The theme at Pac-12 tournament press conferences was “improvement.” Every coach noted pride for his team’s marked improvement. I heard “November” at nearly every single season ending podium squat. In particular, Steve Alford effused about his team’s improvement. He was politicking for a tournament invite and his angle was improvement. Even Sean Miller got in on the action noting:
I think their quality of play and who they are today would be much different than, for example, who they would have been in December, November. Unfortunately, a lot of the judgment comes in November and December.
So this happened and no one really foresaw it. Quickly after losing to Arizona Steve Alford got to campaigning and evidently it worked. An eleven seed suggests they were pretty squarely in the dance according to the committee who said the Bruins passed the “eye test.” I get it. I also get that they’ve played absolutely no one over their final five games suggesting that the committee believes their losing effort to Arizona was eye pleasing enough. This selection has no one happy but you know what? #BackThePac. Because, quite frankly, the Bruins have talented enough players to be tournament disruptive.
We knew the games were going to be good. It’s championship time and this was the semifinals. But that? Stanley’s three. Kevon’s three. Both Brandon’s games. Norman’s night. Delon and then Joseph. Let’s have a championship.
Day 3: Continue reading
They are Pac-12 basketball. It’s basically the Conference of Champions because of UCLA. For an entire season they alchemized the “C” on all jerseys to commemorate 100 national titles (Internet Fun: find the best line in this confirming article). UCLA – with Arizona on its heels – is the torchbearer of Pac-12 basketball.
But UCLA’s not there right now. And although they’ve fallen on tougher times we won’t let that diminish this rivalry. GameDay recognizes, why shouldn’t we? UCLA may have dropped what appeared to be a quintessential trap game (ASU is actually pretty good even if their student paper concedes on court success for off court fun), but the Bruins are also 4-1 against Arizona in the last five meetings.
A rivalry it is. Everything we need to know about UCLA:
We are halfway through this season and it’s evident that 2015 is a tough season to cover. Basketball is being played at nearly two fewer possessions per game with nearly 6% less scoring per game (learn more here). The Pac-12 – the conference that chose me – is playing at nearly 2012 levels. Sure the top of the conference is better and the talent levels far surpass that which we saw in the fateful Pac-12 inauguration. But at least in 2012 there was a multitude of teams vying for a shot to dance. What crap could rise to the top? You can’t look me in the blog and tell me anyone but Arizona or Utah is going to win in Vegas. It’s seemingly foregone in early February. This is increasingly looking like a two-horse race to Selection Sunday. After that, 2015 has been…a rebuilding? That’s not going to stop us. Because Askia Booker has shots to take and so too does DaVonte Lacy. Kevon Looney is going to be the only freshman in the country to average a double-double. Have you watched Oregon State’s zone against everyone but Arizona State? Watch Elgin Cook pursue a shot, Gary Payton II defend, and Ty Wallace play. These are the last nine games you’ll see of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, Norman Powell, and Booker. You’ve got plenty of reasons to perhaps quit on this season. But champions never quit. This is the Conference of Champions (plus the page views, comments, tweets and shares make me feel good).
Game of the Week
The game of the year was played this week and it wasn’t in Seattle (I see you, Russ) and it wasn’t in Tucson (though I see you, Stanley). If on Wednesday I’d written that the GotW was going to be played during #Pac12AfterDark in Pullman, you’d have thought me crazy. But Ernie got his first win over his old team and it was full on crazy. Further, Arizona rolled up on Utah just to remind everyone where the Pac-12 is won. February 28, however. The one thing that delivered on its promise of greatness was Bilas-Walton on Thursday night. They talked about medicine and got into creationism. The duo delivered.
Episode 2 is a live broadcast which we explain in greater detail deeper into the pod. This week we naturally explore Oregon State’s monster win over Arizona and – perhaps unnaturally – ignore the college football championship for our Duck faithful. #BackThePac. Also, how ’bout that new header, eh?
WANE (or on SoundCloud):
Only twice before has Wayne Tinkle even competed against a KenPom Top-10 team. He lost those two games by an average of 35.5 points. And then Sunday happened and it was basically a lot of this all happening at once. Namely, Tinkle Time arrived and as crunch time hit, only one team was tinkling down its leg. Big win.
The biggest game out of the state of Oregon of course comes tonight. Begging the question as to which should be more discussed? Beavers or Ducks? In my estimation its a no brainer. It’s not really even a question except for this guy who needed to learn how to take screen grabs (check the browser search windows). G’luck Ducks – may you fair better than the Pac’s Middle Amoeba.
12) ARIZONA STATE
Here’s a goal of mine, let me know if you can assist. I want to see The Interview. I don’t believe this makes me unique but if there’s a will there’s a way. But I also think UCLA had the will to score against Kentucky, there just wasn’t a way. Happy Holidays everyone.
12) Washington State
Nice to be back. I’m not about to walk us through my Friday night. I already exposed you to too much of my life in last week’s essay. So rather than tell you I absorbed pizza and beer and two screens worth of Pac-12 hoops, let’s just run through some astute observations and leap to gross conclusions about the season based off of one weekend. Rational? I just watched Interstellar so it’s all relative.
I only watched the first half of UCLA’s Friday game because they won by 1000 and the opening minutes of Sunday’s because of 2 hours and 45 minutes of hoping Matthew McConaughey would run into Cyrus the big bull in Space. But when I was tuned in I saw Norman Powell – he who we know needs to be an Alpha Bruin – swallow a rebound, run coast-to-coast, absorb contact and finish with utter authority. He’s Cyrus the bull, taking 15 FTs en route to 25 points on Friday. He perhaps cooled off on Sunday but not much, still collecting 13 points. Continue reading