Monthly Archives: October 2014

UCLA Bruins Basketball Preview: Steve Alford’s UCLA

Can we just have a moment of silence – for ourselves of course – because we don’t get to watch Slo-Mo and Jordan Adams anymore? I’m gonna. [pause. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.]. Thanks.

And now, what’s left in Westwood that wasn’t drafted in the first round, I know nothing about. Steve’s kid (it’s Kory pictured above) is still here and Norman Powell returns and I’m very familiar with the name Tony Parker. I just have no idea what this version of TP is going to do on a nightly basis. Steve said that Tony needs to get pissed off. To pile on, there’s only nine of these guys on scholarship. Projected-to-contributes Jonah Bolden (PF, #25 2014 per Scout) and Jon Octeus (PG, 110 Ortg/22% poss, 13/5/2) were deemed academically ineligible; Bolden can stick around the program and practice but Octeus just wasn’t let into the school. UC schools have really tough standards and only let the best-of-the-best into their establishments. I know from experience (#GoTritons). But of the remaining nine on schollie, there’s reason for optimism. It’s a brand new roster of unproven talent (as noted, we know nothing about them). This is now officially Steve Alford’s UCLA.

Why I Love Them:

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California Golden Bears Basketball Preview: Cuonzo’s Guards

We never really ever talked about the Cuonzo hire. So, for the record, it was a great parting gift from Sandy Barbour. This partnership is mutually beneficial in that Cal gets a coach, fresh off a Sweet Sixteen who is young and hungry and has proven he can win. For Martin, he gets himself into a situation where he’s actually wanted. That’s right, Bruce Pearl and Tennessee fans seemingly had a Gone Girl relationship. There were FIRE CUONZO petitions with upwards of 20K signatures. No thanks and Bruce wound up at Auburn. So Cuonzo got himself a cozy pad in Berkeley and a decent roster, too. One concern: they say the Bay Area can make you soft. Cuonzo’s teams play hard. Time will tell.

Why I Love Them:

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THREE FOR BART: Kobe, Rookies, ilk

  1. Is Kobe Bryant the Reason for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Downfall? – Spoiler: Article doesn’t answer that question. But it does allow you to draw your own conclusions. It’s reporting and an interesting and well told story.
  2. All the Stars We’re Going to Know and Love this Season – These are the guys we used to know. I mean, we still do, but we got to know them as boys. Now they’re perceived as men. Seriously, just read the Aaron Gordon blurb and you learn about a teenager making teenage moves with a grownup’s bank account and in a grownup’s spotlight. But ultimately it’s just fun to learn about the characters these guys are. Read about Mitch McGary.
  3. ilk outerwear – I met Mike in a hotel in Israel. We were roommates for night one of a ten day trip and the enthusiasm that Caroline describes in this blog post is spot on. Mike is a passionate dude and he’s pouring that passion into a brand new clothing line. He’s begun a Kickstarter for this project and if you’re so inclined, check it out. I mean, winter is fast approaching and you might need to buy some gifts.

THREE FOR BART: Siri, HBO, Rebounds

  1. To Siri With Love – She may frustrate us and we may find her utterly useless. She doesn’t always come up with what we need. One time, following an impassioned speech by one of my bosses to our entire marketing department and every agency we work with, from my pocket, Siri noted, “I’m sorry I don’t understand what you just said.” It was perfectly ill timed. Siri isn’t perfect. But sometimes she is (this is all just a lot of words to say read this for a heartwarming tale)
  2. ‘Friends’ and Enemies: Netflix and HBO battle for the future of TV – Over cigars and scotch, I’ve discussed this topic deep into many nights. Television, as we know it, is poised for a monstrous overhaul. We’ve watched as nearly everything in our lives has been made increasingly convenient. From Uber and AirBnB to the above mentioned Siri, everything is being brought to us as we want it and need it. Convenience is the way of today. So when I don’t want to own a Bravo subscription, I shouldn’t have to pay for it. When all I want is a handful of movie channels (HBO) and live sports…oh wait. Live sports is the only thing keeping this while thing alive. That and decades old relationships between providers and producers and a lot – a whole lot – of money. Excited to see how all of this unfolds. Also, keep an eye out for Aereo.
  3. How Rebounds Work – Isn’t this the beauty of advanced tracking? We can understand, on a deeper level, such simple things as the rebound. And it makes great sense, right? The average team shoots – I dunno – 44%? Means greater than half the shots are drawing iron. Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate the conclusion here that, no matter what, there will be randomness. And that is why we play the game.

Oregon Ducks Basketball Preview: Mighty Joe Young

I’m not sure whether or not to post this preview. Day by day it becomes increasingly difficult to follow what’s going on around this program. One day it’s Jaquan Lyle – the prized recruit and presumed starting PG – being removed from the online roster. The next day it’s two more arrests and ‘internal discipline” (Dana’s words). And then Lyle’s back in the mix, attending the IMG Academy, with an open opportunity to rejoin the Ducks in January. None of which notes the transgressions of last March and the subsequent muddled timeline of who knew what and when but that ultimately resulted in the dismissal of Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis, and Brandon Austin. So there’s all that and Dana has to deal with the third largest (amongst 133 major conference teams) roster turnover in the land. The latter has been a common theme during the Altman era and two-straight NCAA tournaments suggest he can handle that. But the peripheral stuff? The school president resigned. This is a serious and brand new distraction. An issue. But you’ve got Joe Young!

 Why I Love Them:

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Washington Huskies Basketball Preview: Inside the Tunnel

They’ve won fewer games than the year prior for three consecutive years. The recruiting has gone stagnant; they literally had no 2012 class. Last season was the worst defense (104.5 Drtg) that LoRo has ever put on a court. The program’s struggles are quantifiable if not palpable. Average attendance at Hec Ed since 2011 has grossly declined: 9650, 8785, 7937, 6582. It’s fair to say the seat is warming. But I see a light from within this tunnel. Look at this year’s roster. It’s not soon to wow you but it’s balanced and youthful and projects. And then you note that Washington already has commitments from four 4-star recruits in 2015 and one 5-star in 2016. Encouragingly, two of those ‘I-do’s’ have come from local kids. I see a light. But for this season, I think we’re still in the tunnel.

Why I Love Them:

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THREE FOR BART: Projections, Trojans, Me

  1. Projecting college hoops’ leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists– It’s Dan Hanner and Luke Winn. Read it.
  2. USC basketball team will be fast on the court, but progress might be slower – Yesterday we read about how Bob Ryan’s gamers rarely included quotes. That he was going to tell you the story. I love that. You’ll rarely find quotes on here but that’s also in part due to a lack of access. Remember, I don’t have an inside source. But sometimes they give us context beyond both teams played hard. Here’s some validation to my USC preview.
  3. Getting Some ‘Me’ Time: Why Millenials are so Individualistic – Here’s an article all about the redefining of when and what adulthood means. In other news, I turned 30 yesterday and it should be noted that I’m not a blogger in my mom’s basement but who is stably employed. I suppose the turning of my decade should have me pondering a lot of things about myself and what it means to – I dunno – be getting older. My mom texted me that “30 rocks!” When she was thirty she was taking care of me. Am I supposed to get introspective? What am I supposed to know? How millenial cliche was that series of questions? Right now I know we’re closer to November. Right now I know I’ve run a marathon and completed triathlons. I moved out of my parents house (in 2003). I’ve kissed a girl. I’ve traveled and Coachella doesn’t count. It’s estimated that more than 98% of the time I use the correct form of their, there, and they’re. I started this thing. I have a zero career ERA at the the NCAA level. And right now I know there’s still a lot ahead. That’s pretty cool.

USC Trojans Basketball Preview: Andy got a Point Guard

Well we’re not in El Paso any more, Amanda. Ok, so the Enfields never were in El Paso but I still haven’t come down from Andy’s jab at the guy who used to have his job, Tim Floyd. Nevertheless, getting this Trojan program up to par is going to take a little more than tapping heels and repeating a wishful determination. It’s also going to take more than Katin Reinhardt. But with Byron Wesley returning…wait, he’s in Spokane playing for a national title contender? Well shit. So let’s be serious: Year 2 of the Galen Dunk Center is probably going to be a little rough. Not quite two-conference wins rough, but not a ton better.

Why I Love Them:

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THREE FOR BART: Commish, Tiffani, Tempo

  1. The Commissioner – I read spots like this and it’s hard not to think we missed out on the ‘good old days’ or something so beyond cool I can’t reconcile doing anything in the current age. Where’s my curbside Midnight In Paris pickup? I want to rub elbows with Larry Bird and crush the loosely illegal bottle of Rose. I’d love to challenge Don Nelson to one-on-one. I instead settle for giddy one-on-ones with Nick Johnson. And sportswriters are such a romantic lot. Listen to the way Ryan’s contemporaries talk about him. But we only get to be revisionist because we’re also contemporary. Today is pretty terrific, too. I do get one-on-ones with Nick Johnson after I started a blog. This blog. In some regard, Bob Ryan helped build that.
  2. Washington hires woman to lead men’s basketball operations – While we’re somewhat, loosely, on the subject of progress, how about this move by LoRo and company? Tiffani Walker is joining the Washington staff and that’s an exciting development. From scheduling and other logistics, Walker will be in the thick of a major college basketball program. It seems unconfirmed whether she’s the highest ranking female within a major college program. She will be the only female on staff in the Pac-12 and the first ever female to join UW’s staff. Congratulations and best of luck.
  3. ASU Basketball: Jahii Carson may be gone, but tempo will still be emphasized – Did you guys spend any of your weekend curious about whether or not Herb Sendek was going to try and push the pace again? I kinda did and then Connor helped lead me to the answer. I don’t necessarily agree with the move – tempo I’m discovering in a project I’m working on is one of the first things to change before a coach gets fired. And Herb’s quotes seem less than confident (Let’s do it!). Nevertheless, here’s the plan.

Just in Case: The Leftovers and Your Role

If you didn’t watch HBO’s The Leftovers, it’s hard to say if you really missed out on anything. It’s a show about I-don’t-know-what, during which everything and nothing happens. It’s dark, captivating and confusing. I kinda hated it. I watched every episode.

The show centers on the aftermath of the disappearance, immediate and sudden, of 2% of the world’s population. In one moment, theygone. Husbands, wives, sons, and daughters disappeared and everyone else was left to cope with the “Sudden Departure.”

This Sudden Departure happened on October 14th.

Tomorrow is October 14th.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

So if I disappear, if the Sudden Departure consumes me and you’re left to fend for your Pac-selves this season, here’s everything I need you to do this season. Naturally, there are twelve of them.

  1. Creatively and non-sophomorically discover a way to hilariously reference Wayne Tinkle – We can be better than the obvious. And don’t do something weird on Photoshop. That would be uncomfortable for everyone.
  2. Discover a player who’s changed his game and his torching the universe – Jordan Adams was a mid-range god as a freshmen and then took it to a new level – and location – as a sophomore. You’re well versed on how I appreciate getting to the rim and Jordan did exactly that. My excitement got ESPN linkage.
  3. The teams. The teams are going to different things than they used to. Watch that – This is a really, really vague point so I’ll just go ahead and note a few key things y’all should monitor: UCLA’s offense and how it operates without Kyle Anderson feeding Wear family jumpers and Jordan Adams layups or perhaps pivots to a more traditional Alford style; Andy Enfield’s offense and if it can actually become a dunk city; Arizona’s defense and rebounding which carried them at times last season might not project to be as good this season; is Cuonzo Martin that good of a defensive coach; presumably Johnny Dawkins has developed Stefan Nastic, Chasson Randle, and Anthony Brown as far as he can (seniors) how will the undeveloped assets (projected to be good) fill into a system of inconsistency?
  4. Feed whomever is running the Pac-12’s social channels the best questions for Media Day – Because then famous people will love you:

  5. Think of me in Indy – You can’t look at me on the eve of my possible-if-not-impending-Sudden-Departure and tell me my ‘Cats aren’t going. Not only would that be heartless, it’d be silly.
  6. Don’t lurk on Andy Enfield’s beholden – After a while it gets weird.
  7. Love Askia Booker (and other senior guards) – Last year I wrote about it here, here, and here. Oh, here as well. Four articles, one player. And now he’s a senior guard on a team with moderate-to-high expectations that almost entirely rest on what kind of season he’s going to have. A senior guard. I don’t make the stories, I just tell them. Trust me when I say Askia Booker is a story. And I’m not crazy enough to think you’ll love him just because I ask you to. I’ve met enough strangers on Tinder to know you can’t request love. So maybe there’s a senior guard on your squad to adore. Cherish that. Whether it’s DaVonte, Chasson, TJ, or even – hell – Jonathan Gilling, love your seniors.
  8. Go to HecEd, in Red, for me – As of now I’m going to Seattle for that February 13th tilt. Anyone need a Valentines? Of course this is all for naught should I disappear tomorrow. Nevertheless, the plan is for me to make my inaugural appearance and perhaps – if allowed – an inaugural address to the audience. I highly doubt the latter becomes reality, but if it did, that would be awesome. A whole slew of Wildcats will be coming so it’ll be fun. Let’s have fun. And if I’m not there, you guys have fun. And if it’s not HecEd and it’s not Red that you’re willing to do, travel to one opposing arena. Make a weekend of it. We’re lucky to have teams in some of the best cities this country has to offer.
  9. Unabashedly share your excitement for a yet-to-be-determined moment in the season with a completely unassuming person – Preferably this would be a co-worker. I’ve subjected countless co-workers who don’t know Sean Miller from Dennis Miller but you know what? They love my enthusiasm and that unsuspecting co-worker will no doubt love yours. And if I may recommend an execution method, I suggest you say it as swiftly as you can. Catch them off guard and go for the massive knowledge drop. They won’t know what hit them and you’ll probably come out of it looking either insane, passionate, or some combination thereof.
  10. Don’t push the Daddy Ball agenda – In a general theme of fandom, you’re better than this. We’re all better than this. Not only did LaVine’s numbers significantly decline throughout the season, Bryce is legit and the Bruins went to the Sweet Sixteen which was pretty much their ceiling anyways. Does Steve have some biases for his own kid? Probably. Did it cost him in PG recruiting? Another maybe. But he has an All-Freshman point guard returning and the most familial thing about that is talent.
  11. Recognize the shining moments – It’s a great big long season that culminates in a heart ripping and beautiful dance. But get wrapped up in the hope. Notice the process from November to March. The nuance of mid-range jumper, the progress of a sophomore, the stones of a senior. They’re moments, brief and shining, but when you look hard enough, there can be so many of them.
  12. By the way, full credit to UCLA –