Tag Archives: Rush the Court

Pac-12 Basketball Media Day: What I Did

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…

Oregon State:

Hey Dana….

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.

That is me.

That is me.

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?

Waxing Seniority: They’re Gone

I’ll miss them. You will, too. And with the wrap of this season, reality has sunk in that some of our favorites will move on. Cue the Vitamin C, it’s graduation time.

And this crop of seniors saw some stuff. They endured but did not define one of the worst stretches in Pac-12 hoops there’s ever been. By way of historical context I have none. But anecdotally can you tell me I’m wrong? These seniors saw the winner of their conference not play in the NCAA tournament. The Pac-12 was bad.

But they won’t be defined by this period of ineptitude. They’ll be defined by the fight we saw and the resilience we cheered. As a slew of fantastic writers boasted of their favorite seniors’ careers (all below), I was reminded that we’re not always fans for the wins and losses. We’re drawn to the human components of this game, the universal truths that we all struggle in an effort to succeed. Which is why it was so rewarding to see EJ Singler in his first Big Dance. And Solomon Hill lead down the home stretch. And see Brock Motum score 79 points in his final three games. And see the career transformation of Larry Drew II. And Joe Burton play the role of cultural ambassador.

Maybe they didn’t win any titles and reached just a single Elite 8 collectively, but they were the seniors of our teams and sometimes that’s about all we need to be a fan.

The 2012-13 Pac-12 Seniors – or at least those who were so kindly discussed by those who follow them closest for the Waxing Seniority series:

Some Pre-Season, Post-Non-Conference Picks

With Conference play tipping off tonight last night, the fellas at RTC and I compiled what I would call our Pre-Season-Post-Non-Conference-Schedule predictions. With a twelve-to-thirteen game sampling from each team and player, we made new-ish predictions on how the league is going to shape out. Here is the aggregation of our picks.

As for me, I don’t think I went particularly crazy here. I really think CU edges UCLA out of the second slot and I’m not buying ASU’s hot start. It’s worth noting here that I will forever be sad that Brock Motum won’t realistically win the POY award. Just a bummer cause he’s really good and fun to watch. I just might have a Foster’s in his honor.

Anyhow, here’s how I picked the league and some other All-This-That-and-the-Other Teams:

Conference Standings:

1.     Arizona

2.     Colorado

3.     UCLA

4.     Oregon

5.     Stanford

6.     California

7.     Oregon State

8.     Arizona State

9.     Washington State

10.  USC

11.  Washington

12.  Utah


  • PG  Jahii Carson
  • G Allen Crabbe
  • F Shabazz Muhammad
  • F Solomon Hill
  • F Brock Motum


  • PG Jahii Carson
  • G Jordan Adams
  • F Shabazz Muhammad
  • F Jordan Loveridge
  • C Josh Scott


  • PG Dominic Artis
  • G Nick Johnson
  • F Josh Huestis
  • F Arsalan Kazemi
  • C Jordan Bachynski

Coach of the Year:

  • Dana Altman

Player of the Year:

  • Allen Crabbe

Freshman of the Year:

  • Shabazz Muhammad

All-Surprise Team:

  • PG Dominic Artis
  • G Jordan Adams
  • F Josh Huestis
  • F Jonathan Gilling
  • C Jordan Bachynski

All-Disappointment Team:

  • PG Jio Fontan
  • G Ahmad Starks
  • G Chasson Randle
  • F Aaron Fuller
  • C Josh Smith

All-Improved Team:

  • G Nick Johnson
  • G Roberto Nelson
  • F Dwight Powell
  • F Carrick Felix
  • C Jordan Bachynski

All-Upside (most room for improvement into conference season):

  • PG Aaron Bright
  • G JT Terrell
  • F EJ Singler
  • F Brandon Ashley
  • F Tyrone Wallace

Game of the Year (to this point):

  • Florida at Arizona: the game was hyped as the biggest of the OOC schedule and lived up to the billing. McKale was rocking as if the ‘Cats were a top-10 tea— wait, they are. OK, so it appeared as if things were back to normal in Tucson until Arizona spent much of the game playing catch-up. With the final possession and the ball in their fearless, gamer’s hands, the Wildcats managed to knock off the Gators.

Game of the Year (in conference):

  • Arizona at UCLA – This should be the game of the year in the second to last weekend with Game Day in town and a whole lot of talent on the floor. I think it’s safe to assume Arizona will be a contender but no one seems to know what we’ll get out of UCLA. If recent history serves us well, this will indeed be a ball game.

Righting the Ship that Hasn’t Sailed

Yesterday, over at Rush the Court, I snapped a little bit at the Washington Huskies. I’d just watched them lose to the University of Albany, a team that hadn’t beaten a BCS team since before the Washington administration. Do you get that reference? There was no presidency prior to George Washington. There’s been no prior Albany over BCS school moment.

OK, so it happened. Amidst the fire there’s plenty of truth to what I said about the Huskies not the least of which is that there’s still so much time left in this season. I could talk to you about their opportunity to right the ship but their ship’s barely out of the marina so why bother?

I bothered because this is what happened last year; early and significant losses to insignificant opponents cost the Huskies a spot in the dance. Once is a mistake, an arguable anomaly. Twice? That’s a habit and habits are bad when they consist of losing to teams in the America East.

And it appears that UCLA is doing their darndest to make a habit of struggling, at home, against inferior Southern California competition. Last year it was a losing effort against Loyola Marymount. This year it was a victory (I will not call it a winning effort) in overtime by a single point to UC-Irvine. But here I go again, picking on these teams I expect more of, playing the role of armchair hypocrite who just a week or two ago was sick of expectations and predictions.

How can I help myself? The games have begun and I’m worse than a mean girl judging the new kid. Because there are twelve new kids and that’s part of the beauty of college sports, right? The turnover gives us hope or anxiety and – particularly in the early goings – we begin to develop the true expectations of this year.

And that’s what’s bugged me about the UW hiccup and UCLA struggle. I don’t want to see these two struggle anymore. I’m a fan of the game and if I’m watching some one hundred Pac-12 games this year, I want to see the best quality product. And the brand new immediacy of that product – a combination of the season beginning and P12 Networks’ access – has me overwhelmed and, frankly, disappointed in these two programs for the time being.

But as we began, the ships have just raised anchor and are raising their sails. The wind has yet to blow and there’s only a course planned out, not yet traversed.

Advancing in the RTC Pac-12 Fantasy: On to the Semis

I just rolled through my opening round matchup against a very good Murawa squad.

Not many people have beaten John Wooden (DO NOT ASK DIGGER PHELPS ABOUT THIS or you’re liable to get enough highlighter to get four engineering, three pre-med, and eight law students through college) but Team PacHoops handled this group who at least had their socks on just right.

The Thunder kids (Westbrook and Harden) still couldn’t handle the likes of an Arizona backcourt. Ok, ok so those two were a combined 9-0 against the ‘Cats but Bibby and Dickerson flashed their rings while the Stoudamire family smoked them out rained threes and ran circles around beard-o and Sir-Shoots-a-lot. Jason Terry couldn’t crack the starting roster while up against Bibby and Dickerson and this time he couldn’t crack the lane with them locking down. The game was never close so Tyus Edney never had a chance to pull-a-Minnesota and was rendered irrelevant.

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The Two Seed Gets Rolling

If you ask me, when the draft was over, I had compiled the most complete team. Amongst the eight total fantasy squads mine has it all: a Hall of Fame coach, conference POYs galore, NCAA Champions, lottery picks, you name it Team PacHoops has got it. It’s a group that could beat any team whether they wanted to run, slow it down, zone, press, whatever. Buckets for days and defensive disruption for eons.

And so now it begins. The first round of the Pac-12 Fantasy Draft voting has begun and my squad has earned the two-seed and the chance to tip off against Andrew Murawa’s group (the seven-seed).


Voting closes Thursday at 2pm, PST so jump on it, share it, and if you need more of a reason to vote for this group beyond the fact that it’s my team, read up on this Dream Team:

My guards.

My forwards.

My centers.

The coach.

Pac-12 Fantasy Draft: Team PacHoops’ Coach

A chicken with its head cut off. That’s how we describe things that run amuck and things that don’t work right. You can piece together the best talents around for a team but without some direction, sans leadership, short of guidance they become, well, a chicken with its head cut off.

And so I set out to find such a leader. A man with a track record of success who could sew a head on this chicken-o-talent. My man:


Ralph Miller, Oregon State, 1970-89

  • Home: Chanute, Kansas. Chanute HS.
  • Stats: 657-382 (.632)
  • Best Year: 25-5, 1981 Elite Eight
  • Brag sheet: 1981 and 1982 National COY, 1981 and 1989 Pac-10 COY, Basketball Hall of Fame
  • So here’s a guy who won everywhere he went. Coached at three schools over thirty-eight seasons and had just four losing seasons. But losses are irrelevant when talking Ralph Miller because he was a winner. People don’t name courts after losers and so they named a court after Ralph Miller. And here’s one of my favorite Ralphies (that’s what I call stats about coach): he won the conference COY award and then retired. Everyone loves it when the greats go out on top as Miller did and he’s owed daps for that. Don’t beat a dead horse. When it’s over, it’s over. Winner. Oh, and he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Pac-12 Fantasy Draft: Team PacHoops’ Centers

Who doesn’t like a good big man? He’s going to be endearingly awkward, certainly with all those moving parts there’s going to be elbows and knees abound; but when it comes together, when the knees spring upward and the elbow flexes to put a ball into the fourth row, then he’s just the man.

A difference maker because not everyone is seven-feet tall. You can’t teach that. I can run up and down the court dribbling four basketballs and purchase whatever the basketball equivalent of a Tom Emanski video is but I’ll always be whatever height I am.

This is a coveted position and so I chose wisely. Read on:

MacCulloch, Dele

Todd MacCulloch, Washingotn, 1995-99

  • Home: Winnepeg, Canada. Shaftesburg HS.
  • Stats: 15ppg, 9rpg, .4apg
  • Best Year: 18ppg, 12rpg, 1apg
  • Brag sheet: Pinball Champion
  • Seven footers don’t come often and they don’t always average double doubles. They also don’t always win pinball championships and if you’re sick of me touting this fact about the big Canadian then you don’t get it. Did you see King of Kong? The world of arcade games is serious business and as competitive as it gets. Mac has won on multiple levels and multiple mediums and I wanted winners on my team. Got ’em.

Bison Dele (formerly Brian Williams), Arizona, 1988-91

  • Home: Fresno, California. Santa Monica Catholic HS.
  • Stats: 12ppg, 7rpg, .5 apg
  • Best Year: 14ppg, 8rpg, 1apg
  • Brag sheet: Marched to own drummer
  • Tragedy beset the cordial big who did as he pleased and retired to greener pastures but that unfortunate end to his life won’t define Bison Dele. He changed his name to Bison. He retired at the age of 30 and walked away from the rest of his five year deal worth upwards of $35M. Sometimes there are bigger fish to fry and I welcomed a little life perspective into the PacHoops lineup.

Pac-12 Fantasy Draft: Team PacHoops’ Forwards

The biggest kids usually end up on a block and the smaller kids wind up being developed into point guards and off guards. A good portion of your basketball career is defined by what your momma gave you.

But what if mom gave you the size of a big and the moves of a guard? What if you were, I dunno, the complete package?

That’s what I was looking for when I picked my forwards. Allow me to tell you about it.

Elliott, O’Bannon, Mills, Abdur-Rahim

Sean Elliot, Arizona, 1985-89

  • Home: Tucson, Arizona. Cholla HS
  • Stats: 19ppg, 6rpg, 3apg
  • Best Year: 22ppg, 7rpg, 4apg
  • Brag Sheet: 1988 and 1989 Pac-10 POY, 1989 Wooden Award Winner, 3rd pick in 1989 NBA Draft
  • You always hear about how keeping local talent is imperative to a program’s success and it is. Never has it meant more to a program than Sean Elliott staying in Tucson to play for Lute Olson. The greatest prep player ever out of Tucson is arguably the greatest player ever to come out of the UofA. Oh, and he’s also the first major athlete to ever return to action following a kidney transplant. He literally could do it all: score, defend, board, and outlast his own career trajectory. Gamer.

Ed O’Bannon, UCLA, 1991-95

  • Home: Los Angeles, California. Artesia HS
  • Stats: 16ppg, 7rpg, 2apg
  • Best Year: 20ppg, 8rpg, 3apg
  • Brag Sheet: 1995 Pac-10 POY, 1995 Wooden Award Winner, 1995 NCAA Champion, 9th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft
  • When you play for the most storied program in college basketball history where there are ten championship banners hanging from the rafters of your home gym and when it’s been twenty years since the last banner was hung you need a hero. Enter: Ed O’Bannon. But the long forward not only took on the ghosts of Bruins past in earning his national title, he’s also come to battle the NCAA. He filed a lawsuit claiming the governing body everyone loves to pick apart has been wrongfully profiting off the images of the players they “educate” even beyond their graduation into non-amateur status. Dude’s got a point. Trial is pending.

