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PAC-10 Picks: Week 4

Posted by naterb on January 21, 2009

For Current Standings check out the Pick ‘Em Page. Otherwise, let’s just get down to it, shall we?

NaterB’s Picks:

  1. Arizona over Arizona State – You should’ve read my preview by now giving the breakdown of the teams. I think Arizona needs this one too badly, and Hill poses to big of an inside advantage to stop. Arizona pulls out the home win – but not by much.
  2. UCLA over Washington State- Without Cowgill and Weaver this matchup doesn’t possess the intrigue it did the last two years. UCLA skates to an easy win.
  3. Stanford over Oregon- Oregon is too inexperienced and too unorganized to get their first PAC-10 win at Maples.
  4. CAL over Oregon State- Cal is experienced enough and are very well coached so the slow-down style of Oregon State won’t bother them much.
  5. USC over Washington- Washington has had an easy go of the conference so far. Things are about to get a lot tougher.
  6. UCLA over Washington- Getting swept at home hurts, but I can’t help but seeing it this week. Their best chance for a “W” is on Thursday against USC.
  7. Washington State over USC- This is my “upset” pick for the week. I don’t think USC is capable of handling a team that slows the game down like OSU and WSU.
  8. CAL over Oregon – This could be a fun game to watch – although it won’t be close. Both teams like to shoot the 3-ball. Oregon just isn’t as good or organized. Is Kent’s time drawing to an end in Eugene?
  9. Stanford over Oregon State- I already picked one upset this week, I’m not daring enough to go for two. Stanford at home is a tough win and will be too much for OSU – but I think it could get interesting.

The Others: (Remember the numbers represent the number of participants that picked each school)

Arizona State @ Arizona
Arizona State 4, Arizona 7

UCLA @ Washington State
UCLA 11, Washington State 0

Oregon @ Stanford
Oregon 2, Stanford 9

Oregon State @ CAL
Oregon State 0, CAL 11

USC @ Washington
USC 4, Washington 7

UCLA @ Washington
UCLA 9, Washington 2

USC @ Washington State
USC 10, Washington State 1

Oregon @ CAL
Oregon 0, CAL 11

Oregon State @ Stanford
Oregon State 0, Stanford 11

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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 Weekly Preview

Posted by naterb on January 14, 2009

PAC-10 conference play rolls on this week as the Arizona schools travel to visit the LA schools, the Oregon Schools host their neighboring Washington schools, and Cal travels to Stanford for this week’s rivalry match-up. After the week is through we should start seeing a clearer picture of how the conference shakes up with two of the top three teams facing off, a pair of middle-of-the-pack teams going head-to-head, and some of the bottom of the barrel teams matching up.

Arizona 11-5 (2-2) W2

Chase Budinger looks to continue to pull out of his shooting slump when the ‘Cats face UCLA and USC on the road this week. The ‘Cats will have to notch up their playing level as they’ve been inconsistent at best the past four or five games.

Arizona State 14-2 (3-1) W2

Arizona State’s claim to contend for the Conference Title is put on the line this week as they face off with UCLA, the pre-season favorite, at Pauley Pavilion. James Harden will keep them in the game, but they’ll need solid minutes from Pendergraph and at least one other player if they hope to pull off the tough road win.

USC 10-5 (1-2) L2

USC hopes to get back to their winning ways when Arizona State and Arizona pull into town this week. DeMar Derozan has started to step up, but even at home the Trojans will need more than a good freshman to propel them towards a sweep.

UCLA 13-2 (3-0) W9

The Bruins are looking to build on a nine-game win streak, and hope to protect their home court against the Arizona schools. Collison has been an absolute stud this season, and it should be interesting to see how they hold up in their toughest conference challenges yet this year.

Washington State 9-6 (1-2) W1

Washington State is looking to build upon their slight victory over the Cardinal last week. Fortunately they face off against an inexperienced Oregon team. But the interesting match-up will be when they face off against Oregon State who play a similar slow-down offense as the Cougars.

Washington 11-4 (2-1) L1

A tough triple-overtime loss to Cal hurts, but Washington should be ready to take it to the Ducks and the Beavers this week. Brockman could be in for a huge week as he faces off against the Ducks with an inexperienced big-man, and Oregon State with no true inside presence to speak of.

Oregon State 6-8 (1-3) L 2

The Beavers aren’t any more talented than they were last year – but they’re playing an offense more suited to their strengths. They’re organized and experienced. Playing at home might even give them an edge towards their second conference victory this week.

Oregon 6-10 (0-4) L4

The biggest question for the Ducks right now has to be when the veteran players are going to step up and lead this team. They’ve collapsed in big games thus far, and too much has been left on a great freshman in Michael Dunigan – who ironically is almost an after thought in the Ducks offense.

Rivalry Match-Up: CAL & Stanford

CAL 15-2 (4-0) W9

The Golden Bears are on a 9 game winning streak with solid conference wins over ASU, Arizona, and Washington. Now they travel across the Bay to play their rivals. It should be interesting to see Mike Montgomery back in Maples for the first time as an opposing coach this weekend.

Stanford 11-3 (1-3) L2

Stanford’s front court has been the marquis headliner for the Cardinal so far this year. They’ll get a huge test when they have to stop on Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle. This should be an interesting guard match-up with Stanford fighting an uphill battle – even at home.

Thursday’s Games:

Washington State @ Oregon State
Washington @ Oregon
Arizona State @ Southern Cal.
Arizona @ UCLA

Saturday’s Games:

Washington State @ Oregon
Arizona State @ UCLA
CAL @ Stanford
Arizona @ USC
Washington @ Oregon State

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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 »

Cop-Out Coach

Posted by naterb on January 11, 2009

 

Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson is tossed with a little over two minutes remaining in an eight-point game. With a game that close, I can’t help but ask myself, “Why on earth did he do that? What was he thinking?!” The Beavers were out-shooting the Wildcats on the night. In fact, the Wildcats were so bad during the second half that during the final 6 minutes of the game they had more points from the free throw line (eight) than from the field (six). So with the Beavers down 8, controlling the tempo of the game, and the Wildcats having a horrible half shooting, why did Robinson get himelf thrown out of the game by complaining about a loose-ball foul? 

What set me off?” said Robinson, repeating a post-game question.

“When my two guys fell down and there was no call, that’s what set me off. … and I think the fouls were 15-4 (OSU had 15) when I left.

“That was the point at which I wanted our guys to know that I wasn’t allowing them to get pushed around any longer. I wanted to sort of stand up for them.”

Okay Coach, I can respect that, especially since the Wildcats had 5 fouls on the night compared to the Beavers’ 16. But it just doesn’t sit right with me. Why? Because when a team has 16 team fouls it means that they aren’t moving their feet, establishing position, and tend to be reaching. In short, they aren’t hustling and are getting beat to loose balls, rebounds, and facing a team that is playing hard.

My suspicion was further confirmed when I read what Daniel Deane had to say about the technicals.

“They (the refs) didn’t call anything, so it wasn’t a push,” he said. “We were playing hard. They were playing hard. It was an intense game. Emotions were flying around. … me and (Johnson) both went hard for the rebound, and a couple of their players went hard, too. That’s about it.”

Bottom line, Robinson’s actions got him kicked out of a close game, and cost the Beavers any chance they had left. Sometimes a coach finding themselves watching the rest of the game from the locker room can ignite a team. If that was his intent, it backfired. The Beavers would not score again after Robinson’s ejection. Next time coach, instead of getting on the refs, try getting on your players a little more about moving their feet and boxing out instead.

All Quotes taken from: Oregon Live - Coach Rob pulls a Rasheed 

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Game Preview: OSU @ UA

Posted by naterb on January 10, 2009

Even if the Beavers fail to beat another opponent for the rest of the season they can have a successful season. Craig Robinson’s and OSU’s goals are modest this season – 1) Improve upon their 0-18 conference record from a year ago. 2) Show growth as a team every game. By those standards, the Beavers have already had successful season. Don’t expect them to stop there, however. After the USC game, the Beavers are starting to believe that they can contest and beat anybody in the conference. That’s a big change from a year ago.
Calvin Haynes has been a monster off the bench with 15.7 ppg and should find himself with a starting role in the near future.

Calvin Haynes has been a monster off the bench with 15.7 ppg and should find himself with a starting role in the near future.

Craig Robinson has changed a lot of things in Oregon State since his arrival in Corvallis – even if the overall record and box scores don’t show it. The Beavers are still giving up more points than they score on a nightly average, they still have the 2nd worst turnover rater in the conference, and have been out-rebounded by over 3 boards a game. But there is a swagger that can be seen in their step now. A sign of confidence and a glimmer of intensity that was lost during Jay John’s final season. The players are buying into Robinson’s Princeton style offense and are getting better with every game – evidenced by the fact that they closed out their non-conference schedule by winning four of their final five games before pulling off the upset over USC.

 Perhaps the result of those games not only has to do with Robinson, but the impact of Calvin Haynes. After being academically ineligible for the fall semester, Haynes had played during the last seven games and has become the teams leading scorer with 15.7 a contest – that’s 8th in the PAC-10. Haynes has been coming off the bench for the Beavers since his return, but considering his scoring average and that he’s the 2nd best 3-point shooter on the team, he should be starting soon enough. Haynes is an impact player that believes in Robinson and his system. Things like that are what have the Beavers heading in the right direction after truly hitting rock-bottom a year ago.

The Beavers’ new swagger and confidence has them believing they can contend with any team in the conference and win, which means teams can no longer sleep on the Beavers. Despite the swagger and effort these kids have and the trust they’re putting into Robinson, the USC win will continue to prove as the exception rather than the rule. After all, you don’t go from 0-18 to competing for the PAC-10 title by changing your coach and bringing in three recruits.

The Beavers are still being out-rebounded by over 3 a game, outscored by 1.5 a game – against mediocre competition, and have a negative-four turnover ratio. The results have improved slightly, but are still comparable to a year ago. But the swagger is new. The confidence is new. And the style is new. The Beavers are pointed in the right direction already, and its been less than a year.

Key’s to the Game:

 

  • Improve the Defense: The Ducks believed they could get a shot off anytime they wanted against Arizona – and that’s something that needs to change if they hope to compete with UCLA, CAL, and ASU for the conference title. The Beavers are not a solid 3-point shooting team, but are good enough. Even Roeland Schaftenaar can pop out and knock down the occasional three-pointer.
    Projected Need: Force the Beavers into 14 or more turnovers while shooting less than 40% from the field and beyond the arc.
  • Get an Education: Nic Wise needs to get his head up and see the floor again. During the last two games Wise has had a significant increase in over-penetrating and not reacting to the collapsing defense quick enough. The result has been a lot of offensive fouls and excessive turnovers. I would like to see Wise, for the time being, scoring less and focusing more on his assists and turnovers.
    Projected Need: Wise 7 assists, 2 or fewer turnovers
  • Chase Budinger: Budinger got it going within 8 feet against Oregon, but that’s not enough for me to believe he is out of his slump yet. Budinger needs to continue to be aggressive and get to the rim. But I’d like to see more of those long-range shots starting to drop too. Budinger has had one good game, but I believe it takes two back-to-back to really break a slump. Time to break it, Budinger.
    Projected Need: Budinger 40+% shooting, 6 free throw attempts, 3 3-pointers, 16 points
  • Jordan Hill: For the first time since the Gonzaga game, Hill failed to record a double-double against Oregon. Keep in mind he was only 1 point away as he was hustling and playing hard, despite the ‘Cats not looking to get the ball to him. The Beavers have several big bodies to throw at Hill which should make it difficult, but they aren’t much more than big bodies. Hill should be able to dominate inside
    Projected Need: Get Hill 12 good looks at the basket. Just 12. He’ll do the rest I have no doubt.

 

 Princeton Offense: Every now and then it helps to have a refresher – and for some they’ve never learned – so I’ve posted two links found on ESPN about the fundamentals of the Princeton Offense. It has been split into two sections, the low block and the high post. Includes some good visuals as well. I hope that at least one person can find them useful.

Part 1 (The Low Block)
Part 2 (The High Post)

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Preview, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Sports: General | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

PAC-10 Power Rankings

Posted by naterb on January 6, 2009

 

Every morning you can pick up your local newspaper or go online to any major sports website and look up the current standings in the PAC-10. If you were to do that any time before this Thursday here’s what you would see:

1. UCLA 2-0

2. CAL 2-0

3. Washington 1-0

4. Stanford 1-1

5. ASU 1-1

6. USC 1-1

7. OSU 1-1

8. WSU 0-1

9. Arizona 0-2

10. Oregon 0-2

 

Darren Collison
Darren Collison

But standings at this point in the conference season don’t mean anything. Do you honestly believe that Oregon State is better than Arizona, Oregon or Washington? As conference play wears on the standings will be perpetually more revealing as to how each of the teams stack up. Now, I know this is impossible, but it would be nice if the media had some way of reporting how the teams are really stacked up, and not just by their record. So I’ve decided to pick up there and every week I’ll break down the PAC-10 and rank them against one another. Enjoy!

 

  1. UCLA – It’s no surprise that they stand on top of the conference after the opening weekend. Shipp and Collison were impressive this weekend on the road.
  2. CAL – Their sweep of the Arizona schools is more impressive than UCLA’s conference wins, but it’s too early to use that as a bearing point right now. Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher are a great one-two punch and have Cal vying for the top position in the PAC-10.
  3. ASU – A 30 point win over Stanford at Maples? Even if Stanford is down this year, that’s still impressive. CAL exploited their weaknesses and showed that ASU needs another offensive weapon.
  4. Washington – Defeating your in-state rivals on their floor is always a great way to start conference play. The Huskies have seen continued production from Jon Brockman, Isaiah Thomas, and Justin Dentmon. If they want to stay ranked this high, they’ll need Quincy Pondexter to step up.
  5. Stanford – That 30 point loss at home was embarrassing, but they bounced back and controlled their match-up with Arizona, even on an off night. Their lack of interior presence will become problematic over the course of conference play. They over-came it this weekend, so until their style falters this is where they belong.
  6. USC – Winning on the road in the PAC-10 isn’t easy, period. But to be the team that snaps Oregon State’s 17-game losing streak is downright embarrassing. The Trojans have more problems than a tough road loss to a bad Oregon State team. They have an athletic and talented roster, but they aren’t playing as a team. They’ll continue to struggle until the players view the team as more than a yield sign into the NBA.
  7. Arizona – Going 0-2 to start conference play is never good. But for a young team whose leader is struggling you can’t fault them too much. Things should be okay in Arizona once Budinger finds his way out of this wicked slump. Until then, all talk of contending for a tournament bid should be silenced.
  8. Oregon State – It must feel great to get that monkey off their back, especially against a team that was picked to finish in the top four of the conference. Has the new coach breathed life into these kids, or was this simply a flash in the pan?
  9. Washington State – Their off-season losses are grossly apparent. It wasn’t the fact that they lost their rivalry game at home that has them ranked so low. It’s the fact that an average Washington team flat out toyed with them. Rochestie, Thompson, and Baynes need to step up in a big way or this is going to be a long season.
  10. Oregon – What’s worse than starting conference play 0-2? Doing that on your home court. The Ducks should be fine as long as Ernie Kent can get the freshmen up to speed. It will be another up and down season for the Ducks though.

 

Alright, I admit it… I’m a stat junkie. I get excited looking at a box score. I like seeing a player putting up 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists more than seeing a guy go for 30 points. Why? Partly because I like seeing all the little boxes with something filled in – might be some form of OCD – but mostly because I value the complete game more than a scorer any day. But stats can only tell you so much. While they can give you an idea as to how a player or team performed, they aren’t definitive. The same can be said of Conference standings.

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