- ESPN Tightens Its Belt as Pressure on it Mounts – From a media perspective there is so much to consider when reading this article. First of all, I initially couldn’t read it. I was blocked after a paragraph or two and asked to sign in or sign up. Other avenues allowed me to read in its entirety but I’d like to put it out there: Does anyone pay for online content? I pay for hoop-math and KenPom but not for the letters so much as the numbers. The second thing to note here is the changing means of media consumption. We’ve long known that live TV (SPORTS!) has been keeping cable subscriptions alive and lucrative, but we’re beginning to see the true pull of streaming media. Fascinating. Particularly the part that notes that ESPN can be undercut by its current distributors if they try to go to a direct-to-consumer model.
- Before Student-Athletes Earn a Penny, a Course in How to Manage Millions – What are the prerequisites for entry into this class? If I’m not mistaken, most of these guys are “going pro in something other than sports,” which ultimately means money management shouldn’t be any less important. Which kind of gives raise to a greater issue for me: higher education. Do you explicitly use anything you learned in college? I was a human biology major. I work in healthcare marketing and haven’t drawn the organic connectivity of a molecule since 2005. But I’ve had to figure out a budget (not of millions). Similar coursework would be great for the lay student. Alas, for those who are gifted enough to make millions playing sports, and considering the rate at which pro athletes are going broke, this is probably a good move.
- The RTC Podcast: Offseason Storylines (and Welcome Back) Edition – Linking here to the RTC podcast hosted by Randy and Shane Connolly. Always good insights here and I imagine the more listeners they have the more likely they are to regularly produce this thorough pod. NOTE: Some pretty serious ASU basketball talk in this national preview.
- Former Louisville recruit about his visit: ‘It was like I was in a strip club’ – Sportscenter was moved up an hour this East Coast morning to break this story. If that doesn’t suggest that this is a big deal – college basketball moving ESPN programs in the heart of NFL season – then let me tell you its time to start paying attention. Katina Powell, no matter what you think of her credibility, has been vetted by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (Dick Cady). Even if you think she’s 90% full-of-it, then 10% of her allegations are true and wild at that. Her television appearance begins to name names (we love names, right? Russ Smith, Motrezl Harrell – players with championship rings). Alas, this isn’t about the players, it’s about those at the helm and the age old question: How much did he know? As in, which of these allegations – if true or even partially true – did Rick Pitino know about? Further, who was indeed propagating this? Andre McGee is the most named culprit, a graduate assistant at the time (now an assistant at UMKC). And maybe these aren’t the right questions at all? Sure we’re fascinated by college basketball and scandal in general, but what of a mother shopping her teenage daughters like this? That’s a sad reality amongst all of this as well. This isn’t a good story – for anyone – and its likely only to get worse.
- Things we think we know in the Pac-12 – Fellow Pac-12 blogger, Andrew Murawa, takes his first crack at 2015-16. In this post, Drew runs through some of the knowns and unknowns of the Pac-12 season. It’s a great composite of the innumerable questions begging to be answered about this odd Pac-12 season. It additionally begs the question: Don’t we know nothing? Is that why we like college basketball? Is that why other people hate it? I think about these things.
- What Baseball Taught Me – A lot of thoughts here but namely that the early-2000s A’s were the reason for the only piece of baseball paraphernalia that I own: A green Oakland A’s cap. Now this Player’s Tribune (a hit-or-miss publication) piece by Barry Zito takes a turn I didn’t expect but it’s thoughtful and bold. In there he writes, “At some point, even in the ethers of their mind, everyone has thought that they could maybe, just maybe, square up a 90 mph fastball.” I’m here to tell you: You cannot square up to a 90 mph fastball. Neither can you throw one.
Connor Pelton is a long time friend of the program. I use the term colloquially because I don’t really know how long he’s befriended PacHoops. What I do know, however, is that Connor is a helluva Rush the Court contributor, a House of Sparky staple, and a lifelong Beaver. So with the latter (lattermost?) of Connor’s areas of expertise headed to the McKale Center, I thought we’d let CP scratch the curiosity itch.
My questions. Connor’s answers:
What is Oregon State missing in Victor Robbins?
- Huskies center Robert Upshaw dismissed from the program for violation of team rules – While this is a significantly damaging blow to Washington’s season, it’s an even rougher hit to Upshaw. There’s no secret surrounding Upshaw’s troubled path to where he is today. But it most certainly seems he’d begun to turn things around and for one of the most high character coaches around:
If Lorenzo Romar is done trying to save you, then you have some serious issues.Robert Upshaw just kicked away his best shot
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) January 26, 2015
Yes, I hope the young man figures out whatever he needs to figure out. And when reporting on the matter, I hope we all have a little more discretion:
Washington kicks talented 7-footer Robert Upshaw off the team. Has battled drug issues in the past. — Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 26, 2015
- Roberto Saviano: My life under armed guard – Speaking of reporting, this is a fascinating first-hand account of the power of story telling. The life Saviano now leads – whether he chose it or not – is complex. I don’t get a good grasp of how he weighs the good he’s done with its cost. Nevertheless, his life will never be the same at the hope of making the lives of others better. Could you live like that?
- Fixing College Basketball: On Pace of Play and End of Game Scenarios – From Andrew Murawa comes a delightful account of his undelightful experience with the end of a basketball game. To paraphrase: S-L-O-W. Drew takes the measured effort of outlining how he’d improve the game with an admitted deference to brighter minds (of note: Drew knows hoops, he’s being humble). Well it was this piece that inspired my Marching to Vegas column to recount how our precious Pac-12 became a conference of slower pace and the logic behind that. To paraphrase: Damn you Tony Bennett.
When the rains subsided and the sun peaked out again, it was SantaCon in my neck of the woods. For me that meant the bar seemed full of Arizona and Utah fans – red galore. That’s why I was there, at least. For everyone else it was… well in New York, this guy mixed parties. In other news, I’m all about the news right now. I crushed All the Presidents Men and The Newsroom series finale last night. The latter of which I might be spoiling in the next paragraph:
A few thoughts on Charlie Skinner’s funeral: 1) Inordinate number of mega babes , 2) His grandson is always in the garage to play standup bass by himself? 3) Was Neal’s return the most triumphant return of all time or ever? 4) Seriously Jim? That’s your first move in that role? 5) Charlie stood for a renaissance of decency. That’s what Sorkin said. I’ll miss that show.
12) Washington State
DaVonte Lacy is taking 67% of his shots from deep which seems like an exorbitant amount of three pointers. He’s shot 68 treys and made them at a 35% rate. Hoop-math unfortunately doesn’t do individual rankings but in my poking around, I built a hack-of-a-list of some of the most voluminous bombers around:
- Jonathan Gilling, ASU, 85% of shots from deep, 46 total treys shot
- Naz Long, Iowa State, 81%, 60
- Isaiah Zierden, Creighton, 80%, 66
- Tim Marshall, VMI, 72%, 98
- Hans Brase, Princeton, 67%, 68
With 5:24 remaining in their game against Army, the Trojans led 63-54 and had about a 95% chance of winning. They lost, yielding an unfathomable 31 points over those final five minutes plus overtime. Army shot 95.45% eFG% over those final 10 minutes.
10) Arizona State
9) Oregon State
Before this season started I’d considered having an OSU tracker, noting on a regular basis how close to the major conference cellar these guys were. Turns out, they’re not going to be that bad and they’re a pretty good defensive unit. They’re limiting teams to the twelfth lowest eFG% in the nation and just this week picked up their first non-conference, high major win since beating Purdue on November 12, 2012.
I had a few things to say about Colorado last week and I said them in the following places:
- All Buffs – Written prior to their home loss to Colorado State
- Rush the Court – Written following their home loss to Colorado State
How does one oversleep on the day of your first game in two weeks? Anthony Brown reportedly did exactly that Saturday morning which baffles me. Maybe he was exhausted from finals? Nevertheless, after sitting briefly he managed to score 17 points as the Cardinal had to comeback from an 8-point halftime deficit against Denver.
In conversating about the RTC Team of the Week, Andrew Murawa was trying to make the argument for Oregon as such. I ultimately talked him into picking Utah for the honor as I’m a sucker for road games. With that said, however, the Ducks did collect the best win (by KenPom rating) of the Pac-12 week. They knocked off KenPom’s #38 team, Illinois, in the less-than-triumphant return to the Pac-12 for Ahmad Starks. Also, for just the second time this season, Joseph Young did not lead the team in field goal attempts.
UCLA has almost no depth and it’s going to hurt them on occasion. You perhaps know my feelings on the overrated nature of depth, but the Bruins lack both depth and experience and that can often be a lethal combination. Four Bruins played 35-or-more minutes while the Bruins rank 333rd in % of bench minutes. UCLA didn’t lose to Gonzaga because they didn’t have enough players – Gonzaga is really good – but it didn’t help, either.
