Tag Archives: Jordan Adams

Week 5 Pac-12 Hoops Preview: Here so we don’t get fined

The Pac is avoiding afternoon broadcasting this Sunday. Fortunately, conference games that day feature the two worst teams in the Pac (USC and Cal). I suppose I’ve tipped my hand surrounding this week’s Game(s) to Avoid, but maybe you’ll be at a house of favorable fandom. Which really just proposes that you’re at a house choosing to optimize the magnitude of the day’s events with the requisite accompaniments of next-level junk food. Like I want to hear about food consumption that has you in a funk so Monday that you think ‘Ernie Kent for the rebuild’ is a great idea. Of course that puts all eyes on Husky fans (no pun intended) who will have dual watching privileges (Cal @ UW 12pm + Super Bowl). So if the Pac-12 is going to try and avoid competing with the Super Bowl, we can oblige! And while it seems that everyone hates both the Seahawks and the Patriots, both produce two very lovable characters. And Tom Brady is awesome.

Game of the Week

A lot of things to keep an eye on this week particularly on Wednesday. Five of the conference’s top six teams will be in action that night including our GotW: Stanford @ Washington. This game features our two leading amoeba candidates with identical 14-5 overall records. Washington hasn’t had quite the conference success of the Cardinal and now will be short their tallest asset: Robert Upshaw. Nevertheless, #TakingCareOfBusiness at home has been a major part of Pac-12 basketball. They have the second highest conference home winning percentage. This bodes well for Washington. The Upshaw story bodes well for the Cardinal.

And while it’s not a game, The Drivedebuts tonight at 9pm PST on The Networks. Expect reviews of that.

Game to Avoid

The aforementioned Sunday slate may be unavoidable. If I’m parked with a booming game day bucket, Taco Bell, ‘za, wings, cheap beer, expensive beer, mid-priced red (someone’s inevitably going to invite this friend), a Chinese spread, why-not-Thai, an assortment of Hostess products, fuggit-a-pie, ice cream, and Tums® then I won’t be opposed to watching Pac-12 basketball, too. Maybe let’s make a handful of prop bets for the weekend? Let me know if you want in on this action:

  • Herb Sendek gets extended: 3-1
  • Spencer Dinwiddie given 6 week D-League assignment in Boulder: 4-1
  • Robert Upshaw transfers to Oregon: 6-1
  • Robert Upshaw transfers from Oregon: 6-1
  • Bryce Alford plays 41 minutes in regulation: 9-1
  • BruinsNation writes something nice about it: OFF
  • Jordan Adams admits he touched the ball: 18-1
  • Larry Scott admits Jordan Adams touched the ball: 5000-1

Something to Prove

They’re paying the team they knocked off a return visit and I can’t imagine the McKale Center is going to be all too kind to the Oregon State Beavers. You have to appreciate that Wayne Tinkle has said that this season won’t be the “year we beat Arizona.” Beating one team does not a season make. Since breaking down in his news conference after beating then #4 Wisconsin, Eddie Jordan’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 0-4. They’d just won their championship. Conversely, Tinkle and his Beavers are 3-1 with their eyes on bigger things. Yes, winning in Tucson and sweeping the Wildcats is a tall order. But beating ASU on the road is far more reasonable, conceivable, and immediate accomplishment.

Something to Lose

Washington evidently had someone to lose and it’s in a big way. We won’t dwell on that even though last week we thought Colorado had their season to lose while playing short some critical talents. Turns out, just giving a good effort is enough to earn some PacHoops love. Good job, Buffs! Washington still isn’t our team with the most riding on the line this week. I think that distinction belongs with the Stanford Cardinal. They’ve navigated the circle of suck, as Spencer noted, to a 5-2 conference record. They’ve won at Texas and held court against Connecticut. But they now take all that on the road where Dawkins’ teams are 31-50 All-Time. Woof. At this point, however, the Cardinal are playing the role of expected victor not enigmatic maybe. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown are granite not sandstone. Is this the year Stanford rides that soundly into the NCAA tournament? It seems that way today, a road trip to Washington could alarm us otherwise.

Texts From Family Members

Mom. FTW.


Jordan Adams Changed His Mind

In December, we looked into how Jordan Adams had changed his game. A mid-range threat as a freshman, Adams had improved his offensive efficiency by getting to the rim. He had changed his game.

And now he’s changed his mind.

News dropped over the weekend that the efficient shooter would be foregoing his remaining two years in Westwood to head to the NBA. This differs from his initial April 17 declaration to stay in school. He gone.

This flip flop is a major blow to the Bruins. Their starting lineup will be 80% brand new and Bryce Alford will almost certainly be starting. Stay tuned for rants of Daddy Ball wielded by the Hoosier Loser (fear not, you’ll never read that here).

You don’t need me to spell out the significance of Adams’ departure. He was arguably the best returning player in the conference and was easily the best player on UCLA’s roster. With the Family Wear and Kyle Anderson already gone, Adams was going to be the centerpiece, likely expanding on what was already the conference’s 8th highest usage percentage. This is kind of a big deal.

And with regards to the Pac-12 landscape, I had hinged the Pac-12 off-season on the professional decisions of Adams and Spencer Dinwiddie. Both star guards were faced with tough choices. Furthermore, both seemingly held the fate of their teams’ 2014-15 success in their hands. Both have now chosen pro pastures and leave Alford and Boyle with some significant coaching opportunities. Good luck, gentlemen.

Of course it should be noted that both teams project to be in the upper half of the conference. UCLA has pieced together a nice class and Isaac Hamilton has had a year on the pine (after transferring from UTEP) to learn the Alford way. Colorado has a talented group that will now have the added benefit of knowing exactly what they’re working with and can lose their “deer in headlights” look they wore following Dinwiddie’s injury. It’s an uphill battle for both but a challenge both rosters are prepared to handle.

All of which begs the question: Is it November yet?

Spencer Dinwiddie and his Big Choice

Spencer Dinwiddie has set aside time with members of the media to declare where he’ll be taking his rehabilitation. The reality of this situation is such that The Mayor is making a terribly difficult decision: Stay or go? That, of course, is the simplification of the choice but he’s in a tough spot picking between two unknowns. His health is unclear and his draft stock is equally uncertain. We don’t know what he’ll do.

But we know he’ll sit in front of a microphone – or a bunch of iPhones as I’m not entirely sure how this thing will go down – make a declaration, and the second biggest shoe of the Pac-12 off-season will drop.

Yes, replacing Monty was big (welcome, Cuonzo); and yes it was interesting to see Bill Moos’ pick (welcome back, Ernie); and yes it was funny to kind of maybe, you know if circumstances were to dictate such, follow the possible consideration of Nigel Williams-Goss’ departure. And when Nick Johnson declared for the draft, it was a touch surprising but it really just means that Arizona goes from unbelievably good to believably elite. The Beavers chose to keep Craig Robinson, Craig’s best returner decided to go, and Zach LaVine’s dad went moderate-to-full helicopter parent in discussing playing time, going so far as to say:

“If it doesn’t work out, you get a divorce. I don’t blame anybody.”

There have been many decisions already in this brief off-season but none will have as immediate and large of an impact as those made by Jordan Adams and The Mayor.

Adams already made his intentions public: he’s staying. This gives UCLA a known commodity for their 2014-15 campaign in an important second year for Steve Alford. Coach can lean on the POY front runner as he gets a very different roster up to speed. Welcome to the Powell and Adams show.

Which brings us to the second shoe. A shoe that rests below a reconstructed knee that is the basis of all this uncertainty. There’s no use discussing what this presser would look like had Spencer never hurt his knee in Seattle. That’s just a cruel waltz down an unpleasant memory lane. Revisionism only ever helped Marty and Doc.

And whether he should or should not go is beyond the scope of my analysis. I can offer no insights into what a player should do when it comes to his future, his earning potential, and what NBA teams are telling him. At least he can eat all the snacks he wants in Boulder now. This is an incredibly personal decision for a young man in a situation I have zero personal experience with. I know Spencer Dinwiddie is a terrific basketball player and I know he aspires to play in the NBA and has the skills to fulfill that aspiration. It’s a dream he’s as close to as he may ever be. The question (aside from Stay or Go?) is whether or not the NBA wants him. Again, I don’t know and I won’t venture to guess. For my money (I have very little), he can play in The League.

Of course what I can definitely tell you is that his decision will have a gross impact on the 2014-15 Pac-12 basketball season. With Dinwiddie, Colorado is a top-15 team, the second best roster in the Pac, and very realistically has sights set on the school’s first round of 16 since the beginning of Beatlemania. John Wooden had won just one title at the time of the Buffs’ last trip to the second weekend (1963). It’s been awhile.

Without The Mayor in Boulder, the course of 2014-15 changes. We’ve had a glimpse of what the Buffs look like when he’s on the bench and allow me to show you the scoring differentials against NCAA teams with and without him:CU against Tourney Teams

That’s +3 with the kid and minus-128 without him. I suppose I could break into a Where They Affect The Game here but the numbers are too outstanding. Dinwiddie means something and today, at 1:30pm MST, he’ll drop the second biggest shoe on the Pac-12’s forthcoming season.

No matter what he says, I wish him luck. As noted, this is a personal and monstrous decisions. Dinwiddie strikes me as a bright kid, he’ll make the right choice for him. Good luck, Spencer.

And note, no matter his direction, Dom Collier is headed to Boulder.

Half the Pac Dances: Previewing It All

Let’s just get this part out of the way: here is a printable bracket. Now how about it? We’re here, March, with half the conference of champions dancing. That’s the most since 2009 (when it was the Pac-10) but let’s not harp on circumstance.


#1 Arizona Wildcats

Opening Remarks: For one reason. That’s what I said this season was about in November and that’s what it’s about today. It’s been no secret that this would be Sean Miller’s best team and it has not disappointed. Of course this is the point in the year when it becomes lasting disappointment – the kind that scars and hurts like the pretty girl’s “I have a boyfriend.” But there’s that instance that she says “yes” and so we love this tournament.  After losing to UCLA in the Pac championship game (his third such loss in five years), Miller had this to say:

If we won this championship, it’s about next week. If we lost this championship, it’s about next week.

Next week is now and the selection committee seems to have given Arizona a pretty favorable draw.

First Opponent: First up are the Weber State Wildcats who will try to become the first ever 16-seed to beat a one. SPOILER: They won’t but so much Wildcats. Weber State is a pretty classic profile of the David mold: good at threes (14th best 3FG% in the nation), slow (272d adjusted tempo), and offensively carried by one dude (Davion Berry has near top-50 usage). I probably don’t need to explain why Arizona will win but if you really need one, it’s because Weber State’s best defensive attribute (of which they have few) is that they limit threes. To which the Arizona varietal of Wildcats will kindly oblige, not shoot, and likely dunk. Yes, the Ogden based Wildcats stand little chance but I wish them luck as my boss hails from Ogden. Oh, and I’m far from buying this Oklahoma State hype.

Stories: It remains one of my all-time favorite times as a fan. We were buried deep in the guest bedroom of my parents house. Eight of us surrounding a shitty television by even the standards of a household that didn’t have cable until just a year prior. But it was the television we needed. And with every Wildcat success, a new superstition was born. There was face paint, squatting positions, gestures, noises, assigned seats, reassigned seats, and yelps until we willed Blake Stepp’s gimme out of the hoop and into Luke Walton’s arms. Rick Anderson would later call it the greatest game he had ever played in. Arizona had beaten Gonzaga in thrilling double-overtime fashion. The stage is set, let’s run it back.


  • National champions. It’s that or bust.
  • Third round. I’ve been dogging Oklahoma State but any team with a first round point guard in this tournament stands a chance.

#4 UCLA Bruins

Opening Remarks: Well now that the Bruins are a four-seed, me lauding them as a top-15 talented team doesn’t really mean much. The committee’s megaphone is greater than mine and means a lot more. Good work, guys. Further, the Bruins have the deadliest back court in the country. But y’all know this (aside from the Cougars AMIRIGHT?!?). But did you realize that UCLA has never lost a tournament game (of any non-preseason variety) when both that horrifying backcourt has been intact. Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are undefeated when playing together in tournament games (5-0). This is the champion of the championship we needed and deserved; a nomination that drew some debate on the twitter. The primary argument being big dance success is where the real ‘respect’ is earned. I can’t disagree with that.

First Opponent: I don’t think these Tulsa Golden Hurricanes are version of Danny and the Miracles. Led by Kansas great, Danny Manning, the Golden Hurricanes (GH moving forward ’cause that’s a lot of letters) are a pretty tough defensive squad. They’re top 30 in defensive efficiency and while you might see this as a strength, I don’t. Arizona, the best defense in the world, couldn’t stop these Bruins. The Wildcats were about to have to shoot their way to victory and nearly did (with a wildly improved defensive effort in the second half). Tulsa touts just an average offense which should allow an opportunistic UCLA defense to get enough stops to outscore the GH. Plus, who the hell guards Kyle Anderson? No seriously, I pose this question to the entire nation.

