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Husky Men's Basketball

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

June 16, 2008 at 7:40 PM

Re-assessing the Pac

So now that we know for sure who is staying and who is going, time to rate the teams again based on their outlook heading into the 2008-09 season.
1, UCLA — Despite big losses, could have been a lot worse for the Bruins, who retain Darren Collison and Josh Shipp but lose Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Russell Westbrook. They also recently added to their already best-in-the-nation recruiting class with center J’Mison Morgan. The clear team to beat in the Pac-10 next season and again a contender for the Final Four. SI.com referred to UCLA as one of the winners of the off-season after tallying up all of their moves.
2, Arizona State — The decisions of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph to not even think about the NBA gave ASU one of the calmest off-seasons of any team in the conference. The big question may be whether an ASU team that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2003 can handle all the hype.
3, Arizona — So after all the dust settled, Arizona will return three of its top four scorers from last season in Chase Budinger, Nic Wise — who each debated leaving school for different reasons — and Jordan Hill, who combined to score 39 points a game in 2008. Then add in uber-recruit guard Brandon Jennings and through all the seeming turmoil, the Wildcats look to again be a team that won’t be deep, but should have the frontline talent to contend if UCLA slips at all.
4, USC — The biggest personnel issue left to be resolved in the conference is the eligibility of USC incoming freshman Demar Derozan, a 6-7 forward considered one of the top recruits in the country. His latest test score was a big improvement, however, and speculation is that he will likely make it in. USC also returns three starters in Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson and should still be an NCAA tourney team despite the loss of O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson.
5, Washington — Since our last rankings, all of UW’s eligibility issues among its freshmen have been resolved, so the Huskies move up a few spots as the addition of the three guards combined with the return of Jon Brockman for his senior season makes Washington a team that has legitimate NCAA tourney aspirations.
6, Cal — The Bears slip a few spots with the loss of Ryan Anderson. Still, count me as one who thinks the addition of Mike Montgomery will mean a lot to this team. And don’t forget that the Bears should return the services of forward Theo Robertson, who missed last season due to injury after starting every game in 2007. That means Cal essentially returns three starters in Robertson, swingman Patrick Christopher and point guard Jerome Randle.
7, Washington State — The big question in Pullman is whether one of the best recruiting classes in school history can make up for the loss of three seniors who comprised most of what was undoubtedly one of the most important classes in school history. No way the Cougars don’t slide a bit, but the foundation seems solid enough to prevent a fullscale retreat, as well.
8, Oregon — In similar boat as Cougars, losing three senior starters but also welcoming a much-hyped recruiting class. Ducks got a late addition for next year in point guard Garrett Sim of Portland who got out of his LOI to Cal after the firing of Ben Braun, giving them six incoming freshmen, all who could contribute to some degree next year. Ernie Kent’s track record, however, is that it usually takes him a year or two to break in large groups of new players. Given the rumblings surrounding Kent, there may be no more interesting team to watch in the conference next year than Oregon.
9, Stanford — A long fall for the Cardinal. But the loss of the Lopez Twins as well as the strange change in in coaches seems to auger for a tough season in Palo Alto next year.
10, Oregon State — New coach Craig Robinson seems to be making a lot of good moves so far. And some of the talent here (Omari Johnson, Lathen Wallace, the Tarvers) is intriguing. But hard to see how they climb out of the cellar next year.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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