Checking in on… the Pac-10Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2009
Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Big West conferences.
Player of the Week. Nic Wise (Arizona) – The 5-foot-10 warrior has willed the Wildcats to a few victories this season and posted 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists this week with a loss to Oklahoma and a win over 7-2 Louisiana Tech that could point Arizona in the right direction going into a tough stretch of the schedule. Some players score more points, but no player means more to his team than Wise does. He absolutely belongs in the Pac-10’s elite class of point guards with Jerome Randle and Isaiah Thomas.
- #16 Washington (6-2) – The Huskies finally got a double-figure performance from highly touted freshman guard Abdul Gaddy when he scored 11 in a win over Cal State Northridge, but he didn’t do much in a tough 74-66 loss against #13 Georgetown today.
- California (6-3) – The preseason favorite to win the conference is still a damn good team, with losses to three quality opponents and one of the few victories in the lopsided Pac-10/Big-12 Challenge. The Golden Bears righted the ship this week with two blowout wins and have ten days between now and their next game, a true challenge on the road against the #1 Jayhawks. The conference’s deepest squad boasts four players in double figures and a likely Pac-10 Player of the Year candidate in point guard Jerome Randle.
- Washington State (7-2) – The Cougars rebounded from consecutive losses with a win over Idaho this week. No secret here, but Washington State’s chances almost solely depend on guard Klay Thompson, who is currently balling out loud. The sophomore scores 25.8 per game, but posted just 18.5 in losses to Gonzaga and Kansas State.
- Arizona State (6-3) – Along with WSU, one of the Pac-10’s early surprises that may or may not be for real. The Sun Devils followed up an encouraging close loss to 7-1 Baylor with a lopsided defeat at the hands of 7-1 BYU. Guard Derek Glasser has an assist/turnover ratio that’s better than 2.5-to-1 and leads a balanced ASU attack that may turn out to be their greatest asset in the one-trick pony Pac-10.
- Stanford (4-3) – Almost definitely the best of the 4-win teams, and I might have ranked them even higher expect Stanford hasn’t played a game yet in December. After hosting UC Davis this weekend (which should be at least a double-digit victory) the Cardinal faces a tough task with games against 7-1 Oklahoma State and 6-1 Northwestern this week. Leading scorer Landry Fields and the Cardinal will face three consecutive opponents with a combined 22-2 record, making Stanford perhaps the most battle-tested team in the conference come Pac-10 play.
- Oregon State (4-3) – Riding a three-game winning streak, the Beavers’ stingy defense faces a strong 6-2 Nebraska team in their last real test before the conference schedule begins. The Beavers are a true team effort, with a 46.8 FG% but just one player – Seth Tarver – scoring in double figures. Not the best team in the conference, but capable of surprising some opponents this season like they did to Colorado.
- Oregon (4-4) – It’s been up and down for the Ducks, who have been on both the giving and receiving ends of blowouts in their last two games prior to today’s loss at home to St. Mary’s. We don’t really have a handle on Oregon at the moment, and this week will be hard to gauge with four consecutive confidence-builders against soft opponents.
- Arizona (4-4) – Gotta feel for these guys. The Wildcats are clearly reloading their roster but could still be a very good team this year; it’s just that they’re scheduled to play a lot of very good teams and… well… that hasn’t worked out great so far. They get a strong San Diego State tonight, then play something called a Lipscomb to build some confidence. Arizona is one of those teams that relies almost exclusively on one guy, and that will come back to hurt them, but Nic Wise is definitely worth your time – even in a conference filled with point guards.
- USC (4-4) – Everyone talks about UCLA losing talent to the NBA, but the same can be said for their fellow Los Angelenos at USC. The Trojans just don’t have the depth or talent to pose a threat to strong teams after losing Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson to the pros, and losing their coach to a lifetime of crippling shame. Dwight Lewis has so far struggled to improve into the offensive leader this team needs, and the Trojans won’t be successful this season if that continues despite strong frontcourt play.
- UCLA (2-6) – It doesn’t get any easier for the Bruins as the lost to Mississippi State badly this afternoon and visit Notre Dame this week (with a winnable home game against New Mexico State sandwiched between them). We didn’t learn anything new about UCLA in a predictable beating at the hands of Kansas, but if they can have a good showing this week they might – MIGHT – be able to gain some momentum. Troubles on both sides of the ball will likely prevent that, however.
Games to Watch
- 12/16 – Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
- 12/19 – #16 Washington vs. Portland
- 12/19 – Stanford @ Northwestern
- 12/19 – Arizona State vs. San Diego State
- 12/19 – USC vs. Tennessee