Tag Archives: Tony Wroten

Oregon-UW was a Throwback Game as Good as March Gets

That was some March basketball.

And I’m not going to let you call me crazy because Tuesday’s Oregon-Washington game was as good a game as you’re going to see this time of year. Two teams took the court wanting nothing more than to beat their opponent. That’s what college basketball is all about; that’s competition at its finest.

And did you watch?

It was terrific. Terrence Ross played like the league-bound talent he is and Tony Wroten was bigger than the other kids and Abdul Gaddy conducted like the ballyhooed point guard he is. On the flip side of the equation EJ Singler was as well rounded and tough as a Dukie, Olu Ahsalou was unstoppable, and Tony Woods approached flawless.

The unfortunate difference maker? Garret Sim and Devoe Joseph combined for a pedestrian 7-24 shooting night and that kinda breaks my heart.

I’m a sucker for seniors. That guy – I wrote all about it last month – who hits the shot he shouldn’t, makes the plays others couldn’t; and draws the charge others wouldn’t. The kind of plays that Joseph and Sim made all year long for an improved and solid Oregon squad.

On this night they simply didn’t have it while the Huskies did. Such is basketball; such is March; such is life. Washington heads to New York as the Ducks return to Eugene, their season complete after a terrific five month run. Back to the game.

The Huskies were terrific out of the gate, quickly building a lead in transition and off of Duck turnovers; staples of LoRo-ball. But Oregon quacked right back, taking a lead with the score in the teens that they wouldn’t yield until the second half when some combination of defense and a too much individual creating began. But that just may be what you do when Terrence, Tony, and Devoe are on the floor.

It worked for the purple team.

And perhaps my favorite part of this game? The pace. It was some old school Pac-10 action: fast, pressing, offensive, and athletic. Loved it. It’s like the weather. I’d rather it be in the 80s than the 50s. It was simply put: good basketball. Or at least my favorite kind of basketball.

Many have and will rip this league. It wasn’t a great year, a fact we’re all beyond well aware of by now.

But Tuesday night was as good as it gets.

Oregon v. Washington: Apathy, excitement, revenge, and Prom

I wrote an excitable little number about Arizona playing in the NIT and how Wildcat Nation and I needed to get into it. That worked.

Arizona promptly lost as I apathetically got drunk alone. So much for taking my own advice. And what’s more, I’ve found it difficult to follow the National Invitational, gaining a whole new perspective on why it’s considered a damning invite.

But if you manage to filter through all of the (deserved) Kyle O’Quinn parables, glass shoe fittings for teams from Athens to Raleigh, Hummel hyperbole, and musings on the meaningfulness of Kendall Marshall, you’d notice that Oregon and Washington will be squaring off in the NIT.

I knew it was a possibility when I reluctantly first looked at the undersized bracket but now it’s come to fruition and I’m oddly fascinated while simultaneously at a loss for what to make of it.

I figured Washington would be waving the white flag soon after Selection Sunday. Let’s liken it to Prom. You’re going all in, inviting the most popular girl in school who’s already moved past flavored vodka and is on to Manhattans and college dudes (which, as we gain life perspective, allows us to realize that she’s really just moved on to bigger losers) to accompany you as your date. Her response resembles a confidence and charm you’ve only seen portrayed by adults playing teens in movies as she says, “Oh sweetheart! I’d be flattered to go with you but I’m already going with Steel Thompson from [opposing high school].” At which point you’re utterly defeated by the swift rejection; embarrassed at your ill-conceived presumption that she’d say “yes” just because the two of you had talked about an AP test at a party; fearful of your social fall out; but all the while grasping to a sliver of pride for what you in fact just did.

Yeah, that about sums up Washington’s feelers following their Pac-12 championship and subsequent dance snubbing.

And so now – following a pair of anything-but-impressive-but-wins-nonetheless against UT-Arlington and Northwestern – the Huskies are one win away from Madison Square Garden, the NIT’s holy land.

To get to said holy land, Washington will be hosting the Oregon Ducks, who we can also fit into our Prom analogy. They kinda wanted to go but didn’t have the nerve to ask anyone or looks to have a cute girl’s friend tell them to ask her and are ultimately pretty content just getting drunk at the after party and being the most fun person there.

The Ducks have come into this whole NIT thing looking to win; as evidence by their dismantling of LSU (sweet football revenge!) and a high scoring victory over Iowa – a box score that led me to believe maybe the NIT is something of a non-All-Star game in which defense is dismissed?

Alas, we find ourselves with two squads arriving at the same NIT quarters on two very different hikes.

For all of the aforementioned Husky apathy, I could see a fire being lit under a collective ass and them taking the Ducks to the woodshed. In their last meeting, Oregon obliterated and embarrassed the Huskies 82-57 and my non-insider perspective says LoRo and Co weren’t too happy about it. Just a guess. Of course the Ducks can stake claim to that 25-point thrashing and should come in to HecEd as confident as anyone.

So who’s it going to be? The Prom reject or the Prom passer? Dogs? Ducks?

Woof, woof! Quack, quack! Tuesday, 6pm, ESPN.

Washington’s NIT Challenge? Themselves.

I know I’ve spoken on it before, but success is best defined by how you react, how you respond, to the bad stuff. Did you learn? Will you grow? Can you get better?

And now I also ask: How will Washington respond? They’re riding a painful two game losing streak and are wearing the hat of first ever major conference champ not to dance.

That sucks and could prove defining for a very solid basketball program. I mentioned at Pacific Takes following UW’s loss to Oregon State that Romar’s quotes were indicative of his team and his program’s mentality. That’s to say they were hopeful.

When you’re in the business of controlling your own destiny, as in playing games with a tangible outcome of winners and losers, hope is about as good as losing. Sports require a level of knowing and confidence that you will get it done. And for that, I’m greatly encouraged by Tony Wroten’s recent quotes.

“Yeah we’re going to treat this like it’s the national championship. Obviously it’s not what we wanted, but since we’re here we’re going to deal with it and play like we are in the national championship.” (via Percy Allen)

Who doesn’t want to win a national title? And while the NIT certainly plays little brother to the NCAAs its still a tournament, a series of games where a champion will be crowned and there’s something to be said for that. There’s also something to be said about competing, particularly if you’re wearing a Washington jersey right now.

Knowing full well that they controlled their own destiny into the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies showed up flat as backboard to Staples, promptly finding themselves in a thirteen point hole. A deficit that proved insurmountable but now we’re left to wonder, what are the Huskies really needing to surmount?

If it’s themselves they must overcome, Wroten’s quotes (and read the whole thing for more evidence) indicate that he and his team are prepared for the challenge. And it’s long been discussed that this is a very talented team, why not prove it now? Know you can, then do.

For that, I expect Washington to be playing in Madison Square Garden.

If they’re not up to the challenge, it will be very interesting to see what direction the program heads.

For a good preview of Washington’s Round 1 NIT game, read the coverage over at Montlake Madness.

Not So Coaches Pac-12 Conference Awards

Yesterday marked the announcement of an underwhelming but no less congratulations-worthy Pac-12 awards. Jorge was POY and dPOY; LoRo COY; Brock MIP; and Wroten FOY.

Whether I agree or disagree, gentlemen, I congratulate you. The coaches spoke and so it is. Bravo.

A Few Notes:

  • USC was eliminated from awards consideration in most categories due to five season-ending injuries
  • Thanks are in order to the selection committee: Hatty, Doctor J, BH, Baby Dock, Sweet Child, and Tiny Dancer (I had full veto power)
  • For all the crap this conference took, it was a fun year with six teams in it to the wire. And with that painful final weekend, in a sick and rubber necking kind of way, I’m even more intrigued by what’s about to transpire in the Staples Center. Oh March.

Now, here are your Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards:

The Dorothy – Awarded to the league’s worst home team.

UCLA Bruins

I dunno about you but I’ve always had a Judy Garland crush. The wavy hair, the red lips, the bold adventurousness of Dorothy. But she had to run away in order to find out there’s no place like home. The 2011-12 season was just that for the homeless UCLA Bruins. Sure they compiled an impressive 8-1 home record – completely backwards from a “worst” award – but they never played in Westwood, finished seventh in conference attendance, and hosted half their games on rival USC’s campus. Perhaps this trying year – from LMU to Reeves to Sports Illustrated – has been their journey through Oz. A path of self discovery to eventually click their heels, close their eyes, repeat a cutesy phrase and come to realize it was all just a dream. Also considered: USC (1-8 at the Galen Center not including a 10-point loss to UCLA on their own campus)

The Steinbrenner – Awarded to the one player you’d want on your team, and hate on theirs.

