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Special Preview: Mauii Invitational

Posted by naterb on November 21, 2009

If you’re so much of a basketball snob that the college hoops season doesn’t begin until the Mauii Invitational or NIT Season Tip-off, then you’ve missed out on a lot of quality games already.

But that’s no reason you can’t jump in and get excited about this week’s Mauii Invitational – the 26th Annual. I’m not going to bore you with the history of the tournament  – that wouldn’t be fun for you to read or even for me to write.  

The Tournament begins Monday and ends with the Championship game at 10 pm on Wednesday. The tournament continues to bring in quality teams as Arizona, Gonzaga, Maryland and Wisconsin highlight this year’s bracket – all of which have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament if the cards fall their way. Read the rest of this entry »

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PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 7

Posted by naterb on February 15, 2009

I’ve shaken things up a lot this week, but things are anything but settled. With the regular season conference title still within reach for the top five teams, and plenty of match-ups remaining amongst them, the top spot is anything but settled. Arizona State holds the spot for now after earning a regular season sweep of the Bruins. Cal dropped three spots despite a win in their sole game of the week – largely because they are being out-performed by the other four schools right now.

 

  1. ASU (+3) – The Sun Devils and Herb Sendek apparently have UCLA’s number this year and have a regular-season sweep of the Bruins. They may not be the better team, but head-to-head the Sun Devils get the nod.
  2. Washington (+1)– With the best record in the conference and a sweep over the Oregon school, the Huskies could very well be in the top spot, but a tough four game stretch ahead (@LA schools, vs. Arizona schools) They’ve got one of the toughest remaining schedules in the conference.
  3. UCLA (-2)– The Bruins took a big drop this week, and fell to their lowest point in the rankings this season after they got swept in the desert. UCLA was expected to run away with the conference this year, but they’re in a huge dog fight for the top spot now with a Thursday match-up against the league leading Huskies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Power Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Future of the Program: Part I

Posted by naterb on February 5, 2009

Uncertainty around the future of Arizona’s program continues to fester towards a boiling point that a sweep of the Washington schools and a 3-game winning streak are an insufficient salve. No winning streak, in-game heroics, or even a PAC-10 crown will resolve the issues that the program faces, but at least they can appease our apprehensions and make the current predicament more enjoyable. Jim Livengood and the Wildcats must designate a successor to the Arizona program after the sudden health-related retirement of Lute Olson. In doing so they will shape the face of basketball in Tucson for many years to come. Who will be hired? A defensive-minded coach? A family guy? A critical coach like Bobby Knight was during his career? Read the rest of this entry »

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PAC-10 Players of the Week

Posted by naterb on January 27, 2009

Calvin Haynes in an earlier game against USC.
Calvin Haynes in an earlier game against USC.

PAC-10 Player of the Week – Calvin Haynes

Haynes led the onslaught against CAL and Stanford this weekend for the Beavers. Tallying 46 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists he was absolutely spectacular in propelling the Beavers to the unlikely road sweep in the Bay Area.

Runner Up – Roeland Schaftenaar

Go figure, another Beaver, right? That’s exactly what it takes for the Beavers to complete the impressive sweep: two players having the best weeks of their careers in the same week. And considering that sweeping CAL & Stanford on the road is harder than sweeping anybody at home, I had to give both of these kids props before any UW player got recognized.

Arizona Player of the Week – Jordan Hill

Hill was an absolute beast in the second half of the Arizona/Arizona State game, but was called for a bogus foul. Had that foul not been called who knows what would’ve happened. But 16 points, 19 boards against Pendergraph is nice. Perhaps even more impressive was the Houston game against two solid frontcourt players. Nice job this week Hill

Runner Up – Chase Budinger

My goal is to give this spot to someone that normally doesn’t get a tremendous deal of appreciation or isn’t one of the big three. But frankly, Budinger’s effect on both games was so great that to not put him as POW or at least runner-up would’ve been an injustice – after all, the dude did get his head stopped on.

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Player of the Week | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 4

Posted by naterb on January 25, 2009

pac10-power-rankings5

  1. Washington – Don’t expect the Huskies to stay in the top spot for too long, but after an impressive sweep of the SoCal schools they certainly deserve it. They have some very impressive wins in the first half of conference play.
  2. UCLA – You can’t fault the Bruins too much for a road loss in Seattle – especially considering they’ve had a problem playing there for some time now. They’ll be back on top before too long.
  3. Arizona State – I was going to drop them for their poor shooting and fortunate win against Arizona last week, that is until Cal lost at home to Oregon State. Don’t expect them to stay in this spot much longer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Die-Hards Rewarded

Posted by naterb on January 25, 2009

Budinger - You wont like me when Im angry.

Budinger - "You won't like me when I'm angry."

Die hard Arizona fans were given the biggest reward of the season and perhaps the past three years as they witnessed the ‘Cats overcome a 9 point deficit with 54 seconds remaining to force overtime en route to a 96-90 overtime win on Saturday. After dropping three-straight the Wildcats showed more heart and determination than they’ve displayed perhaps all season long. Plagued by turnover woes all season long, the Wildcats have suffered 8 losses a direct result from them Saturday against Houston was no difference as the Wildcats had nearly three-times as many (24-9) as the Cougars, but were able to force four Houston turnovers in the final nine minutes which left the door open for the come-back win.

The Wildcats have seen several bad calls go against them the past few games and have been incapable of overcoming them. This time, however, that was not the case. Aubrey Coleman literally bowled over Chase Budinger with 9:51 remaining and then proceeded to maliciously step on his head. The McKale crowd grew restless and angry chanting “Throw him out! Throw him out!” while the officials reviewed the play before granting the crowd’s wish – and deservingly so. That decision was perhaps the turning point of the game for the ‘Cats as Coleman had dissected the ‘Cats perimeter defense and Houston wasn’t the same without him on the floor. The door was left open by late missed free throws and turnovers on the Cougars behalf, and for the first time all season it was the Wildcats taking advantage of late-game mistakes rather than being victimized by them.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Pre-Game: Houston @ Arizona

Posted by naterb on January 23, 2009

Despite their inconsistent play, the Wildcats have an air of confidence about them that they can play with and beat any team on their schedule. The unfortunate side effect from that have been a couple of quotes by Nic Wise and Zane Johnson producing bulletin board material for two of the tougher opponents they’ve faced. This time the Wildcats were given some bulletin board material of their own. “We just need to go out there and play hard,” Houston Cougar’s starting power forward Qa’rraan Calhoun told the Houston Chronicle. “We need to go out there and play our game. If everyone plays like they played tonight (vs. East Carolina) we’ll walk out of there with a victory.” Those are pretty bold words by the power forward who is yet to see a team as talented as Arizona yet this season – and on the road no less.

Kelvin Lewis goes up for a dunk. Photo from grfx.cstv.com

Kelvin Lewis goes up for a dunk. Photo from grfx.cstv.com

For the Wildcats Saturday’s game against Houston could be a warm welcome from the rigors of the PAC-10 where their troubles have continued to mount. Arizona is accustomed to playing a non-conference game this late in the season – as they have done five of the past seven years. Lute Olson scheduled these games as measuring sticks to see where the ‘Cats stand and what things they need to work on. This year however, their woes are painfully obvious, and the game will be a nice change after facing a tough three-game stretch against UCLA, USC, and ASU.

This is the fourth-straight year that Houston and Arizona will face off with Arizona winning the last two by an average of 20 points. But the Wildcats can’t jump ahead and consider this an automatic or even easy win. Houston is a very athletic team with a great inside-outside game. The bulletin board feeder (Calhoun) is a long, athletic player in a 6’8” frame that can pound inside and has a nice stroke from beyond the arc
Read the rest of this entry »

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The Road to Twenty-Five

Posted by naterb on January 23, 2009

With two historical streaks broken in the past three years the Wildcats are on the brink of another, perhaps their most prestigious, as they appear to be NIT bound this year. During the 2005-2006 season, under Lute Olson, the Wildcats saw their 141 consecutive weeks in the AP Poll end on December 20, 2005 after defeating Utah on the road 73-43 three days earlier. The streak was the ninth-longest streak since the AP Poll was created on January 20, 1949.

Two years later, Arizona saw it’s streak of consecutive seasons with 20 wins or more come to an end. The streak spanned over two generations beginning in 1984-1985 and finally ending with the 2007-2008 season under Kevin O’Neill as interim coach.

Now after Lute Olson has officially retired and the Wildcats have a second interim coach in as many years, it appears as though the 24 years of consecutive NCAA Tournaments won’t become 25. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi doesn’t include the Wildcats anywhere near the NCAA Tournament – not even as a team on the bubble. Gary Parrish has only four bids going to the PAC-10, ironically he has one representative from each rivalry excluding the Oregon schools. Jerry Palm predicts how things will shape up in seven short weeks and the ‘Cats aren’t dancing. And Bracketville ’09 believes that Arizona needs to win 12 conference games (season + tourney) in order to find their glass slippers.

But maybe, just maybe, everyone is getting ahead of themselves because of the despairing drop in Arizona basketball that they’ve witnessed over the past year and a half. With an 11-8 record and only 12 regular season games remaining plus at least one in the PAC-10 Tournament the what do the Wildcats does the road look like for Arizona to reach their 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament?
Read the rest of this entry »

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The Rivalry

Posted by naterb on January 20, 2009

the-rivalryThere hasn’t been this much drama in the Arizona/Arizona State Rivalry since some audacious ASU fans’ horrendous chants towards Steve Kerr back in 1984. Yes, even more drama than last year when Arizona State seemed to turn the tables by sweeping the ‘Cats. More drama than in 1998 when Arizona left Tempe with a 1-point victory. More dramatic than when ASU won three straight between 1994 and 1995 – their longest during the Lute Olson era in Tucson – to which Arizona responded with 11-straight wins over the Sun Devils.
There have been some great match-ups, Ike Diogu vs. Channing Frye and Eddie House vs. Gilbert Arenas to name a couple. But something is different this year. Arizona State fans are ready to declare that the tables have turned in this rivalry and that they are now the premier team in the state. They’re nationally ranked, have a better record, an impressive road win at Pauley Pavilion and many other arguments to support their case.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats are in the midst of their rockiest two season with Lute Olson first taking a leave of absence followed by being forced to retire due to medical conditions. The ‘Cats had a fall-out with their 2008 recruiting class and have turned to searching for hidden talent to produce big performances.

These are all circumstances that perhaps won’t play out beyond this year after Harden departs from ASU and the Wildcats start to rebuild beginning in just a few months when they look to hire a premier head coach to replace Olson on a permanent basis. The Sun Devils will lose a majority of their talent (ie James Harden) after this year and will need to put together some solid recruiting classes if they truly want to turn the tables rather than just repeating their 3-rivalry-game win streak. The Wildcats future is more uncertain and will likely contain a few years of bumps and bruises, but with the right hire they should be able to keep history on their side and continue to dominate this rivalry again down the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Preview, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

PAC-10 Player of the Week: Week 3

Posted by naterb on January 19, 2009

PAC-10 Player of the Week: DeMar DeRozan (USC)

WhileDeRozan’s total stats aren’t that impressive (32 points, 12 rebounds), DeRozan was largely responsible for holding James Harden to 0-8 and 4 points in a fantastic defensive effort. To me, that’s more impressive than Rochestie’s 44 points, 6 rebounds, and 14 assists against the Oregon schools. Partly because Rochestie did put those numbers up against the Oregon schools, and partly because to hold Harden to 0 field goals is unbelievably incredible.

Runner-Up: Kevin Brill (REF)

Brill almost single-handedly won the game for the Trojans on Saturday. He came up with the big play in a crucial moment that gave the Trojans the confidence and momentum they needed during the final 3:50 to pull out a 1-point home win.

Arizona Player of the Week: Chase Budinger

Budinger is officially out of his slump. After rough outing after rough outing, Budinger finally steps up big. He was the focal point for UCLA and USC defensively and still put up solid numbers against these kids. He gave us fans a glimpse as to why he was so highly touted coming in and why he’s projected as a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Runner Up: Jordan Hill

Hill had a monster game against UCLA, and save but first half foul trouble he had a good game against USC as well.

 

 

 

 

Do you think Kevin Brill would’ve gotten this one right?

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