Pac-12 capsules: New coaches, young players highlight deeper league

2013-11-03T00:00:00Z Pac-12 capsules: New coaches, young players highlight deeper league Arizona Daily Star

ARIZONA

•  Back issues 2012-13: 27-8 overall, 12-6 Pac-12, second place

•  Mentor: Sean Miller (96-43 in four years at Arizona, 216-90 in nine years overall)

•  Superhero: Aaron Gordon. The freshman phenom drew league-wide praise at Pac-12 media day.

•  Sidekick: Nick Johnson. A star, he’ll share top billing this year with the league’s top freshman phenom.

•  Nemesis: UCLA. The Wildcats went 0-3 against the Bruins last season.

•  Superpower: Depth. The dividends of stellar recruiting are starting to get realized.

•  Kryptonite: Experience. The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but do they have the poise to topple the country?

•  One-sentence storyline: How far will the Wildcats go?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at San Diego State, Nov. 14. Get past the high-rising Aztecs, and the Wildcats could finish non-conference play unblemished.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best bench ever.”

ARIZONA STATE

•    Back issues 2012-13: 22-13, 9-9, sixth place

•  Mentor: Herb Sendek (119-108 in seven years at Arizona State, 373-266 in 20 years overall)

•  Superhero: Jahii Carson. After being forced to sit out a year because of ineligibility, Carson took vengeance on the conference last season.

•  Sidekick: Jermaine Marshall. The Penn State transfer should help ASU field the conference’s top backcourt.

•  Nemesis: Arizona. The Sun Devils were done in by their in-state rivals by a total of 33 points.

•  Superpower: Speed. Carson and Marshall should push the tempo to full throttle.

•  Kryptonite: Depth. The starting five stacks up with the rest of the league, but the Sun Devils need some subs to emerge.

•  One-sentence storyline: Carson takes on the world

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Arizona, Jan. 16. Four days after heading to UCLA, the Sun Devils have to head down to Tucson.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best guards ever.”

CALIFORNIA

•    Back issues 2012-13: 21-12, 12-6, fourth place

•  Mentor: Mike Montgomery (109-59 in five years at Cal, 656-306 in 31 years overall)

•  Superhero: Justin Cobbs. A dual-threat, Cobbs averaged 15.1 points and finished fourth in the conference in assists.

•  Sidekick: Jabari Bird. Monty’s top recruit at Cal, the top-25 prospect is expected to thrive and do so early.

•  Nemesis: Chasson Randle. The Stanford star scored a combined 35 points in two wins over the Bears.

•  Superpower: Returners. Cal brings back four of five starters from an NCAA tournament team.

•  Kryptonite: Explosiveness. The Bears are solid all-around, but may lack that singular star to take on Arizona or Colorado.

•  One-sentence storyline: Bird takes flight

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Stanford, Jan. 2. The Bears open the conference slate with a big matchup against the Bay Area rivals.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best freshman ever.”

COLORADO

•    Back issues 2012-13: 21-12, 10-8, fifth place

  Mentor: Tad Boyle (69-37 in three years at Colorado, 126-103 in 7 years overall)

•  Superhero: Spencer Dinwiddie. Underrated out of high school, Dinwiddie is a smooth jumper away from stardom.

•  Sidekick: Askia Booker. Plucked from Los Angeles like Dinwiddie, Booker helps form a potent one-two punch.

•  Nemesis: Arizona State. The Sun Devils’ Jordan Bachynski had 12 blocks in two wins over the Buffaloes.

•  Superpower: Balance. Buffaloes have good mix of young and old, strength and speed, talent and experience.

•  Kryptonite: Size. Colorado might not have the post presence to snag the league title, but the Buffs are close.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can Colorado climb higher?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Cal, March 8. The Buffaloes play five of their last seven games on the road, closing out with the Bears.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best balance ever.”

OREGON

•    Back issues 2012-13: 28-9, 12-6, third place

•  Mentor: Dana Altman (73-36 in three years at Oregon, 483-279 in 24 years overall)

•  Superhero: Johnathan Loyd. In the vein of Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson, Loyd is faster than a speeding bullet.

•  Sidekick: Mike Moser. The UNLV transfer has to return to his Rebel form from 2011-12, when he was true double-double threat.

•  Nemesis: Cal. A pair of losses to the Bears dashed the Ducks’ conference championship dreams.

•  Superpower: Coaching. Altman has been a master at cobbling together a successful formula.

•  Kryptonite: Chemistry. At the same time, once more, the Ducks are built almost from scratch.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can Oregon come together?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Colorado, Jan. 5. Should be one of the better early conference battles.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best transfers ever.”

OREGON STATE

•   Back issues 2012-13: 14-18, 4-14, 11th place

•  Mentor: Craig Robinson (77-88 in five years at Oregon State, 107-116 in seven years overall)

•  Superhero: Roberto Nelson. Nelson averaged better than 17 points per game last year but will look to be more of a distributor.

•  Sidekick: Angus Brandt. Derailed by a torn ACL early last season, Brandt is expected to be healthy for the Beavers

•  Nemesis: Stanford. The Cardinal bested the Beavers twice last year, winning by a total of 18 points.

•  Superpower: Experience. Oregon State is long in the tooth, but is there enough talent?

•  Kryptonite: Talent. Robinson just doesn’t have the horses to make a major leap, plus Eric Moreland is suspended for 14 games.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can the Beavers survive early suspensions?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Colorado, Jan. 2. The Beavers should cruise through non-conference, but the Buffs should be a good early conference test.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best scorers ever.”

STANFORD

•    Back issues 2012-13: 19-15, 9-9, seventh place

•  Mentor: Johnny Dawkins (93-73 in five years at Stanford, 93-73 in five years overall)

•  Superhero: Dwight Powell. The conference’s most improved player a year ago, odds are he won’t sneaking up on anyone this year.

•  Sidekick: Chasson Randle. Has the chance to form potent inside-outside duo with Powell.

•  Nemesis: USC. It’s one thing to have lost both games against UCLA last year, but to drop two to USC by a total of three points really hurts.

•  Superpower: Size. Between Powell and Josh Huestis, few teams in conference can match Stanford’s bigs.

•  Kryptonite: Skill. Despite the size advantage, the Cardinal still finished last in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage last year.

•  One-sentence storyline: Cardinal rules the post

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Connecticut, Dec. 18. Does Stanford have the bigs to match up with the Huskies?

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best center ever.”

UCLA

•    Back issues 2012-13: 25-10, 13-5, first place

•  Mentor: Steve Alford (first year at UCLA, 463-235 in 22 years overall)

•  Superhero: Kyle Anderson. The conference’s best pure passer, Anderson has the chance to be special this year.

•  Sidekick: Jordan Adams. Started off on fire but needs to be more consistent in conference play.

•  Nemesis: Oregon. The Ducks quacked the Bruins twice last year, including in the Pac-12 tournament championship.

•  Superpower: Talent. A good core of returners plus a solid recruiting class should lead to wins.

•  Kryptonite: Experience. Aside from Travis and David Wear, this is a young group.

•  One-sentence storyline: Alford to the rescue?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Duke, Dec. 19. A premier matchup with the Blue Devils is a good litmus test.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best starters ever.”

USC

•   Back issues 2012-13: 14-18, 9-9, ninth place

•  Mentor: Andy Enfield (first year at USC, 41-28 in two years overall)

•  Superhero: J.T. Terrell. Terrell led the Pac-12 with 2.47 three-pointers per game in conference play last year.

•  Sidekick: Byron Wesley. Averaged more than 10 points per game and turned it on from downtown during conference play.

•  Nemesis: Cal. The Bears were the lone conference opponent to beat the Trojans twice last year.

•  Superpower: Range. The Trojans lack post presence, but should be efficient from behind the arc.

•  Kryptonite: System. Enfield, the former Florida Gulf Coast coach who became the toast of the 2013 NCAA tournament, likes to push the tempo. But can the Trojans keep up?

•  One-sentence storyline: “Dunk City” heads west

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at UCLA, Jan. 5. Enfield’s offseason statements will get their first test early.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best dunks ever.”

UTAH

•   Back issues 2012-13: 15-18, 5-13, 10th place

•  Mentor: Larry Krystkowiak (21-43 in two years at Utah, 63-63 in four years overall)

•  Superhero: Jordan Loveridge. Just a sophomore, he’s on the cusp of the all-conference squad.

•  Sidekick: Delon Wright. A junior college transfer who could open some eyes.

•  Nemesis: Stanford. The Cardinal whupped the Utes by a total of 37 points last year.

•  Superpower: Resilience. Utes looked overmatched, but pulled out some nice late-season wins.

•  Kryptonite: Depth. The starting lineup isn’t even solved, much less the bench.

•  One-sentence storyline: Do Utes have the goods?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Oregon, Jan. 2. The Utes closed last season strong, now they need a good start.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best JC transfers ever.”

WASHINGTON

•    Back issues 2012-13: 18-16, 9-9, eighth place

• Mentor: Lorenzo Romar (237-129 in 11 years at Washington, 330-217 in 18 years overall)

•  Superhero: C.J. Wilcox. A veteran presence, Wilcox is an all-around threat who will contend for all-conference honors.

•  Sidekick: Nigel Williams-Goss. A talented floor leader, NWG could take over.

•  Nemesis: Oregon. Washington dropped three games to the Ducks, including a matchup in the Pac-12 tournament.

•  Superpower: Athleticism. The Huskies can certainly run for Romar.

•  Kryptonite: Talent. After years of first-round picks, UW is waning on talent.

•  One-sentence storyline: Is the shine off the Huskies?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Colorado, Jan. 12. An early conference matchup will be telling.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best runners ever.”

WASHINGTON STATE

•    Back issues 2012-13: 13-19, 4-14, 12th place

•  Mentor: Ken Bone (70-65 in four years at WSU, 409-255 in 22 years overall)

•  Superhero: Royce Woolridge. Has the opportunity to make this his team as Brock Motum is gone.

•  Sidekick: DaVonte Lacy. Solid but not spectacular, needs to work on his shot to be a true threat.

•  Nemesis: Washington. A total of 11 points in three losses separated the Cougars from their rivals.

•  Superpower: Backcourt. Lacy and Woolridge should be one of the most potent backcourt duos in the conference.

•  Kryptonite: Post play. The loss of Motum can not be understated.

•  One-sentence storyline: The Cougars can run

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Washington, Feb. 1. The Cougars open the second month of Pac-12 play with their bitter rivals.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best backcourt ever.”

— Compiled by Jon Gold

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


AP Top 25


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Most Popular

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...