Category Archives: Ten of the Pac-10

Ten of the Pac-10: Long Term Stability

10. USC

They almost were not number ten because have Dwight Lewis and Alex Stephenson on the roster, meaning that they have some sort of shot at being competitive in the Pac-10 this year. With a somewhat positive year they can allow new coach Kevin O’Neill to go out and bring some guys in and assure them that being a Trojan will not be a complete failure in their four years on campus.

The problem with USC is a lack of passion behind the program from fans and the athletic department, it will always have the least amount of history compared to their California rivals, and it will always be a second thought compared to football. Recruits will not sign up for that, as Tim Floyd proved, the only way they would is if they were being paid to.

O’Neill however is a big problem for the future of the program. I just do not see him being a Pac-10 coach that will go out and lead the Trojans to the NCAA Tournament on a consistent basis or be among the top-five in the conference annually. Maybe a good season here or there, but nothing significant. In his one seasons as Arizona’s interim coach he was incredibly testy with his players, leading to unhappiness among players who expected to be playing under a legend in Lute Olson when they signed their letter of intent.

I remember people out of L.A. were saying the USC wanted to make a splash with their next coaching hire, a national guy. Names such as Jamie Dixon and Jeff Capel were being raised as potential targets. It was a ludicrous idea from the beginning that one of those guys would leave great situations for a future of sanctions that will be placed on the Trojans very soon as a result of Floyd’s wrongdoings.

USC basketball may witnessed its peak under Floyd, it does not look good in L.A.

9. Oregon

After last season’s debacle, it is pretty amazing to see Ernie Kent is still the man leading the charge in Mac Court’s final season. Some have speculated that it was new A.D. Mike Bellotti wanting to protect his friend in his first year in his new job, but I have always wondered why Duck fans have wanted Kent out so often. The guy has delivered in the past, most recently an Elite Eight run in 2007 (although I would have understood a firing after last season).

The team has some nice players to build off of, most notably big man Michael Dunigan who could be a force for the next three years in the Pac-10. But any time there is a coaching situation that is up in the air, the long term outlook for a team is normally bleak and recruiting normally suffers. Use our Husky football team last year with Tyrone Willingham as an example. It took a very long time to pick up a commitment, and after Keith Price became the first to jump on only a few were willing to make a verbal commitment to a program that would have a new coach by the time they would arrive on campus.

It is no different for the Ducks as they have yet to pick up a recruit for the 2010 class, something that is very concerning for Kent if he wants to keep his job and for the future of the basketball program as any potential successor will be left scrambling and filling spots with players not necessarily Pac-10 quality basketball players.

If Kent can lead the team to a fifth or sixth place finish, maybe he can keep his job and earn one more year to get back to the top of the standings. He has proven he can recruit in the past, and if recruits can believe he will be coaching them when they arrive in Eugene then the Ducks have a future.

But right now Duck fans and the athletic department are probably fantasizing about the idea of opening up the new basketball arena with a new head coach to bring some excitement back to Eugene.

8. Stanford

The Cardinal are near the bottom of this list for many reasons, but no reason is bigger than head coach Johnny Dawkins.

Stanford has proven in the past that it can be an outstanding team on the national level. Some of the most obvious being the near undefeated season in 2003 that was so “rudely” interrupted by the Huskies and the 2008 team in Trent Johnson’s final season as head coach.

Dawkins is not the longterm future as head coach because he will always be next in line for the Duke job once Mike Krzyzewski retires. It will be incredibly difficult for Stanford to achieve any long term success with the possibility of Dawkins leaving is possible at any time.

While Stanford was able to recently gain two commitments in local standouts John Gage and Aaron Bright, they will likely never be the leading players of a tournament or conference title winning team. Stock will lie in Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown to take the team to the top.

In a day when the relationship between coach and player is by far the most important aspect of a player’s recruitment (i.e. Memphis and John Calipari), it will be much more difficult for Dawkins to continually bring in high caliber guys when the players could doubt if he will even be around before they graduate. Especially if the Cardinal fail to put together a couple of successful seasons in a row, which is doubtful with the current outlook of the team.

7. Arizona State

I have a lot of faith in Herb Sendek and love him as a coach, but it appears that a perfect storm is brewing to the point where it will be more difficult than before to lead the Sun Devils back to among the top in the conference. Losing James Harden is a fatal blow to most teams who do not have someone immediately behind to take over as the star of the team. Add the loss of Jeff Pendegraph, one of the most under-appreciated players in the Pac-10 in his career (he got love, but he was a bona fide star for the Sun Devils), and it should be a long season for Sendek and the Sun Devils.

But what is most concerning for Arizona State is the rise of the Arizona program once again. Sean Miller was the perfect choice for the Wildcats, and it appears he has them ready to completely own the state once again. It is no surprise that Arizona State was able to improve and become the Pac-10 title contenders they were while Arizona was going through its most difficult period in a long time.

Sendek will have to bring in some stellar recruits over the next two years if he wants to see the Sun Devils be a perennial challenger for the title.

6. Oregon State

There are two reasons why Oregon State is not higher on the list despite the incredible debut of Craig Robinson as head coach last season. The first is the idea that Robinson may not be the head coach for Oregon State if he continues to have such great success. Any big time school that has a position will be salivating at the idea of adding him as coach and willing to offer him the national spotlight and big money. The second is that it is hard to recruit players to Corvallis in a state that is more willing to rock the green and yellow as opposed to the black and orange.

Robinson did everything right last season to get the Beavers back to respectability, but the next step is more difficult than the first, and that is making the Beavers into a potential conference champion. To do that he needs to recruit, and while he had success in his first class by bringing in a guy like Roberto Nelson, until he gets to the top of the conference it will be tough to convince top tier players to turn down schools in bigger markets with more recent success in the NCAA tournament.

But if anyone can get it done, its Robinson. I just find it hard to picture him staying the coach at Oregon State if he continues to succeed, and right now he is all that is going for them for any hope for the future.

If Robinson stays long term, the Beavers are higher on the list. If the Beavers take the next step and make it to the tournament and Robinson takes a job elsewhere, put them right next to Stanford on this list.

5. Washington State

Washington State has a pretty darn good chance at being a pretty consistent NCAA tournament team. It may be because I think that Ken Bone could become one of the top coaches in the country; I just see him as a guy that will be at Washington State a long time and it is known that he can coach very well based on what he was able to accomplish with Portland State and his stay in Montlake as an assistant.

Losing someone like Taylor Rochstie is always hard to replace, as well as solid contribution guys like Caleb “Sucker Punch” Forrest and Daven Harmeling. But there are some nice young pieces that have higg upside for Bone to work with.

Bone will be coaching a pretty good team this year with some solid recruits coming in. Klay Thompson is the obvious guy that gives Washington State some serious potential, as well as DeAngelo Casto, someone who dominated high school basketball when playing for Ferris. But don’t sleep on Reggie Moore, he has the ability to become one of the better guards in the conference if he can reach his potential. A backcourt of Moore and Thompson could become one of the best in the conference in the next few years.

If Bone can bring in the recruits then the Cougs could become someone that is among the top-5 in the conference annually and occasionally challenge for the top spot. But that is the tought part for any Cougar coach, convincing 18-year-olds that Pullman is a great place to live.

Bone definitely has nice young foundation to build off of in his first season as a Pac-10 head coach.

4. California

The Golden Bears have a lot of good things going for them right now. Mike Montgomery has them positioned to potentially win the Pac-10 this year, they are gaining national recognition in polls right now, and they have one of the best backcourts in the country in Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher.

Before Montgomery took over it is very unlikely Cal would ever be this high on a list when discussing the future of Pac-10 teams, but Montgomery is one of the best college coaches in the country and turned the Golden Bears around quicker than anyone expected.

If Cal can make a tournament run into at least the Sweet Sixteen, then recruits will have much more motivation to moving to the Bay. Montgomery has begun to assemble a nice 2010 class with the likes of Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin signing on to be maybe the next great backcourt for Cal.

The only way it appears Cal could lose is if he is unable to convince recruits from attending the next three schools on our list. He was already able to convince Franklin to turn down Arizona and forward Richard Solomon turned down Boston College, but there will be more recruiting battles in the future if Montgomery wants to make Cal into a national title contender. One thing that is for certain is that no matter what, in California, the Golden Bears will always be the little brother to the Bruins of UCLA.

3. Arizona

The Wildcats made out like bank robbers in hiring Sean Miller to be the coach for the foreseeable future. Miller already was leading a very successful Xavier team, but now walks into a situation where he will be leading a program with national prominence, a stellar history, and strong recruiting base. With what he was able to accomplish at Xavier, it could be dangerous what he will do with a school with the stature of Arizona.

While at the end of last year I thought Arizona would be among the cellar dwellers of the Pac-10, even with Miller, the new Arizona coach has made me think twice by bringing in a highly ranked recruiting class and convincing Nic Wise to stay another year. It will be tough for Arizona to win games, especially with a lack of post presence now that Jordan Hill is off with the New York Knicks, but with Wise they will always be able to at least compete in any game they play.

Long term the future is very bright. They are among the favorites for Ray McCallum, one of the top remaining players for 2010. Miller proved he could recruit at Xavier, now imagine what he will be able to do with a school like Arizona. Could be scary.

After a brief hiatus, it appears the Arizona program is back on track to once again be one of the perennial favorites to win the conference.

2. Washington

Lorenzo Romar has brought the Huskies to a level of stature in the college basketball world many thought never would be possible. Once an average program at best, Washington is now on the fringe at becoming a perennial tournament team that can challenge for a Final Four run any year.

The run-and-gun system just flat out works for the Huskies, and that is what the team is back to doing, reminiscent of the Brandon Roy/Nate Robinson days. With a backcourt of Abdul Gaddy and Isaiah Thomas the Huskies will be in position to beat almost any team in the country, both have the ability to take over games at any time.

The biggest thing that the Huskies have going for them is Romar. It appears as if he could be a lifer as coach for the Huskies, no other job interests him because he has his dream job at his alma mater. The Kings came calling, but he politely turned them down. With his offensive style of play and defensive tenacity, that will not be the last time the NBA comes calling, but Romar is where he wants to be.

The other big thing going for Washington is the local talent that has made the Seattle area one of the best places in the country for basketball. Aaron Brooks, Jon Brockman, Will Conroy, Jamal Crawford, Aaron Dotson, Spencer Hawes, Adam Morrison, Venoy Overton, Luke Ridnour, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Terry, Marvin Williams, Martell Webster, Terrence Williams, Avery Bradley, Peyton Siva, Josh Smith, Tony Wroten, Gaddy, and Thomas are all some of the names that have come out of the area over the past decade. Romar has the ability to tap into the recruiting base whenever which should ensure that the Huskies are able to stay near the top of the conference. Romar has proven to be one of the best recruiters in the country, so convincing even prominent out of state players could become more likely.

Washington has a bright future, I continue to say that someday the team will be playing on Lorenzo Romar court. It could be fun for a long time Dawg fans.

1. UCLA

While the may not win the title every year, I do not see the Bruins ever relinquishing this top spot. At least for a very long time.

UCLA has everything, which is why it is one of the top programs in the country and maybe the best program of all time. Recruits are just drawn to the team because of its history, market, prominence, and ability to challenge for a Final Four every year. This a school that fired Steve Lavin when he made the Sweet Sixteen almost every year as a head coach and was released after one stinker of a season.

Under Ben Holwand the great recruiting and winning have only continued. Like I said in the “NEXT”article, there appears to be an interesting rivalry brewing between the Bruins and the Huskies. But for now UCLA can say they beat out the Huskies in this category.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ten of the Pac-10

Ten of the Pac-10: Offensive Prowess

10. Stanford

This is a team that had little offensive fire power to begin with, and then they lose their top two scorers in Anthony Goods and Lawrence Hill.

Under Johnny Dawkins the Cardinal have failed to impress at any level, and it appears like it might be a long time before they begin to see some improvement based on recruiting (although the commitments of John Gage and Aaron Bright, two local prep stars, do help).

The Cardinal are last on this list because, well it is difficult to see exactly who will lead the Cardinal on their offensive attack outside of Landry Fields.

Fields was the third leading scorer for Stanford last season, and the incoming senior will probably be facing a an absurd amount of defensive focus from opposing teams because of the lack of talent around him.

But in reality, there is little to say about Stanford because none of their players really stand out.

If Josh Owens, an incoming junior forward, and Jeremy Green, an incoming sophomore, do not step up it will be terribly long season in Paolo Alto.

I have determined that Dawkins’ stay at Stanford should officially be dubbed, “Just waiting on Coach K era.” The hire never really made sense to me, the moment that Coach K retires from Durham, Dawkins will be heading back to the east coast and coaching his alma mater.

At least they have a cool mascot.

9. USC

This will become a trend on any of these lists of top ten, get used to seeing the Trojans at or near the bottom.

Its obvious at first, they have lost almost everyone (and I don’t expect Lil Romeo to have a breakout season.)

While most people will point to DeMar DeRozan’s departure to the NBA, I believe the most significant loss was Daniel Hackett who was a top tier point guard in the Pac-10. Hackett was basically dynamite from wherever, shooting the ball, driving, or setting up plays for his teammates. I believe I have discussed my fondness for Hackett’s game before, but I have thought for as long as he was on the USC campus that they would be able to challenge for the NCAA tournament any year. He was the glue, the wood, and whatever you want to build, of that team.

So yes they lose the amazing talent and potential of DeRozan, they lose their most important player in Hackett, they lose another great player in Taj Gibson who I would argue again was even more valuable than DeRozan because of what he brought offensively.

There will be two players who will be the offense (literally). Leading scorer from last season Dwight Lewis comes back, and fortunately for USC he did. Lewis does not have the greatest pro potential, so leaving early for the NBA made little sense for him. He will command the ball on offense the majority of the time because of the lack of talent in Los Angeles.

Alex Stephenson, the transfer from North Carolina, will be the other player who will play with the most pressure to preform offensively. Stephenson I’m sure is regretting his move to USC after everything that has transpired there, but will be forced to step up and play a vital role if USC has any (and that any is incredibly long) chance at being a successful basketball team.

USC was going to depend on recruits such as Solomon Hill and Noel Johnson, but with the turmoil almost the entire recruiting class bolted for greener pastures.

It should be a miserable season in Los Angeles.

8. Arizona State

The post James Harden era is going to be ugly for the Sun Devils at the beginning.

Without the face of their athletic program Arizona State will almost definitely have a down year, but with Herb Sendek’s history it should not take long to turn it around.

I have ASU higher than Stanford and USC though because of their potential, which USC and especially Stanford lack.

Although they lose Harden and Jeff Pendegraph, the Sun Devils return Rihards Kuksiks, one of the more interesting players in the conference who was third for ASU in scoring during his sophomore season. Ty Abbott is also a player who has great potential and could end up being a leader for the team because of his shooting and scoring ability.

Kuksiks and Abbott are complimented by Derek Glasser, who I don’t like, but can shoot from basically anywhere on the court. Then Jamele McMillian is a classic point guard who should be able to distribute effectively.

So there is not much there for the Sun Devils, but they could make things interesting offensively.

