Huskies kick off regular season, plus Pac-10 Hoops Round Up

Nov 15, 2010, 9:48 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

Husky Coach Lorenzo Romar talked on Tuesday about his team being a group of veterans, though there are key players that must adjust to high level play.

“We’re not young, but some of the key guys that we have haven’t really played basketball in awhile. Aziz (N’diaye) has been out a year, Terrence Ross has been out a year, and C.J. Wilcox hasn’t played basketball (because he red-shirted last season). Those guys are real key to what we’re trying to do, and once they understand what we’re trying to do, that’s when it’s easier for us all to jell.”

N’Diaye didn’t fare well, fouling out and having little impact in the exhibition game against St. Martin’s, but he did (according to numerous reports) play well in practices and previous scrimmages.

It was obvious to anyone that saw UW against the Saints last Saturday that Ross was the real deal, but many also commented that they would like to see him against better competition. The scout on Wilcox is that his shot is world class, but his handles are still suspect.

I didn’t notice them to be that bad during the McNeese game, so we’ll have to see on C.J. As the season progresses. His shot looked great against the Cowboys, after a so-so performance against St. Martins.

Much more will be known about these new puzzle pieces as well as others after the Dawgs face McNeese State this Saturday afternoon at 1PM (PST). Another newcomer, Desmond Simmons, appeared a little lost last weekend, so seeing if he responds better after his first outing will also be an important key to watch.

McNeese is a veteran team, though they were not good last year winning only 10 games in the lowly Southland Conference. Joe Dumars, the famous NBA champ and current executive, hails from McNeese and though they struggled last year the Cowboys came within one point of Texas Tech on the Red Raiders home floor 76-75.

UW also lost to TTech in overtime on the road, so one would not assume that this group of Cowboys are “yella-bellies”, to steal an old western movie cliche. Unfortunately for McNeese they looked pretty scared on game day.

Romar talked to the media, which you can see on, about his team needing to focus on rebounding after St. Martin’s out-rebounded the Dawgs handily last weekend 42-32. Co-Captains Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday’s post game comments were also podcasted by Gohuskies.

Thomas also mentioned that effort and urgency was a key for Washington moving forward.

“We’ve just got to play harder. That’s the main focus: playing hard for 40 minutes. We’ve got the talent. We know that and we’ve got the tools to be a great defensive team, a great rebounding team (and) a good offensive team. We’ve just got to put it together.”

The Seattle P-I’s Todd Dybas tweeted on Friday that, “Darnell Gant will be available to the Huskies on Saturday for opener” adding also that Gant “was in doubt earlier in the week b/c of groin injury”. Husky Digest reported that, according to sources, Darnell would start against McNeese State, along with Thomas, Holiday, Abdul Gaddy and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.

In the McNeese game Washington really came out ready to correct that lackluster effort on the boards, finishing with 69 rebounds and forcing 27 turnovers. Darnell and Venoy made their season debuts, Gant as a starter as Husky Digest sources had indicated he would. I was at the game, but Craig Yamada of Mountlake Madness did the analysis piece for

I thought I had to work, but my schedule changed and so it was my pleasure to go through with plans and have Craig write our piece. It is really a blessing and a pleasure to have him available this year.

Yamada’s partner at Madness Griffin Bennett did a solid game wrap as well.

I especially thought that this quote showed perspective and both the knowledge that this UW team is loaded with talent and that there a lot bigger fish to fry than this low-end crew from Louisiana.

“McNeese State is not only not a state; they’re not very good either.”

Suffice to say that if the Cowboys were catfish, they would need a lot of hot sauce.

Don Ruiz of the Morning News Tribune wrote a particularly intuitive piece that made the case that Gant and Overton being there made a huge difference.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times also pointed out what an intimidating effect Venoy has on opposing teams. McNeese looked shaken and scared after Overton came into the game and UW never looked back.

I am not ready to talk about the Final-Four or Aziz in the lottery this June as some UW fans have been doing, but the Dawgs did do a great job of making improvements over the St. Martin’s game. One more well informed basketball observer said that he felt that UW played better, but that McNeese played very poorly, looked scared and were not as good as the the Saints.

I felt that Aziz and Matt played very well, but was concerned about their foul shooting. When I spoke to Romar on Monday at his weekly press event, he said that focusing on foul shooting or changing guys form during the year did more harm than good.

Lorenzo cited his experiences playing with former Blazer Chris Dudley, a notoriously bad foul shooter, stating that changing his form made things worse. Aziz went 3-15 from the line and Matt 6-12. I also that UW fans should be concerned by the news that Desmond Simmons will red-shirt because of a knee problem.

Simmons told Percy Allen of the Seattle Times that his decision to red-shirt was “Bittersweet”.

Allen also reported in the piece that six-foot-eight Morgan Moxey will serve as a practice player for UW this year and that Morgan hopes to walk-on next year. It makes sense that UW will need Morgan, just to practice efficiently.

