Tag Archives: Shabazz Muhammad

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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 10.02.27 PM

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.’

2013-12-0714_38_55

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.
uclabuzzer
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)?
ShabazzFOY

Shabazz Muhammad Late to Draft, Still Makes Lottery

There’s been significant “year ago” dialogue surrounding Shabazz Muhammad over the past few weeks. After all, it was just a year ago that Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins were being vaunted for signing the “future #1 draft pick.” He was lauded as a physical specimen. A man amongst boys who could score from beyond and above the rim.

And then the Las Vegas native – with a season in Westwood under his belt – was deemed “overrated.” He fell on draft boards and was considered to be a disappointment at draft combines.

With his stock bottoming out, he was not invited to the coveted green room.

And then he showed up late. An odd incident I missed while two doors down throwing my laundry into the dryer.

So while I suppose I too was late to the Bazz party, none of this will soon matter. Not his age or his Gucci bags or his plane tickets or whether he’s stoked on Larry Drew’s buckets. On Thursday night, Shabazz Muhammad was drafted 14th overall by the Utah Jazz…and promptly traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Some loved it:

While others were simply disappointed in the nomenclature:

Of course no matter the narrative surrounding his controversial Bruin career and the subsequent fall from NBA general manager grace, Muhammad was always considered a one-year Pac-participant. What he leaves behind in Westwood is a blossoming situation.

The significant scoring void can be filled by sophomore, Jordan Adams, who proved himself a capable scorer, if not star, in Muhammad’s shadow last season. Also returning is the Wear family – formidable lookalikes who Bruin faithful hope can conjure up seasons that don’t quite look like their previous outputs. Kyle Anderson is perhaps the most intriguing returner in that he can do a little bit of everything, capable of creating gross mismatches all over the floor. But he is slow which can be excused if he shaves.

They also bring in some impactful newcomers in wings Zach LaVine and – COACH’S KID ALERT!!! – Bryce Alford.

Speaking of coach, the one tasked with shaping Muhammad’s UCLA career, Ben Howland, no longer holds that role. That task now belongs to Steve Alford, the twelfth lead man in Bruins history.

While it wasn’t the most glamorous hire, met to the moderate-to-mighty chagrin of UCLA faithful, it is a solid hire. He won significantly at his previous stop (New Mexico) and has experience leading a high major program (Head Coach at Iowa) and understands the pressures of being part of a legendary program (played at Indiana for Bob Knight). He was ultimately change for the sake of it but that’s not going to stop him from trying to win with the lineup he’s inherited and the lottery pick he’s lost.

As the previous year would seem to have been a trying one for both the newly drafted Muhammad and the UCLA basketball program each now find themselves in a budding situation, an opportunity to set sail on the seas of change and adventure to discover their new identities in new lands.

(Come on, it’s a UCLA piece, had to go Walton).

rec_a_aaron-gordon_mb_576

The Last Eleven McDonald’s All-American Game MVPs

2003

LEBRONNED2Co-2004

DWIGHT-DUNK

Co-2004

JR-SMITH

2005 (works?)

McRoberts

Co-2006

buddiddy

Co-2006

DURANT_ELEVATES

2007

DRose

2008

tyreke-evans-dunk-o2009

Favors

Co-2010

Barnes

Co-2010

SULLINGER-MF

 

Co-2011

MKG

Co-2011

james-michael-mcadoo-reverse-dunk

2012

shabazzdunk-o

2013

Gordon

 

UCLAMascot

The Dancing UCLA Bruins

What a long strange trip it’s been for these Bruins. From hype to hapless to conference champs we find ourselves looking now at the only six-seed to be expected to lose. Seems about fitting for this team considering the season they’ve endured. Or created. This is UCLA and the story should be about success and not backpacks or job statuses. But that’s the world we live in today. On to Tubby v. Ben.

