives on campus. 2013-14 won’t be easy to swallow in the Galen Center but neither was Bozo Ball. Did you know that one of KO’s USC teams had the 335th best offense in the nation (87.9 ORtg)? In a word: awful.  On to the Enfield-era where offenses move like grandmas with cheetahs taped to their backs and dunks flow like 405 traffic after a SigAlert clears. You wanna play slow? Go to…