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March 1, 2010 at 2:25 PM

An early look at the Pac-10 postseason awards

Just one week remains for players with postseason awards aspirations to make an impression on the Pac-10 coaches. The conference will distribute ballots this week and they’re due noon Sunday. The Pac-10 will announce the winners next Monday.
We’ll delve more into this after the regular season, but there’s a couple of players who need a strong finish to secure a place on the postseason teams.
The Player of the Year race has three legitimate candidates: Washington’s Quincy Pondexter, California’s Jerome Randle and Stanford’s Landry Fields. It’s a dead heat at the moment with Randle holding a slight edge because he wins the best-player-on-the-best-team argument.
Pondexter and Randle weren’t very good in their last outing scoring just seven points in wins while Fields tallied 24 points and six rebounds in a defeat.
Coaches are human and they’ll remember the last thing they see when voting in this race. Pondexter has as slight advantage because he plays twice this week, while Randle and Fields square off in the regular-season finale at Stanford.
The Freshman of the Year race is less complicated because Arizona’s Derrick Williams looks as if he’s sewn up the award. He’s also a lock for the all-Freshman team along with Washington State’s Reggie Moore and UCLA’s Reeves Nelson.
The other two spots are open and there’s a host of candidates including UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt, Arizona’s Kevin Parrom and Lamont Jones, ASU’s Trent Lockett, Oregon’s E.J. Singler and Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham.
Most years the all-Defensive team is the most difficult to select and this season is no different. Some favorites include: USC’s Dwight Lewis, Oregon State’s Seth Tarver, Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto and a pair of Huskies Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton. Honeycutt, Cal’s Patrick Christopher, Arizona’s Nic Wise and USC’s Nikola Vucevic also deserve consideration.
Last year the Pac-10 coaches decided to choose a 10-player first team and a five-player second team. They’ll do the same thing this year, eliminating what might have been intriguing debates if they had chosen a traditional five-member first, second and third teams.
If it was a five-man first team, it would have been interesting to see what the coaches would do with Washington State sophomore Klay Thompson who was a shoo-in choice a month ago. He’s faded in recent weeks and in the past three games, he’s connected on 4 of 31 shots from the field.
A week ago, Arizona State junior Ty Abbott was inching into the POY debate because he’s the most explosive player on a Sun Devils team that could still claim a share of the Pac-10 title. Last week, however, he missed 16 of 24 shots and averaged nine points when ASU got a split in the Bay Area.
Thompson ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring against conference-only opponents with a 15.6 average. Abbott is eighth at 15.5.
Despite their recent struggles, they’ve done enough to earn a spot on a 10-man first-team as well as Stanford sophomore Jeremy Green, Washington sophomore Isaiah Thomas and Williams.
Christopher was first-team choice last season, but many would argue Bears senior Theo Robertson is more deserving this season. Their statistics are comparable. Even if Cal wins the title outright, it’s difficult to imagine the Bears would have three all-conference players. UCLA had three all-conference players (Kevin Love, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook) in 2007-08 and Arizona (Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise) did it last season.
Players who are on the all-conference team bubble includes: Cal senior Jamal Boykin, Oregon senior Tajuan Porter, UCLA seniors Michael Roll and Nikola Dragovic, ASU senior Eric Boateng, Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto and Moore and Arizona’s Kyle Fogg and Wise.
They need strong finishes to make the postseason team. Porter had a 29-point outburst last Saturday at UCLA and another similar display would help his cause.
And finally, Cal’s Mike Montgomery may have won the Coach of the Year award last week when he guided the Bears to their first title in 50 years. He’s sure to get many sentimental votes. If Arizona State posts a pair of wins, then Herb Sendek should be in the running. The same goes for USC’s Kevin O’Neill and OSU’s Craig Robinson. With a pair of wins, the Beavers would finish 9-9, which would be their best conference record since 1993.
— Boykin won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award after leading Cal to a pair of wins. He averaged 17 points on 14-for-22 (64 percent) shooting from the floor and 8.5 rebounds.
Players nominated included: Jones, Boateng, Porter, Casto and UW’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
— Cal not only failed to crack the top 25, the Bears didn’t receive a vote from the writers and the coaches gave them two votes. It’s the eighth consecutive week the Pac-10 has been shutout of the national polls.

Comments | Topics: Reggie Moore, top 25, UCLA


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