Why I like them: Who doesn’t like League talent? The Bruins have arguably the NBA’s top prospect in Shabazz Muhammad and when it comes to tournament play (that’s to say win or go home) I’m generally taking the more talented team. Muhammad quickly ups the talent level of your squad. What’s more – and I mentioned this regarding Cal – is that guard play reigns supreme in March and the Bruins have one helluva PG in Larry Drew II. He finished fourth in the nation in assists per game and 37th in assist rate. Thanks in part to his consistent and heady play, the Bruins turn the ball over at just a 16% rate. Not giving the ball up can go a long way in helping them stick around this tournament.

Why I don’t like them: Jordan Adams broke his foot. I love this guy’s game and he will be sorely missed as the Bruins now further lack depth as well as a dynamic offensive threat. He’s a shot creator that aids in opening the floor up for the shooting talents of Muhammad and the Wear family. But he’s gone now, moving Norman Powell into the starting lineup, again highlighting the Bruins’ gross lack of depth. And even though it’s been curbed for a good chunk of the season, the resurfacing of Ben Howland’s job status has got to be some sort of distraction.

Poetic Justice: In the face of a critical fan base and general national tone, Ben Howland rallies his group of UNC castoffs and oft-criticized stars to make a surprising run into the Elite Eight. Howland is retained for another season and Kyle Anderson stays another year as Tony Parker swiftly and surprisingly turns into the standout we’ve expected to see. That went way down the line. But it’d be quite a big deal.

Best Possible Scenario: Larry Drew II, in his first significant tournament time, continues to play the role of on-court leader (a role he’s played fantastically) and helps the Bruins past an athletic but enigmatic Golden Gophers group. They have no answer for Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker plays his best game of the year exposing Minnesota’s lack of size. In the second round (yea, I’m still going to call the “third round” the second round) Kenny Boynton shoots the Gators out of the tournament and Ben’s boys find themselves with a favorable Sweet-16 matchup/rematch against SDSU. And win just because this is a best possible scenario. They unfortunately run into the red hot Michigan Wolverines who are just to tough with their big, talented guards, ending the Bruins’ lovely run on Atlanta’s doorstep.

 

GreatestSpectacle

Not So Pac-12 Awards: Greatest Spectacle

The season itself is a spectacle, full of unforeseen incidents, shocking results, and jaw droppers. Story lines unfold before us quicker than grandma with a cheetah on her back and can flush away what we knew yesterday like a flash flood.

Sometimes its like a car wreck where we can’t help but watch. Other times it’s a heartwarming tale, something that moves us to re-admit that we cry during Rudy. It can be controversy, rivalry, history, or a single moment that changes the course of a season.

The great spectacles of 2012-13:

The UCLA Situation

BenHowlandCOY

From the outset of this season, Ben Howland and company were going to be watched with a keen and expectant eye. Collectively we knew his program was reeling. But he had garnered the second best recruiting class in the nation including the best high schooler in the country, Shabazz Muhammad. So when they were taken to overtime by UC-Irvine and then lost to Cal Poly, far greater than grumblings bubbled about Howland’s job. In fact, there were reports that he’d be dismissed mid-season. So yeah, when the most successful program in the sports history is talking about firing their HC, it’s a spectacle. And a pecuiliar one when that coach regroups to win the outright conference title. Which begs the question: Now what? We’ll see as this story will continue to be one of the bigger tales across the nation.

To the Monitors

SabatinoChenArizona

Pac-12 opening night. The undefeated Arizona Wildcats. The upstart Colorado Buffaloes. Arizona would win in overtime which is about the start of this story. A tale that’s still being cited as these two are poised to perhaps meet again in the Pac-12 Quarters. Alas, following Chen’s banked three, the monitors were visited and the decision made that the senior Buffalo didn’t get his game-winner off. And, like I said previously, the Wildcats won in overtime.

