Tag Archives: San Francisco

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:


You Know, Normal Saturday Night Stuff

En route, I received a text from my buddy Walter: “Dude, what are you up to tonight?”

“Normal stuff like a HS basketball game,” was my response. Walter went on to throw a party with a “fog machine, strobe light, and lasers!”

Because that’s normal, right? Yeah, both are a little odd and I guarantee you that four mid-20’s males never planned their Saturday night around any game I ever played in.

But that’s exactly what myself and three friends did last Saturday as we headed to Sacred Heart Preparatory for a game featuring Arch Bishop Mitty’s Aaron Gordon. This kid:

As you can tell, the hype is justified and this Bay Area recruit will not soon be overlooked a la the incessant and annoying discussion over who missed out on Jeremy Lin. The ensuing 32 minutes plus 4 overtime minutes were proof enough of Gordon’s talent.

When it comes to uber talents, the gymnasiums tend to fill quickly. Such was the case in 2006 when I saw two Chase Budinger games in San Diego and so we arrived about 50 minutes early to the Gordon show. You know what happens when you show up 50 minutes early to a High School basketball game? You watch a half of JV basketball.

That was weird.

Anyhow, the JV game wrapped and the Varsity squads took the floor. Mitty opened with a four corners drill and when that progressed into some complex variation of a layup line, Gordon opened with a failed but no less impressive reverse dunk in which he dropped the ball between his legs, somewhere down around his feet and powered the ball to the rim. His first move in the layup line equaled all the athletic moves I’ve ever made. Combined.

After a few other thunder moves, the entire officiating crew, took Gordon aside and they all laughingly discussed him no longer touching the rim. It was clear from early on that the emerging (arrived?) super star was a magnet, attracting any and all as new friends. The officials wanted to be his friends, the JV wanted to buddy up, the opposing parents palled around and took photos of their kids with him as they requested autographs of the 16-year-old.

One time a kid asked me for a high-five as I ran past during a half-marathon.

But I’ll cut to the chase. I’m no scout so you can read all about what Gordon is capable of at Scout, Rivals, and 247sports but I’d recommend just finding youtube videos of the kid. Wow. By the way, he’s a Washington lean with Arizona on their heels.

The aforementioned chase I’m getting to is simply the atmosphere of amateur, live basketball. It was raw and pure and fun to be a part. We waltzed into senior night. Do you remember your last home game in a HS uni?

It’s something special and Josh Fox made sure his senior night was indeed that. With just 5.7 ticks left, from just in front of their own bench, Sacred Heart drew up a cross court baseball heave of a pass to find Fox in the distant corner where the mop headed kid hit a flat footed three to tie the game.

Naturally, the home stands erupted as the game was headed to overtime. An extra period in which these final 40-seconds happened:

Gordon delivered, scoring his 27th and 28th points as the game expired. It was over and, the weirdest part of it all, while momentarily rejected, the kids were smiling no matter whether they were winners or losers. Because they were just that: kids playing basketball perhaps for the last time competitively in front of their friends and family, for their school.

The Gordon kid may go on to bigger things but it’s sometimes hard to say he’ll go on to better. It’s tough to beat that Fox shot but game winners are few and far between. No doubt a special moment for the 16-year-old. For everyone.

After all, it was just a fun Saturday night for a couple-a dude’s past their primes.

OK, now two final notes. First, the game footage came courtesy this article. Secondly, you have to look closely at this picture but please notice the keeper of the clock and why, despite 3 or 4 significant timekeeping blunders, no one was able to give her an earful like perhaps you can $30/game HS ref: