Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Oregon Court Storm

Week 10 Pac-12 Hoops Review

I’ve been pumping this “weird things in March” dialogue because it’s pretty central to why we’re such big fans of college basketball. We watch this month through a different lens with even the minutiae dramatized. But Saturday did happen. A regular season finale that saw two overtime games, the Bay schools win by a combined two points, #3 go down, and a good old fashioned whooping in the Palouse (hint: UCLA scored 55 points). Prior to that day I was pretty caught up in the sudden winning ways of road teams. A deviation from the Pac-12′s norm. So naturally Saturday saw a home sweep but not without the aforementioned drama and March. Don’t you love it? And don’t you hate Daylight Savings?

Leader in the Clubhouse: I’ll take this thing back to the hottest team model in order to effuse on the run the Oregon Ducks are on. They were dead. Essentially written off, lingering only because at one point they were ranked tenth in the nation and their collapse was a fun fact you could toss around with other topsy turvy teams like Baylor and Oklahoma State. But then they won one. And another. And another. And now it’s seven straight including a road win at UCLA and the biggest win of their season, Arizona. The Oregon Ducks will be in the NCAA tournament. They’re playing their best ball of the season right now and are only the seventh team to ever hit 10-or-more threes against a Sean Miller, Arizona team. The Ducks make threes at an elite level (38.9% 3FG% is 25th best in the nation and Calliste and Young have made 125 total threes at a combined 45% clip. wow) which has led me to call them a “Mid-major with a budget.” Living and dying by the three is a tried and true method to winning games and certainly tournament success. During their seven game win streak, the Ducks are shooting 44% from distance. Of course mixing in some defense doesn’t hurt. And by some I really mean a literally just a little. Their defense over this seven game win streak has been actually worse than their season average. The Ducks’ season long defensive efficiency is 99.6. During this streak it’s 101.8. The thing to note, however, is 101 is better than the 119 efficiency they posted during their previous 5 game losing streak. All of that said, and however they’re doing it, they’ve collected seven straight of my favorite stat as we head into the post-season. The portion of the year where the only choice is to streak.

Biggest Loser: Vegas is set. The seedings are done and games will soon commence. I don’t really have the need to pick a biggest loser because upon commencement of said games, everyone has an equal shot. Clean slate. Unless of course:

Tough. Sometimes the narratives write themselves.

What We Learned: It’s over. Beds have been made and teams are now sleeping in them. Some more comfortably than others but there are now 108 games in the rearview mirror and it looks something like this:Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 6.17.51 PM

In Defense Of: My prediction of seven Pac-12 teams in the NCAA tournament. As we headed into Saturday’s slate, my prediction looked shaky. I wasn’t sure things would or could play out in the necessary fashion for everyone to survive the bubble. We are, of course, a week away from Selection Sunday when predictions of invitations will no longer be relevant. But as we sit today – with Colorado showing well in the Bay, Cal and Stanford narrowly avoiding sweeps, and Oregon beating Arizona – the Pac is a very real candidate to see more than half its members dancing. Now I certainly felt it would be a more convincing seven teams when I made this guess four months ago. But, as noted, this is how they’ve made their beds.

The YouTuber: Let’s just blame it all, everything.

AG_Scream

Fun Facts on the Pac-12′s Penultimate Day

This weekend we’ll spring our clock’s forward which is something I don’t generally like. But think of it this way: we’re one hour closer to the tournaments! But before that, we must get through tomorrow’s regular season finale. There are still infinite permutations of what seed which teams will garner for Vegas and I’m not going to break it down. It’s insane. On Monday we’ll have our All-Conference teams announced and the madness will begin. Or has it already begun? The calendar turned three months old last Saturday and the Pac has been anything but predictable. Utah won on the road. USC won.

We’ve got one day left, here’s a quick run through some fun facts of what you can expect to see, not see, or prepare for:

  • Oregon State hasn’t been swept on the weekend at home this season. Doesn’t bode well for ASU keeping the three seed
  • The Pac-12 has a road winning percentage of 67%. Since March, Pac-12 that home win percentage is 45%. Doesn’t bode well for Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, or Washington State.
  • The last time the Wildcats won in Eugene it was called Mac Court and the Pac-12 was a twinkle in Larry’s eye. Oregon has since built an entirely new arena. Doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats.
  • The last time I went to a Colorado-Cal game, Cal’s best player went 2-17 and still won. Doesn’t bode well for Justin Cobbs or Colorado.
  • Utah hasn’t won consecutive road conference games since visiting TCU and Wyoming in February 2009. Doesn’t bode well for the Utes.
  • In two hosting events of the Colorado Buffaloes, Cal has yielded an average of 49 points per game or 0.77 points per possession. Doesn’t bode well for the Buffs.
  • Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Stefan Nastic, John Gage, and soon-to-be-fifth-years Aaron Bright and Anthony Brown are all celebrating their senior night in Palo Alto, Saturday. Doesn’t bode well for the Utes.
  • USC is playing a game. Doesn’t bode well for the Trojans.
  • Arizona is +74 in scoring differential when playing a team for the second time this season (5-1). Doesn’t bode well for the Ducks.
  • I have an Arizona-Oregon bet with Matt. It’s cumulative points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks of Aaron Gordon vs. Mike Moser. The first match up lead to an underwhelming 16 (Moser) vs. 14 (Gordon). I’m not winning right now and Moser is averaging 18 & 11 during this 6-game winning streak by the Ducks. Doesn’t bode well for Adam.
  • There are six Pac-12 games to behold on Saturday. Bodes well for us.

What did I miss?

