Friday, October 22, 2010

Pac-10 Power Rankings

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The Pac-10 conference was one of the weaker conferences in College Basketball. No one out of the Pac-10 made significant noise in the NCAA, and was rarely ranked. However, this season a lot of things are going to change.

The Pac-10 will rise up and compete in College Basketball. Last season, before the NCAA Tournament many people believed that only one Pac-10 team would get in the big dance.

That wasn't the case. It was the Pac-10 teams that kept the tournament interesting.

This upcoming year, the Pac-10 returns a lot of significant players. As well as bringing in talent to bolster on their upcoming rosters.

The Washington Huskies should be atop of the Pac-10 this year, but UCLA will follow and challenge them every step of the way.

Here is my look at the Pac-10 conference, and how each team stacks up.

1. Washington Huskies - The Washington Huskies were led by Quincy Pondexter, and Isaiah Thomas to a 26-win season.  The Huskies finished with an 11-7 conference record, and didn't get the chance to embrace the regular season title. However, they won the Pac-10 tournament and was able to get redemption over Cal.

This season, the Huskies return Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Venoy Overton and more standouts from last season.

With lead guard Thomas, the Huskies shouldn't have a problem taking the conference crown. Especially with the efforts of freshman forward Terrence Ross.

The Huskies should be unanimous for anybody. They have talent, retained it, and is ready to showcase it come conference time.

2. Arizona Wildcats - Last season, you could see how talented, but young, the Arizona Wildcats were. The Wildcats possessed a strong roster with strong young talent. However, they were still able to only obtain 10 Pac-10 wins, and rack up eight losses.

With last year out of the way, the Wildcats may be the team to beat in the Pac-10. The Wildcats returned five of it's six top scorers. Not to mention, Arizona acquired Daniel Bejarano to replace the departed Nic Wise.

The Wildcats have improved dramatically without making significant moves towards their roster. Arizona will be atop of the Pac-10 standings when it's all said and done.

3. UCLA Bruins - Two things that helped the UCLA Bruins make a dramatic leap atop of the Pac-10 is recruiting, and returning players. Nonetheless, the recruiting class the Bruins acquired this season will aid them come conference time.

Freshman center Josh Smith will be a physical monster in the paint. His frame will present mix-matches to other centers in the conference with the notion that nobody can contain his physical ability.

Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt, and Reeves Nelson will also help out. They are returning Bruins that will guide the others in hopes of a NCAA tournament bid. However, the Bruins lack a true point guard.  Lazeric Jones could step up and run the show, or combo guard Tyler Lamb. But without guard play the Bruins will not get anywhere.

4. Arizona State Sun Devils Last season, the Sun Devils were a win away from tying for the Pac-10 regular season title. Arizona State ended with a 12-5 Pac-10 conference record, and lost in both the Pac-10, and NIT tournament in the first round.

Despite losing their point guard, the Sun Devils did return their two leading scorers from last season. Not to mention, the Sun Devils acquired Keala King a highly-touted wing threat.

However, guard play will be a huge factor for the Sun Devils. If Arizona State can embrace a lead guard they might be able to accomplish higher feats than the season before.

5. Washington State Cougars - Klay Thompson paced the Cougars with 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assist last season. That wasn't enough to keep the Cougars from being last place in one of the weaker conferences in College Basketball.

This upcoming season, the Cougars returned Thompson, Reggie Moore, and DeAngelo Casto. The Cougars will need to take care of the ball this season. Last season, the Cougars turned the ball over more than they dished out assist. If that trend continues, the Cougars might waste another talented roster sitting last place in the conference.

6. Oregon State BeaversLeading scorer Calvin Haynes was the only of three leading scoeres to return to lead the Beavers attack in '10-11. However, they did retain Jared Cunningham, Joe Burton, and Lathan Wallace.

If the Beavers can get consistent effort from their returning players to commend freshman Devin Collier, Ahmad Starks, Chris Brown, and Eric Moreland.

7. USC Trojans - The Trojans lost their leading assist man, and scorer from a team that went 8-10 in the Pac-10 conference. However, they did require a stellar recruiting class that includes players such as Bryce Jones, and Maurice Jones.

With the nucleus of players returning the Trojans have a chance to compete in the Pac-10. However, they need to establish a point guard to cut down on the 14.5 turnovers they committed last season.

8. Cal Bears - The Cal Bears lost their top four scorers from a year ago. Their most significant return came when Jorge Gutierrez decided to return for his junior year in College. However, they did pick up Allen Crabbe, and Gary Franklin Jr who will have a major impact on their roster.

I expect to the Bears to possible surprise in the Pac-10. Cal might be the sleeper team this year. 

9. Oregon Ducks - The Ducks got their coaching situation out of the way, and Dana Altman is in a situation where he has talent. 

Coach Altman will have to put the pieces together for this Oregon team to be successful.

10. Stanford Cardinals - Last season, Landry Fields did everything possible to keep Stanford competitive. He scored 20 points, while grabbing around eight rebounds per game, and dished out almost three assist as well.

His efforts are now gone, and the Cardinals do not have a player to fall back on. They have to rely heavily on their strong 2010 recruiting class that features really good players.

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