Tag Archives: Jorge Gutierrez

Eight Observations From Inside Haas Pavilion

From inside the Haas Pavilion for Cal-Stanford, I observed things. This is what I went home thinking about after an entertaining 69-59 Cardinal win.

1) Basketball Players are Big

I laud you to finagle yourself into excellent basketball tickets. They are a dish best served free so always say ‘yes’ when offered tickets. It remains my life’s greatest regret that I adhered to a study schedule (yes, that was a component of college life for me) rather than accept the owner (owner, as in: Man who shelled out cash to make decisions) of the San Diego Padres’ tickets. Of note, I did not study and watched the entire game on television. I digress. When you’re up close for a basketball game you get to see exactly how seven feet fills up a lane. Suddenly, ‘points in the paint’ isn’t a statistic, it’s a goddamn Purple Heart. Length isn’t so much a draft component, it’s the tentacles of The Kraken.

2) Adam’s an Architect

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Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year: A VOTE!

The Pac has definitely taken a turn for the defensive considering the days past. In 2001-02, the Pac-10 had seven of it’s teams scoring more than 73.1ppg. Today that number is just two, and they barely eclipse that mark.

So yeah, it’s a big deal to be named the Pac-12 dPOY in a day and age when defense is becoming central to the changing western style.

The candidates (and there are some good ones):

Andre Roberson, PF, Colorado


Here’s a dude I recently saw Seth Davis call the most underrated in the nation. I’m not exactly sure if this is a good distinction or not and Isn’t calling him underrated sorta like rating him? Alas, his play stands for itself. We’ve watched this dude defend the spectrum of sizes and shapes and he’s taken all comers. His length is something to behold. Many still feel he was a major snub from last year’s dPOY during the Jorge farewell tour, further adding to the underrated dialogue. Whatever you want to call it, this guy can lock down.

  • 11.5 rpg (1st in nation), 2.3 spg (25th in nation), 1.4 bpg
  • 27.7 DR% (4th in nation)
  • 4.1 Steal% (41st in nation)
  • 4.4 Block%

Arsalan Kazemi, PF, Oregon


From the moment I saw Kazemi take the court, I was impressed with his rebound timing. I watched him elevate as others were being sucked down by gravity along with the ball. But the Iranian-born kid was going up, a position of strength, to capture that ball. To secure it. And he did. Like really well, amongst many other things. As the argument was made for him is POY, Kazemi has done a bit of it all and well.

  • 9.9 rpg (18th in nation), 2.2 spg (28th in nation)
  • 29.2 DR% (1st in nation)
  • 4.4 Steal% (29th in nation)
  • 2.2 Block% 

Josh Huestis, PF, Stanford


Look, this is a two man race, but I wanted to be sure to include the athletic guy with a fro because he’s pretty darned good, too.

  • 9.3 rpg, 2bpg
  • 21.5 DR%
  • 6.0 Block%

The Field


Nick Johnson, Carrick Felix, Spencer Dinwiddie


Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

  • Andre Roberson (84%, 38 Votes)
  • The Field (9%, 4 Votes)
  • Arsalan Kazemi (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Josh Huestis (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 45

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Capturing Their POY Momement: Crabbe, Carson, Others?

We are entering awards season and while I’m not about to make too many picks, I do think Argo and Silver Linings Playbook will be announced frequently this coming Sunday.

But just as these films get some late sprucing as Oscar Sunday is approached, some late hoopla and for your consideration moments, so too do the candidates for Pac POY. As sports fans, we’re fully aware of moments and celebrate those who capture them. While Derrick Williams was walking away with the POY award, his depositing of Darnell Gant’s shot was a POY moment. I suppose for Jorge it was some charge he took.

But here we are at the homestretch, the final time to showcase one’s goods for award consideration and as I see it today, we have just a handful of POY contenders. The field:

  • Allen Crabbe: 20/6/3
  • Jahii Carson: 18/3/5
  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 15/3/3
  • Shabazz Muhammad: 19/5/1
  • C.J. Wilcox: 18/5/2

Other names could be dropped into that list but then we’re just building out an All-Conference team and we’re not here for that. We’re looking for the one and even this list feels long. But the Academy is now dropping ten films into consideration so I figure we can extend ours to five.

Now I haven’t the slightest clue what the voting criteria are. I don’t know if this is an award given to the best player or the most valuable one but as it were, looking back historically, it appears the award is given to the conference’s best player which tends to also be the most valuable. An easy overlap. Just rattling off the last few winners’ names you get that sense: Williams, Randle, Love, Harden, Afflalo, Roy. All very recognizable names.

Team success often plays a part which is why Brock Motum didn’t win last years award and the coaches decided to give Jorge a career achievement award.

But this year, as is clear by the above list of studs and their output, there’s a legitimate battle for the award. Interestingly, Arizona and Oregon have such balanced production that their best players have played their way out of POY contention (though I think they’ll be OK with a conference title or a nice March run in its stead).

Diving into that list, I’ll say that I really like Spencer Dinwiddie’s game. I think he’s a complete guard with tremendous size and a league future. I don’t think he’s going to win this award. That’s not to drop him from this list, he makes it in my mind as an MVP-type, but as POYs go, he’s not yet there. And while CJ Wilcox is one of the smoothest players in the league, 13ppg against the conference’s top three teams (AZ, Ore, UCLA) doesn’t exactly do it for me. One thing that definitely does it for NBA scouts is Shabazz’s mid-range game which is lethal considering his size and athleticism. But his game is relatively mono-faceted – scorer – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just would seem to eliminate him from the POY race. His team does sit near the top of the conference but their collective success seems to have them in that position.

And so we’re left at two: Carson and Crabbe.

The former is a super freshman. He’s the centerpiece of ASU’s transformation into possible dancers and has been equal parts fantastic and valuable. Crabbe too has been great and perhaps overlooked until recently as his team has catapulted back into the top half of the conference standings.

So facing what appears to be this two man race and returning to the aforementioned moments, who will capture theirs?

I think Allen Crabbe is going to have a big chance tonight as his red hot Bears travel to Eugene to take on the first place Oregon Ducks. A big game here and Crabbe maintains POY-mentum. And this is really his biggest opportunity for a statement game. It’s the last team the Golden Bears play ahead of them in the standings; though big games against Colorado and/or in The Big Game (3/6) could go a long way in securing the award.

Last night, Carson did nothing to hurt his chances of POY-dom with 21/4/5 against the lowly Cougars. He’s vying to become just the third freshman to ever win the award, joining the likes of Kevin Love and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Good company and his closing arguments could come in the form of big games on the road. A place the young man is learning to thrive. Remaining are contests at UCLA and at rival Arizona by which Carson could find his name etched onto the POY cup – or whatever it is they give the player.

But the overarching excitement here is that we are having a POY talk which means we’re remarkably close to what’s shaping up to be one of the maddest Marches in awhile.

As my buddy Jamie recently asked, “How do we get this sport year ’round?”

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Haas Pavilion

The Cal Bears lost their heart and soul and the theme of 2012-13 could be trying to find a replacement for Jorge’s heart. But Allen Crabbe’s really good so…

  1. Crabbe Cakes – This is the year. It’s his team and he’s really good at basketball and I want to see Allen Crabbe do insanely awesome things on the court. He can.
  2. Cobbs Salad– He’s better than Jorge. Boom, I said it and the numbers have my back.
    Cobbs Jorge
    ORtg 112.9 103.6
    eFG% 50.8 47.9
    Arate 29.5 25.2
  3. Skipper – Mike Montgomery is the winningest coach in the Pac-12 because he’s a really good coach. He’s reason for optimism every time a Cal team takes the floor.
  4. Grades – Richard Solomon’s got good ones! Or at least passing ones and Monty thinks the experience has matured him. So you’re telling me Cal has a mature, athletic, 6’10” big man to play in front of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs?
  5. Bak Bak – The name.
  6. Robert Thurman – The Thurmanator. This nickname was confirmed to me by Allen Crabbe.
  7. My Broken Record – If you follow this blog, you’re going to quickly find out just how much I love college seniors. There’s so much romanticism to their play, their mortality revealed, everything left on the floor. Look, I’m going to get hyperbolic with it. Every time. Brandon Smith has a shot to be that guy for these Bears. He’s played in a multitude of roles from starter to scrub and now is his time to be the glue that makes this team come together.

Not So Coaches Pac-12 Conference Awards

Yesterday marked the announcement of an underwhelming but no less congratulations-worthy Pac-12 awards. Jorge was POY and dPOY; LoRo COY; Brock MIP; and Wroten FOY.

Whether I agree or disagree, gentlemen, I congratulate you. The coaches spoke and so it is. Bravo.

A Few Notes:

  • USC was eliminated from awards consideration in most categories due to five season-ending injuries
  • Thanks are in order to the selection committee: Hatty, Doctor J, BH, Baby Dock, Sweet Child, and Tiny Dancer (I had full veto power)
  • For all the crap this conference took, it was a fun year with six teams in it to the wire. And with that painful final weekend, in a sick and rubber necking kind of way, I’m even more intrigued by what’s about to transpire in the Staples Center. Oh March.

Now, here are your Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards:

The Dorothy – Awarded to the league’s worst home team.

