Tag:Arizona
Posted on: March 12, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Welcome to the Dance, Washington Huskies

Little man, big shot.

Isaiah Thomas has never had the biggest body on the basketball court, but his heart and personality can fill any space. The 5-foot-9 senior faked a drive with seconds on the clock in overtime, putting Arizona's Momo Jones on his heels for a split second, then stepped back and coolly drained a deep shot to send Washington to its second straight surprise Pac-10 tournament title.

Thomas finished with 28 points on 10-16 shooting (including 4-7 from three) and 7 assists. Freshman Terrance Ross added 16, and was the only other Huskies player in double figures. The No. 3 Huskies took down the tournament's No. 1 seeded Arizona Wildcats, despite a masterful 24 point, 11 rebound performance by Derrick Williams.

The player to watch? Isaiah Thomas, of course. He's the sparkplug that makes Washington go.



The Vitals

Record: 23-10 (11-7)
Colors: Purple and gold
We're thinking: 7 seed
Kenpom ranking: 15
RPI: 39 
Best win: Arizona (twice)
Worst Loss: at Oregon State
Interesting stat: The Huskies don't visit the line very often, notching just a 32 percent rate of free throw attempts/field goal attempts. They don't make many of those they get, either, hitting just 66.9 percent as a team.
Most recent tourney appearance: 2010, Sweet Sixteen. Defeated Marquette and New Mexico, lost to West Virginia.

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:39 am
 

Pac-10 championship game preview

The Washington Huskies made sure there won't be any bid thieves coming out of the Pac-10 this year. By dispatching the Oregon Ducks 69-51 in a hard-fought game on March 11, Lorenzo Romar's squad -- the No. 3 seed -- put themselves in the championship game with No. 1 Arizona. The final game of the Pac-10 tournament will be played at 6:10 p.m. ET on CBS.

For Arizona, the key player couldn't be more obvious. Sophomore Derrick Williams has posted ten double-doubles this season, and scored in double figures in all but one game (February 24 at USC). His ability to throw down the spectacular dunk in the flow of game action has put him on the highlight reels, but his ability to step back and take a well-aimed jumper (63 percent from deep) is what makes him the truly dangerous player that has returned the Wildcats to the national rankings.

Derrick Williams, Momo Jones and Isaiah ThomasWilliams' dominance means his supporting cast is rather anonymous on the national stage. No other player averages double figures in scoring, which may be be the team's achilles heel. Over the long haul, the role players have done what it takes to get to this point, but the single-elimination format of the postseason could expose that weakness.

Lamont "Momo" Jones is the team's second-leading scorer, notching 9.6 points per game. He had a nice stretch in late January and early February where he consistently scored in double figures, but has become erratic again in crunch time. Momo shares ballhandling duties with Kyle Fogg, the junior who has seen his minutes dwindle in the Pac-10 tournament. Aside from Williams' 8.1 rebounds per game, the Wildcats get their rebounds by committee, with Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry playing catch-as-catch-can on a nightly basis.

For Washington, a position of strength has become a position of weakness over the long season. The guard rotation has taken hits, from the injury that sidelined Abdul Gaddy after the much-improved sophomore had played just 13 games, to the recent suspension of stalwart defender Venoy Overton for off-court issues. In the win over Oregon, the Huskies got good contributions from freshmen C.J. Wilcox, who scored 14 points on 3-7 deep shooting, and Terrence Ross, who kicked in 13. The centerpiece of the guard rotation has always been senior Isaiah Thomas, and he's in his usual good form. The diminutive floor general had 10 points and 12 assists on Friday.

The Washington frontcourt is bolstered by the improved play of UK native Matthew Bryan-Amaning. The senior is averaging 16 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 1.6 bpg, while keeping up with the wicked pace Lorenzo Romar's offense dictates. Justin Holliday is the team's other senior starter, and he's capable of having a big night as well, though he's fairly inconsistent.

These teams split the season series, so the result of this one will be anyone's guess. With charismatic players like Williams and Thomas on the floor, it's bound to be very entertaining.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Conference tourney reset: Pac-10 semifinals

Alex StephesonThree games left before the Pac-10 crowns a champion. Three of the top four seeds are left, along with a surprise semifinal participant.

The first semifinal looks a little different right now, as we've learned that USC coach Kevin O'Neill has been suspended for the remainder of the Pac-10 tournament.


No. 4 USC vs. No. 1 Arizona, 9:10 p.m. ET

USC got here by virtue of a 14-point win over Cal. For Arizona, it was a 78-69 win over Oregon State that looks closer than it really was. The Trojans and Wildcats split their season series, so it's no foregone conclusion as to how this one will play out. Playing in L.A. could give USC a bit of a home-crowd advantage, unless UCLA fans show up to boo them mercilessly. The Trojans got a great game from North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who went for 14 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Cal, on a night when Nikola Vucevic had trouble finding his shot. Guards Jio Fontan, Donte Smith and Maurice Jones each contributed double-figure scoring as well, which is a good sign for the Trojans this late in the season. Arizona, of course, is the Derrick Williams show. If he's on like he was against the Beavers (22 points, 5-6 from three), he'll be pretty much unstoppable once again.

No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 3 Washington, 11:40 p.m. ET

This side of the Pac-10 bracket was almost the all-Cinderella side. Oregon actually closed out its surprising win over 2-seed UCLA, while Washington State ran out of gas in spite of 43 from Klay Thompson in the nightcap. Oregon's top player throughout the season has been Joevan Catron, but it was sophomore E.J. Singler who came alive in the upset, scoring 24 points as the Duck defense shut down UCLA's inside production. Thompson's eight made three-pointers would seem to indicate that Venoy Overton's absence is hurting the Washington perimeter defense, but it's unlikely that the Ducks will have the right combination of players to exploit that weakness. Then again, it didn't seem particularly likely that they'd be able to slow UCLA on the inside, either. But here we are.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 10:05 am
 

Pac-10 conference tourney update: day two

With the two first-round games completed, the Pac-10 is one step closer to crowning a postseason champion. Oregon State advanced with a 68-67 victory over Stanford on March 9. Their geographical rivals, the Oregon Ducks, advanced in the nightcap with a 76-69 win over Arizona State.

Derrick Williams will try to secure the auto-bid for his WildcatsThat sequence of events sets up today's action, which will feature the Pac-10's only nationally-ranked team, the No. 15 Arizona Wildcats, in the first game.

No. 1 Arizona (25-6, 14-4) vs. No. 9 Oregon State (10-19, 5-13), 3:10 p.m. ET

Oregon State was just above Arizona State at the bottom of the league standings this season, but here they are, moving on to the second round of the Pac-10 tournament. The primary reason is the play of Jared Cunningham, who poured in 24 points against Stanford in the first round. The matchup of Cunningham with Derrick Williams of the Wildcats has a lot of potential. While Williams is the more polished player by far, both prospects show the kind of explosive athleticism that could keep the crowd in L.A. on its feet. Williams has the far superior supporting cast, however.

No. 4 USC (18-13, 10-8) vs. No. 5 California (17-13, 10-8), 5:40 p.m. ET

Despite being ineligible for postseason play last year, the USC Trojans banded together to produce the nation's No. 4 defense. That gave fans of the program hope that this season would be even better, but there just wasn't the same level of team ability. Nikola Vucevic (17.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg) is the team's best player this season, and there was hope that the late arrival of transfer Jio Fontan (10.5 ppg) would boost the team more than it has. The Trojans will face a Cal team that was the class of the conference last season, but was forced to start over after a slew of graduations. Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez kept the team together, each averaging 14.6 ppg, and this season ended up much better than it could have. Gutierrez is also the team's best defender and distributor, so his importance can't be overstated. The one to watch with an eye toward the future is Alan Crabbe, the freshman who scored 30 points against Washington in January, and has been over 20 ppg in his past two games.

No. 3 Washington (20-10, 11-7) vs. No. 6 Washington State (19-11, 9-9), 9:10 p.m. ET

Washington had all the parts to lead the Pac-10 from wire to wire this season, but Lorenzo Romar was never able to put it together. Isaiah Thomas has been one of the nation's best scoring point guards, leading his team in points and assists, but his backcourt mates have been an ever-changing group. Abdul Gaddy was only able to play two conference games before injury put him on the bench, and Venoy Overton was more of a defensive presence. A defensive presence who has been ruled out of the tourney by his coach for an alcohol incident. Freshman C.J. Wilcox must build on his reputation as a three-point threat (39 percent) if the Huskies are to lock down a bid. The Cougars are dealing with their own substance-abuse issue, which added a sour note to the end of the season for star Klay Thompson (21.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.0 apg). With DeAngelo Casto and Reggie Moore playing supporting roles, there's a definite chance for WSU to pull the mild upset of their in-state rivals.  

No. 7 Oregon (14-16, 7-11) vs. No 2 UCLA (22-9, 13-5), 11:40 p.m. ET

Earning a single-digit seed and winning a first-round game in the Pac-10 is probably as good as anyone could have hoped for Oregon this season. That's not to say they won't try to win this game, but this season's post-Ernie Kent roster was tied together with baling wire, and isn't likely to be much of a match for a resurgent UCLA program that boasts Reeves Nelson (14.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg), Josh Smith (10.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Tyler Honeycutt (12.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg). Oh, and let's not forget Malcolm Lee (13.2 ppg) in the backcourt. Topping that lineup is an uphill climb for any team.

Pac-10 tournament bracket

****

Title game: 6:10 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 12 (CBS)

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Derrick Williams, Arizona
  2. Reeves Nelson, UCLA
  3. Isaiah Thomas, Washington

 

Conference RPI: 7

KenPom.com rating: 5

Sagarin rating: 6

NCAA Tournament Locks: Arizona, UCLA

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Washington

 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

Arizona: 2009 (beat Utah and Cleveland State, lost to Louisville in Sweet 16)

UCLA: 2009 (beat VCU, lost to Villanova)

Washington: 2010 (beat Marquette and New Mexico, lost to West Virginia in Sweet 16)

USC: 2009 (beat Boston College, lost to Michigan State)

California: 2010 (beat Louisville, lost to Duke)

Washington State: 2008 (beat Winthrop and Notre Dame, lost to North Carolina in Sweet 16)

Oregon: 2008 (lost to Mississippi State in first round)

Stanford: 2008 (beat Cornell and Marquette, lost to Texas in Sweet 16)

Oregon State:  1990 (lost to Ball State)

Arizona State: 2009 (beat Temple, lost to Syracuse)

 

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Conference tourney preview: the Pac-10

The Pac-10 is certainly not the powerhouse it was two years ago, but the venerable league looks to be on the comeback trail. As the conference tournament kicks off on Wednesday, March 9, both Arizona (25-6, 14-4) and UCLA (22-9, 13-5) have regained some of their shine. The team that seemed the most tourney-ready at the beginning of the season – the Washington Huskies (20-10, 11-7) finished a rather disappointing third in the league standings, but still has the pieces for a postseason run to match last season’s surprise Sweet 16 appearance.

Arizona and UCLA may meet for a third time with an NCAA bid on the line.We’ll have to wait a while to see those contenders in action. Wednesday’s games at the Staples Center in Los Angeles belong to the 7-10 seeds, as two of that number attempt to win through to play the top seeds on Thursday. That’s where we’ll look first.

No. 8 Stanford (15-15, 7-11) vs. No. 9 Oregon State (10-19, 5-13), 9:10 p.m. ET, FSN

Craig Robinson and Johnny Dawkins are both still fairly new to the Pac-10, but this game gives each a chance to show where his program is headed in the future. Dawkins likely has Stanford on the way up, as he awaits the arrival of heralded point guard recruit Chasson Randle for next season. Robinson’s situation is a good deal more shaky, though he is in charge of what is easily the worst program in the Pac-10 and has done his best to make the Beavers more athletic. One of the players who exemplifies that movement is Jared Cunningham, who became a YouTube sensation in the early days of the season by throwing down a “kiss the sky” monster jam in a home game against Arizona. Cunningham was one of five players benched by Robinson for OSU’s season-ending game at Arizona State, but if he plays in the tourney opener, the sophomore could be the difference-maker. Stanford will rely on junior guard Jeremy Green (16.5 ppg) for a scoring edge.

The winner of this game will face No. 1 seed Arizona on Thursday.

No. 7 Oregon (14-16, 7-11) vs. No 10 Arizona State (12-18, 4-14), 11:40 p.m. ET, FSN

If you asked most pundits at the beginning of the season, they probably would have guessed that these seeds would be reversed. Oregon has hired a very good coach in Dana Altman, but the program was left in a hideous mess by Ernie Kent: dealing with an NCAA inquiry, without a coach or athletics director for a good while, and leaking transfers and other player departures at a Titanic-like rate. Arizona State was in a rebuilding state, but had a proven coach in Herb Sendek and a talented bunch of freshmen on the way in. Obviously not an elite team, but solid.

Yet here we are. Altman managed to cobble together a roster of leftovers, newbies and retreads that came together enough to win seven games, led by senior forward Joevon Catron (15.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and sophomore E.J. Singler (10.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg). With only seldom-used German freshman Martin Seiferth standing over 6-foot-8, the Ducks played small ball to reasonably good effect. ASU, despite the presence of seven-footers from Canada and Russia, fell into the same mold, with worse results. They’ll look to Pac-10 second-teamer Trent Lockett (13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds) for a small measure of postseason success in this matchup.

The winner of this game will face No. 2 seed UCLA on Thursday.

Pac-10 tournament bracket

****

Title game: 6:10 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 12 (CBS)

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Derrick Williams, Arizona
  2. Reeves Nelson, UCLA
  3. Isaiah Thomas, Washington

 

Conference RPI: 7

KenPom.com rating: 5

Sagarin rating: 6

NCAA Tournament Locks: Arizona, UCLA

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Washington

 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

Arizona: 2009 (beat Utah and Cleveland State, lost to Louisville in Sweet 16)

UCLA: 2009 (beat VCU, lost to Villanova)

Washington: 2010 (beat Marquette and New Mexico, lost to West Virginia in Sweet 16)

USC: 2009 (beat Boston College, lost to Michigan State)

California: 2010 (beat Louisville, lost to Duke)

Washington State: 2008 (beat Winthrop and Notre Dame, lost to North Carolina in Sweet 16)

Oregon: 2008 (lost to Mississippi State in first round)

Stanford: 2008 (beat Cornell and Marquette, lost to Texas in Sweet 16)

Oregon State:  1990 (lost to Ball State)

Arizona State: 2009 (beat Temple, lost to Syracuse)

 

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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Posted on: February 26, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 6:41 pm
 

UCLA returns to the spotlight with AZ upset

Reeves Nelson does it all for the Bruins

Posted by Eric Angevine

Well, hello, Reeves Nelson. We didn't see you over there. We were too busy looking at Derrick Williams, way up there at No. 10 in the nation with his Arizona Wildcats.

By the way, is that an 8 on your arm, or infinity? Guess it's all in the angle. Right now, most of us are looking up at your arms raised in victory, so i guess it's a numeral for now.

The Pac-10 continues to be an unpredictable, streaky conference, and it's working to the advantage of the blue-blood Bruins this time around. First Washington flamed out from their priveleged position atop the league, and now Arizona has suffered two unexpected losses, allowing UCLA to move into a tie for first place.

Nelson had 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead UCLA to a stunning 71-49 drilling of the Wildcats in Pauley Pavilion. If you think that's the end of things, imagine how the Pac-10 tournament could change this picture.

The Bruins must go on the road to finish the season, traveling to Washington and Washington State. Arizona gets to stay home and welcome Oregon and Oregon State.

Regardless of which team comes out on top over that time period, it's become more than obvious now that we can't take anything for granted in the Pac-10. Last season, Cal and Washington came out of the scrum with tourney bids. This year, it's the traditional powers taking the inside track once again.

The UCLA victory over St. John's looms larger, as the Red Storm moved into fourth place in the Big East after a big road victory today. If you like your hoops to bear a certain old school patina, you must be in heaven right now. Can't wait to see what this final week of the season brings, but an NCAA bid for Ben Howland's boys seems like a pretty strong bet right now.

Photo: US Presswire
 
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 26, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: February 26, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Saturday Preview: Jimmer... Kawhi... be there!



Posted by Eric Angevine

Featured Game: BYU @ SDSU, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Raise your hand if you legitimately thought you'd be waiting breathlessly for a top-ten matchup in the Mountain West when this season began. All eyes are on Jimmer and Kawahi as the Cougars attempt to seize control of the MWC by winning in Viejas Arena. BYU already owns a convincing 71-58 home win in the series, and we could see a third matchup for the auto-bid when the league tourney starts in March. So, in case you couldn't tell, this is "kind of a big deal" in San Diego.

Missouri @ Kansas State, 12:00 p.m., ESPN: As K-State attempts to get off the bubble and into the field, they need every advantage they can get. Facing a ranked Missouri team in the Octagon of Doom, where they are bound to struggle with the non-stop noise, is a big one. A win would give Frank Martin's Wildcats the perfect resume boost to go with their upset of the Kansas Jayhawks, which also happened in Manhattan, KS. | Video Preview

Syracuse @ Georgetown, 12:00 p.m., CBS: This is our first chance to see what Georgetown is capable of with Chris Wright out for a full game. The senior guard is supposed to be healed in time for the NCAA tournament, but it would surely behoove John Thompson III to find an adequate substitute for the short run, or risk a drop in the postseason seeding process. Keep an eye on that starting lineup. | Video Preview

Wichita State @ Missouri State, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2: The atmosphere in Springfield, MO should be electric. School officials are calling for a "Maroon-out" as Cuonzo Martin's Bears (14-3 MVC) host Wichita State (14-3) in the final game of the season for both teams. Winner gets the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney, which could mean the difference between an auto-bid and a Selection Sunday spent in a full-on cold sweat. Missouri State owns a road win in the series, but several weeks have passed since then. | Dennis Dodd

St. John's @ Villanova, 2:00 p.m., CBS: Simply put, both of these teams are in the Big Dance barring a complete collapse to end the season. The story here is really St. John's on the road. We know they can win, and win big, in MSG, but what will they do in a hostile environment with a top-25 ranking to defend? Also, could a Jay Wright vs. Steve Lavin throwdown be a reality series on the Fashion Channel? | Video Preview

Memphis @ UTEP, 3:00 p.m., ESPN2: Will Tim Floyd keep his jacket on today? Can Memphis continue to claw its way back into the national consciousness under Josh Pastner? It's a battle of C-USA frontrunners.

Florida @ Kentucky, 4:00 p.m., CBS: Our Matt Jones has secured an All-Access pass for this one, so we fully expect to see him occupying John Calipari's chair while the energetic head coach paces the sidelines. OK, maybe he won't be that close, but he's already teasing us with tidbits of what we'll learn about how the Wildcats tick. Watch the game so you can compare the TV experience to Matt's up-close-and-personal take. Oh, and because it's a hee-youge game between ranked SEC teams in one of the nation's most venerated arenas. That too.

Arizona @ UCLA, 4:00 p.m., FSN: This was supposed to be the Year of the Huskies in another weak season in the Pac-10, but it's turned into more of a redemption story. Arizona is back in form as Sean Miller rebuilds the team that stumbled without Lute Olson in command, and Ben Howland is raring to make the Bruins' absence from the NCAA tournament a one-year aberration. Should be a hot one in Pauley Pavilion.

Duke @ Virginia Tech, 9:00 p.m., ESPN: The Hokies have a lot of work to do if they want to get off the bubble and into a bracket, and this one game could be the linchpin of the entire image rehab process. Seth Greenberg's team has made a fairly frequent habit of upsetting top-ranked ACC teams. The Washington Post has a nice recap article about the Hokies' recent battles with No. 1 teams that gives the lowdown. | Video Preview

View the full schedule

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Posted on: February 19, 2011 8:46 pm
 

Arizona win proves Pac-10 is not soft

The Pac-10 soft? I don't think so.

Posted by Eric Angevine

When Derrick Williams blocked Darnell Gant's potential game-winner out of bounds with one second left, he distilled all of the game's truly nasty intensity into throwing back a layup that he probably should have just tapped to run out the clock.

Such a gentle ending would have been a severe disappointment after the knock-down drag-out game in the McKale Center. The game was played inside a howling maelstrom of white-clad Wildcat fans, under the auspices of an officiating crew who seemed to feel they were calling a playground event. Nobody was complaining, though. In a heavyweight brawl, you expect to see a little blood.

In a game that was fueled by pure will, both teams had plenty of heroes. For the visitors, Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 24 with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 6 blocks. If there was a bigger overall stat line elsewhere in the nation, I'd like to see it. Pint-sized Isaiah Thomas dished out 9 assists, and freshman C.J. Wilcox came off the bench to hit 4-8 from deep as part of a 19 point effort.

That was a nice individual effort by Wilcox, but it pales in comparison to the Wildcat team effort. The Wildcats went 11-18 for a stunning 61 percent deep-shooting percentage and got nice rebounding games from Solomon Hill (7 boards) and Jesse Perry (6) in support of Williams.

Williams made his usual big impression even though Bryan-Amaning was probably the player of the game. The likely top-5 NBA draft pick had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, the last one being the most valuable in spite of Williams' use of excessive force.

Arizona is rounding into the kind of team that will claw for every win, and Washington showed why they were the preseason favorites in the Pac-10. The UCLA Bruins get a shot at both teams before the season is over, so this league is far from settled. However it plays out, this game should give the lie to the popular conception that the Pac-10 has gone soft.
 
 
 
 
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