Tag Archives: Spencer Dinwiddie

Jordan-Adams

Jordan Adams Changed His Mind

In December, we looked into how Jordan Adams had changed his game. A mid-range threat as a freshman, Adams had improved his offensive efficiency by getting to the rim. He had changed his game.

And now he’s changed his mind.

News dropped over the weekend that the efficient shooter would be foregoing his remaining two years in Westwood to head to the NBA. This differs from his initial April 17 declaration to stay in school. He gone.

This flip flop is a major blow to the Bruins. Their starting lineup will be 80% brand new and Bryce Alford will almost certainly be starting. Stay tuned for rants of Daddy Ball wielded by the Hoosier Loser (fear not, you’ll never read that here).

You don’t need me to spell out the significance of Adams’ departure. He was arguably the best returning player in the conference and was easily the best player on UCLA’s roster. With the Family Wear and Kyle Anderson already gone, Adams was going to be the centerpiece, likely expanding on what was already the conference’s 8th highest usage percentage. This is kind of a big deal.

And with regards to the Pac-12 landscape, I had hinged the Pac-12 off-season on the professional decisions of Adams and Spencer Dinwiddie. Both star guards were faced with tough choices. Furthermore, both seemingly held the fate of their teams’ 2014-15 success in their hands. Both have now chosen pro pastures and leave Alford and Boyle with some significant coaching opportunities. Good luck, gentlemen.

Of course it should be noted that both teams project to be in the upper half of the conference. UCLA has pieced together a nice class and Isaac Hamilton has had a year on the pine (after transferring from UTEP) to learn the Alford way. Colorado has a talented group that will now have the added benefit of knowing exactly what they’re working with and can lose their “deer in headlights” look they wore following Dinwiddie’s injury. It’s an uphill battle for both but a challenge both rosters are prepared to handle.

All of which begs the question: Is it November yet?

Spencer Dinwiddie

Spencer Dinwiddie and his Big Choice

Spencer Dinwiddie has set aside time with members of the media to declare where he’ll be taking his rehabilitation. The reality of this situation is such that The Mayor is making a terribly difficult decision: Stay or go? That, of course, is the simplification of the choice but he’s in a tough spot picking between two unknowns. His health is unclear and his draft stock is equally uncertain. We don’t know what he’ll do.

But we know he’ll sit in front of a microphone – or a bunch of iPhones as I’m not entirely sure how this thing will go down – make a declaration, and the second biggest shoe of the Pac-12 off-season will drop.

Yes, replacing Monty was big (welcome, Cuonzo); and yes it was interesting to see Bill Moos’ pick (welcome back, Ernie); and yes it was funny to kind of maybe, you know if circumstances were to dictate such, follow the possible consideration of Nigel Williams-Goss’ departure. And when Nick Johnson declared for the draft, it was a touch surprising but it really just means that Arizona goes from unbelievably good to believably elite. The Beavers chose to keep Craig Robinson, Craig’s best returner decided to go, and Zach LaVine’s dad went moderate-to-full helicopter parent in discussing playing time, going so far as to say:

“If it doesn’t work out, you get a divorce. I don’t blame anybody.”

There have been many decisions already in this brief off-season but none will have as immediate and large of an impact as those made by Jordan Adams and The Mayor.

Adams already made his intentions public: he’s staying. This gives UCLA a known commodity for their 2014-15 campaign in an important second year for Steve Alford. Coach can lean on the POY front runner as he gets a very different roster up to speed. Welcome to the Powell and Adams show.

Which brings us to the second shoe. A shoe that rests below a reconstructed knee that is the basis of all this uncertainty. There’s no use discussing what this presser would look like had Spencer never hurt his knee in Seattle. That’s just a cruel waltz down an unpleasant memory lane. Revisionism only ever helped Marty and Doc.

And whether he should or should not go is beyond the scope of my analysis. I can offer no insights into what a player should do when it comes to his future, his earning potential, and what NBA teams are telling him. At least he can eat all the snacks he wants in Boulder now. This is an incredibly personal decision for a young man in a situation I have zero personal experience with. I know Spencer Dinwiddie is a terrific basketball player and I know he aspires to play in the NBA and has the skills to fulfill that aspiration. It’s a dream he’s as close to as he may ever be. The question (aside from Stay or Go?) is whether or not the NBA wants him. Again, I don’t know and I won’t venture to guess. For my money (I have very little), he can play in The League.

Of course what I can definitely tell you is that his decision will have a gross impact on the 2014-15 Pac-12 basketball season. With Dinwiddie, Colorado is a top-15 team, the second best roster in the Pac, and very realistically has sights set on the school’s first round of 16 since the beginning of Beatlemania. John Wooden had won just one title at the time of the Buffs’ last trip to the second weekend (1963). It’s been awhile.

Without The Mayor in Boulder, the course of 2014-15 changes. We’ve had a glimpse of what the Buffs look like when he’s on the bench and allow me to show you the scoring differentials against NCAA teams with and without him:CU against Tourney Teams

That’s +3 with the kid and minus-128 without him. I suppose I could break into a Where They Affect The Game here but the numbers are too outstanding. Dinwiddie means something and today, at 1:30pm MST, he’ll drop the second biggest shoe on the Pac-12’s forthcoming season.

No matter what he says, I wish him luck. As noted, this is a personal and monstrous decisions. Dinwiddie strikes me as a bright kid, he’ll make the right choice for him. Good luck, Spencer.

And note, no matter his direction, Dom Collier is headed to Boulder.

Coors_Events_Center

Week 8 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Is it just me or is the Wednesday slate absolutely packed? There’s four games and the worst match up is Washington @ Oregon. If that’s the worst game then I think we’ve got what experts and otherwise would call a good conglomerate-o-competition. Furthermore, I’m going to be attending two Pac-12 games this week in two different states and seeing four different teams. Put that on your Southwest credit card and charge it (please?). College Game Day is going to be in Boulder this weekend – as will I – and the weather forecast there isn’t freezing. Things are turning up Adam aside from the fact that my attendance at Wednesday’s UCLA @ Cal game is going to keep me from that mega slate-o-Pac. Alas, I’ll be doing a production behind the scenes report for Pacific Takes. Not entirely sure what it is, but it’s an experience. I like those.

GotW: Arizona at Colorado. I don’t care if there are sexier games or more important games or better attended games or what. I’m going to this game and I’m going to have one helluva time. It’s the game I’m missing my ex-girlfriend’s wedding for (mom, dad, and grandfolks are attending) and, quite frankly, it fits the aforementioned billing of all the items I just said I didn’t care if it was not. Colorado is fighting for the tournament lives but sit in a relatively good place while Arizona is coming into a very important phase of their re-development post-Ashley. Look at Colorado’s “turnaround.” It took them 4+ games to find a groove without Spencer and this Ski Trip for the Wildcats is games 4+ and 5+ without my favorite Wildcat. I’m also not about to toss in the caveat that this game’s significance wanes pending tonight’s results. No matter the case, Saturday is significant for all parties. And I’m going to party. By the way, congratulations are due to the ex. I’m happy for her and she found her kind of keeper if he’s willing to be wed during basketball season.

Game to Avoid: I’d say just ignore Thursday. That’s a little extreme but I imagine we’re going to be a little exhausted after Wednesday’s monster schedule. If you need a little breather, want to catch some ice dancing or the luge, I support you, Pac-12 fan. Plus, WSU @ OSU…tough. Let’s just say there’s a lot more red on that KenPom Game Prep page than green.

Something to Prove: Percy Allen of the Seattle Times jumped the UCLA Bruins into the top spot in his power rankings and I can’t begrudge him that. They’re the winners of three straight and in convincing fashion, Kyle Anderson is playing like the conference POY, and the Wear family is putting up career highs in offensive efficiency. Steve Alford has things clicking in Westwood but here’s this weekend’s catch: They’re not in Pauley. They’re hitting the Bay Area and I’m going to get a first hand (if not behind the scenes) look at them tonight in Berkeley. We’ve discussed at length how difficult it is to win on the road but that’s why the Bruins have such a great opportunity to prove themselves as contenders. This is chest thumping time, a come-at-me-bro moment. I maintain this team has top-15 talent they just haven’t passed any of their challenging tests (@Mizzou, semi-@Duke, vs. AZ). This is their weekend to ride the sweet momentum wave into a wildly easy final four games (did you shutter a little when I wrote “into a wildly easy final four?” they’re good but not yet that good).

Something to Lose: It’s my Wildcats and they stand to lose whatever mystique and aura they built over 21 straight wins. I know their trajectory got jolted with a now bolted foot, but this is still an insanely good defensive team. It’s a skill I’m quick to tell you travels but if your jump shot gets left at baggage claim or – even worse – doesn’t even make the trip, you’re going to struggle. Instant offense, the kind of scoring that comes from blindly giving the ball to the best kid, often becomes a critical piece in winning tight road games. Exhibit: Nick Johnson. In Arizona’s two losses – both of which came on the road and down to the wire – the supremely talented junior is a combined 6-34. That’s not going to cut it. Particularly without Brandon Ashley there to do what he was able to do late. Ashley was this team’s most skilled player but this, unfortunately, is no longer about Brandon. Nick is and always has been this teams leader. As they head into a very difficult home stretch, his team is going to need him to be that best kid to remind everyone else just how good they are.

The YouTouber: This is a 15-year-old song. I bet you know all the words, too:

Brandon+Ashley+Arizona+Wildcats+v+Harvard+8kIW5cHui84l

Nine Astute Observations from the Pac-12’s First Half

1) Injuries f***ing suck – Jernard Jarreau, Aaron Bright, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Brandon Ashley. If I’m missing others I apologize but when the court is taken devoid these characters it sucks. The Dawgs miss JJ’s size as he projected to help their thin front court that’s become the Perris Blackwell show (I think Rain Man Jr. just got called for a foul). While Aaron Bright is missing out on creating something profoundly special with the same six guys he signed to play college with four years ago. That 2010 six-man class of Dawkins’ has been through quite a bit and it sucks Aaron Bright won’t be a part of their last hoorah. Schools, let alone Colorado, don’t often come across dynamic, 6’5″ point guards capable of taking a game over on either side of the ball. Spencer Dinwiddie was the centerpiece of a tour d’buff, sweeping the nation and conference by storm. And Brandon? Let’s just say I’m going to miss seeing him each night with that team. Injuries f***ing suck. Get well soon, gentlemen.

2) Transfers kinda work – Jermaine Marshall is raining Jahishalls in Tempe. The transfer from Penn State is scoring 15.3ppg and hitting 48% of his threes – 91.2% of which are assisted (presumably by Jahii Carson). Just south, in Tucson, TJ McConnell is being called the most important piece of the #2 team in the country. In ski country, Delon Wright is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best players in the conference. He’s a guard taking 60% of his shots at the rim and making 75% of them. That’s nuts. His line reads like this: 16/7/5. And then there’s Transfer U. Individually, each of Oregon’s transfers (Moser, Young, Calliste, Amardi) are having fine seasons. But as a collective (along with the rest of the Ducks) things have been…better? Since entering the calendar year, Dana’s team is 3-6 and barely looked that good. This past weekend, Dana defended his use of transfers (ironic word choice!). Basketball is indeed a team sport and with such there are strong components of unity and other teamly terms. Oregon has some great talent, but does that make a great team? Nine more games.

3) If you want to play fast you still can go to UCLA – By now we’re all familiar with Andy Enfield’s line from earlier this year lauding his lolly-gagging Trojans to “go to UCLA if you want to play slow.” Well now, halfway through conference play and twenty-plus games into the season, here are the many ways UCLA is outpacing USC:

UCLA USC
Tempo 71.9 70.4
Avg Poss Length 15.1 15.8
% Shots in Transition 28.90% 25.40%
Head-to-head 107 73

The Battle of Los Angeles reignites Saturday in the Galen Center. Put your seatbelt on.

