Toast of the Left Coast
DIssecting the Pac-10 Tournament.
It’s about that time, tournament time.
Pac-10 Tournament time, that is.
With college basketball’s regular season winding down for most teams this weekend, and the chances of winning a championship out of the question for many others, several Pac-10 programs figure to turn their attention toward the conference tournament, where the stakes will be high.
Similar to last year, we plan on being in the house at Staples Center next week to bring our loyal SLAM Online readers some of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament action. That said, let’s go ahead and take a quick look at some of the more interesting story lines that continue to develop as we get closer to the tipoff.
Plain and simple, Arizona is in, the airline tickets for the NCAA Tournament were booked well in advance, and rightfully so. Make no mistake, a particularly impressive showing by Derrick Williams & Co. in the conference tournament would certainly improve their chances of receiving a better draw.
UCLA appears to have done enough to warrant an at-large berth to March Madness. Nevertheless, it would be wise for the Bruins to put their best foot forward and do well in the conference tournament. They should, after all, be capable of making a postseason push considering the festivities are being held in their backyard, less than 20 miles from campus in Westwood.
Washington is an interesting case, given the fact that this group has been about as inconsistent as they come recently. Still, seemingly no one wants to face the Huskies in the conference tournament. Most agree that they could turn on the proverbial switch win the whole thing without putting forth much effort.
If, by chance, Washington is to turn things around in a hurry, plenty will depend on the playmaking ability of Isaiah Thomas. The junior point guard has been known to be at his best when it matters most. It will be interesting to see if he gets the job done this time around.
The plot is about to thicken because of Washington State. The Cougars have one of the premier players on the West Coast in Klay Thompson. In fact, NBA scouts seem to think the junior is one of the top players in the nation.
The real question is, will Thompson actually be available for the conference tournament?
We’re not sure yet, especially after he was issued a misdemeanor citation for marijuana possession earlier this week. Initial reports indicated that Thompson would be suspended for one game, which means he’ll likely be in uniform by the time the brackets are released for Pac-10 play next week.
Ready for the sleeper pick…
Wait for it…
One of the hottest Pac-10 players around has been none other than Nikola Vucevic, and with him in the lineup, USC has a legitimate shot to make some noise in the conference tournament, perhaps reach the championship game.
The European sensation has been a double-double machine lately. Vucevic, a 6-foot-10 junior forward, is averaging 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season. If he gets hot, which is a good possibility, watch out for the Trojans, who will try to Fight On!
As for the rest of the pack, it doesn’t appear as if there are many other threats. One thing is certain, the Pac-10 Conference Tournament figures to be one of the main attractions out here in Los Angeles next week and SLAM Online will be bringing you updates throughout.