Preseason Pac-10 Preview

Nov 4, 2010, 5:46 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

The Pac-10 will be an improved league overall this year, though it was a much better league than the national media pundits and “Bracketologists” portrayed them last season.

The way that Washington finished going 14-2 down the stretch leading up to a Sweet-16 loss to eventual Final-4 team West Virginia and the way that Cal handled huge favorite Louisville in the 1st round after losing to eventual champion Duke says a lot.

One thing it says is that the leagues #2 team in the regular season, ASU, was robbed to not have been given an NCAA bid. I think it would have been fair if the Pac-10 only received 3 bids in a down year, but the strength that UW and Cal exhibited to me proved a point I was making all year in the face of the “experts”.

The Pac-10 is a late blooming bunch. They don’t do well in November and even December. The conference also more than any other league that I know about, gets better in the process of having to compete with each other.

For some reason this league is motivated to prepare and recruit to face each other more than the others and the better teams often do it later than the less talented teams. That is the story of the 2009-2010 Huskies. They started mediocrity in the face and dealt it a forceful blow at the end of January.

After a major disappointment at Pauley Pavilion against the Bruins on a poorly played final play that allowed a walk-on a decent look at the basket which he drained for the one point win. Two days later UW was demolished by USC 87-61, as the Dawgs were exposed by a year long weakness against bigger teams.

After that it was all gravy for the Dawgs with only a road loss at eventual regular season champ Cal and a three-point home loss to those same oversized Trojans, standing between that horrid weekend in LA and Sweet-16 glory. Again WVU was a team like USC. Big, talented and experienced.

This year the Dawgs bring back almost everyone from that team that figured it out, but not a moment too soon. Coach Lorenzo Romar spoke to the media on Tuesday and spoke about last year’s team growing as individuals and the new players that have been impressive. produced a podcast of both Romar’s comments and some from team captain Isaiah Thomas.

Romar pointed out improvements, from Abdul Gaddy and the outstanding attributes that Terrence Ross (“arguably is the most talented player on our team”), Aziz N’Diaye and C.J. Wilcox bring to the team. Isaiah talked about Aziz as being the biggest difference, stating that N’Diaye is unlike any other big man since Romar has been at Washington.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times included some highlights from Tuesday.

Another thing that Romar addressed was his starting line-up, which will include Gaddy, as well as Isaiah, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday. The question remains as to who will be the 5th starter and Lorenzo said that it is down to a decision as to what style of play to start games, rather than who is head and shoulders better at this point.

“I think where we’re at right now is do we go big or do we go small to begin the game because throughout the game we’ll go both and depending on the match-up. If we play a team with a huge front line, we’ll probably be bigger the majority of that game. If we play a quick small team that has a very versatile lineup, 4-5 ball handlers on the floor, we’ll probably spend more time going small throughout that game. This year, maybe more than any year the starters don’t matter. They’ll be situations where we start to sub really quickly. I don’t like to disrupt lineups all the time unless you have to.”

Also according to Allen, Matt broke his nose, Darnell Gant shot free throws while the others practiced (which could mean that he has something keeping him out) and Venoy Overton is still resting while rehabbing a nagging hamstring injury.

With the addition of Aziz, Ross, Wilcox and Desmond Simmons and the continued improvement of Isaiah, Venoy, Gaddy, Scott Suggs, Matt, Darnell and Justin, I believe that UW is going to be very good. They will probably be the best team in the Pac-10, but that is not as certain as the pundits who all seem to think that UW will be the only good team in the league.

I think that the Pac-10 will yield 5 NCAA tournament teams. This is my prediction as to how the league will shake down, as this early date in the process. I will do another evaluation before Pac-10 play, after teams have had a chance to show a bit more, but this is my best attempt at handicapping this roller coaster ride before anyone shows a thing to the public.

1. Washington
2. Arizona
4. WSU
5. ASU
6. OSU
7. USC
8. Cal
9. Stanford
10. Oregon

I’ve said a lot about UW, but I will say one more thing. Ross is going to have an impact in Pac-10 play if not sooner. My sources are telling me that UW will bounce between a look that includes Scott Suggs in the starting line-up to one that includes Gant. In both cases the other 4 starters will stay the same.

Big and small will be the basic looks of Husky hoops in 2010-2011. Venoy will spell Gaddy and play long minutes, especially late in games. Ross will spell Isaiah and Suggs when he is in there, as will Wilcox, while Aziz will play long minutes up front. Simmons will be available as depth at the 3-4 spots (which will be needed) and he will play prime-time minutes.

Arizona will also be a very good team. I see Derrick Williams of ‘Zona, Tyler Honeycutt of UCLA and Klay Thompson of WSU as the leagues best players, along with Thomas and I believe that they will all lead their teams to the NCAA tournament. The 5th spot will come from either ASU, OSU or USC. Cal and Stanford will not contend, but show signs of promise for the future.

Oregon will be by far one of the worst teams in recent Pac-10 history, including the OSU Beaver team of 2007-2008 which finished 0-18.

The ‘Cats had a good enough Pac-10 record last season to be awarded an NCAA bid, were it not for their 16-15 overall mark. Like much of the league, their poor early season performances negated any quality play in the league.

That said, ‘Zona brings in some major big man talent in Williams, fellow sophomore front court mates Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and Kyryl Natyazhko.

Add to that veteran starters in senior forward Jamelle Horne and junior guard Kyle Fogg, plus dynamite sophomore PG Lamont Jones who was very productive spelling last year’s floor leader Nic Wise and the ‘Cats are back.

It doesn’t end there though as JC transfer forward Jesse Perry and frosh guards Jordin Mayes and Daniel Bejarano will provide more quality depth for Coach Sean Miller. When you add one of the nations top recruiting classes, including arguably the best guard tandem in the country for the class of 2011 in Nick Johnson and Josaiah Turner, there is no doubt.

I never thought it would be long until Arizona, with it’s huge money and well established relationships in recruiting through Nike, would again be back among the biggest factories in the game and I was right.

Mayes will provide surprising support for Jones, who will look a lot less fiery and perhaps make more mistakes in the starters role at PG, but never fear ‘Cat fans.

Williams is going to dominate in a fashion that we’ve seen very seldom in the Pac-10 in recent years and Hill and Parrom will be right there in support. With quality support from veterans in Horne and Fogg, the lack of experience at PG will not be felt as much as it could be.

Natyazhko as well as junior Alex Jacobson will provide size when necessary and junior Brendon Lavender and Bejarano will provide more quality depth on the wing. This Wildcat team is finally deep again and has a much more of an experienced look to it. The fact that they lose only Jamelle and gain those two great guards means that they are by far 2011-2012 favorites.

UCLA has Honeycutt, plus another potential NBA 1st rounder in tall athletic guard Malcolm Lee. Reeves Nelson is like a wishbone fullback in football, just a bull ready to move whatever stands in his way.

Add to that a dynamic freshman in Tyler Lamb to compliment Lee and Honeycutt on the wing and help in running the offense and defending in JC transfer PG Lazeric Jones and UCLA is definitely back in the mix for Pac-10 contention. The big story in the media seems to be Kent WA’s Josh Smith, a six-foot-ten 305 lb. super-bull in the paint, with hands and skills.

Josh lost 50 lbs. in the off-season, to get down to 305 (supposedly), but according to sources who saw him play in Westwood over the summer, he is very slow. If this were half-court, Smith would be the difference for UCLA to claim a championship. It will be very hard for Smith, who has been chosen the starter by Coach Ben Howland, to stay with most Pac-10 bigs.

Howland, it appears will start him, in hopes of seeing if UCLA can pound it inside with he and Nelson, before yielding to perhaps Lamb, moving Honeycutt to the 4 spot and Nelson to the middle in a line-up that is much more able to get up and down, though still slow and physical by Pac-10 standards.