4) Parity? Mediocrity? No, it’s gotta be parity – We began the first weeks of Pac-12 play and had four teams ranked in the top-25. Sure, not at once, but between two separate poll releases, each of Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and UCLA were ranked. This is far from the end-all-be-all barometer, but just a few weeks removed, Oregon is in ninth place, UCLA holds a loss to Oregon State, and Colorado is still learning it’s way through the post-Dinwiddie era. Even Arizona just lost Brandon Ashley. Further, the third place Cal Bears hold a win over Arizona (KenPom #1) and a loss to USC (KenPom #130). The results are unexpected and the games great. Amongst conferences, the Pac-12 ranks as having the 4th fewest blowout losses. I think that’s something to cheer?

5) (non) Shooting guards – With all these guards you might suspect they’d be taking a bunch of threes. After all, this is college basketball, it’s a high value shot, and guards love to shoot. Not the case. As a conference, the Pac-12 ranks 32nd of 33 in the percentage of threes they take. Just 29.1% of Pac-12 shots are taken from distance. That’s a conference with guys like CJ Wilcox, Chasson Randle, Roberto Nelson, Jordan Adams, and Jahii Carson. The average percentage of shots from downtown is 32.3%. When Pac teams are shooting from distance, they’re doing a decent job of making them, too. Their collective 35.2% 3FG% ranks 15th amongst conferences. The average 3FG% is 34.3%. It’s something of a most interesting man situation: We don’t often shoot threes, but when we do, we make a slightly above average amount of them. But what I find really odd is that while it would seem there is a concerted effort to not shoot threes, the Pac ranks 26th amongst the 33 conferences in 2pt FG%. WTF, guys? You’re passing on threes to miss twos? There’s no doubt something to be said about defense in here but as far as observations go, this was interesting.

6) But wait…there’s more – Those guards are really good. Thirteen of the top 15 scorers in the conference are guards. Fifteen of the top-25 ORtgs in the Pac-12 are guards. Furthermore, the All-Conference team is likely to not include a few of these guys: Roberto Nelson, TJ McConnell, Nigel Williams-Goss, Chasson Randle, Justin Cobbs, CJ Wilcox, Askia Booker, or Delon Wright. Hell, even Jordan Adams could get squeezed by his own teammate, Kyle Anderson (serious POY candidate).

7) Tweet! Whistle! Tweettweet! - The first thing addressed at Pac-12 media day was college basketball’s new rules. That we’d hear more whistles and see more free throws. It was a concerted effort to make the following chart look the way that it does:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.04.41 PM

See that progressive, 18-year downward trend in scoring? The NCAA wanted to do away with it and it appears they have. Here’s how it’s looking in the Pac-12:

  • Efficiency – Up 2.9 points per 100 possessions as teams are getting more points per possessions due to more FTs and more possessions (I’ll prove that later)
  • Tempo - Up 2.1% or 1.4 possessions per game as possession length is shortening on the whole and thus leading to more frequent possessions (trust me on that stat, I just don’t have it for the whole conference)
  • TO% – Down 3.7% as more turnovers are turning into, say, fouls? Which leads us to…
  • ST% – Down 5.3% because, same as above, that bit of extra contact isn’t two the other way as often as it’s two for free
  • FTrate – Up 18.6% to 32.5%. This is arguably the most obvious factor as everything listed above is pointing towards this very increase
  • FT% –  Up 2.2% which I just think is kind of funny considering there are so many more free throws being taken and everyone is now shooting them better. Well done kids.

8) Defense Travels - This title is a little misleading because the Pac-12 is one of the worst road conferences out there. Optimistically said, it appears Pac-12 teams enjoy the greatest home court advantage because they’re winning 68.5% of those games. Now defense leads this observation point because if we look down two lists – the conference rankings by record and by defensive efficiency – we find:

By Record By Defensive Efficiency
Arizona Arizona
UCLA UCLA
Cal ASU
ASU Cal
Stanford Utah
Colorado Stan
Oregon State Colorado
Washington Oregon
Oregon Washington
Utah Oregon State
WSU WSU
USC USC

On this list, only Oregon State and Utah differ by one ranking or less. My takeaway? Defense is pretty telling. And here’s what to make of Oregon State being in three spots ahead of their defensive efficiency and Utah five spots below. OSU: has played just four road games and one of those included Washington State. They’ve essentially pulled a “Ducks” and have managed to ride first half’s most efficient offense (108.7) to their 5-4 mark. Utah: now ranks as the 350th luckiest team in the nation. That’s the 2nd most unlucky squad and basically means they exceed expectations but not enough to get a win. I keep citing this for the Utes and what it’s ultimately going to explain is a TOP-4 FINISH IN-CONFERENCE NEXT SEASON. Boom you heard it hear first. Shall I say it again? Utah will finish amongst the top-4 teams in the 2014-15 Pac-12 and return to the NCAA tournament. But for now they’re in tenth place.

9) Nine – That’s how many games to this…and embedding this video marks the triumphant return of Husky Cheerleader Hair Toss (absolutely no pun) to the blog. Welcome back!

 

SuperBowl

Week 5 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Had the President addressed the State of the Pac-12 (SOTP) I think he would have had a difficult time explaining it. Particularly to a democratic nation. After all, the Pac-12 right now resembles an oligarchy. Anyhow, that’ll do for the politics speak unless you want to watch COTUS react to FOTUS and LeBron. Anyhow, this is the last weekend of the first half and we’ll finish it in February which is four weeks away from March and :). Yeah, an emoji. Gameday is following me to Boulder and, to my Colorado readers and my Washington readers, good luck.

