Pac-10 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for Thursday March 3rd 2011

Mar 3, 2011, 7:34 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Arizona dropped to 18th in the AP and the Coaches polls. UCLA moved up to 28th with 75 votes in the AP and 28th with 24 votes in the Coaches. No other Pac-10 team received votes. In the RPI rankings, ‘Zona was listed 18th, followed by UCLA at 35th, Washington at 43rd, Cal at 67th, WSU at 75th and USC at 80th.

Washington was effectively eliminated from the Pac-10 title chase, with an 80-69 loss in Seattle WA to WSU on Sunday. The Dawes are 10-6 in Pac-10 play, all alone in 3rd place behind Arizona and UCLA who are tied for 1st and ahead of 4th place USC who sit at 9-7.

The Dawgs would have to sweep UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday, UCLA would have to lose to WSU in Pullman on Saturday and the ‘Cats would have to be swept by Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Saturday for the Huskies to be tied with both teams at the end of the regular season. Not a likely scenario, especially from ‘Zona against two weak Pac-10 teams.

Arizona was swept on their trip to Los Angeles CA this past weekend. The ‘Cats were beaten at ‘SC on Thursday 67-59 and then on Saturday at UCLA 71-49.

The Bruins caught up with the ‘Cats, as both teams sit at 12-4 going into the last week of the regular season, by beating ASU in Pauley Pavilion on Thursday 71-53.

The Trojans also swept at home, by handling ASU on Saturday 62-46.

For his 25 points and 12 boards performance against ‘Zona and 20 and 10 against the Sun Devils, ‘SC junior post Nikola Vucevic won the Pac-10 Player of the Week.

Cal was able to sweep both of the Oregon schools on the road, as they beat Oregon on Thursday 81-71 and Oregon State on Saturday 87-76.

The Bears sit at 9-8 in conference play and all alone in 5th place in the Pac-10. The Cougs sit at 8-8, with a chance to finish with a 10-8 record with a sweep this coming week, as they host the LA schools. If Cal beats Stanford on Saturday, WSU sweeps and UW is swept this week, then there will be a 4-way tie for 3rd in the conference.

Stanford is going to be playing on Wednesday, in one of the play-in games for the Pac-10 Tournament, unless they beat Cal on Saturday and WSU is swept at home by the LA schools causing a tie with Cougs for 6th place at 8-10. In that event a tie-breaker system would decide which team gets the 6th spot.

The Cardinal split on the road in Oregon over the weekend, losing to the Beavers 87-80 on Thursday and beating the Ducks 88-71 on Saturday.

The Huskies swept the LA schools on the 1st weekend of conference play, but since then the Dawgs have been knocked down a few pegs, while UCLA is riding high in 1st place and USC has won four straight going into the Washington trip. UW played it’s worst game of the year in my opinion against WSU on Sunday, while both of the LA schools are playing their best.

Things are not looking good for the Dawgs, as the loss of starting guards sophomore Abdul Gaddy and junior Scott Suggs, along with the loss of sophomore post Tyreese Breshers this season and Charles Garcia for the past two years have one by one taken a toll on a very promising team.

The Dawgs were picked to win the conference going into this season, but now would need a sweep in this final week against the leagues two hottest teams to end up in a tie for 2nd place. Due to beating UCLA twice, should that happen, UW would get the 2nd seed in the Pac-10 tourney and play the winner of a play in game less than 24 hours prior.

Getting one of those top two seeds in the conference tourney is important for that reason. After playing less than a day before has to give a team a disadvantage in that 1st round game. The way things are going it looks like Arizona will likely win the regular season title.

It is much more likely that the ‘Cats will beat both Oregon schools than UCLA beating both Washington schools. Literally anything can happen, but to win two on the road against UW and WSU looks like a steeper mountain. That said, the Bruins are pretty steep themselves with sophomore post Reeves Nelson and freshman post Josh Smith leading the way.

Add to that a surging junior guard in Malcolm Lee and improved play from both junior guards Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones to go with NBA prospect sophomore Tyler Honeycutt on the wing and you’ve got a team that easily could get it done. WSU certainly looked good against the Dawgs, but they looked equally pathetic against ASU the previous weekend.

USC has just been solid in two straight weekend sweeps, but the Trojans are thin with their seven man rotation. Cal looks like a lead pipe synch to beat Stanford at home in Berkeley CA. A 10-8 finish has got to be a good feeling for the Bears, after replacing their top four players and three of their top five reserves after last season.

ESPN blogger Diamond Leung talked about ‘Zona and the Bruins being on top of the league as being a good sign for the conference and quoted Husky coach Lorenzo Romar.

“When you look at those two schools’ tradition, and people associate the Pac-10 with those schools, I think people always look year in and year out to see how they’re doing. You look at the ACC, and I think people will look and see how North Carolina and Duke are doing. And if they’re having down years, people can assume that maybe the ACC is down, and that isn’t always necessarily the case. I think their tradition, their profile, what they’ve done, their body of work over the last 30 years gets people’s attention when they’re doing well.”

Leung also picked ‘Zona sophomore post Derrick Williams and coach Sean Miller as his choice for Player and Coach of the Year in the league.

I feel that Williams is an OK choice for POY, but really USC junior post Nikola Vucevic of USC has better stats, as does WSU junior guard Klay Thompson. Junior guard Isaiah Thomas of UW has comparable stats to Williams. The only reason that it is a good bet that Williams and Miller will win those awards is that ‘Zona is likely to win the league.

Does the nation and more poignantly the media talk well about the Pac-10 more when ‘Zona and UCLA are front runners? I would say that may be true, but the reasons are much different than what is being said here. Both are established brands when it comes to marketing of merchandise by Nike and adidas respectively.

If you don’t think that plays a part in the marking of college hoops, even the publicity of it, which networks like ESPN have really become PR firms more than impartial news agencies, then you may need a little hint. Of course it does. Follow the money and unravel the mystery.

The shoe companies are so deeply wound into the fabric of the game, that it might as well be promoted for what it is. Something like “Nike College Basketball” or “adidas Summer AAU Basketball”. Everyone is getting paid or is following the whims of shoe companies.

From the financing that goes into the AAU elite camps for prepubescent teenagers, to the colleges and through the pro game. That leads to brokering deals with agents and boosters to get these kids going where the shoe companies want them to through their families and other “handlers” like high school coaches and relatives.

It continues on into the pros where famous players, sponsored by them will be used to promote their agenda in recruiting, PR, etc. Yes, Romar is right, those brands mean something to college hoops fans, but the continued focus of corporate interests to perpetuate the notion that something is wrong with the world if they are not on top is more than that.

I’m not saying that all of the top name brand programs are as crooked as the worst offenders, but I do believe that it is more than a coincidence or good, honest hard work that these teams continue to land the top recruits and have their recruits promoted in events like the McDonald’s All-American game and on ESPN and other mainstream media outlets.

Jason King of Rivals/Yahoo, in his weekly Pac-10 column on Friday, talked about USC peaking at the right time in the conference race.

“For the past few weeks the assumption has been that the Pac-10 had no chance to get more than three teams in the NCAA tournament. Now it appears there could be a fourth.”

It’s true and I guess, if you talk about ‘SC, you have to talk about WSU as well. The Trojans could finish 11-7 and solidly in 3rd place, but WSU could sweep and end up 10-8 along with Cal, USC and UW, as I mentioned.

ESPN’s Pat Forde did a little of that spin control, when he bad rapped the Pac-10 one more time in his Forde’s Minutes column on Tuesday.

“The league tried to fool us into thinking it had a quality team or two. It tried to sell us Washington, and look at the Huskies now: 19-9 overall, 6-8 away from home, with three losses to teams with RPI of 100 or lower. Then it tried to sell us on Arizona, and look at the Wildcats now: swept in Los Angeles over the weekend, pretty much killing a chance at a top-four NCAA seed. The current sell is UCLA. The Minutes isn’t buying. This league will be lucky if it gets three teams in the Dance.”

The real truth here is that college hoops is a very hard to control game and that teams in the Pac-10 are well coached enough to beat each other on a given night at home. It also is worth mentioning that some teams scout other teams well and are talented enough to beat others on the road, like WSU at UW last week and UW at USC and UCLA to start the year.

The Pac-10 is a quality league and deserves at least four bids to the NCAA, if you want to talk about relative strength. Shouldn’t the way a number of teams, including the Cougs, Trojans and others have performed out of league play say
something?

Apparently not, if you need someone to dump on in your column other than the teams that are being pushed hardest by your network.

ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan though deserves credit for informed thought, though it is buried in his column and not featured on the front page and a zillion words and photos like ESPN’s Dana O’Neill’s rah-rah piece about the ‘Cats.

Brennan talks about ‘Zona being pushed a little too hard by the pollsters, though he should also take a look around and notice his own site’s front page.

“Oh, and speaking of Arizona at No. 18 … the voters know the Wildcats just lost back-to-back road games to USC and UCLA, right? And that those losses came by a combined margin of 30 points? Yes? The voters are aware of this? I just want to double-check, because while those aren’t the worst losses in the world — both teams are playing well; even the Trojans are making a last-ditch push at bubble consideration — they do raise serious questions about the Wildcats at this point in the season. And if you’re ranking based on total body of work, then what, exactly, counts as Arizona’s best win? At Washington State? Over Washington (by one point) at home?”

One thing you can almost always count on for good ol’ ESPN anti-Pac-10 bias is the “Bracket” coverage of Joe Lunardi. Every year he under rates the conference, until the last minute when he realizes what is likely going to happen on Selection Sunday and then falls in line with reality.

On Sunday Joe picked ‘Zona as a 3 seed, UCLA as an 8 seed and Washington as a 9 seed, but didn’t mention USC, despite four straight Pac-10 wins and the two best non-conference wins in the league. Yes the Trojans had some awful losses, mostly before Jio Fontan became eligible, but the selection committee looks at the way teams play down the stretch.

What really gives Joe’s bias away is his not even mentioning ‘SC in his other categories, “last in” “last out”, etc.

Brennan in his “Bubble talk” column pronounces UCLA a “lock”, while not mentioning ‘SC or the fact that the Bruins still have to travel to UW (where they have not won since 2004) and WSU. If the Bruins are swept by the Washington schools and UW gets a sweep this weekend, but gets a win at WSU, a 10-8 USC team stands a decent chance to play it’s way in.

The Pac-10 tourney is a home game for ‘SC and UCLA, actually more so for USC which is very close.

Yahoo blogger Jeff Eisenberg picked USC and WSU and potential “Bid Stealers”.

“As a result of the lack of elite teams in the Pac-10 again this year, the conference is ripe for a middle-of-the-pack squad to rise up and win three straight games in March to steal a bid. The most likely candidate to pull off that feat is definitely surging USC, which has won four straight games to move into fourth place in the conference and has the benefit of playing the Pac-10 tournament in downtown Los Angeles.”

Eisenberg also talked about the Cougs.

“If USC is the Pac-10’s most dangerous potential bid thief, Washington State can’t be too far behind. Behind All-American candidate Klay Thompson, the Cougars defeated Gonzaga and Baylor in non-league play and became the only Pac-10 team to win at rival Washington on Sunday night.”

On a humorous note Lunardi was at a loss for words, during his chat when it came to west coast matters. After stating in his chat on Monday that USC didn’t have a realistic chance to get an at-large bid, Lunardi revealed how little he really takes an interest in the Dawgs.

Bob from Ashburn asks him, “How is washington a nine seed?” and adds, “They should be on the bubble, at best.”

Joe’s response:

“If you say so, Bob. I’m just winging it here!”

The Pac-10 was the subject of an ESPN roundtable, including Lunardi, Andy Katz, Adrian Branch and others. Branch pushed the Dawgs, despite losing five of their last nine, while Lunardi said that the Pac-10 would get four teams in if WSU won the Pac-10 tourney. I assume that he would feel the same if someone else other than ‘Zona, UCLA or UW did it as well.

I feel that USC can’t be ignored if a team other than those four (USC, UW, UCLA and UA) wins the tourney, ‘SC is in the title game and the Trojans beat WSU this weekend. It is an outside chance, but I feel that the Pac-10 could get in five teams, with a good chance of four and three minimum.

I think that Cal, WSU and ‘SC should be in the NIT, if they don’t get an at large bid. You can probably add UW to that list, but I feel that they will not have the type of collapse that it would take to get them there.

Husky Huddle

The Dawgs are a powerhouse team in a number of ways statistically, but one glaring weakness is making big shots in the final stages of close games. There is not a single Husky in the top-10 in free throw percentage in the last 4-minutes of conference games, as azcentral.com blogger Doug Haller pointed out on Monday.

The UW/WSU game on Sunday was a major disappointment to those who felt that Washington had both turned a corner after the dismal three game losing streak and were invincible at home, where they had won 14 straight games.

Again Scott Suggs stayed on the bench, along with fellow Dawgs retired junior post Tyreese Breshers and injured sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy and red-shirt freshman post Desmond Simmons. That left eight scholarship players, but the good news is all of them are capable Pac-10 level guys.

The bad news is that they were not good enough, as WSU beat the Dawgs in Seattle 80-69 in a game that could have been a lot worse were it not for a 2nd half run by UW.

Freshman guard C.J. Wilcox started the game in the spot occupied by Suggs and Gaddy before him. The rest of the starting line-up has not changed much this year in junior guard Isaiah Thomas, senior guard Justin Holiday, senior post Matthew Bryan-Amaning and sophomore post Aziz N’Diaye.

Thomas should have learned not to talk too much before big games, as mouthed off about WSU’s storming the court in Pullman after the Cougs 87-80 win in January, when he spoke to the Morning News-Tribune on Tuesday.

Thomas led the Dawgs with 21 points, but WSU really looked like a team that would not back down and was certainly talented enough to hang with the Dawgs in their house. Bryan-Amaning scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but was held scoreless until 13:09 to play in the 2nd half.

With the Dawgs down 18 with 6:37 to play, “MBA” started with a made free throw a 16-4 run that brought them to 65-59 with 4:04 to play. At that point though, the Cougs wrestled control and that was the game. Holiday had 11 points and matched Thomas with five assist.

There was little help from senior guard Venoy Overton, who scored eight points and played a key role in what little life UW had in the late run, but no one else really seemed to show that they wanted to win a game that so many UW fans felt was likely theirs.

The UW Athletic Department again did a nice highlight video on Youtube, that captured the best of what could have been the worst game played in Hec-Ed by a UW Men’s team since Romar turned the program around nine years ago. The 17 points scored by UW in the 1st half was the lowest total by a UW team, home or away in the Romar era.

Now at 19-9 overall and 10-6 in Pac-10 play, Dawg fans have to hope that their team has finally hit bottom. The Dawgs shot a miserable 34% from the field and 30% from three, to go with an unacceptable 63% from the free throw line. If you take away the three threes in that late run, UW shot 5-24 from three for the game or 21%.

Not good, especially on so many attempts.

After the game, the Seattle Times Percy Allen asked ,”Who are the Huskies?”, wondering where the team that had so much promise going into the year and at times during the season had gone.

Holiday painted a grim picture, probably too grim, as to the Dawgs chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament, after the game.

“We have to go out and win the Pac-10 tournament. Even if we don’t, I think we should go out and do it anyway just to be sure.”

I don’t think that UW has to win the league tourney to get in, but if they don’t turn around the way that they are approaching the game, it will not matter anyway. Someone has to get their attention and UW fans can only hope that it was their old friend coach Ken Bone and WSU.

Not only had UW won 14 straight at home, but all had been double digit wins. The WSU game Sunday was certainly an important crossroad on some level. Whether it was the beginning of something good or the revealing of greater problems, has yet to be determined.

Romar said on Sunday, “We haven’t played a home game like this all year”, but truth be told UW has played like that this season on the road. Against Stanford, Oregon and OSU they carried an attitude that I picked up on. The aura they put off was one of unrealistic self-confidence.

When they got down, they would put on a run and prove to themselves that if they turned it on, no one could stop them and that they would be able to do it when they needed to. In all four games they were proven wrong, but three times this season they repeated the same mental attitude.

In big game losses against Kentucky, Michigan State, Texas A+M and at ‘Zona they came back to control the game, only to let it slip by going back to playing with the same lack of focus.

The Dawgs have the players, size and experience to beat anyone, but the lack of self-understanding of their own weaknesses to lose games they should win and blow games that are theirs.

Holiday remained optimistic, as he should be, but also unsure, based on what has happened over and over this season, when he spoke to the media on Sunday.

“I think we’re going to be OK. I think we are a team that knows what we want and has been through certain situations like this, and I think we are going to be able to answer it. I sure hope we do.”

Bob Sherwin of sportspressnw.com reviewed some of the UW low-lights of the WSU game and UW fans have to hope that this is a team establishing a bottom and not a trend for future games this year and beyond.

Some people were so surprised and impressed by this new low, that they started talking about Romar being on the “hot seat”. NBCsports.com even posed the question.

One thing is certain, everybody is wondering what the Dawgs will do. After a rah-rah piece prior to the WSU game about Romar and the coaches that have successfully left his program for their own jobs in Bone and Seattle U’s Cameron Dollar, the Seattle Times Steve Kelly came back with two dark critiques of the this year’s team and the UW program.

On Sunday night Kelley wrote a piece titled, “Huskies’ season unraveling fast” in which he pointed out UW’s glaring and consistent weaknesses.

“Matthew Bryan-Amaning’s inability to pass out of the post and his inconsistent finishing at the rim. Overton’s tendency to play just over the edge of control. The three-point shooters’ inability to make open shots at key points in the game. The Huskies’ terrible free-throw shooting and Washington’s tendency, even though it is a veteran team, to lose its poise and play without purpose in the last minutes of close games.”

On Monday Kelley painted UW as a team that doesn’t play well when slowed down and whose only hope was to force the tempo against UCLA, USC and beyond.

On Tuesday Romar faced the media and admitted that his team had not taken the proper steps to improve over the course of the year, while others have done so.

“When we were 4-0 and even at 7-1 we talked about we can’t remain stagnant. We’re doing well right now, but teams are going to get better as the season progresses. We have to make sure that we get better and I don’t think we have improved as much as we should.”

Romar went on to focus the problem on his team not playing hard enough on the defensive end, the trade mark of success for his teams when they have been successful.

Romar then mentioned the injured Gaddy and how his team needs to do a better job of staying calm and focused than they have since Abdul’s injury.

“I don’t like saying it now because I’m not willing to make excuses, but we did recruit Abdul Gaddy to be able to do that because we didn’t feel we had that. Well he hasn’t been playing so now we have to adjust and do things a little differently.”

Romar also pointed out that if his team loses focus on the defensive end that it tends to affect their offense and that good defense is more important than good offense anyway.

“If we miss 40 layups in a game, if we will continue to defend, we will still have a chance to be successful. Whenever the Huskies are not playing well, it’s because we lose sight of that. We understand it. Any one of our guys could give a clinic on what it’s supposed to be and what it should look like. Sometimes our focus is on that offensive end and if things aren’t going well, I think it affects the defensive end too often.”

Thomas spoke to the media on Tuesday and looked at it as just a bad month, that is now over, coincidentally in time for all the fireworks of March.

“We’re so up and down. Some games we’re at where our potential should be and some games, like the (Washington State) game, it’s just not there. I don’t know what it is. That whole month of February was just not a good month for us.”

Thomas also said something that made me take notice.

“We have five games left possibly and we want to try and win out so there are no ands, ifs or buts about making the NCAA tournament. I don’t feel like we have to win out but as the leader of this team I want my teammates to feel as if we need
to.”

And it helps to convince “his team” to say this in the media? Oh, we don’t need to win all of these games, but I need to try to convince my team mates that we do, so to help them I’m telling this to the media. What poor judgment by a guy that really needs to figure it out.

He is supposed to be some awesome player worthy of national attention like Kemba Walker, but then gets flattened by the likes of OSU and Stanford and swept by the Cougs. Now he is some Svengali of a motivator that says that he needs to convince his team of something that he doesn’t believe and is willing to say so to the AP.

This guy needs to learn to stop talking in the biggest way.

The UCLA game on Thursday will be a game where talking can’t be much help for Thomas and the Dawgs. Dana O’Neill of ESPN called UW, “the confusing Huskies” in her preview of Thursday’s game in the “Weekly Watch” column, but I’ll go one better. How ’bout “Deluded Dawgs”?

Are these guys, coaching staff included, just losing it from the stress of a season in which they lost their starting PG, a key post player in Breshers and we’re unable to add another quality post after the stressful loss of Terrence Jones last spring and Chuck Garcia last fall?

Lest not forget about the yet to be totally resolved issue of criminal activity by a yet to be named member of the team. Insanity is continuing to do something that is wrong and Thomas, if he is their leader is showing signs of it. Thomas needs one steal to enter UW’s all-time steals list.

UW fans should hope that he gets steals, assists and points, but also gains a better grip on his mind. If he plays out of his mind that’s one thing, but Thomas and the three seniors need to play mentally sound ball to compete with two surging teams from LA this weekend. It will be the last weekend for Overton, Holiday and Bryan-Amaning at Hec-Ed.

There have been rumors that Thomas is considering testing the NBA waters this spring, but I doubt that he will pass up playing what should be a record breaking and nationally notable season at UW. I don’t think he’s that crazy.

Speaking of madness, Montlake Madness did a very nice preview of the UCLA game.

Perhaps there is an element of fun to this vexing situation for the UW team and their fans, that I’m not taking into account. Holiday seemed to actually look forward to the UCLA game as fun, which could actually be a good sign for his team, when speaking to the media on Tuesday.

“I always like playing UCLA. Home or away, I always like playing them. I know a lot of the guys, my brother went there and all of that. It’s a California school, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Maybe UW has reason to relax and enjoy this match-up with the Bruins. while there have been times over the past seven games since UCLA has won at Washington, that UW appeared to be outmatched, they have always prevailed at Hec-Ed as if they have magic on their side.

WSU has swept the Dawgs twice during that run, but UW’s ability to beat the Bruins remains. Bruinsnation.com talked about breaking the “hex”.

In my opinion the Dawgs have no opportunity to think that they don’t need to win all of their games to get in the NCAA tournament or that UCLA is going to be fun, but maybe guys like Thomas have insight that I lack.

To me getting the kind of physical pounding that I’ve seen UCLA sophomore post Reeves Nelson and freshman Josh Smith put on teams would not be fun, win or lose. The “Bubble” could be where the punch drunk Huskies end up if they don’t beat the Bruins, even if they win what should be a very tough game against ‘SC.

Yahoo blogger Jeff Eisenberg talked about trouble being right around the corner.

“Due to a severe lack of more qualified candidates to fill out the field of 68, Washington is still pretty safely in the NCAA tournament, but is now certainly flirting with fire.”

One guy that won’t give up on the Dawgs in analyst Ken Pomeroy, who wrote a piece explaining why UW and Kentucky are two teams that will make outstanding candidates in the NCAA’s.

One factor that should work in UW’s favor, if they come to play against the big bad Bruins, is their ability to block shots. The Dawgs set a school season record against Seattle U last Tuesday with 153 and set a new one every time they reject another one. They now have 157, going into the match-up with the Bruins.

UCLA depends on post play to win games, as the Bruins have built their team up on the back of the progress of Smith and the continued growth of Nelson in bulling their way to easy buckets. If Washington can minimize that UCLA strength, the rest could take care of itself. UCLA has great guards though and they will also need attention.

Last year’s UW team annihilated UCLA in Hec-Ed after being burned on a buzzer beater down in Pauley Pavilion prior. That team’s leader was wing Quincy Pondexter, who made the top “Play of the Night” on ESPN’s Sportscenter for a vicious dunk for his new team, the NBA’s New Orleans (at least for now) Hornets.

The top Dawg, the year before Q was post Jon Brockman, who also had a highlight dunk of note recently.

In 2009 Brockman, along with the junior Pondexter and the freshman Thomas won the Pac-10 title outright. One player that was a key part, some would argue the deciding reason for that success, was guard Justin Dentmon, who has gone on to play pro basketball in Europe and Asia.

The UW Daily did a feature on “JD” on Friday that talked about his continued success and hopes to land a job in the NBA.

UW fans in the LA area or who are planning to take a trip down to see the Pac-10 Tournament, should check out the “Huskies Discounts” at aegtickets.com.

WSU Notes

Junior guard Klay Thompson drilled the Huskies for 26 points, as WSU completed the sweep of UW in an 80-69 win in Seattle on Sunday. Though he sat for four minutes more than Bone would have wanted him to (Thompson played 36 minutes) because of foul trouble and had six turnovers, Klay was a steady handed 13-14 from the foul line and a crisp 3-7 from three.

Junior post DeAngelo Casto made the Huskies look bad inside on both ends with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore guard Reggie Moore, like in the January WSU win in Pullman was clutch in scoring 10 points and dishing four assists. It wasn’t the deciding factor in the game, but the Cougs 32-36 from the free throw line made the game much less close.

UW shot 15-24 from the line, but making as opposed to missing “one and ones” starts adding up. WSU won the game by being mentally tougher than Washington on their home floor, which was really an accomplishment.

Bone confirmed that to the media after the game.

“To win in this building, you’ve got to be really locked in and focused. I think our guys were exactly that.”

Coug fans through out the state were jubilant, as they should be. To me this is the finest win of the year for WSU, which includes some very good ones. It was probably the best win of Bone’s career as a hear coach.

Noted Coug fan, veteran and regular 710-ESPN sports jock Jim “Go-to-Guy” Moore wrote a feel good piece, recanting the “Happy totals” (as Mariner play-by-play guy Rick Rizzs would call them) for Seattlepi.com.

“I can’t remember a victory by a Washington State basketball team that was this unexpected and this much fun.”

The Cougs will return to Pullman next to host USC on Thursday at 7 p.m. (PST).

ASU Notes

Last place ASU were swept in LA, after finally getting a win over WSU the previous week in Tempe. They sit at 2-14, assured of the 10th seed in the Pac-10 tournament, but I’m sure that this young group will find answers to it’s problems and be back in the thick of the Pac-12 next year or at least in the next couple of years.

What they need is post players, but even with the addition of 2011 guard signee Jahii Carson to returning sophomore guard Trent Lockett, sophomore wing Carrick Felix, freshman guard Corey Hawkins and freshman guard Keala King should make a difference.

Freshman post Kyle Cain is a good one and import seven-footers sophomore Ruslan Pateev and freshman Jordan Bachynski can only get better. Add some more beef up front to that group, which includes sharpshooting freshman wing Chanse Creekmur and this Sun Devil team will start winning again.

It didn’t happen on Thursday in Westwood CA though as UCLA took them down 71-53. No ASU player broke single digits in scoring, but Creekmur led the way with nine points, followed by King with eight. ASU did better on the boards than usual this season, only losing that battle 27-25, but lost the turnover battle 16-8 and the assist battle 22-12.

Creekmur also logged the most minutes, as coach Herb Sendek wisely chose play his young players, with the chance of the post-season clearly in the rear-view mirror. ASU started off well with a 12-point lead in the 1st half, but gave it up by halftime. Senior wing Rihards Kuksiks missed his 3rd game in a row.

ASU got a couple guys in double figures, but scored fewer points in a 62-46 loss at USC on Saturday in Los Angeles. King and Lockett scored 14 a piece, but senior guard Ty Abbott was ice cold shooting 0-7 from the field and scoring one point. For the weekend Abbott shot 1-10 from the field for four points. Kuksiks again did not play.

Rihards, Ty and senior guard Jamelle McMillan from Seattle will play their final games in Tempe AZ this weekend, starting with Oregon at 5:30 p.m. (PST) on Thursday.

‘Zona Notes

The ‘Cats were also swept by the LA schools, as the dropped into a tie with UCLA for 1st place. On Thursday in a 65-57 loss at USC, sophomore post Derrick Williams was held to eight points and eleven boards. With the attention headed Williams’ way, junior post Jesse Perry led the ‘Cats with 12 points, followed by sophomore wing Kevin Parrom with 10.

Sophomore guard Lamont “Momo” Jones was held to one assist and only nine points, as a tough as nails USC defense controlled the paint and stopped ‘Zona from getting the ball to Williams effectively. It was a close game, but key plays on both ends by Vucevic allowed USC to win it late.

On Saturday at UCLA ‘Zona was blown out 71-49 as they again were muted by a crushing Bruin defensive effort. Though Williams led ‘Zona with 15 points and seven boards, followed by junior guard Kyle Fogg with 10 points. Jones was even more held in check with four points, no assists and a TO.

After the game the ‘Zona Scout site tried to soothe the wounds of ‘Cat fans after the sweep.

“The Wildcats have won 23 games, are comfortably in the NCAA tournament, and have a coaching staff that will make them nationally relevant sooner than later. What more can you ask for?”

On Tuesday it was announced that Rivals ‘Zona publisher Josh Gershon would take the reins of the Scout ‘Cat site Wildcat Authority. While at Rivals Gershon and publisher Jim Storey were guilty in my opinion of pushing the envelope, when it came to helping ‘Zona’s recruiting efforts and Storey was named in the NCAA actions that resulted in NCAA sanctions.

At the end of the Lute Olson era, Storey and the Rivals ‘Zona site were involved in promoting the Cactus Classic, as event used to get Arizona recruits on campus with the intention of gaining their commitment. All schools run camps, but this one was found by the NCAA to exceed the guidelines of booster involvement.

In my opinion this is only the tip of the iceberg for booster involvement in Tucson AZ. Since Miller has become coach, in my opinion, things are getting a bit fast and loose there, with the help of boosters and Nike. I intend to flesh that out in greater detail in the near future at huskydigest.com.

I have accumulated quite a bit of hot information on corruption around the NCAA over the course of the season. It has been my thought to wait until after the season, for a number of reasons, before focusing heavily on that issue on this blog, but I have hinted about it a bit at Husky Digest, in the midst of other UW recruiting coverage.

It will be a focus after the season, unless something prompts me to move it up.

The ‘Zona staff decided it needed to focus, by not allowing the media access to it’s players when the coach met with the media on Monday, according to azstarnet.com.

‘Zona next will host OSU in Tucson on Thursday at 6 p.m. (PST).

Cal Notes

The Bears put themselves in a good spot in the race to the finish of the Pac-10 season, by sweeping the Oregon schools on the road. On Thursday Cal beat Oregon in Eugene OR 8171, as junior guard Jorge Gutierrez scored 23 points.

Freshman guard Allen Crabbe was back 100% with 19 points in 38 minutes of play and sophomore guard Brandon Smith scored a career high 18.

Cal won it at the Free throw line, shooting 15-18 to the Ducks 4-7. They also out-shot Oregon from behind the arc 10-20 to 7-24, in what was otherwise a fairly even game. Smarter play and controlled aggression is what gets better looks from long and more trips to the line and Cal executed much better overall than the Ducks on their home court.

Most of what the Bears did came in the 2nd half, as they outscored the Ducks by 21 points after half-time. Down 16 with 4-minutes to play in the 1st half, Cal focused it’s zone defense on Oregon senior post Joevan Catron and held him to three points the rest of the way.

On Saturday JC transfer De’End Parker committed to Cal. Parker is known as a dead eye shooter and will join the Bears next fall.

On Friday Cal was hit with NCAA sanctions for over 300 phone calls that were made at improper times by NCAA regulations.

This is a joke. Coach Mike Montgomery is as honest a coach as there is in the NCAA and it was an oversight, but because rules are rules, the NCAA will levy a light penalty. In a day and age when college hoops cheaters are pros to the point of behaving like and sometimes with the help of organized criminals, this is certainly ironic.

The fact that the NCAA will likely do little or nothing about this, should not send a signal that the new administration of former UW President Mark Emmert is going to be soft on cheaters. To the contrary, I feel that after the season, some major activity will ensue.

I believe that a number of schools and individuals will make this off-season the most active in some time in the area attacking corruption

On Saturday Cal beat the Beavers 87-76, as Crabbe really found his rhythm for 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 6-8 from three. Senior post Markhuri Sanders-Frison scored 16, Gutierrez 14 and junior post Harper Kamp added 12 points. Again the Bears shot .500 from three at 8-16, to OSU’s 9-23 and outscored the Beavers at the free throw line 21-11.

On Monday Cal picked up another verbal commitment from post Christian Behrens of Maple Valley WA.

According to Rivals Behrens had offers from Portand State, Seattle and Eastern Washington.

On Tuesday Scout ran a story on Cal’s post season possibilities, pointing out that the Bears are “Four Wins Away From 20” wins. If Cal can get a win over rival Stanford on Saturday at 4 p.m. (PST) in Berkeley CA in their next and last regular season Pac-10 game and win the league tourney, they will do that and again go to the NCAA tournament in an unlikely year.

With the losses that Montgomery has had to coach his way through, this year has already been a success for the Bears and whether or not they are able to win out and make the NCAA’s, the chances of getting to 20 wins through the NIT are good.

Stanford Notes

The Cardinal were beaten by OSU on Thursday in Corvallis OR 87-80. Junior guard Jeremy Green led Stanford with 24 points on 9-14 from the field and 4-9 from three. Freshman guard Aaron Bright was hot off the bench with 15 points on 5-5 from three, but obviously coach Johnny Dawkins couldn’t get him enough attempts. Freshman guard Anthony Brown also scored 12.

It was a hard fought game, but the Beavers won the game by being more aggressive and actually shooting the ball better than they have.

On Saturday the Cardinal put together a road win at Oregon in Eugene 88-71. Junior post Josh Owens had a whale of a game with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman post Dwight Powell also grabbed 11 boards and added 11 points, while Green scored 15 and Brown scored 12. Stanford won the game on the boards 35-18 in a key stat.

Stanford then got another win, this time at home over Seattle U on Tuesday 77-66 in Palo Alto CA. Green scored 22, Brown 21 and Owens 13, but the Redhawks gave the Cardinal a game and almost came all the way back from a 16 point bulge with a frenetic second-half run.

Stanford at 7-10 in Pac-10 play are likely to be in a play-in game next Wednesday at the Pac-10 Tournament, but could possibly play their way into 6th place with a win in their last game and some stumbles elsewhere.

The Cardinal will next travel across town to Berkeley to face the Bears on Saturday at 4 p.m. (PST).

Oregon Notes

Oregon were swept at home over the weekend, effectively crushing their hopes of a high finish in the Pac-10 standings. On Thursday they lost to Cal 81-71, as junior post Tyrone Nared led the way with 16 points on 7-9 from the field. Catron added 14 points and a game leading seven boards, but was effectively slowed to three points after a hot first half.

Senior guard Jay-R Strowbridge was slowed to nine points on 4-12 from the field, after a number of hot nights, while junior guard Garrett Sim scored 12 and sophomore wing E.J. Singler scored 11.

On Saturday in an 88-71 loss to Stanford, junior guard Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points to lead the way, while Strowbridge got a little warmer with 16 points on 3-5 from three and 5-6 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Jonathan Loyd scored 11, while Catron was limited in the post by Stanford to 8 points on 3-11 shooting and two boards.

On Wednesday the Oregonian reported that the floor at Matthew Knight Arena will be discussed by the NCAA, as to whether it needs to be changed to better identify the mid-court line.

Oregon will next travel to Tempe to face ASU on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (PST).

OSU Notes

The Beavers got a well needed win, to end their four game losing streak, by beating Stanford on Wednesday in Corvallis 87-80. For OSU it was sophomore guard Jared Cunningham with 21 points on 6-8 from the field and 8-8 from the stripe that did the job.

Senior guard Calvin Haynes followed with 14 points, freshman guard Roberto Nelson scored 12 and sophomore post Joe Burton and freshman guard Ahmad Starks each kicked in 11 points. It was a feel good win for the Beavers, who had started to get a lot of criticism from the national media due to the focus of author George Dohrmann, a friend of Nelson and Burton.

It was just a result of a young team playing better and making better decisions. OSU is no conference contender, but the young team will be a lot better next year if they continue to play more in control.

On Saturday though OSU took a step backwards and lost 87-76 to the surging Cal Bears. to be fair, Cal is a better team than Stanford at this point, but OSU did at least make a game out of it. Starks was hot with 18 points on 7-14 from the field and 4-9 from three.

Cunningham was again strong with 14 points and senior post Omari Johnson played well in his final game in Gill Colosseum with 10 points and a game leading eight rebounds.

Despite the win and better play at home by his young team, Robinson continued to be criticized in the national media, as lostlettermen.com included him in their top-10 coaches on the hot seat. I found it curious to note that the majority were African-American, many of whom I believe will not be fired in my opinion, including Robinson who has recruited well.

The Beavers will next travel to Tucson to face ‘Zona on Thursday at 6 p.m. (PST).

UCLA Notes

UCLA swept the Arizona schools in LA over the weekend and by doing so tied up ‘Zona at 1st place. On Thursday junior guard Malcolm Lee led a balanced attack with 16 points as UCLA beat ASU 71-53 in Westwood CA. Sophomore wing Tyler Honeycutt added 13 points and did not commit a turnover, which for him is a major event.

Sophomore post Reeves Nelson and freshman post Josh Smith scored 12 points a piece, while Nelson also grabbed 12 boards. Junior guard Lazeric Jones scored 10 points and dished 10 assists. UCLA started slow, but once the perky Sun Devils got their attention it was over.

On Saturday in a 71-49 win over 1st place ‘Zona, the Bruins were even more impressive. Nelson was dominant with 27 points and 16 rebounds, while the 300 lb. Smith was machine-like or (tank-like if you will) with 17 points in only 20-minutes. Honeycutt was again strong in making only one TO, as he scored 16 points on 6-12 from the field.

It was a feel good night for the Bruins, who have been frustrated over the past few years after three straight Final-Four appearances. to see their Bruins in 1st place and to have walk-on Tyler Trapani, the great grandson of legendary coach John Wooden, score the last point in Pauley Pavilion before renovation was fantastic.

UCLA received support from an unlikely source on Tuesday as the USC coach talked about how unfair it was that the Bruins weren’t ranked in the top-25.

“All I hear about is BYU and St. John’s every time I turn on the TV. BYU, St. John’s. BYU, St. John’s. UCLA beat ’em both,” Kevin O’Neill said to the media.

With a 21-8 overall record and 12-4 in conference play, UCLA is a lock to get at least an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. After pointing out that his team has not improved enough over the course of the Pac-10 season, Romar said on Tuesday that the Bruins definitely have.

“UCLA is definitely improved. That’s, I think, one of the main reasons they’re playing the way they are because they’ve improved so much on the defensive end. They’re playing more like you’re seeing UCLA under Coach (Ben) Howland (typically) plays defense.”

Smith has been a big part of the story as his size has been a timely mismatch that has tipped the balance in UCLA’s favor over the last half of the conference slate. In the LA Times Smith talked about returning to his home town to face UW and stated that he believes that people in Seattle feel that he is a “traitor”.

Lee talked on a video clip about his team and why they are gaining momentum to Scout on Wednesday/

UCLA next travel to Washington for a 6 p.m. (PST) on Thursday.

USC Notes

The Trojans played themselves right into the thick of the conference race by sweeping the Arizona schools over the weekend. On Thursday ‘SC got ‘Zona 65-57, as Vucevic scored 25 and grabbed 23 rebounds. Junior guard Jio Fontan had a strong game, after a mini-slump, with 21 points, while senior post Alex Stepheson scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.

After the game, CBS columnist/blogger Gary Parrish stated that Vucevic was better than ‘Zona’s Derrick Williams, who the national media had been including in the national Player of the year conversation.

On Saturday to cap off the weekend, ‘SC beat ASU 62-46, as Vucevic again had a double/double with 20 and 10. Stepheson also scored 15 points and grabbed 10 boards, while senior guard Donte Smith scored 12.

USC’s Scout site wrote a feature pointing out that the Trojans are “putting it together at right time”.

Getting into the swing of the Pac-10 race with four straight wins, brought the USC players back to last season, when their self-imposed sanctions made it so they had nothing to play for and struggled down the stretch, despite being a good team on paper.

Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn included ‘SC in his “Bid Stealers” column on

“No one would regard the Trojans winning the Pac-10 tourney as a shock, mainly because they’ve already beaten the league’s Nos. 1 and 2 teams (Arizona and UCLA) in Los Angeles. They also may be the hottest team in the conference, having won four straight heading into the final regular-season weekend, led by junior forward Nikola Vucevic, who may be the Pac-10’s best player not named Derrick Williams.”

The Trojans have gotten their season back on track by playing much better defense. The LA Times focused on that and how O’Neill has done a great job of getting great production from such a short rotation. Starters Vucevic, Stepheson, Fontan, Smith and senior defensive specialist Marcus Simmons play long minutes, as does freshman guard Maurice Jones.

Freshman post Garrett Jackson only plays about 5-minutes per game.

USC next travel to Pullman to face the Cougs at 7 p.m. (PST) on Thursday.

College Hoops

The dolt pictured above is Mark Emmert, former president of the University of Washington who is pre...
Danny O'Neil

Feds wasting time (and your money) on college hoops

Why in the world is the FBI worried about $10,000 that may have gone to the best player on a Washington team that won all of two conference games?
5 years ago
Gonzaga...
Eric Mandel

Gonzaga earns No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament

The Gonzaga men's basketball team earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and will face South Dakota State on Thursday.
6 years ago
Eric Mandel

Washington’s Markelle Fultz, Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss named to Wooden Award list

University of Washington freshman Markelle Fultz and Gonzaga junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss are among the 20 finalists for the 2017 John R. Wooden Award.
6 years ago
Kyle Wiltjer and Gonzaga are a win away from a second straight trip to the Elite Eight. (AP)...
Brent Stecker

Gonzaga is back in the Sweet 16, but it’s not the same old Zags

The Zags have been up to their old antics with a pair of upset wins in the NCAA Tournament, but their strength is not the play of their guards like in previous years.
7 years ago
No Author

Washington men take control early, defeat Montana 92-62

Marquese Chriss scored 22 points and Dejounte Murray added 16 as Washington took control early and rolled to a 92-62 non-conference victory over Montana on Saturday.
7 years ago
...
No Author

Washington QB apologizes for off-field incident

Washington quarterback Cyler Miles apologized Wednesday for his involvement in an off-field incident after the Super Bowl that led to his suspension for the Huskies' season opener at Hawaii.
8 years ago
Pac-10 Roundup and Washington Husky Huddle for Thursday March 3rd 2011