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College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

Jan 7, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT

Solomon Hill, Chase Tapley

What do we make of this Arizona team?: The Wildcats are 14-0 this season. They jumped out to a 2-0 start in league play with wins over Colorado and Utah this weekend. They have beaten Florida, San Diego State and Miami in non-conference play. They are currently ranked No. 3 in the country. And they are likely to continue to get better as their trio of freshmen big men continue to adjust to playing basketball at the collegiate level.

But when you take some of those wins into context, the picture gets a bit murkier. Florida, quite literally, gave the game away when they visited the McKale Center last month. After allowing an 8-0 spurt to end the first half, the Gators committed two turnovers and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to blow a six-point lead in the final minute of regulation. Against Colorado, the refs stole a victory from the Buffaloes after Colorado blew a 10 point lead in the final four minutes of regulation. San Diego State was up double-figures in the second half and had their upset bid thwarted by a sensational defensive play by Nick Johnson. And Miami didn’t have Reggie Johnson when they played ‘Zona.

From a ranking standpoint, the only thing that matters is wins and losses. Arizona has won all their games. That’s significant. But there is plenty of room to analyze just how good the Wildcats truly are. I’ll slide on over to Kenpom, who ranks Arizona as the 14th best team in the country. And frankly, that sounds about right to me. Five of Arizona’s next seven games are Pac-12 road games. Let’s see where they stand in three week.

Big Ten road wins: The road is not a friendly place to be in league play, regardless of what conference you reside in. But for teams in the Big Ten, traveling is going to be especially difficult given just how many really good teams populate the top of the league standings. So when you get excited about things like Minnesota beating Michigan State at home or Illinois losing to Purdue on the road and beating Ohio State at home, keep in mind: that is what’s supposed to happen. Good teams defend their home court against conference rivals. There are a lot of good teams in the Big Ten, which means that a lot of good teams are going to be losing games on the road in the Big Ten.

The only time an outcome should truly get you excited is when the game isn’t close (like, for example, the mollywhopping Illinois put on Ohio State) or when someone wins on the road.

CJ McCollum’s injury: If Lehigh proved anything to us on Saturday, it’s that they are still going to be competitive in the Patriot League without CJ McCollum, who will miss about two months after breaking his foot. The Mountainhawks not only erased a 10 point deficit with McCollum on the bench with crutches, they played with the Rams the entire second half and nearly knocked them off.

The Patriot League should serve notice. This team can still finish second in the conference. The shame in McCollum’s injury, however, is that the most exciting part about the conference was going to be their league race with Bucknell, who nearly knocked off Missouri in Columbia on Saturday. That would have been a terrific race. Hopefully, if the basketball gods are looking out for us, McCollum will be back healthy by the time the league tournament begins.

Referee blunders: There were two critical mistakes that changed the outcome of games this week. Refs at the Marquette-UConn game blew a call that should have given the Huskies a bucket in overtime. And the refs in Colorado-Arizona were a complete embarrassment during the final two minutes. I don’t know how to fix this problem. But how often we talk about major officiating blunders that change the outcome of games is an embarrassment and a stain on college hoops.

D’angelo Harrison: The 6-foot-3 St. John’s sophomore may be the nation’s best kept secret. He’s averaging 21.4 points for the Johnnies after this week, when he went for 36 in an overtime loss at Villanova and followed that up with 15 points — including two huge baskets, one of which was the game-winner, down the stretch — as St. John’s went into Cincinnati and knocked off the Bearcats.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. florida727 - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Two thoughts:

    Arizona – I watched the game against Florida because I’m a Gator fan. It would be easy to say Florida “gave the game away” and make me feel better about losing, but the reality is it’s a 40 minute game and my favorite team only played 38 of them. Let’s not diminish the accomplishment of the Arizona kids. They never gave up. They finished what they started. They deserve credit for that. Bottom line: they won, we lost. If I were an Arizona fan, I’d be applauding them for looking adversity in the face and then overcoming it. Great win for them.

    Referees – Of the hundreds of games played so far this year at the D1 level, you’ve cited TWO and are saying there’s a “problem”. There’s not. I’m not a referee, nor was I one in the past, nor have I played one on TV, but they have a tough job and virtually all of the time, they get it right. Did they blow the calls you referenced? Yep. Absolutely. The solution is simple. In the last 2 minutes of a half, and any overtime period(s), let them use instant replay whenever and however they so choose. Better yet: every game, certainly every conference game, has an “observer” present. Let that person be the “replay official” if you think the on-court guys can’t get it right. Similar to the replay guy in the booth at NFL games, have a third party make those calls. To say there’s an overall “problem” with officiating is just plain wrong.

  2. kristind1031 - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    First of all let me say this. Yes I am an Arizona fan, with that being said, there were some bad calls in this game period. You never mentioned the foul on Solomon Hill where the Colorado player simply tripped and was on the floor and they called a foul on AZ! That was a huge foul as well it took the momentum away from Arizona! Yes I agree that the call was probably not right but it was hard to see on TV in my view. Bad calls happen, bottom line is that Colorado gave the game back to Arizona didn’t they? I truly get sick of the armchair writers who never have anything good to say about the Pac!!!! I mean this truly. I get so sick of Duke this and Duke that and the ACC and all the freaking great press they get even when they are not that good. The bottom line is that Arizona is winning games. They have proven they are never OUT of a game!! That is huge. Would I rather they be winning by 10 points every game? Sure, who wouldn’t be. That is not realistic either. This team quite frankly reminds me a lot of the 1997 Championship team. You recall the one that beat three Number One seeds to take it all? Rememeber? They were not suppose to be or go anywhere, they were just NOT that good. I think everyone needs to give credit where credit is due. Their wins may not be pretty, but they are winning. I believe they will be at the big dance and I also believe that they will do very well there. They are quite young, and need to mesh as a team yet. I hope that they do that these next five weeks or so! Until then stop bad mouthing a team that is 14-0 for lords sake! Give them credit for sticking in the trench and not bailing like many teams who are 17 points down do.

    I agee with Flordia727 you have no idea what you are talking about regarding the reffs! Really, try doing there jobs. You cannot see everything, it is a physical impossibility. They do a damn good job and we complain and chastise them for it. They used instant reply in the AZ game and you say they got it wrong! Oh well, it happens. As stated above, they were other calls that went against the other side as well! Things sometimes happen, it evens out in my opinion. I love the game, and I love watching. I tend to turn off the commentators and rarely read reviews because of the stupidty that goes into making a great and exciting competition mediocre. Leave your critics behind and dawn a uniform and be a player and see where you are then. Chances are you could not even make the team in high school. It is easy to judge and critisize others from afar!

  3. azcatsfan - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Hear Hear!! I agree with you both completely!! I have been a cat’s fan for 50years as of this year and I have seen some real blunders called by PAC-12 refs over the years. Some for us some against. That is all part of the game. ( I know I sound like a homer while typing this all out but I remember when the cats played in the WAC and officiating wasn’t much better there either. Again it happens. No one’s perfect.

    kristind I turn the volume down too and turn on the radio I’d rather listen to the announcer there than on tv.

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