Tag Archives: Aaron Bright

Nine Astute Observations from the Pac-12’s First Half

1) Injuries f***ing suck – Jernard Jarreau, Aaron Bright, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Brandon Ashley. If I’m missing others I apologize but when the court is taken devoid these characters it sucks. The Dawgs miss JJ’s size as he projected to help their thin front court that’s become the Perris Blackwell show (I think Rain Man Jr. just got called for a foul). While Aaron Bright is missing out on creating something profoundly special with the same six guys he signed to play college with four years ago. That 2010 six-man class of Dawkins’ has been through quite a bit and it sucks Aaron Bright won’t be a part of their last hoorah. Schools, let alone Colorado, don’t often come across dynamic, 6’5″ point guards capable of taking a game over on either side of the ball. Spencer Dinwiddie was the centerpiece of a tour d’buff, sweeping the nation and conference by storm. And Brandon? Let’s just say I’m going to miss seeing him each night with that team. Injuries f***ing suck. Get well soon, gentlemen.

2) Transfers kinda work – Jermaine Marshall is raining Jahishalls in Tempe. The transfer from Penn State is scoring 15.3ppg and hitting 48% of his threes – 91.2% of which are assisted (presumably by Jahii Carson). Just south, in Tucson, TJ McConnell is being called the most important piece of the #2 team in the country. In ski country, Delon Wright is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best players in the conference. He’s a guard taking 60% of his shots at the rim and making 75% of them. That’s nuts. His line reads like this: 16/7/5. And then there’s Transfer U. Individually, each of Oregon’s transfers (Moser, Young, Calliste, Amardi) are having fine seasons. But as a collective (along with the rest of the Ducks) things have been…better? Since entering the calendar year, Dana’s team is 3-6 and barely looked that good. This past weekend, Dana defended his use of transfers (ironic word choice!). Basketball is indeed a team sport and with such there are strong components of unity and other teamly terms. Oregon has some great talent, but does that make a great team? Nine more games.

3) If you want to play fast you still can go to UCLA – By now we’re all familiar with Andy Enfield’s line from earlier this year lauding his lolly-gagging Trojans to “go to UCLA if you want to play slow.” Well now, halfway through conference play and twenty-plus games into the season, here are the many ways UCLA is outpacing USC:

Tempo 71.9 70.4
Avg Poss Length 15.1 15.8
% Shots in Transition 28.90% 25.40%
Head-to-head 107 73

The Battle of Los Angeles reignites Saturday in the Galen Center. Put your seatbelt on.

4) Parity? Mediocrity? No, it’s gotta be parity – We began the first weeks of Pac-12 play and had four teams ranked in the top-25. Sure, not at once, but between two separate poll releases, each of Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and UCLA were ranked. This is far from the end-all-be-all barometer, but just a few weeks removed, Oregon is in ninth place, UCLA holds a loss to Oregon State, and Colorado is still learning it’s way through the post-Dinwiddie era. Even Arizona just lost Brandon Ashley. Further, the third place Cal Bears hold a win over Arizona (KenPom #1) and a loss to USC (KenPom #130). The results are unexpected and the games great. Amongst conferences, the Pac-12 ranks as having the 4th fewest blowout losses. I think that’s something to cheer?

5) (non) Shooting guards – With all these guards you might suspect they’d be taking a bunch of threes. After all, this is college basketball, it’s a high value shot, and guards love to shoot. Not the case. As a conference, the Pac-12 ranks 32nd of 33 in the percentage of threes they take. Just 29.1% of Pac-12 shots are taken from distance. That’s a conference with guys like CJ Wilcox, Chasson Randle, Roberto Nelson, Jordan Adams, and Jahii Carson. The average percentage of shots from downtown is 32.3%. When Pac teams are shooting from distance, they’re doing a decent job of making them, too. Their collective 35.2% 3FG% ranks 15th amongst conferences. The average 3FG% is 34.3%. It’s something of a most interesting man situation: We don’t often shoot threes, but when we do, we make a slightly above average amount of them. But what I find really odd is that while it would seem there is a concerted effort to not shoot threes, the Pac ranks 26th amongst the 33 conferences in 2pt FG%. WTF, guys? You’re passing on threes to miss twos? There’s no doubt something to be said about defense in here but as far as observations go, this was interesting.

6) But wait…there’s more – Those guards are really good. Thirteen of the top 15 scorers in the conference are guards. Fifteen of the top-25 ORtgs in the Pac-12 are guards. Furthermore, the All-Conference team is likely to not include a few of these guys: Roberto Nelson, TJ McConnell, Nigel Williams-Goss, Chasson Randle, Justin Cobbs, CJ Wilcox, Askia Booker, or Delon Wright. Hell, even Jordan Adams could get squeezed by his own teammate, Kyle Anderson (serious POY candidate).

7) Tweet! Whistle! Tweettweet! – The first thing addressed at Pac-12 media day was college basketball’s new rules. That we’d hear more whistles and see more free throws. It was a concerted effort to make the following chart look the way that it does:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 11.04.41 PM

See that progressive, 18-year downward trend in scoring? The NCAA wanted to do away with it and it appears they have. Here’s how it’s looking in the Pac-12:

  • Efficiency – Up 2.9 points per 100 possessions as teams are getting more points per possessions due to more FTs and more possessions (I’ll prove that later)
  • Tempo – Up 2.1% or 1.4 possessions per game as possession length is shortening on the whole and thus leading to more frequent possessions (trust me on that stat, I just don’t have it for the whole conference)
  • TO% – Down 3.7% as more turnovers are turning into, say, fouls? Which leads us to…
  • ST% – Down 5.3% because, same as above, that bit of extra contact isn’t two the other way as often as it’s two for free
  • FTrate – Up 18.6% to 32.5%. This is arguably the most obvious factor as everything listed above is pointing towards this very increase
  • FT% –  Up 2.2% which I just think is kind of funny considering there are so many more free throws being taken and everyone is now shooting them better. Well done kids.

8) Defense Travels – This title is a little misleading because the Pac-12 is one of the worst road conferences out there. Optimistically said, it appears Pac-12 teams enjoy the greatest home court advantage because they’re winning 68.5% of those games. Now defense leads this observation point because if we look down two lists – the conference rankings by record and by defensive efficiency – we find:

By Record By Defensive Efficiency
Arizona Arizona
Stanford Utah
Colorado Stan
Oregon State Colorado
Washington Oregon
Oregon Washington
Utah Oregon State

On this list, only Oregon State and Utah differ by one ranking or less. My takeaway? Defense is pretty telling. And here’s what to make of Oregon State being in three spots ahead of their defensive efficiency and Utah five spots below. OSU: has played just four road games and one of those included Washington State. They’ve essentially pulled a “Ducks” and have managed to ride first half’s most efficient offense (108.7) to their 5-4 mark. Utah: now ranks as the 350th luckiest team in the nation. That’s the 2nd most unlucky squad and basically means they exceed expectations but not enough to get a win. I keep citing this for the Utes and what it’s ultimately going to explain is a TOP-4 FINISH IN-CONFERENCE NEXT SEASON. Boom you heard it hear first. Shall I say it again? Utah will finish amongst the top-4 teams in the 2014-15 Pac-12 and return to the NCAA tournament. But for now they’re in tenth place.

9) Nine – That’s how many games to this…and embedding this video marks the triumphant return of Husky Cheerleader Hair Toss (absolutely no pun) to the blog. Welcome back!


Gross Conclusions and 1.26 Points Per Cougar Possession

And how much fun is this? We’re but a few days deep and now hours into a tip off marathon where I was watching hoops deep into the night and now once again peripherally at Tucson International. We have just begun and I’m making irrational snap judgments like Carrie Mathison (i.e. Gabe York:Russ Smith::Russ Smith:Gabe York; POY trophy as the Ty Wallace Cup; Joseph Young receiving an additional year’s eligibility; lodging in Arlington; instituting a coach swap where Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson just switch teams – like Dawk moves to Corvallis for the year and Rob to Palo Alto just to see why the hell not; replacing WSU with Coppin State). In reality, we know very little about the teams we’ve seen play but our expectations are being teased, not tempered.

To the point at which I’d like to elaborate on the Stanford Cardinal.

Against much of my better judgment (what’s that?) I’ve ignored those trying to temper my expectations of Dawkins’ squad. I’ve thought so highly of Dwight Powell and Chasson Randle for so long now that I foresaw no way in which a team led by those two could sustain back-to-back disappointing seasons. Their talents, after all, were supplemented by Josh Huestis, Aaron Bright, and a deep cast of formidable role players. They returned oodles of experience (80% of their minutes played) and isn’t experience one thing you can’t teach? The crux of the matter, however, might not be about what you can’t teach so much as whether you can teach at all.

This comes to the forefront as Stanford – a perennial top-100 defensive unit under Dawkins – yielded 112 points at home to the WCC’s Brigham Young Cougars. That’s 1.26 points per possession. Matt Carlino just scored agai — Tyler Haws, too. Oh sure the Cards dropped 100+ themselves but who damn cares? This is a major violation of early optimism. We were promised a “different way of thinking” by Coach Dawkins and crew. To which I ask: What are you guys thinking?

Watching the latter parts of that BYU thing, Seth Greenberg yelled on and on about how Stanford had many nice pieces – the same toys I’ve mentioned above. He’d then, inevitably, arrive at his caveat (of which I paraphrase), “But Stanford has really got to find its identity. What kind of team are they going to be?” Indeed what the hell type of team are they going to be because they could be so good. Or can they?

This was one man’s proposal to which I can’t completely disagree. A 19-15 (9-9) season is being fixed by thinking differently?

It might be time for me to start thinking differently about Stanford.

Getting to know Stanford: Same but different?

Obviously in the words below I’ll dive into these Cardinal but I’d like to begin with Maples Pavilion. I grew up watching the backboards sway and the floors bounce. We’d turn down the TV volume as Arthur Lee’s Cardinal became Jason Terry’s daddy. We’ve seen Tiger act-a-fan court side (hated it but appreciated it). It’s an intimate venue and an easy place to catch a game. It should be every bit of the 3.5 point home court advantage and then some. Currently, however, it is not. The team hasn’t won at Monty levels in awhile and hasn’t been subsequently supported. It’s a shame because – living in the Bay Area – I want to see some rowdy. Do I really have to head to USF for Gonzaga’s visit?

Why I love them: Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis, Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic, John Gage, and Aaron Bright. That was Johnny Dawkins’ 2010 recruiting class and every single one of them is on this team. “There’s unfinished business,” Dwight Powell says. You’re darn right there is and that’s coming out of a senior who just may be feeling the urgency of his imminent graduation. But boy do I love seniors and boy do I love seniors that are supported by a junior, Chasson Randle. This team has talent at every position and has the quintessential PG to run a Stanford basketball team. Then there’s the whole do-it-for-Andy storyline where these guys have a teammate, Andy Brown, who will be sorely missed from this team. This off-season he suffered his fourth ACL tear, ending his Cardinal career. He’s no longer on the team but promises to be he’ll continue to be a part of the team. Powerful stuff.

Why I hate them: They ain’t done shit! As stated, this is one helluva crew and I love their makeup and the things they appear to be capable of. But that aforementioned senior class is just 26-28 in Pac-12 play with two NIT appearances (I will begrudge them a 2012 NIT championship  but will also note they closed their season 5-8 to “earn” that un-invitational). College basketball is a dance recital and the Cards haven’t been dancing. Not since 2008 when there were two guys who looked alike who you might’ve heard of (Hi, Brook! Hi, Robin!). Maybe that’s why they signed Marcus and Malcolm Allen? No, shared DNA ain’t fixing this. And I’m not entirely sure I’m buying what Johnny Dawkins and Powell were telling us about what’s different for this team, “We’re thinking differently.” What does that even mean? The team did go through NAVY Seal training (see below) and have tested and pushed themselves in ways they supposedly have not before. I applaud that. I understand and appreciate culture shifts. I actually talked to a close friend who is a Red Sox fan about John Farrell’s work in Boston. He’s taken a dumpster fire and last place team with seven free agents to the World Series and baseball’s best record. Shifts are possible. But that also included a leadership change and that’s a path I never like to head down. I’m selling the “change of thinking” thing and buying – speculatively – the urgency of seniority.

Stat you need to know:


That is the usage percentage returning to Maples this season. Compare that to the next most in Pac-12: Colorado’s 69%. Frankly, I’ve already gone in on this whole what-will-they-do-with-all-that-returning-skill thing so I’ll just say remind you they’re returning a 9-9 team.

In their words: My man, @kevo408, calls D-League hoops for the Santa Cruz Warriors, is all over the Pac-12 Post, and attended this here Stanford spot. Thanks, Danna Man.

Marcus is the scorer and Malcolm the passer from what I recall. Marcus is certainly more highly touted but I’m not sure they’ll be the major factors. It’s really a do-or-die year for the Card. They’re going to be tested early with Bucknell, BYU, Northwestern, a trip to Denver and UCONN. They’ll take on Beilein’s Wolverines in Brooklyn and could draw Pitt there as well in the Legends Classic. They haven’t proven yet they can close a team out. I can’t count the number of ways these guys lost games last year: Powell missing a DUNK down two at USC; Powell not knowing the clock and making the game tying layup after the buzzer; Randle fouling beyond mid-court with less than a second left in a tie ball game. Do they haveit? I don’t know. But I want to see them in the Dance.


“”I just want to thank all of my teammates.”
– Andy Brown

Outlook: I want desperately to say I like this team’s prospects but they return that 9-9 team that underwhelmed me season long (except when I saw them demolish Oregon). Have I mentioned that? Everyone else across the conference is rolling out rosters that  make the Cardinal an afterthought. I keep thinking about them and I can’t imagine three guys named Allen (Marcus, Malcolm, and Rosco) making a tournament changing impact. Which means that if we’re going to believe in these Cardinal, well we have to believe something different; the same approach Dawkins and team are taking. I’m all for mental fortitude I just don’t know if you can force it. I’ve seen my fair share of players asked to be leaders and get handed the How to Lead for Dummies book. That usually turns into a disingenuous, untrusted teammate. These aren’t bad guys. Just guys who are asked to be something they’re not (perhaps reference: Lyons, Mark). But I’ll tell you what, if any school was going to be clever enough to figure this stuff out…

A video:

Week 6 Pac-12 Hoops Preview

Am I alone in feeling like that first half just blew past? Like I don’t really feel as if Selection Sunday is just thirty-nine days away or that the Pac-12 Tournament is just thirty-five days away. However, judging by my return airfare purchased yesterday, the Pac-12 Tournament is right around the goddamn corner.

What definitely is right around the corner – just one week away – is my trip to Colorado’s Blackout of the Arizona game on Valentine’s Day. Damn I’m going to look good in red.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves because this is a very interesting weekend. I think Stanford has a chance to play off of some of their momentum garnered last week and Oregon-Colorado could be one of the most physical games of the year. The Wednesday/Thursday slate of games is as good as it’s been all season. And things are just getting started.

Because this is the point where you can see the horses coming around the distant but final turn. It’s the approach to the home-stretch where we begin to see some daylight between contestants as fatigue and attrition kick-in. Which horse can handle a bump in the track? Who’s capable of digging a little deeper and finding another level? Who will the strongest horse be?

Let the second half begin!

Also, if you’re interested, here are some of my other hoops thoughts posted today:

Game of the Week: This is pending Wed/Thursday’s results – particularly the outcome of the ASU game – but I’m really interested to see Stanford’s visit to Tempe. Stanford is the more talented group but ASU has been the better team to date. I could see an assortment of things transpiring but I ultimately think these two teams match up very interestingly. Bachynski offers an obvious mismatch for any team while Powell does the same at just a different position providing a very game-turning battle. Josh Huestis and Carrick Felix somewhat cancel one another out and so I think this one could really boil down to which of the guards play best. Randle and Bright versus Carson and Gordon. So it matches up interestingly and as of publishing, ASU was tied for third in the conference at 6-3 while the Cardinal sat at 5-4, tied for fifth. Even if Stanford drops to 5-5, I still find this a spicy one for tournament – of the Pac-12 variety – seeding. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the first reference to any place but first on PacHoops this season. Leave it to ASU.

Game to Avoid: I really, really like what Larry K is doing at Utah. I told y’all about it earlier this week. And I really want to like Craig Robinson and the teams he’s compiled in Corvallis. The scoring potential of his group – between Starks, Moreland, Collier, and Nelson – is terrific. The defense has just never caught up. Meanwhile, Larry K just doesn’t have a good roster and you’ve got a lot of important things to be doing on your Wednesday night. 2-7 versus 2-7 just isn’t must watch anything. Particularly in poker.

Something to Prove: Every time I look at this section – or others like it such as “The Biggest Loser” in our reviews – Colorado comes to mind. And this time came as no difference. Is there anything left for them to prove? Alas, that shining, shimmering, beautiful RPI ranking of 24 continues to keep me believing. They pop up in every bracketology because they have proven to us that they are a good team. But time is starting to run out and they’re going to have to start resting on the laurels of some big wins of their own and not on computer calculations. That said, why not start this Thursday at Oregon? This should be one damn good ball game as it should feature two teams that are wildly hungry for a win after disappointing weekends in Salt Lake and the Bay.

Something to Lose: The Stanford Cardinal really began to conjure up some good mojo this past weekend, particularly after utterly destroying Oregon. So it would appear they grabbed onto momentum and could ride it into the second half of conference play and maybe right on into the Dance. Of course they managed to turn things around – or at least we optimistically think so – just as they head to Arizona for the conference’s most difficult road trip. The Arizona schools have the opportunity to completely deflate the sails on this Stanford season. Getting swept would drop them to 5-6 with a trip to Oregon and a hosting of UCLA and Colorado still remaining.

The YouTuber: I think I’m late to the Kid President train but I too hope you do awesome:

A Trip To Palo Alto: Ducks and Beers Crushed

I don’t navigate Palo Alto too well so we were a few minutes late to meeting my pals at The Old Pro. But once we arrived, we crushed a couple pitchers, a sampler platter, and some chicken nachos that tasted a lot more like shredded pork and headed out.

En route to Maples we saw no scalpers.