UW was thin as is in the middle and I felt that Simmons would provide considerable help with depth. Now it comes down to Aziz, Matt and Gant, with Holiday at the 4 spot when UW feels it can go small. That is not going to be an easy situation for the coaches to manage in games and a red-flag for opposing coaches to strategize against this season.

Make no mistake. The Pac-10 is bigger in the middle this season and most teams have decent depth. Washington has won a lot of games over the last two years by wearing teams down by the endgame, which includes foul trouble. Holiday told me at the Monday presser that he feels positive about playing the 4 spot.

That’s great and it should work, when the match-ups are right for UW, but when they are not it could take away from some of the better things that he is able to do on the peimeter if he is forced to play there. Sorry to be so dark for UW fans after such a feel good win and on the eve of another game that could also be a blow-out, but I’m being realistic.

It also gets dicey when you look long term. Having Simmons able to get some experience this season, would have really helped going into next season when Matt will be gone and the depth will all be 1st year guys. With Holiday also gone, there will more than likely be the starters in Gant and Aziz (which will be great), but depth that is all inexperienced.

If UW can recruit well in the Spring, great, but it surprises me that a team with so many great guards couldn’t attract more big guys.

Speaking of next season, the Pac-12 released the conference schedules for next two year’s Men’s Hoops.

UW will play California, Stanford, Colorado and Utah once, for the next two years, per this new mode of scheduling, arguably some of the weaker teams in the league. It should be a challenge for the Dawgs, but since Pac-10 play these past two seasons has not been the problem, at least it is an opportunity for UW to enhance its tournament resume.

Allen of the Seattle Times summarized some of the highlights of the Dawgs conference schedule next year, which will include a New Years Eve game against the Oregon Ducks at Hec-Ed. Did I mention how much I like to say Hec-Ed. The Bank of America Arena always seemed so corporate to me. It was like someone asking you if you would like some “Starbucks”.

Such is the way things are done in big-time college sports these days I suppose. If the money is there, good for Washington for getting it, but don’t expect me to follow along like some trained monkey unless you give me some too.

Scott Suggs started the St. Martin’s game, but I’m not so sure that this means that Scott did anything wrong that he didn’t against McNeese. Suggs played well and I’m sure that he will get plenty of minutes, but UW really needs to rebound the ball for their system to work and Justin Holiday at the 4 just didn’t get it done.

Holiday was backed down a few times too many times on defense as well. Justin is much better suited to guarding wings and guards and he does such a good job of it, that it seems to be a no-brainier to keep him out there. He may be good enough in an emergency to play a role there though if needed, or if the match-up is right.

Suggs did a Q+A with Allen for the Times on Sunday.

Scott mentioned to Percy that he spent some time down in LA working out with Jrue and Justin Holiday, Darnell and sprinter Maurice Greene.

“We did a lot of shooting, pick n’ rolls and ball handling and just everything.”

Darnell could benefit greatly from those kinds of workouts, in regards to his prospects as a possible pro wing. With his size that position is probably his best choice, but I’m not sure how much any of those drills will help him rebound and defend the post. Those things are what UW needs him to do for the next 2 years.

If Gant can be the next Mike Jensen, defending posts while setting up the fast break for guards, that would be great. In 2004-2005 Tre Simmons led UW in rebounding, as Mike put UW’s athletic guards in position to grab boards and get the party started early in transition. All 5 Dawgs would crash the offensive glass and the results were a #1 seed.

Next year, as a senior, if Gant can play that role, things could work out well for UW. Bobby Jones aptly played the 4 spot, which I could see the then sophomore Ross do well. The Dawgs would be in even better shape as well with the addition of Aziz, so UW could go with that bigger more imposing look as well as the quick line-up.

What is holding that back this year is the performance on the glass. I’m sure that they will try Holiday back at the 4-spot again and if the result is better, perhaps we will see it more in the future, but I’m thinking that for now the UW coaches are going to give this bigger look a chance.

When you are a college kid, you get a lot of chances and sometimes you make ASU and USC. Isaiah back peddled a bit on his twitter page stating that he was taken out of context and intended to joke.

“No disrespect 2 the teams I mentioned in the Espn the magazine the interview went NOTHIN like it was mentioned in there.”

“I knw who the USC coach is and I knw some players on ASU. so disregard if it seemed like it was disrespect or anything ike that.”

One thing that Thomas is not is dull. Sports Illustrated Luke Winn picked Isaiah as his “Most Entertaining Player” going into the season.

“Listed at 5-9, probably shorter, he’s the best inch-for-inch player in the country. The little lefty will fearlessly take the ball to the rim against opponents of any size, and he doesn’t bottle up any emotion, either, playing with more flair than any other POY candidate.”

SI also did a video preview of UW in which Thomas talked about the team and the season coming up.

If you wonder who the mystery guy in the background drilling three after three, he won’t be helping UW win any games this year. That is my former co-host on “Talkin’ Hoops” Ryan Appleby.

Gohuskies Gregg Bell has been dubbed “UW Director of Writing” by the site and he has done a great job thus far. Gregg did a fantastic feature on Thomas that pointed out his much more humble and team oriented side.

