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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

July 1, 2007 at 9:07 AM

Taking a brief hiatus, plus power poll

We’ve tried to keep the blog going throughout the off-season, but it’s time for just a little break as summer calls us away for a few days.
So if you don’t see anything here for a week or two, that’s why, and we’ll be back on the beat again sometime around July 10.
In the meantime, thought I’d leave you with my newest Pac-10 Power Poll.
1, UCLA — The Bruins have surpassed Arizona as the new “team to beat” in the Pac-10. Despite the loss of Arron Afflalo, UCLA returns four starters, most of the key backups, and adds highly-hyped freshman Kevin Love. Concerns are the health of Josh Shipp (who recently had a second hip surgery) and how quickly Love acclimates to everything. But the Bruins look primed for a three-peat.
2, Washington State — There was nothing fluky about what the Cougars did last year, and with virtually everybody back, plus the addition of promising redshirt guard Thomas Abercrombie and the likely return from injury of Nikola Koprivica, the Cougars should again contend for the conference title. We’ve all seen how well senior-dominated teams tend to do. The concern will be how WSU handles the hype and having a big target on its back from the first day.
3, Arizona — I’m a little hesitant about this given how Arizona has underachieved of late — proof that they’ve noticed that in Tucson came when Lute Olson shook up his coaching staff by unceremoniously jettisoning longtime assistant Jim Rosborough. But while the Wildcats lose three starters, they still return a lot of talent and welcome a good recruiting class led by Jerryd Bayless, who figures to play the point for a season until Brandon Jennings shows up. Arizona also got a big boost with the recent news that center Kirk Walters was granted another year of eligibility and will return for another season.
4, Stanford — The Cardinal returns all but one starter and having both Lopez twins healthy and ready to go from day one should make a huge difference. Also back are Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods, who blossomed as stars a year ago. There’s no reason the Carfdinal doesn’t return to 20-win status for and it had probably better for the future of Trent Johnson, as this looms as a key year for him to show he has the program back on the Montgomery track.
5, Oregon — No one argued more vehemently that Aaron Brooks should have been the conference Player of the Year last season than I did, and I don’t think the possible impact of his departure can be overstated. But the Ducks have virtually everyone else returning (Malik Hairston, Tajuan Porter, etc.) which should be enough for another top five conference finish and NCAA Tournament berth.
6, Washington — The Huskies lose Spencer Hawes, but return everyone else of note, and that experience should make a big difference this season. Only problem is figuring out who UW leaps over in what is a loaded Pac-10. The added depth in the backcourt will give UW coaches a lot more options next season than they had this year when problems arise, and figure on Quincy Pondexter finally ascending to star status with Hawes gone and the need for someone else to take over some scoring.
7, USC — No team took more of a hit due to early entry as the Trojans lost Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt. Those two, along with senior Lodrick Stewart, combined to average almost 44 points a game last season. USC will pin much of its hopes this season on O.J. Mayo and the early returns sound promising as Mayo is already on campus working out and saying all the right things in interviews. But as of now, there’s too much uncertainty to pick the Trojans too high.
8, Cal — The Bears are indcative of how strong the Pac-10 is this year. I would bet this is where Cal ends up in most pre-season polls, yet the Bears have the kind of talent that could easily surprise with center DeVon Hardin and forward Ryan Anderson returning to give the Bears one of the more potentially dangerous frontcourts around. Big key is finding a replacement for PG Ayinde Ubaka.
9, Arizona State — Another team that could easily surprise, but for now has to be tabbed here. Everybody of note returns and ASU welcomes one of its best recruiting classes in years, led by guard James Harden, who also seriously considered UW. This will be one of the scariest teams in the conference next year.
10, Oregon State — The only team in the conference I wouldn’t make a case for somehow finishing with a winning record. The addition of C.J. Giles will give them a spark and Marcel Jones made the wise move of returning. But this looks like another season of wheel-spinning in Corvallis, which could be bad news for sixth-year coach Jay John.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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