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PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 3

Posted by naterb on January 19, 2009

pac10-power-rankings4

  1. UCLA (E)
    They made Arizona’s make-shift 1-1-3 zone look awful. They had an offensive explosion with five players reaching double-digit scoring. But losing at home against ASU in a game you controlled in the second half shows they aren’t as far ahead of the rest of the conference as they would hope.
    Last Week: W vs. Arizona 83-60, L vs. ASU 61-58
  2. CAL (E)
    With their first loss in conference play coming against a rival in a close game, you can’t fault CAL too much – especially when you went on the road for a game filled with more drama than any other rival game will contain this year. The game against UCLA is getting bigger and bigger each week.
    L at Stanford 75-69
  3. ASU (E)
    A win at Pauley is impressive. But as great as that was, the loss against USC was bad enough to keep them from moving past CAL. Losing by 12 to a defensive minded team exploited their lack of players outside of Pendergraph and Harden. Shut Harden down and they falter.
    L at USC 61-49, W at UCLA 61-58 Read the rest of this entry »
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PAC-10 Power Rankings – Week 2

Posted by naterb on January 12, 2009

pac10-power-rankings

1. UCLA (E)
UCLA has shown great guard play and have maintained the top position despite the drop-off in talent from the previous few years. They’re aren’t a lock for the conference title by any stretch, even if the conference is weaker this year.
Last Week: W. @ USC 64-60

2. California (E)
Randle and Christopher have been sensational. They even got some help from Robertson this week too. Winning a close game on the road is a solid way to boost your confidence. Watch out UCLA, CAL just might have the best backcourt in the conference.
Last Week: W @ WSU 57-50, W @ UW 88-85 (OT)

3. Arizona State (E)
ASU remains solid at home, and put on a defensive clinic against Oregon State. We’ll see how good they really are when they travel to Pauley on Thursday.
Last Week: W vs. OSU 69-38, W v. OU 76-58

4. Washington (E)
Washington got a monster week from Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas this week. Can’t fault them for a 3-point OT loss to the hottest team in the conference right now.
Last Week: W. vs. STAN 84-83, L vs. CAL 88-85 (OT)

5. Arizona (+2)
The Big Three are starting to show the minutes they’ve played and it’s resulting in a slump passing from player to player. Zane Johnson has stepped up and could earn himself a starting role in the next few weeks.
Last Week: W vs. OU 67-52, W vs. OSU 64-47

6. USC (E)
The Trojans are lacking a lot of chemistry and are paying the price in close games. A close loss to UCLA isn’t a big deal, but they lack too much chemistry to be considered a serious contender at this point.
Last Week: L vs. UCLA 64-60

7. Washington State (+2)
Rochestie stepped up big for the Cougars this week, and were fortunate not to be 0-3 to start conference play before finally hitting the road next week.
Last Week: L vs. Cal 50-57, W vs. Stan 55-54

8. Stanford (-3)
A pair of 1 point losses is tough. Their guards can’t carry them much longer.
Last Week: L @ UW 83-84, L  @ WSU 55-54

9. Oregon State (-1)
They got man-handled by ASU & UofA this week, but they are organized and playing hard. That Princeton offense keeps them closer than they probably should be.
Last Week: L @ ASU 69-38, L @ UA 64-47

10. Oregon (E)
If inexperience is bad, then these guys are awful. Catron and Porter were nowhere this past week. Is the team giving up on Ernie Kent?
Last Week: L @ UA 67-52, L @ ASU 76-58

Posted in NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Power Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Post-Game: OSU @ UA

Posted by naterb on January 11, 2009

Highlight Video

The Good:

  • Chase Budinger gets his second 20+ point game this week, and has signs that his confidence is returning along with his 3-point shot.
  • The Wildcats nearly out-rebounded themselves offensively (16)versus defensively (17). I love to see that because it means the ‘Cats aren’t giving up when they’re having an off-shooting night. They’re playing hard on each possession, and exploiting their athleticism and height.
  • Coming off the bench, Zane Johnson provided a big boost for the ‘Cats in his second consecutive game. Against the Oregon schools Johnson averaged 8 points, 2.5 assists, and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. As the season wears on, and the starters get worn out, the ‘Cats will need their bench to keep stepping up and Johnson’s performance is showing vast improvement and usefulness.
  • Putting up 64 points in a game that was essentially cut by 25% thanks to the slow-down Beavers’ offense. The ‘Cats could’ve controlled the tempo a lot more, but they didn’t need to. I believe they could’ve scored more, but to score only 10% less than your average when your opportunities are limited by a slowed-down game, I’ll take it.

