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December 30, 2009 at 12:39 AM

Pac-10 predictions: Extreme Makeover edition

We’re going to skip the power rankings this week and re-visit the preseason predictions.
If you could push the reset button and make your postseason picks again, would you change anything knowing what you know now? Well that’s what I’m going to do.
Here’s the original preseason predictions.
And here’s my revised postseason picks and awards. You could also call this the pre-conference awards.
1. Washington (Record: 9-2, RPI rank: 9): The Huskies are the deepest team in the conference with an 11-man rotation that wears down opponents. Coach Lorenzo Romar says UW found an identity which is ball-hawking defense and sharing the basketball. I’d also add Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas to the winning equation.
Up next:Thursday vs. Oregon State; Saturday vs. Oregon.
2. California (8-4, 22): Will the real Cal Bears please stand up? Because of injuries, it feels like we’ve only gotten a glimpse of this team’s potential. And we still don’t know how coach Mike Montgomery plans to compensate for the lack of a big man.
Up next: Sat. vs Stanford.
3. USC (8-4, 45): The Trojans boast two of the top three rebounders in the conference in Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson. Newcomer Mike Gerrity was ruled eligible Dec. 18 and its no coincidence the Trojans won four games against teams with a combined 34-7 record when he’s in the lineup.
Up next: Thur. vs Arizona; Sat. vs. ASU.
4. Arizona State (10-3, 106): He won’t win, but Herb Sendek should garner many Coach of the Year voes because he gets the most out of a team that doesn’t have a player who averages at least 13 points per game. Without a true star, the Sun Devils win with the conference’s top scoring defense that allows 54.5 ppg.
Up next: Thur. at UCLA; Sat. USC.
5. Washington State (10-2, 54): The Cougars have the best record in the Pac-10, but I’m not sure if new coach Ken Bone has enough athletes to sustain the frenetic pace he’s got them playing at. It’s the same up-tempo offense at UW, but WSU doesn’t have that kind of depth. They Cougars have looked good against marginal competition – WSU’s strength of schedule is 194th – but I think they’ll fade in February.
Up next: Thur. vs. Oregon; Sat. vs. OSU.
6. Arizona (6-6, 77): It’s hard to take the Wildcats seriously because they’re so young. Only two players (Nic Wise and Jamelle Horne) aren’t freshmen or sophomores. Next season they’ll be a contender.
Up next: Thur. at USC; Sat. at UCLA.
7. Stanford (6-6, 168): It’s conceivable Landry Fields, who is second in the Pac-10 in scoring and rebounding and is arguably the conference top all-around player, could lift the Cardinal into the top half of the conference. High-scoring Jeremy Green gives Stanford the Pac-10’s second best 1-2 scoring combo.
Up next: Sat. at Cal.
8. UCLA (5-7, 246): The Bruins play eight times on Thursday or Wednesday. Guarantee they win at least five of those games because of coach Ben Howland. Give him five days to scheme and he’ll prepare a winning game plan.
Up next: Thur. vs. ASU; Sat. vs. Arizona.
9. Oregon (8-4, 212): The good news: The Ducks are finally healthy. The great news: The Ducks start conference play on a four-game winning streak. The bad news: The four opponents they beat have an 11-40 record. More bad news: The Ducks are riding a 12-game road losing streak.
Up next: Thur. at WSU; Sat. at UW.
10. Oregon State (6-5, 233): Okay, got to admit. Maybe I overestimated how much the Beavers would improve from last season. I also thought they’d have highly-touted freshman Roberto Nelson, who hasn’t played this season and will likely sit out because of eligibility issues.
Up next: Thur. at UW; Sat. at WSU.
POSTSEASON AWARDS:


Player of the Year: Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Coach of the Year: Kevin O’Neill, USC
Freshman of the Year: Derrick Williams, Arizona
Defensive Player of the Year: Landry Fields, Stanford
Most Improved Player of the Year: Klay Thompson, Washington State
Comment: Thompson is a lock here. Last season he averaged 12.5 points and he’s leading the conference at 25.0. The last player to score that much in the Pac-10 was USC’s Harold Miner (26.3 ppg) in 1991-92.
ALL-PAC-10
FIRST TEAM

Landry Fields, Stanford
Mike Gerrity, USC
Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Jerome Randle, Cal
Klay Thompson, Washington State
Comment: Fittingly, Gerrity was a late addition. He’s going to surprise a lot of people.
SECOND TEAM
Patrick Christopher, Cal
Jeremy Green, Stanford
Isaiah Thomas, Washington
Nikola Vucevic, USC
Nic Wise, Arizona
Comment: Wise or Thomas could easily move up to the first team. This may be a little high for Green if the Cardinal don’t improve.
THIRD TEAM
Jamal Boykin, Cal
Derek Glasser, Arizona State
Malcolm Lee, UCLA
Alex Stephenson, USC
Derrick Williams, Arizona
Comment: There’s at least 20 more players who could find themselves on the third team.
ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM
Jorge Gutierrez, Cal
Landry Fields, Stanford
Venoy Overton, Washington
Alex Stephenson, USC
Seth Tarver, Oregon State
Comment: Pondexter (4th in rebounding and steals and tied for 10th in blocks), WSU’s DeAngelo Casto (first in blocks, 7th in rebounds) and Vucevic (first in rebounds) are candidates.
ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM
Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Solomon Hill, Arizona
Reggie Moore, Washington State
Reeves Nelson, UCLA
Derrick Williams, Arizona
Comment: Moore and Nelson could replace Williams as Freshman of the Year.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, top 25, UCLA

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