Stories: Unlikely but worth noting, New Mexico is in this region. An Alford-UNM matchup wouldn’t occur until the elite-eight but wouldn’t that have some heat. I mean, just imagine the Bruins Nation reaction to that loss. And speaking of potential melt downs on a certain web site, run through this scenario: a second round matchup of UCLA and VCU. Shaka Smart was on fans’ shortlist of UCLA head coaching candidates. Could a UCLA win here finally get people on the Alford train? It’d be second sweet-sixteen and most certainly his first when he was expected to get there. Of course, the converse…? And if we’re going to harp potential match ups, let’s look at the most likely. How sweet would a UCLA-Florida sweet-sixteen game be? Two of those three great Howland Final Four teams were dismissed by Billy D’s dominant Florida squads. They’d go on to win back-to-back titles. UCLA would fire Howland. This iteration of the rivalry would be awesome, featuring a top offense (UCLA) versus a top defense (Florida) and I imagine it’d play out a lot like the Pac-12 title game which was just fantastic. Hooray sports!


  • Final Four. They have the guard play and talent to pull it off.
  • Third round. VCU poses a unique threat and Steve Alford has only been out of the first weekend once.

#7 Oregon Ducks

Opening Remarks: I saw the quote via twitter and can’t find the link to it so I’ll paraphrase Johnathan Loyd’s quote:

We’re very thankful to be in this position, a month ago this wasn’t a possibility.

That’s the absolute truth. And as I watched him and his squad streak into the Dance, I can’t help but think they could make some noise. The swag they re-generated in winning all those games didn’t disappear in one fell swoop from the Bruins. It’s still there, this team can shoot with anyone in the nation, and on a given night can outscore just about anyone. If Oklahoma State can garner as much Cinderalla attention as they’ve received, why not Oregon?

First Opponenet: If NC State was unanimously the most shocking invite, BYU has got to be the second most startling. They were in just 89 of the 100 brackets aggregated at BracketMatrix which was the second fewest to the Wolf Pack who were in just two of the 100 brackets (the aggregated total may have changed since publish). Alas, this doesn’t change the fact that Oregon will indeed be playing the Cougars so let’s make a Vegas line out of it: Over/under 20,000 points in this one? These two have already played one game this season and combined for 196 points. Hell, they combined to score 28 points in the five minute overtime. BYU’s offense is faster than a message board thread turning weird, quicker than a live-look in at a 16-seed’s second half lead. The Cougars gets shots up like spring break. They score the third most points per game in the country. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino (the Cougar backcourt) do a great job of getting up and down the floor, leading the third highest percentage of transition offense in the nation. Oregon, meanwhile, takes the 25th highest amount of shots in transition, score the 11th most points per game, and 12th most efficient offense going. Want to see some kids run around a basketball court? Tune into this.

Stories: I think the Ducks outscore BYU and have a shooter’s chance to knock off Wisconsin. The Badgers are touting what everyone keeps calling the “best Bo Ryan offense ever.” Isn’t that any oxymoron? My point is that Oregon has a shot (pun) at their second straight sweet sixteen which could potentially have them facing the Creighton Blue Jays, Dana Altman’s old school. An establishment he never took to the Sweet-16. So this would play out like one of those awkward times when you run into your ex-girlfriend while you’re on a date at the ballet but the ex was always pissed you would never take her to the ballet. Hey, new girl gets new things. Rest assured, break ups happen for a reason.


  • Elite eight. They can out offense just about anyone but they’re not beating Arizona again.
  • Second round. Live by the three; die by it.

#8 Colorado Buffaloes

Opening Remarks: My gut was that I kind of liked what I saw for the Buffs. They were playing Pittsburgh who I’ve long sensed has a propensity to not score and who ultimately hadn’t really played anyone all season. But we can discuss that next. Now let’s just note and appreciate that Colorado has made three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Arizona and UCLA haven’t done that. This isn’t the team the Buffs thought they’d be this time of year but the fact of the matter is the Buffs are doing plenty of believing. I sincerely think they made this tournament because they believed they were supposed to and so they did. That reads pretty simplistic but this invitation is a very strong indication of Colorado’s culture shift.

First Opponent: So as I noted, my gut thought this was a good matchup. My research doesn’t really support that. First of all, it’s in Orlando. That’s clear across the country for Tad’s crew which is hurdle number one. Secondly, Pittsburgh is efficient on both sides of the ball, a pretty well rounded team. The Buffs, meanwhile, haven’t broken the 1.00 point per possession barrier in more than month (2/16 at USC, the conference’s worst defense). But the Buffs can defend and the Panthers take their sweet offensive time (271st in average  possession length). If Colorado stands a chance, it’d be in forcing those long possessions into some uncomfortable looks, create some bad shots, board like Buffaloes, and get run out on those D-boards.

Stories: I haven’t really found anything too interesting about where Colorado stands today. They’re a little bit over-seeded all things considered but they’ve also been shipped across the country to play in a quadrant built as Gator bait. But maybe getting an eight is a hat tip to the direction of the program? That’s something to smile about and hope for the best. In the meantime, Daytona Beach is supposedly a great Spring Break spot.


  • Third round. They can squeak past Pitt particularly if Pitt allows the game to be close. But Florida in Orlando?
  • Second round. They could also not squeak past Pitt.

#10 Stanford Cardinal

Opening Remarks: They made it! It only took six years for Johnny Dawkins to do what Dana Altman did in year three, Sean Miller and Tad Boyle did in year two, and Steve Alford did in year one.   Hell, Herb Sendek did it in year three. Quite the leash but NIT titles evidently buy you time in Palo Alto. The invitation came through, no matter how you want to criticize, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

First Opponent: They draw the New Mexico Lobos. One thing I did hear Doug Gottlieb quickly note on the Selection Show was that UNM struggles with the stretch four. I have no idea how to quantify this other than to note that UNM was 2-1 against SDSU who seems to have an entire roster of stretch fours. Well so too does Stanford, as Gottlieb’s proclamation would seem to be a great scenario for Huestis and Powell. But I think the main reason Gottlieb was suggesting this was because the Lobos do a generally good job of keeping teams away from the rim. Teams 32% of their offense from beyond the arc against UNM – the 19th highest percentage in the country. Good news for Stanford! Despite all of their size, they love going nowhere near the rim, content taking the 294th lowest percentage of rim shots. It’s from mid-range and out where Stanford can cause damage (I see you Anthony Brown) and New Mexico might let them.

