I propose a study of the hematological anomaly that is Justin Cobbs. My hypothesis is that researchers would discover not a mixture of hemoglobin (red blood cells), leukocytes (white cells) and plasma, but rather ice water. Or something of that ilk. Inexplicably it is not blood delivering oxygen and nutrients through the body of Cobbs but the coldest water on record. This proposed study won’t soon fly with the Food and Drug Administration or Mike Montgomery, but it could shed light on how the senior from Los Angeles can hit fading jumpers with tenths of seconds remaining in the face of seven-foot behemoths. Seriously, ice, hielo, glace, 冰:
Leader in the Clubhouse: Once again we could award this to the 7-1 Arizona Wildcats who, despite sustaining their first loss of the season and news they’d have to make their run to Dallas without Brandon Ashley, are still playing the best defense in the country (unless it’s Justin Cobbs who has the ball). Context: These Wildcats are giving up just 86.7 points per 100 possessions in conference. The next best team, UCLA, yields 96.7 points per 100 possessions. The ten point difference between first and second is equal to the difference between second and ninth. Sean Miller coaches a defense of a different color. But we’re going to divvy the clubhouse leading love and this week’s leader was the Oregon State Beavers. Craig’s team defended Gil Coliseum from the Angelinos and put themselves surprisingly into third place (we’re ignoring the fact that it’s a five-way tie for third and that doesn’t include the two-way tie for second ahead of them). And defend they did. Despite being the 10th “best” defense in the conference, they limited the second best offense (UCLA) to just 67 points. For just the third time in conference play, they held a team to less than 1 point per possession (that includes a game against WSU, by the way). Yeah, I’m lauding the defensive efforts of a Craig Robinson team; the same team that conversely has the best in conference offense and who beat the aforementioned Bruins despite Roberto Nelson delivering the following pre-Super Bowl: 2-8, 12pts, 5r, 4a, 6TO. That was ten points off of his average and double his turnovers. I mean that guy ranks 16th in usage percentage yet the Beavers prevailed with him contributing five percentage points less than his normal usage. A team-ish effort.
Biggest Loser: I want to meet the VooDoo Witch who allowed Arizona to remedy their free throw issues in two-nights at the expense of a Nick Johnson’s jumper and Brandon Ashley’s bones? Not cool, but this is:
@KyleAnderson5 appreciate it bruh.
— Brandon Ashley (@_Bash21) February 2, 2014
Of course beyond that I thought the Ski Skirmish on Saturday morning was going to be a back breaker one way or the other. Brandon Taylor wasn’t about to let that happen – ONIONS – but it unfortunately just falls into the growing lore of Utah’s road woes. My hypothesis won’t be proven until the Utes take the court again (Thursday hosting Washington) and I hope I’m wrong, but getting so close but so far can only sustain energy levels so long. For as much as we want to applaud the Utes – they’re climbing up KenPom’s ratings, they’re perceived as a tough out, Delon Wright is one of the five best players in the conference – the fact remains that they are 3-6 and 10th in the conference.
What We Learned: This weekend was further confirmation that winning on the road is a miserable task. So difficult, in fact, that Pac-12 road teams rank 26th amongst 33 D-1 conferences. Of the 54 conference games that have been played, just 17 have been won by the weary traveler. And this weekend did not deviate as only ASU and UCLA won outside of their respective homes with the former needing overtime to do it. Now this is an important point as we head into the second half of the season. There’s a log jam within the conference standings and someone is going to slip up. Additionally, what a scary proposition a Utah road win is!
In Defense Of: I’m going to do it here. I’m going to defend Stanford because they are 5-4 in conference and 14-7 overall with a nice win over UConn and a bad loss to Oregon State (despite everything I said above OSU is still barely in the KenPom and RPI top-100). That’s a resume in need of defending. It’s ain’t sexy in the eyes of the committee and I think this team is really taking note. Had you been in Maples last Wednesday you’d have seen a man possessed in Stefan Nastic. Dwight Powell, seemingly relegated to the role of facilitator on this team, scored 41 points this weekend. Josh Huestis flirted with back-to-back double-doubles against the desert schools. The theme I’m illuminating here is that these three seniors, half of Dawkins’ 2010 recruiting class without mentioning John Gage (116.7 ORtg on 14.7% usage), Anthony Brown (115.7, 18.2%), and the injured Aaron Bright. These seniors are beginning to realize their fleeting eligibility. This is a talented team and they have nine games to act like it. From my perch, they’ve already begun. But things aren’t about to get easy for them. They’ll kick off this latter half with three consecutive roadies beginning Wednesday at Cal and followed by a trip to Washington. It’s going to be tough to right this ship, but everything worthwhile is.
The YouTuber: Cobbs bookends this review: