Tag Archives: Kansas Jayhawks

ZachLaVine

Pac-12 Teams (UCLA) Headed to Thick of their Non-cons

In my weekly work with All Buffs, I went in on their game against Kansas this weekend. I completely ignored (but for one sentence) their game tonight against Colorado State and charged right in on the Jayhawk tilt because that’s the game that matters. The Buffaloes have proven they can beat formidable foes (Harvard) and otherwise (Jackson State).

But what about the big boys? How do they stack up against a team with a number next to their name? They had an opening day shot against Baylor and didn’t fare too well. But I appreciated the effort because they dove into the deep end while others stayed in the kiddie pool.

And sure they stepped back into the ankle deep waters for a spell. But now they’re diving right back in which leads me to UCLA’s plunge. The Bruins have been lounging in the shallow waters all the season long. They’ve back-loaded their non-conference slate and I think that’s befitting a program in transition. We’re definitely familiar with the narrative around UCLA and their new coach, so for Alford to have a cake walk into the meat of his first season has been ideal. Considering his first months on the job, with nary a single basket to be made, it was anything but a cake walk. Mix in the motor-mouthed Andy Enfield and UCLA’s 7-0 start has been delightfully under-the-radar (not to mention other coaching related issues in the Los Angeles area).

UCLA, amidst all that, is indeed 7-0, touting an 18th ranking in the AP and 22 in KenPom. And did you realize that freshman Zach LaVine is their second leading scorer? Or that he’s shooting 63% afield and 58% from distance? Or he’s capable of things like this:

Now on the heels of Myles Jack “historically” winning the football Pac-12 offensive and defensive Freshman of the Year awards, I won’t be quick to speak highly of a UCLA freshman. Those jackolades are myles off. But LaVine may have the highest professional ceiling on this UCLA team. His emergence only makes the Bruins better (duh) as they head into the aforementioned, back-loaded non-con schedule.

Upcoming for UCLA with corresponding rankings/ratings:

  • UC-Santa Barbara, 12/3 – KenPom: 83, AP: N/A
  • @ Mizzou, 12/7 – KenPom: 48, AP: N/A
  • Duke, 12/19 (@ MSG) – KenPom: 28, AP: #10
  • Alabama, 12/28 – KenPom: 55, AP: N/A

This quad-pack of games isn’t about to blow your mind but it’s certainly better than the previous seven opponents who hold a KenPom average rating of 190.14. This is the month where we’ll really get to learn the most about UCLA and – more importantly – where they’ll get to learn the most about themselves.

Is Tony Parker a foul prone big incapable of staying on the floor? Or is he a defensive game changer, protecting the rim and collecting boards to get scorers LaVine and Jordan Adams into transition? The Wear family. Will Kyle Anderson be a defensive liability as teams become more athletic, more skilled?

And the reason we want these things answered, or at least to have a better picture as to the direction of this team, is because we’ve been teased with their talents and have yet to see them challenged. We love challenges at PacHoops.

Also heading into the thick of it are the Oregon Ducks (@ Ole Miss, Illinois, BYU), kinda Utah (@Boise State, Fresno State, BYU), and Stanford (@ UConn, Michigan).

Yes, we love challenges at PacHoops, who’s going to rise to theirs?

AllBuffs

All Buffs Wrap: Conference Kicks and The Red Letter Game

This week’s wrap up for AllBuffs is more of a preview. You see, Colorado joined this conference, escaping the tyranny of Big-12 Hoops in which no one seems to care much to challenge the Jayhawks; a fact I’d like to cite for their 8-straight conference titles but reality is they’re just that damn good.

Read my AZ-CU Preview at AllBuffs.

Well now that they’re in the Pac-12, Colorado was seeking a rival. Last season Utah – their travel partner – wasn’t worth the endeavor. The Utes would prove one of the worst major conference foes of all-time and the Buffs would win the conference tournament. They settled on the Wildcats as their main rival.

An outsider might call it a little brother move – I wanna be like them! – and perhaps there was an element of such. After all (and I’m always quick to rattle the stats off), Arizona has won 25 conference titles, visited the Final Four four times, and won the 1997 National Title amongst many other braggable accolades.

But then the Buffs went ahead and beat the Wildcats twice last season. Down year’s be damned. When the new kid on the block – expected to finish eleventh – picks the baddest kid in the playground and KO’s them, literally knocking the Wildcats out of the tournament for just the second time since I was born, they mean business. And if you’ve followed their program, they indeed do. They’ve played more-than-respectably this season and Tad Boyle is far on his way to building a program.

So Thursday night, when these two square off it should be a helluva ball game. Both school’s have loft expectations for 2013 and it begins this week.

I’ll be watching – albeit after rushing from the office due to the damn 5pm tip – and excited to see what will come of this long awaited return to conference play. Glad it kicks with doozy.