Injuries are a fact of life in sports, as any Cal fan can attest. Still, that doesn't make them any less depressing. It wasn't much fun watching Spencer Dinwiddie collapse with no contact and then clutch his knee in agony. At the time Colorado led by three points. Without their point guard and best player, Colorado was outscored 49-29 the rest of the way.
Generally speaking, losing your point is the most devastating loss for any team. Think about how Oregon struggled without Dominic Artis last year, or how much Cal women's basketball struggled on offense before Brittany Boyd arrived on campus. You can't survive without a solid point guard. If Dinwiddie is going to miss major time, the question is this: Does Colorado have a capable back-up?
Askia Booker will likely slide from shooting guard to point guard and back-up sophomore point guard Xavier Talton will likely get major minutes. But it's going to be tough to keep the offense humming. Colorado was already turnover prone with Dinwiddie, and they committed eleven turnovers in the 2nd half without him running the point. Colorado's offense could very well go from adequate to broken.
Oregon has three losses, two at home. Colorado might be without their best player. UCLA is already functionally two games back in the loss column. Challengers to Arizona are looking more and more unlikely. Only one team seems remotely well positioned to give them a run. I won't say it, but I know you were already thinking it.
Last Week in the Pac-12
Team of the Week: Cal
The Bears and the Wildcats both grabbed two road wins this week. As a matter of fact, this was the rare week in which home court advantage wasn't a particularly decisive factor, as home teams finished 5-7. But the title goes to Cal because Arizona's exploits are hardly surprising
Player of the Week: C.J. Wilcox
Dinwiddie or no, Colorado has a great defense. That didn't stop Wilcox, probably the best pure shooter in the conference, from dropping 31 on 12-18 shooting. Four blocks and two steals only added to the performance, as it's actually been a revitalized defense that has helped explain UW's resurgence. Wilcox had a solid performance in a win over Utah to round out his POW performance. Let's hope the rims at Haas are less kind to him.
Disappointment of the week: Oregon
Utah and USC also went without a win this week, but neither of those teams is nearly as good as Oregon. Honestly, I was tempted to give the award to ASU again for being completely noncompetitive at UCLA. But Oregon simply can't get swept at home if they want to compete atop the conference. In four conference games Oregon's defense has been atrocious - only USC and OSU have been worse, and those three schools are a significant margin behind everybody else. Defense was what made Oregon's season last year, and unless something changes quickly the Ducks will be a relative non-factor in the title race.
Game of the week: Arizona 79, UCLA 75
No, not the most entertaining game of the week. That title would go to Stanford and Oregon's defense free party in Eugene. But this game was easily the most important of the week. There are probably four or five games on the schedule that you would look at and think 'yeah, I could envision Arizona losing that game.' This was one of them, and the Wildcats got the win. It probably shouldn't have even been particularly close, but a late 13-0 UCLA run to tie the score made things hairy. Still, it was hard to watch the game and not see the difference between the two teams. Arizona won't face a particularly risky game for another two weeks or so.
Next Week in the Pac-12
Washington State at Stanford, 7:00, Pac-12 network
Washington at Cal, 8:00, ESPNU
UCLA at Colorado, 6:00, Pac-12 Networks
Arizona State at Arizona, 7:00, Fox Sports 1
USC at Utah, 8:00, Pac-12 Networks
USC at Colorado, 11:00 am, Fox Sports 1
Washington State at Cal, 1:00, Pac-12 Network
UCLA at Utah, 1:00, Fox Sports 1
Washington at Stanford, 8:00, ESPNU
Oregon at Oregon State, 5:00, ESPNU
The biggest game of the week should have been UCLA's visit to Colorado, and perhaps it still is. Dinwiddie's injury obviously casts a shadow over that contest. Playing in Boulder is still a challenge for anybody and it wouldn't shock me if the Buffs are still a tough out a mile high, but it's tough to say at the moment how they will respond.
The 2nd best game? Washington at Cal, oddly enough. I want to know if the Huskies are for real. In terms of efficiency they were probably the worst team in the conference early in the year, yet they stand at 3-1 with only a road loss to Arizona. Still, there are doubts. You should beat Utah at home. They caught a break when Dinwiddie hurt himself. And after watching Arizona State against UCLA, I'm not convinced that beating the Sun Devils means a ton. Quite simply, we don't know a ton about Washington yet, and playing Cal on the road is a good way to learn.