Mike-Moser_20131129203143102_660_320

Week 10 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Larry and the Pac-12 powers thought they could sneak one past us with a Tuesday night tip between ASU and Oregon. But we’re too clever for that. Of course we’d rather watch this than any of the six, top-25 match ups tonight; catch up on GIRLS, True Detective, or House of Cards; or go on a Tinder date. March is for college basketball so give us college basketball. But here’s a little soapbox on hypocrisy while I get a little hypocritical. This game we love is buried deep in corporate greed and capitalism. That’s why ASU will play in Eugene on Tuesday despite the NCAA’s proclaimed protection and empowerment of the “student-athlete.” The Sun Devils will be in Oregon from Tuesday to Saturday – at the shortest – missing essentially the entire week of classes leading up to…spring break…which naturally will be spent in Las Vegas. The Devil’s are going to miss an entire week of classes for our entertainment and while I’m appreciative of that and excited for all this March hoop, I also recognize the hypocrisy of the system. But it is the final week of the season so…

GotW: Any game that might have tournament or Vegas seeding implications. Which is to say any game that involves a team that, as of publish, has 7 or 8 losses. Which is to say that eight of the twelve games this weekend have NCAA tournament implications. It is March after all. Furthermore, a top-4 finish is a coveted spot with Vegas right around the corner. That earns you a first round bye, one fewer game to potentially lose to the likes of USC (Cal) or Washington State (Washington and Utah). Cal is hosting for their tournament lives this weekend and Stanford could be, too. Oregon has rattled off an impressive five game win streak and has themselves primed for an invitation after being left for dead just 3 weeks ago. Colorado? With that question asked, the feeling that I must pick one GAME of the Week, and a March flair for the dramatic, we could see Saturdays’ penultimate Pac-12 regular season game (UCLA @ WSU closes this thing out) featuring Colorado in Berkeley as the GotW. Pending the mid-week results, this could be a battle royal for a spot in the dance.

Game to Avoid: If we’ve technically got eight games of the week then is it really that tall of an order to suggest we ignore the only other four games? Of course it is! This is March basketball. Almost nothing is worth ignoring except for Thursday’s game between USC and Washington State. What do you want me to say here? These are the last two teams in the conference and have combined for three conference wins. Watching this game could be more difficult than getting a deal done with the Chinese (#TeamUnderwood).

Something to Prove: Two games, with arguably a jaunt in Las Vegas, for the Oregon Ducks to prove to the committee that they deserve an invite. Which is a really interesting position considering all of the work they’ve done to prove otherwise. Alas, they swept Los Angeles and are riding the aforementioned momentum of 5 straight wins. According to Bracket Matrix, they’re back in the mix. Of the 68 brackets aggregated, 66 include the Ducks. And of course with great power comes great responsibility. The power in this equation is the guests. Arizona and ASU pose the toughest travel tandem, the perfect opportunity to solidify a resume. The responsibility, however, lies in the ownership of their own destiny. They earned that right by running through their non-conference slate  and rattling off their last five. They are responsible for their own tournament invitation. A challenge to force the committee to keep them out. Also, Mike Moser is en fuego. He’s averaging 17.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg during this five game win streak.

Something to Lose: After discussing Oregon’s place amongst things, let’s now take a look at Cal. According to the aforementioned Bracket Matrix they are in 63 of the 68 brackets which is still good but far from a guarantee. But it suggests they’re dancing, right? Which further suggests they’ve got something lose. And lose they have. Let’s look at Cal’s win percentage over the conference season vs. the Ducks:

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 7.56.10 PM

Someone’s trending up and someone’s trending down. The Ski schools will be in the Bay (I’m going to try and make it over to Boulder on Saturday) and pose a significant threat to whatever chance the Bears have in maintaining their spot at the ball. Because how ‘hot’ a team is plays into the judgement of the committee and Cal certainly ain’t hot.

The YouTouber: “You blew a wide open layup.” Gold.

SeanMillerESPN3

Fourteen Things to Watch in Pac-12 Conference Play

Conference play will tip tonight. That’s a fun fact to let sink and now’s a good time to let your loved ones know that Thursdays and Saturdays are booked (and the occasional Wednesday. And the occasional Friday. And the occasional Sunday. And all of March). I love conference play because it means something. A “good win” doesn’t just carry a nice perception, it moves you up the ladder. And we know that college basketball is all about getting to the top of ladders. With scissors.

Fourteen things to watch in this 2014 Pac-12 season:

  1. The Games and Stories – An elementary opening point for a ‘must watch’ list, but as we head into this most anticipated of Pac-12 conference seasons, I am acutely aware that I don’t want to watch Southern University play a ton of games. I’m not that stoked on seeing Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Weber State, or Evergreen State (St. Katherine, for that matter). And I mean no offense. I just don’t know them from Adam and I want the drama. I don’t care if UW and WSU rate outside the top-100 on KenPom. That’s the damn Apple Cup. USC is the 4th worst team remaining on UCLA’s schedule. BUT THEY’RE THE ONLY SCHOOL YAPPING AT UCLA. Suddenly we’re privy to subtext that wasn’t there when the opponents were [Directional] State Tech. Arizona is the top team, but Spencer Dinwiddie has already said he thinks his team is the cream of the crop. I have running bets about Arizona V. Oregon and I love the Arizona-Washington rivalry. Last time Cal and Stanford faced off, STANFORD’S ENTIRE ASSISTANT COACHING STAFF WAS EJECTED. Prior to last season, there hadn’t been an in-conference matchup of ranked teams since 2011. This year we’ve already got one in the first week (#10 Oregon @ #20 Colorado)…with more to follow! It’s conference time.
  2. Ben Carter – He has just three games under his belt (flipping shoe swag) and really just one of consequence. In that game – against BYU – he managed 4 points, 4 boards, 3 assists. Not quite Arsalan Kazemi yet not even close, either. But he’s long been considered a budding piece of what Dana Altman is trying to accomplish. And now’s the time. From a personnel standpoint, the Ducks can’t quite hit the boards the way they used to. Or rather, the way Tony Woods and Kazemi did. They’ve shifted from a top 10 defense to a top 10 offense. The best offensive team Dana Altman has ever coached. As we move forward, the emergence of a Robin to Mike Moser’s Batman could greatly benefit the Ducks.
  3. DaVonte Lacy – There aren’t going to be many reasons to watch Washington State so I present this guy:
  4. Washington’s Front Court… amongst so many other things in Seattle – Maybe there isn’t much to watch here as this team has become decimated through recruiting failures and injury (RIP Jernard Jarreau). Perris Blackwell is a fine player, but he’s one man. This is Romar’s worst defensive team since – well it’s literally the worst defense he’s ever coached. They rank 287th in defensive efficiency giving up 1.09 points per possession. Woof. Teams are shooting a 54% eFG against them, otherwise known as 318th best nationally. Double Woof. And that front court that doesn’t necessarily exist? Allowing 70% shooting at the rim. Teams are shooting 56% from 2-point range and I could go on but I won’t because as the Dawgs allow more and more points it raises more and more questions I don’t want to discuss about the health of Husky Hoops. So why watch? Because it could be something of a last hoorah.
  5. Oregon’s SOS – It has to improve. Or perhaps better said: it’s going to. They’ll play all of Arizona (State and the good guys) and UCLA twice while only escaping a visit from Colorado. Amongst KenPom’s top-25 teams, the Ducks have the 5th easiest schedule. Completely to their credit, they’ve handled that schedule. But as the going gets tough we’ll get to see whether or not this team will Win the Day.
  6. Cal’s Injury Bug – First they dropped two tough games without Richard Solomon in the lineup at the Maui Invitational. Then Kreklow and Bird sustained injuries and it’s pretty wide open as to when either of these two is coming back. You don’t need me to tell you that’s not good. I love Bird’s skill set and he carried the Bears through a few games earlier this year. They’ll now rely even more heavily on seniors Cobbs and Solomon as well as soph Ty Wallace and junior David Kravish. That’s a nice foursome, but nothing close to what this team is with Ricky and Jabari. Will their absence cost the Bears a chance to dance?
  7. The POY Race – I wrote really early in the year about this because why not? This is going to shake out to be a really great race because there are so many players that will be worthy of the title for so many different reasons. From Joseph Young who gets points like a Fuel Band to Kyle Anderson who does everything like a Swiss Knife,  how will voters (Pac-12 coaches) evaluate? Value (Nick Johnson, Anderson, Delon Wright, Mike Moser)? Skill (Young, Jahii Carson, Jordan Adams)? Whatever the case, it’s not going to be Jorge Gutierrez.
  8. Arizona’s Depth – Or lack thereof. They’re a damn talented team who then ranks 312th in percentage of bench minutes. The Pac-12 season is a grind and getting into the Yorks, Pitts’, and Korcheks of this lineup could help alleviate some of stress on the core-six. But it’s a really good core-six. One thing I’ve long been interested in – ever since he started the first game of the year – is the development of Gabe York. He wasn’t expected to be getting much tick – his defense a liability and a thorn in Miller’s side. But he’s shown some ability to defend but it’s his shooting ability (42% 3FG%) that I believe could make Arizona the hands down favorite to win this whole damn thing. But he’s not quite there yet. Conference play will be his chance to cut his teeth in some big games.
  9. Hot Seats – I hate this topic but it’s going to come up and as a given team maybe does worse than we might expect, there could be some seats warming up all over the conference. The influx of coaching talent across both football and basketball in the past 3 years has been impressive and if you’re not keeping up with the Joneses then you’re just losing sporting events. There are going to be a few ADs with tough decisions in the coming months. You already know which ones they are and so do they.
  10. Dunks
  11. Delon Wright and the Scorin’ Utes – Larry K’s team has exceeded the 120-point mark twice this season and they’re third in the nation in points per game (87.4). They’ve also played nothing short of a middle school schedule but that’s a whole different topic. Delon Wright has been an incredible addition to this team. He’s doing almost everything for them: 15/7/6, 138.3 ORtg. The obvious here is that I’m intrigued to see how he fairs against better competition; which begins tonight as he and the Utes host #10 Oregon and all of the guard talent in the world. The other thing to note about Utah here is that they have the fifth highest eFG% in the nation. Again, the schedule stuff, but at a certain point we have to appreciate that what Larry K’s team is doing is simply efficient. Excited to see how it translates. They’re 11-1.
  12. Jahii Carson – Because he’s Jahii Carson.
  13. #20 Colorado – The lede here is that they’re ranked and Tad’s making a name of this program and Spencer Dinwiddie is likely league-bound and then something else about Askia Booker putting up shots like a Tri-Delt. It’s all true. But let’s take a moment to think about Josh “Jelly” Scott as we head to conference play. The guard play in this conference is obscene. The Arizona bigs have been getting their love but how about Scott? Here are his numbers in Colorado’s last four games: 15 points and 11 boards. That’s a lot of everything you’d want from your big. He takes just 7 shots per game to get his points, which is grossly efficient. And this is the point in the blurb that I mention his free throw rate: 88.2. That’s a 147% increase over last season’s FTRate. He’s drawing greater than 6 fouls per forty minutes. Once perceived as soft, he’s banging his way to the free throw line and offensive success. Such a post asset is going to bode well for the Buffs as we make our way towards March.
  14. Vegas – Things happen there that should stay there. You know this and I know this and the Vegas travel bureau markets that. Certain things should stay there including the Pac-12 tournament. This will be year two of the three year contract that I fully expect to be renewed. But I don’t expect many teams to be sticking around Vegas. What I mean is I think there’s going to be a hearty number (seven) of Pac-12 teams leaving Vegas for the big dance. I also think this Pac-12 tourney is going to be as fun as it gets. Hoops on basketball on baskethoops.
home-alone

The Pac-12 Year in HOLY S***!!! (Copying Grantland)

If you’re not familiar with Grantland’s Year in Holy S***!!!, familiarize now. In a swift Bart ride back to my house I was taken out of the stat holes of KenPom and hoop-math and reminded that SPORTS! Watch that Steph Curry highlight reel and tell me you don’t get goosebumps as he drops trey on the Nuggets, turning to their bench before net.