Stories: Honestly, what more do you want beyond the fact that this team is in the tournament? More? OK. Well I’m kind of intrigued by the idea that this New Mexico team used to be Steve Alford’s. What if they make it further than UCLA? What if every team with a loose affiliation with UCLA (Iowa, UNM, VCU, Boston Celtics) makes it further? I’ve wildly digressed but I’ve struggled to dramatize this Stanford team all season. They do such a good job of it themselves. So maybe if I say enough bad things about Stanford, like how they’re not the best corner-back in the game, maybe Richard Sherman will come get them all pissed off for greatness?


  • Third round. They have the size and pieces to get past New Mexico but not Kansas (of course it is Kansas in March).
  • Second round. Many think that UNM is under-seeded which doesn’t bode well for the Cardinal.

#10 Arizona State Sun Devils

Opening Remarks: James Harden isn’t about to walk through that door, but even he couldn’t get the Sun Devils out of the first weekend. Nope, ASU’s season is perennially over by mid-March. They were the last Pac-12 announced, the selection committee with a cruel jest certainly not saving the best for last. They did, however, manage to escape a play-in game which I think is a good thing. And while Harden isn’t walking through that door, Jahii Carson most certainly is. He’s their must watch TV and March is must watch television. In skimming this amusing tourney guide, I was intrigued to find out that Jahii averages 20.8 points in 30 career neutral court games. That’s neat.

First Opponent: Rather than break down my thoughts on Rick Barnes and that beacon of mediocrity, let’s highlight Isaiah Taylor. I’ve only seen a handful of Texas minutes played this season but he was about as exciting a guard as I saw play all season. He did as he pleased in games against Kansas (23 points) and Iowa State (26 points). His FTrate is a threatening 58% which ASU doesn’t do a particularly good job of limiting. But what’s most interesting about this shifty little guy, is that he takes just 5.4% of his shots from deep. This means, Taylor is breaking down defenders and getting to the rim. And who’s he going to meet at the rim? Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Jordan Block-chynski. In general, there isn’t too much that jumps off the page about either of these teams offensively. I kind of like the idea of it becoming a battle of best players and ASU actually has the best player in this one. They also have Jonathan Gilling.

Stories: Steve Patterson isn’t the most well liked guy but neither are Texas or Arizona State. Patterson, naturally, just left ASU after less than two years in Tempe to be the AD in Austin. In trying to learn more about this, I came to find out that ASU president, Michael Crow, was upset about Patterson’s departure. And then I got to the line in the article where they noted that Crow was paying him about $450k and Texas was offering $1.4M. Are you kidding me Michael? I’d cheer Rick Barnes results for $1.4M a year, too.


  • Third round. It’s Rick Barnes in March and ASU has one of the best players going. But ASU-Michigan is not a match up I like if we’re looking for ways the Sun Devils advance.
  • Second round. Texas ain’t bad.

Our Final Pac-12 Game: Arizona. UCLA.

Here it is and I’m excited like Sean above. Our final Pac-12 game of the year and it involves the two most successful programs in conference history. It’s the title game that we need and deserve. All the season long we proclaimed that the Pac was back and for years now I’ve lauded that the return of these two programs would be paramount to this return to glory. In the past handful of years, you’d be hard pressed to find a better Pac-12 season, a better crop of talent and teams, than this 2013-14 group.

And it all comes down to UCLA and Arizona. Color me tickled!

Rather than dive into the history of these two (35-40 UCLA advantage) let’s stay in the present and look at what a fun matchup this is on paper. It’s the league (and nation’s) top defense against the league’s top offense (14th in the nation). Fire and ice.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 8.11.41 AM


We’ve discussed a good chunk of this but here it is visually. Arizona’s entire defense is built to force teams to shoot the high-risk, low-reward two-point jumper. Notice about that 51.9% of shots against the Wildcats are of this variety. Well 40.4% of the time, when UCLA is taking that variety of shot, they’re making  it. That’s the 29th best clip in the land and third best in the Pac-12. I’ve long been a fan of UCLA’s mid-range game – namely Anderson and Adams with spattered frustration at the Wears’ ability to hit that shot. Kyle takes nearly 60% of his shots there and makes 46% of them. Apologies because I can’t contextualize it but that’s the highest such FG% on the team. The D-1 average is 35.7%.

In January against the Wildcats, UCLA’s rim/2/3 shooting breakdown looked like this:

Rim: 24.6%                2pt: 55.4%           3pt: 20%

If you need a reminder as to what the AZ defense forces, it’s: 21.2/51.9/26.9. You get what the Wildcats allow you. The catch here – and it’s why I showed you UCLA shooting percentages – is that UCLA can make these shots. They’re a terrific shooting team and will not shy away from what they’re given. Or what they take.

The Bruins have the 4th highest steal percentage in the nation which they use to get moving. A little more than a quarter of UCLA’s offense comes in transition (27.2%). That the thirty second highest such percentage in the nation. They rank sixth in the nation in percentage of first FGAs coming off of a steal. Jordan Adams is UCLA’s All-Time single season steals leader. Theft is a significant part of their game and in January, UCLA stole the ball 12 times from Arizona and forced 17 turnovers – easily the most steals any team has collected against AZ. You saw that the Wildcat defense got what it wanted, but UCLA’s defense fed its offense.

Of note, in Arizona’s last eight games, TJ McConnell – Arizona’s point guard – has 47 assists to just 8 turnovers. More fire. More ice.

And now you see why I’m fascinated by this game. I was back then (STATS and Q&A) and now – with the stakes at their highest – I can’t wait for 3pm. I could dive further into this, but it’s 70-degrees here in San Francisco and if I’m going to be in a bar all afternoon, I gotta get outside.


Session 4 Preview: Ducks, Bruins, Devils, Card

You know the great fallacy of men is that we don’t like drama. We’ve bro’d out over so many fresh coldies citing how much we hate and don’t need drama as the conversation turns to how excited your are to watch this month. The mystique is in the unknown, the drama. The unexpected becoming reality, narrative unfolding and collapsing before us. We don’t like drama. We crave it. Just don’t date it.

Here’s the evening’s preview of drama.

#7 Oregon vs. #2 UCLA, Yes Please O’Clock at Get to a TV Standard Time
The Scoring Game

Before Oregon started this little eight gamer, we allowed ourselves some optimism because they had arguably the toughest stretch of their schedule upcoming: @UCLA, ASU, AZ. And then news broke that Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams did something likely sophomoric (another intended pun) and would not participate in that game. This. Because when you start 13-0 and then go 2-8 we start to care less about how you’re winning and more about whether or not you ever will again. The Ducks are and I can’t agree more with this Ernie Kent quote:

The scariest thing is that they’ve got their swag back.

I wouldn’t even call it scary. I’d call it Errol Childress. This is a group of transfers – a team that spent the middle portion of their season playing uninspired, lackadaisical basketball – who came to Eugene to Just Do It. And now they have their swag back!? We criticize the system of aggregating these castoffs and are quick to highlight its faults as this team faltered. But now they have their swag back. Because for all of the chemistry flaws we could cite that caused their near collapse, we can redefine those – certainly now – as strengths. Their strengths are their weaknesses. SWAG.

Damyean DotsonOf course while we’re on this narrative kick, did you see the ass kicking UCLA just endured? I haven’t really discussed it much but note that teams were putting up 1.16 points per possession against the Cougs in the thirteen games since they’d last held a team below 1.00ppp. So naturally WSU would hold the conference’s best offense (1.15ppp) to 0.82ppp. Only Mississippi Valley State and San Francisco State fared worse against the Cougs. All of which is to say that game was literally an aberration. You couldn’t run that through a simulator a gajillion times and never get an event remotely close to that. Which is to say UCLA would seem to be pissed and far from defined by that game/outcome. Furthermore, UCLA has lost 3 of 4 to the Ducks and probably thinks they should have won the Wear family miracle so that both David and Travis could stake claim to last second heroics in defeating Oregon. Alas, stories aside, this is a great match up.

Our first stop down match up lane is with Oregon’s offense. I’ve called them a mid-major with a budget and I’m going to stick to that. Yes it’s important for them to get defensive stops but it’s not their strength (SWAG). The three point shot is important to them. During this eight game win streak, they’ve maintained 33% of their offense from distance (their season average) but are shooting a blistering 46% from deep. Aside from these eight games, the Ducks shot a great 37%. But 46% as a team? Compare that to their losses where we find the Ducks taking 56% of their shots from deep and connecting on just 33% of those shots. Fair to say the Ducks live by the three and die by it? Now consider the fact that UCLA allows teams to shoot 41% of their offense from deep and begin to make your game considerations. Of course if Oregon is going to try and outscore you, UCLA is the team that can counter by outscoring them. They lead the conference in offense and they do that by getting into transition. They get into transition by stealing basketballs (Jordan Adams is the school’s all-time single season steals leader). UCLA is sixth in the nation in creating fast break offense from a turnover. Meanwhile, Oregon ranks fourth in the conference and 41st nationally in TO%. It means they take care of the ball pretty well and limit opponents to the 12th lowest percentage of transition offense from a steal, 4.1% (IT’S MARCH AND I’M DEEP DEEP DEEP DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE). In some regards, it would seem Oregon has the transition antidote, but collectively, the Ducks are an average (128th) team in limiting transition attempts. In summary: 


#3 ASU vs. #6 Stanford, Do you actually think this game will tip remotely close to its scheduled tip after three games, three intermissions, and a clearing of the venue? PST
The What’s Stanford Going to Do Game

If you were watching the Stanford-WSU game then you definitely don’t live on the East coast (I see you, CE). But you also heard Don MacLean exhaust the Stanford-must-win narrative. Now, to be fair, it was his fourth game of the day – a marathon. I imagine he did well at XS last night but that’s probably a tale we won’t soon hear. On that note, how much do you think KO is hating being relegated to the SF studio show when – you know – Vegas? Digression. Stanford needed to win that game – obvs – and they did. Post-game, Dwight Powell dropped the rare truth-and-reality bomb when he noted that he had never been to the NCAA tournament. Now I already mentioned that MacLean exhausted it and I already mentioned that I didn’t want to exhaust it when discussing Cal. But in Stanford’s case, this may be nonexhaustive. They’re the class that stayed – nary a one transferring or leaving early, a rarity these days. And they’ve never been to the NCAA tournament. So where are they today? Who cares. The Card need a few less f**ks given and some more of the Ernie-sais-quais: SWAG. Matt said it great on WANE yesterday, “…they don’t do anything easy. Stanford does things the hard way.” Which I thought was the easiest way (see what I did there?) to describe the Cardinal. In diving further into it, I got to thinking about how we make things easier for ourselves. Usually, when I want to make something easier, I’ll ask a friend. I’ll seek help. I’ll look for an assist! AHA! So I looked at Stanford’s assist rate and – low and behold – it’s the lowest in the conference. They have two First-Team All-Conference performers (Powell and Randle), an All-Defensive stud (Huestis), and the most improved player (Anthony Brown) in the conference. It’s a team littered with talent working in silos. Which would explain how/why Stanford has no bad losses (aka teams less talented than them) and really only a handful of quality wins (@ UConn, UCLA, Oregon). They’re 4-8 against the RPI top-50.

But maybe that’s enough about the Cardinal. Because they’re playing Maroon and a few contemporaries of mine like ASU to make a run into the championship game. They’ve got the right pieces – play making point guard, shooting off-guard, game changing big – and the venue is neutral which means it’s not a road game. The Herbivores were just 2-7 on the road this season. And there’s further data to suggest that the MGM serves as Jahii’s friendly confines. In last year’s Pac-12 tournament, Carson averaged 29 points on 61% shooting. He mixed in 11 assists and 9 boards while he was at it. So is it worth noting that Carson averaged 25ppg on 61% shooting against Stanford this season? Probably not (sarcasm font). But what we should note is that the Cardinal are pretty big up front. The third component of ASU’s projected success – game changing big in the form of a Bachynski – was a moderate factor in losing to Stanford (36 minutes, 7 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks) and a non-factor in beating them (15 minutes, 2 points, 3 boards, 0 blocks, 4 fouls). Is he a factor in this game? Hard to say. Stefan Nastic isn’t afraid to bump and Jordan isn’t afraid to flop. For all their size, however, the Cardinal make little effort to get to the rim. They rank 304th nationally in percentage of shots at the rim, begging the question – if we haven’t asked it already – is Bachynski a factor in this game? I mean, having an NBA prospect man the paint never really hurt anyone but it would seem that this will be the Jahii show. And he’s not afraid of that.

WANE: Eugene Wins, Las Vegas Gets Spencer

Ben Carter dismissed a Nick Johnson shot and then Washington State beat the hell out of UCLA and now Vegas. Those were the waning moments of Pac-12 regular season basketball and we had Matt from Addicted to Quack on WANE to discuss that Oregon game and everything forthcoming in Las Vegas.

Give it a listen, we go deep:


The Table:

0:00 – Matt’s work all over that intro

0:40 – Spencer admits that Eugene is different when you’re not an undergrad, but no-less fantastic.

1:38 – Really strange moment where everyone admits they’re not really sure what’s going on with regards to recording and logistics. You learn a little about how we make this happen.

2:20 – Things get existential

3:26 – We are going to handle this podcast by asking questions and then we note that Utah vs. Washington is an awesome way to kick this thing off.

4:33 – Tangent on Washington State and Spencer admits he was a little butt hurt to see the Wildcats lose in Eugene then poses a great argument for said WSU upset of UCLA.





38:14 – Money, sent to me in a won bet with my father, arrives.


41:42 – After diving into the number of ridiculous guards in this conference, how’s about the big kids?

47:10 – Adam with a major buzzkill on his stance on conference tournaments


57:26 – Spencer, the only of us going to Vegas, with the last word

On Last Night’s Monster Pac-12 Slate

The games were large in significance but then it all seemingly went chalk and whoa UCLA is playing well. I absorbed 25% of it through a billion of monitors inside the Pac-12’s production truck outside Haas and the remaining 12.5% via DVR on my couch. None of it was comfortable but here’s a jog through it all:

Arizona 67, Utah 63 OT – Have you guys heard of Fantex Holdings? It’s a company that’s creating value out of an athlete’s earning potential and allowing you to buy stock in that potential. The athlete makes money, you make money. It’s literally stock in an indvidual. Now somewhere in there I’ve violated an NCAA rule but if I’m buying futures on a program I’m buying up some Utah. They’re a year away from really shaking things up but that’s discredit to what they’re capable of doing right now. I could go into the Luck thing again but we’re all sick of that at this point (though I did find it WILDLY ironic – or probably coincidental, sue me – that the Utah band was playing Daft Punk’s Lucky out of one of the closing timeouts). That’s a tough team and a more talented team than Larry K had initially given them credit for. They were getting the best possible shot Arizona has in them at this point for 30 minutes, fouled Aaron Gordon out of the game and used all that momentum to have a free throw for a lead in the last minute. They missed it. Meanwhile, this game was a distinct reminder as to why I’m so sad balls about Brandon Ashley’s injury. Arizona seems to have a bit of that certain intangible. They’ll bend but they don’t break (not a foot pun). They’re tough in all the right places and perhaps, most importantly, between the ears. Additionally, who doesn’t like patting themselves on the back? Before the game I said this:

And then he did this:

York's nightThe sense – and maybe because we’ve seen 21 games with him not starting – but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is great off the bench. The aforementioned success of York assuages concerns about a talent drop off and allows York to play a completely different role. I’m not a basketball coach but I get the sense that there are some parallels to being the fifth or seventh man. There’s a semblance of rotation and predictability in those roles. York has started two games and scored 27 points in those games. Meanwhile – and this is where I’m really working off of feel and perception – the sixth man plays the role of GO FIX IT. Rondae can fix things. He’s not afraid to get dirty and if you watched overtime last night (I did), you know Arizona doesn’t win without his skinned knees and elbows. Six points and two offensive rebounds in extra time. Let it rain, Gabe, and all you can muster is a puddle, well then go clean it up, Rondae.

UCLA All of the Points, Cal Many Fewer Regulation – As noted, I watched this from the production booth and for the first 25 minutes of the game I was lost. I didn’t know what was live and what was replay or what was a highlight. I saw football on one screen at a certain point and was convinced Myles Jack really could play everything. I’m working on that piece for Pacific Takes and will be sure to link you up. But with regards to the game, UCLA is good no matter what Kyle Anderson is doing. That’s to say, whether he’s scoring or facilitating, he’s the centerpiece of that monster. Yet when he’s facilitating and Jordan Adams is slashing and shooting, is there a better twosome in the nation? Honestly. I don’t follow the national scene as closely as our western dozen but those two are about as good as it gets. And last night was about as good as they get. Anderson: 11/9/7 on 4-8 shooting. Adams: 28/6/5 on 12-19 with 5 steals. We talk all about what a heady and versatile talent Anderson is. But watch Adams. He’s not the best athlete out there (no that’s Zach LaVine who from floor level I watched do multiple dunks in the layup line so I can first hand confirm he’s the ridiculous athlete). But he understands the flow of the game. Where’s the ball going and he gets in there. He’s incredibly resourceful and it serves him, and his team, quite well. As for Cal? I dunno, mix in some defense. Woof.

Oregon…,  – Here’s the deal. I write this as no knock on Washington. They are a team in the midst of a tough season in which they’ll maybe garner an invitation to a tournament certainly not on CBS. That’s why I’m going to ignore them (I don’t love game recaps). But the Ducks. Ahhh, the Ducks. It hasn’t even been a topsy turvy season for them. It’s more Drop Tower than Roller Coaster. But they are still being discussed as a team on the bubble and last night they won. This is the time of year when only winning matters. From what I can gather from the box score, this was the quintessential Washington-Oregon game. Oregon played great offense. Washington showed up. The Ducks were outrebounded, gave up 1.08ppp (UW’s highest ppp since playing Oregon State, 1/25), gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and coughed up 13 turnovers (not that bad but I just accounted for 27 extra possessions for UW). What business did Oregon have winning? Well they play offense and that alone. Dana’s boys shot 57% afield and garnered 1.18 ppp. Like I said, just winning is all that matters at this point. The Ducks are who they are, they’ll just need to ride that gravy train into the Dance, if possible.

Colorado obviously beat ASU – I’ll spend plenty of time on you Buffs in the coming days but wanted to note, while I’ve got ASU here, that in the past two years, Arizona has lost 10 games. In the game immediately following their defeat of the Wildcats, teams are 3-7.

