Hey everybody! Thanks for stopping by to chat about the Pac-12 and the Arizona Wildcats. Hope you're having a wonderful day. Fire away with questions — the more you ask, the better — and I'll try to get to them in the next hour or so. Big game for the UA tomorrow night.
That's ridiculous. Don't be that fan that thinks the analyst hates your school. Seriously. Bill Walton might have been critical of the UA before they rallied against Stanford, but, guess, what? His son Luke came here and he talks about what a wonderful place it is ALL THE TIME. And then Walton critiqued UCLA, his alma mater, the next day. Being analytical and critical is the job of analysts. They're not out to get any particular school. C'mon now.
This year's Pac-12 is definitely better than last year. Not even close. As much as some folks like to complain about East Coat bias, the best way for the Pac-12 to gain respect (and come out on the winning end of numbers being crunched) is by winning important nonconference games. (This year, the UA beat Florida, UCLA beat Mizzou and Colorado beat Baylor. The Miami win was huge for the Wildcats, but we didn't know that at the time). That starts with scheduling high-level non-con games, too.
Wow. Sounds like a Direct TV commercial in here. I don't know that you could argue a lack of exposure hurts athletes in any palpable way; I mean, the selection committee isn't going to leave out a team because the Pac-12 Networks wasn't on Direct TV. But would the league have a broader footprint with Direct TV airing the Network? Sure. Also, it's important to point this out — if either the league or Direct TV thought they were being irreparably harmed by this impasse, they would have ended it by now
Sean Miller is a man-to-man coach. And there are man-to-man coaches who don't entertain the idea f zone, not just because they prefer their own scheme but because they preach to their players individual responsibility. I can't see Miller getting away from that. It should be noted, though: Miller's "Pack Line" defense sinks players down toward the basket and lanes, so it's not just a 5-players-guarding-5-players-with-no-help sorta thing
If they finish the conference season 13-5, I think that keeps at least a share of the conference title in play. (As of today, the UA, Oregon and UCLA all have 3 losses in league play). Combine that with two Pac-12 Tournament wins, and Arizona's probably a 2 seed, in my opinion. As for the zone, Miller's teams have dealt with opponents playing that scheme ever since he got here. One difference Sunday: Kevin Parrom usually sets up in the middle of the zone, near the high post, where he is a tremendous passer. He turned the ball over a few times Sunday, and that hurt them.
I'll answer that with a story: Larry Smith, the late football coach, used to describe youth by waving his arm up and down, like a rollercoaster. As players grew older, he said, they played more consistently. He'd flatten his arm out like a gentle rolling wave, and then finally lay it flat. There's an inconsistency that comes with 98 percent of the freshmen players in the country. Two weeks ago, Tarczewski looked to be getting the hang on things. Then he had a bad week here last week. I think Ashley and Jerrett both look better today than they did 6 weeks ago.
You guys know I am a huge fan of KenPom.com, where Ken Pomeroy is doing some amazing things with statistics. Part of his number-crunching tries to be predictive. He has the UA with a 53 percent chance of beating CU tomorrow, and guesses a final score of 67-66. He's been wrong before, but hey, it's better than being the 47 percent. Feel better?
I could see them losing at CU and at UCLA. That leaves them at 25-5 (13-5 in Pac-12) entering the tournament.
Fans don't like to hear this, but college hoops rankings in early February mean diddly-squat. Don't sweat it. As for the respect angle, consider this: Arizona's lost three times since Miami has. Arizona's lost twice since Gonzaga has. And Florida's beaten three ranked teams since they lost to Arizona, The Wildcats have beaten one during the same timeframe
They're all tough schedules. You could argue the Wildcats have it the easiest. Of the top 4 teams in the Pac-12, the UA and ASU play at CU/Utah, at home against UW/WSU, at USC/UCLA and at home against each other. That's 3 home games left for the UA, two for the Sun Devils. Oregon plays at UW/WSU, at home against the Bay schools, at home against OSU and then at CU/Utah. And UCLA plays the next three on the road — at the Bays, at UCLA — and then at home vs. UA/ASU and at UW/WSU.
I have no beef with the way Kevin Parrom has played for most of the season. Bad day Sunday. The UA box score Sunday looked really similar to games that they win. They got caught by a Cal player having the best game of his life.
I thought last year was great, actually, because of the desperation of the teams there. (I mean, no one was good enough to dance without a decent conference showing). I think we'll enter the Pac-12 Tourney with three close-to-sure-things for the Tournament (UA, UCLA, UO) and two or three on the cusp. What'll be fun is if one of those teams (CU? ASU? Cal/Stan?) makes a run at the finals, or if it comes from a surprise team. (Oregon State?)
Mike Montgomery posited last week that some players might play poorly at home because they're surrounded by the pressure of family and friends — and that it might actually be easier for them to play road games, especially as freshmen. I might buy that as a reason.
If you guys missed it, Kentucky just announced that Nerlens Noel, their shot-blocking star, has a torn ACL and is done for the year. Bad news for the kid, who mighta been the No. 1 pick in the draft after his freshman year, and for UK, which has a chance to miss the Big Dance. Your question about starts is a good one. Miller openly flirted with the idea of starting Parrom (instead of Zeus or Ashley) vs Cal to get the energy level up. Maybe he's thinking that today.
I haven't heard anything of that sort. I can ask around though.
In the second half Sunday — which is when Cal played that zone — the UA shot 36.7 percent afield and went only 3-for-8 from three-point land. You're right — that's not good. I'm not a giant fan of isolation, but there will be cases when Hill can exploit a mismatch. I'd love to see some kinda screen and roll game with Jerrett or Ashley, but I don't know if Lyons is the perfect guy to be the dribbler there.
Ha. No. All but five programs in America would be over the moon with a 20-3 record. Enjoy it, will ya? But if UA fans have dreams of a Final Four, or even an Elite Eight, this group's gotta get better. Their first conference tournament game likely a week from tomorrow. That's an ETERNITY
I wasn't up there last year for the UA game, so I didn't get to hear the Coors Events Center. (I like the KEG shorthand though). I've walked around in there, but not for a game. From what I've heard, though, the crowd will be bananas tomorrow.
Johnson scored in double figures in 9-of-10 games starting Dec. 23 (Miami) and ending with the Washington win on Jan. 31. Since then, he's shot 5-for-18 over three games, averaging five points. And then came Sunday, when Crabbe scored on him so much that, later, Solomon Hill said he wished Miller would have let Hill or Parrom switch with Nick. Not a great two weeks. (Remember, though, that he had the flu in Washington.) Curious to see how he plays this weekend, for sure
I don't see how folks can complain about getting, out of the clear blue sky, a fifth-year senior transfer handed to them who goes on to average 15.4 points per game. But I understand he's not a point guard, and that's frustrating to a ton of people. Wednesday might have been his most complete game as a point guard — in addition to 25 points, he had six assists and two turnovers. Miller said he mighta had 10 assists, were UA players not fouled on the shot. I think that's the best he could possibly play at the position. And UA fans would take that EVERY TIME.
At this point, yes. But I'm not sure Jerrett, assuming his foot feels good, isn't more dynamic by the end off the season
Who knows? I don't think the three freshmen have played well enough to feel too compelled to leave, but NBA teams draft on spec, and those guys have good projectables. I think it will be HARD to replace Hill, Lyons and Parrom, though. In that order.
Guys, that's all the questions we have time for. Sorry I didn't get to every single one, but I got close. Have a great week.