2009-2010 Pac 10 Hoops Preview
The Pacific Ten has been arguably one of the top basketball leagues in the nation the past few years, but on the eve of another winter campaign, it does appear that the conference will take a step back this year. Most of the star players have either graduated or left for the fame and fortune of the NBA, and 3 programs will try their luck with new head coaches. Nevertheless, there are some great storylines ready to written as new players make names for themselves and teams look to surprise.
Projected Standings (with Postseason Predictions)
Year 1 under Mike Montgomery was very successful, and Year 2 should be even better. The Bears return nearly every important player from last year, including underrated PG Jerome Randle. They’re prolific from beyond the arc and have good size. The one issue for them may be depth.
The Huskies boast a very deep and versatile backcourt, led by highly touted freshman Abdul Gaddy and last year’s conference freshman of the year Isaiah Thomas. The productivity of Jon Brockman must be replaced, but they have a deep bench that should be able to contribute. Don’t be surprised if the dawgs switch to a more up-tempo pace and look to wear out their opponents.
Nearly all of the players from the 3 Final Fours are gone now as Ben Howland tries to assemble a new cast of winners in Westwood. Nikola Dragovic is the only regular back, so he’ll have to rely on a lot of talented but inexperienced youngster such as Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt.
Things weren’t looking good in Tucson last spring, until Sean Miller arrived. He quickly put together a strong recruiting class and convinced guard Nic Wise to stick around another year. It may be rough at first, but once they figure out what they’re doing, expect the Wildcats to be solid as always.
5. Oregon State
The first brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, had excellent success with his 1-3-1 zone and Princeton offense last year, and parlayed that into a solid recruiting class. Calvin Haynes and Roeland Schaftenaar both had break-though seasons and look to continue that this year. The Beavers limitation is their athleticism; they were exposed by teams that could simply out-run them.
6. Washington State
After Tony Bennett left for Virginia, the Cougs turned to Portland State’s Ken Bone. This surely means a transition from the plodding, defensive style wazzu fans are used to to a fast-paced temp like their cross-state rivals. Sophomore Klay Thompson should thrive in this new system, but he’ll need some of his young teammates to step up as well.
Ernie Kent, the conferences’ longest-tenured coach, is firmly on the hot-seat after finishing 2-16 last year. The Ducks certainly have talent and plenty of scoring options led by Tajuan Porter and raw but talented big man Michael Dunigan. They’ll have to get tough and play better on defense though to really improve.
No one had a worse off-season than the Trojans (well, maybe Memphis, and Rick Pitino). Tim Floyd resigned, and nearly all the players worth mentioning left with him. At least they found an experienced replacement in Kevin O’Neill as they try to make their mark at the defensive end of the floor.
9. Arizona State
No team in the league relied so much on one player last year, and now that James Harden (as well as Jeff Pendergraph) is gone, role players such as Derek Glasser, Rihards Kuksiks and Ty Abbott will have to step up into leadership roles for the Sun Devils.
You have to feel for Johnny Dawkins, not a lot has gone right for him since he left Duke for the farm. The Cardinal will face another drop-off this year after losing most of their scoring form last year. Talented youngster Jeremy Green is worth mentioning, though.
Jerome Randle (Cal)
Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
Klay Thompson (Washington State)
Quincy Pondexter (Washington)
Michael Dunigan (Oregon)
Nic Wise (Arizona)
Tajuan Porter (Oregon)
Patrick Christopher (Cal)
Theo Robertson (Cal)
Nikola Dragovic (UCLA)
Player of the Year: Jerome Randle
Freshman of the Year: Solomon Hill (Arizona)
Coach of the Year: Sean Miller (Arizona)<!--EndFragment-->