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January 6, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Pac-10 Picks … including the Washington game

Nice job by udubinit who won last week’s Guess the UW Score contest. Washington beat UCLA 74-63 and udubinit predicted the Huskies would win 75-62.
As a reminder, we’re offering a choice of prizes. Either a hot dog and soft drink at a UW game or a promotional coupon for the 2010-11 Husky basketball app.
Let’s take a look at today’s games. (Times are local to site)
Oregon at Washington, 5:30 p.m. (FSN NW)
Stanford at Arizona State, 6:30 p.m. (FSAZ)
Oregon State at Washington State, 7 p.m.
California at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. (FSN)
Picks: ASU, WSU and Arizona
Record: 4-3 Pac-10, 68-25 overall (There’s a typo in the previous pick)

The Huskies 85-60.
Don’t think I’ve ever predicted a 25-point conference win, but I feel I’m being a little conservative with this pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington scored five more points and Oregon scored 10 fewer because this has the makings of a record-setting blowout.
For starters, the Ducks are playing just their second game outside of Oregon and they’re entering one of the most hostile venues in the Pac-10. In their only other true road game, they lost 63-48 at Virginia. That’s the same Cavaliers team Washington routed 106-63 on a neutral court in Maui.
The Ducks are also an up-tempo team, which should cater towards Washington’s style. Oregon wants to run up and down the court and the Huskies will be willing to make the game a track meet. Both teams are relatively shorthanded – UW has nine scholarship players and UO 10 – but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Oregon wants to press full court, which could be a recipe for disaster against Washington, which is led by junior guard Isaiah Thomas, who is a Pac-10 MVP candidate. The Huskies also have senior guard Venoy Overton to help with the ball handling. They’re missing Abdul Gaddy and that’s a significant blow especially in this type of game when the guard’s decision making is going to be tested on every possession. Still, Thomas and Overton are upperclassmen who have faced stiffer tests and succeeded in the past. There’s no reason one or both of them shouldn’t exploit an Oregon backcourt that includes two newcomers in 5-foot-8 freshman Jonathan Loyd and 5-10 transfer Jay-R Stowbridge.
Oregon is small. The Ducks have one player taller than 6-9 and that’s 6-10 freshman center Martin Seiferth, who hasn’t played in the past four games. He’s a deep reserve whose only played limited minutes in eight games. Oregon’s leading rebounders are a pair of 6-6 forwards Joevan Catron and E.J. Singler and they’re giving up a lot of size against 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye and 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning. In its previous game, Oregon benched 6-8 junior forward Jeremy Jacob and rolled out a three-guard lineup in its last game against Arizona State. Not sure if going small is a wise tactic against Washington.
After 14 games, the Ducks are still learning about themselves and new coach Dana Altman. A couple of weeks ago, Altman admitted his system isn’t second nature with some key players. That probably explains why Oregon has had four different starting lineups in the past four games.
I spoke with junior guard Malcolm Armstead this week and he’s excited about the many changes in Oregon. However, he admitted he wasn’t convinced early, which is why he asked to be released from his scholarship when Altman was hired.
“When I came here, it was under a different set of circumstances and I just wanted to make sure all of that would still be there with this new coaching staff,” Armstead said. “And he assured me I could still do the things I did before and more.”
In reality Armstead has regressed ever since he torched the Huskies for 21 points while leading Oregon to a 90-79 win last season at Hec Ed. In the rematch in Eugene, Ore., he finished with just nine points on 4-for-13 shooting. This season, he’s averaging 6.9 points, which is 3.4 points fewer than last season. He’s also averaging 3.7 assists and that’s down from last year’s 4.3 assists average.
The statistics also point to a UW landslide. The Huskies are second in the Pac-10 allowing opponents to shoot 39.7 percent from the field and Oregon is last in the conference with a 41.4 percent field goal shooting percentage. The Huskies are the best three-point shooting team in the conference at 41.2 percent and the Ducks are ninth in three-point defense. Oregon’s defensive strength is creating steals, however, Washington has the fewest turnovers in the Pac-10.
And finally these teams are going in different directions.
No. 23 Washington (10-3, 2-0 Pac-10) leads the Pac-10 race, has won four straight and is eyeing a conference championship while Oregon (7-7, 0-2) is last in the conference, has lost four straight and touts a fantastic recruiting class that bodes well for the future.

Comments | Topics: Abdul Gaddy, UCLA


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