Pac-12 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for May 11th 2011 (Part One)

May 11, 2011, 4:25 PM | Updated: 4:32 pm

The big news of this past week in the Pac-12 was the major TV deal with ESPN and Fox Sports. The two competing TV Sports networks agreed to partner on the Pac-12 to the tune of around $3 Billion. On Wednesday the AP reported that the deal would be worth $250 million a year over 12-years and will mean that every single Pac-12 men ‘s hoops game will be televised, plus a number of other changes.

There will be 68 games televised on either ESPN (or partner ABC) or Fox, with the remainder being shown on a new Pac-12 network, slated to be launched in August 2012, according to Yahoo on Wednesday. Also according to Yahoo, “It’s also significant that the Pac-10 did not have to agree to any Monday or Tuesday games, keeping open the potential for travel partners to still exist even though the league’s traditional Thursday-Saturday pairings will become less common”.

Also on Wednesday, Eamonn Brennan of ESPN reported that the Pac-12 Channel will more than likely be subscription based, according to league commissioner Larry Scott, the proud new papa of the largest financial package for any conference. Brennan also reported that a number of games would be broadcast on ESPN and Fox networks at 8PM (PST) on “Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday nights”.

Washington athletic director Scott Woodward talked about the agreement’s effect on Husky sports in a released statement.

“As a self-sustaining athletic department accepting no funding from our university, we rely on many different streams of revenue to support 21 sports programs and over $8 million in annual student-athlete scholarships. This new agreement will help us keep pace with the rising costs of tuition, travel and national competition, enabling us to continue providing a first-class experience for over 650 Husky student-athletes into the coming decade.”

ESPN’s Dana O’Neill tried to re-write history, as far as the coverage of Pac-10 hoops, prior to the new deal, when she included the TV deal in her “Top-10 Lessons Learned in the Off-Season” column on Tuesday.

“What may be construed as East Coast bias to some could have been more accurately attributed to West Coast informational black hole. It’s hard to appreciate basketball that most people can’t watch regularly.”

That is pure cop-out. Any major news reporter would have access to a cable package that allowed you to watch any Pac-10 game that was broadcast anywhere. It is only because it did not do anything to boost ratings for ESPN’s games to cover the conference properly and fairly, that this leading network do the job on it that they and O’Neill did. They should have more fairly covered the Pac-10, regardless to that, if they were really covering college basketball from a national perspective.

They did not and have no one but their own greedy selves and the corporate suits that direct them to blame. How they transition into covering the Pac-12 fairly, now that that they bought in will be fun to watch. According to a number of reports, the Pac-12 Tourney is more likely going to stay in Los Angeles CA, but a Wednesday tweet from the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta contradicted that.

“WSU AD Bill Moos says on KJR-AM that ‘most probably’ the men’s hoops tourney WILL move around in future.”

I believe that it would make for a much more successful event if the Pac-12 Tournament moved around. With 12 teams, what could work better would be 6 different NBA gyms. Those could be the Staple Center (LA), the Golden State Warriors or Sacramento King’s gym (Bay Area), the Phoenix (Arizona) Suns gym, the Denver Nuggets or Utah Jazz’ gym, the Portland (OR) Blazers gym and Seattle’s Key Arena.

That way every year a new pair of teams would have an easier time getting fans to the event and the event would be considered more of an event than the same old yearly shuffle. LA doesn’t appreciate the event enough as an attraction and frankly there is so much entertainment there that once every six years would probably make it more successful regardless. The problem seems to be in securing a building in the middle of the NBA season and I guess that making it work yearly is easier than every six.

The highlight of this past tourney, at least for UW fans, was the “cold-blooded” buzzer beater that won it for the Dawgs. CBS play by play announcer Gus Johnson’s call was first rate and because of his stellar history of exciting calls and finishes, he was rewarded with a new job from Fox Sports. He will reportedly call NFL and Pac-12 Football. According to Fox Sports, Johnson will call the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament.

According to all reports, it is unclear as to what further role in Pac-12 hoops Johnson will play, but by being employed by Fox the potential is certainly there.

Speaking of yearly events in the conference, another deadline came and went for players to remove their names from the NBA draft and once again the conference was hit hard by early entry. The Pac-12 will bounce back, but losing it’s top seven scorers and all but three of the All-Conference team from the Pac-10 is pretty significant. ESPN’s Andy Katz updated his preseason top-25 on Monday, which included Arizona 10th and Cal, UCLA and Washington as “Others to consider”.

Fresh off defeating a challenge from Maryland for coach Sean Miller, a positive spin would be natural, but I’m not sure about the ‘Cats being the elite team in the

league. I doubt that another player like post Derrick Williams is coming to Tucson from their highly rated freshman class. Guys like that don’t grow on trees, regardless to star ratings.

Williams himself was not ranked that highly as a frosh and even with a top-10 guy like ‘Zona 2011 guard signee Josiah Turner, the chances are slim. The list of high

school All Americans that have entered the league and played that big of a role is easily in single digits. In recent years Jrue Holiday, Kevin Love, Spencer Hawes, OJ

Mayo, Demar Derozan and others have been outstanding, but even Love needed a veteran team around him to lead the Bruins to the league title.

The Bruins returned most of a Final Four team when Love played his only year of college ball. Turner is on the low end of that list at best and actually is involved in

potential academic scandal, as the prep school that he transferred to mid-season in early 2011 is under NCAA investigation for it’s academic standards. Arizona will be good, but so will those other three that Katz mentioned and others. I don’t believe that ‘Zona will be head and shoulders above the rest of the Pac-12.

Yahoo’s Jason King joined the parade of hypesters for Josiah on Saturday, picking Turner as the 11th best back court player in college before he even qualifies.

“Without Derrick Williams, the Wildcats probably won’t be as good as they were last season. Turner, though, is a point guard who will take over Williams’ role as the top player on the team. At 6-foot-3, Turner will be a match up problem for most of his opponents. If he adjusts to the college game quickly, Arizona could contend for the league title.”

Though they won it last year with Williams, they were barely better this past year. King went from “contending” to being the “favorite” magically in three days in his post early entry withdrawal date top-10 on Tuesday. He chimed in with even more zeal for ‘Zona, picking them 8th, plus more hype for Turner.

“The knee-jerk reaction is to think the Wildcats will take a step back after losing Williams – last year’s leading scorer and rebounder – to the NBA draft. But with a host of standout recruits set to arrive this summer, Arizona will likely be the favorite to win the downtrodden Pac-12 conference for the second straight year. Turner may become the team’s top player the moment he steps on campus.”

Turner may become that top ‘Cat, but that says more about what type of team ‘Zona is without Williams and that is only if the academic problems are cleared up. As far as the “Downtrodden” Pac-12, please spare me. According to these same yahoo’s (pun intended), the Pac-10 was as bad or worst last year and the year before. Last year the league only had two draft picks, this year there will be more, but there is considerable talent, as there was the prior two years that were supposedly so bad.

For a league that is so bad, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi can’t seem to find a team that isn’t worthy of mentioning in his latest “Bracketology”. Lunardi gave ‘Zona a 2-seed, UCLA an 8, Washington and Cal 10-seeds and USC a 12. WSU was one of the “Next four out” and in his discussion on ESPN’s premium site Joe said that Oregon was in consideration. That is seven teams of 12, which really doesn’t sound like the league is down if you trust Lunardi.

I don’t trust Joe, but I also agree with most of his logic here. Katz also reviewed “Off season winners and losers” and included ‘Zona in the winners, despite losing

Williams, only for retaining Miller.

“Yes, the Wildcats lost Derrick Williams to the NBA draft, as expected, but it was much more important for it to hold off Maryland and hang on to coach Sean Miller.

With the program back on track, Arizona couldn’t afford another rebuild.”

Katz picked the WSU Cougars near the top of his “Losers”, based on losing guard Klay Thompson and post DeAngelo Casto to early entry.

“The Cougars are in a major rebuild mode with the departures of underclassmen Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto to the NBA draft.”

It’s easy to single out the Cougs, but they may be better off chemistry wise and have made a couple of nice additions, most notably transfer guard Mike Ladd from Fresno State and Seattle’s Rainier Beach High. I am hereby putting Katz on notice that Ladd is more capable of making others better and all-around play than he thinks. Senior guard Faisal Aden will also make up for a lot of Thompson’s offense.

The Cougs biggest challenge will be the front court, but they have veterans and promising youth there as well. Thompson and his dad, former NBA journeyman post Mychal, played it up to the eve of the deadline, but finally chose to stay in the draft on Sunday. There has been no announcement that Klay will sign an agent, but the chances of him going undrafted are slim to none. According to Scout on Monday, Aden will be looked to as Klay’s replacement in the rotation, but there was no mention of Ladd.

Chemistry wise, I might choose Rising Junior guard Reggie Moore, former Rainier Beach team mate Ladd, Aden and senior to be Marcus Capers over last year’s perimeter group with the up and down Thompson. Experience matters in hoops and this year’s WSU back court group will be much more seasoned. Katz also mentioned Stanford, but again kind of missed the point.

“Johnny Dawkins’ rebuilding process took a hit when Jeremy Green decided to stay in the draft. Green was ineligible this quarter, but Dawkins said he would have been eligible in the fall.”

Stanford will have the benefit of a legit point guard in freshman Chasson Randle and while it’s hard to expect much from frosh, the step up from last year’s tandem of then freshman Aaron Bright and out of position rising senior Jarrett Mann will be noticeable. The Cardinal will also benefit from the maturation of a great young group and really Stanford will gain more on points than ‘Zona. Losing Williams will be much bigger than losing Green.

Sophomore guard Anthony Brown is a very good candidate to take on Green’s role and the chance of Green not being drafted and returning is also in the cards, unlike Williams. Fox’s Jeff Goodman agreed with me on that point about Green and Stanford in his Tuesday feature. He may have heard me talk about it Monday on “Talkin’ Hoops”.

“(Green) has been suspended twice in the last year and is basically just a scorer. Stanford has no shortage of young talent that will be able to develop with the

departure of Green. Guys like sophomores Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown and talented incoming freshman Chasson Randle.”

Katz on Tuesday portrayed Green as a “late second round flier”, so he could very possibly not be chosen and come back next season anyway.

I was also not surprised to see Andy include UW in the “Losers” as he is prone to do. For these ESPN heavyweights, old habits will be hard to break.

“Isaiah Thomas’ decision to stay in the draft takes the heart out of this team. The Huskies will still be good, but they’ll miss Thomas.”

Well Andy, losing Thomas is tough, but to say that his heart is the only one worth mentioning is pretty off the mark. Returning junior PG Abdul Gaddy should be ready to lead and incoming freshman guard Tony Wroten is actually a better player overall than Turner. Wroten gave UW fans a scare this week when it was reported by the Seattle Times Mason Kelley that he was involved with a bogus Spanish class at Garfield High in Seattle WA.

The article also reported that Wroten would be eligible to attend UW and play ball in the fall by merely passing a make up Spanish course this summer. I particularly liked Mark Knight of the Husky Haul’s take on the subject.

“From the report it seems as if the students that were involved in the ‘fake’ class were completely cooperative with investigators about how it happened. And the principal is not putting the blame on the students involved but squarely on the teacher, right where it should be.”

No heart UW? How about wings like rising sophomores Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox and senior to be Scott Suggs? All three of those guys showed immense heart on given nights last season. One could argue that Thomas brought it every night, but those that watched UW knew that wasn’t really the case. Isaiah was a great one, but he had his shortcomings.

Rising senior post Darnell Gant showed a lot of heart and seems ready to step into more of a leadership role. Junior to be Aziz N’Diaye showed a lot of heart, but his faults were more based on lack of experience. With a year of off-season growth, Aziz could be the most noticeably improved player on the UW team. Red-shirt freshman Desmond Simmons is all heart. Expect his heart to perform similarly to, Thomas, Bobby Jones, Jon Brockman, what have you.

I saw enough of Dez in open gyms and California State tournament games to know that this guy has heart. Simmons doesn’t take plays off and doesn’t shy away from contact. The Dawgs need help in the post and they are working hard on the recruiting trail to find at least one other guy to go with incoming freshman Jernard Jarreau. If you’re looking for the next Williams in the Pac-12, Jarreau could be your man.

Like Derrick, he is a three star that no one is talking about, except hoops experts who are intrigued by his potential. Already up to over 210 pounds and a legitimate
six-foot-ten, Jarreau has shown a keen ability to do what the coaches tell him to do and stay focused on his “grind”. The Dawgs need a banger, which Jarreau is not, but a guy like Jarreau could actually do more in the long run than three big, weight room, tough guys.

Katz also mentioned Colorado as a “Loser” and I do agree that they will drop a bit. Not a whole lot though with the efficient system that coach Tad Boyle seems to have in place, both as a coach and a talent evaluator. Losing Alec Burks is worse than Stanford losing Green, though certainly not as bad as ‘Zona losing Williams. The system is what wins games more than individuals, as has been proven in college hoops time and again, and the Buffs have a solid one in place.

Finally Katz chose UCLA as a “Loser” and I couldn’t disagree more. Losing two marginally committed yo-yo’s like Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, regardless to their physical gifts may be a blessing in disguise. Adding the Wear Twins (Travis and David) to the best front court in the league is definitely more of an improvement than most realize. The Bruins also add 2011 wing signees Norman Powell and JC transfer De’End Parker, who would be underdogs to Lee and Honeycutt but might just beat them straight up.

When you talk about UCLA you also have to talk about the guys who are coming back in two senior PG’s (always a good sign) and rising sophomore Josh Smith and junior to be Reeves Nelson. Those two were the best front court in the league this past year and will improve regardless to the added value and depth of the Wear twins. Smith was chosen on Thursday by Yahoo’s King as the 15th best front court player in the nation next season, though I believe that Nelson is clearly a notch better.

UCLA also has 3rd year sophomore Anthony Stover and junior to be Brendan Lane. UCLA is my favorite for this coming season, with ‘Zona, UW and Cal right behind them. Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo also put UCLA high (2nd) on his list of teams that were hurt by early entry nationally in a blog post on Tuesday.

“Even though UCLA will boast the Pac-12’s most formidable frontcourt next year, the Bruins lack perimeter talent thanks to the early departures of both sophomore Tyler Honeycutt and junior Malcolm Lee. Honeycutt, a potential late first-round pick, was UCLA’s best perimeter shooter even if he didn’t maximize his talent during college, while Lee, a likely second-rounder, was the Bruins’ top defender and transition scorer.”

Again, I see this one differently and that the Bruins will likely be an improved team next year. Sure they could have used Lee and Honeycutt, but then these other guys wouldn’t have gotten as much of a chance or possibly been there at all. Malcolm and Tyler leave a spotty legacy at UCLA and I would pick the new guys if I were choosing teams anyway.

NBC Sports’ Mike Miller is even more on the ‘Zona bandwagon, as he picked the ‘Cats 6th in his post draft pull out deadline top-25 on Monday. Miller mentioned UCLA in his “Best of the rest” and no other Pac-12 team. UCLA is a top-25 team without a doubt in my opinion.

ASU is a team in rebuilding mode, but junior guard Trent Lockett is a star in the making. The Arizona State official site did an in-depth look at Lockett which showed in black and white how much he improved from his freshman to sophomore years. It also makes you wonder how much potential he could have to pick it up even more this year alongside a potentially improved and certainly more potent point guard tandem in freshman addition Jahii Carson and JC transfer Chris Colvin.

If coach Herb Sendek can figure out his post play, those three along with rising soph guard Keala King could make a sharp jump up. I’d be shocked if they remained in the league basement. The Sun Devils did get another set back though on Wednesday, as azcentral.com reported that sophomore guard Corey Hawkins will transfer. Hawkins showed promise, but apparently the prospect of competing with those other guards for PT proved discouraging or maybe he just didn’t like sun that much. I don’t either.

Another team that should improve is Oregon, who as it is won 20 games last season. The Ducks should have been in Katz’ “Winners” section, as 5th year graduated senior transfer Ola Ashaolu pulled out of the NBA draft on Sunday.

According to Husky Digest sources Ashaolu was a Duck lean before his flirtation with the NBA. Adding him to JC transfer Carlos Emory would surely help negate the loss of senior Joevan Catron as does adding freshman guard Jabari Brown to the loss of senior guard Jay-R Strowbridge and transfer Teondre Williams. Oregon will, barring injury, be the most likely team in the league to improve along with UCLA.

Up the road in Corvallis, junior to be guard Jared Cunningham was feeling good about himself enough to publicly change his name in a Tweet on Tuesday to J-Flight, his Twitter handle.

“I officially go by J Flight..I will not be responding to the name (Jared) anymore”

I once proclaimed to my parents at age four that I was changing my name to “Tex”, but I have a feeling this could be more serious. Cunningham is just one of a hugely talented young core at OSU. If these guys can finally grasp the complicated Princeton offense of coach Craig Robinson, this year’s Beavs could be the break through team in the league. A senior dominated group of much less talented players was able to succeed in 2009-2010, so it would appear that a big jump up could be a possibility.

Azcentral.com ran an extensive interview with Cunningham on Wednesday that showed him to be confident in finding his place among the top players in the conference.

One OSU personality that may be embarrassed about his (alcohol induced) confidence is Beaver play-by-play guy Mike Parker, who has become a hit on YouTube for eating a napkin while inebriated at a Denny’s in Los Angeles CA, while he was on an OSU Hoops road trip to face the LA schools. Parker seems contrite about his antics and hopefully this will serve as a wake up call for him about his behavior.

‘Zona’s coaching drama was more about money than anything else, but what isn’t in big-time college hoops. Miller was in the process of renegotiating his contract anyway and the golden opportunity of the Maryland job provided him with all the deal making ammo that he and his agent needed. On Friday, when long-time Terp coach Gary Williams retired, Miller’s name started coming up in columns discussing replacement candidates. Andy Katz called the idea of Miller “intriguing”.

According to the Baltimore Sun on Friday, Miller was “definitely interested”, according to AAU types “who know him”.

(Continued in Part Two)

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Pac-12 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for May 11th 2011 (Part One)