Chris Mills, Arizona, Arizona, 1990-93

    • Home: Los Angeles, California. Fairfax HS
    • Stats: 17ppg, 8rpg, 2apg
    • Best Year: 20ppg, 8rpg, 2apg
    • Brag Sheet: 1993 Pac-10 POY, 22nd Pick in the 1993 NBA Draft

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California, 1995-96

  • Home: Murrietta, Georgia. Joseph Walker HS
  • Stats: 21ppg, 8rpg, 1apg
  • Best Year: only played one
  • Brag Sheet: 1996 Pac-10 POY, 3rd Pick in the 1996 NBA Draft
  • So here you have the only one and done on Team PacHoops and subsequently the first ever freshman POY in conference history. And did you know he also managed to maintain a 3.5 GPA at Cal? I coulda told you he was smart for moving from Georgia to the Bay Area but to put up those kinda number in the classroom just seals the deal. And now, in his current role as the Sacramento Kings assistant GM, I choose to believe he’s always the dissenting opinion on all player personnel decisions. My man.

Pac-12 Fantasy Draft: Team PacHoops’ Guards

The decision maker, the guy with the ball in his hand, the one who’s making critical plays at critical moments, those are the game changers. The ones who can – with equal skill – hit the big three or find the right guy to do such.

Guard play, perhaps above all else, determines championship caliber teams and the Pac-12 has been chock full of some greats. Run up and down some of the other rosters I’m competing against in this Fantasy Draft and you’re reminded that the Conference of Champions has produced Walt Hazzard, Gary Payton, and Jason Kidd. Woof.

But this draft wasn’t about scoring an individual. If that were the case we’d have handed this thing over to Andy over at Building the Dam once he picked Lew Alcindor. It was about compiling a squad and you’re about to be treated to the deepest guard corps. Ever.

Stoudamire, Bibby, Dickerson, Stoudamire


Damon Stoudamire, Arizona, 1991-95

  • Home: Portland, Oregon. Woodrow Wilson HS
  • Stats: 15 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg
  • Best Year: 22ppg, 4rpg, 7apg
  • Brag sheet: 1995 Pac-10 POY, 7th pick in 1995 NBA Draft
  • Mighty Mouse could utterly fill the tin. He was quicker than Wyatt Earp on the draw and just as tough. You kinda have to be if you’re going to be a sub-six foot lottery pick. And sure, he may have been a contributing member to the Jailblazers but you know what? After attending rehab and probably some long looks in the mirror, Stoudamire took a bet with columnist Jay Canzano that the sportswriter could piss test him whenever he wanted. So when Canzano showed up pre-game with a cup for Damon to fill, he did it and passed the test. THC free. I built this team on talent but some accountability certainly never hurt a contender either.

Mike Bibby, Arizona, 1996-98

  • Home: Phoenix, Arizona. Shadow Mountain HS
  • Stats: 15ppg, 3rpg, 5apg
  • Best Year: 17ppg, 3rpg, 6apg
  • Brag Sheet: 1998 Pac-10 POY, 1997 NCAA Champion, 2nd pick in 1998 NBA Draft
  • I’ll write a lot of brag-worthy things whilst waxing poetic about this team I’ve compiled but none holds more clout than “NCAA Champion.” Bibby hoisted the hardware and cut down the nets as a freshman. He then went on to earn POY honors on a team where he wasn’t even the leading scorer; a fact I don’t quite know what to do with but it probably means people thought pretty highly of his value to a basketball team. So I wanted him on my team.

Michael Dickerson, Arizona, 1994-98

  • Home: Kent, Washington. Federal Way HS
  • Stats: 14ppg, 4rpg, 2apg
  • Best Year: 19ppg, 5rpg, 2apg
  • Brag Sheet: 1997 NCAA Champion, 14th pick in the 1998 NBA Draft
  • Remember how I told you NCAA Champion was the most baller thing I could tell you about someone? Dickerson’s got that. He also just happens to be the same Cat (pun intended) who outscored the ’98 Pac-10 POY (Bibby) and who had the smoothest, most effortless game of any Wildcat. Ever. He may have spoke softly but when it came to putting the ball in the basket, he was real loud.

Salim Stoudamire, Arizona, 2001-05

  • Home: Portland, Oregon. Lake Oswego HS
  • Stats: 15ppg, 2rpg, 2apg
  • Best Year: 18ppg, 2rpg, 2apg
  • Brag Sheet: Better three point shooter than JJ Reddick
  • The cousin of my first guard selected (Damon), Salim is going to make any All-Time Favorite Wildcats list that I make and he probably should make yours too because of his Brag Sheet item. You’ll recall JJ-mania over the same four years Salim played and so you just had a visceral reaction when you read his name. Well know that in 2005, Salim shot greater than 50% from three-point land. Do you want to swallow the comparison? Ok, JJ’s best year was .421. Meh, solid, not hyperbole good. Salim.