Alas, this is a Pac-12 blog and holy shit happens here, too. We’re about to dive into it. But to further preface this reactionary and sudden expulsion of disbelief; before unveiling the moments that had as out of our chairs, jaws gaping, eyes wide, SMHing all over; prior to that, I’d just like to say that these are the things that have us coming back. Fandom, for better or worse or otherwise, allows us to get lost. Why we stand and shout. Holy shit. Bravo.

Here are a handful of those times from Brad, Ben, Matt, Jason, and me in no particular order.

The McKale Monitor Mishap

Jason of AllBuffs.comThe Monitors at McKale moment game started late for me.  I was in the car in a part of Colorado that severely tested KOA’s claim of “3 countries/38 states” motto.  When I arrived at my destination, not exactly civilization, but a place that does have DirecTV, (luckily the game was on ESPN) I turned on the TV and my first “Holy Shit” moment occurred.  CU was up, by double digits, in McKale, “Holy Shit indeed”.  Over the remaining 15 minutes of the game, the rest of my party arrived, the beers and wine were flowing and then the FT’s started clanking, oh those FT’s. When Mark Lyons made his second free throw with 10 seconds left, I stood up and I didn’t sit down for several minutes.  Sabatino Chen ended up with the ball in his hands with 3.5 seconds left, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t designed, it was….. BANKED, but it did go in.  There were high fives and then a “wait a minute, they’re reviewing it”.  It was good, it was definitely good was being echoed throughout the room.  Then it began, the slow walk toward the TV, the room was hushed, the volume was cranked and everybody was gathered around a 52 inch high-definition TV.

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Win probability.

Over and over we watched, angle after angle, hands now ON the TV, “no-it’s out right there, it’s good, the red light isn’t on yet”.  Then it happened……”HOLY SHIT” they called it no good.  F-bombs were dropped; BS’s thrown around and the air had been let out of the room.  I don’t remember the last 5 minutes of the game, all I know was that CU lost, but I will never forget that “HOLY SHIT” moment and that I was in the middle of nowhere, with high-definition TV while the refs  standing courtside were stuck with the standard-definition variety

Adam – I’d watched as my Wildcats made a furious comeback from the most three pointers the Buffaloes would hit in a single game all season. Well, it was going to be the most until Chen happened. Head down dribbling out the clock he heaved it up and you know the rest. I was here with friends and had conceded Arizona’s loss. We watched all of the angles and I even broke things down for my houseguests exactly how, if I were one of the officials, I’d bury my head in the monitor, confirm the call with field goal arms and bolt off the McKale floor. I bolted out of my living room to demonstrate. But when I returned, the officials were waving the whole damn thing off and…HOLY SHIT. Hey, Cats win and Mark Lyons doesn’t give a rats ass about how nice Sabatino’s hair is.

He Touched the Ball x5 and Cancun

Adam - From my Vegas vantage point following the UCLA-Arizona game I had this to tweet which, as you’ll notice, when unreplied, retweeted, or favorited. For shame.

Well then what happened?

AND THAT’S SOME STRAIGHT NOSTRADAMUS ACTION PEOPLE. Anyhow, in our hotel room, we watched that presser another 3-to-fifteen-hundred times because oh my holy shit goodness Sean Miller wasn’t happy. There’s more spice in that presser than an Indian dish. There’s more heat in Miller’s words than a dutch oven under plastic covers. There’s more flame in those eyes than under Ken Bone’s seat. Ask the Pac-12 representative Miller “didn’t” berate but rather who was the closest in proximity as he screamed innocuously down a hallway. And then Goodman’s news broke and maybe this is the true holy shit of it all? We wound up with an officiating scandal that I had to digest in phases. $5k and a trip to Cancun is some watered down Illumanati action. And now replay the presser.

Jahii Drops 40 on The Strip

Adam – Sure it was a career high and sure the Devils needed every one of his double-score scoring output from Carson. That’s undoubtedly some MVP stuff. Carson connected on 16 of his 25 shots inside the Thomas and Mack and that’s a pretty damn efficient 40 points. But wait, there’s holy shit coming. Because the 5’10″ Carson made 14 of those 16 shots as layups which basically just says to me that Carson stared down the Rebels and their 7 blocked shots per game to announce to everyone that, “I AM JAHIISUS. I AM SO GREAT THAT I HAVE FORCED HERB SENDEK OF SLOTH PACED OFFENSES TO COMPLETELY BURY THE FOUNDATION OF HIS OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY AND THE STYLE IN WHICH HE BUILT HIS CAREER IN ORDER TO KEEP HIS JOB AND LOCAL TALENT. AT LEAST HE CAN NO LONGER LAMENT JAMES HARDEN’S DEPARTURE. I AM JAHIISUS.” And then he beat Marquette in Tempe to secure the first Sun Devil win over a ranked opponent since before Todd Graham was associated with other coaching jobs. Harden, who?

Askia Booker Doesn’t Give a Jayhawk

Ben of Rumblinbuff.com - 

If safeties-free, all-balls performances like 17 points as a freshman in the NCAA Tournament, or a sizzling domination of a non-conference run in Charleston as a sophomore didn’t let you in on the secret, let me clue you in: Askia Booker was born to get buckets.  Important buckets.  Season-defining buckets.

So, when Kansas, dominator of all things Colorado Basketball for generations, makes the mistake of getting into a see-saw affair in the snake-pit-that-Tad-built, who else could CU turn to with the game on the line?  Not Josh Scott.  He’s too smooth, too nice.  Not Spencer Dinwiddie.  He’s too conventional, too ‘efficient.’

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No, you need insanity.  You need a player with no conscience, no understanding of the stage upon which he steps.  You need, to be brash, a player who does not give a f***.

Askia Booker does not give a f***.  Askia Booker gets buckets.

