Tag Archives: John Calipari

Week 4 PacHoops Pac-12 Power Rankings: Bounce back

UCLA achieved 7 points in less than 3 minutes (took them 20+ last year) and they trickled the floor at Pauley as they should have. Teams don’t often knock off the #1 team in the country and – for a school oft criticized for its fan base – it was good to see them celebrate a little and show up. Meanwhile, ASU knocked off a top-25 team (rare) and did it in their new gold attire which I actually thought was sharp (also, rare). Of course for a full run down and the teams ranked by order of power, as well as what I did on Friday night of this bounce back week for the Pac…

1. Arizona

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THREE FOR BART: AmeriLeague, Pac predictions, NBA scouts

  1. AmeriLeague founder tells employees he’s actually someone else – Let’s explore this headline beginning at the end. A man assumed a fake identity and has come forth as someone else. As his employee, this can be concerning. Now, AmeriLeague? This is the professional basketball league aimed at ruining your recruiting class. “Cerruti Brown” – the man who actually doesn’t exist – had formulated a semi-Pro league in which he’d begun recruiting some of the top prep players to play, domestically, for a salary. As it were, the league has gone completely defunct, although it seems it might’ve never had nearly the juice it claimed. Or a real person at the helm. “Cerruti” was actually Glendon Alexander, a 1996 McDonald’s All-American (also on the burger all-stars that year: Bryant, Bibby, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, Rip Hamilton, Tim Thomas, Mateen Cleaves). Busy week for OTL.
  2. 2015-16 Pac-12 Predictions: Cal to break Arizona’s streak – It’s another week or so until I’ll publish my preseason predictions. It’s with that foreward that I leave CBS’ Pac-12 preview here without commentary…except this:
    • Agree: Conference is not “down;” Oregon is flying under the radar; Norman Powell is a huge loss; Stanford lost a ton; Enfield has a talented roster; Josh Hawkinson
    • Disagree: “…said one long-time Pac-12 coach.” That was Ernie Kent or at least he said as much; Picked Cal first only to note their returners were wildly disappointing; You don’t replace Delon Wright.
  3. Colleges Cut to the Chase, Holding Practices Just for N.B.A. Scouts – This is a great concept when it makes sense. Bold statement, right? But the reality it’s much ado about nothing, a slight grasp at some extra eyeballs (case-in-point: an article in the New York Times that mentions LSU basketball). But Ben Simmons has a great quote in there that pretty much captures my feelings on the matter.

THREE FOR BART: MadBum, Platoon, Kindness

  1. ‘OMG. You’re so much more than awesome.” – This is the perfect story. It’s got the father-son baseball narrative to which I had to hold back tears on a Brooklyn bound train. Secondly, it’s got a parent text message in which a grown man living in rural Carolina who built the house he raised his bad ass son in writes “OMG.” Madison Bumgarner is the sports god du jour and that’s ok. This story just further humanizes him and probably strikes a chord close to your own heart.
  2. Why an obscure DIII team can offer a blueprint for Kentucky –  I’m very curious to see how this works. I don’t know how you feel about Calipari but I kind of love him. He’s such a great quote and I love how he frames this as doing what’s best for the kids. He’s dynamite behind the mic. But in all seriousness, PR and whatever aside, this is an interesting concept. Forty minutes of hell could be…hell. Particularly when we consider Kentucky’s talent.
  3. On Kindness – I don’t know Cord Jefferson but we both grew up in Tucson and have that as common ground. I appreciate his perspective on different things and in this case he effuses on kindness. And on his mother. We’ve previously linked to a lot of father-son tales but here Cord really captures the story of his mother. It’s a good one.


Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. UCLA Basketball Loses Two Players In The Last Week As Jon Octeu Denied Admission This article neatly notes that the Bruins lost two players expected to contribute quite a bit this season. Depth is overrated but when you’ve only got nine scholarship players and none particularly proven at this level, depth has got to be a question that becomes asked. There really are only three guards on this roster right now in Powell, Hamilton, and Alford.
  2. Determined Askia Booker eager to Lead Buffs – You know I love Askia. I write about it regularly. And also love senior guards so this is Askia’s time to shine in my eyes. Seems he’s got the head on his shoulders to do so as he notes the things he does well and that will let him be successful. Did you know his best offensive season was his freshman year? Did you also know that in that season he took his highest percentage of shots at the rim? Coincidence? I think not.
  3. NBA needs to pull stars from USA Basketball, which is showcasing only Duke’s coach – I’m only going to quote a piece of this article because I think it’s teaser gold:

As much as ever, USA Basketball has been co-opted into a Krzyzewski leverage play for the Duke Blue Devils. If that doesn’t rile Kentucky’s John Calipari, wait until the Duke coach is credited for DeMarcus Cousins’ maturity with the Sacramento Kings this season.

