Last night I saw Silver Linings Playbook. Last month I saw The Hunger Games. Today I am in love with Jennifer Lawrence. This is far less surprising than, say, an undefeated on the road Washington Huskies team. She’s gorgeous and these are great and entertaining films (respectively speaking). Conversely, the Dawgs have been far from gorgeous or entertaining at times. Their Albany gaffe and the as-reported-to-me lackluster home crowds would be examples of such. But they’re winning and that’s PacHoops’ favorite statistic. And they serve as a further lead here as Silver Linings is a movie that dives deep into the pains of mental illness. Bradley Cooper plays the role of a bipolar man struggling to keep it together. His life seemingly in shambles, he spends his days plotting to get back together with his wife; an end result he believes will fix everything. Enter the stunning a equally dysfunctional Jennifer Lawrence. Together, whether they see it as such or not, they seek some semblance of solace amongst their crumbling lives. Arguably some consistency and familiarity. Perhaps not unlike a Tuesday-Saturday schedule and the familiar foes of the Pac-12. To date, the analogy plays.
And I’ll leave this teaser of a lead with this: In the Hunger Games – where people run amuck in the forest seeking to kill one another until there is one surviving – there are 12 participants. Boom.
**Since publication, Kevin O’Neill was fired at USC. I’ll be weighing in shortly because this is a big deal.
Leader in the Clubhouse: Well the Oregon Ducks have sure opened up conference play with a bang. On Thursday they jumped on the Beat-the-Unbeatens bandwagon started by Boise State in Wyoming and were soon joined by the NC State Wolves and OSU Buckeyes. Then beat ASU. I like what Oregon’s done and the above speaks to my feelings about Washington. But it’s hard to keep the undefeated UCLA Bruins out of my top spot. They may be methodical and jump shot dependent but they’ve taken care of the schedule impressively. Whatever the back story, they will always be UCLA and are going to get everyone’s biggest swing. They’ve handled four such blows. Additionally, can we just go ahead and say that Jordan Adams is really good? He and teammate Shabazz Muhammad have such tremendous command of their mid-range game which is wildly impressive for two freshmen. It will be curious to see the sustainability of this Bruin streak as their depth and interior play remain question marks. They’ll likely (if it hasn’t been announced already) jump into the top-25 along with Oregon this week and that will be a lovely publicity spike for this little conference that could. Of course then those two tip off next week possibly knocking one or the other back out of the rankings. Can’t win ’em all (ask Sean Miller, too soon?).
GotW: For tip-to-buzzer entertainment value, the GotW will be handed to Washington over Stanford on Saturday night. This tilt featured fifteen lead changes and nine ties and CJ Wilcox going off. While individual efforts are rarely the recipe for victory, goodness do I love those. The junior, who is prone to big shooting nights, had himself quite a trip to the Bay in leading the Dawgs to a sweep. Both Oregon games were good as was UCLA at Colorado. To be honest, there was little flashy to the weekend. Certainly nothing that compares to the second half of the Seahawks-Falcons game.
The Big Loser: I remember last year having to write about the Stanford Cardinal a lot more often than I would have liked in this segment. They were a really odd team one season ago – entering conference play with a tidy 10-2 record and beginning to look the part of a contender. Then they jumped out to a 5-1 conference start and things were looking really nice. They would finish the season 10-8 in conference. They fell apart before rediscovering themselves in the NIT and giving us all hope of a terrific, wire-to-wire, 2012-13. So what’s to be learned of this? Perhaps this is just a really enigmatic group – bipolar, if you will. Unable to capture an identity and run with it. Whatever you want to make of it, and expectations aside, the Cardinal are now 1-3 in conference play with a home loss on their schedule.
What We Learned: ASU is for real. This is not a team to sleep on and from what I’ve seen of them to date versus a season ago is they just play smarter (insert shocked face here). They’re playing improved defense which will generally help anyone’s case to be a better or contending team. This weekend they demonstrated that they are for real, that their 14-3 start is not necessarily a fluke. They handled Oregon State for forty minutes and gave the Ducks all they could handle. Back to the smart fact: the Devils have cut their turnover rate by 8%. That’s to say they keep the basketball 8% more often which is HUGE for an offense the hovers below the D-1 tempo average. Possessions are precious to Herb.
Start of the Week YouTuber: From earlier this week and from a sworn Pac-12 enemy. But my goodness…