By Brad Young
The focus of the Pac-10 Notebook this week concerns two marquee freshman for different reasons. Highly touted Southern Cal guard O.J. Mayo is in some hot water right now for accepting complimentary tickets. Arizona State guard James Harden is listed as ‘day-to-day’ after injuring his groin last weekend against Stanford.
The Mayo situation is getting way more publicity, but the Harden story carries more weight on the court. Harden is the Sun Devils’ leading scorer, helping the team to an 11-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread home ledger. Those numbers will be tested this week with games against Washington and Washington State.
Groin injuries are notorious for lingering, especially when not given the proper time to heal. Arizona State has been the surprise of the Pac-10 standing right now, locked in a three-way first-place tie with Washington State and UCLA.
Southern Cal is currently locked in a three-way tie for sixth-place in the conference with Arizona and Washington. The Trojans take on a struggling Oregon State squad and Oregon team on the road.
Mayo’s infraction is secondary, and head coach Tim Floyd has stated that he told his star freshman he could accept the tickets. Floyd, a former NBA head coach, said that he thought it was acceptable for Mayo to receive complimentary tickets from a friend he’s known since junior high.
It will be interesting to see how this story plays out with the hypocrisy of the NCAA, but figure on the Trojans splitting their weekend series in Oregon. This is not the first pro game that Mayo has attended via complimentary tickets, going to a Clippers game back in November.
The culprit that time was Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy, whose son James is a freshman guard at USC with Mayo. There was no uproar during the time, but the spotlight brightens unfairly when a NBA player like Carmelo Anthony is involved.
There was also a coaching change in the Conference of Champions this week, with Oregon State giving Jay John his pink slip. The Beavers are a dismal 6-12 SU and 6-9 ATS, languishing in last place with a 0-6 conference record.
Oregon State has fallen from the glory years of the late 1980’s when the school had players like Gary Payton. The Beavers have produced just one winning season since 1989-90, failing to reach the next level under John’s six seasons as head coach.
Assistant Kevin Mouton assumes the head position, coaching the school once in 2004-05 when John was sidelined with an illness. Oregon State responded by routing Arizona State by 22 points.
Mouton has already put his imprint on the basketball program, dismissing troubled center C.J. Giles his first day as head coach. Giles, who began his college career with the Kansas Jayhawks, played just 10 games with the Beavers.