THREE FOR BART: Cal, Preview, Trojans

Three For BART is a daily (or really close to that) drop of three thought provoking articles for your commute or day. Submissions for inclusion taken at: pachoops25@gmail.com

  1. Sources: Kentucky Coach John Calipari finalizing unprecedented scouting combine for NBA personnel – And they can’t even interact with the players. It’s a strange concept from that angle but a terrific concept from a career development stand point. There are football pro days. Why not hoops pro days? I don’t know if this concept is scalable – do pro scouts (anyone?) want to see this roster? – but Cal is always pushing the limits. It’s a good thing.
  2. College basketball preview 14-15: Pacific 12 – Officially it is the Pac-12 but who’s counting? Oh wait, Dan Hanner is and will be all season long. Get on board with RealGM because it’s only going to make you a smarter fan. And repeat after me, “scoring margin.”
  3. Well That Sh*t Was Fun – Let me forewarn you, Stanford fans and anyone else that hates USC football, you’re not going to want to click that link. But Zack doesn’t care. He does care about his Trojans and the garnered a big win this weekend. This is his recount.

Luther Vandross Appreciation Day

I know you don’t have a dog in tonight’s fight. I don’t and I can confidently say you don’t because it’s Kentucky vs. UConn. The former is college basketball’s lightning rod of criticism. The wrong Wildcats to be in this game if you’re asking me. The dribbling and shooting version of Alabama’s football juggernaut built to win by any means possible in the biggest possible ways. Big Blue Nation, as it were, is the necessary evil to make Cinderella’s story that much sweeter. You probably don’t like Kentucky.

And there’s also Connecticut a year removed from a post-season ban. The Huskies are proving every rule we’ve ever thought about this tournament: hot at the right time, senior guards, Deandre Daniels. Do you realize that Daniels is scoring 3 more points per game since the games turned to tournament games (AAC and NCAA)? When Shabazz is going to Shabazz, there isn’t a lot you can do. But when a 6’9″ guy is going to shoot 42% from distance and also grab 7.4 boards per NCAA game, a run into the title game isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. The Huskies are pistol hot. You probably don’t like Connecticut.

But as we’ve already established, neither one of these guys is your team. The squad we read recruiting rumors and group text about. They’re not ours.

So maybe it is a bittersweet championship. But that’s what happens when everything got put on the line three weeks ago and the ball was tipped and we said “let’s do this shit.” We knew it was going to hurt a little if things didn’t go our way. At this point, I’ve read my share of “despondent locker room” articles and “why next year is still reason for optimism.” I’m hoping to have enough perspective to sit and watch, even enjoy, tonight’s ball game.

But even if you can’t get your mind around that, it’s Luther Vandross Appreciation Dayand may your moment shine.

How Deep is Your Love: The Bench Misnomer

The following is a comprehensive guest post from internet friend, Jason. He’s a regular contributor at All Buffs and my gchats.

Deep benches in basketball seem to be a recipe for success.  The term “depth” gets thrown around like a double play. It gives you line-up options, protection against foul trouble or injury; the ability to go all out and press or play pressure D for a full 40.  This all seems to make sense, it’s intuitive, but does it actually correlate to winning? Because winning is the best stat.

There are a couple ways to look at this. Does a long bench help you through the season more than in the NCAA tournament? Or is the reverse actually true? Looking at the final 4 teams for the last 5 years, there have only been 2 teams (2013 Wichita St and 2009 Michigan St.) in the top 100 in the percent of bench minutes played (thanks KenPom). And just two Final Four teams ranked in the 100’s (2013 Louisville and 2010 Michigan St).  Meanwhile, there have been nine in the 300’s. It appears that having a short bench full of go-to guys means more than having a bunch of interchangeable guys in the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Final 4 Tournament teams overall ranking in % of bench minutes played


# of Teams

Top 100








The reality of this isn’t terribly shocking. The best players seem to win the most games. That 2012 Kentucky team that has set the bar for modern, single season domination had six players drafted. Coach Cal called upon his reserves the 323rd most frequently. They beat you because they were good, not deep. In a three week sprint for the finish, you don’t necessarily need more, just the best.

But what about the other side? Garnering an invitation into the Dance is quite an accomplishment. Tourney appearances hang from rafters, too, so it’s worth exploring whether or not, across the grind of thirty-plus games including a conference slate, a bench is helpful. The inevitability of injuries, sickness, wear-and-tear, the dog days, and every other unpredictable occurrence. Does having a deep bench help spell those issues?

Bench MinAgain, the answer appears to be “no”.  Over the past 3 seasons in the Pac-12 there is a negative (-0.213) correlation between bench minutes and winning. This year the overall NCAA is on pace to have an overall negative correlation higher than the three year Pac-12 average of -0.236.

Some of the deepest teams have actually been the worst. Take this year’s Oregon St. team: they have the deepest bench in the three year study of the Pac-12. Craig Robinson’s playing his bench 39.2% of the time and it’s  earned him 10th place in the standings.  The conference regular season winners are 11th, 10th and 10th in the percent of bench minutes played in the three years of Pac-12 hoops studied. Conversely, the longest benches have finished 10th, 3rd and 7th.

Bench Min by Year, 3 year avg, and avg Pac-12 regular season conference finish

Bench Min_Finish

Scouring over this we may be inclined to do a case study on Dana Altman. His teams have the highest average % of bench minutes played in the 3 year history of the Pac-12. There are no outlier years. He consistently plays his bench a lot.  This makes some sense on the periphery; he brings in a lot of transfers, trying to figure out lineups that work, tossing out a lot of different combinations and bench players.  But if you dig a little deeper you can see that even at Creighton he had a run of three consecutive years where he had the 3rd highest percent of bench minutes played. Clearly he’s a guy that likes to go deep into his bench and he’s only able to partially execute that plan with the roster turnover he’s had at Oregon.

Dana BenchOf note, and considering our first point with regards to Final Fours and our second note with regards to winning conference titles, Altman has been to just one Sweet Sixteen and only won or shared three conference titles in twenty-five years as a head coach.

In theory, having a long bench is terrific. You can spell all those season long unexpecteds. But, like I science experiment, perhaps introducing too many variables gets you into a situation where you can’t control the results. A classic case of less-is-more, maybe the bench is just for the Bernie:Kreal_Berie

BB: Andy Katz and the Seven Year Project

It seems like ages ago that the Arizona basketball program was in shambles. Seeking their fourth coach in as many years, then AD, Jim Livengood had been thrice spurned (Calipari, Pitino, Floyd). And not only were they out a coach, there wasn’t much of a roster, either. The 2008 class was thin and the 2009 class? Non-existent.

The cupboard bare, the coaching hunt fruitless, things looked bad in Tucson.

It was then that Andy Katz said it. The senior college basketball writer for the worldwide leader proclaimed the rebuilding job at Arizona a seven year project. The declaration provided Wildcat nation with a lifetime of message board fodder and ensured Katz would forever be buying his own drinks in Tucson.

Wildcat fans were livid. Citing Arizona’s seat amongst the elite collegiate programs, draft picks, national prestige, and pride there was no way in a frozen desert it would take seven years to be good again.

Then Sean Miller signed, Tim Floyd resigned, the twelfth ranked recruiting class fell into Arizona’s lap, and Derrick Williams happened. In just his second year, Sean Miller had the seven-year project one shot from the Final Four. Arizona fans couldn’t serve the crow to Katz fast enough.

But what if Katz was right?

Or at least half right. Today we find ourselves looking at a less-than-talented Arizona squad playing mediocre basketball in a bad conference. This is the type of season that Miller was supposed to be coaching through in year three. This is normal when the aforementioned recruiting blunders and institutional mayhem set back a proud, elite quarter century of basketball.

But normal is not befitting fandom.

So Katz has taken heat at the cost of perspective. The reality is Arizona won the lottery with Derrick Williams and timed their brief demise just perfectly with the dramatic decline of Pac-12 basketball. The whole picture actually supports the fan’s view but Katz’s point isn’t a relative one. Sure, Arizona is back when compared to the rest of the conference. They’ve won a conference title and are back in the tournament. So if you’re truly satisfied with a five seed riding the coattails of a miracle player and following that year up with a “competitive,” you should be leading the charge against Katz.

But if your barometer is UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and the nation’s other elite programs, the school’s Arizona was once synonymous with, then you can understand Katz’s perspective and the current state of Wildcat affairs.

Take the example of Kyle Fogg. For all of his hard work and perimeter defense, Fogg is not the type of talent that has the sixth most starts in school history. That would place him between Channing Frye (13 ppg/7 rpg/1 apg) and Salim Stoudamire (15/2/2) on the U of A career starts list with an outside shot of sitting alongside Anthony Cook (12/6/1). Fogg’s numbers (8/2/2) are comparable to Chris Rodgers (6/2/2), Jamelle Horne (6/4/1), and Isaiah Fox (3/3).

Stretch comparison? Perhaps, but none of these players are particularly relevant to Wildcat lore and Kyle Fogg will be; a strong indication of the program’s failures in the past seven-plus years. And be clear, by no means am I hanging any of Arizona’s woes on Fogg. He’s a tremendous role player. But he is a significant indication of the rebuilding that was and is in order, not a four year starter at Arizona.

Miller has done a better job than anyone could have imagined – Katz has to top that list – and certainly sped up this rebuild. Just look at his 2012 recruiting class. Arizona is going to be good – very good – but last year was an anomaly. Derrick Williams doesn’t fall into your lap very often. It’s taken three hard working years to secure that 2012 class and more work will come to secure the ’13, ’14, and beyond classes. That work will soon manifest itself on the court.

Until then, remember that Arizona is not trying to be the best team in the Pac-12. They’re trying to be the best team in the country and that’s not going to happen in two seasons. This is a program still rebuilding.

It just may be built in a little less than seven years.