We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)
We’re entering year three with Cuonzo which is his average tenure. He stayed three years at Missouri State before earning a Sweet Sixteen and a ticket to Knoxville where petitions were started to oust him. The people demand Bruce Pearl! And now we’re here. He’s got an outbound lottery pick, a four-year-five-star, a Columbia grad transfer, and Marcus Lee on the bench. His athletic department has significant deficits but Cuonzo got a contract. Alas, that’s a grim outline for what’s generally viewed as a promising season. The Bears were picked to finish 4th this season and, despite my run down, all can’t be bad in Berkeley (I have friends that live there!).
Last season on “Everybody Love Cuonzo”
A historic number of Pac-12 teams are dancing which is what Spencer and I discuss on a day that also saw Johnny Dawkins and Yann Hufnagel fired (which is unequivocally a distraction no matter what he says and especially if he says this).
By tuning in you’re exposing yourself to: a Vegas breakdown (it was a straight forward tournament but Spencer makes a hygiene admission) and team-by-team big dance thoughts.
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I spent the Pac-12 week on the East Coast and I maintain a West Coast bias. That said, it was mostly quiet on the Western Front as the conference’s top-4 teams established themselves as…the top-4 teams. Of course Utah asserted themselves on the road and Cal did something they’d never done before. We’re 2 weeks away from some definitive answers but I’m not comfortable pretending like I know anything.
Allow me to make a mountain out of a mole-scrimmage. As a rule, we shouldn’t read into scrimmages. They’re for entertainment purposes, a means to generate hype around the team, program, and season. I’m not talking about the “secret scrimmages” sealed as tight as a government drone policy. But I can’t help being shocked that in Stanford’s brief (20-minute) Cardinal vs. White scrimmage, one team managed to outscore the other by sixteen. I confess, this is nothing to be startled over. But the final score was 40-24 and it made sense but it didn’t. Like how do you evenly split your team into a blow out? Or why not pause and mix things up to allow for even play? It’s your scrimmage. Like I said, this is admittedly making a mountain out of a molehill but it just seems odd. Arizona’s Red-Blue game yielded an 8-point scoring difference, Cal’s was 3…in three overtimes. Of course Oregon State’s scrimmage was a 77-54 blowout (NOTE: the Beavers never scored 77 points in a Pac-12 game last season) so who really knows. But because the conversation of Stanford basketball has often been player development, I’m curious who’s learning from such a game? This type of competition? Of course I didn’t see the game and – by rule – we’re not to make anything of it. But this feels fittingly familiar for the least familiar Stanford team we’ve seen in awhile. Gone is the “core” that won two NIT titles and beat Kansas. Is that Stanford basketball? It might be. But this year really doesn’t project to anything “special” which at this point at Stanford is an 18-11 regular season, .500 ball in conference, and a strange post-season (but a post-season nonetheless I suppose).
Why I love them
*turn on the new Adele album to read the following sections Continue reading
A brief history of inexperienced coaches taking Pac-12 jobs:
- Jay John – Oregon State
- Experience – 0 seasons
- Success – 5+ seasons, 72-97, 0 NCAAs
- Todd Bozeman – California
- Expeirence – 0 seasons
- Success – 4 seasons, 63-35, 3 NCAAs, lots of asterisks
- Steve Lavin – UCLA
- Experience – 0 seasons
- Success – 7 seasons, 145-78, 6 NCAAs
- Tony Bennett – WSU
- Experience – 0 seasons
- Success – 3 seasons, 69-33, 3 NCAAs
- Johnny Dawkins – Stanford
- Experience – 0 seasons
- Success – 7 seasons, 141-100, 1 NCAA
- Tad Boyle – Colorado
- Experience – 4 seasons, 46-56, 0 NCAA
- Success – 5 seasons, 108-67, 3 NCAAs
- Andy Enfield – USC
- Experience – 2 seasons, 41-28, 1 NCAA
- Success – 2 seasons, 23-41, 0 NCAA
- Bobby Hurley – Arizona State
- Experience – 2 seasons, 42-20, 1 NCAA
- Success – ???????????
