College basketball is almost here. There are many reasons to be excited about Oregon basketball this year, whether it be building off of Dana Altman's successful first season, all the new talent we've brought in, or that fact that, much like the football team, basketball is opening big: a November 11 road contest at preseason #7 Vanderbilt. Of course, if those things don't get you pumped for college basketball season, this will:
Either you just did fist pump, or you're lying about it. But the best reason to be into college hoops this season isn't just waiting for March Madness, but that the Ducks have a legitimate shot of being back in March Madness for the first time in four seasons.
This also marks the first season since we started ATQ over five years ago that I will not be coaching at the high school level, meaning that I will actually be seeing all the games. As such, I plan to ramp up the college hoops coverage on ATQ this season, with a staple feature being the Full Court Press, a look around at current news in the world of Pac-12 hoops for those ATQers who are massive hoops junkies like me. With today being Pac-12 media day, there is a lot of news out, so its a great day for our first edition.
First off, the Pac-12 media poll is out. UCLA is predicted by the writers to win the conference, Oregon is picked fifth. I agree that UCLA has the best talent in the conference, and especially the best bigs with Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson returning and being backed up by the 6'10" UCLA transfers in Travis and David Wear. Cal also has some really good talent with Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, and Harper Kamp trying to build off their NIT appearance last season. I really see Washington and Oregon battling it out for the two spots after that, especially after the hilarity that occured in Tucson last night. Here is the poll in its entirety:
The pre-season Pac-12 media poll:
1 UCLA (14) 421
2 California (13) 405
3 Arizona (11) 404
4 Washington 355
5 Oregon 282
6 Stanford 255
7 USC 194
8 Oregon State 188
9 Arizona State 148
10 Colorado 119
Washington State 119
12 Utah 74
First place votes in parentheses
Now around the conference.
OREGON: Why would we start anywhere else than with the only team that's actually important? From a college hoops standpoint, this was the most important tweet to come across my feed all day:
RyanDivish Ryan DivishOregon coach Dana Altman says that Garrett Sim will get the first shot at the starting point guard spot.
This came as a shock to me, first and foremost, because at no time during his Oregon career has Garrett Sim shown the three most essential offensive skills of being a point guard: great ball-handling, the ability to lead the extended fast break and find the open man, and the ability to consistently penetrate and finish. Wehn Malcolm Armstead Couldn't play at times last season, it was always Jonathan Loyd starting for Oregon, and he is much more of your traditional point guard. Discussion in today's Quack Fix ended with Matt Daddy speculating that Sim must be getting the nod because of the two things that he does do better than Loyd: play defense, and shoot jumpers, and that the role of the point guard may be changing in the Oregon offense this season with Jabari Brown being the primary creator, and needing a guy to shoot open three pointers off of that. Devoe Joseph could also factor in at the point. He'll become eligible in game #7, which is a December 10 home game against Fresno State.
ARIZONA: Remember when I spoke of hilarity in Tucson? Arizona had their first exhibiton game last night--and lost--to Division II Seattle Pacific 69-68. Sean Miller wasn't freaking out after the game, nor should he have been. Remember, a couple of years ago, Syracuse lost one of these exhibitions to LeMoyne, and it didn't end up making a difference. But Arizona lost a lot with Derrick Williams going to the NBA and MoMo Jones transferring, and now Kevin Parrom is out with a stress fracture. I like Arizona's talent, but can't help but feel that both Washington and Oregon are in better shape than the Wildcats right now.
CALIFORNIA: California basketball coach Mike Montgomery announced today that he was diagnosed and received surgery for high grade bladder cancer. Scary, scary stuff. Monty has done a great job making the Golden Bears consistent contenders and is widely regarded as a class act in the conference. Here's wish Monty a complete recovery.
ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State may be the most boring team in the conference, and I'm not sure how they were picked above Washington State. They need a massive influx of talent, and got bad news on that front when Herb Sendek mentioned that four star point guard recruit Jahii Carson, who was expected to come in and immediately start at the point, still hasn't been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse. Remember, Roberto Nelson went through this same thing recently as Oregon State, and missed a whole season while waiting for the NCAA to
sort through its incompetence determine his eligibility.
OREGON STATE: I was a first grader last time the Beavers made the NCAA Tournament and, while I'm bullish on Oregon State's talent, I question whether Craig Robinson is the man to get them there, especially as long as he holds onto his 1-3-1 zone defense. Robinson says that he believes he finally has the athletes to compete, and plans to run a lot more man-to-man defense this season. Time will tell.
UCLA: One quick nugget about UCLA. There as a lot of talk about UCLA not playing any true home games this season due to the renovation of Pauley Pavilion (they are playing home games at the LA Sports Arena--across the street from the USC campus). But the big story is that the Bruins have already suffered two injuries this preseason: JUCO transfer De'End Parker with a concussion, and sophomore guard Atnhony Stover with a concussion and as of yet unknown shoulder injury which required an MRI.
Here are the complete transcripts from Pac-12 media day. I hope to have these roundups a few times a week during hoops season.