1) What did you like most about the Utah and Colorado games?
chrissorr: I like adding the Norman Powell penetration dimension. It sounds like it's all from Norman -- he's showing senior leadership. This is what I have wanted to see for four years - aggressively attacking his man off the dribble. It did still take about 5 minutes to stop taking jumpers.
DCBruins: 1A Putting the ball in Norman Powell's hands like you said. Also Norman apparently chewed the team out post Oregon. While we could see before the year Norman taking over by driving to the basket, Norman's leadership should also get a lot of credit. He has played very hard all year even through his own physical turmoil (dislocated thumb) and the chaos of the team. 1B. The defense. To Steve's credit he mixed up the defenses which seemed to perplex Utah a bit and to Isaac Hamilton's credit he played with some real intensity against Booker in the Colorado game.
2) DCBruins give the case for why there is no way we win at Stanford and Chrissorr give the case for why we can win.
DCBruins: Chrissorr pointed out that I called this a lock loss. By the numbers. Isaac Hamilton is 9-45 or 20% including 3-18 from three on the road in the PAC 12. He is shooting twice that at 40% in all other games including 41% from three. In the NBA there is a saying that home court makes a difference for the bench. Take UCLA's backup guard, Noah Allen. In 5 PAC 12 road games, Noah Allen has one point. In 4 home games he has nine. Noah also has just 4 rebounds on the road in the Pac 12 versus 13 at home in one fewer game.
The SPTR play a part as well. To be clear, I think they help us at home and hurt us on the road. Take Kevon Looney. In 5 PAC 12 road games he has 4-1-4-5-5 fouls. In other words he has either fouled out or been in foul trouble every road game except against Utah. In four PAC 12 home games he has 2-1-2-2 and has never been in foul trouble.
There are other reasons as well. This team plays best when it plays hard. That is easier to do at home then on the road when every time the point guard touches it the student section yells "Daddy's boy." It is easier to play hard on D when the SPTR are less likely to call a foul and the crowd is for you.
Therefore, I still think Stanford is going to be a loss.
chrissorr: I've never seen a season where the home court advantage was so significant: OSU beats Arizona and UCLA beats Utah are perhaps the biggest examples. In the case of the Stanford game, UCLA is the team with momentum. If not for the Parker injury, the team might have been on a seven game win streak. UCLA has not won a true road game and Stanford will be the favorite. The Bruins will have to click on all cylinders to pull out a win. Parker has dominated Nastic for the last three games, and Stanford could not stop Looney in Pauley. Reid Travis is back, and he will help Stanford, but it is too soon for him to make a significant difference. Chasson Randle proved he had enough to overcome UCLA's bigs advantage, but Norman Powell is in a different place right now. Between Powell and Hamilton (who will overplay him to the right this time), they hold Randle under 18 points or less. That's how they would win this game.
3) Does the 3-2 zone work? Will Alford use it a lot now?
chrissorr: I really thought we had seen the last of any zone except situationally. I was caught by surprise to see the Bruins get into the 3-2 after a play or two against Utah. In part, any defense will work if the team puts forth a good effort. In this case, Looney's length thoroughly disrupted Delon Wright. I especially loved that Looney not only patrolled the perimeter, but he dropped down into the lane, as the top man should in this zone, when Parker or Powell went after the corner. I hope Kevon doesn't wear out.
It's still situational - Alford probably wouldn't have used it much if they didn't let Colorado stay in the game. I'm mixed about using it against Stanford. I would try it, but I like Norman straight up on Randle. I don't see how it works with a multiple-big team like Arizona (you could have said the same thing for Utah, but they proved to be soft).
DCBruins: Changing defenses can really work in your favor because it can confuse another team. We played the multitude of defenses with effort so it worked. I have not worried about the defense as much as the offense because effort can help with many defensive problems. I hope Alford continues to switch defenses at different times in the game.
4) Bill Walton said "UCLA has the second most talent in the PAC 12." Discuss.
DCBruins: This is why Chris' pick of second place was not only justified but reasonable. We should be right after Arizona. Our only excuse at any time this season is that is we lost Tony Parker for two games. However, keep in mind we had a 5 star guy step into his spot. I am not saying this team should be great but there is enough talent for it to be good. I picked UCLA fifth because I did not have faith in Steve Alford. Ironically one of Steve Alford's biggest problems is his having too much faith in Bryce. So yes, I agree with Bill Walton, we have the second most talent in the PAC 12.
chrissorr: Before the season, I thought UCLA had a significant talent advantage. I think it's closer now because Randle is having a POY season, and Hamilton and Welsh are underwhelming. If I had to rank the players, I would say Randle, Looney, Powell, Parker then Brown, so small advantage to UCLA.
5) NCAA bid or not? Name the one most likely scenario.
chrissorr: No, but odds improved - I would say 35-65 (I think Free90 had a link that said 29%). They can't beat Arizona in Arizona, so I think the best shot is to beat Stanford, go 9-1 or 8-2 including that win, not be embarrassed by Arizona or anyone else., and get into the semifinal of the PAC-12 Tournament.
DCBruins: No. I want to be wrong. I will go further and say I even like our chances to win the rest of the games at home. However, I think we lose to Cal (truly awful) or ASU (more likely) on the road. To me we can talk about NCAA tourney next Sunday. Right now we only proved we can win at home.