Jorge Gutierrez

Ask Cal fans and they love him. Ask Yankees fans and they love him. Common denominator? Everyone else hates them. And if everyone hates you it probably means you’re doing things they’re not which is usually winning. We’re all west coasters so I see no need for further explanation using words like “hatred,” “Yankees,” or “Steinbrenner.” But Jorge (pure coincidence on the George/Jorge thing), for all the holes and flaws in his Pac-12 POY awarding, is a winner. He plays HAM and buzzer-to-buzzer so it’s no wonder the coaches doled out the career achievement POY award. And as my Montlake Madness friends said, “Put it this way, if I could have one player off of any team, it would be Guti.” Hence: The Steinbrenner. Jorge also fought a coach not unlike a Billy Martin incident. Also considered: EJ Singler as the jack-of-all trades brother of a Dukie and the hair cause you know you wish you could rock it.

The Grecian – Awarded to the team that did the least for the collective.

Utah Utes

Welcome to the Conference of Champions! Larry K and his eleven new players did no favors by way of improving conference perception this year. When parts of the early season conversation revolve around the odds Utah would be the worst BCS conference team of all-time, then you know it’s going to be bad. I mean, people were excited by the prospect of Utah’s historical misery. Their time will come – it’s not as if basketball is foreign to Utah (still bitter) – but it certainly wasn’t 2011-12, finishing with a BCS and league worst RPI of 266. But they’ll always have Stanford. Also considered: Arizona State who compiled a 10-20 season but still managed to give their coach a contract extension and of course USC was considered.

The BooYaPop – Awarded to the most surprising and unsuspecting season long performance.

Brock Motum

Firstly, we’re Americans and so we always go crazy – either jealously or adoringly – when a foreigner excels at our stuff. Just look at Jeremy Lin. So when Brock Motum, the junior Aussie, exploded into the conference’s most offensively efficient and wonderful player – a stat geek’s wet dream – it came as a complete and utter surprise. Of course I’ll have it be known that I wrote on the subject of Brock’s potential breakout in November (ignore the stuff about WSU jumping into the conference’s upper half, deal? Deal.) but that’s neither here nor there. Motum had a terrific season, and won the Most Improved award which in reality sucks but it’s the coaches way of rewarding the kid that wouldn’t otherwise win anything cause isn’t that good. I’m unfortunately all too familiar with this one except they also threw in Best Attitude with my Most Improved award at Lute Olson Basketball Camp and if that doesn’t scream “fat kid” I don’t know what does.  I’ve grossly digressed and I’m not going to get into the naming of this award. If you understand it, you know I got you. Also considered: Garret Sim has a career year as a senior, jumping his FG%, 3 FG%, and scoring a combined 35%.

The LeBron – Awarded to the team that passes in the end.

California Golden Bears

We’re all too familiar with the LeBron-clutch debate and if you’re not, turn on ESPN. But just because the greatest basketball player on earth gets a bad rep as a non-closer, doesn’t mean it’s a fad. It’s the opposite. So I ask you, Cal Bears, what the eff? This league was countlessly theirs to win and they closed like that? I wish you all could have seen my face as I wrote that cause it looked really sad. Kinda like you might look if you had LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on a roster and Udonis Haslem was taking the final shot (that said, there’s nothing awkward or sad about Steve Kerr taking the final shot). Moral of the story? If you’re going to be the best, close. Ask Mariano. Also considered: The Washington Huskies too tried their darndest in not winning the Pac that was eventually handed to them.

The Susan Boyle – Awarded to the coach that most exceeded expectations.

Tad Boyle

Susan Boyle sang the hell out of that Les Mis song and I might have cried watching it if singing humans didn’t make me so damn uncomfortable. Then there’s Tad. Picked to finish eleventh he led the rebuilding Buffs to a sixth place finish. Based on our very complex algorithm, Boyle wins the Susan Boyle in a landslide (algorithm: true finish – expected finish = level of exceeded expectations). Boyle scored a -5 here where Ben Howland conversely scored +4 to finish last (again, USC was eliminated from award consideration but KO did score a +5). Boyle (Tad that is) was overlooked for COY because, frankly, there ain’t much sexy about finishing sixth in a horrible conference. But whenever you can stick it to the talking heads – AKA me and those who prognosticate things like preseason rankings – then kudos are in order. Well done. Plus I’m pretty sure Susan Boyle has laid at least a make out or an OTPHJ on Simon Cowell. Also considered: Dana Altman and Ken Bone each scored a -2 when inputting their data into the Susan Boyle algorithm (SBA).