The Bad:

  • Kyle Fogg continues to falter during the games. He continually passes up open looks at the basket, and we’ve seen an increase in the mental lapses which reveal him for the freshman that he is. At this rate, despite being one of the better defenders on the team, he’s going to find himself coming off the bench before another week is out.
  • Jamelle Horne was enough to make you pace because of his offensive decisions tonight. Horne took a lot of ill-advised shots tonight, and his 3-9 performance reflects it perfectly. Horne avoids the “ugly” section thanks to his hustle on the glass. Horned had 4 offensive rebounds and 3 defensive to go along with several other plays that forced dead-ball rebounds for Arizona. His efforts gave Arizona second and sometimes third opportunities, and essentially made up for his poor shot selection tonight.

The Ugly:

  • Nic Wise found it hard to score tonight, hitting only one shot in nine attempts. Largely because he lacked a lot of aggressiveness on the offensive end and was settling for jump shots all night long. I’m glad Wise was making an effort not to over-penetrate, but this isn’t what the ‘Cats need either. Wise needs to find that middle ground between over-aggressive and settling for the jumper.
  • The entire second half – Failed to score in the first five minutes. Shot 2-14 in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Shot 8-26 in the entire second half. Gave up 12 points in the paint to the Beavers… I think you get the point. Whether it’s lack of focus or exhaustion does make a difference, but that was still awful.

Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill

Player of the Game:

Jordan Hill – Yes, I know Budinger had more points and was everywhere tonight. But Hill carried the team as his 8 offensive rebounds helped direct the team to 17 second-chance points. His efforts kept the possessions alive and in turn the lead over the Beavers.

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Recap, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Game Recap: Arizona @ Stanford

Posted by naterb on January 5, 2009

Just a quick side note before I recap the Arizona/Stanford game:

One thing about me that you will learn, is that I always want to focus on the positive things surrounding the Wildcats. My main reason for doing this is because these kids on the floor are not paid professionals, and a majority of them will never make it to the professional level. Sure they’re being compensated by the University to play by getting their tuitions paid for in return of putting on that uniform. I know that there are a lot of fans and media members that don’t view it this way, but I do. Call it the silver-lining mentality or being an optimist if you like, but the bottom line is that there is almost always something positive to right about.

My tendency to focus on the positives in a game is really being challenged with the recap of this game. I owe it to you as a reader who is taking your time to get my opinion, and learn what transpired during the Wildcats’ game against Stanford. So I’ll try and focus on the good things as much as I can but it won’t be easy because this game was filled with a lot of bad performances.

-NaterB

Yeah, thats about right.

Yeah, that's about right.

The Wildcat’s 16-point loss to Stanford was the worst loss at Maples since February 7, 1983, a season before Olson arrived in Tucson and the ‘Cats went 1-17 in conference play. This is also the first time that the Wildcats have started the conference 0-2 since the ‘04-‘05 season when they opened with losses to ASU and CAL. The margin of defeat, while disappointing, isn’t nearly as discouraging as the performance by the Wildcats as a whole. Sure, Chase Budinger found himself with double-digits again, and the ‘Cats shot 48% while Stanford had 44%, and Jordan Hill and Nic Wise seemed to be able to score almost at will. So why was the performance so disappointing?

The ‘Cats never really showed up tonight, and failed to find any sort of rhythm all night long. They found early in the first half that they could score almost at will inside the paint as their first 10 points came from dunks, lay-ups, or short jumpers. Jordan Hill exploited the under-manned Stanford frontcourt to the tune of 13 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. Unfortunately, after the first half the ‘Cats stopped looking inside with Jordan Hill only getting four touches for four points in the second half. I’m not understanding how a team with a significant and distinct advantage would not use it, it simply boggles my mind.

Another missed opportunity was Nic Wise’s ability to get past any Stanford defender almost at will. Sure he went for 13 points in the second half, but he would only take advantage of his quickness every fourth or fifth possession. They ought to have kept running the same plays, Wise penetrating and finding Hill or getting a lay-up, until Stanford found a way to stop them. By going away from that and trying to get other players who are playing scared or are currently incapable of throwing it into the ocean, Arizona effectively gave up their advantage and handed the game to Stanford on a silver platter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Stanford here, in fact despite Stanford appearing semi-lazy they still managed to fight of any attempts Arizona could muster by going on mini-runs to keep the game out of reach. They only shot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc, but it seemed like they would always hit them when the momentum would start to shift – and a ridiculous amount of them came from the corner. I commend Stanford on that, but also am appalled at Arizona’s lack of effort on the defensive end. It was down-right horrid.

The ugliest part of the game wasn’t the fact that they didn’t exploit their advantages, or shut clamp down the perimeter defense – even if Stanford did only shoot 34%. Simply put, the ugliest part of the game was that the Wildcats were playing outside of themselves and their roles, and they were playing frustrated tonight. While I commend Jamelle Horne for his hustle tonight, he reminded me of Jordan Hill because of the inexcusable fouls. Horne knew that Budinger was slumping and was attempting to step up and fill the void. Unfortunately, rather than sticking to what Horne does best, he tried to do too much and hurt the team by fouling out with nearly six minutes remaining.. Zane Johnson also played outside himself when he put the ball on the floor for consecutive plays and picked up an offensive foul.

When Budinger’s inability to score and be an offensive threat first started, players were playing within themselves and their capabilities. Horne posted a double-double, Fogg had a fantastic game, and everything was okay. Now as Budinger’s and the team’s frustration level is rising because of this slump, we’re seeing players trying to do too much and not combining hustle and effort with smart play. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed by Pennell and Co. in a huge manner, and for the time being “The Big Three” has become “The Big Two” and that’s something the Wildcats will only find limited success with.

The Good:

  • Jordan Hill tallies a double-double again with 17 points and 16 rebounds

The Bad:

  • Chase Budinger went 4-11 for 12 points
  • Jamelle Horne fouled out with nearly 6 minutes remaining.

The Ugly:

  • Arizona’s 19 turnovers, which ties a season high, led to 16 Stanford points
  • 8 Assists, 19 turnovers = 0.42 team A/TO ratio – that’s just horrendous team basketball.

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Recap, NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Fogg & Horne: Forgetting the Unforgettable

Posted by naterb on January 1, 2009

Jamelle Horne

Jamelle Horne

It’s been nearly two months since the last minute fouling frenzy that cost Arizona a trip to New York in the NIT Season Tip-Off. This is one of those unforgettable moments that fans don’t forget and can mar a players reputation for the rest of their career. You remember, the one where Fogg tied the game and fouled and without a point being scored Horne fouled again with .8 second remaining.

That was a dark day for Arizona basketball. No, I take that back, it was a gut wrenchingly appalling day. Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg were blamed for costing the ‘Cats the game. I remember myself wanting Fogg to be benched for the season only to see David Bagga-like minutes, and I believed that Jamelle Horne had become a nice addition to the dog house of players that don’t belong on a college basketball court.

Fortunately, Russ Pennell wasn’t as flippant as I was, and avoided making the same emotional, gut-reaction statements that I did. Pennell didn’t want to bury his head in his hands and hide from this mistake which would effectively write it off like a skeleton in the closet. He consoled both players immediately following the mistakes. Then later in the week he made the whole team recreate the scenario.

“I was doing it more to exorcise a demon, yet I felt we all came together without even talking. To me, that was a neat deal,” Pennell said. “What I found out about my team was they genuinely care about what was going on, and they had rehearsed it and talked about it.

“The next time we’re in that situation . . . I think we’ll get the right shot and make the right play.”

Pennell had the right approach, and he was dead on, even if it has taken a while. I’m not just talking about making a flippant last-second foul that could have cost the ‘Cats another basketball game, but about how far the ‘Cats have come – Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg especially.

Standing on the brink of conference play, Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne have grown as players in leaps and bounds since the UAB fiasco. Without their performances Arizona wouldn’t have beaten Gonzaga, Kansas, or even Weber State.

 Over the last three games (UNLV, Kansas, and Weber State) Jamelle Horne has been a monster, posting an average of 13.3 points, 10 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and shooting 46% from the field. There is little argument that those types of figures are All-Conference type of numbers. Kyle Fogg has been equally impressive tallying 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 42% from the field.

Stop and think about those figures for a minute. You have two players who were all but shunned from the program by fans just six short weeks ago, who are now accounting for 31% of the Wildcats’ offensive production and claiming 33% of the teams’ rebounds. At that rate, Horne and Fogg will take one of the most devastating 28 seconds in basketball history and make it but a footnote in their lives and in their season.

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