Since our coverage of hoops has been a bit lacking with all the footyball recruting hoopla, lets right the ship(p) a bit and talk about some more hoops.
ESPN takes a look at who is a "Lock" for the tourney and who is on the bubble... and lets see...Pac-10.. Ok. UCLA - lock. 'Natch. U of Washington lock? Hmm, okay okay, I am on board...
No ASU? Really?
ASU is apparently a "team that should be in."
Not much has changed in the Pac-10 -- UCLA and Washington seem to be the league's two best teams. Arizona State got back on track, albeit with victories over rebuilding Oregon and Oregon State. The Pac-10 race will begin to shake out this week, after UCLA and USC play each of the Arizona schools.
Arizona State [18-5 (7-4), RPI: 41, SOS: 101] The Sun Devils put their season back on track last week by doing what NCAA tournament-worthy teams are supposed to do -- easily win road games against rebuilding programs such as Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona State has one really good victory (at UCLA) and two solid wins (BYU and San Diego State). The Sun Devils are 3-3 against RPI top-50 foes and 7-5 against top-100 opponents. They have a 6-2 record on the road but can probably lock up an at-large spot at home. Arizona State plays its next three games at home, starting with Thursday night's contest against UCLA and followed by visits from USC and Arizona. If the Sun Devils win at least two of those games, they can feel awfully good about their postseason prospects.
I can see the argument that we are just not quite there yet... but I think we are. I don't see how you can leave out a team that might have the best guard in the country on their team - guys like Harden are tournament changers - see Dwayne Wade in 2002.
ESPN continues their ASU vs. UCLA coverage with this tidbit from "THE MAG". Dueling journalists from The State Press and the Daily Bruin talk beef about who is the better Pac-10 hoops school.
ASU vs USC tailgate 2005 (via nip66)
UCLA's guy comes back with that they have the greatest college basketball legacy OF ALL TIME, a beautiful area with Westwood and Malibu nearby, and luminaries in their alumni association like Adam Sandler and Jackie Robinson...
Ok. You win. But ours is awfully fun...
The mag comes in with another debate between two of their bloggers over the basketball P O Y. Naturally, our boy Harden's name comes up
I'm going to shed the east coast bias here and look to the desert for my next candidate. Arizona State guard James Harden has been high on everyone's watch-list since day one of the season, and he definitely belongs there. He's a big-time NBA prospect at 6'5" and around 220 lbs. He's one of those guys who defies the conventional tags applied to backcourt players—"slasher", "shooter" or "passer"—because he can do all three at a level that baffles defenders. On top of that, he's strong enough to post up inside from time to time, and athletic enough to rattle the rim on a nasty dunk. This all sounds good, so why not pick him? I guess I'd have to call it leadership issues. While James is filling up the stat sheet, his team is still losing, including back-to-back downers at home against Washington and Washington State. Harden is an exceptional player, but he's just not taking the reins and driving his team where he wants it to go. A PoY should do that.
I like Harden (good insertion) but you're right, what the heck is up with ASU? What the heck is up with the entire Pac-10? I thought UCLA would at least be a Top 8 team. If I was good at segues, this is where I'd start talking about Darren Collison, who is legitimately quite good at basketball. However, putting him in a POY discussion seems laughable for any number of reasons (cue the LA peanut gallery) so I'm gonna throw one more name out there before we get to the big guns. It pains me 'cuz I went to Georgetown, but what about DeJuan Blair? I was bored at work a few days ago and watching this Pat Summitt teaching video. She says "crash the boards" roughly every 8 seconds. You could go and say, "Women's game is different than men's!" and you'd be right, but she has 999 wins, which is fairly impressive, so I'll assume crashing the boards is important. Blair might do that better than anyone in the nation. I think Pitt has a legitimate chance to win it all, too. (Ugh.) I also like the fact that he grew up like 400 feet from Pitt's campus, meaning Dixon knows how to keep the talent at home. Hey, I just mentioned Dixon and Howland in one paragraph. That's crazy! I digress. The reason it can't be Blair? Isn't Pitt really Levance's team? When he went down last season, they fell apart. As he goes, they go. (Or so it seems.) I think to be a POY, you need to represent the "he" in that sentence.
Either way, I think it's a hell of a game tonight, and one that would really be the feather in ASU's tournament cap.