All Smooth Team:

Terrence Ross, Washington
Allen Crabbe, California
DeVoe Joseph, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

All Fundamentals Team:

The Wear Family, UCLA
Brock Motum, Washington State
Kyle Fogg, Arizona
Jorge Gutierrez, California
Aaron Bright, Stanford

All Awkward Team:

Jesse Perry, Arizona
Aziz N’Diaye, Washington
Kyryl Natyazhko, Arizona
John Gage, Stanford
Reeves Nelson, UCLA

All Greg Oden (formerly the Old Man Face Team):

Olu Ashalou, Oregon
Solomon Hill, Arizona
EJ Singler, Oregon
Andrew Zimmerman, Stanford
Kyle Cain, Arizona State

All Things UW from Montlake Madness: The Buck Stops at 151

There’s a big tilt tomorrow in Seattle as the Cats and Dogs square off with title implications and what I really want to call a win-and-in game. Would you expect anything less from these two? I love it. To gain a little perspective on all things UW I shot some very important questions over to Griffin at Montlakemadness.com. Griffin and crew do work and know that Husky program like you know where the best restroom in your office building is. Give ‘em a read and a follow.

Let’s kick this off with a little getting to know you:

PacHoops: All-time favorite Pac-12er?

Montlake Madness: All-timer? It’s hard not to choose Lew Alcindor. Perhaps the greatest of all time right there.

PH: All-time favorite Husky?

MM: Brandon Roy has a special place in my heart as he played while I attended UW and was a local Seattle guy. Nate Robinson is another player who is hard not to have as your favorite. To get the most “bang for my buck” out of this pick, I’ll choose Lorenzo Romar as he both played and coached here.

PH: Greatest sporting feat ever witnessed?

MM: It was 1995 and the Mariners tied the Angels for the AL West lead. They had a one game tiebreaker and Randy Johnson threw a complete game, 12 K, 3-hitter to send the M’s to the playoffs for the first time. I was 8.

PH: Greatest sporting feat ever accomplished?

MM: I played football at Bellevue High School up here in Washington and we played the 12-year (151 games) undefeated team from De La Salle in California my senior year and won. Easily the greatest single moment of my sporting life. I doubt anything will ever top that.

PH: Current favorite song?

MM: J. Cole – Rise and Shine. YouTube it and thank me later.

PH: OK, so now that we know everyone’s judged you, onto the Huskies. Like the rest of this league, it’s been up and down for Washington this year. Of late however, it’s been more up than down, what do you make of the 2011-12 campaign thus far?

MM: About par for the course in terms of the Pac-12 season. They are very young and lost a lot of valuable pieces from last year. The preseason did not go well at all with some terrible losses to teams like North Dakota State at home. That may come back to haunt them on Selection Sunday.

PH: They’re 4-4 on the road this year and 26-30 dating back to 2007. Comparatively, Arizona is 25-31 and UCLA 28-24 over the same stretch but Washington is ripped for being a bad road team. Are there teeth to that argument? Or does UW just have the reputation of a bad road team?

MM: UW has the reputation, at least up here, that they can’t win the “big ones” on the road. This year was the first win in Tucson in five years and I believe Romar only has one win at UCLA as well. This year’s team, especially, has struggled to find any sort of leadership or consistency while playing on the road.

PH: I need some help understanding recent LoRo quotes. Per a phone conversation Jon Rothstein had with the coach (which he disseminated on the twitter), Gaddy is the x-factor, Aziz is the first true post defender/rebounder the program’s ever had, and UW has yet to put together a 40-minute masterpiece this year. Your thoughts on these comments:

MM: I think Romar is dead on with Gaddy. The Huskies are a FAR better team when he’s playing well and setting people up. The issue is that he has rarely done it this year. Gaddy’s ACL injury from last year has him a step slow and his confidence has never rebounded either.

In terms of the Aziz comments, a certain Jon Brockman may have an issue with that. He was a terrific rebounder and defender but he was also only 6’9. Aziz is the first true “center” that Romar has had to play with and he creates mismatches that Romar has never been able to take advantage of before.

He’s definitely correct on the “40-minute masterpiece” part. Unfortunately, I don’t see this team ever “getting there” this year. The Huskies seem to always have streaks where they string together poor shots, turnovers, and defensive lapses every single game. Their ceiling is so high that every Husky fan sees the potential but it never materialized.

PH: I also need some help understanding the uber-talented Terrence Ross? Tony Wroten?

MM: Terrence Ross is an enigma. I think it’s safe to say that he has the most pure talent of anyone not named Joshua Smith in the league. He doesn’t yet have the killer instinct that all of the greats possess. In my opinion, he needs one more year in college to develop his confidence.

Tony Wroten is raw as raw gets. He’s got some elite weapons and has flashes of NBA-ready skills. His passing skills that he showed in high school have yet to adapt to the college game and, in kind, his turnover numbers are high. He is a very poor perimeter shooter which allows teams to play five feet off of him. NBA teams are still drooling over his potential and as much as I would love to see him return to Montlake next year, he will probably be a lottery pick this year.

PH: Where did “raise the roof” go?

MM: Haha. It went to Sacramento along with Isaiah Thomas. What should we bring back next? The Macarena?

PH: I read a scathing account of the Romar tenure and then a statistical rebuttal. As with all arguments, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle but which side of the LoRo fence do you sit on?

MM: I’m very pro-Romar. While his in-game philosophy may not be the best, he is probably the best human being that I have ever met. What he does for this community and his players is truly remarkable. People tend to forget how UW was never an annual Pac-12 title contender before he arrived and they still don’t have the alumni support like Arizona or UCLA. The question I always ask people is “Who should we hire instead?” They can never give a realistic answer that would be an improvement.

PH: You recently polled your readers about UW’s season and the Pac-12 to date, what’d you guys learn from that?

MM: Most surprisingly, to me at least, is that 15% of our fans think that this team would be better or no different if Tony Wroten wasn’t on the roster. I’m just shocked at that. I’m not sure if 15% of our readers are trolls, but I have heard from a vocal minority that some people believe this to be true. I think Arizona fans would greatly appreciate it if Wroten wasn’t on the Huskies after his block earlier this year.

PH: It’s been the best rivalry in the Pac for the past few years and Saturday’s noon tip should be no different (besides the fact that Arizona is oh-for-their-last-four in Seattle). How do you see this one shaking out?

MM: It’s been so hard to predict these Pac-12 games this year. Arizona is playing really well lately and both teams need this win if they want to keep pace with Cal at the top. I know that the Dawg Pack will be camping out for the game and it’s also Senior night for Darnell Gant as well as potentially the last game at home for Wroten and Ross. I’m going to predict a 5 point win for Washington as they will have the emotional edge, something they have lacked in many of their losses.

PH: Is the SLUT part of your commute?

MM: Only on the weekends. Go Dawgs!

And there you have it: Pacific Northwestern perspective from a man who once ended a 151-game win streak! I greatly appreciate Griffin and the Madness team for taking the time to answer my bonehead questions. Montlake Madness is a staple of my webtime and should be a part of yours, too. If you haven’t before and even if you have, get to Seattle in the summer as it’s the most beautiful summer city I’ve ever visited and there are a disproportionate number of blondes in that city.

Thanks fellas.

BB: Josiah Turner and the Cycles of the Moon

Josiah Turner committed a foul that appeared to cost Arizona a critical home game.

You’re familiar with the buildup – whiteout, ESPN, GameDay, first place on the line. A furious and late rally, capped by Solomon Hill’s 26th, 27th, and 28th points tied the game with nine seconds remaining. McKale was erupting. The Huskies were stunned. Game on.

We often refer to the end of a game, particularly a close one, as the waning moments of a contest. If you’ll recall elementary school astronomy, waning refers to the dwindling appearance of the moon; waxing the opposite. It’s an obvious metaphor, analogizing the shrinking moon to the shrinking clock.

The reality, however, is that these moments are everything but waning. Nothing is shrinking but the numbers on the clock. Beyond that, every play is enlarged, each bucket more important than the last. These are not waning moments, they’re waxing. They unfold in seemingly incomprehensible immediacy, waiting just long enough to discover the hero of this magnified flash. Or the scapegoat.

Therefore, following Hill’s game-tying three and as the Huskies inbounded the ball, it was clear that a play of game changing magnitude was forthcoming. Perhaps it would be a Washington drive and dish or another step-back jumper. Perhaps it would be a stop by the Arizona defense and a chance to win the game that looked all but over minutes prior. I was watching, you were watching, and we both knew something was going to happen at this most critical of junctures.

A foul.

Not the foul, just a foul. It was Turner’s attempt to make the big play, draw the charge on the rumbling CJ Wilcox to force a Washington turnover and subsequent Arizona game-winning possession.

In his effort, Josiah Turner failed. He sent Wilcox to the line for the game sealing free throws, the once deafening McKale crowd silenced. The moment could have swallowed Turner. It would have been understandable for him to wane, perhaps befitting of the mercurial freshman just one game removed from his temper-less ejection. Turner quite easily could have disappeared into the gravity of the instant.

He didn’t.

In five dribbles he took the ball the length of the court, made a move few others are gifted enough to even imagine, and got to the rim. The layup to tie the score for the seventh time that evening was vengefully blocked by Tony Wroten. Josiah Turner had failed for the second time in less than six-seconds of game play.

He didn’t.

In the waxing moments of that game Josiah Turner showed us all why every team in the nation wanted him to wear their jersey. He showed poise beyond his years and beyond his maturity level. The big point guard from Sacramento makes plays. He proved as much on Saturday and now, leading into a no less daunting weekend in the Bay Area, he’ll be asked to so once again. The ball in his hands, a part of the season on his shoulders, he’ll be asked to succeed.

He will.

This post can also be seen at pointguardu.com: your source for Arizona basketball and recruiting news.

Week 5 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

This post can also be found at ryanrecker.com. His latest podcast is with ESPN 1490’s Jody Oehler, who makes a very fair criticism’s of Sean Miller. Check it out.

The unfortunate reality is the Pac-12 is gaining steam as a one bid league. Woof.

We head into hump weekend as we’re half way to the Staples Center and some sort of separation needs to occur. It just has to. Someone must assert their place atop this conference. It’ll happen? Right? And now I’m begging.

Allow me to spell out a feasible weekend scenario for you. Stanford beats Cal in Berkeley; OSU beats Oregon in Eugene; UW and Colorado split on the road (Arizona and LA, respectively); Arizona sweeps at home. It could occur, yeah? Two rivalry games in which anything can happen, road splits, home sweeps. Feasible.

That scenario would leave us with a six-way tie for first place. I bold and italicize that because I only have three  font options here and the third is strike-thru. There is no other way to demonstrate the absurdity of a six-way tie halfway through conference play.

Alas, the schedule.

TV Complaint: This week I’m going to dish some broadcast props. Colorado’s visit to USC will be shown on USCTrojans.com. For $5 you can watch the game or sign up for an extended plan and subsequently more games. This certainly works for a growing and excitable CU basketball community and no doubt for the entirety of Arrogant Nation. Not all of us necessarily have uber-dishes are exuberant cable packages, but we do have access to the interwebs and whatever it can broadcast. Thinking free-er picture, the worldwide leader is headed to Tucson. The doors of McKale will open at 6am PST as Jay, Rece, Digger, Hubert, and the College GameDay crew host their weekly show and game of the week. The Wildcats are putting on their second annual whiteout against UW aired on ESPN prime time. Any publicity is good publicity and the worldwide leader is amongst the most self-serving. For such, expect to hear a lot of great things said about some not-so-great Pac-12 teams in order to garner some interest in the prime time tip.

Game of the Weekend: Well if ESPN is going to call it theirs then I have to call it mine. The Washington Huskies travel to Tucson for the national broadcast, a battle of two teams that continue to search for their identities. UW may be the more talented group – Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten can be filthy good – but Arizona is deeper. With the Wildcats returning to the friendly confines and a raucous crowd, freshman Nick Johnson will be looking to get back on track. In conference play, the pup is shooting 50% at home compared to a putrid 38% outside of the 520 and he seemingly disappeared inside of the Coors Center last Saturday. Of course the freshman to pay attention to is Tony Wroten. The Husky lefty can fill it up and undoubtedly plays a vital role in the Dawgs’ success but has an unfortunate knack for turning the ball over. His 78 turnovers are the eighth most in the nation. This is a terrific rivalry game and Arizona AD, Greg Byrne, has done a tremendous job in promoting it as such. While we can toss out the idea that both teams need this game to be taken seriously (no Pac-12 team received even a single vote in either poll), both teams need this win to take themselves seriously. Arizona is 4-3 without having beaten any of the top eight teams in the conference (pending tonight’s WSU game) and UW hasn’t A) won in Tucson since 2006 B) won much of anything outside of Seattle under Romar. If nothing else, like I said, UW-AZ is a terrific watch. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

Game to Avoid: Maybe the best part about the aforementioned six-way tie scenario is that seven of this weekend’s ten games involve a “contender.” That leaves us Utah @ UCLA, WSU @ ASU, and Utah @ USC as the only meaningless ball games. I hate that this section is quickly becoming a rain-on-USC/ASU/Utah section but these are three of the worst teams in all of college basketball. That said, let’s not lose track of the truth that UCLA is mentioned here. Their 2011-12 woes are well documented and there’s no need to rehash. My latest Westwood/Anaheim/Watts concern is stemming from Ben Howland’s press conference. Read his quotes on Josh Smith (here and here). All I hear are excuses and for a kid who already struggles to get it together, Howland sounds like an enabler. I don’t like that. I don’t agree with that and for such I think we can finally stick a real fork in the Bruins’ season. Hosting the woeful Utes (despite coming off a blowout win) is not worth your time considering it wasn’t worth Smith’s time to get in shape.

Something to Prove: Stemming from that little UCLA rant I think it’s the Colorado Buffaloes who have the most to prove this weekend. I’m fascinated by this team and truly think they’re legit contenders. As such, the Buffs should be expected to sweep this weekend in Los Angeles. USC is awful and UCLA has a fork in their side making it arguably the easiest weekend for any of the “contenders.” But these are also only the third and fourth road games for Boyle’s Boys – a team that is just 2-5 when not playing at the Coors Center. I’m high on Oregon right now because they’ve been winning road games and for a conference whose home teams are 33-11, winning on the road becomes the un-equalizer. CU is playing as good as anyone at home, let’s see what they can do on the road. Vegas doesn’t think much of them as they’re just a half-point favorite tonight (at USC) and I can’t imagine they’ll be favored on Saturday. But Vegas, Shmegas. The trick is believing you’re good and I think Tad Boyle has Spencer DinWiddie and the rest of the Buffs believing.

Something to Lose: They’re not holding on to much but the Arizona Wildcats are hosting and really cannot afford a split. Their 4-3 record is nothing short of disappointing but, what’s worse, it’s starting to look fitting. If everyone else is winning at home, so too should the Wildcats if they want to win this up-for-grabs conference. As we’ve already put a fork in UCLA , a split or worse this weekend – while no one is technically ever out of this race – would probably take Arizona out of serious contention and nowhere near the bubble they’re lingering on in some discussions. But, because they are still on some bubbles, this weekend is huge for the Wildcats. It was in fact this very ESPN, whiteout, UW game last year that catapulted Derrick Williams into the national spotlight – perhaps costing Arizona his presence on this roster. The UW game is no doubt recognized as significant. But – like I just did – Arizona cannot overlook a suddenly sultry WSU Cougar team. Faisal Aden can’t miss – or is at least shooting FTs like he’s Derrick Williams – and Brock Motum can cause problems for that small AZ roster. I can’t imagine Ken Bone’s team would have a problem playing spoiler. Bear down or bow out.

Weekend YouTuber: I keep saying it along with everyone else: the Pac-12 is not good and if our six-way first place scenario plays out, well … oh man. It’s like the Pac-12 barely knows what it’s doing. It’s bad. But it’s not this bad:



Pac-12 Week 2 Preview

The opening/New Year’s weekend went unpreviewed but I’ll make no apologies for not caring much about less-than-exciting group of games while I sipped Tecates and had staring contests with Mexican sunsets. That said, with a little mileage now, this thing is starting to develop some story lines. Read on and here’s the schedule.

TV Complaint: Three of this weekend’s twelve games will not be televised. This segment of course debuts the day after the 2012 Pac-12 football schedule was announced and that every game will be nationally televised. That said, Cal @ OSU, ASU @ USC, and WSU @ Utah will only been seen by those in attendance. So what if the Sun Devils and Trojans will battle to a zero-zero tie and Utah could be playing with the guy in your chem lab. The point is: it’s 2012 and all major conference games should be broadcast in some capacity. The major crime this week is not getting to see what should be a great matchup between Jorge Gutierrez and Jared Cunningham in the un-aired Cal-OSU game.

Game of the Weekend: I’ve struggled to call this one but, based on the fact that there isn’t much at stake so early in the conference season, I’m going to go with the historical matchup: Arizona @ UCLA, 8 pm, FSN. I know, I know much has been made of the Bruins decline and they’re just 7-7 but there’s still something compelling to these two teams facing off. They’ve combined to win 21 of 31 conference titles and the only two national titles in that span. A heated rivalry has developed between the two on and off the court as Miller and Howland aren’t the best of pals and the Wildcats have swooped up some of Southern California’s top talent during this current Bruin dry spell. Speaking of dry spells, Arizona is just 2-10 in their last six trips to LA (both schools) getting smoked a few times in Pauley. But this matchup isn’t in Westwood and Sean Miller’s group has been playing well of late. Pay attention as UCLA is still a one point favorite.

Game to Avoid: Let’s take a frat/sorority theme to this one which may be too easy but we’ll roll with it. As STD rates sky rocket in Tempe, this could be the best chance for the Sun Devils to get anywhere near a Trojan. ASU has been giving the ball up like drunk Thetas, committing 16.5 turnovers per game, while not being a bro and playing wing man – just 12.1 assists per game. Meanwhile the Trojans simply don’t score (I’m aware of the innate pun here but there’s no other way to put it). KO’s squad is amongst the slowest and lowest scoring teams in the nation, averaging just 60.5 possessions per forty minutes and 54.5 ppg. The good news is everyone already knows the Kappa Omega’s (KO = Kevin O’Neill’s) don’t throw a good party (they all go to the Lamda Kappa/LK/Lane Kiffin parties) and just 3,838 attendees are averaged in the Galen Center. Ultimately, Fox Sports finally got one right and this one won’t even be aired. So really my advice is just don’t go to Watts for a 7:30 tip.

Something to Prove: The Oregon State Beavers waltzed into conference play looking pretty, pretty, pretty good. A two loss team with the conference’s marquee win 🙁 over Texas, the First Team had momentum and appeared poised to get rowdy. They were promptly swept, convincingly, by the Washington schools to kick off their conference season. If Craig Robinson wants to A) prove his worth as a coach B) avoid a campaign job, and C) actually finish with a +.500 conference record for the first time since unknown, he and his team need to hold serve this weekend. Not only are these two games they need to win, but it will go a long way in asserting themselves as legit contenders. Sure, the Bay Area schools are the toughest visitor/road trip in the conference this year, but in this down season, winning at home is vital. The Beavers missed their shot at stealing a road game in Pullman and frankly have a pretty tough start to their conference schedule. But no more excuses. Is it Beaver time or could this early weekend spoil any hopes of post-season play? I also can’t get over the fact that no one outside of Corvallis, Oregon (CORVALLIS, OREGON) will get to watch Jorge Gutierrez and Jared Cunningham. Outrageous.

Something to lose: Washington was last week’s team du jour, convincingly sweeping the Oregon schools at home. Standout freshman, Tony Wroten Jr. called their 19 point loss to South Dakota State as the needed “wake-up call” for this team. Wroten certainly awoke last week, going off for 22/7/5 in the sweep and being named the POW. But where’s Terrence Ross? Can Wroten carry this team? Could a Lorenzo Romar team conjure up some consistency? Still many questions here as UW heads to the Rockies – the first team to be hosted there in conference play – for a trap weekend. Washington should roll through these matchups, particularly Utah, but the Colorado game concerns me. Tad Boyle doesn’t have an atrocious team in Boulder and should the Huskies overlook this group, it would go a long way in legitimizing everyone’s concerns about UW.

Weekend YouTuber: My roommate wound up partying (true story) with this sweet angel on New Years. You should, like such as, enjoy and recall that the original objective of the Pac-10 was to be the “Ivy League of the West.”