Tag Archives: Cal

Rank ’em how you will, it’s Game Time

The college basketball interwebs have been blowing up with stat geek info and opinion polls lately. Amongst it all, and as tons of prognosticators have divulged their thoughts on teams and conferences and players, Ken Pomeroy’s ever-fascinating 2011-12 ratings were released.

Kentucky debuted at number one, closely followed by Ohio State and North Carolina. His mathematically based ratings didn’t deviate greatly from the eye-ball – and oft criticized – rankings of the ESPN/USA Today or the AP. The Pac-12 doesn’t rate so high with KP. Cal and Arizona are the highest rated teams at 36 and 37, respectively. Comparatively, the major polls have Arizona (over) ranked at 16 and Cal (appropriately) at 24. UCLA, who is in both polls as a top-20 team, rates as Pomeroy’s 46th best team which is where I would begin to disagree. But that’s the beauty of it.

In his blog post where Pomeroy explains his math, he writes, “I’d encourage you to Google college basketball ratings or even try the opinion polls for something that is more your style.” He shoes you away if you don’t care which is refreshing in a day and age where sabermetrics attempt to mute any and all arguments (as Jason Whitlock ranted).

Now allow me to be clear, especially after linking a Whitlock tirade: I don’t think Ken Pomeroy is ruining college basketball. I love what his numbers bring. They’re thought provoking, insightful, and add depth to the national conversation. His stance isn’t elitist. He’s a fan.

So on the verge of the season’s first tip-off, with Pomeroy and others projecting the season’s outcome – anointing Kentucky or UNC the national champion without making a single shot – I’m reminded why the games are played.

They’re played for big moments, bitter defeats, and Gus (see what I did there?). For this, this, and this. Not to mention this. They play because the ball may bounce any which way and for that we watch. We need to watch.

Pomeroy and all other season projections are fun and all but god damn the games are great. I could YouTube you to death with moments past – here’s just another – but now we’re on the verge of making a whole new highlight reel of moments.

So we can go ahead and rank the teams however we think, factor, or feel; no matter how you slice it, it’s Game Time.

Big year coming: Allen Crabbe

If Allen Crabbe follows suit with the four previous Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, expect the 6’6” wing to have a monster year. That’s because he’d be playing like Chase Budinger, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas, or Derrick Williams. Yes, that’s four NBA players, two-conference POYs, and two lottery picks. Lofty shoes to fill for the reining conference FOY.

But Crabbe has the skill set to do so.

He opened his collegiate career as most freshmen would on a team that just lost eight players to graduation and transfer. He struggled out of the gate averaging just 9 ppg and taking more than ten attempts just twice before conference play (compared to taking single digit attempts once in conference play). But once leauge play began, Crabbe’s level of play picked up. He asserted himself as the elite shooter that he is and finished the season as the league’s top in conference three point shooter (48%) and sixth leading scorer (16.4 ppg).

No one has ever doubted that Crabbe could shoot. The question is can he take the next step – both literally and figuratively – and be more than a shooter. The knock has been that Crabbe isn’t quite an elite athlete, perhaps can’t turn the corner, slash through the lane.

But Crabbe’s demonstrated improvement, progressing into the conference FOY, bodes well for the wing heading into his sophomore campaign. He has a dynamic tandem in seniors Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez, both of whom should be able to open the floor up – either by slashing or from the post, respectively – for Crabbe to shoot. He has that going for him.

And while he may not be an elite athlete – and this is what I love about Crabbe’s game – he crashes the boards. He’s not the biggest guy on the court, not by any stretch of even a Dr. Seus imagination, but at 6’6” 205 lbs, Crabbe gets after it. He finished his freshman year pulling in 5.3 boards per game, third most for the Bears. And do I see two assists per game? Thirteen, five, and two? Sounds a bit like a complete player to me.

What’s more, players often make their biggest strides between their freshman and sophomore years; having acclimated to the college game, gaining some strength and experience. Here’s some anecdotal evidence using players similar to Crabbe:

Player Freshman Sophomore
Patrick Christopher (Cal) 5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1 assist 15 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2 assists
Trent Lockett (ASU) 6.7, 3, 1 13, 5, 2.5
Brandon Roy (UW) 6, 3, 1 13, 5, 3
Arron Afflalo (UCLA) 10, 3, 2 15, 4, 2

While he certainly has things to improve – strength being one of them –from a skill set stand point, Crabbe can flat out play. Can he play like his FOY predecessors? Time will tell. But don’t be surprised if Crabbe is among the top five scorers in the league this season and an All-Conference performer.