Low –> Australia

Derrick Low has signed a one-year contract with the Sydney Spirit of Australia.

Why one year? Certainly Low is worth more than that, especially to a foreign squad. However, this is about keeping Derrick’s NBA dream alive. A single season contract allows Low to go down there, play ball, and then weigh his NBA options for 2009-2010. It’s very likely that if he plays well he will get another summer camp invite.

This year Low played summer ball with the Mavericks, but got limited playing time and ultimately got the feeling that he would not have a great shot at cracking the Dallas roster this fall. 

Right now he would be the second American on the Spirit roster, joining David Grueber. No word yet if he might play with noted weed-smoker/former Oregon Duck Ian Crosswhite, who played with the now defunct Sydney Kings.

Low dropped 35 points in a one-point loss to those same Kings during the Cougs’ Australia trip last summer. The Kings went on to finish with the best regular season record in the Aussie NBL and lost in the “grand final” to Melbourne. So it goes without saying a lot of Aussie teams were very high on Low’s talent level. That, and throwing shrimps on the barbie. I hear they do that there.

Best of luck to Low – we’ll track his progress and I’m excited to see Derrick light up the NBL.

G’day, mates.

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Offseason Video of the Week

Courtesy kapoleicoug on YouTube

How great is it that Hawaiian newscasters get to wear Hawaiian shirts?

This week’s video is Honolulu’s local television station profiling Derrick Low at the Pan Am Games last summer. Yes, it’s old, but if you’re like me (meaning you didn’t have a chance to see the Pan Am games on TV) you’re seeing these highlights for the first time.

Watching a tape like this makes you wonder why Low wasn’t drafted into the NBA last Month. Certainly he’s not a first rounder, but if you watched WSU closely you know how hard Derrick worked in his career to make himself into the team’s leading scorer. That’s why if I’m an NBA exec I take Low late in the second round, because there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of upside. He’s not flashy, but he can at the very least distribute the ball and catch-and-shoot with the best of them.

So a gold star goes to Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, who got a good deal on an underrated player.

Low Gets a Shot With the Mavs

Derrick Low has been invited to play on the Dallas Mavericks’ summer team, as reported by the Honolulu Advertiser.

The article notes that he could be the first native Hawaiian to make a NBA roster since the 1950s(!).

Also, the winner of the Kyle Weaver draft projection contest is DraftExpress, who picked Kyle at 39th overall, just one spot after he was actually selected.

Offseason Video of the Week: 6/9

Future Cougar DeAngelo Casto – featuring highlights taken from my old high school’s gym floor. I remember it was a big deal in the Greater Spokane League when Sean Mallon simply had the ability to dunk the ball. Now here’s Casto catching the ball off the backboard and slamming it down over Central Valley’s beautiful powder blue court.

You’re probably wondering how I can top the video above. Well, let’s go with another double dose of video of the week – with high schooler Derrick Low. Dunking. Occasionally on people.

This could be the greatest video I’ve ever posted on this blog:

Stadium Way’s End of the Season Awards

Time to take a break from all this Bennett rumor madness and reflect on a great season that is suddenly behind us. Here now, are Stadium Way’s first annual End of the Season Awards for basketball.

Player of the Year: Kyle Weaver, G – I’ve never seen any Cougar player in any sport do as many things well as Kyle Weaver. 12.2 points per game (19th in the Pac-10). 5.1 rebounds per game (17th Pac-10 and higher than Robbie Cowgill). 4.3 assists per game (5th Pac-10). 1.7 steals per game (4th Pac-10). 8th in conference assist-to-turnover ratio. He shot 46.3% from the floor. His only weakness, according to some people, was three-point shooting (he shot 23.7% in 2006-07). This year, he improved on that by shooting 36.4% all while taking 28 more attempts and making threes in big games and big situations. Oh yeah, it’s also worth noting that he’s a NBA-caliber defender (more on that later). There won’t ever be another Kyle Weaver, and it will be tough to see him go. If there was one player from this squad whose jersey might deserve to be retired, it’s Kyle’s. The good news is that we can still watch Kyle continue his career next year as a member of the NBA. NBADraft.net projects Kyle at #24 to San Antonio (which would be a near-perfect fit for him), but I think he has lottery-pick talent.

Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Low, G. It’s hard to deny Taylor Rochestie and his 4.7 assists per game this award, but I have a feeling he will be a sure thing for it next year. Low deserves it this year – his team high 14.1 points per game is good for 12th in the conference. I know, 14.1 doesn’t sound like much, but when you play on one of the 10 slowest college teams in the nation, that number becomes a lot more impressive. Low was also third in the conference in made threes – led by only Ryan Appleby (UW’s all-time leader) and some guy named O.J. Mayo.

Low also has a hidden talent – he’s a great shooter inside the arc. Low made 74 of 145 attempts from 2-point range, good for a 51.0% clip. 50% is a very good percentage for a low post player (Baynes shoots 60%). Derrick does it from the guard position, all while being part of a three guard attack that helped the Cougs lead the conference in turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio. If you don’t believe me about Low’s talent, just ask Alabama coach Mark Gottfried:

“Derrick Low is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Period. He is really, really, really good,” said Alabama coach Mark Gottfried…. “I’m saying he’s really good. If he ends up having a career in the NBA like [John] Stockton or [Steve] Nash, it would not shock me. He’s that good.” (ESPN)

Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Weaver, G – An obvious selection here, but let’s not understate how good he was. He finished fourth in the conference in steals (1.7 SPG) and shut down any number of good players. Not just good players, but players who can attack multiple ways. OJ Mayo (6 for 15 on 2/9), Ryan Appleby (2 for 8 on 1/5), Matt Bouldin (0 for 9), and a host of other players who he limited with his play on the defensive end. It was fitting when the one word chosen by Cowgill and Low to describe Weaver was “cool”. He made great defense and offense look so effortless, and so……well, cool.

Newcomer of the Year: Stephen Sauls, G – This award goes to the best incoming freshman or transfer player. Sauls could almost earn this award just by the effort he has shown in trying to make a recovery from a scary injury in January. Sauls was knocked unconscious by an inadvertent elbow to the head and had CPR started on him before regaining consciousness. He still experiences headaches on a daily basis, according to the coaches, and in all likelihood will be unable to return to Wazzu to continue his career. It’s a shame as Sauls showed great promise as an offensive and defensive player. Sauls shot 54% in only eight games this season, and seemed like a perfect fit to replace outgoing transfers Mac Hopson and Chris Matthews. Let’s hope he gets back to good health soon, and has an opportunity to continue playing ball, regardless of the school he ends up at.

Tremendous Upside Potential Award: Abe Lodwick, G – This kid is going to be fun to watch. We didn’t see Lodwick on the court during a game this season as Tony preferred to redshirt the freshman from Bend, Oregon. Nevertheless, if you were able to look in on a practice or watch warm-ups before the game you know that Lodwick can flat out shoot. His form is near perfect and his 6’7″ height will make him difficult to defend for smaller guards and forwards (like Daven Harmeling is now). If he can get to the defensive level of our current guards he’s going to be a mainstay of future Cougar lineups.

Breakout Player of the Year: Taylor Rochestie, G – Ok, let’s be honest. We always knew Taylor would be good. What we didn’t know is just how good: A ridiculous 43% 3-point shooter this year, Rochestie added 10.4 points per game to his 4.7 assists per game (2nd in the Pac-10; he led this category for much of the year). He is horrifically efficient; leading the Pac-10 with a 2.8 assist/turnover ratio, and is always looking to involve others first. He perfomed best when it mattered most with a season-high 10 assists against Winthrop. He can also take over the game offensively, like he did with a 24 point performance during a surprising cold night for the other Cougars against Oregon State. He also wants the ball with the game on the line. He’s the kind of player Wazzu desperately needed under Dick Bennett when turnovers and missed shots cost the Cougs far too many close games. Oh yeah, there’s also that whole thing about giving up his scholarship to help the team next season. I think it’s safe to say #10 replica jerseys will fly off the shelf next fall.

Player you Should be Excited About for Next Year: Aron Baynes, C – Let’s see: 60% shooting? Check. Dominating low-post scoring and rebounding presence? Check. Playing in a Pac-10 without the Lopez twins? Check. Yoga lessons? Check. Awesomeness? Intensity? Rugby Experience? Check, check and check. If he stays out of foul trouble and secures the ball in those big hands, he’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun to watch for one more year. Just look at that performance against North Carolina and first-team all-American Tyler Hansbrough. Or the fact he almost averaged a double-double in the tournament (13.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG).

Sixth Man Award: Daven Harmeling, F – Daven Harmeling has many of the qualities you want in a starting forward: good shooting, height, rebounding, defense, and the ability to have a big night on offense. The fact that he only started one game speaks volumes about how talented this year’s Coguar team was. Harmeling’s numbers were actually down a bit in 07-08 but you have to take into consideration the two freak injuries that sidelined Daven for some games this season. First, he broke his right thumb in practice in December. Then, he sprained an ankle, again in practice, which really shortened the Cougar bench in the final weeks of the season. Maybe we should just apply Allen Iverson’s theory of practice to Harmeling.

But few players recover from injuries like Harmeling has. A dislocated shoulder suffered in the first game of the 2005-06 season caused him to miss the entire year and receive a medical redshirt. Harmeling responded by shooting threes in practice and pre-game warmups. One-handed. And that suddenly perfected one-handed form led to Daven becoming a force from behind the arc – shooting 43% from long range the next year. This year, it was the cast on Daven’s wrist that acutally helped him find his stroke again, to the tune of a season-high 19 points in an impressive win over USC. Harmeling is a perpetual x-factor: a solid player who can burn you from out of nowhere. Just ask the three opponents he took for 20 or more points last year: Gonzaga, Arizona, and Cal. His injuries this year have slowed him and it’s a shame: he only averaged close to 12 minutes per game in the tournament. But he’s still a phenomenal player. And we’re lucky that because of an injury he returns next year.

Author’s note: Edited on 4/1/08 to include the sixth man award.

Game 35: (4) Washington State vs. (1) North Carolina

“It’s a special place to be, and it’s a special group of kids to do something like this.” – Tony Bennett

———

Here is my more detailed game preview, with all the ins and outs of the matchup. All the breaking down and speculation are over. It’s time to play ball.

Projected Starters

G Rochestie
G Low
G Weaver
F Cowgill
C Baynes

The line: North Carolina (-8)

Why the Tar Heels might win: Tyler Hansbrough: Mobile like Brook Lopez, and gets to the line. The Cougars either need to stay out of foul trouble or get an incredible game from the bench.

Why the Cougars might win: Derrick Low. Kyle Weaver. Robbie Cowgill. They’re not going out without a fight. Also, UNC hasn’t played many teams as efficient on both sides of the floor as the Cougs. It’s their first real test of the tournament.

X-Factor: Robbie Cowgill. Along with Baynes, the low post defense will have to phenomenal to give Wazzu a chance. At first I feared a potential UNC matchup because of Hansbrough. But if anyone can slow him down on this team, it’s Cowgill. Any help Robbie can provide on the offensive end will be an added bonus.

Prediction: North Carolina 72, Washington State 66.

Actually, you know what?

I’m a believer.

Prediction: Washington State 74, North Carolina 72.

Stadium Way’s Pac-10 Awards

Congratulations to Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver, who were both named to the All-Pac 10 teams announced today. Weaver makes an appearance on both the all-defensive team and 2nd team all-conference. Low was third team all-conference. Robbie Cowgill was honorable mention all-defensive team and Aron Baynes was honorable mention all-conference.

While I respect the decision of the ten voting coaches, my opinion of the best in the Pac-10 is different. Here now, are my awards for the conference season:

Player of the Year: Ryan Anderson, Cal. Kevin Love was the selection of the coaches, using the time-honored formula of [best team + best player = MVP]. Yet Anderson averaged 4.1 PPG more than Love while only averaging 1 less rebound per game (9.9). Anderson was also second in FT% and shot 41% from behind the arc. You also can’t put all the fault on Ryan for a 6-12 finish in a loaded conference. And even if you consider the W-L record a factor in POY, you have to remember that Love has much better talent around him. Ultimately, POY is an individual award, and Anderson was the best individual player.

SW All Pac-10 Team:

G Kyle Weaver, WSU
F Ryan Anderson, Cal
F Brook Lopez, Stanford
C Kevin Love, UCLA
F Jon Brockman, Washington

I really disagree with the selection of O.J. Mayo by the coaches. He has NBA talent, yes, but he was second in scoring and didn’t do a whole lot else despite leading the conference in minutes played per game. It was more difficult for me to leave Harden off the team with his defensive ability (the league leader in steals).

SW All-Freshmen Team

G O.J. Mayo, USC
G Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
G James Harden, ASU
F Davon Jefferson, USC
C Kevin Love, UCLA

Easy. I agree with the coaches wholeheartedly on this one.

Freshman of the Year – Kevin Love, UCLA

Defensive Player of the Year – Kyle Weaver, WSU

Coach of the Year – Herb Sendek, ASU

Trent Johnson?? Seriously?? All he had to do was sit back and watch Brook Lopez and the rest of Stanford’s talent go to work. If you could make the case that any other coach in the conference would have the same success with the same players, that coach shouldn’t be coach of the year. Also, explain to me the idea of honoring the first coach that I have ever seen that allows his players to yell during other team’s free-throw shots. Shouldn’t class be a consideration?

But I digress – Sendek took an ASU program in shambles and made it competitive last year and a bubble team this year. He never deserved to be fired from NC State.

Stadium Way’s Unconventional Awards

Underrated Player of the Year – Maarty Leunen, Oregon

Overrated Player of the Year – O.J. Mayo, USC – I like O.J. Mayo, to be perfectly honest. He’s a great talent. What I don’t like is the buildup he got from ESPN while guys like Weaver and Anderson fly under the radar. He is not the next LeBron; just a very talented freshman who has a chance to be a great player.

Most Likable Player – Kyle Weaver, WSU

Most Hateable Player – Brook Lopez, Stanford – Chest-thumped his way over the clear preseason favorite for this award, Ryan Appleby. If you listen closely, you can still hear him yelling at an opposing crowd for no apparent reason.

Most Likable Coach – Tony Bennett, WSU

Most Hateable Coach – Tie: Kevin O’Neill, Arizona; Trent Johnson, Stanford

Best Player in a Supporting Role – Tie: Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, UCLA; Robbie Cowgill, WSU

Selflessness Award – Taylor Rochestie, WSU. He led the conference with a 2.90 assist/turnover ratio. At one point, the ratio was as high as 5.

Lemming Award – Oregon State. 0-18. Will there be chants of 1-18 radiating from the Beaver State with a win in the conference tourney?