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Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 2:21 pm  |  54 responses

Pac-10 Preview

A slight drop in national relevancy, but still exciting.

by Cub Buenning

–They were arguably last season’s best, but how do things stack up this year out west?

The teams from the Pacific-10 Conference represented the cream of the NCAA crop last year. The brand of basketball was exciting to watch and almost every game was chocked full of not only individual stars but at least one team from the Top 25. UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, USC, and Washington St. were all title contenders, loaded to the gills with talent, while Oregon, Arizona St., California, and Washington all fought season-long for a chance at the NCAA Tournament. (I purposefully did not mention Oregon State, yet…)

Three of the Top 5 picks in this past June’s NBA Draft came from the Pac-10. Look further and find six of the Top 15 also plied their trade in the Pacific Time Zone (well, Arizona sometimes does). With that much change and couple coaching moves to boot, things should look rather different when the first ball is tipped this fall.

Here is a breakdown of the teams (in order of last year’s standings) and a small prediction for this season.

UCLA (31-3 overall, 16-2 conference) Regular season and conference tournament champs
Despite losing some major muscle and minutes to the draft, the Bruins might be even more talented this year, largely aided by Head Coach Ben Howland’s monster recruiting class. Kevin Love, Russelll Westbrook, and Luc Mbah a Moute no longer will be at Howland’s disposal, but the newly minted professionals will be replaced by a quartet that all rank in the national top 40. Jrue Holiday and Drew Gordon are the much publicized recruits, but to also ink Malcom Lee out of Riverside and the 6-11 Darren Collison“Bobo” Morgan speaks to the luxury a university has when it makes three straight Final Four trips.

At the helm again this year will be senior Darren Collison, who made overtures to the NBA, but decided to finish up his career at Westwood. Collison is like an extension of Howland on the court and he should provide an ideal fire to the cool ice of potential running mate, Holiday. How the backcourt minutes are shared between those two and Lee will be interesting. It’s the young frontcourt tandem of Gordon and Morgan, though, that just might make or break the Bruins chance for another conference title.

Stanford (26-7, 13-5)
More than just the twins have left the building. True, both Lopezes are gone to the NBA, and Taj Finger probably has one foot into some high-paying job in finance but with Head Coach Trent Johnson moving on down to the bayou, this team has endured change like no other. Lawrence Hill is a nice piece as a force both inside and out, but he is more of a complimentary player and may struggle with the inside height gone.

Much of the backcourt returns, but someone needs to take a big step for new coach Johnny Dawkins, someone like 6-7 junior Landry Fields, who showed some nice flashes last year. This will surely be a down year for the Cardinal, but getting a guy with the pedigree of Johnny Dawkins for a place like Stanford is genius. Anyone know another set of 7-foot twins? Be sure to give Coach Dawk a call. (As a huge fan of all things, “Stanford” and hopefully a parent of a future graduate, this year will be a bit tough.)

Washington State (24-8, 11-7)
Head Coach Tony Bennett was given the chance to take over at Indiana University. His WSU team was losing the bulk of its offensive output and the opportunity was almost perfect, but he stayed. He stayed devout to what his father had started at WAZZU. Seniors Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, and Robbie Cowgill are no more and just one year remains for point guard Taylor Rochesite and Aussie big man Aron Baynes. I’ll give Coach Bennett and his system the benefit of the doubt, but my heart and brain tell me that the Cougs are going to take a big step down a year removed from 26 wins and a third-place conference finish.

Bennett was able to lure the spawn of former Laker Mycheal Thompson, Klay Thompson, a lanky 6-7 combo guard who has a nice little game. He is quicker and a better athlete than most think, and I think he is going to have a noteworthy career up in Pullman and his ability to expediently adapt to the college game will be vital for WSU’s competitiveness.

University of Southern California (21-11, 11-7)
You would assume the first bit here would be about O.J. Mayo leaving and becoming the 3rd pick in the draft, but this is about another freshman from last season’s team. Davon Jefferson did this team no favors. He put them in an unnecessary recruiting position when he prematurely signed with agent Arn Tellum. One of last season’s “best unknown” freshmen, Jefferson was a year away from erasing doubts about his attitude and work ethic, but proved them all right by entering the draft and showing up at the Pre-Draft Camp as an overweight, out-of-shape, skinny guy. He wasn’t drafted (despite having lottery potential) and he is gone from SoCal so this isn’t about him, anymore.

What’s left here? The one constant from the past two years has actually been the play of junior forward Taj Gibson. He is one of the nation’s most complete defensive players at 6-9, as he is a presence both on the ball and from the weak side.

Freshman DeMar Derozan would be the natural choice to step into the shoes filled last year by Mayo. Derozan brings a similar swagger, athleticism and game which should fit in nicely with the massive offensive departure from a year ago. To help DD’s transition to the college game will be the returning veteran tandem of Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett. Both are veterans of many Pac-10 battles and both can have big nights and/or knock down a late 3-pointer.

Arizona State (19-12, 9-9)
This is an up-and-coming team for me this season in the Pac-10. With the return of uber-freshmen James Harden, the Sun Devils should continue to be a program on the James Hardenrise. Senior forward Jeff Pendergraph has one last year to wow the scouts. As a long, active force inside, Pendergraph still needs to learn how to work his game in cohesion with the offense which is now blatantly centered on Harden. In addition, Pendergraph will be integral on the defensive side of the ball as the team’s last line of defense.

While this team is surely a bit young when you look beyond Pendergraph, the sophomores and juniors on this squad have been playing since they stepped foot in Tempe. Guards Ty Abbot and Derek Glasser (Harden’s teammate in high school) do the little things and make life difficult for opponents while Harden makes plays.

Local freshman product Taylor Rhode might be counted on to add some depth to the frontcourt as a 6-8 Mr. Arizona recipient.

Oregon (18-13, 9-9)
This team is going to be hit hard by the graduation of four-year players Malik Hairston, Marty Luenen (both second-round picks) and Bryce Taylor. This trio provided scoring, rebounding, and leadership which will be sorely missed. The team will return the diminutive Tujuan Porter to run the show for Head Coach Ernie Kent. Despite taking a wee step back last year after an impressive freshmen campaign, the 5-6 Porter is a year wiser and as dangerous as ever whether running the ball up the opponent’s back or knocking down the big 3-ball. As a whole, this team might regress, but Kent and his staff gets props for luring Chicago’s big and physical Mike Dunigan out to Eugene. (Although, if you have ever seen their facilities it’s a wonder they don’t sign everyone. An Oregon basketball player in particular gets the best of both the high-tech world of Nike support and the old-school friendly confines of MacArthur Court, one of the nation’s best places to watch a basketball game. You can quote me on that one, my friends.)

Joevan Catron returns after a year away from the program, bringing his lunch-pail and his undersized (only 6-6) but effective game to the low blocks. Sophomore guards Kamyron Brown and LeKendrick Longmire will be key “veterans” as the Ducks look to deal with a roster that is over 50 percent freshmen.

Arizona (19-14, 8-10)
Chase Budinger was supposed to be in the league; Brandon Jennings was supposed to be the point guard. What an offseason for an Arizona program that was arguably the Chase Budingermost exciting team to watch in all of college ball. While losing out on a talent like Jennings is sure to sting, if even just the one-year temporary kind of pain, it is significant in the scheme of the conference. (Take the Derrick Rose example. John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers played the toughest out-of-conference schedule in the nation last year and lost just twice, once to Tennessee (no. 2 at the time) and in the final to Kansas. Not having Derrick Rose makes them more of a 4-seed type of team.)

Getting Budinger to think against the NBA, though, is like having Christmas a couple months early. He is the most complete offensive player in the college game and is sure to be considerably more aggressive with the bulk of the scoring load placed now firmly on his back. With Jerryd Bayless gone and Jennings in Italy, junior point guard Nic Wise becomes a huge key for Head Coach Lute Olsen, himself back after a year away from the bench. Despite not possessing the offensive ability or even the size of a Bayless or Jennings, Wise can carry the load as a player. He is tough, strong, and not afraid of the spotlight.

Inside, this team will rely heavily on the ever-developing Jordan Hill. The 6-10 center has become more than just a defender/rebounder. His continued progress on the offensive end might make Budinger and Wise a trickier match on the perimeter. Whether the freshmen duo of 7-foot Jeff Withey and 6-4 Brendon Lavender are ready to produce will be key to adding depth and balancing the Wildcats’ attack.

Washington (16-16, 7-11)
This team rests one more year on the extremely broad shoulders of power forward Jon Brockman. For them to contend in the top half of the conference, though, this team will need to get more help from the guard position. With the graduation of Eight is Enough look-alike, Ryan Appleby, Quincy Pondexter has to take on a bigger role with the team to build on his two solid years in Seattle. This move will also give help to senior Justin Dentmon who saw a bit of a dip in his play last year.

Freshmen Elston Turner Jr. and Scott Suggs will be nice backcourt additions to Head Coach Lorenzo Romar and although this group did beat both UCLA and Arizona last year, the Huskies do not look to threaten the aforementioned class of teams.

California (16-15, 6-12)
Arguably the conference’s best frontcourt this side of Palo Alto is departing the East Bay. Devon Hardin and Ryan Anderson both heard their names called during the NBA Draft which will squarely put the bulk of the scoring load on guard Patrick Christopher. Christopher is a nice talent and has an NBA-ready body to along with an advanced 2-guard game, but it is imperative that he becomes consistent from long range. With the added distance on the new three-point line, his career 33 percent 3-point range could be an issue.

To go alongside Christopher, the Bears were able to land one of the west’s top 2-guards in freshman, D.J. Seeley from nearby Stockton. Seeley will be needed immediately, as the Bears have major scoring voids to fill. Cal might struggle.

Oregon State (6-25, 0-18)
This team is still years away from competing in this conference. One year removed for an abysmally winless (0-18) Pac-10 season, the Beavers must learn how to move on with out their top gun from last year, Marcel Jones. (Jones was their only scorer in double figures, just barely topping the 10ppg mark.)

Sophomore guard Lathen Wallace needs to continue his impressive production of a year ago when he got eight points a night on just 14 minutes. Wallace’s development could coincide with a rebirth from junior guard Josh Tarver, who saw a regression in his minutes and production last year.

On the positive side, the Beavers did bring in a new coach in Craig Robinson, who leaves my alma mater after two successful seasons on College Hill. The fact that Robinson is the brother of our future first lady doesn’t hurt either.

Cub Scouts The Pac-10: Although I think there are two teams that are clearly more talented than the rest, I feel this year might be a big one for the ‘Cats from Arizona. Another UCLA conference title would not surprise me, but the Bruins seem to be depending on too many youngsters (albeit ultra-talented ones) while Arizona is bringing back a group of polished juniors. I will include Arizona State, USC, and Washington State (because of my admiration for the coach) as the other tournament teams this year, but I am torn with the Washington Huskies. I want to put them in that group as well, because of their big wins last year, but I can’t. I also can’t believe in a completely re-tooled Oregon team, which will be a year or two away from reemergence. These two Pacific Northwest stalwarts should be tournament teams but overall I don’t think as highly of the Pac-10. It almost goes without saying that the conference’s mass NBA exodus will produce a slight drop in national relevancy. But, just slight, not like it is in football.

Next Week: The continually up-and-coming Big 12 will be put under the Cub Scouts’ microscope. The national champ calls this Midwestern conference, ‘home,’ but with all five starters being named in this past spring’s NBA draft, the national college hoops audience is going to know about a lot more than just the Kansas Jayhawks or Blake Griffin.

Check Cub Buenning’s scouting website for weekly player reports. Many players highlighted in Cub Scouts are thoroughly covered on the site.

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  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Wow, this was thorough. Chase Budinger the most complete offensive player in the country? Bold proclamation there.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    From fade aways on the block to pull up midrange jumpers, to spot up deep 3s to finishing on the break.Chase has it all, offensively.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Yeah, for real Cub, this sh*t is really well done. I don’t know if I agree with the Budinger statement, but I won’t discount your knowledge of the college game. I’m looking forward to this as a continuing look at the major conferences. Nice job, Young Bear.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    It must be my East coast bias Cub. I’m also still a bit upset that Jennings won’t be leading them this year.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Fellas, thanks. There are several people around the country (including some NBA GMs) that don’t think as highly of Budinger as I do. His talent is just really unique in my opinion.
    TAD, Jennings and Wise would have been really fun to watch.
    E, much of my research is complete for the “BCS” conferences, but there is going to be a lot of typing. (ie today)

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    You just like him because he is tall, pale, and plays volleyball. Fess up. I’ll be patiently waiting for the Big 10 preview myself.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    I was going to add a race disclaimer in there, but, no. Volleyball was only played by girls where i grew up, so I am just recently growing an appreciation.

    Seriously, though, YouTube his indoor high school vb. Ridiculous.

    I would love to hear an argument for any other college player, as to the “most complete offensive game” crown….

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I don’t have one Cub. I’m sure you are right, but it just blows my mind that someone with such a complete offensive game would pass up the NBA.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD, his offensive game is ready, his lateral quickness though(damn volleyball)and overall defense needs some attention.

    Also, Chase heard some negative stuff from the aforementioned NBA GMs. This year will be good for him to develop more asassin-type qualities in his game.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Is he better than Morrison? (damn stereotyping comparing white players)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Similar style player, regardless of race. Chase is more athletic and has a higher release point on his shot which should allow him more success scoring at the next level than Morrison has to date.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    So morrison can go #3 and Chase is hated on? Weird. I know it was a bad draft and MJ takes bad GM’ing to new levels, but Chase sounds like a lottery lock. I mean, doesn’t he have like a 42-inch vert?

  • Michael

    did chase sit out last year due to the strength of the draft class? is next year’s class a lot weaker? (i have no clue really on the college game)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Chase is defintely lottery in my estimation, but why exactly he decided to come back isn’t truly clear. I was “told” that he had heard some very critical things from some GMs around the league.
    Probably made the right choice, based on draft class (which will be down from last two years)and his own seasoning.
    His vertical is at least 42″.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Ok, i’ll drop the Chase talk. Jrue Holiday: good as advertised or overhyped?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD, you’re talking to the wrong person, as i was only able to peep him twice in high school games. Not enough of a pool of knowledge to draw from, hence his game/NBA prospects are not broken down at http://www.collegetonbascouting.wikispaces.com. I would tend to believe that hype, though…..

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    All good Cub. I’m just trying to engage in real ball talk to balance out the idiotic comments on the Pierce post. Either way, the Pac-10 looks stacked.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Hey TAD, i appreciate you bumping the discussion. Some of those top50 comment sections get a bit out of control.
    Anyone here have a take on Holiday or anyone else in the PAC-10?
    The conference just released their tv schedule….. god, i am craving some hoop.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I would be too after watching your Broncos last night (sorry, had to do it) ;)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Who(m) are these “Broncos” you speak of? Major ugh.

  • Vecgon

    Taj Finger is playing pro hoops in Norway. Doing quite well I understand.

  • chronically_ill

    Personally, i think Harden is better than Budinger. Budinger has all the tools to be a dominant 2 guard, but for some reason, hasnt been able to put it all together. I mean, he gets nice digits, but in the games I’ve never seen him just say “f*ck it” and just put his team on his back, even though he is clearly the most talented player on his squad.

    Harden, on the other hand, truly lives up to his name. Dude’s game is just HARD. The man takes it to the hole every time. EVERY time. Dude reminds me of a running back! He has that “killer instinct” that makes him better than Budinger, imo.

  • fanofthegame

    The reason Chase is still at UA is simple, he has no NBA position he can defend. I agree he’s a very good college player although he can’t really get his own shot, but he’s a horrible defender. All you gotta do is watch that clip of him stepping out of the way of Kevin Love on a baseline drive so Love can dunk to see his pathetic defense. UA can’t defend that’s been teh problem there for several seasons now, they better hope Withey is ready right away to swat away shots or it will be another year of underachieving.

    UCLA and USC figure to be the 2 best teams, UCLA for all the reasons stated, USC because the administration continues to look the other way and let Tim Floyd do whatever he wants to get in players like Leonard Washington and Demar Derozan(who had to use online classes to qualify). USC now has talent, depth and experience at every position.

    Now they just have to hope the NCAA probation from Mayo doesn’t come down until after the season.

    I told you Mayo was going to be more trouble than he was worth when you guys hyped him up last year, told you Guillory was bad news and they’d regret taking him. When that’s all over they’ll forfeit 25 games and presumably go on probation too.

    But they might be lucky enough to get a strong season in this year before the NCAA announces the outcome of the investigation and Floyd slinks off to his next job.

  • Kev

    How come no mention of I. Thomas? He should be a major part of UW and its season.

  • CactusBall

    Chase needs more meat on his bones and no fear in his brain.
    Nicky Wise has the mojo that chase can learn from.
    Here kitty kitty. Go gatos!

  • Ryan

    no mention of isaiah thomas for UW? questionable.

  • Tom

    No mention of Isaiah Thomas as a newcomer at Washington? Hmmm….he may end up being the newcomer of the year in the pac 10. I don’t think you’ve done your homework here

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    All you U-Dub fans, my bad on the omission of Thomas. If you read my review of the Huskies, it would make sense that he would fall right into that role they so desparately need.

    Again, I apologize. I guess a few guys can fall through the cracks when you are reviewing and previewing almost 70-80 teams over the course of one month. Also, in my research, Thomas was not as highly regarded as the two other incoming freshmen that I did mention.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    fanofthegame, then the team that will naturally draft Air Bud next spring will be my hometown Nuggets…..

  • McG

    I agree with UCLA being ‘more talented than the rest’ (although I would lean more towards the ‘far superior’ classification) but Arizona? You’re telling me that a team that went 8-11 in the Pac-10 last year, lost their go-to-guy (Bayless), is in the midst of a coaching crisis, and had a mediocre recruiting class (one 4-star recruit) is far and away better than eight other teams? I see why this page is called ‘Eagle’ Scouts…

    I also think your ‘admiration’ for the Cougs is especially confounding. Their backcourt was the heart and soul of their team last year, and to think that they will be anywhere near as competitive is just plain silly.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Wow, college fans are passionate.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    McG.
    To AZ, I just think there was a large dip in the elite of the conference and Bayless was never consistently a huge part of(one, injury-riddled year), what I considered a vastly underachieving team from last year. They have the most experience and talent returning. Is that disputable?

    For WAZZU, did I say they were going to be in the top 3 this year? So starting PG Rochestie coming back for his senior is a loss of “heart and soul?” Which just happens to be his most endearing quality as a player
    Finally, I don’t get the Eagle Scout crack. I’m dum.

  • McG

    Just two questions: 1) So a guy who averaged just under 20 ppg (and efficiently at 1.57 pps) wasn’t a huge part of the team? and 2) How is playing 36 mpg over 30 games ‘injury-riddled?’ I watched the vast majority of Arizona games last season and I would argue that the team would be much better off this season if Budinger would have gone and Bayless would have stayed. I would also wholeheartedly disagree with the fact that they have the ‘most experience and talent returning.’ The facts are neither of the TWO Seniors on the roster will get significant minutes, which means that any semblance of ‘experience’ that Arizona can muster comes down to three juniors (your pal Budinger, along with Hill and Wise). They will realistically be starting two underclassmen, not much for experience. I really don’t mean to be down on Arizona (I do think that they will have a better season than last year), I simply find it hard to place them in the same category as ASU, USC and even UW.

  • McG

    And regarding WSU, you did pick them in (what I’m calling) Tier 2 of the Conference along with USC and ASU. The Pac-10 will be lucky to get 4 teams into the Tourney if this is the case. Rochestie was helped immensely by the presence of Low and Weaver on the perimeter. When he is the primary (and only) ball handler on the team defenses will be able to key on him and he will struggle mightily. Expect his 3-pointers to dip back below 40% and his overall field goal percentage to follow suit. That ‘heart’ you’re referring to will only be present when he’s shooting his team out of games like he did against Vanderbilt in the 2007 Tournament.

  • The Gypsy

    Cub, No question Turner and Suggs are studs for UW, but Thomas will be the in the hunt for freshman of the year in the Pac-10 and you let him “fall through the cracks”? A 4 star top 75 overall recruit that averaged nearly 38 points a game in high school? WOW!! He is ranked between 8-12 best recruit in the country at guard. Not to mention that UW has the second or third best overall PAC-10 recruiting class this year and Brockman will probably be the player of the year in the PAC-10. You also fail to mention a stud forward, T. Breshers, the highest rated recruit for UW. If this would have been UCLA, USC, or AZ recruit, you never would have missed on this. Did you leave out Jirime Anderson or Mike Dunigan from your reviews? Didn’t think so. Do your homework.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    McG. I just never felt that Bayless could be counted on. I watched at least a dozen AZ games last year and although I loved his eventual NBA talent, I never liked him side-by-side with the rest of the team. Bud, Wise, and Hill are the best returning trio in the league and have played countless hours of ball together. What happens with all of the freshmen (Derozan, Holiday, Thompson, etc.)is TBD, but I know what i’ll see from the AZ group.
    Agreed on Low and Weaver which is why i basically gave it to Coach Bennett (someone I think extremely high of)to find find a way to scratch the team into the tourney.

    McG, Thanks for discussing.

    TAD, gotta love the passion of college hoops! Hence my admiration/infatuation.

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    This is solid. Have you done the Big 12 yet?

  • Go Clips

    I know they’re young, but I don’t see UCLA finishing 2nd in the pac10. They also forgot to mention Jerime Anderson, another 4* recruit that will add the depth.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    TADOne says:
    Wow, this was thorough. Chase Budinger the most complete offensive player in the country? Bold proclamation there.
    _______________________________________________
    Hmm… When you say, most complete offensive player do you mean to say most versatile? Because I’m still going to give it to “PSYCHO T”… Out at NC. His offensive game is “more complete”, than Chase’s game.

  • Ryan B.

    No mention of I.T. from UW…. That was a miss. He is Nate Rob minus the biceps. Check out his stats playing for South Kent prep… they weren’t bad!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Dacre: Actually, Cub mentioned that about chase in the write-up, I was just questioning that. I’m sure Cub will be thru sometime today with a rebuttal.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Morning to all from high atop the snow-capped foothills of Denver!! (First real dusting last night)

    My “most complete offensive game” comment re. Chase stems from his ability to score from anywhere on the court (block, midrandge, deep 3, transition- no holes) Psycho T probably is the most complete offensive big in the land, but he has little perimeter game.

    I have already addressed the Thomas omission but if UW was in Houston you’d be saying the same thing about ET Jr. You have familiarity with your local guy, which I understand.
    UW had a great recruiting class, there I said it. Stil not sure if they can get into the Dance.

    BLong, read the last bit of the piece, Next Week!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Ahhhhhhh snow! Nope, I don’t miss it. I do miss the snow bunnies in their tight jeans, fur snow boots, and pink parkas however.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Chase Budinger does have the most complete offensive game in all college ball (or at least most well rounded game),I just wish someone would tell him that.
    Unless your criteria for choosing the most complete offensive game is guys who are good at finishing a play while getting elbowed in the sternum,then no,Hansbrough doens’t have the most complete offensive game;or anywhere close.

  • McG

    I’m going to have to agree to disagree with you on Bayless, but we can leave it at that. And going back to the best trios, I think there is more returning talent than you’re giving the Conference credit for. Sure all the one-and-done freshmen have left the building, but about half of the teams are still stacked with experienced upperclassmen. USC with Hackett/Lewis/Gibson, UCLA with Collison/Shipp/Aboya, Washington with Brockman/Pondextor/Dentmon, and even WSU with Rochestie/Baynes/Harmeling – and this is just Juniors and Seniors. I’d simply put Arizona on par with some of the other returning upperclassmen trios in the Conference.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    We need to have izzo do a college piece for us, ASAP.
    McG knows his Pac-10 hoops.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    Also wasn’t Ryan Appleby with the Huskies for in or around 10 years?

  • McG

    Izzo – Unfortunately. His departure is a definite precursor to improved guard play at UW. Even Thomas (at a generous 5-8) should be able to match his defensive intensity…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    McG, I still would put the AZ trio against any of those that you mentioned. I like those groups, but none of them have 3 (or maybe even 2)players that should be on NBA rosters in the future, which i believe is the case in Tucson. Not on par, IMO.

    There will be plenty of PAC-10 stuff through out the year, so keep checking back!
    Appleby is kind of like the Greg Paulus of the PAC-10…. “You mean, that guy is STILL there??”
    Welcome AR, i was wondering when you were going to chime in!

  • McG

    Cub – Arizona’s trio doesn’t consist of 3 future NBA players either. Either way, keep the Pac-10 coverage up this year. In case you’d like to throw some criticism back at me at the end of the season, this is how I see the Pac-10 shaking up:

    Tier 1:
    1. UCLA – Will finally have the go-to perimeter player that’s kept them from the Championship the past 3 years.

    Tier 2:
    2. USC – Returns with talented experience and an outstanding freshman class. If Davon Jefferson didn’t make the mistake of his life and declare for the draft, they would have been a favorite to win it all.
    3. Washington – Return basically everyone from a team that was about 15 free throws away from making the Tourney. With a trio of talented freshman guards the perimeter play should be much improved.
    4. ASU – Could finish as high as first. A surprise team last season, they won’t sneak up on anyone this year. A Tourney lock.
    5. Arizona – Underachievement has plagued the program over the last few seasons, and expect it to continue into 2009. They have the talent, but will the return of Olson be enough to pull it together?

    Tier 3:
    6. WSU – Expect a major dropoff from last season. The team will need immediate contribution from standout freshman Klay Thompson (among others) to continue their Tournament streak.
    7. Oregon – A talented team with too much youth to compete in the 2008-09 season. This is certainly a rebuilding year, but Porter will shoot them in (and out) of their fair share of games.
    8. Cal – Never count out legendary coach Mike Montgomery. With the departure of Anderson it will be up to underrated Patrick Christopher to take the reigns.
    9. Stanford – The skeleton left over from last season’s Tourney team has to create a new identity to keep from falling off the deep end. Minus the Twins and Taj Finger the team barely shot 40% from the field last season. Expect the same in 2009.

    Tier-less:
    10. Oregon State – Still not a Pac10 team. The slight drop off in Conference talent along with a feisty new coaching approach should help prevent another 0-18 season.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    McG, my feelings on Arizona have heightened, even today with the word that Lute Olsen is stepping down…. A coaching change this late in the game is never a good thing, but his replacement will make them better, right away.
    Mike Dunlap came to Tucson this year after a couple seasons as an assistant to George Karl in Denver. Before that, all he did was win two D-II national championships at Metro State, also in Denver. He has a huge connection to Australian and international players, which never hurts longterm recruiting.

    There was always a push to get him the job in Boulder, but he wanted to check out the pros. Now a high profile interim-gig falls in his lap. If that school is wise they will just drop that “interim” tag.

    I cheer for that man.

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