I can’t confirm the immediate intro jams – we’re talking striking college scenery not Wooden statues and Boyle barking – but I feel none were as fitting as this week’s. Stereotyping can be funny so acoustic tunes conjuring be-dreadlocked coeds frolicking in the hills of Berkeley’s campus was notable. It felt right. Certainly more than any other school’s introduction.
And when we’re invited into the basketball side of Berkeley, well I don’t know what the hell. We first see the team standing around coach. They’re just standing around and the first thing Cuonzo says is, “Anybody ready to quit?” Quit what? Everyone’s just standing there. He continues inaudibly as he lightly bends at the hips, looking almost the part of a hobbled man with a cane. It doesn’t look like Cuonzo Martin. He continues inaudibly to his audience that won’t quit but has go to be grossly confused until you hear him say, “wobble.” And old-man-looking Cuonzo’s leg give a slight tremble. He straightens, “Now are we on the same page?” I watched this 4x. Continue reading
Finally everyone’s favorite socks will have their jersey hang in the rafters of the McKale Center. It’s been a long time coming for Jason Terry’s #31 but it’s well deserved. And because we adore a game that celebrates its moments, I thought it fitting to share one of my favorite Jason Terry moments (Stanford game-winner was hard not to link aside from its lack of a web presence).
First, let’s note that The Jet won a national title and was named the national Player of the Year. He was the Pac-10’s 1999 Player of the Year, made the bench cool, wore the socks and played basketball with the enthusiasm of 1000 Sean Miller practice plans.
Pure Terry: Continue reading
We are halfway through this season and it’s evident that 2015 is a tough season to cover. Basketball is being played at nearly two fewer possessions per game with nearly 6% less scoring per game (learn more here). The Pac-12 – the conference that chose me – is playing at nearly 2012 levels. Sure the top of the conference is better and the talent levels far surpass that which we saw in the fateful Pac-12 inauguration. But at least in 2012 there was a multitude of teams vying for a shot to dance. What crap could rise to the top? You can’t look me in the blog and tell me anyone but Arizona or Utah is going to win in Vegas. It’s seemingly foregone in early February. This is increasingly looking like a two-horse race to Selection Sunday. After that, 2015 has been…a rebuilding? That’s not going to stop us. Because Askia Booker has shots to take and so too does DaVonte Lacy. Kevon Looney is going to be the only freshman in the country to average a double-double. Have you watched Oregon State’s zone against everyone but Arizona State? Watch Elgin Cook pursue a shot, Gary Payton II defend, and Ty Wallace play. These are the last nine games you’ll see of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, Norman Powell, and Booker. You’ve got plenty of reasons to perhaps quit on this season. But champions never quit. This is the Conference of Champions (plus the page views, comments, tweets and shares make me feel good).
Game of the Week
In New York they postponed two basketball games due to weather. As a reminder, basketball is played indoors, presumably a weather protected sport. In Brooklyn, they’re not playing indoor basketball because of weather. Meanwhile, I spent my Sunday at the beach. I went to Cal and Stanford in jeans and a shirt. A light jacket was in tow and today I’m lightly sunburnt, sunkissed if you will (don’t tell my dermatologist brother). So while the Pac-12 is maybe only getting three teams in this year’s dance (although I do discuss Oregon State’s chances below, HBD Tink), the Conference of Champions wins. Because while winning isn’t everything, neither is winter.
12) CALIFORNIA (-1)
I subscribe to the idea that it’s never too early to talk Player of the Year. This, of course, is an irrational subscription. We can’t even agree on what generally qualifies a POY. Is it the MVP? The best player on the best team? The player with the gaudiest stats? A career achievement piece? Sports is not a place for agreement.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the three-bid, underwhelming 2015 Pac-12, there will be nothing underwhelming or controversial about its Player of the Year. Because it is going to be one of the following two – highly deserving and non-Jorge Gutierrez – players: