Someone out there with more intimate knowledge and feelings for football can perhaps wax about last night’s sports. It was pure sports. We asked for a championship and we got a championship. Legends were cemented. Hyperbole can be tossed around with the Brady name like a goal-line play call. Sports. And in the interest of brevity – with plenty of moments in our week of Pac-12 hoops from Askia’s 43 to Singer’s step back – I’m drawn to this old clip from Don Cheadle.
Update Note: The Upton video had to be updated following YouTube’s removal of the video based on copyright issues. See below.
You know the drill. Get your Tucson news and another glimpse at this post at ryanrecker.com.
The preview missed USC’s visit to…well technically it was USC’s visit to USC to be hosted by UCLA. The game was played at the Sports Arena on USC’s campus. Josh Smith cooled off (4 and 5 in 11 minutes) and although I’ve made light (no pun) of his weight issues, I’m really hoping he’s taking himself seriously here. Could go on to do big things.
That said, I’ve been clear that we’re to the home stretch while everyone else has been clear there will be very few teams playing basketball beyond the Staples Center next month. Which means the Pac-12 seniors (a nearly undraftable lot) are playing their last bit of attended US basketball before moving on to either Europe or corporate leagues where middle aged white men boast about who they’ve recruited onto their team.
The games that shall be and one that was.
TV Complaint: It’s actually a full slate of televised games for just the second time this conference season (that I can recall) and even includes an out of conference awkward-off on CBS in which Steve Lavin faces his former employer in a battle of 111 visiting 133 (RPIs). If you’re one of those who looks back on the Lavin years as a disgraceful period in Bruin-lore, read this and then take a few minutes to yourself. I suppose, therefore, the TV Complaint is on behalf of the networks who picked a crummy game to push on wandering eyeballs. We could also just cyber high five to the fact that A) the Pac-12 broke ground on their network headquarters in SOMA just 2.4 miles from my BEDROOM B) more TV is coming your way as outlined by the Rumbling Buffalo, and C) the best games of the weekend will be significantly broadcast (AZ @ UW FSN Saturday, UO @ Cal CSNCA/NW Thursday). Even Colorado’s trip to Utah is on the national version of FSN. [insert link to funny meme here]!
Game of the Weekend: Ducks and Bears, Dogs and Cats. Oh man it’s a toss up. Pending Thursday’s results, these games both feature 1v2 and so it’s tough to call it. Washington and Arizona have had a fierce rivalry of late but it hasn’t been much of a battle when in Seattle (Cats are 0-4 last four trips). The Ducks were rolled last time they faced Cal and haven’t beaten the Golden Bears in six straight attempts. So let’s go to Ken Pomeroy, the guru of all things advanced statistics in college hoops. I, for one, am not a subscriber in fear of being swallowed by the predictive analytics and also because I really dig gut conjecturing. It ain’t reliable but it’s amusing to me and you’re here reading it so you find it not terribly offensive either. Digression. The fact of the matter is KenPom is well respected in the industry so we should use him, right? Of course. Cal rates 16th in his ratings – the highest in the Pac – with Arizona coming in at 39, UW at 67, and Oregon 88. Finding the average KenPom rating of the two matchups should demonstrate to us which game is more worthy of our viewership as it will undoubtedly fit the billing of GotW. By adding each opponents’ KenPom rating to the other and dividing by the number of game participants (2) we can conclude that the lower of the two numbers is our GotW, showcasing the best tandem of teams and, in effect, the match-up most deserving of our viewership. I’ve run the math and…ah dammit! Arizona-UW = 53. Oregon-Cal = 52. Watch ’em both.
Game to Avoid: Again, there’s a few games I want to throw in here but I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t rag on Stanford too much more (the missed-on-Lin dialogue has become exhausting), I figure we can just let Oregon State take Jared Cunningham away from us on their own without dogging them further, and USC – for as bad as they are – have had a pretty rough go of it in the luck department (definitely not a pun/football reference). The game to avoid is actually one you should seek out. ASU visits Pullman at 5pm on Saturday which is perfect timing for you to cozy up for a little Saturday pre-party nap. Craft yourself a little hot totty, slip into some sweats, kick your feet up and settle into the kinda hoops that will put you right to sleep. While you will be in front of the TV for it, you’re doing so with the end goal of avoidance. You, like Mikey, are the big winner.
Something to Prove: Another double whammy as the aforementioned Cats and Ducks both take a shot at the team ahead of them in the standings. Let’s start with the Ducks. Oregon takes to the Haas, facing a team whom they have not outscored in their last six meetings. But while Monty’s crew has owned this one, this will be the first time they’ve faced off with true title implications and a chance to dance in sight. A recent article out of Eugene also anointed Jorge the foregone POY. While there is no doubt a strong case to be made for the senior, a similar case could be made for the do it all EJ Singler and the killer Devoe Joseph. As I mentioned earlier, this could be it for some seniors and Joseph is indeed one of them. What better way for the outgoing stud to silence the Jorge chatter and drop the Bears in the standings than with a resounding W in Berkeley? On to Arizona. For all the rivalry talk and great games between Washington and Arizona, UW has won four of the last five. Coldblooded indeed. As seniors go, on some random message board at the start of the second half, I predicted the Kyle Fogg road show to close out the season and his career. This was coming on the heels of his tragic effort against UW in Tucson where he tried as hard as anyone and failed with equal magnitude. It hurt to watch. But since that game he’s been named POW and put up 17ppg, 4rpg, 2apg, 2spg, and – why not – 1.25 bpg. En fuego, as they might say in the desert, and the senior’s going to need to keep it up for the Cats to take down the Huskies in Seattle for the first time in Fogg’s four years and claim a share of first place. Big weekend for the Cats.
Something to Lose: Again I’d like to highlight that we’re in the home stretch with five teams in the hunt for the crown. Colorado clearly has the most to lose as they’re playing Utah and a loss would seal their fate. But keep in mind that they’re playing Utah. I’m going to call this one, second week in a row, for Cal who has precious momentum to lose. They haven’t skipped a beat since losing at home to Arizona (SMH gold out) but now host the Oregonians for a trap and a test. The trap is against a once-thought-to-be-good Beaver team that has previously beat the Bears. The test comes against the Ducks who will be the fourth toughest team the Bears will have faced by RPI standards. While I don’t think this weekend poses that much of a threat to the Monty Crew, it’s not one to take lightly. No weekend is at this point especially considering Saturday’s tilt will be the Bears’ final home game. Hip, hip, JORGE (and Harper)!
Weekend Youtuber: I was about to post a very clever song surrounding Linsanity and its affect on New York until I received a suggestion from my buddy Chris, “how about a 2 min vid that looks at kate uptons boobs?” I crowd sourced the suggestion on the twittersphere, seeking five votes to post Chris’ suggested YouTuber. Much to my surprise (sarcasm font) it didn’t take long to find the requisite five and so I present to you, Ms. Kate Upton:
It’s really a shame there aren’t more seniors in the college game.
They know systems, they lead and – most importantly – they don’t get rattled. Kyle Fogg and Jesse Perry didn’t get rattled.
Not when Perry was struggling from the field (1-6 FGs) and lost amidst the Mike Dunlap 1-1-3 Zone.
Aside: Arizona shot its way to victory using the three point basket. They were 14-29 (48%) from distance, 11-31 (35%) from inside the arc. Who remembers how frustrating the 1-1-3 was when it wasn’t working and teams rained three balls on the ‘Cats? I for one certainly do and, while it worked when it worked, it was frustrating. That was a lot of open threes tonight and lots were hit. Bear down.
Not when the mood got chippy and players had to be separated. And not when the Wildcats went down eight with seven to play and the Johnnies fans were finally making an appearance.
That’s what you’ve gotta love about seniors; because when your team needs a play (Fogg draws charge, Nurideen Lindsey fouls out) they get one. Or your team needs a different look (Perry 3-4 FGs in final seven minutes) to once and for all pull away.
You can’t quite coach that stuff. You can most certainly teach every little thing about your system; run the offense, help on defense, multiple in-bounds, a press break, set play 1, set play 2, etc. You can write all the X’s and O’s you want, but when push comes to shove, when the lights are on and the clock ticking, someone has to make a play.
What Perry and Fogg demonstrated Thursday night in the Garden is that it’s going to be just fine for this team to take its time learning. That Josiah Turner can figure out the college game and Nick Johnson can relax a little. That Angelo Chol doesn’t have to be the front court messiah and Sidiki Johnson can study hard and get a good grade in Team Hoops 101.
Perhaps it’s befitting I write this on a night that Tim Tebow blows up the NFL, but there’s something to be said for the intangibles. For simply knowing you’re going to get it done.
On Thursday night, one team had two seniors while the other had none. One team got it done. In November, on the road, I like the win. I love the seniors’ play.
It also doesn’t hurt to have freshmen: