On the Wildcats, SI writes: “Wildcats coach Sean Miller is a daily visitor to the national defensive efficiency rankings on kenpom.com. “It keeps me sane,” he says. “Those are the numbers that I believe in.” Miller knows—and this is backed up by a decade’s worth of data—that you can’t contend for a national title without being near the top of those rankings. He frequently lets his team know how its help-oriented, man-to-man D stacks up; last season Arizona ascended to No. 1 on kenpom in January, then earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. These Wildcats are aiming to set themselves apart by having another top-ranked D that’s powered by senior T.J. McConnell, their pest of a point guard; sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6’ 7″ lockdown wing; and the length of juniors Brandon Ashley (6’ 9″) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7 feet).”
On the Utes, SI writes: “The Utes probably would have made the NCAA tournament last season if they could have turned a few close conference losses into wins. Instead, Utah settled for a bid to the NIT, where it was eliminated in the first round by Saint Mary’s. The good news is coach Larry Krystkowiak’s team appears poised to break through to the Big Dance this season. Top scorers Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge return alongside a strong supporting cast that includes guard Brandon Taylor and center Dallin Bachynski. The Utes may be the strongest candidate to challenge Pac-12 favorite Arizona for the conference title.”
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON LINKS:
— The watch list for the 2015 Cousy Award was released Tuesday with 36 names from Division I basketball that were compiled by media members. The list includes three Pac-12 players: Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, Stanford’s Chasson Randle and Utah’s Delon Wright.
— Oregon ran away with a 101-69 exhibition win over Northwest Christian Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
— Due to suspensions, transfers and ineligibility, Oregon has just nine players on scholarships which forced the Ducks to add five walk-ons to the roster.
— Arizona’s Brandon Ashley is ready to return after suffering a season-ending foot injury that ruined his sophomore year.
— Arizona freshman center Dustin Rustic has been cleared to play.
— Langston Morris-Walker is the new face at Oregon State.
— Oregon State junior forward Daniel Gomis will miss at least a month with a shoulder injury.
— Athlon posted its Pac-12 preview.
— ESPN is counting down the top 100 players. Here’s where the Pac-12 players are listed among players 11-100: Ashley (19), Utah’s Delon Wright (20), Hollis-Jefferson (24), Arizona’s Stanley Johnson (28), Oregon’s Joseph Young (30), Randle (31), McConnell (36), Tarczewski (47), Colorado’s Josh Scott (60) and Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss (81).
— SI.com also comprised a top 100 players list. Here’s where the Pac-12 players rank: Hollis-Jefferson (9), Johnson (10), Wright (23), Randle (33), Young (38), Ashley (42), California’s Jabari Bird (49), Colorado’s Josh Scott (58), Williams-Goss (68), UCLA’s Kevon Looney (70), UCLA’s Norman Powell (72), Stanford’s Anthony Brown (76) and Tarczewski (95).