Center of Attention

Player of the Week

Jakob Poeltl - Utah

Jakob PoeltlJakob PoeltlIn a rough week for the ranked teams in the Pac-12, one player continues to shine, sophomore forward Jakob Poeltl. The Utes’ star player continued to dominate everyone this week and even fixed a problem, his fouling. Poeltl only had four fouls in three games this week, a definite improvement from his first two games. The sophomore forward was instrumental in Utah’s victory overt Temple. Poeltl scored a career high 32 points on 10-12 shooting, just destroying Temple on the inside. The Austrian also chipped in 11 rebounds and three blocks. Even in the Utes’ lone loss of the week, Poeltl still scored 16 points. It’s clear that Poeltl really doesn't have a ton of experienced talent around him, aside from Jordan Loveridge, and I would like to see Poeltl command the ball even more in games where his team is struggling. Poeltl is clearly one of the best players in the Pac-12. Lets see how the sophomore forward develops as the season continues.

Who’s Hot

Andrew Andrews - Washington

I understand that the Huskies didn't have a great week and lost two games, but I just love watching Andrew Andrews. The dude just has so much heart, and hustles almost every play. There’s no question that Washington isn't the most talented team in the Pac-12, but don’t tell that to Andrews. The 6-2 guard is somehow averaging 7.7 rebounds a game and simply carried the Huskies against Charlotte, scoring 30 points with 13 rebounds and 5 assists. Andrews isn't the best defender or even the best shooter, but Washington is certainly fun to watch when he’s heating up. Here’s to Andrews playing 110% in every game.

Tyler Dorsey - Oregon

Time to talk about one of the most efficient players in the Pac-12, freshman guard Tyler Dorsey. Dorsey is somehow shooting 57 percent from the field. That’s unheard of for a freshman, let alone a guard. Dorsey’s shot selection is impeccable, and a huge reason why the Ducks are still undefeated. The freshman obviously still has some faults and will have to get better at reading opposing defenses, but that will come with time. Dorsey also needs to work on his free throw shooting, 5-12 will not cut it against better opponents. The best thing is, the more Dorsey players the better he will get.

Who’s Cold

California Golden Bears

Spare one great game from Jaylen Brown, California struggled this week losing two games to both Richmond and San Diego St. Frankly, I’ve been disappointed with Ivan Rabb’s defense. I understand Rabb is a freshman, but he just seems confused of where to go against better teams. Prior to the Richmond game, California had held teams to around 40 percent shooting every game. Richmond got hot from three, but the Golden Bears have to dig deeper against teams that are just not as good as them. However, the one big problem with this team is the lack of a true point guard, which really showed in their two loses. Tyrone Wallace looks to score first, and there really isn't a better option on the team to break down the defense and find an open man. Wallace has to understand that he’s the playmaker on California and must be more careful with the ball. After an incredible first week, Wallace seemed to lose his passing mojo, having five turnovers to four assists in California’s two loses. The senior forward is clearly the Golden Bears X factor, he has to make smarter passes.

Arizona Wildcats

Again, one of the better teams in the Pac-12 had a tough week. The Wildcats almost lost a game to Santa Clara, and then lost a game to a good Providence team. My one main issue with the Wildcats is still the same, they lack a go-to scorer. While this doesn't seem that important, in tight games it really is. Arizona doesn't have that one player to differ to at the end of games when everything is close. It has always been tough to get a great look in college in a bind, especially with the zone defenses. Arizona is missing the guy that will just take a guy 1v1 and get an open look for a teammate or an easy bucket. Coach Sean Miller certainly has his work cut out for him this year if the Wildcats are going to repeat as Pac-12 champs. The beginning of any season bring many things, especially hope. However, one of my favorite things every new season brings are overreactions. Why not right? Your team is playing well, it’s always great to predict something so ridiculous, it might come true.

Top 5 Pac-12 Bold Predictions

5. Jakob Poeltl will finish the season shooting over 70 percent.

I went over Poeltl above and obviously love his game, but is 70 percent really out of the question? Poeltl really looks like he’s gaining confidence with every game and honestly, there is maybe one person in the entire Pac-12 that can guard him. Clearly, this really depends on Utah’s guards. They have to actually give Poeltl space if he is going to continue to dominate game after game. Here is to make ridiculous predictions possible.

4. California will finish with 5 players in double digits

It is no secret that I think California is a really good team, but five players scoring in double digits is certainly plausible. The Golden Bears currently have four players averaging double digits and Jabari Bird is sitting at 8.8 points per game. For this to happen, Wallace will probably have to scale back his shooting and Bird will have to shoot better, but this would help the team immensely. The Golden Bears will also have to continue playing at an incredible pace and avoid injuries. California is at its best when they have five threats on the court. If five players finish in double digits, California should win the Pac-12.

3. Utah’s starting guards will finish the season shooting less than 40 percent Boy, this one hurts. After watching Delon Wright carry the Utes last year, watching Utah’s guard play this year is just painful. Brandon Taylor is shooting 30 percent on the year while Lorenzo Bonam is shooting 46 percent. Clearly, Taylor is struggling, and the loss of Wright seems to be hurting him the most. Taylor was more of a catch and shoot player last year. This year, the senior guard is being asked to hold the ball much more and make plays. Taylor must start shooting better if Utah has any hope at finishing in the top three of the Pac-12. Poeltl cannot do it entirely by himself.

2. Gary Payton II will lead Oregon St. in every major statistical category

To clarify, we are talking points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Payton II is unquestionably the Beavers best player, both offensively and defensively. The senior guard also plays 35 minutes a game. Currently, Payton II leads Oregon St. in every category but blocks, which stands at a measly .8 blocks per game. Honestly, everything else is in the bag, so is it plausible that the guard can block more shots than freshman Drew Eubanks? While it doesn't seem likely, crazier things have happened. Payton II is a beast on defense, averaging 3.6 steals per game so far. The only reason why the senior guard doesn't have more blocks, the opposing guard wants nothing to do with him and will just pass the ball away. It really is fun watching such a gifted player as Payton II, lets hope teams keep trying to shoot over him.

1. Oregon will win the Pac-12

I briefly went over Dorsey’s play above, but I have yet to talk about the Duck’s chances as a whole. The Pac-12 is very deep this year, with many teams having the opportunity to win the league. Why not Oregon? We already covered the problems of the more “favored” teams in Utah, Arizona and California, but Oregon seems to have less weakness. The Ducks are incredibly deep on the offensive side of the ball, with five players averaging over 12 points a game. Not only is the offense great, the Ducks seem to have committed to defense this year, with Chris Boucher being a monster on the glass averaging 4.2 blocks a game. The Ducks have let up just 62 points a game, which is 32nd in the nation. Oregon has a legitimate shot at winning the Pac-12 this year, yet nobody is talking about them as a true contender. It’s time to start taking the Ducks seriously.

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