Because we’re honest with each other, Spencer and I really weren’t sure what to Pod-out this week. Arizona had wrapped the conference, Stanford was Dawkinsing, UCLA is just letting things play out, and – well – Oregon has impressed. But then 30-minutes of Pac-12 basketball pre-tournament-and-everything-we-love-about-college-basketball was discussed. The madness may have already begun, but now is the calm before the Vegas. Before the Dance.
WANE (and on SoundCloud):
With the end approaching, I’m curious if that means we begin to see true colors. Careers are winding down and the significance of everything is seemingly magnified. And for as much as we want to believe that a mid-January game holds equal bearing to a late-February contest, we just know that’s not the case. Furthermore, the calendar changed. It’s March, the universal excuse for madness to ensue. So naturally Arizona won another Pac-12 Title. Who’s ready for brackets?
When it comes to knowing everything about the Utah Utes, it’s not wrong to note Delon Wright. And while that’s both short sighted and narrow, it’s not entirely inaccurate. He’s just really damn good. But after two double-negatives in nearly as many sentences, credit where credit is rightfully due: Larry Krystkowiak. In my estimation he’s the man with the plan and its come to near perfect execution. He built his program for the 2015 season (and most certainly beyond) and that’s exactly how things have played out.
So more about this team.
Delon is terrific but what else is going on? A 6’5″ point-combo-guard does not alone constitute the fifth most efficient defense in the country. He alone does not protect the rim at alarmingly elite – if not destructive – levels. He alone does not carry a Top-20 3FG% (he actually detracts from it). There are a lot of layers to this Utah onion. Let’s peel:
Everything really isn’t awesome. I hate leading each week with what a bummer of a collective we follow but – aside from Oregon – the collective Pac-12 bubble made few strides this week. The NCAA tournament is like a healthy cell and the Pac-12 has three viral proteins evolving – unsuccessfully – to permeate it’s strong cellular membrane. What? I’ve been staring at the Cal slot on this power ranking for a day-and-a-half. All I can conjure is I think Dwight Tarwater has a producer credit on the Lego movie.
They are Pac-12 basketball. It’s basically the Conference of Champions because of UCLA. For an entire season they alchemized the “C” on all jerseys to commemorate 100 national titles (Internet Fun: find the best line in this confirming article). UCLA – with Arizona on its heels – is the torchbearer of Pac-12 basketball.
But UCLA’s not there right now. And although they’ve fallen on tougher times we won’t let that diminish this rivalry. GameDay recognizes, why shouldn’t we? UCLA may have dropped what appeared to be a quintessential trap game (ASU is actually pretty good even if their student paper concedes on court success for off court fun), but the Bruins are also 4-1 against Arizona in the last five meetings.
A rivalry it is. Everything we need to know about UCLA:
My high school baseball coach used to tell us that each day we either got better or worse. We never stayed the same. If that were the case, then we were expected to steadily improve. The goal to get better each day.
So maybe it’s OK that TJ McConnell struggled out of the gate. He was playing at a historically low offensive rate and Arizona didn’t look its presumed dominant self. His shooting percentages through the season’s first five games was flirting with devastation (31%). Everyone who proclaimed Arizona to be shooting inept was validated in their concern.
Steady improvement. Continue reading
This week’s WANE features Season 2’s first guest and definitive expert: the Arizona Daily Star’s Pac-12 Pundit, Zack Rosenblatt. With his expertise at our fingertips, we talk long and try to get to the bottom of exactly what to make of what’s shaping up to be a poor Pac-12 season. A few highlights before The Table: POYs, Arizona, COYs, Arizona, NCAAs, stocks, UCLArizona.
Big thanks to Zack for joining.
WANE (and on SoundCloud):
I was very curious how The Drive was going to be introduced. The Pac-12 Networks cuts up so much content that I was really excited to see what they came up with. Naturally things opened with a Wooden shot. Makes sense. But could there have been an any more fitting opening to behind the scene’s 2014-15 Pac-12 footage than Tad Boyle telling the most disappointing team in the conference that “it’s time for us to start playing the way we’re capable of playing.” I love you Pac-12 Networks. Continue reading
Spencer and I took to Maples and Haas last week. Live sports are great. We actually don’t delve deep into those experiences but rather turn our attention to how the Utes responded this weekend after being called soft by Titus; we explore 1-seed scenarios for the Wildcats; we postulate on any seeding options for the Beavers; and go on zero tangents about first-floor restrooms.
WANE (and on SoundCloud):
Before embarking on our fourth week of Pac-12 play, allow me a brief State of the Pac address. SOTP, if you will: Continue reading