It’s that time of year in college hoops where every time you turn around, somebody new is offering up their preseason previews. Our own RTC Pac-12 preview will be up early next week, but in the meantime, the Tucson Citizen lists the picks of four different preseason magazines. It is no surprise that Arizona, California, UCLA and Washington are the top four in one order or another in each of the magazines, as they will also be in the RTC preview. To show how much of a toss up it is at the top, three different Wildcats were asked to pick the Pac-12 favorite (excluding UofA) and each one picked a different team.
As part of Jon Rothstein’s preview of the upcoming season, he unveiled his list of the top five “glue guys” in college hoops on Monday, and a couple of Pac-12 players – UCLA’s Reeves Nelson and Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez – made the list. Gutierrez is a no-brainer, as he has repeatedly shown his ability to affect the action on just about any area of the floor, but the Nelson selection may be based on perception more than reality. While he’s definitely a hard worker who rarely leaves much on the floor when he is done, he needs to improve his consistency and his leadership to reach the level of Gutierrez or the other guys on this list.
Yesterday we talked about the faster tempo that Arizona State hopes to play at this season, but they’re not the only team with a style change in the making. Up at Oregon, head coach Dana Altman came to campus with a shell of a roster limited by player defections, and as a result, the 2010-11 Ducks had to play mostly zone defense. But now with a full complement of athletes at his disposal, Altman hopes to turn up the heat defensively.
Down in Westwood, UCLA head coach Ben Howland has made a living preaching toughness and hard-nosed defense. There’s little doubt that this year’s squad is getting put through the grinder in practice already, as three Bruins have sustained concussions so far. Freshman guard Norman Powell took an elbow to the forehead and needed three staples to close a cut, then sophomore center Anthony Stover suffered a concussion last Monday. And this weekend, junior wing De’End Parker took an elbow to the head and sustained a concussion of his own during an intrasquad scrimmage. Hopefully for Bruin fans, UCLA has filled its concussion quotient for the year.
Washington junior center Aziz N’Diaye is expected to play a bigger role for the Huskies this season after his first year of Division I basketball in 2010-11. But another big role for N’Diaye is now on display as he is featured in the new documentary “Elevate” about four Senegalese basketball players trying to make it from the poor West African nation to play basketball in the United States. Virginia seven-footer Assane Sene is the other recognizable name of the bunch, but this international take on “Hoop Dreams” will likely appeal to more than just basketball fans. The film opens in Los Angeles on November 4, with other selected runs around the country. Check out the trailer below.