Pac-12 basketball this week: Home-court advantage vanishing

2012-01-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:07:31Z Pac-12 basketball this week: Home-court advantage vanishingPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

On their day off between games at Stanford and Cal last week, the Utah Utes took a Friday trip to Alcatraz.

The next day, they traveled to the Berkeley and lost by 36.

Coach Larry Krystkowiak was not trying to tie the former prison and basketball together, necessarily, but did so in his evaluation of the game against the Golden Bears.

"We weren't really intent on guarding," he said.

The Utes' weekend road loss is actually an anomaly in the league this year.

On the weekend, it appears, home-court advantage vanishes as if in San Francisco fog.

Pac-12 home teams are only 9-5 in league play when hosting a Saturday or Sunday game after a Thursday game. They're 14-4 on Thursdays, or on weekends after a full week's rest.

Last year, Pac-12 home teams went 23-17 on the back half of the two-day homestand. They were 35-15 otherwise in league play.

"When you're at home, your guys got to get up and go to 8 o'clock class on Friday morning," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "At least, if you're on the road, they can sleep in."

Credit the hotel mattresses, then.

Of the seven Pac-12 home teams to lose a conference game this season, five have fallen on either a Saturday or Sunday following a Thursday game.

The Arizona Wildcats were the latest team to do so Saturday, falling to Oregon.

In fact, toss out USC, which is 0-3 at home, and four of the league's six home losses have come on the weekend, on short rest.

Coach Tad Boyle tried to prepare Colorado - which, like Utah, took its first two-game league road trip last week - for the schedule.

On three occasions earlier this season, the Buffaloes played non-conference games with one off day in between.

In the Big 12 last year, the Buffaloes often played Wednesdays and Saturdays, flying home Wednesday night and leaving again on Fridays.

"In terms of our players getting used to it, it's definitely different," Boyle said. "It's the biggest challenge we have coming into this new league, and what Thursday-Saturday poses for you, versus Wednesday-Saturday (in the Big 12).

"I've mentioned many times the mental toughness that it takes to play on the road on a Thursday-Saturday schedule.…

"If you come up short (the first time), you have to find a way to bounce back emotionally and mentally."

Sendek said that "the best situation is to be able to rest the best you can and prepare," preferably at home.

But extended travel - like this week, when the Sun Devils fly from Boulder, Colo., to Salt Lake City - "makes it challenging," Sendek said.

Krystkowiak figures his team will benefit from hosting teams on short rest, after a plane trip.

"We're probably, at Utah, the recipient of somewhat of an advantage," he said.

"I can see 10 of the other teams in our league complaining maybe a little more than we are."

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