How many hot takes could you come up with surrounding Jarmal Reid’s trip? I chose not to because I ain’t trippin’. Of course no one condones this behavior. Of course it was a regrettable action. Oregon State has taken action, disciplined the kid 4 games and the conference – who didn’t even have to dip Reid into the holy suspensions waters – approved of the action. Kudos. In completely unrelated news, four Pac-12 commits will be included in this year’s McDonald’s All-American game. Burgers.
Anyhow, this week had the feel of normalization. There was a blowout (2 actually) and zero overtimes. It didn’t feel as CrAzY as previous weeks ‘felt’ and especially as the rest of the nation (most notably the top-25) was ravaged. Duke lost its third consecutive game as a ranked team to an unranked opponent for the first time since the ’60s and I love it! USC is ranked which is completely unrelated to Duke’s lack of success.
Big fan of statement wins and perhaps even a bigger fan of Chimzie Metu. But let’s talk about the former. USC hadn’t beaten UCLA (reminder: big rival) since 2013 and distinctly since Andy Enfield took charge. Well not only did they beat the Bruins, they took it to them in Pauley. Rivalry games are emotional and that was a big win for this young USC team. As analysis goes, this USC tam is just good. They’re just a good basketball team. Pretty straight forward at this point. Yes, they have a very difficult road trip ahead. Yes, we’re only three weeks into conference play. But the Trojans have two roadies under their belt and Jordan McLaughlin is a lights out shooter.
Arizona crushed the Washingtons (combined +55 points) and garnered a commitment from Kobi Simmons:
The Ducks looked fantastic against Utah. They thoroughly beat the Utes inside the Huntsman Center and that’s a feat. I’d also love to note that Roman Sorkin outscored Jakob Poeltl in that contest (8 to 7). Chalk one up for Israel. Of course the Ducks did lose at the Keg but a road split is to be cherished like an exclusive interview with a Mexican king pin (and handled better, too). There’s nothing to be “concerned” about in Eugene unless you really don’t like Brady Hoke. Looking forward this is a pretty big week for the Ducks. They’ll host the LAs and while they’ve already garnered a precious roadie the start of their conference slate has been very home-centric. Taking care of these next big contests at home will be critical as they try to keep pace in the Pac-12 race.
All you really need to know about the Huskies is that they have two road wins and this:
When you are at the airport heading back to Seattle with a W and a 4-1 @pac12 record @David_Crisp31 pic.twitter.com/X44pPApSgP
— UW Men’s Basketball (@UW_MBB) January 17, 2016
Is it time to believe? I’m certainly becoming increasingly more optimistic about these Buffs. I love that CU won games in two distinctly different ways. After all, variety is the spice of life. Against Oregon State, the Buffs put together their fourth best conference defensive effort of the past four years (0.761 ppp). Tad likey. Then, on Sunday night, the Buffs managed to go shot-for-shot with the Ducks (an offensively adept team) and still draw the victory. Variety is indeed the spice. Also worth noting, for those of you who like this kinda stuff: Oregon limited Jakob Poeltl (lottery pick) to just 7 points. Josh Scott collected 17 and 11. And was your Pac-12 Player of the Week.
As I noted about USC, beating your rival is always a nice thing. But beating your rival when they’re vaunted and hyped and all that is 2016 Cal basketball? That had to be sweet. And now let’s consider what Stanford is doing in conference. And we don’t even have to be results based, noting their 3-2 record. They’re actually the top foul drawing team in America. Yes, your Stanford Cardinal draw fouls at the highest rate in the nation (as calculated by the FTA/FGA ratio). What does this mean? It means that in a season where the number of fouls/40 has increased, the Cardinal are taking the most possible free throws they can. Of course leave it to the Cardinal, however, to be the 236th best(?) free throw shooting team in the nation (just 67.8% from the stripe).
I think we can learn from this historical nugget of Utah basketball provided by Keith Van Horn:
“Keith, you’re the jumpingest white boy in America. What white person jumps higher than you? Grab a f-ing rebound!” -Rick Majerus
— Keith Van Horn (@Coach_Keith44) January 17, 2016
Jakob Poeltl had just 7 points against Oregon and the Ducks handled the Utes in the Huntsman Center – one of the toughest road games in the conference. WWRS (what would Rick say)?
Defense can’t be an on/off switch. As John Calipari said “beer muscles” aren’t going to be a sustainable model. So letting your cross-town rival run amuck on your home floor is a bad look. But Tony Parker had a big night (27 and 12) when looking at a box score and therefore this is very loosely relevant:
9. Oregon State
This is not a good look:
I’ll actually commend them for jumping out ahead of the Pac-12 and disciplining Reid internally. The conference was not involved in the 4-game suspension. As far as actual basketball goes, I won’t soon begrudge any team getting road-swept; just don’t let your frustrations get the best of you.
This is a young team, a super hyped team, and they’ve now lost three consecutive road games. They’ve also lost – for two consecutive turns – mid-week home games to Arizona State. Think the Bears systematically circle that Arizona Saturday home game? I do. And coming off a season in which the Wildcats outscored the Bears by a net 84 points, I definitely think they’ve circled 1/23/16. Stubhub suggests Saturday’s game is a big one, too. So yeah, I can easily foresee the Bears looking right past their Thursday night game with 1-4 Arizona State.
I’ve spent a lot of time celebrating Josh Hawkinson and deservedly so. He’s great and baby faced which is one of the most lovable combinations this side of a double-double (he gets those, too). But he has a teammate, Ike Iroegbu, who’s quietly putting together a very nice season for Ernie Kent and the Cougars.
12. Arizona State
This is getting to the point of disappointing. I understand that starting the conference slate against Arizona and then off to the LAs was tough and put the Devils in something of a hole. But if they were going to be the team I expected them to be, then beating UW at home needed to happen. They didn’t. And now they’ll head to the Bay (reminder: road games) staring down the barrel of a 1-6 conference start.