What is more likely to happen is that Smith will work better as a back-up for Nelson, while he continues to attempt to get in better shape. With Josh as a back-up post, junior Jerime Anderson as depth for Jones, Brendan Lane as a back-up for Honeycutt at the 4 and frosh Anthony Stover as a fleet footed post option, UCLA should have enough talent to be improved.

Though the Bruins are somewhat short on guards, they also have freshman Matt Carlino to provide depth. Guard play will not be as much of an issue as it was last season, which by itself will make a huge difference. Those expecting UCLA to jump from 14-18 to the Final-Four will be disappointed, but getting back to the NCAA’s with more than 20 wins is likely.

WSU placed last, after coming unwound in league play last season. Thompson hit a cold streak and literally shot Ken Bone’s team all the way down the drain. This year the 2nd year Cougar Head Coach has had time to repair and replace the broken pieces and a last place to NCAA Tournament turnaround is what Coug fans should be able to enjoy.

Klay has worked hard in the off-season and will be one of the top marksmen in the country. Thompson has enough height to become a shooting threat at an NBA level, but at the Pac-10 he could be devastating. This time he will have more help. Reggie Moore was a winner last year and I would expect an even better result in his sophomore season.

Moore has a strong work ethic to go with his competitive fire and is on his way to a brilliant Pac-10 career and more than likely a successful pro career. DeAngelo Casto will also be back and he is no longer that bratty kid that isn’t afraid to stand up to the Pac-10 big boys, but often gets tossed aside. Casto is up to 255 lbs. and has not lost that quickness.

If you outweigh DeAngelo he will run around you. If you are quick he will now run over you and if you do both, he will out compete you. He is just a very special big man on a Pac-10 level and most of the league is now kicking themselves for not trying harder to get him.

What sunk the Cougs last season was when teams or Klay himself were able to slow Thompson, there was no one else to make them pay from the outside. This year JC transfer Faisal Aden will fill that void between Klay’s world class jumper that can’t be allowed to get hot and Moore’s ability to create. Those 4 are as good of a 4 on 4 team as there is in the Pac-10.

The problem (of course) in that the game is 5 on 5. Who will take that 5th spot and do for Casto what Aden will likely do for Thompson? Marcus Capers has improved his shooting and should be the right kind of back-up for both Aden and Klay, but that still doesn’t help in the middle.

Fresno State transfer Mike Ladd will be the kind of addition that is needed to make a potential title run in 2011-2012 on a team that loses literally no one, but that is only a pipe dream for this year.

More than likely it will have to come from a trio of bigs in last year’s starter Abe Lodwick, improved and bigger six-foot-ten 230 lb. Brock Motum or hot shooting frosh Patrick Simon.

While none of these three will make Coug fans forget Aron Baynes or Robbie Cowgill, one could emerge and start his own legacy. From all indications Motum may be the best at the moment, but having depth there is certainly going to help as the years wears on. Freshman Dre’ Winston, Jr. seems to have the all-important back-up PG spot nailed down.

So who will take that 5th NCAA bid, or at worst be left on the NCAA bubble after UW, ‘Zona, UCLA and WSU all have their names called on Selection Sunday? I think it will be last year’s horrible snub in ASU. The Sun Devils will again have veterans, a number of very talented newcomers, including some (mostly) ready for prime time JC guys and a proven system.

Herb Sendek coached last year’s team to 2nd place in the conference, but a 1st round knockout in the Pac-10 tourney put out the flame. After that an anticlimactic appearance against Jacksonville in the NIT showed ASU to be demoralized. Sendek has had all of his off-season to repair the Sun Machine and some seedlings have really started to bloom in the desert.

Senior PG Jamelle McMillan, senior shooting guard Ty Abbott and senior small forward Rihards Kuksiks are all 3-year letter men and honors candidates and should form the core of the team. Carrick Felix, who observers have told me is outstanding and sophomore Trent Lockett (a part-time starter last year) has major potential.

Add in 5-star recruit Keala King, who could be almost as good as Abbott going in and the all-time leading scorer in the state of Arizona in Corey Hawkins and the back court and wing are well stocked. The problem appears to be the center position. I would expect Rihards to start at the 4, with Felix at the 3, Abbott at the 2 and McMillan at the point.

Like WSU, but even worse because there is no Casto on the roster, who will hold the other post spot down and whoever it is, are they going to be able to stand up to the best rebounders, low block scorers and defenders in the conference? That is a tough question for Sendek to answer, but his wizardry is notorious. My bet is he finds a way to make it work.

Seven-foot and 249 lb. Ruslan Pateev did play some last year behind Eric Boateng and the sophomore will also have beat out an even bigger import in seven-foot-two and 243 lb. Canadian Jordan Bachynski. Jordan went on a 2-year Mormon Mission and is actually older than Pateev, so it’s anyone’s guess who will get that spot nailed.

One thing is certain. It is a luxury to have two guys that size in the middle to work with in the zone defense that Sendek will likely continue to gains success with. The games will again be slow, grind it out and milk it affairs, but with improved talent at 4 positions and at least depth in the middle, I think Herbie can come up with something good.

JC transfer Brandon Dunson will provide depth at the PG spot and frosh undersized big Kyle Cain will provide a quicker look in the post. Freshman Chanse Creekmur has also garnered praise. Sendek has the parts and I am convinced that he can put them together, though I’m not so sure that this year’s Pac-10 is going to be as easy to navigate as last year’s.

That brings us to the Beavers, who most feel are just above the Ducks and certainly no better than 8th. I feel differently about Craig Robinson’s program in 2010-2011. I think that this year’s OSU team is ready to break out and it was hard for me not to pick them at the #5 spot.

The way I see it, the Beavers, ASU and USC are all contenders for that bubble spot and should all be worthy of some kind of post-season bid. Oregon State has a star in the making in Jared Cunningham and I believe that this year he will make noise on the national scene. Jared reminds me of Jerryd Bayless, who had one red-hot year at Arizona before taking his game pro.

Cunningham has that elite level balance and play-making ability to go with his much more mature look this season. Jared will pair, once he is able to play (either right away or after December 11th 2010, according to Robinson), with another potential NBA guy in Roberto Nelson. Nelson is a six-foot-three 190 lb. scorer with good range and a strong defender.

Their youth will be supported by seniors Calvin Haynes and Lathen Wallace. Haynes is the returning leading scorer, while Wallace is a marksman that can take over games with his long range bombs. It is also important to note that frosh PG Ahmad Starks is a water-bug that can be an energy guy off the bench for Cunningham and at times move Jared to the 2 spot.

Starks has been the biggest noise in fall camp and appears to many to have a future in the Pac-10 similar to the long line of small but deadly players like Jerome Randle, Tajuan Porter, Nate Robinson, Tyrell Brandon, Tyus Edney, Damon Stoudamire and Isaiah Thomas.

The good news for the Beavers is that up-front the look has almost equal measures of optimism. Joe Burton is a Wes Unseld like immoveable mountain in the middle. The sophomore really impressed me last year in what seemed to be more and more good showings as the year wore on. As Burton improved, so did the Beavers who finished 6th in the Pac-10 after a slow start.

in support of Joe will be seniors Daniel Deane and Omari Johnson who really give the OSU front court a veteran look, along with 4th year junior Kevin McShane. That’s 4 post players, as many as Washington has on the roster, but it doesn’t end there. Not at all.

Six-foot-eleven and 262 lb. freshman Chris Brown, six-foot-ten and 237 lb. sweet-shooting sophomore Angus Brandt, six-foot-seven and 195 lb. red-shirt frosh marksman Rhys Murphy, six-foot-ten and 201 lb. eligible UTEP freshman transfer Eric Moreland and highly ranked six-foot-seven and 206 lb. Devon Collier add another 5 to those 4.

Not all will play this season, but one thing is certain. The Beavs have depth and experience, despite all of the pundits calling them young. They have great young players, awesome size and are continuing to gain credibility on the recruiting trail. After coming in 5th or 6th this year, they will be able to step into the top end of the conference in 2011-2012.

Like “Candy” from Lou Reed’s classic ode to the decadent 70’s of lower Manhattan “Walk on the Wildside”, USC is “everybody’s darling”. At least if you think that ESPN is the last word on college hoops.

ESPN’s Andy Katz (not to be confused with Warhol) said that the Trojans will be the 3rd and last conference team to make the dance after UW and UCLA (with ‘Zona last out), while the other ESPN analyst Jay Williams picked USC to be the 3rd with UCLA knocking on the door. I won’t go that far with the Trojans, but that would also not surprise me.

Again I see USC as pretty even with OSU and ASU and this perspective could change as January approaches, but I’m picking the Trojans 7th. Unlike Katz, ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb, Williams and others at ESPN, I don’t have a Warholesque man-crush on USC Coach Kevin O’Neill. I think Kevin does a very professional job, but the Pac-10 has others I respect more.

O’Neill will have some great pieces to work with this year in arguably the best post duo in 5th year senior Alex Stepheson and junior NBA prospect Nikola Vucevic. They will feature senior Marcus Simmons who will not score much, but will negate others from hurting SC on the wing. The Trojans will bring in junior transfer Jio Fontan in December to much hoopla.

Fontan averaged 15 points and 5 assists during his career at Fordham in the Atlantic-10, a very tough league. He will be 21 years old in January and came up in the sophisticated hoops environs of the NY Metropolitan area.

Jio will start right away, according to O’Neill and is the kind of point guard that can make talented veteran bigs like Stepheson and Vucevic look really good. After those three is when the trouble starts though, but it could be a much nicer problem to have if early indications prove to hold true.

According to O’Neill in various accounts, freshman guard Maurice Jones of Chicago is the real deal. Similar to OSU’s Ahmad Starks, Jones is a small guy in a league with a great track record for little players, but this one could be different. Little “Mo” will start the season for USC at point, until Fontan arrives and could allow Fontan to move to the off-guard.

To start the season of SC at the 2 spot will be another freshman in Bryce Jones, who is also getting very good reviews for his game which many feel is mature beyond his years. Not having much veteran scoring support on the wing could hurt USC, but with Fontan, the remarkable Jones’, Simmons and the two awesome bigs USC should be pretty good anyway.

Depth at guard will be helped further by senior Donte Smith, but there are depth concerns up front, if teams are able to wear down Alex and Nikola. Curtis Washington is a raw but huge (six-foot-ten and 230 lbs.) freshman that has been out with injury problems so far this fall. Freshman Garrett Jackson of Portland will also be looked upon for post depth.

Garrett is a bit small, but is a great athlete and over time should be a great pick-up for O’Neill. Also Evan Smith, who played very few minutes last year despite lack of depth, could also start contributing. Smith and Jackson are both in that six-foot-seven 220 lb. range and one of them may prove to be more able to spell Alex and Niko than big, yet green Curtis.

After 7th the talent and experience level in the Pac-10 takes a nose dive. Cal will have the best shot at 8th place with a veteran core in 4th year junior post Harper Kamp, senior post Markhuri Sanders-Frison and junior guard Jorge Gutierrez. None of those three is much of a shooter or scorer, so the problem for Coach Mike Montgomery will be on the offensive side.

The word out of Berkeley is that Jorge has been moved to PG, because freshmen Gary Franklin and Brandon Smith have not worked there as well as was hoped. The thought (according to sources) was that if Jorge could play off the ball he could do more to help the team win in other ways.

Gutierrez is a glue guy and a tremendous defender, certainly one of the best in the Pac-10. If he also has to be the PG, that would take away from his ability to freelance. As it is, Franklin will likely play at the off-guard where his spectacular shooting will pay dividends long term.

Short term Gary will have to adjust to Pac-10 level play which spells trouble more than likely. Another freshman that will be thrown into the fire is wing Allen Crabbe, an elite level shooter, but rather thin. Cal’s site has Crabbe listed at six-foot-six and 205 lbs., but ESPN has him at two inches shorter and only 165 lbs.