And so, 80-feet from the basket, with three seconds left on the clock against that team, the under-recruited dynamo from South LA – off-center goatee, and all – was the player in silver getting the ball.

One dribble, two.  Still too far from the hoop.  Better euro-step to cover some ground.  Square up, leap, let fly.

Watch the gif.  Count the fucks given by Booker.  There are none to be found.  After release, he just stands there, as if waiting for the oncoming train of noise.  Waiting for us, the fans, to realize what he has just pulled off.  He was born to hit that shot.  He was born to euro-step into that shot.

Almost four years ago, Colorado was in a similar situation against the hated Jayhawk.  Clock ticking down, tie game, ball in hand, CU had a shot to stun the #1 team in the land in the time-before-Tad.  In that moment, it was Cory Higgins who was called upon.  Higgins, the program’s co-leader in scoring, wasn’t up to the moment, and air-balled his dance with history.  Looking back, it all makes sense.

Booker is everything that Higgins is not.  Higgins was calm, cool, collected.  Indeed, sophisticated.  James Bond in shorts.  Booker is the junkyard dog, barking at everything in sight.    John McClane in Black and Gold.  Higgins may have been more talented, but Booker has the want, the need to hoop.  The balls to steal headlines from future NBA bonus babies.  The grit to walk across broken glass when needed.

I could twist myself in knots talking about how the game, the win, the shot meant something for Colorado, for Booker.  In the end, there’s nothing but the inbounds, the euro-step, and the pure, un-adulterated brashness of Ski and his moment.

Bucket gotten.

Mike Moser Leaves Las Vegas, Does Not Suffer Nic Cage-like Departure

Matt of AddictedtoQuack.com - Given Oregon’s lack of depth in the front court this season, the addition of a quality player like Mike Moser was definitely a wanted surprise to Duck fans.  Keeping him away from Washington was just an added bonus. Moser brings leadership, talent, and immediate play-ability to a position that was vacated by fan favorite, Arsalan Kazemi. Moser also fits perfectly into Dana Altman’s high-post wheel offense.  His ability to stretch the floor, handle the ball, and pull bigger defenders away from the hoop compliments Oregon’s guard focused offense. To say that Moser joining the Ducks this off season was a Holy Shit moment is putting it lightly.

Just this Dunk

Brad of Portland –  If you were watching that dunk you were like, HOLY-SHIT-KNOCK-KNOCK-WHO’S THERE-BOOOM-SHAKALAKA-F***-YOU-DARREN-SHARPER-HOLD MY DICK! Then you put a hand over your mouth, made a noise like you were watching Kevin Ware shoot a jumper in a regional final, and wept like you saw a double rainbow.

827051630RHJ doesn’t dunk his nigiri in the soy sauce, he slams that shit down so hard he cooks the fish. He is not a role model. Just because he can dunk a basketball does not mean he should raise your kid. Anyone raisin’ that kid is laughing their way to the bank faster than Earl Woods. The rest of us are just wiping our own kid off the Christmas card and sending a photo RHJ posterizing the entire Aggies basketball team instead.

RONDAE!
Larry Drew Two’s Icy Veins Meet Icy Shabazz
Adam – LD2′s season in and of itself was a giant surprise. He was the rock his coach couldn’t quite be and the his prima dona wing wouldn’t be. For all the heat he’d taken in leaving Carolina across 12-13 Drew was a leader and it was fun to watch. And then to see those who we cheer for and appreciate succeed is great! So as Drew took that pass and slashed through the lane and hit a fading, elbow jumper to sink the Dawgs and maintaining their spot atop the conference – the conference they’d go on to win – I was impressed and jaw dropped. Holy shit as it were.
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But in that gif you’ll notice the sulking shoulders of a neon shoed gentlemen. He’s left handed and was no where near a position to necessarily get a basketball with a waning clock and whining attitude. And yes I just said “whining attititude” which is the same crap my dad would drop on the Blue Rhinos – my 11-and-under baseball team.  Whiny attitude is a phrase reserved for juveniles but that’s about what not getting the ball when you want the ball equates to. It was the moment that perhaps personified everything that we didn’t know but felt UCLA’s season would become. Holy shit did he really just big league his own team off an icy cold buzzer beater? He did, and now it’s Steve Alford’s team (which was a holy shit in and of itself).
Two Teams AND Two Numbers
Adam – With two, citations of the number two, this. But when Oregon visited Pauley on Saturday January 19, 2013 it was the first Pac-12 Conference game featuring two ranked opponents since March 2009. What two words come to mind here? Holy and shit. Four years it took to get to this place and it was 21 vs. 24? And the road team won? Man oh man had this conference hit rock bottom. There would be just one more contest between ranked opponents that season (see: Ball, He Touched the)
What did we miss (lots no doubt)?
HecEd

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Adult decisions

This set of ball games is wildly appealing to me but sometimes – and I hope you can relate with me here – other things get in the way of even Pac-12 basketball. Be it family, work, or the rotating Pac-12 schedule, I’m not going to go to these games. Now you might ask yourself, How do these differ from The Pac-12 Road Trip: Just absolutely cannot? And that would be a fair question. Those were games that I want to attend but almost literally cannot. Come on, I’m not going to South Korea for an Oregon game that’s released something like 100 tickets to the public. You think anyone not named NIKE is getting those? These are games that I could attend and would attend, but I’m choosing to do something else. Or save money. You know, being a growed up.

  1. UCLA @ The Bay Area, Wednesday 2/19 & Saturday 2/22, Maples & Haas, Berkeley & Palo Alto – Evidently I don’t hold this game or weekend trip in nearly the same esteem as ESPN’s Gameday. They’ve declared this 2/22 contest (UCLA @ Stanford) as their possible P12 destination that weekend. The other option is Sean Miller and team’s visit to Tad Boyle’s house. I’m making the right choice and heading to Boulder because, you know, great basketball. And Boulder. Alas, if you’re local in the Bay – and if I was I’d be there – these are the games to attend. UCLA is UCLA and will contend for the a top spot as could these Bay schools. Dunk city.
  2. Arizona @ Oregon, Saturday, 2/8, 2pm, CBS, The Matt, Eugene - In 2008 I was in Eugene long enough to wander on to Mac Court (RIP). It just looked loud. Alas, since my visit, Oregon basketball quickly declined and the school would quit that building. But then they hired Dana the Head Duck and, to date, this has proved a great move. I haven’t been back to Eugene. Dammit. I’m aiming to but this season it just isn’t going to work. I’ve got too many other March travels to make this work despite Allegiant Air’s best efforts (tardy they may be). This is also the final game of the season which holds some sort of intrigue but I also imagine both of these teams will have pretty clear pictures of their post-season placement by this point and my dollars are better spent heading home to Tucson for familial duties a week later.
  3. Arizona @ UCLA, Thursday, 1/9, 6pm, ESPN or ESPN2, Pauley, Westwood - You know when your day job gets in the way of driving down I-5 to get to the Arizona-UCLA game? So annoying, right? This is the only game scheduled between these rivals in the 2013-14 campaign and so I really wanted to catch it. I’ve also never seen Arizona win inside that building. But like I said, that day job thing is going to get in the way so I won’t be jetting to Westwood at drive time that day. 
  4. Arizona @ Washington, This game is literally not happening. Arizona does not have a scheduled game in Seattle and like I’ve said on repeat: I really want to get to HecEd. Looks like we’ll have to wait another year.
  5. Opening Rounds of Pac-12 Tournament, Wed-Fri, 3/12-14, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas - Broken record alert! These mid-week games are going to kill my Pac-12 watching soul. There’s an outside shot I make it here but the following week I’m due in Tucson for a big day for Baby Brother. I’m not going to make this one. But you should. I attended last year and it was a glorious. I flew into Vegas at an early hour (or late if you’re going by Vegas time) and soon hit open Bloody Mary’s, the final Big East tournament, and then oodles of Pac-12 basketball. I loved it and I want you to go, too.
Crisler Arena

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Games I ain’t missin’

These games are happening. Signed, sealed, delivered and booked I’m going to each of the following and if you want to join me you’re welcome to. Alright, not all of them are booked as I’m gonna strategically await that Black Friday SWA sale but I’m on board. Committed like R.P. McMurphy.

  1. Arizona @ Michigan, Saturday, 12/14, 10am MST, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor – This will prove to be the most single minded Wildcat trip of my career/life. I’ll be flying into the Bankrupt City on a Friday afternoon and storming a college town of significant renowned. I’d request that the Crisler Center prepare itself but I also understand that this isn’t a football game. It’s no doubt a big game but basketball will never be the game in Ann Arbor. That’s ok. It’s the game in Tucson and that’s why I’m going. And to exact some revenge for my man RichRod; and my grandfather who will litter you with stories of his time in an Ohio State fraternity. What’s more, while I have this platform, allow me to ask if you’re drinking all this Mitch McGary Kool-Aid? He’s being cited as an All-American talent but I refuse to drink from that pitcher. Sure he had an All-American dance but on the season he was dropping 7/6 with the court being opened up by National POY, Trey Burke. He’s good but not 1st Team AA good. Enough hoops. I’ll be needing one of these “winter coats” and something about johns that are long? I’m unfamiliar as San Francisco is the coldest place on earth by my calculations. Soft? To be certain. But maybe the fifteen years worth of tOSU hoodies I received were just preparing me for this moment.
  2. Arizona @ Colorado, Saturday, 2/22, TBA, ESPN or ESPN2, The Keg, Boulder – I want victory. I want blood. I want College Game Day to be there with me to watch as I think this is a damn no brainer to attend. I got into a bit of a heated conversation about whether or not Game Day should be headed to Boulder. The counter argument was that on a national level UCLA vs. Stanford holds greater esteem than Colorado vs. anyone. I argued that while America may name recognize the other two, Texas-UCLA drew 2,797 people last season and those programs have combined to win 3,428 basketball games. Game Day is about entertainment value and CU-Arizona projects to not only be a great basketball game (Arizona leads four games to three since 2009 by a margin of just 21 points) but it will also be hosted in Boulder. A school that has made multiple top-10 appearances on multiple top-party school lists. As opposed to Palo Alto which hasn’t seen excitement since they last had twins manning the paint or some dropout IPO’d. Hell yeah I’m attending this game and I’m missing my ex-girlfriend’s wedding to attend it. In fact, Game Day can have Palo Alto. I’m making the right choice here and my red shirt will shine bright in that blacked out Keg. It’s a run back of Valentine’s 2013 and I’ve recruited Buffs (I see you roommate, Fish) and Wildcats to join. The next Southwest Airlines 48-hour sale can’t come soon enough. [BART SCOTT'S CAN'T WAIT]
  3. Opening Weekend in Tucson, Fri-Mon, 11/7-11, McKale & Arizona Stadium, Tucson - Bless my dear friend Rachel and her soon-to-be-husband, Evan, for promising to be wed on Sunday, November, 10. The timing of such allows me an opportunity to work from Tucson on Friday and the following consumption: Cal Poly in McKale, UCLA in Arizona Stadium for homecoming, wedding, LBSU in McKale. That’s what I call a weekend. Mom has expressed concerns that she won’t see me but I’ve promised her all non-Wildcat time will be spent with her. But that’s a lot of Wildcat time. It’s the tip off weekend any fan would dream of and maybe – aside from the celebration of Rachel and Evan’s love – I’ll call it the first step to on the road to Dallas.
  4. Arizona @ Stanford, Wed 1/29, 7pm ESPN2, Maples, Palo Alto & Arizona @ Cal, Saturday, 2/1, 830pm, P12N, Haas, Berkeley - My time in the Bay has treated me well. The alumni association thinks I’m a member (starred on their website) and who really objects to CalTrain, BART or Party Bus to your team’s game? There’s also winning and telling people about it:
    Brothers on TV.

    Brothers on TV.

    This year I’m eager to see Sean’s best Wildcat team against what should be a pair of veteran teams in the Bay. And one perk to living here is you meet the local flavor who has a propensity to either hook you up with tickets or hate your guts. Nah they rarely hate you – and they rarely hook up up with tickets – but they’re always good to tell you about their favorite Wildcat. Love the Bay.

  5. Pac-12 Tournament Championship, Saturday, 3/15, Fox Sports 1, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas – I’ve got to be honest with you – I’m not entirely positive I can make this one. That aforementioned brother of mine will be learning his professional fate the following week in Tucson and city hopping may not be in the cards. For brother, he’s entering what’s like the draft for doctors. The announcement of his residency – Match Day – is an experience I’ve learned loosely resembles the Hogwarts  Sorting Hat. Or that Sunday we love when 68 teams are selected. Whatever the sorting or selecting case, brother’s future will be determined – location, medical practice, happiness – and we’ll be needing to celebrate. I’m gonna be there for that. However, if I can swing both, I most certainly will. Stay tuned.
Pac12Tournament

Reviewing My Event: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament

Somewhere amidst the blur that is any Vegas trip I received an email from Ticketmaster. The subject line of this email read, “Review Your Event: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

OK. I will.

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Wow, Ticketmaster drawing the big guns early. Five stars. A year in the making, the move to Vegas came with great anticipation and lived up to the hype.

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Yes. Resoundingly so.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 10.42.57 PMI’d like review as hetouchedtheball.

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Doesn’t matter. Look at the example. Can’t top that title.

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You know how awesome it is when you anticipate something will be terrific and then it is? This wasn’t The Hangover 2, this was The Dark Knight. For a year we’d discussed the excitement of this event and then boom it delivered. The conference has rediscovered itself and just in time (well, at least not in the eyes of the committee with regards to seeding) to make an inaugural splash.

The MGM was accessible and the arena was big enough to house a crowd and quaint enough to get rowdy. Vegas itself is accessible and allowed me to attend this event with a whole lot of friends and enemies.

Particularly I liked the blackout curtains (so Vegas) on the side of the gym sans upper seating. It provided an ominous and dramatic backdrop to the play unfolding below.

Of course not as if this thing needed any additional drama. Day 1 saw games decided by 11 total points. Day 2 saw two overtimes. Day three provided this. And whatever the outcome, a championship is always a blast. Vegas crushed it. The competition crushed it. Frankly, Oregon crushed it. And again, kudos to Johnathan Loyd (MVP).

I bought beers that were more expensive than my ticket (12/12/12); I watched Huskies go nuts over a buzzer beating cover despite a team loss; I waltzed into session 5 with Pat Riley; I interestingly placed no wagers on Pac-12 games; I ran into college friends and blogosphere friends and watched a man pay $20 to kick another man in the groin (prior to midnight); I listened/participated as “U of A” chants drowned out the support of others (then watched/participated as sorrows were drowned); I saw a lot of red that didn’t always have a block A on it (Utah travelled); I made my flight home.

Loved it.

My lone complaint would be that putting the conference title game on at 8pm goes a long way in ensuring your conference gets minimal exposure. That’s 11pm EST and does it come as any surprise that Oregon – the winner of this tournament – was the most hosed on Selection Sunday? The tournament was brought to Vegas to get more people to see it. Let’s make sure that continues to happen.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 11.20.35 PMGreat question Ticketmaster. This one’s hard to pick and I loved the Sean Miller press conference. I won’t pick it as my favorite, however, because I’m not entirely sure I want to celebrate it. I will say that I’ve watched it many times and appreciate the way he goes to bat for Solomon Hill and wears the game.

But my favorite – and I’m going to get a little Field of Dreams-y on you here – was watching the Oregon-Washington game. This back-and-forth battle stands alone on its own merits as a terrific basketball contest. But it stands out to me because it wasn’t nearly a capacity audience as we managed to sit comfortably spread out in really whichever seats we wanted. And I got to do that next to my Dad. The rest of our party had chose dinner over the first half and in my blind loyalty to this conference I knew I wanted to see these heated rivals square off in a Pac-12 quarterfinal. So my dad joined me and we sat, like I said, comfortably and wherever we liked. Just father and son. Me and pops.

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I did not sit there.

5 stars particularly if we’re considering the value of the seats. I had tickets to eleven basketball games (4 tickets to the championship) and spent roughly the same amount that I paid to get into Pauley on 3/2.

I would recommend these seats. They’re ambulatory.

They were turquoise and did this really weird adjusty thing where they’d slide back – a light recline, if you will – as you dropped the actual sitting fold into its sit-able position. This reminded me of one of those advancements you find in dated cars that seemed really tight at the moment but over time and with gained perspective you’re like does this actually serve any serviceable function? I have the feeling that kick-under-your-car-to-open-the-trunk thing is the next of these auto-creations. But yeah, the seats were turquoise.

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photo-11

 

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You’re asking me to upload video from a 3-day trip to Las Vegas, Nevada? Screw you.

Review submitted.

 

 

P-12 Bracket

Week 10 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

El fin.

Well sort of. It’s like El Fin Eve. But then there’s that tournament in Vegas. And then the one all over the country. It’s so damn confusing. Or is it? Because for the first time this season games are going to start having some tangible outcomes. A win here means this there. A loss tonight means a game tomorrow. Or no games at all.

So sure, the fallout of it all is grossly complicated but we’re finally at the point where it all shakes out onto some staggered lines with the numbers 1-12 on the left and TBD team names on the right. And then it gets mad. In Vegas. Here is where I really wish I could find a clip of Chevy Chase just repeating “Vegas. Vegas. Vegas.” in slow motion in Vegas Vacation. You know the scene I just can’t find it on the YouTube. This one works, too.

