Tag Archives: Devoe Joseph

Multiple Reasons for Optimism in Matt Court

The Oregon Ducks head into Dana Altman Year Three with some optimistic pieces. Perhaps the most intriguing of which is not yet on their team. (See item 5 after reading 1-4 and then read numbers 6 and 7).

  1. Uncle Phil – Duh.
  2. Goldie Locks – Look, he cut them off and I can’t get over that but I’ll have to. I also can’t get over the fact that a lot of this squads success lies squarely on the shoulders of EJ Singler. That’s probably a good thing. He’s a returning All-Conference performer and, traditionally, seniors are awesome.
  3. Woods – No, I’m not talking about the floor which is grossly distracting on a non-HD broadcast (see ya FSN). I want to ask: What if 6’11” Tony Woods figures it out? He’s got oodles of potential, maybe this is the year he breaks out?
  4. Football
  5. Fingers Crossed – Oh man does this squad want Arsalan Kazemi to be cleared by the NCAA. The dude was a 12/10 producer (that’s a double-double if you’re counting at home) and there were talks of a C-USA POY candidacy. He’s also the first Iranian born D-1 hooper. Nice little resume this guy’s built.
  6. Art Is – Yes, art is beautiful and so is Dominic Artis’ game. The freshman point has lead the Ducks in scoring in each of their exhibition games and will be looked upon to fill the voids of Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph (I loved Devoe). His emergence will be critical to Duck success.
  7. Au Revoir – Lotta transfers out of Eugene in Dana’s first two years. Now that’s to be expected – to an extent – with coaching turnover but now’s the time to start getting serious. For sustained success, Oregon is going to have to build around those who stick around and fill in with some talented newcomers (see: Artis, Dominic). Rebuilding year-in-year-out is too difficult at the major level.

Oregon-UW was a Throwback Game as Good as March Gets

That was some March basketball.

And I’m not going to let you call me crazy because Tuesday’s Oregon-Washington game was as good a game as you’re going to see this time of year. Two teams took the court wanting nothing more than to beat their opponent. That’s what college basketball is all about; that’s competition at its finest.

And did you watch?

It was terrific. Terrence Ross played like the league-bound talent he is and Tony Wroten was bigger than the other kids and Abdul Gaddy conducted like the ballyhooed point guard he is. On the flip side of the equation EJ Singler was as well rounded and tough as a Dukie, Olu Ahsalou was unstoppable, and Tony Woods approached flawless.

The unfortunate difference maker? Garret Sim and Devoe Joseph combined for a pedestrian 7-24 shooting night and that kinda breaks my heart.

I’m a sucker for seniors. That guy – I wrote all about it last month – who hits the shot he shouldn’t, makes the plays others couldn’t; and draws the charge others wouldn’t. The kind of plays that Joseph and Sim made all year long for an improved and solid Oregon squad.

On this night they simply didn’t have it while the Huskies did. Such is basketball; such is March; such is life. Washington heads to New York as the Ducks return to Eugene, their season complete after a terrific five month run. Back to the game.

The Huskies were terrific out of the gate, quickly building a lead in transition and off of Duck turnovers; staples of LoRo-ball. But Oregon quacked right back, taking a lead with the score in the teens that they wouldn’t yield until the second half when some combination of defense and a too much individual creating began. But that just may be what you do when Terrence, Tony, and Devoe are on the floor.

It worked for the purple team.

And perhaps my favorite part of this game? The pace. It was some old school Pac-10 action: fast, pressing, offensive, and athletic. Loved it. It’s like the weather. I’d rather it be in the 80s than the 50s. It was simply put: good basketball. Or at least my favorite kind of basketball.

Many have and will rip this league. It wasn’t a great year, a fact we’re all beyond well aware of by now.

But Tuesday night was as good as it gets.

Oregon v. Washington: Apathy, excitement, revenge, and Prom

I wrote an excitable little number about Arizona playing in the NIT and how Wildcat Nation and I needed to get into it. That worked.

Arizona promptly lost as I apathetically got drunk alone. So much for taking my own advice. And what’s more, I’ve found it difficult to follow the National Invitational, gaining a whole new perspective on why it’s considered a damning invite.

But if you manage to filter through all of the (deserved) Kyle O’Quinn parables, glass shoe fittings for teams from Athens to Raleigh, Hummel hyperbole, and musings on the meaningfulness of Kendall Marshall, you’d notice that Oregon and Washington will be squaring off in the NIT.