Aziz is also getting some early season buzz going, as Don Ruiz of the Morning News Tribune did a feature on the seven-foot center.

Coach Raphael Chillious goes back with N’Diaye and talked about putting things together with Aziz and Washington based on the team needs as expressed by his boss Romar.

“In recruiting, I call it the bullpen. You’re always happy if you can call the right pitcher that the coach wants. We just happened to have the right pitcher in the bullpen waiting to come.”

Chillious seems to be a good fit for Washington’s recruiting efforts, pulling N’Diaye in summer before last and Jernard Jarreau out of New Orleans LA this past summer. Raphael seems to have a thorough knowledge of a lot of players from around the country and beyond and I hope that he can find more big men that can help next fall to add to the class of 2011.

On the media side of things, I was impressed with a blogger that has come out of the gate doing a thorough job. UWBasketblog has been consistent in only it’s 1st week or so and though their inside info seems to be limited, the passion for UW Hoops and attention to detail is not. Great job so far John, whatever your last name is.

Is UW a Darkhorse to win the national title this year? I doubt it myself, but Bleacher Report thinks they are, along with 4 other teams.

Illinois, Florida, Georgetown and Missouri were the other 4.

The polls came out Monday and the lopsided win over McNeese allowed the Dawgs to move up.

UW moved up one spot to #17 in the AP and two spots to #15 in the Coaches poll. I can’t stand polls, especially in November They do nothing for a team but sell tickets and merch in the off-season, least of all help players play better or teams win games.

There are plenty of tough challenges coming up for UW and they cannot afford to “feel their oats” at this point. According to Doug Haller of, the Dawgs have the 2nd toughest non-con schedule in the conference and I think he makes a good case for his assessment of all 10 team’s out of conference slates.

Finding a player that can get those easy baskets inside is going to be a priority for the UW staff. Last year that guy was Quincy Pondexter, who is just starting to get a shot to play at the next level and seems to be making headway and on a decent team in New Orleans.

The Hornets are 8-0 so far this season and in the last three games, Q has finally gotten some PT, scoring 3 on a 3-pointer against his old team mate Jon Brockman and the Milwaukee Bucks then against the Clippers he scored 7 on another three and 3-6 from the field overall. In his last game Q didn’t score, but pulled down 3 boards in 7-minutes of play.

Good job Quincy and keep up the good work!!

Former Dawg Brandon Roy is averaging 22 points per game. Though he has a slight knee condition that doesn’t really affect his game, rumors that have been circulating about his health being a concern are not at true, according to a source close to the situation in Portland that I feel is impartial and honest.

Brandon’s former Husky team mate Nate Robinson was the subject of a funny blog post on on Thursday.

The sports tabloid blog published funny picture of Nate as a small boy, probably 6-7 years old, flexing his muscles and trying to look tough.

Another team mate of Ryan, Brandon, Nate and Tre was in the news this past week as former Husky post Jamaal Williams was interviewed by the Seattle Times.

In the interview Williams was quoted as saying that, “I want to be a head coach someday” and talked about ending his playing career and his new career on the UW staff. When asked how the 2004-2005 team would have fared against this year’s Dawgs, williams was quick to say about the 2010-2011 team, “They would have a tough time”, citing “too many weapons”.

It’s nice to see a talent like Jamaal taking the course of teaching to young players. His natural gifts and obvious work ethic produced a low-post scoring game that was one of a kind. Had he been three inches taller, he would have been an NBA lottery pick.

As it was he was a great, great player. If he can figure out a way to teach his skills to young bigs, he could be a huge asset to any team pro or college.

The Maui Invitational could be another great learning experience for the Dawgs, though it would appear that Kentucky may not be as tough of a match-up, should the Wildcats of John “Paypal Cal” Calipari beat Oklahoma in the 1st round and the Huskies beat Virginia.

Enes Kanter was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, but the UK still has a lot of very dangerous weapons that could ruin Washington’s Hawaiian experience. If the Dawgs can get by the Cavs and either the ‘Cats or the Sooners, UConn or Michigan State could be waiting for them in the championship game, barring as upset by Wichita State or Chaminade.

Rivals ranked the various preseason tournaments and picked Maui as the #2 event, citing the potential UK/UW match-up as “must-see TV after the protracted recruiting battle between the two teams over Terrence Jones”.

Andy Katz of ESPN also named the potential 2nd round Maui game as one of his “games you can’t miss this season”.

“Forget the recruiting battle over Terrence Jones (he first committed to UW and then chose Kentucky). This game could be a highly entertaining uptempo affair.”

Katz also named the January 30th 2011 UW/WSU game at Pullman and the February 19th game at Arizona on his, “games we will definitely see this season”.

“If the Cougars are to be taken seriously, then they must knock off rival Washington at home.”

“The Wildcats probably have the best shot to catch the Huskies with star wing Derrick Williams. Beating them in Tucson would certainly help.”

It certainly seems like the Dawgs are being thrust into the Pac-10 favorite slot this year by the national media, but that doesn’t seem to mean much to the early bracket projections, especially the grandaddy of them all Joe Lunardi of ESPN and his “Bracketology”.

According to Joe, UW will be a 5 seed and play the winner of a play-in game between Texas A&M and Northwestern. If the Dawgs prevail, they will then meet the winner of national runner-up Butler and Old Dominion. Why do they waste space on this crap at this point in the year. This is just ridiculous to me.

Gary Parrish of CBS got into the act on Monday with his own tournament projections, picking Washington to win the league and ‘Zona and UCLA to grab at-large bids.

Percy Allen wrote a piece on Monday for the Times that did a good job of pointing out that UW’s fast paced style and current Pac-10 success has lead other conference teams to change their styles. OSU, UCLA, USC, WSU and ASU have all talked about moving to more of a fast paced system and early indications are that they indeed are attempting that.

Next up for the Dawgs are the Eastern WA Eagles, who I believe UW will spank. Glen Dean is a solid player who played well for Seattle Rotary, but he is injured. Even with Dean this is not a fair match-up, though Eastern put up a solid fight against former Dawg Adrian Oliver and the San Jose State Spartans last week.

For a very in-depth and accurate preview of the EWU game, uwbasketblog did a fine job that I can’t add much to.

Pac-12 Round Up

Predictions seem to be the order of the day as the first games that count towards a Pac-10 team’s tournament resume began on Friday.

ESPN’s Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas talked about the Pac-10 in a national teleconference, answering’s Doug Haller’s question about whether the conference will be improved. Bilas said that ” Washington is the best team by a fair amount”, but to my amazement Vitale didn’t even mention the Dawgs.

Dick went on to only talk about UCLA, Oregon, ASU and Arizona, who I believe to be among the questionable programs in the league as far as compliance is concerned. Vitale then went on a rant about how the east coast bias was only “telling facts and telling the truth”.

Fair enough Dick. I’d really love to hear more facts as to why you pump factory schools and cheaters in my opinion with your side show huckster glad-handy routine every year. What are your financials Dick, while you and Calipari do all of your work for non-profits? Good luck with that Vitale. I’d really like the truth and facts too.

To make the drama or comedy that much higher, Dick picked Washington to win the Pac-10, as all of the ESPN college hoops analysts made their conference picks. Only Pat Forde (Arizona) and Fran Fraschilla (UCLA) did not pick UW to win the league.

I think that the UW yeam needs to reject believing all of the “experts”. These guys are sheep for one and any one of the players on the UW roster, even the newbies should know how good the other Pac-10 teams are going to be this year. I feel that UW has the talent to win it, but without a tremendous effort and a lot of luck they will not come close.

Beth Harris of the AP made the case that the Pac-10 just lost too many players to the NBA, as the reason for it’s perceived weakness. While that is true when it comes to last year, that the league was down because of so much early entry, it will be less so this year and even less so again next season.

USC has at least one draft pick in Nikola Vucevic and possibly a marginal NBA guy in Alex Stepheson. They also have a potential marginal NBA guard (because of his height) in Jio Fontan.

UCLA has a sure 1st rounder in Tyler Honeycutt and a possible draft pick in Malcolm Lee this June, while Arizona has Derrick Williams, who could easily be a late 1st round or early 2nd round pick in 2011. ASU has Rihards Kuksiks, who will likely be a great Euro-pro, Ty Abbott, who should also have a pro career and might be able to stick somewhere in the NBA.

Neither Cal or Stanford will have an NBA guy in 2011, but Jeremy Green could follow Landry Fields to the NBA in 2012 with his size and shooting ability. Oregon and Oregon State will not have a draft pick this year, but Roberto Nelson and Jared Cunningham could easily end up in the draft and Jabari Brown will likely be in the 2012 draft.

WSU’s Klay Thompson is certainly a player that I could see in the 1st round, while a large number of UW guys, certainly Tony Wroten, Thomas, Gaddy, Ross, N’Diaye, and Bryan-Amaning all have a shot at being drafted in the future. That is a lot of draft picks and a strong class of kids coming out of both the class of 2011 and 2012 out west.

Matt’s improved play this year, going back to midway through the Pac-10 schedule last year is becoming internationally known, as Euro site ballineurope listed him high in their listings and news of the top up amateur European ballers.

The predictions keep coming up roses for UW, for the most part, but not so great for the Pac-10.

Bleacher Report predicted the winner of every major conference and for the Pac-10 chose UW.

Sports Illustrated Luke Winn did not pick any Pac-10 team in the top-16 of his “Power Rankings”, but did pick UW at #21 of his 2nd 16 and Gonzaga #22.

Fox Sports‘ Jeff Goodman listed his “68 things to watch this season” and could waste a good opportunity to get a real deep dig in to the Pac-10.

“The question is whether the league will still be a virtual joke in college hoops circles – as was the case a year ago. Washington and Cal were the only two teams that received NCAA bids. I’m not sure the league will get any more than two this time around, either. The conference will be improved – marginally.”

Rivals can’t see the forest from the trees, as they predict the same result for the Pac-10 essentially as last year, with maybe slight improvement. Mark my word, there will be great improvement in the Pac-10 this season.