GotW: There are some good ones on the slate. I think Arizona has one of its toughest tests at Cal on Saturday (#ImGoing) and I think the Rocky Mountain Riot – or the Snow Fight, or the Ski Skirmish, or the Mountain Melee, or the Rocky Rumble – is huge (Saturday 11am PST)! Utah hasn’t won on the road and really needs to pick one up because the “awww! they played really tough” dialogue is fulfilling for only so long. At a certain point they’re going to have to fill the win column before they’re forced to think they suck (they don’t). Meanwhile, the Buffs need a win to convince themselves they’re capable of doing such without Spencer Dinwiddie. But that’s not even the GotW! I’m picking UCLAOregon (Thursday 6pm PST) as the GotW because UCLA is the real deal and Oregon used to be. This is a great opportunity for the Ducks to get their mojo back – I mean their real mojo – because Illinois is now just slightly worse than Georgetown who’s just slightly worse than Mississippi. Let’s call it “How Dana got his grove back?”

Game to Avoid: I understand the expansion of the schedule to Wednesday-Sunday; but maybe, just maybe, we avoid Superbowl Sunday? This year, tipping off pre-noon and right about the time we’re exploring prop bets about seeing Bruno Mars’ exposed-yet-not nipple, UCLA will be tipping off against Oregon State. The interesting thing, however, is this is probably a very watchable game. UCLA on the road is anything but a sure thing and Oregon State is enigmatic and a possible Sunday spoiler. Furthermore, I know you’re going to be in front of a TV. Therefore, this game very well may be un-avoidable. Instead I’m going to say that you should avoid USC at Oregon State because it’s at the same time on Thursday (6pm PST) as UCLA at Oregon and that’s some must watch right thurrrrr (aforementioned GotW).

Something to Prove: Last week the Oregon Ducks had something to prove and split their trip to Washington. I don’t entirely know if that’s necessarily proving anything but it did end the losing streak. They remain in the conversation of dancing teams with a top-50 KenPom and RPI. But now’s their chance to actually prove something. The UCLA Bruins – in the aforementioned PacHoops GotW – will pay a visit to The Matt as the highest rated team (21st in KP) the Ducks will have played since last March. Whoa! Things aren’t dead for the Ducks – not by any means – but at 2-5 with no wins at home Dana’s boys are going to have start taking care of business at some point. How Dana got his grove back!

Something to Lose: I’m split here. On the one hand we have the Arizona State Sun Devils. This is a team that dropped their first conference game to UW at home then seemed to fall off the radar. Since then they’ve dropped games – on the road! – to Arizona and UCLA, aka the conference elite. In some regard, that’s excusable. But the Herbivores are in the Bay Area this weekend and that can be one of the toughest road trips going. They get swept and we’re looking at a sub-.500 conference team. It might be split-or-go-home time. Then there’s my other team with something to lose. The Arizona schools are tough and pose a great threat to most any squad. Thus, the California Golden Bears are faced with tough home task. The expectation is obviously to win – or at least a split since they’re playing #1 – but the formula that USC used to whoop Cal is a familiar one to ASU. Pe’Shon Howard (12/6/10) at the point and Nikola Jovanovic (23/2) as a scoring big could resemble something of a Carson/Bachynski combo. Precedent set.

The YouTuber: I hope this is happening right now as you read this:

P12 Colorado Arizona Basketball

Q & A with Colorado Buffaloes. No Reviews.

The Colorado Buffaloes will be returning to the unfriendly confines of the McKale Center. They haven’t been there since last January when Sabatino’s perfect hair hit an imperfect buzzer beater. And that’s the last of our monitor mentions (not). But ultimately that just adds to the lore of this budding rivalry. Did you know that the average score – since both were Pac-12 teams – is 69-66, Arizona? They’ve split all six meetings. This, is a rivalry whether you want to admit it or not.

And therefore I go to the enemy – once again – to gain insights into the program that plays its games in a Keg and encourages its fans to blackout. Here is the roll call:

  • Jason Gilligan – Here is your new barometer for statistical analysis. I don’t write anything about an advanced stat before running it past JG (contributes to All Buffs)
  • James Lucas – Admin at All Buffs and resident oil connoisseur. But oil is irrelevant to the fact that he is, first and foremost, a Colorado Basketball fan (aka, football didn’t lure him into the black and gold). Not a lot of those.
  • Ben Burrows – Author, editor, brilliant mind behind Rumblin’ Buff – The Rumblings of Deranged Buffalo. He knows all about Buffs and Beer.

I always appreciate these guys’ insights and know you will, too. What’s more, I can’t wait to absorb the 2/22 tilt in Boulder with these guys. While my family and some of my best friends go to my ex-girlfriends’ wedding, I’ll be in The Keg.

Just try, give me something, about Spencer Dinwiddie and then we’ll drop it because otherwise it’s detrimental.

Jason: I miss him and I hope I never see him in a CU uniform again.  I hope he gets healthy quickly, gets drafted in the first round and fulfills his childhood dream of playing in the NBA.

James: There are no words for how bad I feel for that kid. Well, not in English. They may have one in German, but the loose translation of it to English is “fastidious burrow”.

Ben: There are no words, at least ones worth putting to paper, that can adequately describe my feelings when I saw Spencer Dinwiddie collapse in Seattle.  I was stunned into numbness.  It struck me to my very core.  Surely, much of that is borne out of, what you termed, the ‘selfish joy’ of getting to watch the young man ply his trade on the hardwood, but it goes deeper than that. I feel for him.  It’s genuine heartbreak.  With the understanding that Dinwiddie is an honestly good kid who worked extremely hard to get where he is today, to see him reduced to tears for playing the game he loves… it’s hard to comprehend. With the diagnosis now official, at least there’s finally some direction to the story.  Spencer is done for the year, and, now after a successful surgery, will be able to focus on his recovery.  As with all things in life, the narrative doesn’t end, it just transforms.  He will be back, and we will all get to share in that ‘selfish joy’ once again, whether here or in the NBA.

Most important player: Askia Booker, Josh Scott, other?

Jason: Booker, CU needs Booker to play well to win; he has the ability to shoot CU out of games.  Scott is clearly the best player on the team right now, but Ski is more important in my opinion because of the way he can negatively impact the game.

James: Gotta be Ski. Josh is our best player now, but Ski is the heart of the team. And watching him the last two games has been incredible. Re-enforces the belief that some had that a lot of his “wildness” on the court was due to the fact that he had Spencer to keep it calm. Now that Spencer’s gone and Ski runs the team, he’s been an efficiency machine. As Ski goes, so go the Buffs. Meanwhile, Josh just dropped another 19 & 8.

Ben: Tough one. Both are vital to the Buffs without Dinwiddie, and both have stepped up in his absence (Scott – 39 points, 16 rebounds last weekend; Booker – 34/8/8; combined – 61% from the field).  Both are team leaders, and a quiet night from either severely limits Colorado’s ceiling. In reality, the answer is Scott, if only because there are few players in the conference that can actually guard him.  He demands a double-team on the block, which opens up opportunities for others, and his 15-18 foot jumpers make him a very difficult assignment. Askia’s transition into a more efficient player will be very important, but the offense (and, to an extent, defense) now runs through Jelly. It must be said, however, that they can’t do it alone.  Just look at last Thursday’s game against UCLA.  The pair had a fantastic game (40 points combined), but CU rarely threatened in the second half.  The culprit was the 16 point, 13 turnover, 22% shooting effort from the rest of the roster.  Whether it be Xavier Johnson, Jaron Hopkins, or the rare assertive offensive night from Wes Gordon, someone else has to contribute for CU to compete.

Last season, when Colorado was outdueling Arizona, they shot exceptionally well from deep. This season the Buffs once again aren’t the greatest three point shooting team (31% ranking 287th nationally, 11th in the conference). Are there any deep threats or does Colorado really just need to cross its fingers when it’s time for bombs away?

Jason: Booker is always a threat to shoot a lot, but not necessarily to make them, but CU’s got to hope for the best, there are no “shooters” on this team.  It is interesting though that CU took 15% more than their average amount of shots from mid-range against USC; maybe they were just prepping for Arizona, because Arizona limits shots at the rim and from 3 and makes opponents shoot mid-range jumpers.

James: Do we count Beau Gamble who’s lighting teams up at a 40% clip? No? OK. Then no, we don’t have anyone and it’s prayer time. There’s always the hope that Ski gets hot from behind the arc, but we’re not going to be a bombs away squad.

Ben: Ski’s gonna Ski, and, while the erstwhile John McClane of the basketball world has calmed a bit in the wake of Spencer’s injury, he’s always weapons free from beyond the arc. Beyond Booker, however, three-point shooting is significantly less promising and consistent. ‘Big X’ Xavier Johnson is fantastic as a set-shooter, and, if he doesn’t have to move, can lob bombs from the top of the arc with accuracy.  The problem is, he’s fallen in love with moving into his shot as of late, and he isn’t nearly as accurate off the dribble, or even just stepping into his attempt.  As a result, he has lost 12 points off of his percentage from a year ago, making him decidedly less dangerous. I like ‘Little X’ Xavier Talton from range, but the numbers won’t help me.  He’s got a compact, calm, repeatable mechanic that seems destined to become lethal.  To date, however, he isn’t nearly consistent enough (7-32), which is very surprising.  He should be more productive. Freshman (and Arizona local), Jaron Hopkins has made a couple of big shots this season, but is more of the spray-and-pray type.  Sometimes I think he’d be better off closing his eyes when he heaves.  If he’s making threes against you, just shrug your shoulders and move on.

But offense was never necessarily the way Colorado would won this game. Defense, as it were, is the crux of Tad Boyle’s success. Let’s start at the rim (I love analyzing shooting at the rim). Boyle made a point of protecting the rim and you, Jason, broke down Colorado’s rim protection. To note, the Buffs allow just a 51.9% FG% at the rim. Thirty-sixth best in the nation. How does Colorado do this? (NOTE: Arizona has the 3rd highest FG% at the rim: 76.7%)

Jason: CU doesn’t gamble on defense, they don’t deny passing lanes, they don’t deny the post, they just play solid man defense.  So they don’t give up a lot of layups due to lobs into the post nor do they give up a lot of backdoor cuts (I see you Oregon).  Guys are rarely out of position which makes protecting the rim much easier because there are actually guys between the ball and the rim…..

James: We don’t gamble. I wish we were a little more adventurous at times, but Tad has pretty much made it obvious that his plan is to line up against our opponents and say “we think our guys are better on D than yours are on O”.

Ben: Coach Boyle has instilled a paranoia in the team as regards to rim defense.  They’d much rather give up numerous open and semi-open perimeter looks than give up even one layup attempt.  As a result, the pack-line is well defended, and there are few opportunities for easy looks outside of transition. I should also mention that Coach Boyle’s recruiting philosophy plays a large part in this.  He loves the ‘tweener’ athlete build, so if you’re 6-6 with good length and strong defensive habits, expect a call from Coach.  The effect is that almost anyone in black and gold is comfortable defending in the post.  

Tell me about the strengths of this front court. UNLV successfully used their front court strength to get the Wildcats uncomfortable and open some things up for shooters. The Rebels didn’t win but they got damn close. How might the CU collective do similarly?

Jason: I was cautiously optimistic about this game a couple of weeks ago, Arizona really only goes 7 guys deep and Spencer and Scott are two of the best in the Pac12 at drawing fouls and getting to the line.  I think that’s a key to this game, if CU has any shot, they’ve got to get Scott the ball where he can hopefully be efficient and get the Arizona bigs into foul trouble. 

James: We need Josh Scott to go beast mode. If he can get all 9 of your big men in foul trouble, we may have a chance on this one.

Ben: I cannot emphasize how good Josh Scott is becoming. Ask USC, eschewing a double-team of the Colorado Springs native is done at your own peril.  The weight he put on over the offseason has paid off, allowing him to take more shots at the rim (20 points higher than his freshman campaign), and play more of a factor on defense and the boards. Compounding the issue, he’s becoming more comfortable with that 15-18 foot jumper, making him lethal from all areas of the court.  Oh, and he also hits his free throws at a 83% clip.  There’s a reason, after all, that he’s only finished two games with a sub-100 offensive rating this season.  College defenders just don’t see a player of his skill set that often. Wes Gordon compliments him very well. He’s still very raw, but his defense alone makes him a worthwhile addition in the paint.  He’s got hands of stone, but he gets those rocks on plenty of loose balls.  Not much of an offensive piece yet, but he has shown flashes (13 points against Washington). Combined, they play very good defense around the rim, stretch would-be defenders to guard outside of their comfort zone, and rarely foul (both in the national top-500 in fouls called per 40 minutes). If Josh has a monster game, and Wes does his damage without the ball, CU could be alright.

Furthermore, Arizona crushes the offensive glass (9th best nationally). How much of a concern is that for the Buffaloes considering they’re the 4th best defensive rebounding team in the country?

Jason:  I want Arizona to crash the boards; this is the only way CU has a chance to pull off something improbable.  CU’s defensive rebounding numbers are largely inflated because teams (USCB, Wyoming and Harvard) didn’t even try to go after offensive boards, instead sending defenders back on defense in order to keep CU out of transition.  If Arizona goes after offensive boards, that means CU’s getting opportunities to get out on the break where they take the 17th most amount of initial FGA’s in transition (34.2%), please go after offensive boards.

James: Big concern. Our defensive numbers are slightly inflated because no one crashes the boards against us because they don’t want us to run. Arizona can crash and still get back. It’s going to be interesting to see how Sean handles this.

Ben: I’ll admit that some of CUs defensive rebounding numbers are skewed by non-conference games against teams who abandoned the glass almost entirely to cut off the Buffs in transition, but the Buffs are a very good rebounding team, even better than they were last season. ‘But, how can that be so,’ you ask, ‘didn’t they have the super-human rebounding machine, Andre Roberson, in ‘12-’13?’  Yes, ‘Dre was a monster with the ball in the air, but his brilliance allowed his teammates to sit back and enjoy the show.  This year, it’s a team effort, and the rate is up about five points, as a result. Certainly, the Wildcats will be a challenge heretofore unseen on the glass.  CU rebounded just fine against Kansas (another strong offensive rebounding team, held them to 8 offensive rebounds), however, giving me hope that the Buffs can continue to hold their own.

Did Askia Booker just take a jump shot? Sorry, I couldn’t tell. Maybe I’ll just check the monitors.

Jason: People lie whey they say “You’re not too bad for an Arizona fan”

James: “Hate” is a strong word. It also applies here.

Ben: You know, I’m honestly over the ‘Chen’ incident.  We got our pound of flesh between the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Ed Rush getting fired, and Askia’s Miracle.  It’s a sexy layer to the rivalry, but that’s all at this point.

What concerns you the most about this Wildcat team?

Jason: Arizona’s defense only allows 16.4% of shots in the half-court to come at the rim, CU takes 40.3% of their shots at the rim in the half-court offense.  As I stated before, CU’s strength isn’t exactly its shooting, if CU can’t get to the rim it could be a very long night.

James: Everything. They’re #1 for a reason.

Ben: Defense. The Buffs can frequently struggle in the halfcourt, and when I see defensive numbers like a 41% eFG and an absurdly-low 18% of shots at the rim, I’m smelling a rough night for Colorado. If the threes don’t fall, and if CU gets nothing in transition, it will be a long night, regardless of what Ski and Josh manage.

And the big one: How does this game play out?

Jason: CU covers the spread and keeps it around 10 points in a game that was never as close as the final score indicates (largely b/c Miller feels sorry that CU’s missing Dinwiddie)

James: When Spencer went down, I said that you can’t really count the next 4 games and that our season starts over on 2/1 against Utah. Too many unknowns, players in roles they aren’t familiar with, uncertainty everywhere. I stand by that. Combine that with the fact that Arizona knows they’re on national TV and I don’t see them letting up. Zona rolls – in a game that will hopefully lay the groundwork for CU to get their revenge on 2/22.

Ben: Wallowing in the despair of the 40 hours between the UCLA and USC games last week, I feared that CU would struggle to crack 45 against the UofA and their vaunted defense. After the sunshine of the USC game cleared my mind of such depressive thoughts, I’ve since re-evaluated. Colorado’s offense isn’t broken, it’s just a re-work in progress.  Sure, playing the #1 team in the land at their place isn’t the best time to further the educational process, but I no longer fear the epicly unwatchable. I still don’t see any chance that Colorado can steal away with a win, but I do expect them to push Arizona for stretches.  The Buffs are their ‘kryptonite,’ after all. In the end, however, CU’s struggles in the half-court, the home crowd, and the still-developing rotation take their toll, and Colorado slips in the second half. UofA 70 – CU 55

wane

WANE: We didn’t watch all the games. Or even any.

WANE regroups despite a lot of distractions during a three-day weekend. My parents were in town and Spencer just had to jump on the Forty Niner bandwagon and absorb all the energy an NFC Championship Game brings to a metropolitan. It was also absolutely gorgeous in the Bay Area so a bunch of mid-day hoops was going to be tough. I did catch the end of Oregon State-Oregon which was…well, we talk about. Listen:

 

The triumphant return of the table of contents:

0:00 – Completely unprepared

0:19 – The Confession begins – Segways and hangovers

1:43 - Actual first reference of Pac-12 basketball…then a return to Segways

3:19 - Adam makes a remarkable pun using ‘segway’ and Spence talks about the abuse of his own body

4:07 – A return to basketball!

4:37 - We begin discussing the 1-4 Oregon Ducks and there’s a Nate-Rob reference. But one and four…

5:58 - First reference of Arizona. As in the Arizona Wildcats. Maybe you’ve heard of them? We thought it was their most complete game of the year. And more on that game

6:59 – Spencer references seven Wildcats in double figure for the second time in one minute

8:01 - JAHISAHLL

8:35 – Onto the Arizona-Colorado rivalry and a brief look in to gambling. But not really. We talk a lot about Askia Booker again and I don’t think we even reference Josh Scott which is probably a disservice to Arizona fans because many eyes should be on him for Thursday’s contest. But Booker’s weekend…

12:31 – A transition into the Colorado-ASU game and how those two teams really match up in an interesting way.

13:13 – PAGING ROGER GOODELL: CONCUSSION REFERENCE

14:20 – Abruptly Spencer brings Utah into the conversation and we VERY passively move into prediction mode. Who should be more successful in their trip to the desert?

17:48 - And so begins a conversation about travel theory. Who would you rather play and when? And segues into What is the toughest road trip in the conference?

19:16 – Spencer makes like a dictionary. Seriously he makes a Webster-like reference about Stanford. How fitting.

20:49 - An all too long discussion about the liquor laws and where to acquire that vice when visiting the state of Utah.

22:07 – Traveling to play Washington isn’t all too bad. But Washington State you might have to go to Moscow. Idaho of course. And another liquor law issue arises.

24:19 – Obligatory reference of the road trips we haven’t discussed.

24:39 – While talking about how tough traveling through the Apple State might be we then still declare it the easiest road trip.

25:50 – Just listen to this series of communications out of Spencer’s mouth

26:30 – Another gambling reference-ish, with regards to Arizona and Cal as the leaders of the Pac

26:53 – Computer! My computer makes an appearance!

28:33 – Adam makes a pun involving Cal

30:46 – Tangent: NCAA Ski and Water Polo championships. University of the Pacific makes it’s WANE debut.

31:43 – One last thing that Spencer wants to discuss: The Stanford Cardinal.

32:56 – Prolonged goodbye with Dr. King references, a thank you to presumed listeners, Spencer gets a fact egregiously wrong, roommate Time is mentioned but not heard, I call myself an Adult (ha!), and a salute to Chasson Randle. Also a hopefully NOT empty promise.

wane

WANE: The Mayor Takes Leave

Spencer and I rekindled WANE and – on the air – declare to record weekly. In this return episode, we talk a lot about Colorado as their bad news filled the news cycles and why Josh Scott needs all the touches. Spencer (not Dinwiddie) discusses his love for the now blown-out-by-Cal-Huskies and we probably get some statistics wrong. There’s an awkward pause in there for effect; not for lack of organization. It’s worth a listen because it’s great. I diatribe briefly about Utah. Seriously amazing stuff.

 

Now that you’ve maybe clicked on the audio I’ll apologize for two things:

  1. We recorded during/before Wednesday’s games
  2. Not enough time – technical difficulties – to post this AND get you a sweet chronological table of contents. My bad
c.j.-wilcox

Week 3 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Well for the first time in awhile the medical news out of Colorado had nothing to do with marijuana. Which isn’t good but it’s what filled the headlines when we weren’t watching Aaron Gordon dunk things behind his head. Twice. Moving forward of course, this is a big weekend. Scroll up and down the schedule and I challenge you to find a game that doesn’t  have significant long term effects. Maybe that’s hyperbole but I find genuine intrigue to every game this weekend. Making this a great weekend for my parents to come to town and my dad to schedule a Segway Tour (I can’t currently confirm this but it’s heavily rumored. I’ll keep you posted). The weekend:

GotW: We must ignore, to an extent, a top-25 match up. As noted in previous previews, a top-25 tilt is a big deal in the Pac-12 of late because there just haven’t been many. Like actually hooking up with someone via Tinder, it’s rare. But similarly to that app, we’re going to have to swipe #25 UCLA @ #21 Colorado to the left in favor of a night on the town with Washington at California. This one doesn’t have particular national implications but it’s a Wednesday night contest featuring the league’s two most surprising stars. The Dawgs have played fantastic through four games with a solid split in the desert. Meanwhile, Monty’s road warriors are 3-0 with nary a game atop the giant bear. And where this diddy spices up aside from the standings implications, is in the contrast of styles. Or, perhaps more succinctly said, what Washington can’t do. They have almost no interior game. The percentage of shots they take at the rim (30.9%) ranks 315th in the nation. The ball does not go into the lane when Washington has it. Often, they let CJ rain. LET CJ RAIN. But these front court issues aren’t exclusive to the offensive side of the ball. Teams shoot the third highest FG% at the rim against Washington :( That’s 72.1% shooting which, in lay terms, is not-missing-much-percent. All of that said, Richard Solomon will be an obvious key here for the Bears as he’s a game changing big man and Justin Cobbs gets crazy buckets at the rim for a PG or anyone for that matter. Kid gets more than 30% of his offense there. This isn’t the game of the week we deserve. It’s not even the game of the week we need. But it’s the game of the week we’ve got so LET CJ RAIN. (read on for more about Washington as this preview somehow became commandeered by Dawg stats)

Game to Avoid: Scrolling through this week’s Pac-12 schedule like I told you I already did lead me to not one game I wasn’t interested in. This is probably why I’m the world’s preeminent Pac-12 hoops blogger but that’s a different story. Here’s where I net out: Oregon @ Oregon St. First I love this game because no one knows what you’re going to get out of Oregon State or a rivalry game. This is the Civil War on the hard court. Anything can happen and if you know what I mean by anything can happen then what the hell are we going to do with a 1-4 Oregon squad? Alas, this becomes a game to avoid because of geography. That’s a strange proposition considering I declared my love for this game based on the geography of its participants. I’m thinking bigger picture here, guys. You see, Oregon is uniquely located between the states of Washington and California. More specifically it’s located between Seattle and San Francisco. And even more specifically it’s located between the Seahawks and the Forty Niners. See where I’m at now? The population center is Portland which is just stone’s throw from Seattle and probably defines much of the State’s Hawk allegiance. Nonetheless, all across the Beaver State there is a vested interest in the NFC Championship that kicks off at 3:30. If you’re going to avoid the 5pm Civil War, this iteration would be the one to skip. Besides, the Ducks’ defense isn’t about to stop you.

