Greetings from courtside at the Pac-12 Tournament, where ASU's team is being introduced amid a crowd of maybe 2,000 folks. It's a nice, big-league set-up here.
I'm ready for your questions. Please, fire away with anything you wanna know. We'll be here about an hour or so.
MUCH better. A lot more big-league. Fans staying at the MGM Grand can do what I did, and bump into Pac-12 players and coaches in the lobby all day. That's pretty cool. The arena itself isn't anything to write home about — it's a giant convention hall with temporary seating. But it works for this setting, totally. So far, a big win.
My feeling has always been that USC is the most disliked Pac-12 team, in every sport. In terms of THIS year's basketball squad, that's a good question. I know the Wildcats have typically had beef with Oregon State in recent years.
Great, potentially blasphemous, question. I was at the Vatican in the fall, actually, so the TV stuff today was pretty powerful. Here's all I can say on that topic: the Devils are playing a team that shares a name with prominent Catholic figures today. Bodes well for the Cardinal on Pope day
Funny story — we were talking courtside during the Arizona State game about how Ashley had kinda disappeared lately, and then he started playing his butt off. Maybe he heard us. I can see the entire team being more aggressive at this time of year. Remember, this is Sean "Nastiness is Required" Miller
Confident. And they should be. All the smart guys, from the Vegas oddsmakers to Ken Pomeroy, have the Wildcats as overwhelming favorites to win this tournament. Pomeroy had the UA with a 30 percent chance to win the event; no other team was above 15. And MGM Grand has the UA at 9/5 to win it. UCLA is next-closest, at 3-1. Miller mentioned a few teams in the last week that the Wildcats would not be content when they arrived in Vegas, because they didn't win the conference title. I think that's something to look for, too.
Good question. I think Brock Motum shoulda been on the all-conference first team instead of either EJ Singler, Mark Lyons or Spencer Dinwiddie — in that order. Stanford's Josh Huestis was a stunner, for me, on the all-defense team. I think the Wildcats had a case for Johnson, but as Miller said the other day, his struggles (and the team's overall defensive struggles) the past month probably squashed that candidacy.
Jahii Carson and Dwight Powell have 7 points apiece early on here. Stanford's up 13-11
Will do. It's amazing: every single room in the MGM Grand has the Pac-12 Network. It's been on in bars and in the casino in the building. So apparently the best way to get Pac-12 Network at your house is to, well, host the tournament at your house.
Haven't seen any Wildcats in Vegas. I got here last night, and I don't believe they were coming in until today.
Lack of any other star team? UCLA, the conference champ, doesn't need to win this tournament to justify anything other than a slightly higher seed. Cal has zero depth. Oregon has been wildly inconsistent in the last month or so. Remember this: those three teams played five games last week, all with conference implications: and went 1-4. So no one's red hot.
Pope update: It's Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina. He'll be Francis I. First South American pope and first Jesuit pope.
Game update: ASU up SEVEN, 23-16
I think Dwight Powell has been a mini-Derrick Williams this year — so big you have to guard him with a power forward or center, but agile, and skilled, enough to beat them one-on-one. I'd bet Carson stays another year, but who knows? Two weeks ago, his mom was trashing the team (other than her son) on Twitter.
Arizona is 7-4 in true away games and 3-0 in neutral site games, with two of those wins coming against Miami and San Diego State in Hawaii. 10-4's a pretty good number. I think Arizona's got a good chance to win the whole thing.
I think Stanford or Arizona State could be the wacky surprise team that makes it to the semis before running out of gas — in part because they'll play a UCLA team that might not be incredibly motivated. Oregon State's a lot more talented than they appear — but I've been saying that all year, and the Beavs finished 4-14. I don't think the teams in the late games — Utah, USC, UW, Wazzu — could put a run together.
From 2004-09, Miller missed the NCAA tournament only once. He went to the Sweet 16 three times and the Elite Eight once. And he thought that, when he left Xavier, his team coming up could have been one of his best. So that's an absolute ton of success. Does his current UA team have higher-rated, more athletic guys? Totally. But it's hard to find any team that compares well to those successful Musketeers
Good question. But they're spaced out well, so that bodes well for it being more full later (If that makes sense). It's such a smaller building than Staples that it feels like there are more folks here.
Who will flirt with national POY? Or first-team All-American? None of them. (Conference POY? Maaaaybe?) Who will be the best? All are going to be a ton better than they are today. Jerrett intrigues me the most, but Tarczewski has shown to be the most consistent thus far.
True. But if they had done that all season, they wouldn't be the No. 4 seed in their own conference tournament. The UA has the talent, which is the hard part. Now they just need to play better defense.
You mean Mark Lyons? I think his confidence and experience will be a great help in the postseason. Still, swagger be damned, you can't turn the ball over so much and continue to struggle with assists. And you're right: Momo made the tourney with Iona. I can't imagine they'd see each other early. I'm guessing Iona stays East-ish and Arizona West-ish.
Hill. Though it's not an all-or-nothing prospect.
He looked like a more energized player to me. I think the week of practice helped a lot. He's not as bad as he played in February, so I think he'll be better by default. I'll be curious to see how his legs handle playing 3 times in 3 days, though that admittedly is a nice problem for the UA to have.
In the top 10 or 12? With fans thinking they should have been in the top 4 instead?
Smart-ass answer. Sorry. I think Arizona's freshmen can only get better going forward. Replacing Lyons and Hill (and maybe/probably Parrom) isn't as easy as it looks though
Maybe he's operating on 5 hours of sleep, too. :) I grew up in the West, so I've never confused the two. But apparently this is a pretty common deal. It shouldn't be on the Pac-12 Networks though.
The Wildcats would hope the committee would look at Parrom's season last year — between the shooting and the death of his mother — as a special case. By the letter of the law, no, he wouldn't get the medical redshirt.
Dude's got an NBA body, doesn't he?
Tell him to tell his friends that "Bear Down Arizona" came long before "Bear Down Chicago Bears."
He will be a purer point guard. But Lyons finished 11th in the league with 14.9 points per game. McConnell won't do that.
Roberson has a viral illness and missed last week. He was cleared by the doctor yesterday and is expected to start today against OSU. I suspect he'll play limited minutes today, and will struggle with back-to-back games, should they win. But still, he's a wonderful player. CU would rather have a weakened version of him than none at all, I think
That seems like a good way to end this. Pride and Joy of Illinois, and all that. Thanks for following along, guys. ASU up 35-33 at the half.
Have a great week, everybody.