7. Washington State

If any Cougar fans read this I’m sure they will be up in arms about being so low. Average responses from a Cougar fan would probably be something like this…

“We have Klay Thompson!”, “Thompson makes Thomas look like poo!”, “Klay is sooooooooo underrated, we actually have basketball players instead of athletes”, “OMG, we have Klay this list is stupid”, “Klay is basically the most complete player ever, this is so biased for Huskies its not even funny.”

Yes, Klay Thompson is a great basketball player there is little debating that. However he is not the second coming of Jerry West+Michael Jordan+Wilt Chamberlain like some Cougars make him out to be.

The reality is that the Cougars have lost a “poo”load of players from last season. Most importantly were the departures of Taylor Rochestie and Aaron Baynes, but Caleb Forrest and Daven “Sucker Punch” Harmeling also have left the Palouse.

The Cougars will not have much of an offensive attack besides Thompson and DeAngelo Casto.

The only reason why they are this high is because of fondness for Ken Bone, who I think is just an amazing basketball coach and will find some way to get a couple of kids to step up.

Perhaps it is blind faith, I can’t even guess who those players will be that step up. But with Thompson, Casto, and whoever Ken Bone is able to make a great player, the Cougars should not be completely handicapped offensively.

6. Oregon State

What a difference a coach makes.

A year ago this team would probably be last in about every list possible that could be thought of for these “Ten of the Pac-10”, but Craig Robinson has made me into a believer.

The Beavers are fortunate in that almost all of their significant players are coming back for another season and they are able to add a somewhat surprisingly good recruiting class.

Everyone’s favorite player from the Netherlands, Roeland Schaftenaar is back for a senior season and will likely lead the team in scoring once again with Calvin Haynes.

But the Beavers are also able to keep Seth Tarver and Lathen Wallace for awhile longer.

This team is loaded with players entering their final year, and this could (I can’t believe I’m saying this) be a tournament team.

They are lower on this list though because they are a team that is primarily a defensive team. OSU averaged 60 PPG last season, and while there is likely going to be a slight increase because they have gained experience from last season, it wont be enough to make them the next Showtime Lakers team.

This team lives off defense, and their season might live a little longer than usual.

5. Oregon

Oregon will be terrible, I’m pretty certain that is something everyone will agree with. But they will not be as terrible as last season, and actually have some nice offensive weapons at their disposal.

Of course Tajuan Porter is one of the biggest reasons why as Mighty Mouse 2.0 is basically insane at scoring the ball. While he is insanely bad defensively, very few can keep up with the rate this kid puts the ball in the basket.

I’m more interested in the growth of LeKendrick Longmire and Michael Dunigan. If both of those players can continue to develop and live up to their potential, two years from now it is not ridiculous to think Oregon will making their way back up the standings.

Dunigan is the x-factor however as he is an extremely skilled big man who has the potential to be special. Last season he averaged only 8.4 points per game in his freshman season, but there is absolutely no way that the 6’10” center will not be able to improve on that. He could be a lethal inside threat for the Ducks in a conference that lacks big man talent.

Longmire is going to be the off ball specialist and should be prepping to put up a lot of jump shots. Longmire shot a very impressive 42% from the three point line on 62 attempts. Longmire also has the 6’5″ the length to continue to improve his game overall.

Then keep an eye out for Kamyron Brown and Drew Wiley, both could surprise.

It will be a tough season for the Ducks, they should be pretty respectable offensively though. Don’t expect Ernie Kent to return though, I’m sure Phil Knight will want a headliner coach when the new basketball arena opens.

4. UCLA

UCLA has a bunch of guys who are going to have to prove themselves, but have the potential to be special.

While at their worst the team probably falls in this same spot because of how special talent is, the team has nice offensive weapons to make any team in the country sweat.

Drew Gordon and Malcolm Lee should end up being two of the primary scorers for the Bruins, giving them a nice inside-out combo.

But the main question marks will be Bobo Morgan, Jerime Anderson, and Tyler Honeycutt. All three of these prospects have the opportunity to be great players and contribute to a strong bruins offense, but all three (or in the case of Honeycutt, have not player) do not have significant minutes at the college level to really be 100% about them.

I believe that Gordon is more than able to carry the Bruins somewhat. Ben Howland liked him as a player last season when there were many seniors on the roster. But his defensive game is much stronger than his offensive, so how much he developed his game for the upcoming season will impact the Bruins overall prowess.

UCLA will win a lot of games this year, it just wont be with their offense.

3. Arizona

Arizona loses their top two scorers, but this is a team with established players to build off of, and Sean Miller was able to bring in a very respectable freshman class in his first season in Tucson.

Nic Wise will be the leader of the team, there is no doubting that. Wise pulled his name out of the NBA draft to stay for another season with the Wildcats, and will be leaned on heavily to provide veteran scoring and leadership.

But around Wise there are nice complimentary players that make Arizona an intriguing team.

Zane Johnson should provide lights out shooting, Jamelle Horne is going to step up and should be a solid contributor in a Quincy Pondexter type role, Kyle Fogg could make for an interesting backcourt with Wise, and freshman Solomon Hill should be a valuable add.

Many, including myself, saw little chance of Arizona coming out of their “rut” so quickly. It appears they already have done so and are more than prepared for a great future under Sean Miller.

2. California

It is incredibly close between the final two, but I have to give Washington the edge over Cal.

Jerome Randle is a hell of a player and will fight with Isaiah Thomas to be the leading scorer in the conference in all likelihood. We really saw what Randle could do during the Cal game in Seattle last season as he carried the team to a victory.

Their team is returning almost everyone, and it really is hard to talk about Cal because they are just flat out good. Jerome Randle is good, Patrick Christopher is good, Jamal Boykin is good. Almost everyone on that roster is good.

I hate putting UW ahead of Cal because I don’t want everyone to believe I’m biased, but there is only one reason why I placed the Huskies over Cal.

1. Washington

Abdul Gaddy is going to add a ridiculous ammount of offensive efficency next season. Add that with Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Elston Turner, and a spot up shooter like C.J. Wilcox, its just hard for me not to believe that this will be the top offensive team in the conference, even one of the top in the country.

I’m not even factoring what Tyreese Breshers could add. I have this feeling Breshers will have a lot of those “will baskets”, meaning he just scores points because he’s scrappy and has more will to get the job done than a lot of the players on the court.

How crucial was it that Breshers was also around Jon Brockman for at least one season? Talk about someone to model your game after, Breshers is in the same boat as Brockman being an undersized power forward who has to utilize his effort to get the job done. Hopefully Brockman gave him some pointers because having someone with that attitude can do nothing but good for a basketball team.

Get ready for a fast break, Montlake (intended).

1 Comment

Filed under Ten of the Pac-10

Ten of the Pac-10: Ranking the Coaches

Everyone loves lists. They are always debatable, everyone has an opinion, and they are easy to relate to. So in effort to continue to add more content to the basketball coverage for RealDawg, I figure a bunch of lists would provide some information and entertainment for the readers. It just so happens that being in the Pac-10 it works out perfectly as normally everyone enjoys, well, the top ten of anything.

So here’s the first entry of something I will call “Ten of the Pac-10.” It may or may not make sense at first, but that is the only catchy title I can come up with so far.

I will base the rankings off of history and potential.

10. Whoever takes over at USC

Whoever has the bravery (stupidity may be the better word) to take over a program in such great trouble will have as much of a daunting task turning around a basketball program that no one has faced before.

It has to be someone who is an unbelievable recruiter to convince the talent rich L.A. market to jump aboard an already sunken ship.

Someone from the L.A. Times threw out a name such as Jamie Dixon, but that has about as high of a chance of happening as Lil Romeo ever being considered a legitimate college basketball player.

Expect someone like Memphis hired in Josh Pastner, a young and energetic coach who will recruit out of his mind.

Master P may be on the phone with USC right now trying to secure the position. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Ten of the Pac-10