I knew it was a possibility when I reluctantly first looked at the undersized bracket but now it’s come to fruition and I’m oddly fascinated while simultaneously at a loss for what to make of it.

I figured Washington would be waving the white flag soon after Selection Sunday. Let’s liken it to Prom. You’re going all in, inviting the most popular girl in school who’s already moved past flavored vodka and is on to Manhattans and college dudes (which, as we gain life perspective, allows us to realize that she’s really just moved on to bigger losers) to accompany you as your date. Her response resembles a confidence and charm you’ve only seen portrayed by adults playing teens in movies as she says, “Oh sweetheart! I’d be flattered to go with you but I’m already going with Steel Thompson from [opposing high school].” At which point you’re utterly defeated by the swift rejection; embarrassed at your ill-conceived presumption that she’d say “yes” just because the two of you had talked about an AP test at a party; fearful of your social fall out; but all the while grasping to a sliver of pride for what you in fact just did.

Yeah, that about sums up Washington’s feelers following their Pac-12 championship and subsequent dance snubbing.

And so now – following a pair of anything-but-impressive-but-wins-nonetheless against UT-Arlington and Northwestern – the Huskies are one win away from Madison Square Garden, the NIT’s holy land.

To get to said holy land, Washington will be hosting the Oregon Ducks, who we can also fit into our Prom analogy. They kinda wanted to go but didn’t have the nerve to ask anyone or looks to have a cute girl’s friend tell them to ask her and are ultimately pretty content just getting drunk at the after party and being the most fun person there.

The Ducks have come into this whole NIT thing looking to win; as evidence by their dismantling of LSU (sweet football revenge!) and a high scoring victory over Iowa – a box score that led me to believe maybe the NIT is something of a non-All-Star game in which defense is dismissed?

Alas, we find ourselves with two squads arriving at the same NIT quarters on two very different hikes.

For all of the aforementioned Husky apathy, I could see a fire being lit under a collective ass and them taking the Ducks to the woodshed. In their last meeting, Oregon obliterated and embarrassed the Huskies 82-57 and my non-insider perspective says LoRo and Co weren’t too happy about it. Just a guess. Of course the Ducks can stake claim to that 25-point thrashing and should come in to HecEd as confident as anyone.

So who’s it going to be? The Prom reject or the Prom passer? Dogs? Ducks?

Woof, woof! Quack, quack! Tuesday, 6pm, ESPN.

Week 10 Pac-12 Basketball Review

I wouldn’t want to either.

This has been arguably the worst major conference performance in the history of major conferences and I wouldn’t want to win it either. Cal lost. Washington lost. Arizona lost. Colorado was swept. Bravo Ducks, but too little too late.

If you’ve been following along here all season, you know that I’ve made an effort to defend this conference, the teams that represent it, and the players who play the games. I told you that Cal was tough as nails and that Washington was talent rich and that Arizona would right its ship and that Colorado and Oregon just may be good enough to pull this thing off. I even made the argument that, at a certain point, we could toss out process and worry about final scores alone. Did you win? Yes, that’s good. No, that’ bad.

And so when this weekend came to its sulking close; as every worst case scenario played out (unless you donned green); as my three bid league prediction dissolved like a sand castle into a tsunami and as the national media moved on to discussing the at-large merits of schools that dole out liberal arts degrees, I threw in the towel.

Goodbye 2011-12, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Or better yet, do. Let that door give you a good pop so this 2011-12 campaign stings. So that rock bottom is remembered and makes it that much sweeter when the conversation moves back to tournament seeding and not worst ever commentaries.

A brief tale: years ago, after a high school baseball game my team had lost with a lackluster effort (lollygagging if we want to tap our baseball references), we met as a team in the – deep – right field corner for a tongue lashing. Between cool offs, coach sent us on a lap but it never seemed to cool him down and at a certain point, we had to take our jerseys off because we didn’t deserve to wear them. Then we ran another lap. Then got yelled at a little more. Another lap.

The anecdotal takeaway here? Run another lap Pac-12. Lose your jersey, cause at this point no one is scared of what it says on the chest and you don’t seem to want to do much in them anyways.

Run another lap and take a minute to figure out just what you want to do in Staples because at this point it’s anyone’s to lose.

The bitter weekend:

Leader in the Clubhouse: Defaults to Oregon. I will not elaborate as “leader” infers some sort of commanding characteristic.

Game of the Weekend: Well, Washington scored seven points in the final eleven minutes of a game in which they could have clinched an outright title; Cal lead for all of 98 seconds with the same opportunity as UW; Arizona was beat by the 229th worst team in basketball (KenPom) and yielded 87 points to them; Colorado was swept on the road to finish 3-6 on the road. There was opportunity abound to seize moments – that’s what March is all about – and no one beyond Oregon did such. We were entertained to the point of pain and is that what we want? Kind of. Cause sports tweaks at the emotions like few other things do or can but heading into the greatest athletic tournament in the universe I don’t want to hurt. I want everything to be ok. No good games. None.

The Big Loser: The Pac-12 Conference. See the aforementioned everything.

What We Learned: Sorta covered this in my opening rant because I felt it couldn’t wait. I will say this however. It’s been great Previewing and Reviewing this season here with you. I hope you’ve had as much fun with this season as I have and I thank you – so very sincerely much – for reading, sharing, commenting, discussing, debating, and trying to make sense of of it all. I’m ultimately a silver lining guy so behind all of today’s ranting, I know that there’s still a Pac-12 tournament for us to get rowdy around and an entire three weeks of Madness for us to get behind whether it’s represented by the Pac or not. Good season. *Butt slap* And bear in mind that pachoops ain’t going anywhere. Stick around.

Early week Youtuber: I’m looking at you Cal, Washington, Arizona, and Colorado:


Week 8 Pac-12 Basketball Review

This post can also be read at ryanrecker.com and because you’re a Pac-12 fan and know all about awful announcing, listen to Ryan’s latest podcast with Matt Yoder of awful announcing.com.

Happy President’s Day. Or, as it’s also graciously known, Happy Last-Paid-Holiday-Until-May.

If where you live was anything like San Francisco this weekend, it was hard for you to sit inside and watch hoops. If you did, however, you were treated to quite a grouping of Pac-12 games (more on that later). Let’s first mention what Utah does to this conference right now. Colorado, who sits alone in third place, was been rendered completely irrelevant this weekend because they had to play in SLC. The Buffs are legitimate contenders right now with a chance to knock off Cal at home this week and could find their way into second place if not first heading into the final weekend. First Place. No one has said a peep because they had to play Utah. Sigh.

But despite the atrocity that is the bottom of this conference, I think we’re starting to see that there are a few teams (namely five) I wouldn’t want to play on a neutral court in a big tournament with Clark Kellogg sitting sideline. And because I wouldn’t want to play them, that means someone should have to play them. Choose wisely committee.

The weekend of close games.

Leader in the Clubhouse: Dare we acknowledge some separation here? Cal and Washington sit atop the league holding a 1.5 game lead with just three to play. The remaining schedule favors Washington (vs RPIs 179, 230, 120) as Cal battles the daunting RPI gauntlet of 272, 73, and 105. But let’s get real for a hot second and call a spade a spade. If either of these schools is to win the conference and expect to dance (Cal is in) then they better sweep. No questions. So assuming they both do such, I believe Cal wins with a head-to-head tiebreaker but who’s the better team? Rather, who’s the more frightening? As tough as Cal is and veteran as they may be, there’s no part of me that would want to play Washington. Terrence Ross is as smooth as they get and Tony Wroten can get to the rim easier than three halter tops into XS. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on Jorge as the conference POY but I’m not buying it. I’m giving it to Wroten or DeVoe Joesph before that leader of a Cal point guard. Alas, I think the Pac is in good hands with these two teams comfortably atop the conference and their improved play behooves my three-bid prediction so long as Arizona and/or Oregon closes strong (read: doesn’t lose) and plays well at Staples.

