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Pac-10 Notebook

February 11, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Pac-10 Notebook

by Joaquin Mesa

Order is being restored in the Pac-10 with the top six teams evening out. This makes sportswriters’ jobs easy when debating the top six teams; basically, we look at the standings and count down using the number of losses as our frame of reference. First, Arizona has one loss, to the only other ranked school in the conference, Stanford. California is next on the list, with two recent losses in Arizona that hit them hard. Arizona has good teams, but a California team that was undefeated and on the verge of being ranked, tumbled from national attention. Third on the list is Stanford, the occasionally impressive, very inconsistent team that likes to impress fans with solid passing and fundamental defense. Fourth is an Arizona State team that is where it is largely due to an enormous freshman in the middle, Ike Diogu (He is shooting 60 percent, people). Fifth is Oregon and USC is sixth. Both teams have five losses, but Oregon has impressed with victories over Kansas and Minnesota. USC is trying to dig itself out of the pit of mediocrity, with recent victories over Oregon, UCLA and UNLV, but it looks like it’s only going to be a group of five teams going to the tournament this year, and this isn’t taking into account any sort of meltdown that could be in the works up in Oregon.

The Pac-10 has been unimpressive this year, and the rankings show this. Only Stanford joins Arizona in the Top 25. However, this is the same conference that had six teams go to the tournament last year, and all those freshmen that were involved last year, and are finally getting playing time this year, are rounding out, and are eager to prove themselves. Let’s take a look at the superb sophomores that are leading their teams into the post-season.

Arizona

Channing Frye is developing much like Loren Woods, slowly. However, he stills manages to lead his team in rebounding and blocks, despite not starting every game this year. Isiah Fox is shooting 61.4 percent, but is only getting 15 minutes a game, so he only scores 5.3 points a game. Salim Stoudamire is the key to this sophomore class. His scoring and range have provided another credible outside threat besides Gardner on this team. He also is shooting 90 percent from the free throw line. This team isn’t really having any sophomore slumps, but then I guess this is why they are ranked number one again.

California

Amit Tamir is the Robin to Joe Shipp’s Batman. His agility at his height has people talking about his future in the NBA, and with all the European success stories, why not? 17.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game is what he puts up every night. If it weren’t for Tamir, California would be Washington State, a bad team with one good scorer.

Stanford

Stanford, the surprise of the conference, can thank Josh Childress and Rob Little for its success. These two sophomores have put together pretty solid seasons, with Childress paving the way for upsets over Arizona, Xavier and Florida. Childress leads the team in blocks, steals and rebounds, a rare combination. His long arms and penetrating ability make him look more like Garnett then a typical Stanford big man. His scoring is what has kept Stanford above water after losing Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt to the draft. Little has been a solid nine points a game, six rebounds a game. These two are why Stanford is ranked 24th.

USC

This is a team led by Sophomores. Errick Craven, Derrick Craven, Rory Oneil, Nick Curtis comprise the core players that produce for the Trojans. Nick Curtis leads the team in rebounds, Errick Craven is second in scoring, and leads the Pac-10 in steals. Rory Oneil is third in scoring, and provides an outside presence as a big man. Derrick Craven handles the ball most of the time, and though he doesn’t score as much as his brother, he is a stabilizing force at the point. This is a team that is going to cause trouble in the Pac-10 the next two years.

Oregon State

This team is led by seniors, but three sophomores are poised to break out. J.S. Nash, Floyd North, and David Lucas are poised behind Phillip Ricci, Jimmie Haywood, and Brian Jackson. They don’t get much playing time, but at least there is some hope after the big three graduate.

Washington

Will Conroy has become the Doug Wrenn for the Washington Huskies. Wait, isn’t Doug Wrenn on the Washington Huskies? My choice for player of the year has been displaced by a super sophomore. Conroy, though not spectacular at 13 points per game, is still leading the team in scoring. Combined with the 4 rebounds and 4 assists he tosses in, this guy is a steal.

UCLA

Dijon Thompson is a joy to watch. On a team with absolutely no game, he brings excitement and fun to Pauley Pavilion. Andre Patterson and Cedric Bozeman round out the recruiting class last year that gave UCLA alumni hope. However, Thompson is the real joy to watch, and is going to be the glue that holds UCLA together after Kapono leaves.

Washington State

Thomas Kelati is the solid second option to Marcus Moore. He is shooting 46 percent from behind the arc and tossing in 10 a game. He almost has 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game, but Moore doesn’t share the ball enough for anybody else to get good stats.

Oregon State and Arizona State

These two teams don’t really have any good sophomores, but when the Juniors and Freshman are carrying the load, a team doesn’t really sweat one bad recruiting year.

Game of the Week

USC versus Arizona

     

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