Nine Astute Observations from the Pac-12’s First Half

1) Injuries f***ing suck – Jernard Jarreau, Aaron Bright, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Brandon Ashley. If I’m missing others I apologize but when the court is taken devoid these characters it sucks. The Dawgs miss JJ’s size as he projected to help their thin front court that’s become the Perris Blackwell show (I think Rain Man Jr. just got called for a foul). While Aaron Bright is missing out on creating something profoundly special with the same six guys he signed to play college with four years ago. That 2010 six-man class of Dawkins’ has been through quite a bit and it sucks Aaron Bright won’t be a part of their last hoorah. Schools, let alone Colorado, don’t often come across dynamic, 6’5″ point guards capable of taking a game over on either side of the ball. Spencer Dinwiddie was the centerpiece of a tour d’buff, sweeping the nation and conference by storm. And Brandon? Let’s just say I’m going to miss seeing him each night with that team. Injuries f***ing suck. Get well soon, gentlemen.

2) Transfers kinda work – Jermaine Marshall is raining Jahishalls in Tempe. The transfer from Penn State is scoring 15.3ppg and hitting 48% of his threes – 91.2% of which are assisted (presumably by Jahii Carson). Just south, in Tucson, TJ McConnell is being called the most important piece of the #2 team in the country. In ski country, Delon Wright is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best players in the conference. He’s a guard taking 60% of his shots at the rim and making 75% of them. That’s nuts. His line reads like this: 16/7/5. And then there’s Transfer U. Individually, each of Oregon’s transfers (Moser, Young, Calliste, Amardi) are having fine seasons. But as a collective (along with the rest of the Ducks) things have been…better? Since entering the calendar year, Dana’s team is 3-6 and barely looked that good. This past weekend, Dana defended his use of transfers (ironic word choice!). Basketball is indeed a team sport and with such there are strong components of unity and other teamly terms. Oregon has some great talent, but does that make a great team? Nine more games.

3) If you want to play fast you still can go to UCLA – By now we’re all familiar with Andy Enfield’s line from earlier this year lauding his lolly-gagging Trojans to “go to UCLA if you want to play slow.” Well now, halfway through conference play and twenty-plus games into the season, here are the many ways UCLA is outpacing USC:

Tempo 71.9 70.4
Avg Poss Length 15.1 15.8
% Shots in Transition 28.90% 25.40%
Head-to-head 107 73

The Battle of Los Angeles reignites Saturday in the Galen Center. Put your seatbelt on.

4) Parity? Mediocrity? No, it’s gotta be parity – We began the first weeks of Pac-12 play and had four teams ranked in the top-25. Sure, not at once, but between two separate poll releases, each of Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and UCLA were ranked. This is far from the end-all-be-all barometer, but just a few weeks removed, Oregon is in ninth place, UCLA holds a loss to Oregon State, and Colorado is still learning it’s way through the post-Dinwiddie era. Even Arizona just lost Brandon Ashley. Further, the third place Cal Bears hold a win over Arizona (KenPom #1) and a loss to USC (KenPom #130). The results are unexpected and the games great. Amongst conferences, the Pac-12 ranks as having the 4th fewest blowout losses. I think that’s something to cheer?

5) (non) Shooting guards – With all these guards you might suspect they’d be taking a bunch of threes. After all, this is college basketball, it’s a high value shot, and guards love to shoot. Not the case. As a conference, the Pac-12 ranks 32nd of 33 in the percentage of threes they take. Just 29.1% of Pac-12 shots are taken from distance. That’s a conference with guys like CJ Wilcox, Chasson Randle, Roberto Nelson, Jordan Adams, and Jahii Carson. The average percentage of shots from downtown is 32.3%. When Pac teams are shooting from distance, they’re doing a decent job of making them, too. Their collective 35.2% 3FG% ranks 15th amongst conferences. The average 3FG% is 34.3%. It’s something of a most interesting man situation: We don’t often shoot threes, but when we do, we make a slightly above average amount of them. But what I find really odd is that while it would seem there is a concerted effort to not shoot threes, the Pac ranks 26th amongst the 33 conferences in 2pt FG%. WTF, guys? You’re passing on threes to miss twos? There’s no doubt something to be said about defense in here but as far as observations go, this was interesting.

6) But wait…there’s more – Those guards are really good. Thirteen of the top 15 scorers in the conference are guards. Fifteen of the top-25 ORtgs in the Pac-12 are guards. Furthermore, the All-Conference team is likely to not include a few of these guys: Roberto Nelson, TJ McConnell, Nigel Williams-Goss, Chasson Randle, Justin Cobbs, CJ Wilcox, Askia Booker, or Delon Wright. Hell, even Jordan Adams could get squeezed by his own teammate, Kyle Anderson (serious POY candidate).

7) Tweet! Whistle! Tweettweet! – The first thing addressed at Pac-12 media day was college basketball’s new rules. That we’d hear more whistles and see more free throws. It was a concerted effort to make the following chart look the way that it does:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.04.41 PM

See that progressive, 18-year downward trend in scoring? The NCAA wanted to do away with it and it appears they have. Here’s how it’s looking in the Pac-12:

  • Efficiency – Up 2.9 points per 100 possessions as teams are getting more points per possessions due to more FTs and more possessions (I’ll prove that later)
  • Tempo – Up 2.1% or 1.4 possessions per game as possession length is shortening on the whole and thus leading to more frequent possessions (trust me on that stat, I just don’t have it for the whole conference)
  • TO% – Down 3.7% as more turnovers are turning into, say, fouls? Which leads us to…
  • ST% – Down 5.3% because, same as above, that bit of extra contact isn’t two the other way as often as it’s two for free
  • FTrate – Up 18.6% to 32.5%. This is arguably the most obvious factor as everything listed above is pointing towards this very increase
  • FT% –  Up 2.2% which I just think is kind of funny considering there are so many more free throws being taken and everyone is now shooting them better. Well done kids.

8) Defense Travels – This title is a little misleading because the Pac-12 is one of the worst road conferences out there. Optimistically said, it appears Pac-12 teams enjoy the greatest home court advantage because they’re winning 68.5% of those games. Now defense leads this observation point because if we look down two lists – the conference rankings by record and by defensive efficiency – we find:

By Record By Defensive Efficiency
Arizona Arizona
Stanford Utah
Colorado Stan
Oregon State Colorado
Washington Oregon
Oregon Washington
Utah Oregon State

On this list, only Oregon State and Utah differ by one ranking or less. My takeaway? Defense is pretty telling. And here’s what to make of Oregon State being in three spots ahead of their defensive efficiency and Utah five spots below. OSU: has played just four road games and one of those included Washington State. They’ve essentially pulled a “Ducks” and have managed to ride first half’s most efficient offense (108.7) to their 5-4 mark. Utah: now ranks as the 350th luckiest team in the nation. That’s the 2nd most unlucky squad and basically means they exceed expectations but not enough to get a win. I keep citing this for the Utes and what it’s ultimately going to explain is a TOP-4 FINISH IN-CONFERENCE NEXT SEASON. Boom you heard it hear first. Shall I say it again? Utah will finish amongst the top-4 teams in the 2014-15 Pac-12 and return to the NCAA tournament. But for now they’re in tenth place.