“The Pac-10 slipped to eighth in the RPI last season, sending only two teams to the NCAA tournament. The conference didn’t get an influx of talent, but several teams return more experience. Still, it is going to be the weakest of the Big Six leagues and could finish eighth in the RPI again, behind the A-10 and the Mountain West.”

I get it that the Mountain West is a good league now, but this is dumb. Washington stomped New Mexico last year in March. Doesn’t that count for anything?

Signing day brought the start of a Pac-12 2011 class that should be very complimentary to a number of forward moving league teams.

Haller provided quotes from all of the Pac-10 coaches who had players signed as of Friday.

Arizona really helped itself with two fantastic guards in Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson, former Oakland Soldier team mates. ASU signed the most athletic small man in the class in Jahii Carson, who will be a very big asset to an emerging group of young players in Tempe, unless Herb Sendek loses a number of them, as he did last year.

UCLA got a great shooting guard in speedy athletic Norman Powell. The Bruins, who will likely lose the junior Lee and the sophomore Honeycutt, will continue to recruit hard going into spring. USC signed 3 good prospects, most notably Byron Wesley, a six-foot-five wing that should make a tremendous replacement for senior Marcus Simmons next fall.

The Trojans also signed seven-foot-one James Blasczyk, who will go well in helping to rehab USC’s front line, along with current seven-foot freshman Dewayne Dedmon (who will red-shirt this season) and six-foot-ten frosh Curtis Washington. USC will have to replace Stevenson and more than likely Vucevic, but these three will really help.

Cal got a big man in six-foot-nine skilled David Kravish of Missouri, who should help ease the loss of Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Cal has a fine group of young bigs coming up through Mike Montgomery’s system and Kravish will allow the others to move up a step in line behind senior Harper Kamp next season.

Stanford is expecting a signature from guards Amir Carlisle and Chasson Randle. Randle is an elite PG that should compete for the starting job as a pure freshman. Some feel he is one of the top-3 to 5 PG’s in his class. Oregon has a long way to go, but really scored big with Brown. Jabari should start as a pure freshman, but the Ducks will still struggle for awhile.

Highly regarded Daniel Gomes is expected to sign with Oregon State and he should help the Beavers recover from the loss of Daniel Deane and Omari Johnson. With the rise of Joe Burton, Devon Collier and other Beaver bigs, those two will likely play a supportive (though important) role this year as it is.

WSU landed shooting guard DaVonte Lacy of Tacoma and power forward Greg Sequele of Los Angeles. Lacy is the 2nd T-Town kid that Coach Ken Bone has landed in only two years. Over the years, the better Cougar teams always had Tacoma players in both hoops and football.

Building a solid pipeline into Seattle and Tacoma with those two, Reggie Moore and Mychal Ladd is a major positive for Bone as he establishes himself and his system in Pullman.

Ken Cross of published his “Pac-10 Notebook”, delving into about half of the conference with analysis and quotes.

Nothing that earth shattering here, but Ken did find some encouraging news on Stanford post Josh Owens, who seems to be getting back on his feet. Cross quoted Johnny Dawkins.

“Every day he looks a little better. He will really be able to contribute once he gets some games under his belt.”

The conference has started off by beating bad teams, but at least they are not losing to them as was the case last year. Rivals who are notorious for lack of back-bone with their wind blown opinions picked the conference 6th best after delivering one off-season piece after another containing the words acronyms MWC and A-10 above theirs going back to April.

Haller at did his usual outstanding job of summarizing the week in the Pac-10, but in the end it is way too early for west coast fans to get too excited.

The biggest win so far is probably Oregon beating Santa Barbara 72-70, which is not particularly newsworthy. Stanford will face San Diego, USC will face Santa Clara and UCLA will face Pepperdine tonight. These three Pac-10/WCC match-up, though three more Pac-10 wins would not be surprising, should tell fans much more.

WSU Notes

The Cougs received a commitment from the 2011 post Sequele from Los Angeles CA on Sunday. According to Rivals, “He runs the floor, shows good hands around the rim and his 225 pound frame will easily carry more weight”. Greg also followed up his commitment with a signed letter of intent on Wednesday, as was previously mentioned.

Also according to Rivals Greg had an offer from SMU, but interest from a number of high major programs including the Pac-12’s Cal and Utah.

ESPN said that Sequele’s offensive skill package is “Very raw and he has very few fundamentals, but his physical attributes (runs hard with major bounce) are very impressive”. It sounds like Greg is a good back-up plan for James Watson, in case the former very athletic and bouncy Coug post doesn’t get his academics straightened out in time for Next season.

Watson was impressive for WSU when they struggled with athletic teams.

According to Scout, the Cougs are one over the limit going into next fall with the signing of Sequele and Lacy and that that could mean one of a few scenarios will have to play out.

Scout mentioned Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto turning pro, post Steven Bjornstad leaving for medical reasons, guard Mike Ladd not getting his scholarship next year after paying his own way during his transfer mandated red-shirt year (doubtful) or former walk-on post Charlie Enquist going back off scholarship.

I think that the chances of a transfer is also very high, as the Cougs lost quite a few guys last year, but that could have been more because of the coaching change and those adjustments appear to have settled in.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas mentioned Klay in his preview feature “Lots to look forward to this season”.

“I believe Thompson can establish himself as the best player in the Pac-10 this season. He can really shoot it and really score, and is a vastly underrated defender. Thompson impressed me this past summer at the Nike Skills Academy, and he needs only to play stronger to be a first-team All-American.”

WSU beat Southern in Pullman on Saturday 86-47 as Faisal Aden led the way with 18 points. Casto scored 16 off the bench, as Bone experimented with line-ups as bit, somewhat due to injuries. It was a blow out that was over in the 1st half where Klay scored 13 of his 15 points. Marcus Capers had a game-high 15 rebounds according to the box score in Yahoo.

Australian frosh wing Dexter Kernich-Drew did not play and numerous sources have reported Bone’s intention to red-shirt him.

The Cougs had 15 turnovers, which was the one bad sign from the game, but starting PG Reggie Moore did not play.

ASU Notes

Montlake Madness previewed the Sun Devils on Tuesday, whom they picked to finish 4th in the Pac-10.

Madness projected freshman Keala King as the starter at the 3 spot, but from all indications it will be JC transfer Carrick Felix. King will be a great asset though and is currently ASU’s back-up point guard.

ASU backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, a former Gonzaga basketball commit, will join Herb Sendek’s team after the football season, according to

Brock is the back-up QB and six-foot-eight and 242 lbs. How long it will take him to get into hoopin’ mode is anyone’s guess, but from all reports this big guy from Montana is a load and showed considerable skill in high school. ASU needs post options and Osweiler could just be the missing ingredient.

According to a Sendek interview in azcentral, sophomore Ruslan Pateev will be the starter to begin the season in the middle with seven-foot-two freshman Jordan Bachynski and athletic six-foot-seven freshman Kyle Cain in support.

Sendek went on in the interview to say that Cain will be “one of our better rebounders moving forward”, but that Bachynski is climbing “a steep hill”. It seems as if this position will be the key to ASU’s season and if Osweiler can adapt his presence could make a huge difference.

According to a season preview from azcentral, Pateev has “a nice perimeter touch, but will need to stay aggressive inside”.

Sounds to me like problems. I would expect to see a lot of Cain in Pac-10 play if Osweiler isn’t ready to help.

Brock told azcentral that he is not in any fog as to how much catch-up he needs to do.

“I feel pretty good right now. Obviously, I won’t know exactly where I’m at until I get into a game-like situation or scrimmage, but so far everything seems cool. I (know I) have a lot of work to do.”

According to Haller of azcentral, freshmen guard Corey Hawkins and freshman wing Chanse Creekmur also have impressed.

‘Zona Notes

The ‘Cats had a so-so outing in their exhibition game against Augustana in a 70-59 win on Sunday. Derrick Williams led the way with 19 points, followed by Kyle Fogg with 11, but overall it was a lackluster and sloppy effort by ‘Zona. One bright spot was freshman guard Jordan Mayes who followed Fogg in the scoring column with 9 points in only 11 minutes.

According to Williams, who did a Q+A with Haller, he expects Jamelle Horne and Solomon Hill to have much improved years.

Arizona landed the top 2011 class in the Pac-10 according to most of the experts with Oakland Soldier guards Turner and Johnson and NYC big man Sidiki Johnson. Things are really looking up with all of the talent being assembled down in Tucson by Coach Sean Miller.

They will lose Horne after this season, but no one else and gain arguably two of the best 4-5 guards in the west, while Sidiki will beef up a blossoming group of front court players that impressed as pure freshmen last season.

One player that appears to be a bit behind is freshman win Daniel Bejarano, according to Miller in

“Not everybody gets to play, and the reason he didn’t play has nothing to do with his demeanor or attitude, it’s just that in practice he’s not been able to have three weeks of practice worthy of playing. Improvement really happens to freshmen, so it will be interesting to watch him over the next month.”

The piece also included Miller quotes on the 2011 signees.

Sidiki is a continuance of the NYC to Tucson pipeline that includes sophomores Kevin Parrom and Lamont “Momo” Jones. According to Scout, Sidiki is not going to instantly jump to the front of the line in the post, but will provide quality support.

“Those expecting Johnson to be a superstar immediately upon coming to Arizona are likely going to be disappointed. However, those wanting a player that is tough, going to play defense, and hit the glass, are likely going to find that Johnson is exactly what the doctor ordered.”

‘Zona kicked off their season with an impressive blow out win over Idaho State of the Big Sky 90-42 in Tucson AZ.

Derrick Williams led the way with 16 points, followed by Brendan Lavendar with 12 off the bench on 4-5 from beyond the arc. Solomon Hill was impressive with 10 points and 8 boards and Kyle Fogg also scored in double figures with 10. This was an impressive win by the ‘Cats as nearly everyone got into the action.