Our Box Office purchase was little more than entry into the stadium as we wound up sitting darn well wherever we please which reads a lot more assertive than our bleachers-behind-the-shot-clock choice would suggest.


We caught the middle of the Cardinal introductions and were acutely aware of the high school vibe Maples seems to propagate. This isn’t a bad thing. By many accounts Cameron Indoor successfully accomplishes the same, there’s nothing wrong with intimacy. It just makes it somewhat easier to overlook that one of the teams on the floor is the tenth rated team in the nation. Because the crowd certainly did not indicate such.

They more embodied the home team – understandably – as a group with great potential (I’m always curious the earning potential of the Stanford student section) not yet achieved. Nonetheless, the stage was set for a big night as Musburger and Walton had the nationally televised call.

Is it just me or is that a remarkably power tandem for a Wednesday night 11pm EST ESPNU tip?

Alas, the ball was tipped and before possession was even acquired, Oregon had a turnover. I suppose that was going to be the case in this Dominic Artis-less offense but don’t let that be the rationale for the transpiring 40-minutes. What Stanford did was impose their defensive will and contest every shot, force uncomfortable runners, and for Oregon so far out of its comfort zone that they stood little to no chance.

It was a defensive masterpiece that happened to coincide with quite the shooting night. The Cardinal shot a cool 52% from the field and 57% from deep, which is to say they got theirs inside and out. Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis asserted themselves basically everywhere while Aaron Bright was unquestionably in control of the game at all times.

And here was my favorite sequence. With 15:16 remaining in the game and some semblance of an Oregon chance still lingering, the following occurred:

Huestis block, Randle three, Emory foul, Bright three, Austin offensive foul, Oregon Time out.

Time elapsed? Twenty seconds to jump that lead to a devastating 22-points. And had Andy Brown’s three fallen coming out of that Oregon timeout it literally would have been my all-time favorite back breaking sequence.

Oregon played poorly, they did, but Wednesday was Stanford’s night. Now I will be curious to observe  exceptions and rules. I don’t think 35% shooting and 20 turnovers is the rule for Oregon. The same applies for Stanford.

But this could be the Cardinal’s tipping point; the moment they remember they are a deep, tough, and talented team.

For Oregon, I see this game as a heat check. They’ve played some terrific basketball but also an unsustainable model. They’d been squeaking past opponents, meddling about the middle of the conference in scoring margin. So like a said, a heat check, perhaps an opportunity to straighten their collar and tighten their tie because the Ducks still have a stranglehold on this conference.

As for me? It was so great to get into that live atmosphere again. It goes without saying but being there is a completely different experience than the television. You’re reminded of the size of these players and the quickness it requires to go three-point line to rim; the explosiveness of a flatfooted dunk; how physical an off-ball screen is.

I love getting to tell these stories because there’s so much going on in that 94×50 foot rectangle of hardwood that I just can’t get enough.

Hooray Sports!

Where Did the Stanford Cardinal Go?

Is it just me or did the Stanford Cardinal disappear? Since they “disappointed” at the Battle for Atlantis they’ve ho-hummed to victories over [insert major west coast market here] Universities (that’s a Denver and Seattle reference). There’s a huge gap in their schedule – off from 12/2 to 12/15 – contributing to their fall from headlines but also perhaps adding to the idea that they could be mediocre.

Let’s talk about why they’re not mediocre for a second. They settle in at 40th in KenPom’s rankings with their tight 20th rated defense and have a few individuals putting up some gaudy numbers in Dwight Powell, Chasson Randle, and Josh Huestis. The report on this team was they needed those pieces to do precisely that. So why, amongst the returning drone of the Pac-12’s mediocrity, is Stanford being dismissed?

Arguably it’s a result of that very perception of mass mediocrity across these Pacific-12 schools; sort of an all-for-one quality to that thought. When you start a season 6-3, regardless of opposition, you expose yourself to that very discussion. And when you lose at home to Belmont, you manifest that very claim, and fall beneath the radar.

NEW QUESTION: Is Stanford right where they want to be?

They’d prefer to have beat Mizzou and Minnesota in a gauntlet of a Battle for Atlantis but we can certainly check off the “Battle Tested” box on their tournament resume (though I hate the close-loss-to-a-good-opponent argument). They would also have preferred to play those games with Aaron Bright. He’s the guy who can make this team tick. The Cardinal are 2-2 in his absence and during last season’s NIT run, Bright was the team’s leading scorer and second assist-man. I’ve likened him to the quintessential playmaker of Cardinal past (Lee, Hernandez, Knight) and that’s a big part of Stanford dropping close games to talented opponents. Of course I can’t say whether or not Chasson Randle indeed fouls Minnesota’s Andre Hollins with 0:00.4 remaining in a tie ball game if Bright’s playing. That was just an unfortunate play.

(Side Note: disturbing trend that we’ve now seen this happen multiple times this season: Fullerton twice did it at UW and Normam Powell of UCLA against Cal Poly – you forgot UCLA lost to Cal Poly didn’t you?)

So the good news is they get Aaron Bright back. He returned on 12/2 against Denver U; just trying to get a feel again, playing 15 minutes to the tune of 3 points and 3 turnovers. Frankly, to date, Bright hasn’t played well. He’s putting up career highs in TO% and DR% and lows in ORtg and eFG%. Bright could play brighter and I believe this is a good sign for the Cardinal. Success while an integral piece struggles is a key indicator for improved production.

Conversely, Dwight Powell has played great. But it’s not being talked about. Powell ranks in the top-15 in the conference in PPG, RPG, FG%, eFG%, FTrate, and DR%. He’s making things happen. Prior to season’s tip, much was made of this team’s pieces and who needed to step up. They’ve unfortunately lost Anthony Brown for the season but Powell is filling his role and they’ve found a dynamic stopper in Brown’s stead. Josh Huestis is playing the role of bad man for the Cardinal, swatting shots and gobbling rebounds. As a group, this team seems to excel at such. And it ultimately should come as no surprise that a Johnny Dawkins team can defend. Scoring will and has been an issue for his teams and that’s perhaps where Bright’s absence and struggles have been most heavily felt.

But back to the new question. Have I really outlined a dreary Cardinal report here? Is this a team that should go unmentioned when we discuss whether or not the Pac-12 can compete for more than two bids? Do the Cardinal like their spot? My impression is that Stanford will gladly fly where curious eyes won’t gander; where they can tighten their D and hone their O and take an unsuspecting Pac-12 by storm come January.

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Maples Pavilion

The Stanford Cardinal are coming off an NIT championship which, as you’ll learn below, is a good thing heading into 2012-13. Read on…

    1. Points – There are two very good point guards manning the backcourt for Johnny Dawkins. The tandem of Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle lit it up in the NIT, putting up a combined 31ppg in that run. I don’t expect them to slow. At all.
    2. Confidence – Dwight Powell has got it. He’s had talent but now he’s got the all-empowering confidence according to Bright. To be talented and know it can often lead to big seasons. Stay tuned.
    3. Greatness – They’re pissed off for it.
    4. Knitting – Last year they won the NIT! In my unscientific study of NIT success and how it translates into future success (or otherwise) I found that, over the past five seasons, 70% of NIT champions made it to the NCAA tournament the following season. Auspicious start to 2012-13!
    5. Quintessential – Brevin Knight, Chris Hernandez, Arthur Lee, Mitch Johnson. No, I’m not listing pests – well, I am but they’re the good kind. Stanford has had no shortage of very solid point play over the years and this year is no difference. Aaron Bright should handle the bulk of the true point duties and he’ll be aided by POY candidate, Chasson Randle. That what we call a backcourt.
    6. Smiles – Johnny Dawkins doesn’t do a lot of it and so I imagine – beyond lots of basketball IQ – they brough this guy on staff:
    7. Hype – There’s some intrigue and hype around this team and hopefully that translates into two things, 1) wins, 2) butts in Maples. That place was rocking when those Monty teams were great. Its intimate atmosphere is conducive to only one audience and that’s a raucous one. Otherwise Maples just looks like a sorry high school gym and no one likes that. Endowment or otherwise.

Your Not-So-Pac-12-Media Preseason Awards

Last week the Pac-12 announced the media’s preseason predictions. They’ve picked Arizona to win it although they awarded more first place votes to UCLA – indicative of the unstable state that program appears to be in. Alas, we can’t have this be our only predictive conversation.

Following last season, we awarded the Not So Coaches Pac-12 Awards. The Dorothy, The Steinbrenner, The Grecian, and others were all awarded to the most deserving of candidates. Now, on the cusp of a highly anticipated 2012-13 Pac-12 basketball season, I present, the Not So Pac-12 Media Preseason Awards:

The Casey Jacobsen: Awarded to the player most likely to frost his tips

  • Pick: Ken Bone, WSU
  • Look, sometimes its tough to look cool when all you do is stand on a sideline and shout. And, with so many players getting busted for possession, Ken Bone needs to find a way to better relate to his team. Maybe a stop by the stylist is his best option.
  • Others considered: Rosco Allen (Stanford), Roster (ASU),

The Jorge Guitierrez: Awarded to the player most likely to piss off opposing players and fans

  • Pick: Mark Lyons, Arizona
  • Not only is he a seemingly unprecedented transfer with title implications, but by all accounts he’s got a mouth, is havoc on the defensive end, and became renowned for his participation in the Xavier-Cincinnati melee. He’s going to beat you – or at least try real hard to – and then let you know about it.
  • Others considered: Aaron Bright (Stanford), Jio Fontan (USC), Nick Johnson (Arizona), EJ Singler (Oregon)

The Brock Motum: Awarded to the best player you’ve never heard of

  • Pick: Devon Collier, Oregon State
  • It was hard not to pick Brock himself as the dude barely gets any love already despite projecting to have another stellar season lost in Pullman. But Collier has only gotten better year-over-year and projects to flourish with the departure of Jared Cunningham and the pending emergence of Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks.
  • Others considered: Dewayne Dedmon (USC), Scott Suggs (UW), Davonte Lacy (WSU)

The Josiah Turner/Jabari Brown: Awarded to the player most likely to miss expectations by a year and a mile

  • Pick: Shabazz Muhammad
  • At this point, this isn’t even a preseason pick, we’re just giving it to him. Odds are he won’t play a game in new, old, or otherwise Pauley; but if he does I’ll swallow the crow whole. His commitment to UCLA had Howland and crew a pre-pre-season top-10 team. Now they’re not.
  • Others considered: Dominic Artis (Oregon), Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona), JT Terrell (USC)

Player I Want to Party With: (no criteria provided)

  • Pick: Brock Motum (WSU)
  • If you’ve never traveled abroad and stayed at a hostel with an Australian, I suggest you do it.
  • Others considered:

The RomCom: Awarded to the player that most resembles a cast member of Love Actually

  • Pick: Angus Brandt







  • Others considered: Unanimous decision

The 2007 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to lose you money

  • Pick: USC Trojans
  • Here is the team that’s super interesting and I’ve called the hipster pick but they were 1-17 last year! Sure they’re grossly revamped but we know absolutely nothing about them but everyone keeps picking them. What if they’re wrong and the juice is flowing the wrong way?
  • Others considered: Arizona Wildcats, UCLA Bruins

The 2001 Patriots: Awarded to the team most likely to make you money

  • Pick: Washington Huskies
  • Not many people are high on the Huskies but they have heavy experience at three critical positions at the point, wing, and center and a wild card in RS senior Scott Suggs. Maybe, just maybe, the Huskies can eek out a competitive season and spoil the preseason predictions.
  • Others considered: Stanford Cardinal, USC Trojans

The Golden Mane: Awarded to the most luscious locks in the conference

  • Pick: EJ Singler
  • He cut them. They’re gone and he looks like an everyman but we’re awarding him this for potential. What if he grows it out over the season? I want it to happen. Make it so.
  • Others considered: Angelo Chol (Arizona), John Gage (Stanford), Sabatino Chen (Colorado),

Best Iranian: Awarded to the best Iranian born player in the conference

  • Pick: Arsalan Kazemi
  • Uh…pretty sure he’s the only one to play D-1 ball. Ever.
  • Others considered: Unanimous decision

Dendrophilia-lite: Stanford to the Final Four

Shhh. No body mention it but the Pac-12 just got two teams in the Final Four.

Before you get too far, allow me this: SEMANTICS! The Final Four is the Final Four is the Final Four and the Pac will have represented 33% of the available FF spots in post-season play. Hell, both Washington schools are in a Final Four – WSU in the championships!

And now let me back down to earth.

Washington and Stanford made the NIT Final Four while Washington State defeated Oregon State in the CBI Final Four. But I want to focus on Stanford, namely because we know all about UW and I know literally nothing about the CBI.

Stanford put Nevada in their place as a mid-major and has surprisingly rolled their way into NYC. Once in the Big Apple they’ll have another opportunity to put the little guy in his place against UMass. Whodathunkit?

After all, this is the group that jumped out to a 12-2 record and promptly fell on their face during conference play; finishing the season a yawnable 8-8 and raising questions about what it means to be a Johnny Dawkins squad. They were the “biggest loser” in two of the final three Weekend Reviews, including once for an astronomical loss at Utah. But, as we believe here at pachoops, it doesn’t matter how you start or middle, it matters how you finish.

And the Cardinal, apparently, are not ready to return to class contrary to popular Stanford stereotyping.

With Aaron Bright playing like a seasoned veteran (19ppg, 4apg in the NIT); Chasson Randle filling the cup like a Lopez twin (19ppg last eight games); Josh Owens refusing to finish his five-year career quietly (12 & 9 in the NIT); and the rest of the Cardinal faithful filling roles like Oompa Loompas, it’s no wonder Stanford finds itself playing in Madison Square Garden (even the stats agree).

The biggest question around this team has long been where would the offense come from and, of late, they’ve managed. Which is about all you need to do when it comes to win-or-go-home season.

Now in the coming days I plan to present some NIT research proving my hypothesis that NIT finalists carry their successes into the following season (NOTE: this is still a hypothesis for which I plan to exact the scientific method). Examining this Stanford team and assuming my hypothesis, they’re poised to do exactly that. Aaron Bright is a solid play making guard, they have a bevvy of big, athletic, active bodies, and, mark my words: Chasson Randle is a stud.

I’m not going out on any limb here telling you he’s good. It’s been a fact for awhile. But if you’ve ever seen the kid play, you understand he could be special. I’d say he reminds me of Allen Crabbe – big freshman year with high sophomore expectations – but Randle creates far better than Crabbe. He’s [insert scout adjectives here] and then some. I’ll stop before hyperbole sets in.

So say what you will about the Pac, but there’s still a heartbeat. An opportunity to create a shining moment, hoist a trophy on the heralded hardwood of basketball’s Mecca, Madison Square Garden.

The Best College Basketball Player

He’s probably a head short or a step slow. Most likely he plays well below the rim and they use words like heady, gutsy, and probably erratic, too when describing his game. Toss inconsistent into the adjective heap while you’re at it. Mind you, he’s not bad.

He runs the show, you see. He’s that senior, the one who – when he’s not on your team and sometimes even when he is – seems to be playing his sixth year of eligibility. You hate him for that. You love him for that.

That’s the best player in college basketball.

Not the two-guard or the dominant center, the one-and-done or the guy waving the towel. My favorite is that senior guard, the one who’s got the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse.

And you know the shot.

The outlet pass out of a defensive rebound finds him curling right around the free throw line. He’s dribbling up the floor and has space. The home court is loud, urging his team once down eleven who’s cut it to five with four to play. And now that guard, the one who for three-and-a-half years you’ve seen high and low, whom you’ve loved and hated, is streaking up the court.

On the night he’s a few for a lot. Fading more than striking, but the lead is back in sight.

He crosses mid court, the opposition scrambling to their defensive assignments. For the briefest of moments, the soft handed big man is open on the far block. A good – not even great – pass would find him available for an easy pair, further cutting the lead. But that’s not his play because the ball is in his hands, the crowd swelling, the defense on its heels.

And that’s when it happens.

Full speed, under some semblance of control that can’t be fully comprehend until you’ve attempted it on your own time, he pulls up, elevating for the jump shot that you discourage with every conservative bone in your fan body. You hate him for it. You love him for it.

The odds say the shot isn’t going to fall. There’s absolutely nothing right about it. But he took the shot and it gets through the rim faster than any coach could find a sub. You’re grabbing a stranger and screaming before you understand what just happened. The suited man on the opposing bench is calling timeout, the roof is now off the building and that guy, the one with the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse, hit that shot.

For what’s better than the ill-advised momentum changer?

When he was on my team, he went by Jason Gardner, Steve Kerr, Nic Wise, Salim, Jason Terry, and Reggie Geary. And you hated him. When I hated him his name was Richard Midgley, Ryan Appleby, Stanford guards of the 90’s and early 00’s, Derek Glasser, Aaron Brooks, Luke Ridnour, Darren Collison, Cameron Dollar, Tyus Edney, and I’m no doubt missing others.

Yeah you cringed and smiled a little reading that list. That’s ok, I hurt compiling it. But these guys are a staple of college basketball, a reason this game is great. And don’t be confused. This is no tribute to the little guy. This is a commentary on the back breaker that no coach would coach and the shot we all secretly love. The reality television of jumpers.

So who’s that guy this year?

To date, I’ve seen Zeek Jones carry the Bruin burden and done so with onions. Garret Sim broke Arizona’s back out of the corner in Tucson as part of a senior campaign that has him leading the conference in eFG%. Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson have fired daggers in Boulder, including a Duck hunter moment against Oregon. Jorge has been the quintessential ill-advised firer carrying Monty’s crew into first while Kyle Fogg and Devoe Joseph are willing their teams to wins down the stretch. No name on this list will wow you or be called out by David Stern. But I guarantee you’ll be screaming one of these names at the small, outdated and cornered television in your go-to bar that writes you off as loyal so long as you run up an appropriate tab.

Of note, Aaron Bright is well on his way to this list although just a sophomore.

And so here we are at the stretch run. Just six games remaining in an unpredictable Pac-12 season and a point at which legacies will be cemented, hearts broken, and a pack of teams will vie for a shot to dance – one shining moment if you will.

Who’s going to be the guy?