Today in the bag, I'm talking the Pac-12 final in Las Vegas (along with my All-Tournament team), the Buffs in the NIT, and women's lacrosse.
Click below for the bag...
Arizona sweeps past wounded Ducks, wins Pac-12 -
The 2017 Pac-12 Tournament is a wrap, and your winners are *sigh* the Arizona Wildcats. Thanks to an 83-80 win over Oregon, they swept their three games in T-Mobile Arena to claim the crown. Very much deserving, I will admit, considering their offensive dominance in their three games.
The final itself was pretty straight-forward. Arizona really took over right before half, forging a six-point lead ahead of the break, and played keep-away for much of the final frame. Oregon would occasionally fire back, and even managed to cut the lead to just two points with 25 seconds to play. This was after five straight misses from the free throw line from the UofA, which gave everyone in red the willies. The Ducks, however, were incapable of capitalizing on the empty possessions, playing hero ball in the final few minutes, rather than working for good shots against a rattled opponent. As a result, it gave the 'Cats enough time to respond, which they did with four-consecutive free throws from Allonzo Trier. Game-set-match.
|Arizona gets the win on the Strip. From: AZ Cenral|
That is not to take away from Arizona. They were on fire in Las Vegas, shooting 58% from the floor to control their three games from tip-to-horn. Defensively they were alright, albeit better-than against UCLA, but their offensive performance is what blew me away. Opponents just couldn't get crucial stops against them, with players like Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright nailing huge three-pointers. If they shoot like that the rest of the month, they could go quite far in the real Tournament.
My All-Tournament Team
- Allonzo Trier - G - Arizona - Most Valuable Player
- Tyler Dorsey - G - Oregon
- Lauri Markkanen - F/C - Arizona
- Grant Mullins - G - Cal
- Derrick White - G - Colorado
Best band in Vegas - Oregon
I was going to go with Arizona... right up until the moment the Ducks pulled an Alice in Chains song out of their toolkit in the final minutes of the final. You better believe that won me over. Good arrangement of a difficult song? *nods*
NIT field set, Buffs will play on -
Lo and behold, the season did not end for the Buffs in Las Vegas, after all. Along with a pair of their Pac-12 brethren, Colorado will forge ahead in the crapshoot that is the NIT. It's the team's first entrance into the secondary field since the magical run of 2011, and their eighth overall appearance since 1990.
|Bring on the Knights. From: Bleacher Report|
As an important note, the NIT, as has often been the case in the past, is being used this year as a proving ground for potential tweaks to the game that the NCAA feels need full testing before final roll-out. Specifically, this year all the games in the tournament will be played under different timing rules, designed to break the action up into 10-minute segments, similar to how it currently is in the women's game. Team fouls will reset to 0 at the end of each segment, with an in-segment limit of four fouls per team. Past that, you're shooting two free throws each; the one-and-one is no longer a thing. As I understand it, there will not be a dead-ball situation once the clock hits 10:00, the scorer's table will just reset the foul counter and the game will continue. That means, realistically, the pace of the game doesn't change, just how and when free throws are taken. There's also a rule change cutting the shot clock to 20 seconds in possessions that start in the front court, but you probably won't notice that, to be honest. These tweaks aren't guaranteed to make it into the rule book for next year, but that has been the route for previous rule changes like the charge/block line and the 30-second shot clock. So don't be surprised if this is a preview of things to come.
|New timing rules for the NIT. From: ESPNU|
Look for my teaser up on Wednesday.
Colorado Lacrosse tearing it up to start the year -
If you hadn't noticed, CU's women's lacrosse team has been tearing up the competition. Through seven games on the season, they're undefeated, and have been flying up the national rankings. With their latest victory, on the road over then-#6 Penn State, they claimed their fourth win over top-25 competition, enough to earn them a top-5 spot in the latest Inside Lacrosse Poll. 4th? In the country? Yo.
The team is lead by a pair of veteran attackers: senior Johnna Fusco and junior Darby Kiernan. Each have 20 goals on the season, and Fusco has even picked up a national player of the week award. In fact, three Buffs have won national honors so far this season, with Fusco joined by teammates Paige Soenksen (senior, goalie) and, most recently, sophomore Miranda Stinson. The latter earned her award just this past week for tallying five goals and four assists against the Nittany Lions, setting a school record for points in a single game.
|This team is legit. From: CUBuffs.com|
The ladies will next take the field tomorrow afternoon, when Withrop comes to town (3pm). After that is their conference opener, Sunday against Oregon (12p). Both games will be available on an internet stream, with the visit from the Ducks broadcast on Pac-12 Networks. You should check them out.