Pressing Times for Pac-10 Basketball


Pressing Times for Pac-10 Basketball


The talent drain began two years ago and the Pac-10 is still in recovery mode.

After sending six teams to the NCAA tournament for three straight years, the league was nearly invisible last March with only two schools represented - its fewest since 1988.

And regaining its status as one of the nation's elite conferences this season seems doubtful.

The cause of the Pac-10's lingering woes? The NBA draft. In 2008 and '09, the league produced 13 first-round picks and eight lottery selections - more than any other conference. Fourteen of those players had eligibility remaining.

Among the underclassmen who bailed early were Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook of UCLA, Brook and Robin Lopez of Stanford, O.J. Mayo and DeMar DeRozan of USC, James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State, and Arizona's Jerryd Bayless.

Those departures combined with a lack of blue chip recruits plunged the Pac-10 into mediocrity.

The league had a team in the final AP Top 25 rankings every year since 1986 until last season. It flopped during nonconference play, going 2-12 against ranked opponents with several ugly losses. None of the teams finished the season ranked among the top 20 in the RPI, either.

"Last year our league was much better than how we were perceived, but because of the lack of wins in the nonconference and maybe a lack of scheduling (tough games) in the nonconference, we took a beating as a group of teams that didn't get it done," second-year USC coach Kevin O'Neill said.

The Pac-10 will try to notch some notable wins this season, with such Top 25 teams as No. 1 Duke, Kansas State, Kansas, Gonzaga, Missouri, Baylor, Butler, Tennessee and BYU among its nonconference opponents.

O'Neill believes beating ranked teams early will improve the Pac-10's national standing.

"Your reputation will be shaped by what you do there because once you get into conference you just play each other," he said.

Only Washington is ranked in AP's Top 25 preseason poll at No. 18, although UCLA and Arizona were among others receiving votes.

The Huskies made it to the final 16 of the NCAA tournament. They return four starters and are picked to win the league title this season. After that, it's a scramble, with the Arizona schools and UCLA in contention.

The bulk of Pac-10 rosters are filled by West Coast players, and O'Neill pointed out the high school talent level dipped the last two years. Fewer players from the East Coast venture west, "so it's important for us to get the best players in our area," he said.

O'Neill should know. Most of the Trojans' recruiting class bailed out before the start of last season after the school imposed its own sanctions on the basketball program in the wake of NCAA violations involving Mayo.

Once a school lands good players, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, "You've got to keep them. All the one-and-done kids hurt respective programs when they left early."

The talent drop-off was so steep that only two Pac-10 players were drafted in June. And no underclassmen declared for the draft, which means more veterans are around to play this season, even if their ability doesn't match that of their predecessors.

"It's like a program that loses five seniors," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "You've got freshmen coming in and they've got to grow. Once they grow, start to develop, you're back in business again."

Second-year Arizona coach Sean Miller is optimistic about what's to come.

"If you follow the class that will be here a year from now, some of the best players in the nation who happen to be in the West are coming into our conference," he said.

Recruiting will be bolstered by the conference's expansion in July, when Colorado and Utah join. A new television deal will be negotiated, and the league is looking into starting its own television network.

"We have a history and tradition of great basketball, so we've got to emphasize that and get back to that," Montgomery said. "The bottom line is we've got to win."

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense


49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

QB Brian Hoyer

WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.