The buzzer beater is amongst the most exciting plays in sport. Right up there, if not exceeding, the dramatics of the walk-off, two-minute drill, or shootout. We revere those who hit them (Kobe, MJ) and laud those who miss them (LeBron).
Aside: Whether LeBron is clutch or not is not for debate here. I’m taking that guy over Kobe seven-days a week and twice on Sunday.
And look, I’ll be honest, I fancy myself a fair writer. I think I can craft a decent tale and make the moments of our beloved college hoops season magnified beyond perhaps their given importance. Hyperbole is my friend.
But there’s a reason they say a picture’s worth 1000 words. A moving picture, for that matter, is likely worth more. I’m unaware of the word value of such but to witness a moment, to see what we know was created, built, and captured in an instance, is worth innumerable words. I will not attempt to dictate these moments. Watch.
Two hands were abruptly thrown onto Allen Crabbe’s chest before he rallied his team to victory over ASU. And the college basketball universe went nuts about the Mike Montgomery shove. Understandably so.
Such actions have cost greater coaches their jobs and while maybe their strikes have occurred with more severe intent, there’s really no place for that. We could celebrate Crabbe’s rally and the motivational tactic but why does it have to boil down to a shove? Was that really the best possible move? A lost moment amongst the emotion of competition? Whatever it was, Mike Montgomery is better than that and I trust the situation was handled internally and appropriately.
In other news, I’m hoping that my body is internally and appropriately handling whatever this bug is that I’ve inherited so I can get back to full strength for the final three weeks of this season!
The Presidential weekend:
Leader in the Clubhouse: Oregon stands alone and if they’re not standing on concrete then it’s at least setting. They hold a game lead over the next two teams chasing them and they hold wins over both those teams. You know this. And you also know they garnered a road sweep against the Washingtons without Dominic Artis. I’ve already likened his pending return to a deadline trade and with essentially a 1.5 game lead for the one seed in Vegas (who’s stoked for Vegas??) that incoming talent should behoove them. That said, I’m going to need to give a shout out to the Cal Bears for the run they’re on and their late rally into Dance contention.
Biggest Loser: When I headed down to The Farm on February 3, I witnessed the best version of the Stanford Cardinal that there could be. Damn they were good. And now they just got swept at home. They’ve dove under the .500 mark in conference and while the LA schools are proving tough, the home court is to be defended. At least as a team with aspirations of The Dance; a fleeting sight in Palo Alto.
What We Learned: As I was settling in to Saturday night, and Evan Gordon’s shot was circling the tin and another Top-5 team had lost, I got to talking about the absurdity of this college basketball season with Matt and Dave. “This college basketball season” we began as an excuse for anything, including Dexter Kernich-Drew’s late foul, a speeding/texting/rolling stop ticket, working late, performance issues…hey, this college basketball season! Indeed it’s becoming increasingly less predictably who will win week in and week out and what more could you ask for? Unless it’s your team, an oligarchy doesn’t befit the masses. Do you realize just how crazy this March is going to be? Vegas, too? The absurdity of this season will roll its wild self on into tournament play and we’re going to be the benefactors of, well, this college basketball season.
The YouTuber: CU pulled off a fun one of these mid-game on Thursday and as I went on a Harlem Shake bender the next day, this was the most impressive:
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:
Snippets on today and tomorrow’s segue into the second half
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:
The glass has to be half full. It must with nary a game yet played. For such, over the next few days, I’ll be posting why each of the conference’s twelve teams have reasons to be optimistic.
The League – The Herbivore went out and reloaded his coaching staff with NBA veterans Eric Musselman and Larry Greer. Time will tell if the move pays off but any time you can get some NBA minds in your locker room and on your bench it can’t be terrible.
Eric Gordon – OK, if the Eric Gordon was on this team there would be a lot more hype surrounding their season. But they do have his little brother, Evan, who transfers in from Liberty where he averaged 14/3/2 before departing. He’ll play Robin to…
Pace – Herb Sendek has vowed to make his offense move faster. Why? Because usually it doesn’t, ranking at 281, 296, and 326 in adjusted tempo the last three seasons.
80/5 – That’s the dollar amount (in millions) over years the Houston Rockets will pay former Sun Devil, James Harden. That is so much dollars.
London – There were two Sun Devils who played basketball in the summer games, Harden and Ike Diogu (Nigeria). Won’t lie to you, that’s pretty cool.
Toreros – No one knows what happened in the super-secret scrimmage the Devils had against USD and maybe we should keep it that way.
Utah – Little did we know – or perhaps the writing had been on the wall, but still – that adding the twelfth winningest basketball program in college history (as measured by most wins) would likely keep the Devils out of the cellar (excluding USC’s 2011-12 anomaly) for two consecutive years. Utah was bad last year and likely won’t be much better this year. Also, you can’t tell me you’re not surprised to hear that Utah’s won the twelfth most games in college hoops history. Impressive.