If you’re like me, the early part of college basketball season is a blur, partly because of the glut of games and partly because of the overlap with football season at its most alluring stretch.
Then there’s the notoriously inauspicious nature of the start of college hoops, which seems to begin with a whisper, in contrast to the volume that accompanies most other openings.
Well, Pac-12 basketball teams begin Friday night, and Pac-12 Networks is heralding that opening with an ambitious undertaking — they’re calling it “Full Court Friday” — that will help you get an early grip on the conference.
In a six-hour stretch from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., the Networks will show you 10 of the conference teams – everybody but Washington State and USC – and the good news is, it’s free on Pac-12.com for those who don’t already subscribe.
“There have probably been other networks that have had 10 basketball games in a day – one of them begins with an ‘E’ ’’ Leon Schweir, Pac-12 senior vice president of production and operations told me Tuesday. “But this is pretty unique to us.
“We’ve done 8-10 (live) events in a day before, but we’ve certainly never done 10 in the same sport.”
Here’s the basic menu:
At 5 p.m., Arizona meets Mount St. Mary’s on the Pac-12 National network, and Colorado faces Drexel on the Pac-12 Mountain network.
The guts of the evening happens at 7 p.m., with five games in that two-hour slot: South Carolina State at Washington, Chicago State at Arizona State, Ball State at Utah, Alcorn State at California and Rice at Oregon State.
Three nightcaps, as it were, follow from 9 to 11 p.m.: Coppin State at Oregon, Montana State at UCLA and Wofford at Stanford.
Most Seattle-area carriers offer both the Pac-12 Washington regional network and the national network. Viewers would have the choice of seeing the entire UW-South Carolina State broadcast on the regional network, or if they want a taste of the conference, they can switch to whip-around coverage on the national network.
There’s also Pac-12.com coverage available for any game, so for instance, if you’re a UW alum living in San Francisco, the Huskies would be available on the league website and on mobile devices.
“It’s been a fair amount of planning,” Schweir said. “We have in the area of 400 people working for us that day.”
With a limited number of production trucks available, the Networks will direct the Rice-Oregon State game from its headquarters in San Francisco.
Ashley Adamson, who does a really nice job on studio work, will manage the whip-around coverage, while Mike Yam will team in the studio with analysts Lamar Hurd, the ex-Oregon State guard, and Kevin O’Neill, the ex-USC coach.
Washington State visits UTEP Friday night (and ironically, that’s probably the most competitive of the opening games), and Portland State helps get USC’s season started Saturday night.
A snapshot of what’s taken place in exhibitions so far in the league:
Arizona – Second-ranked Wildcats beat Cal Poly-Pomona, 67-51, as freshman Stanley Johnson was one of three players with 12 points.
Arizona State – No exhibition. Sun Devils could start a freshman point guard in Tra Holder of Los Angeles, and will rely heavily on JC transfers.
California – Beat Cal State-East Bay (huh?), 94-50, beat Cal State-San Marcos as Jabari Bird and Tyrone Wallace had 13 points each.
Colorado – No exhibition. Coach Tad Boyle had this eye-opener of a quote to Buffzone.com, on his stability there: “I’m going into year five, and every year I’ve been at Colorado I’ve had the opportunity to leave Colorado for a head coaching job that pays me more money than I’m making at Colorado, in comparable conferences and in some cases the same conference.”
Oregon – Beat Northwest Christian, 101-69, beat Western Oregon, 104-55, shooting 65.6 percent.
Oregon State – Lost to Western Oregon, 57-47, as Gary Payton II had a solid all-around game but got little help. Oddly enough, that score isn’t on the school’s website.
Stanford – Chasson Randle had 26 points and Anthony Brown 22 as the Cardinal scraped by Cal Poly-Pomona, 79-76.
UCLA – Bruins beat Azusa Pacific, 80-53, as Norman Powell had 21 points and Tony Parker and touted freshman forward Kevon Looney had double-doubles.
USC – Frosh guard Jordan McLaughlin led the way with 18 points as the Trojans beat Cal State-LA, 87-68.
Utah – Utes led at half, 49-11, on the way to a 98-38 rout of Pacific of Oregon. Jordan Loveridge had 20 points.
Washington – Shawn Kemp Jr. had 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting as the Huskies trumped St. Martin’s, 88-65.
WSU – Shorewood High product Josh Hawkinson had 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead a win over Azusa Pacific.