Pacific-10 Conference Standings
(updated 1.16.2010 at 11:43 PM PST)
In first place...the Sun Devils? Who woulda thought that?
Cory Williams of House of Sparky discusses his Devils.
Our core has solidified and ASU is playing seamless basketball. Ty Abbott has shown a great deal of consistency over the past four wins, asserting himself both offensively and in the paint as a rebounding force. Derek Glasser has taken good care of the ball and is getting plenty of chances from beyond the arc. Rihards Kuksiks is delivering clutch three after clutch three. Ruslan Pateev is finding open men from the inside out, and Trent Lockett is displaying excellent athleticism and basketball IQ. Our defense is ridiculously good, but wait until we play someone with a legitimate scoring threat in the post. I know this is only theoretical, but as I was watching Michigan take down #15 UConn this afternoon, I couldn't imagine the Sun Devils having an answer against a strong big like Gavin Edwards. We play well in the Pac-10 due to the lack of skill at the center position, but that may not translate well in any postseason appearances we receive (and at this point, it's fairly safe to assume we are at least NIT-bound). The good news is, we don't have any non-Pac-10 games left on the docket.
Hmm...zone defense, can be exploited by great bigs, smart team offense...it's looking like it'll be awfully tough to beat the Sun Devils at all (and Pomeroy has us splitting, with only a 2 point win at home).
Who do you consider your current favorite to win the Pac-10? Discuss and vote.
ASU's most recent victim
AndyPanda of Building the Dam explains that Oregon State's defense seemed to break down at several crucial junctures against the Sun Devils.
In the first half, Arizona St. was especially cold from outside, making only three of 13 attempts, but the Beavers couldn't shake them, due to too many open inside shots. The Sun Devils capitalized on over-pressure from the Oregon St. 1-3-1 defense, which allowed the ball to get deep, and inside, repeatedly. Being an "inside-out" defense, one of the greatest vulnerabilities comes when the wings overplay, and get not only out of position, but out of position to the outside.
Come the second half, Oregon St. simply suffered several breakdowns that allowed uncontested weak side shots. Some were as a result of double team pressure, but some were simply mistakes on assignments.
Can't wait to play them in a first-to-fifty contest this Saturday. It's going to be thrillllling.
UCLA: "I wish we played more like USC???"
Yes, these were the thoughts uttered by Bruins Nation after an embarrassing beatdown at Pauley by the Trojans. Big picture wise, they're beginning to lose confidence in Ben Howland.
Yet at the halfway point of this season it has become clear that the UCLA basketball team is going nowhere. It hasn't improved through the season and is going through the same maddening lather, rinse, and repeat formula that hasn't worked game after game. Howland's words at this point has no traction and it increasingly appears that we have a head coach who at least at this snap shot of time appears to be all by himself in an island being tuned out by his players and a community that wants to support him in every reasonable way possible.
I'd like to support Ben Howland, however I just can't be enthusiastic and supportive of what has taken place this season, which seems to be a carry over of number of disturbing tendencies from last. I voted "unsure" in our poll. I am hoping that Howland will make definitive adjustments to this current season to set the foundation for next year and get this program back to playing Ben Ball. If he doesn't, I will be heading into next season with a deep sense of skepticism and shaky confidence in our current head coach (I don't have any hope for rest of this one).
How'd we lose to these guys again?
Lewis and Nikola Vucevic proved to be an effective 1-2 punch that made it tough on Ben Howland's bunch.
Lewis continued his hot streak - 3 straight games of 20+ points - by scoring a season high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting. For Vucevic, the game marked his return to the dominant play that he showcased during nonconference play, as he posted 19 points and collected 6 rebounds. Matching up against UCLA's frontline, Vucevic, outperformed all three starting forwards, who combined to have only 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Combining that type of offensive output (Lewis and Vucevic combined for 64% of the team's scoring) with great efficiency (the team shot 52% as a whole), the Trojans are going to be incredibly tough to beat. Kevin O'Neill's bunch is already well-known for its defensive prowess (they was again posted an impressive defensive field goal percentage of 33.3%) so when the offensive is clicking, the Trojans look like that team that defeated highly ranked Tennessee back in December.
Also, for those who enjoy slapfights, take a look at how USC and UCLA fans are either seething or reveling in Rick Nehueisel's shot across the bow at Lane Kiffin.
A Cougar Problem
Think about it for a second: Is there a worse team in the country with a lead than WSU?
The Cougs had a big lead against Eastern Washington and allowed it to get uncomfortable. seven-point lead against LSU in overtime and nearly lost. They had a seven-point lead against Oregon in overtime and lost. They had a five-point lead late against OSU and nearly lost. They had a six-point lead late against Arizona and nearly lost.
This is seriously ridiculous, but I have no idea how you go about fixing it. Perhaps it's just a byproduct of youth, and we probably should just all be happy they've won all but one of these games (which, of course, we know they actually won). But it does give you serious heartburn in the process.
Cal didn't have to deal with that issue, leading wire-to-wire in Pullman. But it's a comforting thought if we ever fall behind in our rematch in Haas.
Quick hits: Oregon fans don't seem to be happy at all with the way Tajuan Porter's been playing. Arizona fans seem to think a tournament bid only comes with a Pac-10 title, Washington fans are quite content with a sweep of the Bay Area schools, Cardinal fans don't exist.