Something to Prove: It’s the Colorado Buffaloes. Here’s a team that has developed a reputation for playing  emotionally over the past two years – winning the big game, losing to the lesser travel partner. But they find themselves now with their greatest and easily most emotional challenge yet. The loss of Spencer Dinwiddie is a major blow. One any team would struggle to absorb but a challenge nonetheless. And then they found out, just hours later, that Tre’Shaun Fletcher would miss the next 6-8 weeks with a knee injury of his own. Shit on shit on shit. But this cannot define the Buffaloes. It is a challenge they must rise to and accept. They’ll need to make adjustments – you don’t replace a Spencer Dinwiddie overnight – but there are enough talented players here to carry on. They’ve been dealt a tough hand, I want to see how they respond.

Something to Lose: It’s a surprising 3-1 but not as if they’ve used a herculean effort to get here. They haven’t necessarily blacked out from the field (aprox same FG% in four conference games as their overall FG%, 46% vs. 45%). Their ORtg has taken a near ten point dive so they’re technically less effective on offense. But for these Washington Huskies, their in conference defense ranks second amongst the Conference of Champions. Context? It’s more than ten points per 100 possessions better than their overall defensive efficiency (92.3 vs. 103.5). It’s a similar drop to that of their offensive efficiency (noted above). And so I ask: Who are these Dawgs? Are they the effective offense of their non-conference slate with a porous defense or the inverse they’ve shown us through four conference games? What do they have to lose, you might ask? Sweet momentum and their winning identity, of course. The Dawgs are riding high but a tough trip to the Bay could derail the Dawgs and normalize this trend. Or it could not.

The YouTuber: Slight deviation from our traditional final segment but it’s a pretty long GIF so it shall fly. Enjoy, it’s called “picking up chicks at the gym” and it’s really weird:

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Spencer Dinwiddie

Week 2 Pac-12 Hoops Review

I had a joke all lined up. I subtle jab to get our review going and remind everyone it’s just sports. But then Spencer Dinwiddie’s knee moved in a manner that would break his heart – and ours – and I didn’t feel like joking anymore. Because on the tail end of that bench, in Spencer’s red eyes, was a tragic reminder of why this is our favorite game. Sure basketball is grand but the collegiate version calls to us because we know what we have is brief – four years at best – and then it’s over. On to the next crop of kids wearing familiar colors and left to tell tales of the old days with delusions of grandeur. So when that brevity is cut further short by the body’s failures – sudden and unforgiving – it sucks. We selfishly lose out on the joy of watching our team be the best version of itself in their tiny window for success in that iteration. And then there’s the kid. The one who’d worked his ass off to get into the school, to get into the lineup, to get into the lore of this sport. The one with a mom. Maybe it is just sports but that’s not what breaks your heart about Dinwiddie’s tumble. It’s not that we won’t see him jump, pass, or shoot. It’s that he doesn’t get to.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Arizona remains the number one team in the nation and unblemished on their record. They are the definitive leader. But let’s talk about someone else this week namely the California Golden Bears. Here’s a team everyone except Doug Gottlieb has slept on and perhaps rightfully so. They then lose Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow heading into conference play where their first three games are on the road. So naturally they win all three of them. They are tres-and-oh and Justin Cobbs is the man. He’s scoring 19.3 conference points per game, grabbing 4.6 conference boards, and assisting on 8.3 conference baskets for his teammates. And one of those teammates is Richard Solomon who is playing like a man possessed by his seniority. This is his last hurrah and so he’s grabbing all of the rebounds (8th best DR%) and making all of the baskets (56.2% eFG up from 48.1% last year). In case basketball is new to you, when you have a point guard and a center playing well, you have a recipe for success. And Mike Montgomery has a degree from Hogwarts.

Biggest Loser: You can’t drop home games. I mean you can, it’s competition and so anything can happen but if you’re trying to win things like the conference you can’t lose at home. And winning on the road is really important because it’s really hard. Those red letters on the left link to an article I wrote about this very subject. We judge teams based on where they win or lose. I’m judging Oregon. They have not defended their homecourt or anyone for that matter. The points per possession they’ve given up in conference: .89, 1.28, 1.19, 1.21. They have little problems getting the buckets (7th best offense per ORtg) but if they’re going to be taken seriously on a national if not conference level, they’re going to have to start getting some stops.

What We Learned: Well not a whole lot more about Stanford who split their Oregon trip the way few teams will (lose in Corvallis, win in Eugene). Of course if this team’s season long improvement play (what they were going to do differently this year vs. last as told to me by Johnny Dawkins) was to think about the year differently, I’m curious what’s on their mind. They’ve started conference play 1-2 for the second straight year and have almost an identical 15 game record as last season (10-5 now vs. 9-6 then). Not so different as their ORtg and DRtg are also almost identical to the past, too. They’d also mentioned being mentally tougher (part of thinking differently) and thus winning close games. Well that’s kinda working as they squeaked out wins by 2 points at each of UConn and Oregon. Maybe we start a new segment in here that’s just called WHAT DOES THE STANFORD SAY? and then I just write or link to whatever I want and it’s wildly unpredictable and completely upsetting but you’re attracted to that instability by some unintelligible force that keeps telling you that they’ll change. Did I just describe my ex-girlfriend?

In Defense Of: I’ve been all over Utah lately and how interesting what they’re doing has been. What have they done? Well lost 3 of 4 conference games. That doesn’t sound all that interesting but perhaps lost amongst the excitement of their 11-1 start and their thrilling loss to Oregon is that the Utes never really were there. That’s to see, I wasn’t annointing them title contenders or March dancers but rather noting their marked improvement, their progress and the promise of what could be. They’re definitively not there yet. But like previously noted, winning on the road is difficult. Utah took to Oregon and left with two black eyes. But their eyes are blackened because they were in a fight, not because they got their asses whooped. They’ve now lost by a combined seven points and have held a second half lead in every one of their conference games. There’s a measurement on KenPom that looks at luck because sometimes you can’t win them all. I wrote about it with regards to Utah last year. Basically, the Utes are the 345th unluckiest team in the nation right now (see: Dotson, Damyean). They’re 1-3 but that doesn’t yet mean they’re bad. Utes, defended.

The YouTuber: Have you ever seen so much in 82 seconds?