Tuesday was the regular Pac-12 men’s basketball coaches conference call. Some highlights:
The Wildcats have a headliner game Saturday at Arizona State, probably a bigger one for the Sun Devils, who can really make a statement about their NCAA-tournament worthiness with a victory. “They’re much-improved,” says coach Sean Miller. “Sometimes when you say much-improved, it doesn’t mean they’re good. But they’re much-improved and good.” Miller called ASU point guard Jahii Carson “an electric player,” and said forward Carrick Felix (averaging 15.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg) “is an all-conference type of player.”
The Ducks are first to get the new (interim) regime of Bob Cantu Thursday night at USC after the firing of Kevin O’Neill Monday. Asked if he expected the Trojans to get a bump from that move, Dana Altman said, laughing, “I thought they were playing pretty doggone good. They beat Utah by 17 (Saturday), a team everybody’s had trouble with. If they do get that bump, we’re in trouble.”
Craig Robinson says suspended players Eric Moreland and Victor Robbins will return for OSU’s Saturday game at USC.
Cantu says he wants USC to play faster on his watch, yet he won’t be afraid to put the Trojans into zone defense on occasion. He also made it clear he sees some different roles for players than they had under O’Neill.
“Ari Stewart (6-7 transfer forward averaging only nine minutes a game) played a lot at Wake (Forest) when they were very good; we’re going to look at him,” Cantu said. “And Renaldo Woolridge (6-9 transfer from Tennessee who has played only 41 minutes), he’s got some length and size . . . those guys might be better defensively in a zone.” Referring to 7-2 Rice transfer Omar Oraby, who has been getting just 15 minutes a game, Cantu said, “We need to play Omar more minutes. You look at this kid’s productivity, it’s through the roof. (But) we’ve got to get him in better condition.”
As for another Wake transfer, guard J.T. Terrell, who played last year at Peninsula JC, Cantu said, “He’s going to play a big role. But you’ve got to play on both ends and take good shots. He was a little too loose with the ball at times and overdribbled and took poor shots, and that resulted in Kevin not playing him. But he really played well at Utah; he showed he could do it. I told him I’d give him more freedom, but it’s not AAU ball. He’s got a lot of talent. Pull him up on Youtube, and this guy is a windmill-dunk-it guy. We need him to play.”