Here’s a goal of mine, let me know if you can assist. I want to see The Interview. I don’t believe this makes me unique but if there’s a will there’s a way. But I also think UCLA had the will to score against Kentucky, there just wasn’t a way. Happy Holidays everyone.
1) Andy Enfield’s Mouth
This thing has been a riot and I love it. The running of one’s mouth is a beautiful pastime of sport and perhaps one of the things I miss most about playing baseball. And the reason we talk so much shit in baseball is we have so much time to do nothing but run our mouths. So while Alford might be busy getting to the NCAA tournament, Enfield has all sorts of time on his hands to flap his gums and get us thinking about USC basketball. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s spice. And it’s anything but slow. Additionally, as someone who puts a high premium on where he lives (mom’s in real estate: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION) I absolutely love, cherish, adore, support, this quote:
“Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas.”
It’s taken just the slightest of urges from others attending the event for me to get back on the bandwagon. Now, to be clear, I was never not on the bandwagon, just trying to be fiscally and familial-ly conservative. I’m pretty certain I’m in and looking for financiers. Any takers? But seriously, this three year contract with the MGM is going to be renewed faster than you can detect testosterone in Seahawk piss. If you haven’t made the plans to do it, make ’em. And if the conference runs back their 12/12/12 deal, you have to.
Start down this rabbit hole and you’re going to learn so much about your team and other teams that you’re not going to know what to do with yourself. But let me give you warning: With great knowledge comes great power. Let me walk you through a recent conversation.
Roommate: Nick Johnson cannot slash. Never gets to the rim.
Me: He actually takes 40% of his shots – second most on the team – at the rim.
RM: Well he doesn’t finish well.
Me: As it were, Nick connects on this at-the-rim shots at a 90% clip.
The moral of the story: Don’t use hoop-math to be a dick.
5) Crime free school zones Larry Krystkowiak is a giant of a man and he hates thieves (so much so that Utah has hovered in the mid-200s by way of steal % rating the past two seasons). But locking fools up is exactly what K intends to do. And I’m not just talking about criminals. We’re transitioning to recruiting where K has garnered the last few mega-talents out of Utah in the thriving Jordan Loveridge and the soon-to-be-Ute, Brekkott Chapman.
While this has nothing to do with the Pac-12 directly, Cliff Alexander pulls the biggest dick move as component of the weirdest part of college hoops fandom. In this case, I couldn’t be happier this happened to Illinois:
7) Arizona State social media
Firstly, Herb Sendek posts lots of photos with lots of friends and fans and has some random quips about random stuff. That’s fine, it’s twitter, but give it a scroll and tell me there aren’t any head scratchers. And then there’s Jahii Carson’s mom giving new meaning to the term ‘helicopter parent.’ (it’s a blocked account but you can learn a lot from the mentions in that linked search) She trolls the internet for any criticisms of her son – which she won’t soon find here – and once even referenced marriage to him. Alas, she once complimented my article about Jahii so…I’m cool.
8) Graduate school
Last season’s first team All-Conference team touted one graduate and – as I’m revisiting this list – I’m confused as to how EJ Singler made first-team and Arsalan Kazemi was honorable mention. Alas, the point here is that there have been some wonderfully impactful graduate students in the Pac-12 and this year is no different. Keep a close eye on Mike Moser (Oregon), Jermaine Marshall (ASU), Pe’Shon Howard (USC), and Jason Calliste (Oregon).
9) Bags of cash and trips to Mexico
While that sounds like my weekend, that’s what was being offered up by the ousted head of officiating. Now can you imagine if Ed Rush had endured that whole scandal and then had to get on a mic and tell all of us that “this season, the rules are changing to be called even tighter so referees are going to be even more noticed in the outcome of a given game and the central topic of conversation in the season’s early goings.” I don’t imagine that would’ve gone over well so here’s to you, Bobby Dibler. Keep on keepin’ on.
I started this blog two seasons ago with no goal but to have my own basketball forum. We’ve evolved since that first post and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful to have you actually read this thing and I’m beyond thankful when we interact via email, twitter, g-chat, text, radio, comment fields, or just collective thought. Connecting with people is the spice of life and this awkwardly named website that my mom still thinks is pa-choops and others still think is a blog misspelled for guy named Paco has allowed me to connect with so many of you. Thank you. You’re the best.
The coaching rumors have begun. From grumblings of Josh Pastner and Jamie Dixon, to Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, this is the most browser refreshing time of year.
I for one, am not jealous of those programs in the hunt. As a fan, this is the most exhausting thing and something I’ve endured far too heavily in the past decade. After all, it was my Arizona Wildcats that allowed Nic Wise to become the first and only power conference player to have four different coaches (Olson, O’Neill, Pennell, Miller) in four years. Who wants that distinction?
And then of course there was the Miller-to-Maryland threat which was one of the worst 48-hour periods of my life. There’s something to be said about stability and comfort and as it stands today – with regards to the current hunts – Dixon and Pastner have let their signatures do the talking. Each has signed extensions with their current employers ensuring they won’t go anywhere. Or something like that.
But again, take it from me, these things are awful. They’re draining and exhausting and exhilarating and terrifying. They’re a time suck and will drive you insane all to wind up with a guy who you’ll barely see in action for another half-year (#IsItNovermberYet).
Alas, here is a guide to surviving your coaching hunt:
- Don’t Hate – Unless the outgoing guy is leaving your program in NCAA shambles, he’s really not as bad as you think. Look at the situation holistically and if you still think he deserves your hate, then so be it. But really assert your energies on the excitement of the next guy.
- A “No” doesn’t mean your program totally sucks – There’s probably a long(ish) list of names your AD is going to go through and that list starts with some dream names. He’s going to get rejected. Your school is going to get rejected. You don’t suck that bad.
- Do not host out of town friends with no connection to college basketball – They’ll soon realize that you being on your phone has nothing to do with the forthcoming “exciting things” you have planned and that you’re just incessantly reading rumors on Twitter. Never set yourself up to be an asshole (which is more of a life rule).
- Be Patient – It took Oregon a brief lifetime to find Dana Altman. These things take time. Know that your AD – or at least hope that your AD – has been on the Bat Phone for a few months now talking to intermediaries and handlers or World Wide Wes or whatever and whoever the hell else is involved in back room deals where public comments sound a lot like a Johnnie Cochran case: DENY DENY DENY!
- Do not sneak into a local resort and get drunk in the jacuzzi – Such a situation lends itself to extreme bouts of nostalgia and Glory-Days-syndrome. Your expectations will be unfairly heightened.
- Do not contact former head coaches of your school whose actions warranted NCAA sanctions and then the hiring of the firable Kevin O’Neill – Duh.
- Group text – Include only your core and most trusted fellow fans. You do not have to share this conversation with everyone. There’s free reign for discussion here and it’s a safe place. The trust tree…in the nest.
- Good Scotch – Just a solid thing to have around.
- 80-20 Rule – Believe 20% of what you hear is bullshit. Know that 80% of what you hear is bullshit.
- Do not start a plane tracking thread – This is just borderline insane. Your time will be better suited by starting a rumor about a coach’s wife dealing with a local real estate agent. Even that’s weird. In fact, just don’t be a rumor starter. Laugh at those ridiculous rumors publicly and refer back to Rule #7 for discussion.
- Your program might not be as tight as you think – Otherwise you wouldn’t be hunting for a coach.
- Believe – Give unbridled support to the coach you hire. He’s excited about the opportunity and we can all, for at least one brief press conference, believe that coach’s aren’t hired to be fired and that this guy just might outdo Wooden.
- The Basketball season will start at the same time next year – And your team is likely to not be very good.
- If your school is a public institution, apply – By law, any state school has to open all state funded positions to the general public (or some other legal jargon way of saying it). Find the job posting on your school’s website and apply. What’s the worst that could happen?
- Mike Krzyzewski at Army – 9-17 when he was hired away from that institution. The rest is a pain in everyone’s ass.
- Do not trust the following:
- Message board contributors who’s screen name resembles something like [insert team name]Fan4Lyfe[insert year of school’s best season]
- Tweets from person’s with fewer than 1k followers
It seems like ages ago that the Arizona basketball program was in shambles. Seeking their fourth coach in as many years, then AD, Jim Livengood had been thrice spurned (Calipari, Pitino, Floyd). And not only were they out a coach, there wasn’t much of a roster, either. The 2008 class was thin and the 2009 class? Non-existent.
The cupboard bare, the coaching hunt fruitless, things looked bad in Tucson.
It was then that Andy Katz said it. The senior college basketball writer for the worldwide leader proclaimed the rebuilding job at Arizona a seven year project. The declaration provided Wildcat nation with a lifetime of message board fodder and ensured Katz would forever be buying his own drinks in Tucson.
Wildcat fans were livid. Citing Arizona’s seat amongst the elite collegiate programs, draft picks, national prestige, and pride there was no way in a frozen desert it would take seven years to be good again.
Then Sean Miller signed, Tim Floyd resigned, the twelfth ranked recruiting class fell into Arizona’s lap, and Derrick Williams happened. In just his second year, Sean Miller had the seven-year project one shot from the Final Four. Arizona fans couldn’t serve the crow to Katz fast enough.
But what if Katz was right?
Or at least half right. Today we find ourselves looking at a less-than-talented Arizona squad playing mediocre basketball in a bad conference. This is the type of season that Miller was supposed to be coaching through in year three. This is normal when the aforementioned recruiting blunders and institutional mayhem set back a proud, elite quarter century of basketball.
But normal is not befitting fandom.
So Katz has taken heat at the cost of perspective. The reality is Arizona won the lottery with Derrick Williams and timed their brief demise just perfectly with the dramatic decline of Pac-12 basketball. The whole picture actually supports the fan’s view but Katz’s point isn’t a relative one. Sure, Arizona is back when compared to the rest of the conference. They’ve won a conference title and are back in the tournament. So if you’re truly satisfied with a five seed riding the coattails of a miracle player and following that year up with a “competitive,” you should be leading the charge against Katz.
But if your barometer is UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and the nation’s other elite programs, the school’s Arizona was once synonymous with, then you can understand Katz’s perspective and the current state of Wildcat affairs.
Take the example of Kyle Fogg. For all of his hard work and perimeter defense, Fogg is not the type of talent that has the sixth most starts in school history. That would place him between Channing Frye (13 ppg/7 rpg/1 apg) and Salim Stoudamire (15/2/2) on the U of A career starts list with an outside shot of sitting alongside Anthony Cook (12/6/1). Fogg’s numbers (8/2/2) are comparable to Chris Rodgers (6/2/2), Jamelle Horne (6/4/1), and Isaiah Fox (3/3).
Stretch comparison? Perhaps, but none of these players are particularly relevant to Wildcat lore and Kyle Fogg will be; a strong indication of the program’s failures in the past seven-plus years. And be clear, by no means am I hanging any of Arizona’s woes on Fogg. He’s a tremendous role player. But he is a significant indication of the rebuilding that was and is in order, not a four year starter at Arizona.
Miller has done a better job than anyone could have imagined – Katz has to top that list – and certainly sped up this rebuild. Just look at his 2012 recruiting class. Arizona is going to be good – very good – but last year was an anomaly. Derrick Williams doesn’t fall into your lap very often. It’s taken three hard working years to secure that 2012 class and more work will come to secure the ’13, ’14, and beyond classes. That work will soon manifest itself on the court.
Until then, remember that Arizona is not trying to be the best team in the Pac-12. They’re trying to be the best team in the country and that’s not going to happen in two seasons. This is a program still rebuilding.
It just may be built in a little less than seven years.