9) Nine – That’s how many games to this…and embedding this video marks the triumphant return of Husky Cheerleader Hair Toss (absolutely no pun) to the blog. Welcome back!


UCLA’s Transition Offense from Defense and More. Much More.

Take this journey with me because that’s what it became. I’d set out to discuss UCLA versus Cal and their contrasting abilities to steal the ball and to not let the ball be stolen, respectively. But then a Wonderland twist of fate had me follow John Wooden down the rabbit hole and I wound up with an opinion on Westwood’s coaching situation. Like I said, buckle up cause it’s a long strange journey and that’s not even a Walton reference.

The UCLA Bruins aren’t soon going to be confused for a great defensive team – they’re good so don’t get me wrong – but not great. They yield 97 points per 100 possessions which is 50th in the nation. That’s good but like I said, it’ ain’t great. They rate as just the sixth best defense in the conference (the same conference that rates Oregon’s defense).

But what you might be able to say about their defense is that it is opportunistic. Like any intelligent entitiy, they recognize what they do well and they exploit it. It’s why Katniss Everdeen grabs the bow and Jordan Belfort grabs the blow. What UCLA does so well is get into transition. They take 29.7% of their offense in that go-mode (12th in the nation) and having watched them play, they make a very concerted effort to get into this facet of their game.

Before going into the offense – because I already defined this a defensive article and the Bruins are really effing good at the offense – I want to establish the components of UCLA’s defense and how it opportunistically feeds their offensive beast. We could break this down by a good, bad and ugly with the caveat that it’s really more like the good, less good, and meh:

The Ugly/Meh: Kyle Anderson’s goatee. Too far? Sorry. UCLA doesn’t protect the rim. They allow opponents to shoot 61.8% (260th nationally) and take more than a third of their shots there. That’ll add up.

KA HairThe Bad/Less Good: Teams manage to shoot pretty well against the Bruins. They “limit” teams to an average eFG% which is a combination of the aforementioned rim protection and a very high percentage of three pointers taken against them. Make more threes, increase your eFG%. This is essentially a matter of math but it’s an average output by the Bruins regardless. Regarding the threes, teams have been allowed to jack up 6th highest percentage of threes in the nation and they make a little bit below the average 3FG%(33.8% ranks 153).

The Good/Good: Steals! UCLA has the third highest steal percentage in the nation and has taken away 192 basketballs (interestingly that’s second most in the nation to Shaka Smart’s VCU team whom many UCLA fans thought should be the head man in Westwood because of the defense he coaches – just an interesting note). Furthermore, while the ‘less good’ section informed us that teams are making shots against the Bruins, when teams do miss, the Bruins do a pretty good job of jumping on the defensive glass. Go Joe Bruin was quick to note it isn’t necessarily a Bruin strength but they do manage to clean up alright: teams garner just 27.3% of their own misses against the powder blue (26th best in the nation).

Feeling settled on the defense? I feel like I understand it better and recognize that – again – it’s not great but it more than gets the job done. But what is the job? Traditionally a defense is built to limit the opponent. But if defense isn’t necessarily the Bruins’ strong suit, if they play more zone than a Steve Alford team is accustomed to, then the ‘job’ of the defense isn’t necessarily to stop the opponent but to accentuate the Bruins’ strengths. That’s arguably why they play more zone than man. They’re just better suited to it.

Here is a breakdown of how UCLA uses it’s defense to feed their offense:

UCLA's Transition OffenseIt’s pretty clear to me that UCLA would get a higher percentage of their transition shots off a rebound as teams are likely missing more shots than UCLA is stealing basketballs. The chart confirms that they use all those steals to ignite their fast break (12.8% of which I wish I had a national ranking). But we still don’t really have much context. Allow me another sweet graph, this time comparing the transition ignition breakdown including the next best Pac-12 transitions teams, Oregon and Colorado:

UCLA, Oregon, Colorado TransitionUCLA blows these guys out of the water in our third column (steals) while Colorado leads the break out of rebounds and Oregon out of opponent scores. The Buffaloes are great defensive rebounders. The Ducks are great opponent-letter-scorers.

But more on Steve’s team. UCLA’s offense ranks 22nd in the country by ORtg and 10th in eG%. It is their greatest strength and it is fed – as stated – by their transition offense which is fed by the aforementioned defense. The equation of it all looks a lot like this:

Steals + Defensive Rebounds = Transition Offense

Very simple, yes, and probably flawed, but this where it all gets fascinating. Steve Alford, in the Ken Pom era (since 2003) has never coached a top-100 steal percentage team. Additionally, the last two teams he coached at New Mexico didn’t come remotely close to the top of any transition offense list (ranking greater than 200th in % of offense in transition in both 2012 and 2011). Furthermore, this team’s defensive efficiency is the fifth worst amongst Alford coached teams since 2003 and the hands down best offense in that span.

What I think just happened is that I explained to us that Steve Alford is doing one helluva job. This team – a team he inherited and didn’t build but with his own son – is doing things no team of his has ever done. He recognized where and how this team could be its best and made sure to accentuate what he felt they could be best at.

I opened this piece by telling you that the defense was opportunistic. We moved our way along to discover that they used steals and defensive boards to ensure they could do what they do best. Then the journey took us down the path of discovery that Steve Alford has made adjustments, been anything but bullheaded, as the leader of the most storied basketball program in the history of the sport.

In light of such, I’m tempted to follow another tease down the judging coaches rabbit hole. But that would put us in some sort of a Catch-22/hypocrite scenario in which I’d diatribe about not judging a coach with 900 words sitting above that diatribe about what a great coach the coach we shouldn’t judge is. I’ll refrain.

Besides, Alford and his transition show just dropped a game at Utah and has one tough assignment ahead of them with Stanford and Cal coming tonight and Sunday, respectively.

And with that, I’ll transition out. The journey endures.