Lamont “Momo” Jones was impressive on defense, as he was often in last year’s Pac-10 play. Jones held the Bengals Broderick Gilchrest, who scored 39 against Colorado in ISU’s 1st game, to no points in the 1st half when the game was in question and 4 overall.

UCLA Notes

Jason King of Yahoo did a feature on college hoops blue bloods UCLA and UNC and their attempts to bounce back after sub-par seasons. Both teams should be improved, though Carolina has brought in what some feel is the top freshman in the country in Harrison Barnes.

Though UCLA brought in Kent WA’s Josh Smith, elite level frosh guard Tyler Lamb and JC guard Lazeric “Zeke” Jones, they also lost quite a bit in All Pac-10 guard Mike Roll, Nikola Dragovic and 3 high profile transfers. UCLA should be better, but I doubt that the comparison with Carolina will be that accurate in any measurable way.

After a sloppy defensive performance against Westmont, the Bruins focused on defense in practices and seemed to show improvements in their 2nd exhibition game against Cal-State LA, an 84-59 win on Monday night at home. lamb led the way with 17 points and sophomore Tyler Honeycutt had 15 points and 15 boards to follow.

What was more impressive was that UCLA was down to 8 scholarship players with various injuries, according to the LA Times.

Though Coach Ben Howland will continuing recruiting, because of likely attrition to the NBA for Honeycutt and probably junior guard Malcolm Lee, the Bruins willed their one certain open spot with Powell, who Howland roundly praised in a signing day feature in Scout.

“He’s one of the most athletic kids that we will have had in this program in a while and one of the most athletic kids since I’ve been here. He’s very explosive and has outstanding quickness and will be an excellent defensive player. He’s very good at making plays, both for himself and his teammates. He is an outstanding addition to our program and is an outstanding young man and comes from a great family.”

Howland has been telling Powell as his sales pitch for the Bruins, according to numerous reports, that UCLA is going to speed things up. How they can do that with Big Josh Smith in the middle is anyone’s guess, but apparently Norman was buying it when he spoke to

“A lot of people talked to me about why I made my decision, that they’re a slow team. They’re really trying to get an up-tempo pace. I feel like I can step in there and be that leader in that offense. That’s my style, and I can’t wait to help.”

Josh Smith is a lot of things, many of them good, but one thing he is not is light on his feet. I have always felt that Josh could be a Bob Lanier type of big man, with his skill set, but in the Pac-10 where the game is about running and pace UCLA will need to use Smith in tandem with others who can play more uptempo.

If Smith is used properly, he can be a load, but it should take the Bruins slowing things down for him to get into position and trick defenses to keep him of the perimeter.

This year will be a special year for UCLA, as it will be the first one without John Wooden at the games, according to ESPN In tribute to the greatest coach of all-time, the Bruins will leave Wooden’s seat empty in tribute.

UCLA opened the regular season with an impressive win over Cal-State Northridge 83-50 on Friday in the first regular season game since the passing of Wooden. The Matadors are not a bad team and this has to be considered a good sign for Bruin fans and the Pac-10 in general. When UCLA is considered good, the Pac-10 is usually not considered “down” by the national press.

Reeves Nelson led the way for UCLA with 17 on 6-6 from the field, followed by Honeycutt with 16, Jones with 15 and Smith with 9. Brendan Lane led the Bruins on the glass with 8 boards, but Smith also grabbed down 7 for a nice solid debut from the big guy. It seems that UCLA is getting better and improving much better from game to game than last year.

The Bruin Scout site ran a video of Howland’s post game press conference and Ben was beaming with positivity.

The CSUN game was a Bruin blowout early as UCLA outscored Northridge 37-9 to open the game.

USC Notes

Coach Kevin O’Neill seemed enthusiastic about seven-foot center Dewayne Dedmon, who will enroll at USC in January, but not play at all this year.

He will be able to play in 2011-2012 as a sophomore, according to the signing day piece in, where O’Neill also stated that Dedmon will have a positive effect.

“I have no doubt this guy will be a huge part of our team and future, on and off the court. He can run, rebound, and shoot and will only improve with time spent in the weight room and doing conditioning.”

USC looked OK beating up on the Cal-Irvine Anteaters of the Big West 62-49 on Saturday.

Nikola Vucevic topped all scorers and rebounders with 19 points and 14 boards, followed by Bryce and Maurice Jones with 14 and 13 points respectively. Senior post Alex Stepheson only scored 6 points, but had 13 rebounds.

According to the LA Times, USC looked poor taking care of the ball, but that should improve greatly when guard Jio Fontan becomes available before Pac-10 play. I would tend to agree with that assessment.

OSU Notes

Beaver junior forward Kevin McShane said to the Corvallis Gazette-Times that the chemistry and confidence level of this year’s team are reaching up into new territory.

“All of us feel it. We feel it in the drills, we feel it messing around and hanging out in the locker room or at the football games. When we’re together we can feel that this is a special team. I think once the fans come and see us play then they’re going to see it, too. It’s definitely a very unique team and I think one of the best the school’s had in decades. This is definitely the best and most athletic team I’ve ever played on and it’s real exciting.”

McShane went on to say that freshman Devon Collier has a strong midrange game and is one of the best finishers on the team. Roberto Nelson, who should be one of the other great play makers on the Beavers, will likely start the season on December 12th. According to Nelson in an ESPN blog post, there is “an outside chance the NCAA will clear him for the season opener”.

More than likely Nelson will start with the team in December, but I would not be surprised to see him help OSU a lot this year.

The Beavs had a shaky start in a blow-out 71-43 win over Western Oregon in their exhibition game. A number of the new players were missing shots that they normally make, according to Coach Craig Robinson in the Oregonian.

“You didn’t get to see the real new guys. They were very nervous, very new to the whole college scene. Ahmad (Starks) is probably our second or third best shooter on the team. He makes those shots constantly. He’s the guy who plays against our 1-3-1 every day so that was freshman, first-game nerves.”

Starks was 1-9 from the field. Senior Lathen Wallace led the Beavers with 13 points, sophomore guard Jared Cunningham had 11 points and center Joe Burton grabbed a game-high 12 boards against Western Oregon.

The Beavers will have an unusually easy non-conference schedule coming up to allow all of these new players to get their feet wet without getting pounded senseless, at least according to ESPN’s Eamon Brennan who picked Oregon State as one of the 5 weakest schedules among major conference schools.

OSU got a good game out of Texas-Arlington on Sunday in Corvallis, but unlike last year’s Beavs who struggled with similar squads, they won going away with a late surge 71-56. It was senior Omari Johnson with 15 points leading the way for OSU, followed by freshman Ahmad Starks with 14, senior Lathen Wallace with 12 and sophomore Angus Brandt with 10.

Joe Burton led the Beavs on the glass with 7. It wasn’t a great looking win, but a win none the less, which is an improvement for the Beavers over last year’s late blooming group.

Up next for the Beavers will be a rematch with Seattle U, who embarrassed them at home last season. That tips off at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night at the Key Arena.

Oregon Notes

The Ducks have started the season about as well as could be expected with 2 hard fought wins against low-end D1 teams and a win over a low-mid-major in UCSB.

In the 1st game on Friday night Oregon beat North Dakota State at home in overtime 97-92. Little needs to be said, other than a win is a win, as Joevan Catron led the way with 27 points. Jay-R Strowbridge followed with 18, E.J. Singler with 16 (plus 11 rebounds) and Teondre Williams with 15.

On Saturday Oregon beat Denver, who will join the WAC according to reports, 68-56 in Eugene. Denver is a lowly independent really and a 12-point win at home wasn’t really that much better than a close win over another weak program the night before.

Again it was Catron with 20 points, followed this time by Malcolm Armstead with 15 and Singler with 11.

On Sunday Oregon beat the Gauchos in a back and forth, tightly contested game. The good news here for Pac-10 fans is that Coach Dana Altman’s ability to win these easy games, which will help the league’s RPI come selection Sunday. Pac-10 fans need to become Duck fans and hope that this run continues before they beat up this relatively weak conference team.

Joevan again led the Ducks with 15, followed by Malcolm with 12, Singler with 11, Teondre with 10 and JC transfer Tyrone Nared also with 10.

Cal Notes

Cal freshman Allen Crabbe and Gary Franklin will play large roles for the rebuilding Bears this year, according to a blog post by ESPN’s Diamond Leung.

Franklin was interviewed by Diamond in a video clip. Most of the reports from the Bay Area have been that the two of them will start the season as starters along side junior Jotge Gutierrez, junior Harper Kamp and senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison. Jorge will play PG to start the year.

Allen led Cal in an X-game blow out against Sonoma State with 22 points last Wednesday. Cal opens the regular season Tuesday against Cal State Northridge at 7:30 PM in Berkeley CA.

Stanford Notes

The Cardinal beat the California State University Monterey Bay Otters 87-56 in their exhibition game on Wednesday in Palo Alto CA. The Cardinal were led by junior Jeremy Green’s 26 points on 10-17 shooting, followed by junior Josh Owens’ 16 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Dwight Powell with 10 points.

According to, Jarrett Mann, who was earlier said to have been moved to the wing, started at point guard for Stanford.

“Anthony Brown started alongside Green, Mann (9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), (returning starter Andrew) Zimmerman and Owens but Powell (10 points) and (freshman Josh) Huestis each played nearly half the game. (Bellevue WA’s freshman PG Aaron) Bright and (freshman center Jason) Nastic each played more than 10 minutes.

Colorado Notes

The Buffs will enter the Pac-12 next season with a nice recruiting class that looks to be Pac-10 level and is made up of three west coast players, according to ESPN. Spencer Dinwiddie turned down UCLA for CU.

Utah Notes

The Utes signed a west coast player too as their lone signee so far for 2011. George Matthews, a six-foot-eight post player from elite level Westwind Prep Academy in Phoenix AZ is a strong prospect that should help Utah build their program and their west coast cred on the recruiting trail.

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