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April 8, 2009 at 1:32 PM

First 2009-10 Pac-10 power poll

The college basketball season officially over, it’s time to start looking ahead.
So we’ll unveil our first, admittedly ridiculously early, Pac-10 power poll for the 2009-10 season, based on what at the moment are the most likely personnel situations for each team:
1, Cal — Bears will likely return all but Jordan Wilkes (Patrick Christopher has declared for the draft but is likely to come back for his senior season) and another season under Mike Montgomery should make the Bears only that much better. But Cal will be battling a lot of history — Bears haven’t won a conference title since 1960.
2, Washington — The defending champs suffer two big hits in Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon. But everybody’s taking some pretty significant losses this year. A highly-rated recruiting class will help soften the blow and keep the Huskies contending.
3, USC —- One of the harder teams to read right now. DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson figure to be gone, but everyone else could return and touted center Renardo Sidney is supposedly on the way. But no matter how it shakes out, Trojans should still be a contender for the top-half of the conference next year.
4, UCLA — The most uncertain Bruins team in about five years with the loss of three starters — and maybe four if Jrue Holiday turns pro. Still, in a down year for the conference the Bruins will remain competitive thanks in part to another good recruiting class.
5, Oregon State — The CBI is easy to make fun of. But winning it showed some real progress for this team, which is scheduled to return all but guard Ricky Claitt and has one of its best recruiting classes in years coming in with players not just pretty highly-regarded but also seeming perfect fits for the offense. This team could be good enough that it’s worth wondering if Barack Obama will soon be known as Craig Robinson’s brother-in-law.
6, Oregon — Here’s where it gets hard as the bottom five teams in the conference all have serious question marks. But we’ll assume a significant turnaround for the Ducks, who have a bevy of young talent returning and have shaken up the coaching staff with the addition of associate head coach Mike Dunlap, whose influence on this program could be huge.
7, Arizona State — Sun Devils lose James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, but for better or worse return everyone else and are still aggressively pursuing some reinforcements for next season. Still, hard not to imagine next year won’t be a rebuilding season.
8, Washington State — If new coach Ken Bone can keep all the recruits together, this could be a dangerous team, one that won’t face a lot of expectations. Still, hard to see where the scoring is going to come from other than Klay Thompson. But watch out in 2011.
9, Arizona — Another team really hard to read right now. You have to figure Sean Miller is going to bring in some players. But losing Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger and maybe Nic Wise seems to auger for a rebuilding season at best.
10, Stanford — Cardinal loses three starters and didn’t sign anyone in the early period, and finished ninth as it was this year. Even in only his second year Johnny Dawkins may begin to feel some heat.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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