Wyoming is perhaps the most deliberate team in the country. They’re more contrived than a Newsroom monologue. So when they marched into Haas and exacted their style all over the Bears – a snail’s 55 possessions – it was impressive that Cal beat them at their own game. Cal is not one of the more offensively gifted teams in the conference so with the Cowboys trying to force Cal into long possessions and a slow pace, Ty Wallace asserted himself as the best player on the court (17 points, 8 boards, 5 assists).
Against what I’m told is a pretty good Eastern Washington team, the Huskies began raining threes late prompting this tweet:
Goss has Isaiah levels of clutch.
— Sean Kramer (@SKramerWrites) December 15, 2014
for this play:
— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) December 15, 2014
Ya know, just some Delon Dunks:
I’m a little bit tired of the RichRod-Arizona-Michigan narrative but it seems to be a significant one. A recap of events from the McKale Center and Arizona’s most complete game of the season, an 80-53 drubbing of the Wolverines:
- RichRod in attendance
- Drops by locker room and wishes basketball team “good luck”
- Miller says he could tell there was a “twinkle in his eye”
- Football team is not introduced as South champs at halftime of Gonzaga game, Greg Byrne calls it #Strategy
- Entire football team is brought onto the court at halftime as South champs, Rodriguez addresses the crowd
When a Pac-12 school schedules a game against the Kansas Jayhawks, I’m going to pay attention. But, because I’m the preeminent Pac-12 blogger, I need some help. I can’t know this conference and, say, the Valley. So I brought the questions to Brian Goodman, the lead writer for Rush The Court’s Big 12 microsite. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.
Questions and answers:
Kentucky made Kansas look really, really small and lots of other things. But Kansas isn’t actually that team. They’re quite good, right? What does this team do that makes them elite?
- Journalism professor’s lesson lives on – A Thanksgiving message from Plaschke and a good one. It’s unfortunate that a passing often highlights for us that we didn’t tell those who meant something to us exactly that. Just prior to Thanksgiving we lost my first little league coach and dear friend’s dad. He taught us baseball, the game we’d play into college. He drove us to games and watched me play probably at least one baseball game a year (and many many more than that) from the age of 4-through-19. He was at nearly every practice. Traveling to every tournament he could. Maybe he wasn’t calling the pitches, but he was still Coach Chuck. He’ll be missed.
- How to Get the Biggest Stars in the World to Insult Themselves – I found this article to interestingly not note the Supreme Court’s current hearing of online threats in which Justice Elwood went so far as to cite Eminem during hearings. I imagine Kimmel isn’t having celebrities read their death threats or anything that extreme, but as our digital personas are being drawn out from behind their keyboards by Late Night television hosts, so too is the Supreme Court. Both serve as a warning to think twice before you click ‘send/tweet/post.’
- Pac-12 Burning Questions: Ideal Non-Conference Opponents – In which Andrew leads with: “…Adam Butler could not be contained and, given his dictatorial powers and what-not, he prescribed almost entire non-conference schedules for all of the teams in the conference.”
Below you will find my submission to the Rush The Court Pac-12 All-Conference Voting. I’m not sold on this being a great Pac-12 but it isn’t 2012, either. Furthermore, run through that list of All-Conference performers. There’s plenty of heat in there. I had to keep Askia Booker, Shaq McKissic, Brandon Taylor, Andrew Andrews, Xavier Johnson, David Kravish, and other quality ball players off of that list. Nevertheless, here’s how I see things shaking out.
Wanna talk about it? COME AT ME BRO!!!!! [twitter link]
There was a comment left for our AZ rebounding piece that alluded to Kaleb Tarczewski being a soft player. It was evidently the perception of a Duke fan and subsequently got me thinking more about the perception of playing soft.
So I wrote all about it for my weekly column, Marching to Vegas, on Rush the Court.
Beyond that link you’ll find that there are a lot of numbers that suggest Kaleb is not soft but that perhaps there are some other bigs in the conference that are “soft.” Ultimately softness is a subjective title and I respect opinions. I think I dispel some of the rumors around Josh Scott as well. And I look at the Wear family.
My thoughts on the matter is he’s received a somewhat bad reputation because he has the bad habit of dropping the ball too low. This has allowed opponents to strip him more easily and when the ball goes flailing out of bounds as opposed to violently through the hoop, the perception is that Tarc might be soft. I think the fact he leads the Wildcats in free throw rate begins to suggest otherwise. But you tell me.
I want to gather a little more on this. I need to know what the general perception of this big boy is because I’ve heard the gamut of opinion on the matter. Let me know:
I appreciate the opportunity to attend Pac-12 Basketball Media Day (#pac12hoops) provided to me by Rush the Court. It was a great experience and a fun day. To be honest, absolutely nothing was said the day long but – and you get the feeling everyone senses it – there’s a hovering excitement that this whole thing’s about to start. Like JENGA, no one is going to come close to that linchpin block, sliding out a bunch of middle pieces and passing to the next. The boat shall not be rocked before the journey.
