Pac-12 coaches teleconference: Buffs work through shock of Spencer Dinwiddie's injury
This week, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle discussed how his team is moving past the loss of injured guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Lorenzo Romar went into detail behind Washington's emerging defense and Oregon coach Dana Altman expressed more disappointment about the Ducks' defensive woes.
Colorado's Tad Boyle
The Buffs are working through a “shock” period after learning Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL. Boyle told his team they'd have to replace their starting guard just as the team has recovered from the rebounding lost by forward Andre Roberson, who left for the NBA before this season. “It's an opportunity for multiple guys to step up,” Boyle said. “Last year with losing Andre Roberson…everybody thought our rebounding would take a hit. We're actually a better rebounding team. Spencer's absence is going to be (approached) the same way.”
Against the many talented Pac-12 backcourts, CU also needs to replace Dinwiddie's defense. Freshman Jaron Hopkins has the tools to step up to the plate, but Boyle said consistency is the biggest issue for the young shooting guard. “He's got all the attributes you need to be a great defender,” the CU coach said. “We're going to call upon him to take that challenge.”
Oregon State's Craig Robinson
California dropped Oregon State 88-83 on Friday leaving Robinson impressed with the efficiency of Mike Montgomery's offensive system. “They get a shot every time, and they get the shot they want to get,” he said.
Since Beavers forward Eric Moreland returned from suspension four games ago, OSU has been feeling out playing with the talented forward. Fellow big man Devon Collier had scored in double figures in every game played before Moreland's return but is now struggling. Robinson said it's less about the two being a poor fit together and more about the entire process of melding a new player into the fold. “The entire rest of the team has taken a backseat to getting (Moreland) going again,” the OSU coach said. “I think there is an acclimation period when you add a guy in the middle of the season.”
Up next for the Beavs is a home game against the rival Oregon Ducks on Sunday. Oregon State's focus in stopping a dangerous offensive team is in their transition defense. “We're going to be focused on getting back on D and limiting their shooters to getting those open (three-point) looks they get all the time,” Robinson said.
Washington's Lorenzo Romar
Usually, the topic in Seattle is about the Huskies' frenetic offensive attack. So far in 2013-14, it's been about UW's surprisingly good defense. Romar calls it more accidental, but he's not complaining. After the team lost Shawn Kemp Jr. and Desmond Simmons to illness and injury, respectively, the Huskies couldn't play with their usual ball pressure and denial of passing lanes. “With those big guys going down, we've almost had to reinvent ourselves,” Romar said. “It took a while, but I think you can point to us trying to have more defensive integrity.”
On Wednesday, the Huskies visit the Golden Bears led by two veteran players Romar has been impressed by. “Justin Cobbs is a fifth-year senior – he's playing like one. He's just playing with a lot of confidence and just seems to have an understanding of what it takes to impact the final score,” Romar said. “Richard Solomon has really matured. He's really become one of their go-to guys.”
Romar knows what it's like to swing and miss. He had a good handle on the recruitments of Cal's Jabari Bird and Arizona's Aaron Gordon but ended up signing neither. Asked about Mike Montgomery's recruiting job at Cal, Romar made this general, yet very interesting assertion: “Sometimes in recruiting, because it's out there for everyone to see, people will talk about who you didn't get.”
Cal's Mike Montgomery
After Arizona, it's California with the most impressive Pac-12 start. The Golden Bears have won three road games to begin the conference season, and they've done so without injured guard Ricky Kreklow and freshman Jabari Bird. The swingman, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, is expected to return for this week's series against the Washington schools. “Don't know how many minutes, don't know how effective he'll be, but he practiced yesterday,” Montgomery said.
Jordan Mathews, the less-heralded member of the Golden Bears' freshman class that included Bird, broke out last Thursday against Oregon to score 32 points in a 96-83 victory. “There's no way you can predict a guy getting 32,” Montgomery said. “He's a guy we've kind of tried to get shots for. He's had mixed results … for whatever reason he was open and guys did a great job of getting him the ball.”
Stanford's Johnny Dawkins
The next opponent for the Cardinal is Washington State, which has struggled to score, yet has remained competitive with a stingy variety of defenses. “They do a number of things defensively to disrupt you,” Dawkins said. “They'll mix their defenses, so that's something you have to prepare for.”
Washington State's Ken Bone
There's finally a timetable for the return of guard DaVonte Lacy from a rib injury suffered on Jan. 5 against Arizona State. A CAT scan determined the Cougars' leading scorer will miss four to six weeks from the injury date, Bone said.
One player hoping to help WSU overcome the loss of Lacy is Que Johnson, who has improved every game in Bone's eyes – despite what the box score might say. “I think his understanding of how to compete at this level is a big transition from high school,” the Cougars coach said. “Not only was his senior year cut short. Last year he didn't play or practice with us. He's just getting his feet wet. The other night he was good in that he got to the free throw line, he shot 13 free throws. That was important.”
Washington State visits the Bay Area to face Stanford on Wednesday and then California on Saturday. The Cardinal's “bouncy” frontline will be a challenge, Bone said, but the Cougars head coach was a little more broad in reponding to the issues the Golden Bears. “I'll give you a generic answer. They're really, really good, and we've been struggling,” Bone said.
Arizona's Sean Miller
Asked if the opportunity to build a No. 1 team is a reason he left Xavier for the desert, Sean Miller said it was about leading a program where excellence and tradition could be sustained across a longer time frame. “Where I'm at is really trying to sustain and improve and continue,” Miller said. “There's a lot going into it, trying to do those types of things.”
When the media is so quick to hype freshmen such as Arizona's Aaron Gordon, is it overlooking the bigger picture of college basketball teams as complete squads and non-freshman players? “Basketball is a great team game,” Miller said. “Each of these talented freshman is at a place much bigger than the place they are going.”
The Wildcats host the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday, and while Arizona is familiar with guard Jahii Carson and center Jordan Bachynski, it's transfer Jermaine Marshall who will bring a new twist to the rivalry. “A lot like Mark Lyons did for us a year ago, it's not just his points per game,” Miller said. “He's older. He's an All-Conference type of player.”
Oregon's Dana Altman
The Ducks entered the Pac-12 schedule with a perfect record, but thanks to a broken defense have lost their first three games in the conference. What's wrong? Everything defensively. “We've kind of reached the full spectrum,” Altman said. “We're trying to get it focused down to a few things.”
On who is the Ducks' best interior defender: “That's a tough question. I'm not sure anybody's given us the consistency to say they're the best. I wouldn't say any one of them has separated themselves so I could make a decision on playing time in that regard.”
The perimeter defense is no better for Oregon. In three conference games, the Ducks have not held an opponents' starting guard below 20 points. Altman's team gave up 50 points to Colorado's Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie, 47 points to Stanford's Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown, and most recently, 52 points to Cal's Justin Cobbs and Jordan Mathews. Next up: Oregon State's Roberto Nelson. “Nelson is a concern because we have not done a good job in our last three ball games,” Altman said, putting it lightly.
Arizona State's Herb Sendek
This week, the Sun Devils visit Tucson and will face an Arizona frontline with more size than most teams. Sendek said that it's troublesome because it's impossible to have played or practiced against a team with such length. “I think it helps them on both ends of the floor,” Sendek said. “Not everybody has Arizona's size. We can't simulate that in practice.”
On whether college coaches are trending more toward recruiting younger talent rather than giving experienced players prominent roles: “I think there's still great value in older players. (Washington's) C.J. Wilcox, (Oregon State's) Roberto Nelson, those guys are really, really good players and they're formidable.”
An obligatory quote from Sendek on Sean Miller, who he recruited as a high school player and then hired as an assistant at Miami (Ohio) and North Carolina State. “Sean is the complete and total package as a coach. He's an excellent recruiter and strategist and he's a very good communicator and competitor.”