UCLA Bruins

I dunno about you but I’ve always had a Judy Garland crush. The wavy hair, the red lips, the bold adventurousness of Dorothy. But she had to run away in order to find out there’s no place like home. The 2011-12 season was just that for the homeless UCLA Bruins. Sure they compiled an impressive 8-1 home record – completely backwards from a “worst” award – but they never played in Westwood, finished seventh in conference attendance, and hosted half their games on rival USC’s campus. Perhaps this trying year – from LMU to Reeves to Sports Illustrated – has been their journey through Oz. A path of self discovery to eventually click their heels, close their eyes, repeat a cutesy phrase and come to realize it was all just a dream. Also considered: USC (1-8 at the Galen Center not including a 10-point loss to UCLA on their own campus)

The Steinbrenner – Awarded to the one player you’d want on your team, and hate on theirs.

Jorge Gutierrez

Ask Cal fans and they love him. Ask Yankees fans and they love him. Common denominator? Everyone else hates them. And if everyone hates you it probably means you’re doing things they’re not which is usually winning. We’re all west coasters so I see no need for further explanation using words like “hatred,” “Yankees,” or “Steinbrenner.” But Jorge (pure coincidence on the George/Jorge thing), for all the holes and flaws in his Pac-12 POY awarding, is a winner. He plays HAM and buzzer-to-buzzer so it’s no wonder the coaches doled out the career achievement POY award. And as my Montlake Madness friends said, “Put it this way, if I could have one player off of any team, it would be Guti.” Hence: The Steinbrenner. Jorge also fought a coach not unlike a Billy Martin incident. Also considered: EJ Singler as the jack-of-all trades brother of a Dukie and the hair cause you know you wish you could rock it.

The Grecian – Awarded to the team that did the least for the collective.

Utah Utes

Welcome to the Conference of Champions! Larry K and his eleven new players did no favors by way of improving conference perception this year. When parts of the early season conversation revolve around the odds Utah would be the worst BCS conference team of all-time, then you know it’s going to be bad. I mean, people were excited by the prospect of Utah’s historical misery. Their time will come – it’s not as if basketball is foreign to Utah (still bitter) – but it certainly wasn’t 2011-12, finishing with a BCS and league worst RPI of 266. But they’ll always have Stanford. Also considered: Arizona State who compiled a 10-20 season but still managed to give their coach a contract extension and of course USC was considered.

The BooYaPop – Awarded to the most surprising and unsuspecting season long performance.

Brock Motum

Firstly, we’re Americans and so we always go crazy – either jealously or adoringly – when a foreigner excels at our stuff. Just look at Jeremy Lin. So when Brock Motum, the junior Aussie, exploded into the conference’s most offensively efficient and wonderful player – a stat geek’s wet dream – it came as a complete and utter surprise. Of course I’ll have it be known that I wrote on the subject of Brock’s potential breakout in November (ignore the stuff about WSU jumping into the conference’s upper half, deal? Deal.) but that’s neither here nor there. Motum had a terrific season, and won the Most Improved award which in reality sucks but it’s the coaches way of rewarding the kid that wouldn’t otherwise win anything cause isn’t that good. I’m unfortunately all too familiar with this one except they also threw in Best Attitude with my Most Improved award at Lute Olson Basketball Camp and if that doesn’t scream “fat kid” I don’t know what does.  I’ve grossly digressed and I’m not going to get into the naming of this award. If you understand it, you know I got you. Also considered: Garret Sim has a career year as a senior, jumping his FG%, 3 FG%, and scoring a combined 35%.

The LeBron – Awarded to the team that passes in the end.

California Golden Bears

We’re all too familiar with the LeBron-clutch debate and if you’re not, turn on ESPN. But just because the greatest basketball player on earth gets a bad rep as a non-closer, doesn’t mean it’s a fad. It’s the opposite. So I ask you, Cal Bears, what the eff? This league was countlessly theirs to win and they closed like that? I wish you all could have seen my face as I wrote that cause it looked really sad. Kinda like you might look if you had LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on a roster and Udonis Haslem was taking the final shot (that said, there’s nothing awkward or sad about Steve Kerr taking the final shot). Moral of the story? If you’re going to be the best, close. Ask Mariano. Also considered: The Washington Huskies too tried their darndest in not winning the Pac that was eventually handed to them.

The Susan Boyle – Awarded to the coach that most exceeded expectations.

Tad Boyle

Susan Boyle sang the hell out of that Les Mis song and I might have cried watching it if singing humans didn’t make me so damn uncomfortable. Then there’s Tad. Picked to finish eleventh he led the rebuilding Buffs to a sixth place finish. Based on our very complex algorithm, Boyle wins the Susan Boyle in a landslide (algorithm: true finish – expected finish = level of exceeded expectations). Boyle scored a -5 here where Ben Howland conversely scored +4 to finish last (again, USC was eliminated from award consideration but KO did score a +5). Boyle (Tad that is) was overlooked for COY because, frankly, there ain’t much sexy about finishing sixth in a horrible conference. But whenever you can stick it to the talking heads – AKA me and those who prognosticate things like preseason rankings – then kudos are in order. Well done. Plus I’m pretty sure Susan Boyle has laid at least a make out or an OTPHJ on Simon Cowell. Also considered: Dana Altman and Ken Bone each scored a -2 when inputting their data into the Susan Boyle algorithm (SBA).

All Smooth Team:

Terrence Ross, Washington
Allen Crabbe, California
DeVoe Joseph, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

All Fundamentals Team:

The Wear Family, UCLA
Brock Motum, Washington State
Kyle Fogg, Arizona
Jorge Gutierrez, California
Aaron Bright, Stanford

All Awkward Team:

Jesse Perry, Arizona
Aziz N’Diaye, Washington
Kyryl Natyazhko, Arizona
John Gage, Stanford
Reeves Nelson, UCLA

All Greg Oden (formerly the Old Man Face Team):

Olu Ashalou, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
EJ Singler, Oregon
Andrew Zimmerman, Stanford
Kyle Cain, Arizona State

Week 9 Pac-12 Basketball Review

Awhile back we examined how the relevant (read: not ASU, USC, or Utah) Pac-12 teams paralleled the Oscar Nominees for Best Picture. Last night, The Artist, won the award.

This was the film that I felt most closely paralleled the Oregon State Beavers and so we can now conclude that A) these analogies were not based on odds of winning, and B) in revisiting that post, Brad’s rant on War Horse was nothing short of remarkable. However, with things still highly questionable regarding the POY race, could The Artist’s Jean Dujardin’s claiming of the Best Actor award be foreboding for Jared Cunningham?

Moving on.

The weekend of yawnable must-wins turned into something of an edge-of-your-seater as teams began realizing that this thing is really coming down to the wire. That, or the teams out of the race were pissed off enough to finally do something about their abysmal seasons. Your pick, there were some doozies.

Le Review:

Leader in the Clubhouse: Washington stands alone in first place so this one’s undebatable. They overcame a 13-point defect in the second half of their road Apple Cup victory and some questionable coach from Ken Bone, but – and this has been a theme of late – they won. That’s all that matters this time of year, just ask Cal. The Huskies have themselves poised to win the school’s twentieth regular season crown – their second since 1985 – but not without some work to do. The leaders head to Los Angeles to tackle a UCLA team that – while closing a mess of a season – had the Huskies all but beat until Terrence Ross took over the final few minutes. And this time it’ll be on the ever challenging road, a place Romar etc. have historically struggled to win the big ones.

Game of the Weekend: There were some tight ball games this weekend. Saturday and Sunday’s games had an average margin of victory of four points. Tightballgamesindeed. Good stuff for a whole bunch of games with little surface intrigue but heavy tournament and title implications. In our Preview, we said the GotW would be Colorado and California in a title tilt; a huge game for the Buffs in which they could “catapult themselves into contention for a conference title.” Well, that game was indeed huge for the Buffs and they came out guns blazing and won big. But, as they say, “when you assume you make and ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me'” so we must also revisit the fact that I wrote, “Assuming Colorado beats Stanford tonight.” An ass I am. Getting back to what was arguably the best game of the weekend from an entertainment standpoint, I’m giving that nod to the oldest rivalry in college sports: The Civil War. In a must wins for the Ducks, Garret Sim scored a career high 25 points as Oregon won on the road by just one. Oregon State used a late rally to cut the Duck lead to three when they had the ball and 9 ticks remaining. They got a good look at a three that resulted in a tip-dunk and subsequent one-point loss. My favorite for POY, DeVoe Joseph, added sixteen points and is averaging 17.1 points per conference game (Jorge: 13.3 ppCg, Ross: 15.3 ppCg, Wroten: 16.7 ppCg).

The Big Loser: Easy. The Stanford Cardinal lost to the Utah Utes of 260 RPI, 301 KenPom, and 296 Sagarin-lore. The worst team amongst the BCS conferences beat Stanford. Doesn’t matter to me that they handled Colorado. You don’t lose to teams that are that bad. You just cannot. I’m struggling with words, to make an analogy so I give you this:

What We Learned: The teams with a chance to dance are getting drum tight. As I said previously, UW needed to overcome a 13-point defect, Cal got straight up beat, Arizona and Oregon won despite doing everything they could to do otherwise, and Colorado was rolled at home. Loosen up fellas! You’ll play better. So let’s take a look at what’s left to go for each of the “contenders,” or teams with a fighting chance of finishing in the top-4.