One Game, Two Rankings

Arsalan Kazemi, Larry Drew II

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, the #24 UCLA Bruins Hosted the #21 Oregon Ducks in Pauley Pavilion. Oregon would win the game but that’s not the news. What’s news is that this was the first contest featuring ranked Pac-12 opponents since March 2009. That’s a damn long time. And we still haven’t had another since that mid-January showdown. But Arizona and UCLA could collide in a colossal Pac-12 semi-final featuring #21 v #18. Whoa.

KO, KO’d. You, Cantu

733617

Despite a 2-2 conference mark and a drubbing of Utah, the sun rose on Monday and Kevin O’Neill was relieved of his duties as USC’s head coach. Long time assistant, Bob Cantu, was appointed the interim man and did an admirable job. Leading the Trojans to a seventh place finish. But the real conversation centers around what they’ll do following the season. The gig has been linked to some big names and some familiar names. Whatever the case, I think Pat Haden has the opportunity to make a big splash.

Her

pac-12-tournament-o

 

Not So Pac-12 Awards: Greatest Spectacle

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
mgm-hotel-address

ONE AND DONE SEASON!

I really don’t want to dive deep into a preview of this tournament. Or any post-season for that matter.

I could tell you that I really like Arizona’s talent or that Shabazz, Jahii, Askia, Crabbe/Cobbs, or Powell are terrifying in single elimination. We could touch on which Stanford team we think shows up in Vegas and whether or not my buddy Matt is right when he just says, “Dammitalltohell! Oregon State’s gonna win it!”

How healthy or unhealthy is Dre Roberson? Can Brock carry a big run? Will the Huskies play their way out? Is Oregon in a breakable slump? Why has “Judo Ken Bone” twice been Googled this week in arriving at PacHoops.com?

All things to ponder.

Right now I’m ecstatic that we’ll be treated to a rivalry game and a 5-12 matchup that features a twelfth seeded Oregon State Beavers squad that just beat the fifth seeded Buffaloes. And all the rest of it.

But come this time of year, I prefer the Billy Beane school of thinking. Have you seen or read Moneyball? The entire story centers upon the agonizing work Beane and his staff put in to creating the best possible baseball team they can on a limited budget. They are painstakingly trying to win. But when asked about the playoffs, what Beane’s approach to the most critical time of year is when legacies are cemented and legends born, Beane says, “My job is to get us to the playoffs. Everything after that is fucking luck.”

Well my job isn’t really to get anyone to the playoffs. It’s actually completely unrelated and if you’re ever interested email me and we can discuss it but I guarantee you it’s a complete tangent from college basketball or Moneyball or really anything remotely pertaining to a final score.

I spend the working months of the season trying to rationalize every piece of the year. I want to fathom just what effect Shabazz will have on his team or Arizona’s three bigs on their squad or whether Ahmad Starks really can spark the team defense Craig Robinson so glaringly lacks. I rationalize that some of these teams aren’t as good as expected and others are better. Basically I try my best to meld the summer’s recruiting gossip, the preseason’s practice hype, and then actual game play into some rational argument for whatever the hell is going on.

Until now.

Similar to how Beane said it, all bets are off. This is tournament time and we’re in the midst of one game seasons. While “anything is possible” is an overplayed phrase this time of year…anything is possible.

It’s to this hope that we cling and there’s a reason for that hope, a rationalization of irrationality I suppose. No longer are we seeking the best over the course of 30-games. Because that’s when luck – as Beane puts it – can be diluted. Across 30-or-more-games, the cream is going to rise to the top. The aberrations and anomalies will be weeded out.

But now this is where we thrive, the fans. This may be Billy Beane’s nightmare but it’s a fan’s dream. It’s why we’re fans.

That finite peek at some semblance of hope that our team, on this night, on that court, might have a shot to make the shot and win a game they might otherwise have no business competing in.

At this point in the year we know every bar that can broadcast the Pac-12 Network. And the ones that don’t. We know the spot we can watch an FSN broadcast and we all have an opinion on Bill Walton. And we know our own team inside and out and that isn’t about to stop us from picking them to win this damn thing and Dance.

Somewhere across these great interwebs I will and have made some rational prognostications. But here, in this moment, know that my favorite part is the fucking luck.

P12AwardsPic

The Pac-12 Awards as Voted On By You

Before we dive too far down this rabbit hole, let’s look at the actual results from the Conference HQ:

  • POY: Crabbe
  • COY: Altman
  • dPOY: Roberson
  • FOY: Carson/Muhammad

No major surprises and that’s a formidable list. I was surprised by the co-FOY awarding but not that shocked considering ASU’s current four game skid compared to UCLA’s outright ‘ship. Alas, all were great.

AwardsP12

Perhaps my favorite part of the lists was the damn depth up and down the All-Conference teams. I’d be pretty stoked to go to battle with that Honorable Mention crew: Jio, Arsalan, Nelson, Washburn, Wise. Damn.

But back to you, the voters. Here is what you came up with:

  • POY: Dinwiddie (174 votes)
  • COY: The Field (11 votes)
  • FOY: Scott (15 votes)
  • dPOY: Roberson (38 votes)

Well it looks like a Colorado sweep. Kudos to that crew and the virality of the web and the depth of fandom from that crew. Sincerely a dedicated group.

But while this list drips with homerdom, it’s worth noting that these Buffaloes are a force to be reckoned with. They’re scary with that talent and should he stay another year, Spencer Dinwiddie could be a legitimate POY candidate.

And again, I can’t say I agree that Josh Scott or Tad Boyle are their respective “of the year” winners, I’ll most certainly hat tip the talent.

Boyle, in short order, has proven his proven his mettle as a program changing and developing leader. Josh Scott has proven similar. He’s been the consistent man in the middle, helping to spread the floor and keep defenses honest. Josh Scott has been great.

But not Shabazz or Carson-great. And Boyle’s work was sound but I’m inclined to say Dana Altman did more with less. I was really impressed with his work this season. Alas, these are the fun awards. The one’s built for discussion and mantles that make us feel good about the accomplishments of the teams, players, and coaches we support.

My favorite awards are the ones that hang in rafters.

P12FOY

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year: A VOTE!

I’m finally over just how bad last year’s Pac-12 was and accepting the clusterbang that this final weekend is shaping up to be as competitive balance (WSU>UCLA??). But the point here is that in order for the conference to be better, it needed to have better players (Dynamite analysis Adam! Did you go to college for that one?). So I find this award particularly intriguing. Not only because there is a deep list of candidates, but because there are some damn good pups working to rebuild the monicker: Conference of Champions.

Here are the candidates:

Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State

2.23-Carson-1

I’m really not going to go to deep into this guy’s merits. He’s been so good that on the ATQ podcast, when asked who my FOY pick was, I went right into talking about Shabazz because I had Carson written all over my POY notes. (Again, bang up job Adam!).

  • 18/3/5

Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

ShabazzFOY

Anytime you garner non-hyperbolic or non-he-projects-to-but-is comparisons to James Harden, you’re probably pretty damn good. And it has so little to do with the lefty thing. Bazz’s time in Westwood may be short lived (duh) but it was no doubt impressive.

  • 18/5/1

Jordan Loveridge, PF, Utah

LoveridgeFOY

I don’t love recruiting or reading into rankings and the like. It’s a necessary evil of the college basketball recruiting world and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the rumor mill gets me through much of June, July, and August. So to be honest, I didn’t think a ton of it when I continually heard just how good Jordan Loveridge was. And then he started playing. Boom, the future of Utah basketball.

  • 12/7/2

Jordan Adams, SF, UCLA

AdamsFOY

So damn much was made of Howland’s recruiting class but rarely did we hear Adams’ name (damn fine name). He was the afterthought to Bazz/Anderson/Carter. Well who’s laughing now? Well I guess they’re all teammates so everyone’s probably pretty stoked that he had a monster first year.

  • 15/4/2

Kyle Anderson, ?, UCLA

AndersonFOY

It was abundantly clear that Anderson wasn’t going to wow anyone athletically the way so many newcomers are touted as doing. Is sometimes the first thing scouts look for (see: Moneyball). Anderson embodied the concept of a complete player, utilizing his tremendous basketball IQ to just be better than the other athletes.

  • 10/9/4

Josh Scott, C, Colorado

ScottFOY

Jelly, as they call him, came in with gaudy expectations. Like damn big expectations as it was conveyed to me. And then he lived up to them. I love that. He’s cool, calm, and collected and talks some mean (FUN) trash on the twitter. Lotta upside here.

  • 11/5/1

The Field

FOYCandidates

Damyean Dotson, Ore (11/4/1); Ty Wallace, Cal (7/5/3); Kaleb Tarczewski, AZ (7/6); Brandon Ashley, AZ (7/5/1)

 

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year

  • Josh Scott (48%, 15 Votes)
  • Jahii Carson (23%, 7 Votes)
  • The Field (16%, 5 Votes)
  • Shabazz Muhammad (6%, 2 Votes)
  • Jordan Loveridge (6%, 2 Votes)
  • Jordan Adams (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Kyle Anderson (1%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

Loading ... Loading ...
POYTrophy

Pac-12 Player of the Year: A VOTE!

Criteria for such an award are oft debated: Is it the best player? The most valuable player? The most impactful? What’s the breakdown of numbers vs. intangibles vs. wins? In the real world, the award is voted on by the coaches and sometimes they do things like award it to Jorge Gutierrez (career achievement?). Sean Miller recently said Larry Drew II would be his pick for POY. Against Arizona, Drew2 is averaging 11 points and 9 assists and is a convincing 2-0. Against everyone else it’s 7/7. So there’s that.

Whatever the case, it often boils down to a gut check; a conglomerate of components that make up a POY ripe for discussion, criticism, and debate.

To help you in determining the winner, I’ve pieced together my ideas of the top candidates with some of their numbers and of course left you a write in vote. Of note, the “Big Game Numbers (BGN)” are the players ppg/rpg/apg against the conference’s top four teams (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, Cal).

Alas, without further ado and without prefacing much by way of candidate qualifications, the Candidates:

Allen Crabbe, G, California

AllenCrabbePOY

[Note: Open Crabbe snipped with shoving joke]. OK, that’s out of the way so we can get to his ears? Double joke fail? Crabbe has filled the tin with the best of them and been Monty’s rock all season long. He’s the safest pick amongst the field as he’s been the best player on a top team. His performance in Tucson (31/7/5 on 12-15 shooting) was likely the best game of the year.

  • 18.5 ppg , 6rpg, 2.6 apg
  • 109.6 ORtg (11) , 25.2% possessions used
  • 22.8 PER
  • 5.3 win shares
  • BGN: 18.6/4.3/2.6 (4-1)

Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State

JahiiCarsonPOY

Please advice that the following is all nice things about Jahii Carson, alert his mother. ASU waited a long time (year plus) for this kid and he proved worth the wait. The native Phoenician has been a program changer (10 wins in 2011-12, 20 wins in 2012-13) in leading the Devils onto the NCAA bubble conversation (at least for more than a hot second). I have big respect for the effect he’s had on this program, but winning has got to count for something (a lower half finish ain’t great).

  • 17.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5 apg
  • 102.0 ORtg, 28.6% possessions used
  • 19.0 PER
  • 3.5 win shares
  • BGN: 17.6/4.2/4.3 (2-3)

Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA

ShabazzMuhammadPOY

Up in the air whether this guy would ever play in Westwood, he finally debuted in Brooklyn – adjacent the home of NBA headquarters; perhaps telling of the Gucci wearing small forward’s intentions. Alas, once both the hype and Shabazz settled, he proved one helluva basketball player. Similar to Crabbe, Bazz is susceptible to the mono-dimensional critique, yet another best-player-on-a-top team argument can be made for his candidacy.

  • 18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.9 apg
  • 108.9 ORtg, 28.1% possessions used
  • 23.0 PER
  • 3.1 win shares
  • BGN: 16/5.8/1 (3-2)

Spencer Dinwiddie, PG, Colorado

SpencerDinwiddiePOY

Big guards cause havoc and The Mayor is no different. And he rocks a swag ‘stache. He’s a dynamic force on the offensive end, commanding the floor and getting in the lane at will, while defensively he’s capable of locking down smaller guards – which is generally most of them. And he rocks a swag ‘stache. The Buffs haven’t had quite the conference season they expected but they should be dancing in March and Dinwiddie is a major part of that. And he rocks a swag ‘stache.

  • 15.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg
  • 115.9 ORtg, 23.8% possessions used
  • 22.9 PER
  • 4.8 win shares
  • BGN: 14.4/2.6/3.8 (2-3)

Arsalan Kazemi, PF, Oregon

ArsalanKazemiPOY

Like Muhammad, this guy’s eligibility was in question. Unlike the Bruin, however, Kazemi was never seen in a cutesy satchel (no more backpack jokes); just a dirty stache (no more ‘stache jokes). Kazemi joined the Ducks and quickly started doing a lot of everything for them. He undoubtedly embodies the concept of guy that does the dirty work but that’s just what the Ducks needed. And he’s done it well. The following won’t WOW you until you get to the efficiency stuff. Wow.

  • 9.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
  • 121.2 ORtg, 16.3% possessions used
  • 25.3 PER
  • 5.1 win shares
  • BGN: 9.8/10.8/.8 (2-2)

Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona

SolomonHillPOY

In a surprisingly long lineage of point-forwards at Arizona, Hill has endured the strangest of times at Arizona. But he’s done so to blossom into a tremendous talent and one that’s deserving of mention in such a candidacy. The data isn’t about to overwhelm you, but watch a game or two and the talent just may.

  • 13.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
  • 112.9 ORtg, 21.6% possessions used
  • 20.2 PER
  • 4.3 win shares
  • BGN: 14.8/6/2.8 (0-4)

The Field

POYCandidates

Andre Roberson (11/12/2), CJ Wilcox (17/4/2), Carrick Felix (14/8/2), Roberto Nelson (18/3/2), Brock Motum (18/6/1)

Pac-12 Player of the Year

  • Spencer Dinwiddie (55%, 174 Votes)
  • Allen Crabbe (35%, 110 Votes)
  • Shabazz Muhammad (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Arsalan Kazemi (3%, 9 Votes)
  • The Field (3%, 8 Votes)
  • Solomon Hill (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jahii Carson (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 318

Loading ... Loading ...
PauleyPavilion

Anything but a Quiet Trip to UCLA

It was quiet-ish, by no means raucous, but banners speak louder than words and UCLA most certainly has that rack to hang their hat on. And believe me, they do. The arena and experience drip with Wooden and historical lore; from the statue that adorns the Pavilion concourse to the pyramids on the jerseys and the banners themselves, right down to the halftime honoring of the 1972 championship team (including two Arizona dads, Walton and Bibby), the UCLA experience comes right at you with a full dose of “Nana nana boo boo, we good.”

And with such comes a fan base leaving something to be desired in noise production and timeliness, a perceived arrogance marinated in the aforementioned lore. But it’s deserved. With regards to the timeliness, I will give a moderate hall pass as I was grossly reminded of Los Angeles’ infamous traffic and only wish it upon a handful of contemporaries.

But traffic was never an issue in arriving to Los Angeles.

Definitely no traffic issues getting there. Of slight concern was my aggression towards a piano bar 29th birthday party Friday night but ultimately that never proved a deterrent to departure but did ensure my ibuprofen consumption. Roommate Tim and I were out the door and into the Red Dragon by 5:45am and at Spencer’s door by 5:57am. Spencer would sleep for the better part of the next 393 miles.

DragonMorning

Good morning, Red Dragon.

We stopped briefly in Palo Alto to acquire our fourth companion, Justin, and breakfast at Starbucks. Then onward and southward. It was during this part of the trip that we learned Justin lives exactly one Prius tank of gas away from Venice Beach. We rocked the hell out of Songza playlists like “’90s Crowd Pleasing Hits,” “100 Worst Songs,” and “’90s One-hit Wonders,” and other songs of requisite road trip nature. We had an adult conversation about religion with references to sociology and general human nature while Spencer slept. We dissected the hell out of Arizona basketball – past, present, and future – and concluded that Johnny Dawkins is on the hottest seat in the Pac, what realistic expectations are for Beavers and Cougars, and whether or not we’d ever want to own a Ranch (the consensus was ownership without having to deal with horses). Spencer never snored.

In-n-Out was acquired just outside of Los Angeles – a road trip requirement – with the 80-degree weather being met with mixed reviews and begging the question of how any of us ever played High School baseball double headers in July in 104-degree Tucson summer heat wearing cotton socks, polyester pants and sliders, a jock strap, a cotton shirt, a mesh jersey and a hat. For the record, I loved the 80-degree heat.

Arrival at the hotel was familiar as we quickly learned that Venice Beach significantly parallels The Haight.

Arrival in Westwood would prove less simple.

Following back-to-back cabbies shaking us off like a 3-0 slider, we sat down to recuperate from the rejection at the local drinking establishment and conjure up a cab plan. Fortunately our waitress was kind enough to call us a cab. Unfortunately for her she’d attended Arizona State. We tipped her for the cab effort and gave our condolences on her adolescent decision.

At a cost of $40 covering just 6.6 surface street miles and 40 more minutes of asinine conversation, we arrived at the predetermined libation house, Barney’s Beanery, adorned in red as I explained to a young Wildcat (sub-six years old, not at the bar) why I’d just encouraged him and his family to Bear Down. Paying it forward I believe they call it. Drinks ensued with nary a word of trash exchanged as both Cats and Bruins alike lamented Ryan Kelly’s miss-less return (although I will fully admit it embodied everything I love about the drama of sport) amongst the pre-game anxieties.

Then we headed to Pauley.

I was intrigued to see the redesigned and modernized pavilion. Much had been made of the school’s investment in the old stadium (The Bruin Road Show) but perhaps the fellow behind me in line – who also noted I would be having to change my shirt upon entry to which I informed him of his probable disinterest in seeing me shirtless – said it best, “You can’t do a $100 million overhaul of a $5 million building.” So very LA to give a facelift to an aging wonder while ignoring innate flaws and failing to address intimacy. The 50+ year-old, on-campus gem was cleaned up, given a contemporary look and feel with a professional viewing experience. Aesthetically, it worked. But the stadium seating still begins a fair distance from court-side and the acoustics won’t quite aid an already peaceful audience. Which is the exact point my friend in line was making: Pauley was never a viewer’s dream, but at least now it looked nice.

Because whatever home court advantage you can conjure up has always come from what I’ve already mentioned: the banners, the history, the mystique and aura of the greatest program in the history of college basketball. So once inside the stadium, a fan of the sport, I had to look up and take in what no other school has accomplished. At halftime what other choice did I have but to applaud the 1972 NCAA Champion Bruins? Regardless my fan allegiances, bravo to a collection of athletes piecing together an undefeated thirty game season.

On.

But then it was game time and the ball was tipped (VANDROSS IS COMING!!!!) and in seventeen brief seconds Mark Lyons had gotten to the rack for two and it was on.

Game on.