But we definitely ain’t there yet. The weekend:

GotW: For the first time in GotW anointment history I’m calling a tie. First the games, then the caveat, then the explanation. Oregon @ Colorado, Thursday 7pm (this is mountain time for the first time for my Colorado friends), ESPN2. UCLA @ Washington, Saturday, 11am (this is PST), CBS. The caveat is UCLA beating WSU and the outcome of the former of the two listed games. And now the explanations. Oregon-CU is a revenge match of a game in Eugene that saved Colorado’s season as it was at risk of taking a really bad turn and that included an 8-0 run to finish the game. That’s the match-up intrigue. The ramification intrigue centers squarely on Oregon’s attempt to win a Pac-12 title. They need to sweep to ensure the 1-seed in Vegas. Big time. Meanwhile, up in Seattle, the Dawgs are looking to exact last-second revenge on the Bruins on CBS. How much do you love the CBS basketball jingle? Revenge is again the clear match-up intrigue. The ramification intrigue again centers on a title attempt. But what makes this one extra interesting is that UCLA could be playing knowing that a win allots them the conference crown all to themselves. Conversely, Washington knows that they could keep the hated Bruins from winning said title. If that’s the case and Washington wins, then Cal gets the 1-seed (assuming a win tomorrow against Stanford). Because that all makes sense.

Game to Avoid: Well this time of year it becomes impossible to avoid game as they are, A) Ubiquitous, B) Spicy, C) Awesome. But if you must, if the draw of college hoop in March is not enough to keep you away from – I dunno - responsibilities then I suppose it’d be pretty darn ok to skip Oregon State @ Utah. This one airs parallel to the aforementioned UO-CU GotW so I suppose you could just flip back and forth between the two. In which case, if those responsibilities are still looming, USC @ Washington State, late Saturday afternoon, is your best avoidance. There’s a bit at stake for USC (they could finish anywhere between 4th and 8th) but WSU doesn’t provide much by way of viewable product and you’ve already had a really busy viewing morning to that point. This is a 3:30pm tip and there will have already been four P12 games. But it’s also the last Pac-12 regular season game of the year (:().

Something to Prove: The Arizona Wildcats need to prove something to us. Are they the 14-0 team or are they the 9-6 team? They’re in the big dance, the Wildcats will be seeded relatively favorably, but should we be looking at them favorably? They’re an odd group because they have so many question marks heading into the final weekend of the season. I struggle to wrap my mind around what happens in their senior finale Saturday at home against ASU. They’ve previously dropped the ball in big, emotional conference tilts (both UCLA games, @Colorado) but they’ll have one final regular season opportunity to demonstrate some semblance of authority that’s been missing the conference season long. Can they do it?

Something to Lose: The UCLA Bruins have the easier of two final road weekend evils in playing UW and WSU as opposed to Oregon’s travels to Boulder and SLC. Which is to say that a loss at CU for the Ducks wouldn’t be a huge surprise (I in fact like the Buffaloes). Which is also to say that the Bruins have the better opportunity to sit alone atop the conference come Saturday afternoon. Which is to say – as the segment title suggests – the Bruins have something to lose. Which is to say that I think a conference title is something to lose. Which is to say….I got nothing left.

The Jam: “We the Common” by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.

The YouTuber: Only the title of this video applies to this time of year as many teams are on thin ice. After that, your guess is as good, if not better, than mine.

Mike-Montgomery

Week 7 Pac-12 Hoops Review

Two hands were abruptly thrown onto Allen Crabbe’s chest before he rallied his team to victory over ASU. And the college basketball universe went nuts about the Mike Montgomery shove. Understandably so.

Such actions have cost greater coaches their jobs and while maybe their strikes have occurred with more severe intent, there’s really no place for that. We could celebrate Crabbe’s rally and the motivational tactic but why does it have to boil down to a shove? Was that really the best possible move? A lost moment amongst the emotion of competition? Whatever it was, Mike Montgomery is better than that and I trust the situation was handled internally and appropriately.

In other news, I’m hoping that my body is internally and appropriately handling whatever this bug is that I’ve inherited so I can get back to full strength for the final three weeks of this season!

The Presidential weekend:

Leader in the Clubhouse: Oregon stands alone and if they’re not standing on concrete then it’s at least setting. They hold a game lead over the next two teams chasing them and they hold wins over both those teams. You know this. And you also know they garnered a road sweep against the Washingtons without Dominic Artis. I’ve already likened  his pending return to a deadline trade and with essentially a 1.5 game lead for the one seed in Vegas (who’s stoked for Vegas??) that incoming talent should behoove them. That said, I’m going to need to give a shout out to the Cal Bears for the run they’re on and their late rally into Dance contention.

Biggest Loser: When I headed down to The Farm on February 3, I witnessed the best version of the Stanford Cardinal that there could be. Damn they were good. And now they just got swept at home. They’ve dove under the .500 mark in conference and while the LA schools are proving tough, the home court is to be defended. At least as a team with aspirations of The Dance; a fleeting sight in Palo Alto.

What We Learned: As I was settling in to Saturday night, and Evan Gordon’s shot was circling the tin and another Top-5 team had lost, I got to talking about the absurdity of this college basketball season with Matt and Dave. “This college basketball season” we began as an excuse for anything, including Dexter Kernich-Drew’s late foul, a speeding/texting/rolling stop ticket, working late, performance issues…hey, this college basketball season! Indeed it’s becoming increasingly less predictably who will win week in and week out and what more could you ask for? Unless it’s your team, an oligarchy doesn’t befit the masses. Do you realize just how crazy this March is going to be? Vegas, too? The absurdity of this season will roll its wild self on into tournament play and we’re going to be the benefactors of, well, this college basketball season.

The YouTuber: CU pulled off a fun one of these mid-game on Thursday and as I went on a Harlem Shake bender the next day, this was the most impressive: