This Week In The Pac-12: Let's Get Physical

Best wishes to Josh Scott as he recovers from a concussion. - Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Three incidents involving colliding bodies distracted from what was otherwise a thrilling week of hoops.

Enough digital ink has already been spilled over The Shove, so let's move on to other, significantly more scary incidents. First off, Tony Woods:


So that's one of the most blatant cheap shots I've ever seen. At the time Woods was charged with a flagrant-2 foul, which resulted in his ejection and could have led to a further suspension against Cal. But the Pac-12 decided otherwise:

The conference routinely reviews all "flagrant 2" fouls and can take additional punitive action beyond the ejection of the player from the game. Woods committed the foul in the first half of Oregon’s overtime win at Washington State, so missing the entire second half after playing only seven minutes in the first half was deemed as being appropriate for the severity of the foul, an elbow to the head of WSU’s Brock Motum as the two players ran down the court.

What say you, Cal fans? Was Woods' ejection adequate punishment?

Meanwhile, Washington State just missed doing a gigantic favor for every other team in the conference by giving up a significant lead and then handing Oregon the win with an ill-advised intentional foul in overtime. Oregon has enough tough games that the conference title is far from forgone, but a one game lead and multiple tie-breakers with five games left is significant.

On to our next incident. Josh Scott, meet Jordan Bachynski:



An ASU fan would be quick to point out that Scott was just as willing to get physical as Bachynski was. And although Bachynski's move was dangerous, I'm skeptical that he meant to cause any harm.

No, the real culprits are the Pac-12 refs. They should have called a foul earlier in the play on Scott for using his elbow to throw off Bachynski. Then, when it was Bachynski who swept his arm across Scott's body to take him to the floor, they finally blow a whistle . . . and call a foul on Scott?! As he's lying unconscious on the floor?

I don't like talking about the refs in part because they have an impossible job. If they call too many fouls, fans like me criticize them for making a game unwatchable with constant breaks in the action and interminable free throws. But when they don't call enough fouls, they are criticized for letting games get out of hand and potentially creating dangerous situations like the one above.

But in terms of mind-numbingly unbelievable sights, seeing a ref pointing at an unconscious player on the ground for committing a foul he didn't actual commit has to rank at the top of the list.

This Week In The Pac-12

Game of the Week: ASU 63, Colorado 62, OT

There's some seriously stiff competition for this award. 8 of the 12 games this week were decided by single digits and two went into overtime. But in terms of importance, desire, and sheer excitement, Arizona State's win over Colorado takes the cake.

I don't want to be mistaken: The game was hideous. It was physical to the point of borderline violence and defense ruled the day. But both teams were clearly desperate for a win and it showed in every play, all the way down to the furious finish in overtime highlighted by Evan Gordon's buzzer beating lay-up. Colorado probably isn't in immediate danger of missing the tournament, but Arizona State had to have this game to keep their fledgling hopes alive, and they played like it.

Player of the Week: Allen Crabbe

Who am I to argue with the official verdict of the conference? Besides, I wanted an excuse to post this video:


Disappointment of the Week: Stanford

The Cardinal started the season as Pac-12 dark horses. Now, after completing an 0-4 season against the L.A. schools, they sit with a record of 15-11 (6-7) and just one win over an RPI top 50 team. For the 5th straight year Johnny Dawkins will not be dancing and one must begin to wonder how much time he has left. He's been able to successfully recruit guys to Stanford, but their development over time has been limited at best.

Next Week In The Pac-12

Wednesday
Washington State at Arizona State, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Washington at Arizona, 8:00 pm, ESPN2

Thursday
California at Oregon, 6:00 pm, ESPNU
Utah at Colorado, 7:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Stanford at Oregon State, 8:00, ESPNU

Saturday
Washington State at Arizona, Noon, FSN
California at Oregon State, 3:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Stanford at Oregon, 5:00 pm, Pac-12 Network
Washington at Arizona State, 8:00 pm, ESPNU

Sunday
UCLA at USC, 12:30, FSN

To be honest, there's not a ton to get excited about here. This week is an appetizer before some really juicy games the week after. There are only two games matching up two of the seven Pac-12 teams ESPN currently lists as in their projected tournament or just out. Those games would be Cal and Stanford visiting Oregon. Frankly, I have a hard time seeing Stanford as anywhere near the bubble unless the committee suddenly starts using Kenpom rankings over RPI rankings.

So yeah, only two games seem particularly intriguing. One is Cal's visit to Oregon, where Dominic Artis is expected to return but at an unknown level of effectiveness. The other is UCLA's visit to USC, if only because of the rivalry implications and the chance of the entire UCLA fan base spontaneously combusting if the Trojans sweep away that school that is 38 years removed from the Wooden era.

But when there aren't any battles between top teams, that means that the chances for an upset rise. Somebody this week will lose to a team they aren't supposed to lose to, and it will impact the title race and the tourney race. Any guesses as to who will stub their toe?

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