We’ll soon see what he looks like in person, but whatever size he is, Allen is going to be counted on to shoot. He can do that and so well that he has drawn comparisons to NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller of UCLA, but if he can’t stop other Pac-10 threats it is going to be hard for Crabbe to hide.

Six-foot-five and 180 lb. Alex Rossi could get the nod or perhaps six-foot-three and 180 lb. Canadian Emerson Murray, but no matter how you slice it losing so much in one year, including a potential returning player in D.J. Seeley to transfer has really hurt Montgomery. Up front the situation is nowhere near as gloomy though.

Behind Harper and Markhuri sits a little used sophomore, six-foot-nine and 210 lb. Bak Bak and another strong frosh in six-foot-eight and 210 lb. Richard Solomon. Those two will be decent depth, but on the wing with only freshmen to work with “Monty” is going to have his hands full winning Pac-10 games.

Things will get better in 2011-2012 though for Cal as Minnesota transfer PG Justin Cobbs will join the team as a 3rd year sophomore. With the Bears only losing one player in Markhuri, Montgomery could be up to his old tricks this time next year.

At Stanford things would appear to be better than they are at Cal, but I’m picking the Bears over their cross town rivals. While Cal still has the nucleus of the 2 bigs and Jorge, Stanford has one money man in Jeremy Green, one serviceable Pac-10 level post in Josh Owens and three less than impressive role players in Jarrett Mann, Andrew Zimmermann and Jack Trotter.

If Stanford had a decent PG, I would give it to them, but Coach Johnny Dawkins will be forced to play freshman Aaron Bright from Bellevue WA and sophomore Gabriel Harris, as he has reportedly moved poor shooting Mann to the wing. Jarrett is a good enough athlete to stay with opposing scorers and shooters and should be able make smart plays for others who can convert.

Green can certainly do all of that, but without current NY Knick starting guard Landry Fields drawing attention and freeing him up, he may have a much tougher job filling it up. Other than Green, Owens and perhaps Mann, Dawkins will more likely go with players that are the stars of the future in his outstanding recruiting class.

That group is headlined by six-foot-ten and 215 lb. Dwight Powell, who will have the luxury of some help from veterans Zimmermann and Trotter, but may be the better choice regardless of inexperience.

The good news for Johnny is that if Powell or fellow frosh six-foot-eleven 225 lb. Stefan Nastic or six-foot-ten and 210 lb. John Gage really fan out, there are options. Another young post that could surprise is six-foot-eight and 210 lb. Josh Huestis from Great Falls MT. I think Josh is going to make big noise in the Pac-10, but again these are freshmen.

Anthony Brown is a big six-foot-seven 190 lb. guard that will also be a great understudy for Green and could see a lot of minutes. It’s tough to figure out which team will be better, but rebounding and defense seems to prevail and I’m going with cal for that reason.

A veteran core of Jeremy Green and Josh Owens, with less than Pac-10 level supporting players in Mann, Zimmerman and Trotter, but no point guard just doesn’t do it for me. If Harris or Bright really turn me around, this is one that could change before Pac-10 play, but I’m sticking Stanford in 9th place for now.

Last place is the domain of the Ducks. Oregon has one great player in junior guard Malcolm Armstead, three serviceable vets in junior Teondre Williams, sophomore E.J. Singler and junior Jeremy Jacob, guard depth in junior Garrett Sim and well traveled senior transfer Jay-R Strowbridge, but up front there is major problems.

Senior Joevan Catron has not been healthy enough yet to practice and may not ever be what he was in the past. After that it comes down to six-foot-ten and 220 lb. German expatriate Martin Seiferth and six-foot-eight and 220 lb. JC transfer Tyrone Nared. Whether any of them are good enough to compete in an improved Pac-10 is anyone’s guess, but I’m guessing not.

Nared was originally going to go to Creighton with new Duck Coach Dana Altman, while Seiferth is just out of left field. Martin has played “club” ball in Europe and one would think in the midst of an NCAA investigation of he program that Oregon would be concerned over his amateur status. If Altman can cobble a good team out of this group it will be a minor miracle.

A new coach, a new system, NCAA investigation, major injury problems AND bottom of the league talent level does not sound like a recipe for success. At best the Ducks will get lucky in finding answers to a number of these major questions and be OK. At worst, it could be the worst team since the 0-18 OSU Beavers of 2007-2008.

More Pac-10

The conference made a film from behind the scenes of Pac-10 Media Day, which shows a number of famous players and coaches with their guards down. Well done and it really shows fans what goes into these media events.

According to, ASU freshman wing Keala King is a jack of all trades and is versatile enough going into his freshman year that Coach Sendek is having him learn 4 positions.

This reminds me of a Washington Husky by the name of Brandon Roy and what he was able to do while at the UW. If King is that kind of talent, ASU will flourish.

Doug Haller of also reported that ASU has unprecedented athleticism this season, according to Rich Wenner, “A sports performance coach at ASU for more than two decades”. According to Wenner, Brandon Dunson jumped 43 inches and Carrick Felix jumped 41 in the three step vertical jump and no one in his tenure has ever exceeded 40 inches.

Coach Sendek is not all that graceful, as he aptly demonstrated in a youtube clip where he attempts to do the “Dougie”.

USC Head Coach Kevin O’Neill very strangely commented on his team’s closed scrimmage to the LA Times, which is appears to be an NCAA violation. According to the Times article, Kevin commented on his freshman starting PG Maurice Jones.

“He played very well. He looked very comfortable. The first four minutes, he was trying too hard to run what we wanted to run instead of just playing, and then when he started just playing, he was very, very good.”

Jones also appeared to commit a violation when he commented on the game and his play.

“It was cool. (O’Neill) just told me to do what I’ve been doing: Get my open shots, be aggressive, and then give the teammates open shots too.”

The score (against the Air Force Academy) was also given, which is against NCAA rules. The article also quoted O’Neill giving point totals for his players and he and Jones also made further comments. So far there is no report as to NCAA actions reprimanding O’Neill or Jones.

If nothing happens, all of the hot air that I’ve been fed about these events being 100% off limits for media coverage would have been better spent in a dirigible.

‘Zona’s new players were profiled by and if their analysis is true, the ‘Cats will be every bit a league title contender this season.

What junped out at me in the piece was that JC transfer Jesse Perry, “Is a high energy player who can knock down the shot, put the ball on the floor, and rebound”. That is basically what Arizona already has in the senior Horne and the trio of super-sophs in Williams, Hill and Parrom.

Having one more guy that can do that is going to mean that ‘Zona is really deep up front. With the freshman Mayes looking able to back-up “Momo” Jones and the freshman Bejarano able to potentially bust zones, the ‘Cats will be ready to give everyone in the league fits.

According to the LA Times, UCLA is “struggling” to adjust to playing man to man defense.

Ben Howland is attempting to get back to the vaunted Bruin defense of those three Final-Four years, as well as pick up the pace, which he has promised recruits that he would be doing.

“We were running up and down pretty good, but we weren’t stopping each other very well. It really worries me where we are (defensively) and how quickly these games are coming up.”

That isn’t the only thing Ben is promising that he may have a problem delivering on. According to Zagsblog, 2011 Duke commit Quinn Cook’s high school coach said that Ben had promised Cook the starting PG spot over next year’s seniors and veteran starters Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson.

“He feels he can go to UCLA right away and they basically told him, ‘We’re handing you the starting position'”

Since Cook chose Duke on Thursday, one wonders why so many Bruin players are rumored to be unhappy there.

Oregon’s injury problems continue to mount as the Eugene Register-Guard reported that potential starting guard, senior Jay-R Strowbridge has a “broken nose and a dislocated right thumb”. Strowbridge will be out for a while and for a shooter or any guy that handles the ball a lot a dislocated thumb is no joke.

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