Have you noticed the latest trend in the Pac-10?
Everybody is running. The coaches are talking about transition offense. And the Pac-10 is putting up big numbers in non-conference games against a bunch of patsies.
— UCLA scrapped its zone, returned to a man-to-man defense and coach Ben Howland is talking about pushing the tempo on offense. The Bruins tallied 84 points in its opening-night win. They scored more than 84 just once last season.
— Oregon State put up 71 points in its opener, 11 more than last season’s scoring average.
— USC coach Kevin O’Neill intentionally focused on conditioning during the offseason so he could install an up-tempo attack.
— Washington State was moving towards an up-tempo attack last season when former UW assistant Ken Bone took over so its hardly a surprise the Cougars had 86 points in its opener.
— And Arizona State coach Herb Sendek appears as if he’s ready to give more offensive freedom to the Sun Devils. He switched from the Princeton attack to a motion offense midway through last season. ASU expects to be more offensive because it had an offseason to practice the new offense, which will feature senior guard Ty Abbott.
Several teams are talking about playing up-tempo, however, it takes endurance and discipline to play fast. That’s right, discipline.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar often times gets hammered because the Huskies hadn’t been efficient running a halfcourt offense in the past. But a Pac-10 coach told me last week that it takes more discipline to get a team committed to run for 40 minutes than it does to execute a handful of halfcourt sets.
USC is learning that lesson. After its 62-49 win over UC Irvine, O’Neill told the Los Angeles Times: “I know (Maurice Jones) is going to run a [fast]break, but he can’t run a one-man break when these other four guys are jogging all the time.”
Oregon State senior Omari Johnson told the Oregonian the Beavers’ new offense will benefit the underclassmen. “We’ve got a bunch of young guys, so we’ve got to use their young legs and keep us old guys on the bench,” he said.
After its 118-point outing in the opener, Washington leads the nation in scoring. The Huskies won’t average 118 points this season, but they’re likely to remain near the top of the list in scoring average.
Here’s how UW has ranked since Romar took over in 2002.
2009-10 — Tied 12th, 79.8
2008-09 — 13th, 78.9
2007-08 — Tied 87th, 73.3
2006-07 — Tied 36th, 76.5
2005-06 — Tied 4th, 82.4
2004-05 — 2nd, 86.3
2003-04 — 8th, 81.4
2002-03 — Tied 115th, 72.4
Before we get to the links, let’s take a look at today’s Pac-10 games. The conference is 9-0 this season.
San Diego at Stanford, 7 p.m.
Santa Clara at USC, 7:30 p.m.
Pepperdine at UCLA, 8 p.m.
My picks: Stanford, USC, UCLA
Season record: 7-0
MONDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Alabama may have a difficult time landing San Diego big man Angelo Chol because they signed a player similar to him for 2011.
— No link, however, I find it very curious Chasson Randle, the No. 9 point guard in the nation according to ESPN.com, hasn’t a letter of intent with Stanford. He verbally committed to the Cardinal weeks ago and gave no indication he’d wait until the regular signing period in April. The early period ends Tuesday. Randle was also considering Illinois and Purdue.
— Oregon is living dangerously. For the second time in three days, the Ducks won a game in the final minutes. Sunday they defeated UC Santa Barbara 72-70 to improve to 3-0.
— In his third year, Craig Robinson is taking the handcuffs off Oregon State and he’s scrapping the Princeton offense in favor of an up-tempo transition attack. The Beaver unveiled their new look Sunday beating UT-Arlington 71-56. Five players scored at least nine points and OSU tallied 16 fast break points.
— It was a dominating effort by Arizona, which beat Idaho State by 48 points in its opener and claimed a decisive 90-42 victory. The Wildcats held ISU scoreless for nearly 13 minutes and four players scored in double figures.
— Very interesting list by Doug Haller at the Arizona Republic who ranks the Pac-10’s non-conference schedules. Washington is No. 2.