The 3 safest records
in the Pac-12
1. Don MacLean’s 2,608 career points
No one has legitimately threated the former UCLA shooting forward’s record since he broke Sean Elliott’s league mark of 2,555 and departed 22 years ago. In fact, only UCLA’s Jason Kapono, with 2,095 points, has got within 513 points since 1992. That’s because MacLean, Kapono and UA’s Elliott played four seasons. What star-level player does that any more?
2. Jason Kidd’s four career triple-doubles
Since record-keeping began tracking triple-doubles about 40 years ago, only three other Pac-12 players have more than one: UA’s Andre Iguodala, three; Oregon’s Luke Jackson and Arizona’s Loren Woods, two each.
3. Lute Olson’s 327 conference victories
Cal’s Mike Montgomery is getting interestingly close, at 260, but how long will Monty stick with it? He turns 67 this season and is 67 victories shy. Let’s say Monty coaches five more seasons and has a blazing run, averaging 13-5 in the league. He’d still be two shy of Olson.
Four reasons to stick with DirecTV
From Oct. 27 to Nov. 8, the Pac-12 Networks will commit production costs and airtime to broadcast four games that could cure insomnia. Translation: if you have DirecTV, which doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Networks, there’s no hurry. You won’t miss much.
The first four games to be aired on the Pac-12 Networks this year are (no drum roll necessary):
1. Northwest Christian College University at Oregon, Oct. 27.
2. Augustana College at Arizona, Oct. 28.
3. Cal State San Marcos at UCLA, Nov. 4.
4. Maryland-Baltimore County at Arizona State, Nov. 8.
Special mention: Coppin State’s Tour of the West, which includes a Nov. 8 game at Cal and a Nov. 10 game at Oregon State, both will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
Where Are They
Now? (Coaches Division)
Eleven Pac-10/Pac-12 head coaches have been fired (or strongly persuaded to leave) this century, a not-so-elite club that added USC’s Kevin O’Neill and UCLA’s Ben Howland last season. Here’s what the others are doing:
• Ricardo Patton, Colorado: Head coach at Central High School in Memphis, Tenn.
• Jay John, Oregon State: Assistant athletic director for operations/development at Cal.
• Steve Lavin, UCLA: Head coach at St. John’s.
• Ben Braun, Cal: Head coach at Rice, entering sixth season with a 56-105 record. Braun’s Owls went 5-26 last season.
• Rob Evans, Arizona State: Associate head coach at North Texas.
• Henry Bibby, USC: Assistant coach, Detroit Pistons.
• Paul Graham, Washington State: Head coach at Skyline High School in Dallas.
• Ritchie McKay, Oregon State: Assistant coach, Virginia.
• Jim Boylen, Utah: Assistant coach, San Antonio Spurs.
3 Grad Students who followed
Mark Lyons, Arizona’s 2012-13 starting point guard, who played three seasons at Xavier, gained immediate eligibility, taking advantage of the NCAA’s rule that permits graduates to transfer and play without penalty. Lyons seems to have started a trend. Here are this year’s top grads in uniform:
1. Mike Moser, Oregon: After averaging 14 points and 10.5 rebounds at UNLV two years ago, Moser tired of being a third-option for the Runnin’ Rebels — his average dropped to 7.1 points — and will play power forward for the Ducks this year.
2. Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State: Leaving Penn State with a 15.3 scoring average, Marshall, a 6-4 wing shooter, is likely to be all-conference caliber. He scored 29 points last year against Michigan State, 25 against Michigan and 23 against Wisconsin. Deadeye.
3. Perris Blackwell, Washington: Blackwell didn’t actually graduate after three seasons at San Francisco. But he sat out a year at UW, is now a grad student, and projects as one of the top inside players in the league. He is 6-9, 280 pounds and averaged 12.7 as a USF junior. He has 550 career rebounds.
One man with
five big dreams
ASU sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, who has announced he will depart for the NBA draft in the spring, prefaced his second Sun Devil season by boldly saying: “I want to win more than 20 games, win the Pac-12 championship, get Pac-12 Player of the Year, All-American and get us a deep run in the NCAA tournament. I think that will be a nice way to end my last year.”
What are the chances Carson can hit all of those goals?
- The Sun Devils have never won a Pac-10 or Pac-12 championship.
- They have made just one “deep run’’ in the NCAA tournament since joining the league, a Sweet 16 loss in 1995.
- ASU has won more than 20 games just seven times since joining the league in 1978.
- It has produced a single consensus All-American, James Harden, 2009.
- ASU players Harden, Ike Diogu and Eddie House have been Players of the Year.
- Even Harden didn’t go 5 for 5 on Carson’s list. His 2009 ASU team was third in the league and made it only to the NCAA’s round of 32.
Three visiting arenas to avoid
Over the years, Colorado’s Coors Events Center, Washington’s Bank of America Arena, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and Utah’s Huntsman Center have been described as a most difficult place for an opposing team to play.
This year, Arizona’s Nov. 14 visit to San Diego State’s Viejas Arena and its student section — aka “The Show’’ — is sure to be labeled one of America’s most inhospitable road venues. Here’s my call on the three most imposing places Arizona has played in its Pac-12 history:
1. Gill Coliseum, Oregon State, March 5, 1981: The Beavers were ranked No. 1, undefeated, 24-0, and Gill was a madhouse on the night they routed Arizona 80-62. OSU allotted about 5,000 tickets to students and from 1980-85, the Beavers were the most feared home team in the league.
2. Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Feb. 4, 1988: It was usually pick-your-poison at Maples in the Olson vs. Montgomery rivalry, but there was no more electric night at the old floor-shaking, Sixth Man Club-howling gym than Feb. 4, 1988. Arizona arrived ranked No. 1, 20-1 overall, but Montgomery’s second Stanford team, led by Todd Lichti, topped the Wildcats in the final ticks of a wild game, 82-74. Runner-up: Stanford’s 30-2 team of 2004, with the Sixth Man Club at its loudest, pulled off an epic comeback, stunning Arizona 80-77 on a midcourt shot with Tiger Woods among those who rushed the court.
3. Mac Court, Dec. 22, 2001: Arizona was a player short — Luke Walton was injured — but the Ducks, a rising power with future NBA players Luke Ridnour, Luke Jackson and Fred Jones — had no mercy. Oregon won 105-75, Olson’s worst Pac-12 loss, and the ancient building seemed to vibrate from start to finish.
How the game has changed
In the last decade, McKale Center has evolved with far more than new digital scoreboards, signage and floor-level preferred seating. The cactus-and-saguaro logo, for example, was replaced by a gigantic block A.
The traditional Saturday afternoon showdown game, many against Pac-12 powers, has also been diminished. Five years ago, for example, Arizona played six afternoon home games against NAU, Oregon State, Houston, Washington State, UCLA and Stanford.
This year the Wildcats play just two day games at home, against UNLV and Washington, a casualty of TV programming.
Even worse, UCLA won’t play at McKale Center for the first time since the 1978-79 season.
This marks the seventh season that Lute Olson has not been on the sideline. How time flies, huh? The first non-Olson Arizona team, 2007-08, which was coached by Kevin O’Neill, has grown up and moved on. Here’s where the five departing players from that team have gone:
• Daniel Dillon is playing for CSM Oradea of the Romanian pro league.
• Kirk Walters, who married former UA golfer Brooke Schneider, lives in Los Angeles and works for a national employment agency that caters to former college athletes.
• Jerryd Bayless is a reserve guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. He has started just 40 career NBA games for four teams.
• Jawann McClellan is an assistant basketball coach at Houston’s Jack Yates High School.
• Bret Brielmaier is an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pac-12’s five most anticipated non-conference games
Forget Utah’s inexcusably lousy home schedule (games against Evergreen State, Grand Canyon, Lamar, Savannah State, Idaho State and St. Katherine College, among others), the Pac-12 has stepped up for some made-for-TV toughies this season. Here’s the top five (not including possible games in early-season tournaments):
1. Arizona at Michigan, Dec. 14, CBS: Preview of a Final Four game, perhaps?
2. Duke vs. UCLA, Dec. 19, ESPN: The teams will play at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
3. Kansas at Colorado, Dec. 7, ESPN2: The Jayhawks will find the Buffaloes have stepped up in class since leaving the Big 12.
4. Cal at Creighton, Dec. 22, Fox Sports 1: Give the Bears credit for taking on the powerful Bluejays, who return possible NCAA Player of the Year Doug McDermott.
5. Washington vs. Indiana, Nov. 21, ESPN2: Lorenzo Romar, much like ASU’s Herb Sendek, has an unwanted reputation as a cakewalk-schedule-maker. Playing the Hoosiers in New York gets him off that list for a year.
Some talented new
faces you’ll see
On paper, the Pac-12’s freshman class weighs in as one of the best in recent memory.
Cal wing shooter Jabari Bird, Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon were generally ranked among the nation’s top 10 or 20 prospects.
Making the All-Pac-12 freshman team isn’t always a guarantee of success. After all, UCLA’s Reeves Nelson and Washington State’s Reggie Moore were both part of the 2010 all-rookie team. Both started strong and failed to finish their college careers.
Arizona has produced the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year six times: Sean Elliott, Chase Budinger, Mike Bibby, Michael Wright, Salim Stoudamire and Derrick Williams.
Gordon could make it seven, but he’s unlikely to get the shots and points of Bird and Williams-Goss. Here are more contenders:
• Utah’s 6-5 JC transfer Delon Wright, who was recruited by Washington and Gonzaga, could be the go-to man the Utes have lacked.
Stanford backcourt twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen, who become the third set of high-profile twins to play for the Cardinal in the last 20 years, joining Jason and Jarron Collins and Robin and Brook Lopez, all of whom became NBA players.
Oregon recruited San Diego twins Tyrell and Tyree Robinson, who initially sought to be two-sport players, in football and basketball. However, both accepted football scholarships to play for the Ducks and have put their hoops plans on hold for a bit.
I’ll have a double-double, please
UA freshman Aaron Gordon made his UA debut with a 12-point, 13-rebound performance in the Red-Blue Game on Oct. 12. It probably won’t be the last of Gordon’s double-doubles. Here’s some perspective: In school history, only six players have registered 10 or more double-doubles in a season:
1. Jordan Hill, 20, in 2008-09
2. A. J. Bramlett, 17, 1998-99
3. Ben Davis, 15, 1995-96
4. Michael Wright, 12 in 1999-2000 and 11 in 1998-99
5. Brian Williams, 10 in 1990-91, and Jud Buechler, 10, in 1989-90
How the Pac-12 will go and why
1. Arizona. Defense will get it done. Record: 15-3.
2. Arizona State. If the Sun Devils are ever to win league title, now is the time. Record: 14-4.
3. UCLA. Jordan Adams could be the Player of the Year. Record: 13-5.
4. Colorado. A tough out every game. Record: 12-6.
5. Stanford. Now or never for coach Johnny Dawkins. Record: 11-7.
6. Cal. Somehow Mike Montgomery will keep games close. Record: 10-8.
The others: Washington will be as good a second-division club as any in the country. Utah will be much-improved and a beast at home. Oregon coach Dana Altman has a terrific reputation, but the league is going to chop him up a bit.