  • Washington, 13-3: The Huskies will travel to LA and have already guaranteed themselves a top-4 finish. Assuming (yeah, I said it again!) they beat USC, they’re guaranteed a top-2 finish. In short, UW is sitting pretty with a great opportunity to be champs. Right??
  • California, 13-4: What happened in Boulder? Anyhow, it happened and Cal likely cost themselves a conference title. Now they’ll head south to close in The Big Game at Stanford. And who knows what’s going on in with that Dawkins squad? But this is about Monty’s veteran-ish squad with dwindling careers in a rivalry game. I like Cal’s chances, but at this point it’s to finish in second. They do hold the tie-breaker over Washington, however.
  • Arizona, 12-5: One to play and it’s in Tempe against the lowly Sun Devils. A win and the Wildcats are guaranteed a fourth-place-or-better finish and, in all likelihood, are dancing. If that doesn’t scream “trap game” I don’t know what does.
  • Oregon/Colorado, 11-5: I’ve lumped these two together because they’ll have the opportunity to control their respective fates head-to-head Thursday night (SPOILER: I will be calling this the Week 10 GotW). Last time these two faced off, it came down to the wire as Nate Tomlinson won it with a free throw in the final seconds. Will Oregon get sweet revenge? Or will the Buffs get that coveted first (big) road victory in the nick of time? Then of course there’s still the Saturday games. No asses here.

Early Week YouTuber: As the season is quickly coming to a close, we always wonder what it would be like if just a few things were different. What if just one more shot had fallen for Arizona against Colorado, Oregon, or Washington? What if Cal doesn’t drop the ball against OSU and WSU? Or Colorado closes out Cal in Berkeley? These events didn’t happen and this isn’t what a bar scene usually looks like. But what if?

Week 8 Pac-12 Basketball Review

This post can also be read at ryanrecker.com and because you’re a Pac-12 fan and know all about awful announcing, listen to Ryan’s latest podcast with Matt Yoder of awful announcing.com.

Happy President’s Day. Or, as it’s also graciously known, Happy Last-Paid-Holiday-Until-May.

If where you live was anything like San Francisco this weekend, it was hard for you to sit inside and watch hoops. If you did, however, you were treated to quite a grouping of Pac-12 games (more on that later). Let’s first mention what Utah does to this conference right now. Colorado, who sits alone in third place, was been rendered completely irrelevant this weekend because they had to play in SLC. The Buffs are legitimate contenders right now with a chance to knock off Cal at home this week and could find their way into second place if not first heading into the final weekend. First Place. No one has said a peep because they had to play Utah. Sigh.

But despite the atrocity that is the bottom of this conference, I think we’re starting to see that there are a few teams (namely five) I wouldn’t want to play on a neutral court in a big tournament with Clark Kellogg sitting sideline. And because I wouldn’t want to play them, that means someone should have to play them. Choose wisely committee.

The weekend of close games.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Dare we acknowledge some separation here? Cal and Washington sit atop the league holding a 1.5 game lead with just three to play. The remaining schedule favors Washington (vs RPIs 179, 230, 120) as Cal battles the daunting RPI gauntlet of 272, 73, and 105. But let’s get real for a hot second and call a spade a spade. If either of these schools is to win the conference and expect to dance (Cal is in) then they better sweep. No questions. So assuming they both do such, I believe Cal wins with a head-to-head tiebreaker but who’s the better team? Rather, who’s the more frightening? As tough as Cal is and veteran as they may be, there’s no part of me that would want to play Washington. Terrence Ross is as smooth as they get and Tony Wroten can get to the rim easier than three halter tops into XS. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on Jorge as the conference POY but I’m not buying it. I’m giving it to Wroten or DeVoe Joesph before that leader of a Cal point guard. Alas, I think the Pac is in good hands with these two teams comfortably atop the conference and their improved play behooves my three-bid prediction so long as Arizona and/or Oregon closes strong (read: doesn’t lose) and plays well at Staples.

Game of the Weekend: One week removed from a snoozefest of hoops, we were treated to quite the slate of games. Dismissing the two worst games of the weekend as determined by margin of victory – Cal over OSU by 14, WSU over ASU by 22 – in the remaining eight games, the victorious squad won by an average of 5 points. That’s ridiculous when you consider heading into the weekend we were again faced with the opportunity for some insane multi-team tie. While we may have discovered our true leaders, the fact remains that the competitive teams in this league are no easy out and will not roll over for anyone. Hell, even Utah’s stuck around in their last two against Arizona and Utah. My message to the tournament committee is such: if you want to look good, pick that third Pac-12 team. It’s a better choice than Iowa State, Middle Tennessee, or Central Florida and will make for a more entertaining field of 68. All of that tangentially said, the GotW was Thursday’s Oregon-Cal game that came down to the final possessions. It was pretty close to make-or-break for the Ducks but they battled their way through the Bay (split) and certainly made some believers. Not to mention DeVoe Joseph’s stellar game at Cal, dropping 33 in the biggest game of their season. And, not to knock Jorge, but the Bears were carried by Justin Cobbs’ 28 pointer, compared to 2-7 for 7 points, 3 boards, 4 assists for Jorge while not slowing Joseph.

The Big Loser: A part of me wants to call Colorado the big loser this weekend as everyone else got plenty of air time and an opportunity to prove themselves while the Buffs traveled to oblivion. Boyle’s Boys left with an underwhelming win and for such, they are not the biggest loser as they sit alone in third place. The reality is that seven teams’ seasons are over and so the big losers – while they both still have an opportunity to dance – are Arizona and Oregon. Each had a chance to knock off the teams above them in the standings and both failed. Arizona teased themselves for 35 minutes before succumbing to bad shooting and the Ross and Wroten show while the Ducks couldn’t hold on in Haas. 10-5 is strikingly different than 11-4 and fifth place is far from third. Especially when you consider the layout of the Pac-12 tournament and how the top-4 teams get a first round bye. I believe the ‘Cats have a better chance to dance but Oregon is not out of it.  There’s just going to have to be a lot of brooming.

What We Learned: Nothing about the POY race. The list includes Brock Motum, Jorge Gutierrez, Jared Cunningham, DeVoe Joseph, and Tony Wroten. An argument for each can be made. An argument against, as well. Can you give it to a guy on a sub .500 squad? A guy who leads his team in no statistical category? A turnover machine? So here’s what I’m curious about: the rules. It’s an award given out by coaches vote and I want to know what the criteria is for these post-season awards which are ultimately meaningless but a glorious talking point. If I were a Cal homer, I’d be all over the Jorge for POY campaign. He’s a four-year grinder and the quintessential player you want on your team because everyone else hates him. He’s terrific at that. He’s not going to wow you with stats but when push come to shove (often literally for the fiery kid) he’s a winner. But is that how the award is defined? If it’s an MVP deal, then yeah, maybe. If it’s a best player thing, hello Brock. That dude has destroyed the stat sheet and seems to be the least guardable Pac-12 player. But his team sucks. So does Jared Cunningham’s. DeVoe Joseph can fill it up but has he done much else beyond that? Enough I’d argue. So while I don’t have a vote, I do have an opinion. DeVoe for POY barring a monumental Duck fart.

Early Week YouTuber: In honor of our Presidents:


The Best College Basketball Player

He’s probably a head short or a step slow. Most likely he plays well below the rim and they use words like heady, gutsy, and probably erratic, too when describing his game. Toss inconsistent into the adjective heap while you’re at it. Mind you, he’s not bad.

He runs the show, you see. He’s that senior, the one who – when he’s not on your team and sometimes even when he is – seems to be playing his sixth year of eligibility. You hate him for that. You love him for that.

That’s the best player in college basketball.

Not the two-guard or the dominant center, the one-and-done or the guy waving the towel. My favorite is that senior guard, the one who’s got the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse.

And you know the shot.

The outlet pass out of a defensive rebound finds him curling right around the free throw line. He’s dribbling up the floor and has space. The home court is loud, urging his team once down eleven who’s cut it to five with four to play. And now that guard, the one who for three-and-a-half years you’ve seen high and low, whom you’ve loved and hated, is streaking up the court.

On the night he’s a few for a lot. Fading more than striking, but the lead is back in sight.

He crosses mid court, the opposition scrambling to their defensive assignments. For the briefest of moments, the soft handed big man is open on the far block. A good – not even great – pass would find him available for an easy pair, further cutting the lead. But that’s not his play because the ball is in his hands, the crowd swelling, the defense on its heels.

And that’s when it happens.

Full speed, under some semblance of control that can’t be fully comprehend until you’ve attempted it on your own time, he pulls up, elevating for the jump shot that you discourage with every conservative bone in your fan body. You hate him for it. You love him for it.

The odds say the shot isn’t going to fall. There’s absolutely nothing right about it. But he took the shot and it gets through the rim faster than any coach could find a sub. You’re grabbing a stranger and screaming before you understand what just happened. The suited man on the opposing bench is calling timeout, the roof is now off the building and that guy, the one with the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse, hit that shot.

For what’s better than the ill-advised momentum changer?

When he was on my team, he went by Jason Gardner, Steve Kerr, Nic Wise, Salim, Jason Terry, and Reggie Geary. And you hated him. When I hated him his name was Richard Midgley, Ryan Appleby, Stanford guards of the 90’s and early 00’s, Derek Glasser, Aaron Brooks, Luke Ridnour, Darren Collison, Cameron Dollar, Tyus Edney, and I’m no doubt missing others.

Yeah you cringed and smiled a little reading that list. That’s ok, I hurt compiling it. But these guys are a staple of college basketball, a reason this game is great. And don’t be confused. This is no tribute to the little guy. This is a commentary on the back breaker that no coach would coach and the shot we all secretly love. The reality television of jumpers.

So who’s that guy this year?

To date, I’ve seen Zeek Jones carry the Bruin burden and done so with onions. Garret Sim broke Arizona’s back out of the corner in Tucson as part of a senior campaign that has him leading the conference in eFG%. Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson have fired daggers in Boulder, including a Duck hunter moment against Oregon. Jorge has been the quintessential ill-advised firer carrying Monty’s crew into first while Kyle Fogg and Devoe Joseph are willing their teams to wins down the stretch. No name on this list will wow you or be called out by David Stern. But I guarantee you’ll be screaming one of these names at the small, outdated and cornered television in your go-to bar that writes you off as loyal so long as you run up an appropriate tab.

Of note, Aaron Bright is well on his way to this list although just a sophomore.

And so here we are at the stretch run. Just six games remaining in an unpredictable Pac-12 season and a point at which legacies will be cemented, hearts broken, and a pack of teams will vie for a shot to dance – one shining moment if you will.

Who’s going to be the guy?

While They Were Sleeping: Last Night in the Pac-12

#23 Cal 73, McNeese St 57: The Bears struggled to start the game, needing a buzzer beating three from Allen Crabbe to take a 28-26 halftime lead, and Monty felt his team was “not mentally prepared to compete,” but after the break the Bears handled their business. Ultimately, this was a trap game for the Bears and they treated it as such early. Crabbe and Gutierrez combined to score 46 points and Justin Cobbs dished 7 assists as the Bears’ offensive core continued to click. This team’s bread and butter will be their defense (unless they’re playing Mizzou) and they’ll need Crabbe and Gutierrez taking the bulk of the shots. Crabbe is still easing into his role as the main scoring option and will likely struggle against more athletic defenders (again, Mizzou). He’ll need to prove he can score against quickness for this team to be taken seriously again.

Colorado 70, Georgia 68: Yes! The Pac scored a win versus a BCS school. While Georgia may not be an SEC contender, they will play SEC schools and so kudos to you Colorado. Now, on to the important stuff, like Andre Roberson. He is really good. The sophomore went for 15 and 15 last night, his third double-double in five games. He’s beginning to get some national buzz which is great for the down conference. I’m intrigued that he’s getting being widely referenced as a guard. It may ultimately be his position courtesy some outlandish athleticism, but he would certainly appear to play a forward spot on this team. His skill set is still within the three point line but he’s demonstrated an improved shot in the early season. However you slice it, as his offensive game improves, so too will his draft stock.

Stanford 79, Pacific 37: Is Stanford the best team in the Pac-12? Hey, I know UOP is awful and Stanford simply did what they were supposed to do against an inferior team, but they’re the only team playing like they expect to be good right now. Dawkins is handling his three point guards tremendously and has defined roles well. The Cardinal locked down last night and have been a model of consistency in this young season. They run nine-ish deep and, based on their OOC schedule, could head into Pac-12 play as a one-loss squad – only NC State and Butler appear to be challenging games before conference play. Keep an eye on Chasson Randle, he’s the equalizer on this team, and has played terrific to date. Josh Owens has simply been Josh Owens.

UCLA 62, Pepperdine 39: Is UCLA back? No. The Waves are terrible – but beat a terrible-er ASU team in Tempe – but the Bruins finally notched a D-1 win. That’s a start. Beyond that, all the red flags previously raised on this team – attitude, offensive flow, effort – appear to remain and it doesn’t help that they had little to no fan support. Thirty-four (34, treinta y cuatro, 三十四) students came to the game last night. I know it’s far from campus and the Athletic Department appears to be falling apart and the team doesn’t seem to care much but, well, I guess things are pretty bad right now. That said, the Bruins did play improved defense which is the key to Howland’s teams’ success. The Bruins’ presumed strengths – malcontents Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith – played a combined 22 minutes, scoring 6 total points and grabbing 8 rebounds. While guard play is vital to this teams success, Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson can only max out at serviceable. If Nelson and Smith can’t figure it, the already long preseason will turn in to a miserably long season.


Previewing the point guards: Pac-12 North

Yesterday we looked at the Pac-12 South’s point guards – a group of talented underclassmen and steady upperclassmen. In the North, we about follow the same trend as there are a number of potentially explosive newcomers, most notably Tony Wroten, Jr.

I present, the point guards of the Pac-12 North:

Washington State: Reggie Moore had a bad sophomore season. His numbers were down across the board, he battled an injured wrist, and he was arrested. Then Klay left. And Angelo. It would appear the cupboard is bare in Pullman. It’s my belief, however, that Moore’s 2010-11 season was anomaly. Moore is just a season removed from being neck-and-neck with Derrick Williams for the Pac-10 FOY. He’s a quick guard and strong, a good distributor and finisher with a knack for getting to the line. Washington State’s success rides squarely on Moore. And evidently he is his own harshest critic which should translate to a big junior year. If indeed his health and confidence are back, Moore and the Cougars could surprise some people.

Washington: If one is good, then two is better. Junior Abdul Gaddy returns from knee surgery and will be helped by one of the most heralded point guard recruits in the country, Tony Wroten Jr. Gaddy has been slower to develop than most would have liked – he averaged just 4 points and 2 assists as a freshman. But he did double his freshman stats in year two before tearing his ACL. His new sidekick, Wroten, is an equally as heralded recruit – the 17th best player in the 2011 class. Not only does he arrive in Seattle with recruiting hype, Wroten has already been compared to Magic Johnson by his coach, Lorenzo Romar. Lofty to say the least, but Gaddy’s steady play and Wroten’s flash, could have an upset minded UW squad causing trouble. It also never hurts to roll out 6’3” (Gaddy) and 6’5” (Wroten) point guards.

Oregon: First dibs as the Ducks starter go to Garrett Sim. Dana Altman is handing the keys (and yes, you’re welcome for the Haarlow link) to his high octane offense to the senior point guard. While he’s not going to wow you with athleticism or shooting – 34% from three and 42% overall – the senior won’t turn the ball over, makes good decisions, and will hit his free throws. Sounds about right for a team with eight fresh faces, plenty of scorers, and a whole lot of under-the-radar hype. Many are calling Oregon a possible sleeper and Sim’s steady hand can go a long way in making that a reality. Then there’s also the talented Jonathan Loyd who didn’t quite live up to expectations last year but returns to Eugene ready to contribute in 2011-12. There’s some players in Eugene and Altman can coach. Whether they’re a sleeping giant or not, they’re going to be an interesting team to watch.

Oregon State: The Beavers have the luxury of having three returning players each capable of running the point. We’ll highlight Jared Cunningham here because he’s the most intriguing of their possible point guards – of all the Beavers for that matter – and he also did this. Many have picked Cunningham as a possible breakout star in the conference and, frankly, it makes sense, especially if he can improve his three-point shooting. Cunningham is obviously an explosive athlete (review that dunk), but he also uses it for defensive good – accumulating 85 steals and shattering Gary “The Glove” Payton’s OSU sophomore record of 72. With this dynamic athlete as well as the steady and improving Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks, Craig Robinson has himself quite a backcourt. In fact, they represent 43% of Oregon State’s scoring and assist totals from last year. A sign that OSU could be in good hands. Or not…

Stanford: Does this school just keep seniors around to play point guard? Jarrett Mann is the likely starter and he has some lofty shoes to fill amongst the litany of capable, stable, upperclass Stanford PGs. Remember Chris Hernandez, Arthur Lee, Michael McDonald, and Mitch Johnson? Yeah, all pesky winners. But Mann and the other Cardinal point guard candidates (Aaron Bright, Chasson Randle) will have some work to do. They don’t return the most talented group but rather one with potential. Mann isn’t going to make this team blow up, in fact he’s probably best suited in a backup role; but he’ll allow the Cardinal to start the season off in a controlled manner, befitting Johnny Dawkins’ style. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of Chasson Randle, either. The dynamic freshman can bring some scoring and a style that compliments their athletic bigs, Dwight Powell and Josh Owens. Bright received plenty of minutes last year and his game is similar to Mann’s, heady and steady, but brings some additional athleticism to the court. Stanford will be an interesting group and the point guard position is no different. Ultimately, the battle for playing time will only make this team better.

California: The steadiest of all the league’s point guards: Jorge Gutierrez. A pest, to say the least, Gutierrez is the type of player you hate on their team but love on yours. By no stretch is he the most talented player on the court but he is going to give big effort. He’s gutsy and tough and makes things happen; a dangerous combination for any player, let alone a senior on a talented team with high hopes. He’ll use his size as an advantage in defending smaller guards and to score when guarded by them. He needs to improve his assist/turnover ratio (4.5/3) or really just cut down the turnovers, but many have predicted Gutierrez to be the conference’s player of the year. If he is, look for Cal to top the standings come Pac-12 tournament time.