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February 1, 2006 at 2:16 PM

Pac-10 midseason report

It’s the halfway point of their Pac-10 season, which seems a good time to asses not only the Huskies, but the conference as well. So here’s one man’s look at some mid-season awards.
Player of the Year – Brandon Roy. And this isn’t just a homer pick. Look at the numbers. When considering only conference games, Roy is leading the Pac-10 in scoring, assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-point shooting and also ranks among the top 10 in the conference in rebounding, assists, steals, overall field goal percentage and blocked shots. No other Pac-10 player is doing as much for his team as Roy is for the Huskies. The other two obvious candidates are Arizona’s Hassan Adams and Cal’s Leon Powe, and wins and losses in the final nine games could determine the ultimate winner.
Freshman of the Year – This is probably a two-man race between a pair of local kids – Jon Brockman and Arizona’s Marcus Williams. Right now, Williams gets the nod for the way he has scored in Pac-10 games and made key plays down the stretch.
All-Pac-10 Freshman Team – It could consist of three Seattle-area players – Brockman, Williams and Stanford’s Mitch Johnson. Also in the mix are UCLA’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Arizona State’s Jeff Pendergraph, USC’s Ryan Francis and UW’s Justin Dentmon.
All-Pac-10 Team – We’ll do it the same way the coaches do – 10 players regardless of position. I figure these guys are all slam dunks – Roy, Adams, Powe, UCLA’s Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, Stanford’s Matt Haryasz and USC’s Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt. I’d also go for Stanford’s Chris Hernandez.
The final spot goes to Cal’s Ayinde Ubaka. I’d love to pick Bobby Jones, but he’s been too erratic – in part due to the ankle injury – and Ubaka’s emergence is a huge reason Cal is suddenly a legitimate player for the conference title. So he gets the nod.
Coach of the Year – That UCLA is on top, despite all of its injuries, makes this an easy nod to Ben Howland. I think the rest of the conference ought to be real nervous about the job Howland is doing as the Bruins appear ready to reclaim their mantle as the year-in, year-out team to beat in the Pac-10. Tim Floyd is running a respectable second here, getting the most out of a Trojan team that has a few really talented players but no big guys and no real depth.
Coaches on the Hot Seat – I don’t think there’s any way Arizona State’s Rob Evans – who seems like a really nice man – survives now. Oregon’s Ernie Kent also seems like he could be in a lot of trouble – read John Canzano’s column in The Oregonian Sunday for his take on that subject. Though as Canzano points out, it’s hard to tell what the administration there is really thinking.

Most Disappointing Team
– Oregon is an obvious choice. The Ducks unquestionably pass the airport test. But they can’t pass – or shoot – the ball all that well and seem poised for a losing record after having legitimate NCAA hopes.
Giving them a run for their money is their rival Beavers. I personally thought Oregon State would be a lot better than it has been, and with three seniors in its usual starting lineup, it’s hard to tell where the Beavers are headed.
Breakout Player – Ubaka came to Cal three years ago with a lot of hype and battled injuries and inconsistency his first two seasons. But now you see what all the fuss was about as he’s giving the Bears a great outside threat to go along with Powe in the middle.
Most Underrated Player – I’d say Lodrick Stewart if he weren’t one of the most hyped players ever in Seattle high school history. Now that everyone seems to think he’s a bust, he’s turning into a real good player – he hit another key 3-pointer late in the win at Oregon Saturday and the game-winner in the final seconds at Arizona State earlier in the season.
I also like Washington State’s Kyle Weaver for this spot. He’s a little out of position having to fill in for Derrick Low as WSU’s main point guard. But he still ranks among the Pac-10 leaders in field goal percentage, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, steals and rebounds.
Most Disappointing Player – Considering the state of the Pac-10 this year, this could also be a 10-man team. But the two who stand out each reside in Oregon – Oregon’s Malik Hairston and Oregon State’s Nick DeWitz. Hairston’s NBA stock is dropping with each Oregon loss as it becomes apparent he can’t carry the team to greatness by himself. And it’s apparent now that DeWitz’s fabulous end to last season was aided greatly by the presence of David Lucas.

Comments | Topics: UCLA


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