Well Arizona would hold a lead for just 15 more seconds in this contest.

The Cats teased and toyed with a modest Arizona fan backing but ultimately didn’t have the defensive presence or ball maintenance (18 turnovers) to defeat a sound and beautifully point-guarded Bruins team. I left that remodel perhaps more impressed with Drew2 than upset with Mark Lyons’ decision making, Solomon Hill’s passive game, Nick Johnson’s shooting, Nick Johnson’s ball handling, Brandon Ashley’s disappearance, and Kaleb Tarczewski’s hands. OK, clearly I was a touch upset about a few things but just trust me when I say I was impressed with Drew2. It was senior night and he played like he was home.

And, at risk of jumping too far down Sappy Street, isn’t that what college is all about? He made kid decisions as a kid, quitting on his Tar Heel team and bolting without facing the music. And now he’s led the Bruins through what really had the foundation of becoming a tumultuous season. I mean really led and grew up. I admire that.

(Keep an eye out later this week and into next as some great bloggers guest on PacHoops with their own farewells to seniors across the conference. The LD2 one is great)

But the Cats gave it one last push. They showed that tardy fight that helped them to 14-0 with key victories over Florida and San Diego State. With 24-seconds remaining and the ball, Miller called timeout and I took a seat back in my chair; lightly rocking with a nod to my head and a pounding in my chest. I clapped hard twice because what the hell else do I have to contribute besides noise and the ball was in-bounded to Lyons.

The crowd rose to its collective feet.

Here came the high screen.

The noise level rose.

Into the lane went Lyons.

Time was evaporating.

A spin.

More than half the clock gone.

A forced shot.

The crowd was quiet-ish no longer.

And the game ended and the view obstructing railing no longer mattered. The banners waved a smidgen and the seats became a little less comfortable. Dammit.

It was a long walk back to Barney’s where we exhausted the house’s Fireball supply with one modest round for eight ailing Wildcats. The game was dissected extensively back at our hotel as Cast Away played in the background. Or maybe it was the foreground as Wilson was the closest thing to sports any of us could handle.

We took to the town, a somber albeit rallying group just looking for some fun. We found it in the form of a dance floor (and whiskey) at Circle Bar in Santa Monica. It worked and was highlighted by an impromptu dance-off. Mind you, none of us were involved, and for whatever reason when Dancer A cleared himself some space we paused our own moves to observe. At this point it wasn’t quite a dance-off, really more just some guy showing some pretty nominal moves. Dancer B took notice from the opposite corner of us and jumped right into this newly formed circle; all five-foot-six of him adorned in a kid’s batman costume. He moved quickly into some splits and other impressive things I can’t really describe. Dancer A took his turn until B returned to the center of the circle. He stood there, commanding the attention of A, and with his hand raised he counted down:

3…What the hell is he doing?

2…That cape is really small.

1…This better be goo—HOLY BALLS DID HE JUST DO A FLATFOOTED, STANDING BACKFLIP?!?!?

Indeed tiny Batman had just done a flatfooted, standing backflip as the place erupted. Dancer A tried his hand at redemption but to no avail. Because you can’t beat a flatfooted, standing backflip in a dance battle.

And you can’t beat a road trip with your best friends. You really cannot.

For the second time in less than a month I’d walked out of an opposing building wearing defeat in the form of an upset. Don’t care. I’m heading to Las Vegas to take my chances again. And amongst all the madness of the road trip we began conjuring plans to get our asses to Ann Arbor next fall for the front-end of the Arizona-Michigan home-and-home.

For the charge home we’d picked up one additional pal, Faisal, and some hangovers. Nothing some ’90s hits couldn’t cure. We discussed more nonsensical hypotheticals, what the TJ McConnell effect could be, and how we were going to make it back to LA for Arizona’s trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Being a fan is great.

And Spencer didn’t sleep a wink.

CrammedDragon

Beaten but not broken. But cramped.