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Husky Men's Basketball

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

April 10, 2008 at 10:32 AM

Assessing the Pac

It’s fairly insane to try to guess what might happen next year at this early date.
But then it’s also insane to offer college basketball coaches $6 million, as Oklahoma State is reportedly doing to Bill Self.
And hey, it’s all part of the drill these days, right, to start speculating about next year the minute one year ends?
So here is my first look at the Pac-10 next season in order of finish (subject to multiple changes):
1, UCLA — Best guess is that Kevin Love and Darren Collison are gone and that Josh Shipp and Luc Mbah a Moute return (and who really knows yet about Russell Westbrook). Should Westbrook return, UCLA will be a no-brainer to pick at the top. Even if he leaves, and the rest return, UCLA should still be the favorite considering a standout recruiting class and a proven philosophy. (Here’s a good update on UCLA’s current situation).
2, Arizona State — Everybody’s back, and that should be a big advantage next season in a conference that doesn’t figure to be as deep or strong as it was this year. James Harden should take the next step to stardom, Jeff Pendergraph could be the best defensive player in the conference, and the rest of the cast should be able to provide a little better support.
3, USC — O.J. Mayo is gone (was there ever really any doubt?) but sounds like Taj Gibson and Davon Jefferson could be back. If so, those two (as well as Daniel Hackett and some other quality guys) will welcome the nation’s top-recruit, swingman Demar DeRozan, who may be an even better fit than was Mayo.
4, Cal — Taking a hunch here that the addition of Mike Montgomery may also compel Ryan Anderson to return. If so, Bears could take a pretty big leap as they seemed to almost play better this year without DeVon Hardin, indicating they won’t miss him all that much. Return-to-health of Theo Robertson will help, and Montgomery should add a defensive emphasis missing this year.
5, Arizona — A really hard team to assess until we know if Chase Budinger stays. If he goes, Arizona will drop in this ranking. If not, a trio of Budinger, Jordan Hill and Brandon Jennings will make the Wildcats more than capable of a top five finish. And don’t forget that the Wildcats are also bringing in two quality freshmen big men in center Jeff Withey and forward Emmanuel Negedu.
6, Washington — Return of just about everyone plus the addition of three guards that should solidify the backcourt will make the Huskies again a contender for an NCAA Tournament berth. If one or more of the young big guys makes a big leap in production (or an immediate impact in the case of the freshmen) Huskies could climb higher (especially if the team figures out a way to make free throws again).
7, Washington State — Cougars lose a lot, but they aren’t going to fall off the edge of the earth, either, bringing in a solid recruiting class and possibly getting some big help from guys who sat out this season such as Fabian Boeke and Abe Lodwick. And there are yet more stories saying DeAngelo Casto wants to become a Cougar.But it figures to take some time to adjust to life with Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver.
8, Oregon — Ducks could finish a whole lot higher than this if a fabulous recruiting class pays immediate dividends. And the Ducks are still hoping to add standout local point guard Brad Tinsley, which might solve a lot of their playmaking problems. But the Ducks lose a lot of production and experience and the M.O. at Oregon under Ernie Kent has been that even the best of classes take a year or two to mature.
9, Stanford — Really hard to judge right now given the coaching uncertainty. Stanford brings in some decent players but the loss of the Lopez Twins will obviously be hard to overcome quickly — and until we know who the coach is, hard to figure exactly how they plan to do it. Speaking of their coaching situation, Jon Wilner has another good piece assessing what went wrong with Trent Johnson and what happens now.
10, Oregon State — Still a mess, and we still wonder why they didn’t go with Ken Bone, though at least there’s now the off-chance that the future President of the United States will be in attendance. The Corvallis Gazette-Times is reporting that there is no chance that C.J. Giles will be back and that he is preparing for a pro career.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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