Tag Archives: Kaleb Tarczewski

The Man in the Middle for the Utah Utes: Jakob Poeltl

Jakob Poeltl. Jakob who? If you haven’t heard of this young man that is a shame, but it is certainly understandable as well. This young sophomore center for the Utah Utes is one of those players that just goes about his business on the basketball court, doesn’t make a fuss about it, and can flat out dominate a game. He is up for Pac-12 Player of the Year and should certainly be in the conversation for All-American status in 2016. Poeltl is a player that people should start focusing on as the Pac-12 Tournament gets going this week and then the NCAA Tournament gets rolling.

The anchor down low for the Utah Utes is a player that people will notice because of his size, but not necessarily notice the stats he puts up. Why is that? For one, Poeltl is a very quiet, unassuming type of kid. He’s not really out there pounding his chest saying “Look at me!” He lets his statistics just speak for themselves and they have spoken loud and clear this season for the Utes. He nearly averaging a double-double this season while creating defensive nightmares for opposing teams in the Pac-12.

Currently, Jakob Poeltl is averaging 17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 1.9 apg. His field goal percentage is off the charts as well at 66 percent, but it also helps that he is seven feet tall to help maintain that high percentage. He averages nearly two blocks a game and that helps to create that presence in the middle for Utah. If one of their guards gets beat on the perimeter, Poeltl is there for help and to send a shot back if necessary.

Jakob Poeltl is a slight seven-footer. He’s not tipping the scales at 275-plus, he’s only weighing in at 235 pounds, so he’s a guy that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger guys in the low post. Obviously, getting bigger in size and weight is going to be something as he progresses through his college years and into the NBA. This is the one area in his game that he needs to pay attention to because coaches want their big men around the basket and not settling for their outside game. Coaches want a low post presence when they have a seven-footer.

Can he add the weight? Let’s hope so. Otherwise people may start to look at him as one of those typical European players who is strictly an “outside” big man and not somebody that can pound the inside on the offensive end.

Jakob Poeltl excels on the defensive end of the court. His coaches love the fact that he doesn’t allow other big men to get set up deep on their offensive end. He doesn’t allow that deep seal set up and has learned how to push the opposing big man off his desired spot on the block. Just ask Arizona center, Kaleb Tarczewski about how effective Poeltl was against him. Tarczewski was bottled up against Poeltl when the two Pac-12 giants played each other.

What are his chances at ending up in the NBA? According to some NBA scouts, he should be a Top 10 NBA Draft pick in 2016, if he comes out early. Some mock drafts have him in the top five, some have him the top 10. It depends on which mock drafts you look at. Scouts love the defensive presence that he has already. They love that he has a high ceiling, and that he can still get much better on the offensive side of the ball. He will certainly be an intriguing player to watch in the NBA Draft Lottery.

First thing is first though. He has to complete his sophomore season at Utah and try to get his Utes to win the Pac-12 Tournament, then get his team to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament. The more success the Utah Utes have, the more name recognition Jakob Poeltl will have amongst basketball fans. I, for one, am already sold on this young man from Austria, but now it’s time for the rest of the country to be sold on Jakob Poeltl.

Arizona Dominates Arizona State in The Territorial Cup

When it comes to the Territorial Cup in the state of Arizona it gets pretty intense with players, coaches, and fans. There have been confrontations on the court between players, coaches being ejected, upsets, and all sorts of colorful adjectives being hurled at each team. This is an intense rivalry game and it doesn’t matter the sport. People mention a hatred toward their rival and it’s not something that they joke about. It is a hatred for that other school. Wednesday night in Tucson, Arizona was another edition of this rivalry on the basketball court.

Arizona came into this game needing to continue their winning ways because their thought is another conference title and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Qualifying for the big dance is not going to be an issue for the Arizona Wildcats, but questions are floating out there about how talented this Arizona team actually is. The Wildcats don’t exactly have that show-stopping talent that they have had in recent years, but for a game like the one against their rival Arizona State they had more than enough talent to compete.

Arizona State is just a team trying to hang on until the end of the season. For a good portion of the season the Sun Devils they have been playing with only eight scholarship players. Injuries have also taken a toll on Bobby Hurley’s team. Anybody that knows anything about basketball knows that if your team is injured and you have only eight guys that can play winning is going to be a challenge.

It was a challenge on Wednesday night for the Sun Devils.

Not only did the Wildcats have a talent edge, they had a size advantage over the Sun Devils. They made their inside presence felt most of the night by blocking shot after shot out of the air. Midway through the second half the Wildcats already had seven blocks, with Kaleb Tarczewski owning three of those.

Kaleb Tarczewski. If you follow Pac-12 basketball you know who this player is. If you follow college basketball in general you should know who he is. The Sun Devils knew who he was and couldn’t do anything to stop him. He was ready to play and so was the rest of the Wildcat team. Tarczewski finished the game with 6 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He made life miserable for the Sun Devil offense all evening.

The Sun Devils were not ready to play and it showed. When you shoot worse from two-point range than three-point range things will not work out for your team. That is exactly what happened to the Devils on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils shot 32% from two point range and 34% from three point range. This showed in the first half with the Sun Devils down by 14 points at half 38-24 which when you consider everything that the Wildcats did it was a gift only being down 14.

The second half was Wildcat domination in every facet of the game. In fact, with about 15 minutes left in the game Sun Devil Head Coach Bobby Hurley who is usually up and barking at the referees retired to his seat on the Arizona State bench and didn’t say a word.

Hurley was looking at what he wants for his own program in Tempe. Hurley wants players to flock to Arizona State to play basketball and provide the level of excitement the players at Arizona give their fans. What does Hurley need to do to make the basketball Territorial Cup more of a rivalry? Simple. To quote Al Davis, “Just win baby.” The winning is going to take some time because ASU does not have the history that history that Arizona has when it comes to basketball. Big time recruits want to play where they are going to win and ASU doesn’t provide that yet. Sun Devil fans hope Bobby Hurley can bring that type of swag to their program.

By the time this edition of the Territorial Cup was over the Wildcats showed everybody in the Pac-12 that they are not going anywhere and will do whatever they needed to do to secure another conference title. Arizona shot 57% from the field, 72% from the free throw line, dominated on the boards 52-27, and dominated on the scoreboard 99-61. If the Wildcats turn in this type of performance the remainder of the season then things will turn out well for them. Bear Down Arizona!