Except, I suppose, for Spencer Dinwiddie who dropped the saltiest line of the day when he said, “But we don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, and everybody else in the rest. We view ourselves as the cream and everybody else can fight for the rest of the spots.” SHOTS FIRED! Eh, not really. I actually appreciated it from the standpoint of leadership and culture and I’m going to elaborate on that later (next week amongst a lot of my previews).
And speaking of next week and all of my previews (and in the coming weeks leading up to 11/8), I’m going to drop my team-by-teams, top backcourts and frontcourts, my predicted finishes, a new podcast with @spencerbsmith, and I don’t even know what else.
But for now, quick thoughts on each team after spending a little time with them yesterday:
Washington State: Ken Bone went in on just how deep the conference is and how the conference perhaps deserved the lashing it took for being so awful in year’s past but that those days are over. Well now his team is projected to finish last, so…
Tremendous question to Craig Robinson: Last night was a big night for thre President. How’s your defense? #Pac12MBB
— Dana O’Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) October 17, 2013
Utah: Larry Krsytkowiak said that playing hard is a talent and while I really appreciate what he’s doing at Utah, saying that playing hard is a talent means you’re still not good. They’ll be better. But still not good.
USC: I didn’t realize there’s a little bit of twang to Andy Enfield. He played everything correctly in deflecting his UCLA comment but he’s sparked interest in USC basketball and, if nothing else, JT Terrell tells us that there’s “lot’s of people getting dunked on in practice.” Well practice does make perfect, JT, so carry on.
Washington: Lorenzo Romar was asked about impact newcomers to the conference and he talked about Aaron Gordon and Mike Moser. #AWKWARD. Aside from that he seemed very encouraged by Perris Blackwell – the transfer out of USF – who LoRo says is going to give them a low post presence they “haven’t had in years.”
Stanford: I asked Johnny Dawkins “You mentioned returning a lot of players and talent to this team, yet last year you finished 9‑9. What might you see different this year, if anything?” I’ll mention that he’s returning 84% of his 2012-13 minutes played. He basically told me that they’re thinking about things differently. Dwight Powell told me the same thing, later. They went through SEAL training (like the Navy) and used the word synergy (so startup Stanford). My point here is…we’ll see, I might be selling.
ASU: Jahii Carson was much more thoughtful and articulate than I expected. Struck me as much more together than I expected and had some very high compliments to drop on his new running mate, Jermaine Marshall. I was also blown away by Herb Sendek’s hyperbole and quickness to jump into the national conversation. Dropped a lot of “best ofs” in the country/nation/game lines. Company man award for sure.
Colorado: Like I said, Dinwiddie dropped the bomb on Media Day by calling his own team the cream rising to the top. Why the hell not? It’s a shifting culture in Boulder and as my high school baseball coach taught us, once you start hoping, you’ve already lost. Sounds like Spencer’s a believer.
Cal: Someone asked Mike Montgomery how he would apprehend a thief if he were faced with a similar situation as Larry Krystkowiak when he tackled a bike snatcher. Montgomery said nothing about a two handed shove to the chest. And he talked a lot about how he likes having veterans (Solomon, Cobbs, Kravish) and tried to taper the expectations of Jabari Bird.
Oregon: Dana talked about a lot and even said he and his team should be practicing right then and not at Media Day. But he was there and someone asked a seventy-five word question about whether or not Oregon has a competitive advantage with Uncle Phil. Dana slowly, like only a mid-westerner can, said, “Well, we updated our arena. I think we had the second oldest arena in the country. We built an arena that’s very nice.” Really fair point there, Dana. He continued, “I think every university has benefactors that benefit their programs, athletically, academically. Ours just happens to be someone that runs Nike.” That’s right! Everyone has boosters, how is this any different? He came full circle, “You know, we had an update because Mac Court was just really old.” Dana Altman, you are a smooth cat.
Arizona: One of these days Sean Miller is going to jump out of that humility suit of his and just throw down some heat…wait, he already did that:
UCLA: I think I got a good idea of what the Steve Alford era at UCLA is going to be like. He’s going to be a touch understated, predictable and solid. He looked the part in the sleekest suit of the day and he didn’t rock the boat. He dropped a Wooden reference and the word excellence. Like going down a checklist of how to be UCLA’s coach and not screw it up. He did just fine up there and he’s going to be a fine UCLA head coach. Is that enough?