Greetings from above 10,000 feet. Four games on the Pac-12 schedule tonight and only one on television. And you have three games all starting at 7:30 p.m. I can’t say this enough, next year and the Pac-12 network and the new TV deal can’t get here soon enough. Is it good that the biggest game of the night – Colorado at Oregon – is being televised by FSN/ROOT? Yes, but having having the other three games – no matter how bad they are – not televised is a joke. It’s an absolute joke.
No wonder why Jay Bilas, Rece Davis and John Gasaway of ESPN picked Jared Cunningham as the league player of the year. Does the time zone hurt the league? Yes. Does this kind of thinking/scheduling from the league and the TV affiliates also hurt? Undoubtedly.
Let’s get to the games before I say something even more bitter.
A coveted top four seed and subsequent first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament could be at stake tonight in Eugene. The Buffs will be going for their 20th win of the season. But more importantly, Colorado needs to prove it can win a game of consequence away from the Coors Event Center. If the Buffaloes are going to do so, they need senior guard Carlon Brown to break out of his recent shooting slump.
The Ducks are hoping to ruin Tad Boyle’s return to Eugene , where he coached as an assistant for three years. Oregon has been so balanced that it might hinder players like EJ Singler, Garrett Sim or Devoe Joseph in postseason award voting. Obviously, a win over CU would be big, but the Ducks need to win both games to assure themselves of a top four seed and keep their slim NCAA tourney hopes alive. Ducks head coach Dana Altman joined John Canzano on his radio show, “The Bald Faced Truth.”
The cliche is to ask how the Bruins are going to come out and play with all that is swirling around their program. Obviously, the LA area media has lots of coverage. Here’s the story from the LA Times, the story from ESPN LA, the story from the OC Register and the story from the Daily News.
And of course, the columnists all weighed in as well. Jon Gold of the LA Daily News filed this column saying the blame falls on Howland. Mark Whicker of the OC Register believes Howland deserves one more chance to make things right. And Bill Plaschke of the LA Times writes that the decay of UCLA under Ben Howland is not a surprise to the people who follow the program. From his column …
Sports Illustrated’s expose on the UCLA basketball program, which hit the web Wednesday, will be no surprise to anyone who has watched the Bruins slowly decay in the four years since their last Final Four appearance.
Ben Howland is cold! Reeves Nelson was a knucklehead! The team has been dragged down by bad players and bad guys! Stop the presses!
UCLA should actually be sighing in relief that one of SI’s best reporters could spend two months digging into a marquee team located in a glitzy city and come up with zero NCAA violations, zero academic fraud, zero wrongdoing other than the usual idiot college partying.
The core of this story is an old story — Ben Howland has recruited some bad characters and failed to control them.
The truth of the UCLA program is the same as it was 48 hours ago: if Howland doesn’t win next season in flashy new Pauley Pavilion with a hot new group of recruits, he’s gone.
This story doesn’t run him out any sooner. It shouldn’t run him out any sooner. Three consecutive Final Fours should buy him at least five years to do it again, and just because the world now knows the depths of his fall shouldn’t alter his timeline for redemption.
Meanwhile up in Pullman, the Cougs are coming to down LA in search of a much needed win. They know they won’t make the NCAA tourney, barring a miracle. But head coach Ken Bone is hoping the team gets a birth in the CBI, and WSU is hoping to host a first-round game. Davonte Lacy should be ready to play and start for the Cougs
Remember how I lamented about not all the games being televised. Well, this one might be a little tough to watch. But it’s got to be better than Real Housewives of Corvallis.
After having NCAA tourney hopes early in the season, the idea of playing in the NIT or CBI isn’t exactly great to the the Beavers. But for senior Kevin McShane more games means more time in a Beavers uniform, something the former walk-on doesn’t take lightly.
Despite all the losses, Bill Oram writes that the Utes have actually overachieved this season. I would agree since I didn’t think they would win a game in the Pac-12 – they’ve won three. For Utah to win a fourth league game, the Utes will have to be able to withstand the Beavers’ trapping zone defense.