Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver are going to leave with a lot of baubles collected over four years of college basketball at Washington State...
Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver are going to leave with a lot of baubles collected over four years of college basketball at Washington State:
• A second straight NCAA tournament, unprecedented in school history.
• All-Pac-10 honors last season, possibly with more to come next week.
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• Selection to the U.S. team for the Pan Am Games last summer, two of the three Pac-10 players to make it, along with Oregon’s Maarty Leunen.
Unless they do something celestial Saturday against Washington, however, neither will ever have heard his name called as Pac-10 player of the week.
Not to suggest this issue is as important as, say, the over-speculated housing market. Not to imply the Pac-10 doesn’t unfailingly do an extraordinary job of promoting itself (cough here if you feel a tickle in your throat). But … how is this possible?
Were Low and Weaver too young a few years ago, too old now, too far off the radar in Pullman, too something?
Weaver didn’t make it a year ago after he had the school’s first known triple-double against Stanford. Low didn’t make it a couple of weeks later after he dropped 37 points on Oregon in a loss.
Weaver didn’t make it after a game against USC a few weeks ago when he had (a) 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting, (b) a team-high seven rebounds, game highs of (c) five assists and (d) four steals, (e) scored his 1,000th career point, (f) grabbed his 500th rebound, and (g) held USC wunderkind O.J. Mayo to 6-for-15 shooting and 14 points, matching his low in the Pac-10, and WSU won by 24.
Not good enough.
Some numbers: Freshmen have won the award seven times this season. Three different Arizona State players have won it. Washington’s Jon Brockman has won it three times himself. Not to diminish Brockman, who has had a marvelous year playing with the zeal of an NBA signee on a 10-day contract, but neither ASU nor Washington has a winning league record.
Barring a breakthrough Saturday, then, what Low and Weaver apparently leave with is this: Very good career, never a very good week.
Which Coach O?
Responding to a question Tuesday, Kevin O’Neill, the interim/designate/maybe/sorta/we’ll-see-what-happens Arizona coach, said, “It’s been an interesting year, is all I can say. You hope as a coach you can grow a little bit, and maybe by the end of the year I’ll be able to say that.”
He may also say two other things: Whew, and sayonara.
Trimming an astonishing soap opera to manageable proportions:
• Last spring, Arizona coach Lute Olson rehired his former assistant, O’Neill, at $375,000 annually to emphasize defense.
• Three days after Pac-10 basketball media day in early November, the 73-year-old Olson announced he was taking a leave of absence later extended through the season and saying it was unrelated to his health.
• Early in December, Olson announced he was divorcing Christine Olson, 50, the Republican national committeewoman from Pennsylvania, his second wife. Christine Olson said she would contest the divorce.
• According to those around the program, Olson — “Coach O,” as he is known to his players — has been around the athletic department with some regularity, not only working out but in the basketball office, leading to the belief he wants to return next season.
• Sunday, CBS’s Seth Davis spoke of a rift between Olson and O’Neill and quoted unnamed sources as saying that if Olson returns next year, O’Neill won’t.
• Christine Olson sat courtside Sunday on Arizona’s senior day. Lute Olson, meanwhile, apparently watched the game in his old office, came onto the floor to hug the seniors afterward but didn’t address the crowd or take questions from reporters.
The Arizona Daily Star says Olson was to follow tradition and get together with the seniors at a private home that evening. If so, why make a public showing at the McKale Center without taking the mic to say a word about the seniors or thank O’Neill for negotiating a difficult transition?
When Olson took on O’Neill last spring, the succession all looked so seamless. Now it’s as prickly as the flora around Tucson.
Stanford meets UCLA on Thursday night with a chance to tie for the Pac-10 title, revisiting an arresting statistic from their Pac-10 opener Jan. 3.
The twins, Brook and Robin Lopez, each played 29 minutes, fouling out. UCLA’s Kevin Love played 31 minutes without a foul.
“He’s usually not left one-on-one [guarding an opponent by himself] in the post,” sniffed Ben Howland, the UCLA coach, referring to Love. “That’s one of the reasons we do that, to keep our fouls down.”
Still, you don’t suppose somebody from Stanford has made the Pac-10 aware of that oddity?
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org