There’s a phenomenon known as the Sunday Blues in which life hits you like a Sean Miller Pac-12 tournament tirade and you just get sad. It sucks. But when it was settling in for me this weekend, I remembered I still had three Sunday evening games to absorb. So we got a giant pasta bake going, watched sports, and picked up a couple of bottles of red and boom! blues-be-gone. I’m not sure the same holds for Colorado (0-2 at -32), Washington State (0-2 at -38), Cal (0-2 at -20), or Utah (0-2 at -15). I just feel really strongly that I won Sunday.
Leader in the Clubhouse: We could very easily award this to the undefeated and top-ranked-for-eight-weeks Arizona Wildcats. The team allowing Pac-12 opponents to score 10 fewer points per 100 possessions than any other team. I’d rather cite our clubhouse leader as someone else in the midst of some odd Pac times. Hello, UCLA Bruins! They impressively and resoundingly held serve in Pauley this weekend. The Bruins are a road hiccup at Utah (what’s proving to be a pretty damn tough team) away from being a top-15 team. This weekend, however, the Bruins played precisely their brand of hoop – forcing 31 total turnovers and getting 38 points in transition. Also helped to get a Jordan Adams appearance. He was 6 for 11 (55%) en route to 19 points against Stanford. In all other Pac-12 conference games, Jordan is shooting just 34%. Oh by the way, welcome back to the win column, D. Nothing like playing the Cougs to jump start your defense!
Biggest Loser: There’s an unfortunately long list of teams this weekend. Utah has yet to win a road game, Cal lost to USC, Colorado can’t score, and Washington State is. And let’s be honest, I have issues with decisiveness. But for you guys – for us – let’s pick one. If we run with Utah then we forget the fact that they were on the road and played very competitively (second best ppp vs. Arizona in conference play). The road is tough to win – always – which is why I’m even inclined to ignore part of Cal’s transgressions. They had been playing pretty out of character good and they were due to come back down to earth. Biggest loser seems a tough label. A similar argument can be made for Colorado who lost their best player and has since played three of their four best opponents (per KenPom). Remarkably bad timing. Then, to call WSU the biggest loser just seems mean. Wait. Did I just talk us out of making any decision? Dammit.
What we Learned: There are some really good players in this conference. From Roberto Nelson and CJ Wilcox scoring all over the place in the Northwest; to Josh Scott and Delon Wright doing their respective things in the mountains. Need a tiny guard shout out? Jahii Carson and Chasson Randle are terrific. None of them are as good as Nick Johnson and Kyle Anderson. Johnson is playing with at a level I didn’t know he had. He has asserted himself as the unquestionably best player on the unquestionably best team in the country. He’s scoring and stopping the best player on your team. Meanwhile, Kyle Anderson is a one stop shop of effectiveness. Points and passes and rebounds and shooting; I think he’s more versatile than Myles Jack. I love POY races and so I present to you the Pac-12’s. It’s gonna be awesome.
In Defense Of: I used 175 words to basically defend every team that got swept away this weekend so I’m not entirely sure I’ve got anyone to defend. As an eternal optimist, however, and in light of some negative commentary I had regarding the turn of this Pac-12 season, I’m inclined to defend this Conference of Champions. Parity is a word that gets thrown around to excuse shit. That’s really just the way it is. But there’s something to it. There’s something to noting that a team can blow out Washington and Oregon, then lose to USC (Cal). KenPom discusses it and says that this year, amongst all others, there may actually be true parity – or at least moderate discombobulation – across the country. I don’t intend to excuse what I perceive as a rough 3 weeks for the conference, but perhaps Utah is just a good basketball team? Maybe Oregon just hit their growing pains a little late? Suppose Jahii Carson just hit a wee slump? The damn Sunday Blues, I’m tellin’ ya.
The YouTuber: I’ve watched this at this point now but knew I had to include it, sight unseen, because it sounded perfect. And it is. Or at least bear with it until the end:
4 thoughts on “Week 4 Pac-12 Hoops Review”
Interesting week in the Conference of Champions. My observations – I’m guilty of not giving Lorenzo Romar any love for the coaching job he’s done this season. Washington lost Jernard Jarreau so early in the season that easy to forget how important of a piece, a 6’10” potential NBA level prospect piece, he was to their hopes this year. Washington has significant work to do due to zero OOC quality wins, but it’s work in conference has to admired.
UCLA took care of the Bay Area schools and looks like a team on the rise. Kyle Anderson is getting more comfortable taking (and making) big shots and that figures to free up Adams, Levine, Alford (all guys that are great at spotting up and depend on getting fed at their sweet spots). Good to see the Bruins hold their own against the formidable front lines of Cal and Stanford. If UCLA get’s any low post scoring and some rebounding from the Wear twins and Tony Parker they might get a decent seed and make to the second weekend in March. Maybe….
Is it just me or does UA seem bored? I don’t subscribe to the theory that a loss is good, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cats perfect season gets derailed by Stanford or Cal – both teams desperate to make a statement that resonates nationally. I think Cal is better equipped to pull off the trick. I wouldn’t call it an “upset” if happens…
ASU is sneaking back into NCAA tournament discussion as Colorado begins to fade. It was inevitable, at this point of the season you are either getting better or getting worse. Injuries have derailed the Buffs train, but as they step back the Devils appear willing to step forward. Just a hunch they do enough work in the final eleven conference games to earn a big dance ticket…it’s a long season. I hope CU gets back their mojo and proves to be worthy of a bid, but without Dinwiddie I just don’t see the same club.
Oregon has the next two weekends to make it’s case. UCLA has proven to be a dud on the road, so the Ducks should be ready to get a meaningful win…those wins versus Georgetown, Illinois, BYU and Mississippi aren’t looking as good as they looked a month ago. All that said the Pac 12 is looking like a five bid league minimum – UA, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, UO…Colorado, ASU and, yes, Washington have a lot of season left to prove they can join the party.
Marc, sorry I haven’t responded sooner. This is a great breakdown you provide here. I think the thing to keep the closest eye on for UCLA will be the freedom for UCLA to shoot and for Tony Parker to get angry or whatever he needs to know he can do what he did on Stanford more regularly. Or at least a fraction of it.
I think this weekend is HUGE for Colorado and ASU. They’re both generally thought of as bubble teams and both have the opportunity right now to grab the bull by the horns. Oregon? Whatever is going to happen to them this season might be defined on Thursday night. It’s a big one for both teams (I call it the GotW) but Oregon NEEDS that one.
But I really thought your ‘bored’ comment was interesting and there is something there. They have had some moments where it seems they dip into autopilot. I think all teams have those moments but Arizona’s seem to stand out because they don’t have an elite-level offense where one person can absolutely take over (NBA-style) and everything they do is predicated on effort and defense. When you’re in auto-pilot, effort isn’t necessarily there. Miller is so damn intense I don’t see this team ever getting “complacent” but even he seems to be looking for criticisms at times in his post-game remarks. I was on a very good HS baseball team and we were complacently rolling through a part of our season and all of a sudden coach was screaming at us in the corner of the outfield. We hadn’t necessarily done anything bad but he tore us apart. Whether we needed a wakeup call or not, we got one, and beat the #6 team in the state, two days later, 18-2. (we’d go on to lose the state title game in extra-innings that season). Anyhow, point is, I peaked in high school and Arizona indeed has a tough trip to the Bay this weekend.
No worries, you have a full plate. My “bored” comments stem from watching UA on several occasions – it might be something as simple as when the Cats aren’t making shots their “effort” on both ends seems to go down a few notches. It happened in the UNLV game, in the first half versus Drexel, against Utah last weekend. My fear for Arizona come the tourney is they face an undisciplined team like LSU or Missouri that plays frenetically and gets hot from three. UA is elite, definitely a top five team this year, but I need to see more from them on offense to feel they are inpregnable.
Definitely think boredom is what it can often look like. I also think their offense is so deliberate that it can seem like they’re not giving much effort. We saw it – to some extent – against UCLA when the Bruins made their comeback where the Wildcats checked into a slow down mode but got a little lazy with it. The three pointer is definitely one method to beat them and someone who can piece together two halves of what UNLV and Drexel did (limit touches in the paint, hit shots in transition and 3s) can really give Arizona some trouble.