Game of the Weekend: One week removed from a snoozefest of hoops, we were treated to quite the slate of games. Dismissing the two worst games of the weekend as determined by margin of victory – Cal over OSU by 14, WSU over ASU by 22 – in the remaining eight games, the victorious squad won by an average of 5 points. That’s ridiculous when you consider heading into the weekend we were again faced with the opportunity for some insane multi-team tie. While we may have discovered our true leaders, the fact remains that the competitive teams in this league are no easy out and will not roll over for anyone. Hell, even Utah’s stuck around in their last two against Arizona and Utah. My message to the tournament committee is such: if you want to look good, pick that third Pac-12 team. It’s a better choice than Iowa State, Middle Tennessee, or Central Florida and will make for a more entertaining field of 68. All of that tangentially said, the GotW was Thursday’s Oregon-Cal game that came down to the final possessions. It was pretty close to make-or-break for the Ducks but they battled their way through the Bay (split) and certainly made some believers. Not to mention DeVoe Joseph’s stellar game at Cal, dropping 33 in the biggest game of their season. And, not to knock Jorge, but the Bears were carried by Justin Cobbs’ 28 pointer, compared to 2-7 for 7 points, 3 boards, 4 assists for Jorge while not slowing Joseph.

The Big Loser: A part of me wants to call Colorado the big loser this weekend as everyone else got plenty of air time and an opportunity to prove themselves while the Buffs traveled to oblivion. Boyle’s Boys left with an underwhelming win and for such, they are not the biggest loser as they sit alone in third place. The reality is that seven teams’ seasons are over and so the big losers – while they both still have an opportunity to dance – are Arizona and Oregon. Each had a chance to knock off the teams above them in the standings and both failed. Arizona teased themselves for 35 minutes before succumbing to bad shooting and the Ross and Wroten show while the Ducks couldn’t hold on in Haas. 10-5 is strikingly different than 11-4 and fifth place is far from third. Especially when you consider the layout of the Pac-12 tournament and how the top-4 teams get a first round bye. I believe the ‘Cats have a better chance to dance but Oregon is not out of it.  There’s just going to have to be a lot of brooming.

What We Learned: Nothing about the POY race. The list includes Brock Motum, Jorge Gutierrez, Jared Cunningham, DeVoe Joseph, and Tony Wroten. An argument for each can be made. An argument against, as well. Can you give it to a guy on a sub .500 squad? A guy who leads his team in no statistical category? A turnover machine? So here’s what I’m curious about: the rules. It’s an award given out by coaches vote and I want to know what the criteria is for these post-season awards which are ultimately meaningless but a glorious talking point. If I were a Cal homer, I’d be all over the Jorge for POY campaign. He’s a four-year grinder and the quintessential player you want on your team because everyone else hates him. He’s terrific at that. He’s not going to wow you with stats but when push come to shove (often literally for the fiery kid) he’s a winner. But is that how the award is defined? If it’s an MVP deal, then yeah, maybe. If it’s a best player thing, hello Brock. That dude has destroyed the stat sheet and seems to be the least guardable Pac-12 player. But his team sucks. So does Jared Cunningham’s. DeVoe Joseph can fill it up but has he done much else beyond that? Enough I’d argue. So while I don’t have a vote, I do have an opinion. DeVoe for POY barring a monumental Duck fart.

Early Week YouTuber: In honor of our Presidents:


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?

Week 6 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

This post also reads well at ryanrecker.com. He’s just posted two new podcasts and was mentioned on Howard Stern. Big league.

BREAKING: Stanford’s remaining home games will be moved to the Palo Alto Elementary School on the courts behind the permanent trailer next to the warmer of the two drinking fountains. Maples Pavilion will be used to safeguard Facebook employee windfalls.

OK, on to less enviable topics. The second half is here and, are you ready for it? The second bit of major news I’m going to drop on you in five lines of blog? A bold prediction:

“The Pac-12 will have three teams in the NCAA Tournament.”
– Me, 2/2/12

Yeah, I said it and I can name names of the people who think I’m insane. But I think it’s going to happen. A few things are going to have to play out but they’re not entirely outlandish: Cal and UW repeat their first halves, Arizona/Colorado/Oregon jumps to 7-2 with a little run through Staples (not necessarily winning it all). But that’s it for prognostication for if we learned anything in the first half of this season, the Pac is un-Nostrodomis-able.

So allow us to tip this second half off with a full slate of games on both Thursday and Saturday. The schedule.

TV Complaint: The aforementioned full slate of classic Conference of Champions Thursday/Saturday games will include three blackouts (25%). While this continues to be frustrating, rest assured that the unviewable games are being delegated to the unviewables (ASU, Utah, USC) unlike the days when great games went unaired (Cal @ UW). But let’s run with the positivity bender dripping off my three-bid prognostication. Washington will be making their second straight appearance on ESPN Thursday night as UCLA comes for a visit and the games you’re going to want to see (AZ-Cal/Stanford, CU-Oregon) will be aired on the one and only Fox SportsNet. If the weather’s unfavorable, find yourself a cable, a cold one, and tweet me, I’ll be in Berkeley then Palo Alto.

Game of the Weekend: I think this one is an under-the-radar doozy. While everyone else is sleeping on the Pac-12 (or raining on it), Colorado and Oregon are legitimately fighting for a spot in the dance. The 6-3 foes (as of today and this entire segment may be for naught should either lose tonight), soundly in second place, have each sustained losses to the conference leaders and one lesser foe (UO lost to OSU at home, CU lost at UCLA), while maintaining an air of uncertainty about them. Can Boyle’s Boys win on the road? How far can Dana’s Ducks ride the hot hands of their seniors? Can either of these second year coaches really have this competitive of a team? So much questions and that is why they play the games. This particularly telling game will be played Saturday evening on the Root Network. It features two of my favorite players in the conference: Devoe Joseph and Carlon Brown. These two transfer seniors are playing like they’ve been in green/yellow and gold/black, respectively, for four years and are carrying their teams through bridge seasons. The under appreciated senior guard is perhaps my favorite position in sports and these two are about as fun as they get.

Game to Avoid: I’ve previously promised not to rain on the unviewables and seeing as how the majority of their games will not be on TV this weekend, I’ll pick on just one of the lowly three, ASU. But it shouldn’t be their fault that things, from an athletic standpoint, have fallen apart down on the farm. ASU should not bear the grunt for no one going to the Stanford-ASU game as no one goes to games down there. Uggh, it’s even frustrating to type it. Here’s the view from last year’s Arizona-Stanford game:

Where's Tiger?

And Arizona was good! Alas, if no one’s going to go to the game, then no one should watch the game. Toss in the fact that Stanford has lost three straight and is losing steam, I’d recommend passing on the Cardinal Thursday night.

Something to Prove: For all the noise they’ve made for not winning games, the UCLA Bruins have a shot to win a few additional games (preferably not at their makeshift homes) and make a little something of this presumably lost season. They’ll of course have to kickoff this half of the season on the road with all eyes on them. ESPN has picked up their game against Washington so there will be nowhere for big Josh Smith, the Bruins’ three point ineptitude, and lack of guard depth to hide. Not to mention the Huskies are playing some pretty solid ball these days. UCLA isn’t a miserably bad team, they’re just a team that doesn’t quite have an identity – the same holds true for much of this conference. But for the Bruins to indeed do something about their season with nine to play, they’re going to have to work for it. It’ll have to start on the road and what better place than Sea-town?

Something to Lose: The Block, Part II put UW back into the conversations they used to be a part of as one of the most talented teams in the conference if not coast. Have you seen Terrence Ross play? Did you notice the way Tony Wroten commands the floor? Woof this team is good and they’re hot as a pistol after leaving Tucson. But their season may still be a little bit like this tweet from their football coach. Odd, no? Alas, I’m buying Husky stock because they have a cakewalk of a second half schedule. They don’t play either of the Bay schools, already made the Ski and Desert trips, and play an unviewable or WSU or OSU in five of their final nine. So while I build ’em up, build ’em up, build ’em up, allow me to ask: am I setting them up for failure? Have they set themselves up for failure? He may have the court presence of a Greek God but Wroten can’t turn the ball over five times a game if he’s going to have the ball for more than a third of UW’s possessions. And Terrence Ross, the talent-of-talents, cannot disappear like he has. CJ Wilcox didn’t practice this week with a sore foot (he’d missed three games with the injury before playing in Arizona) but this team could use him back. Like I’ve said, this team ain’t bad – at all – but they’re still a LoRo team and a home split to the LA schools would not behoove the impression of Washington’s legitimacy and certainly not their resume. I’ll decide on some special award for the first team not named Utah to lose to USC.

Weekend YouTuber: Oh that furry little chubster is going to crawl out of his burrow and see something but it’s generally irrelevant because we’re here on the best coast and it’s probably sunny and warm where you’re at or sunny and ski-worthy. There may be just a single win over a top-50 RPI squad but at least we’re not in Pittsburgh. Plus, Bill Murray’s kid was on the Arizona staff for a bit. Everyone’s a winner when there’s more Bill Murray: