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Pac-10 Notebook

February 19, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Pac-10 Notebook

by Joaquin Mesa

Bubbles Anyone?

It may be cold, a blizzard wreaking havoc in New York, rain where rain shouldn’t be in Los Angeles, but yet there is still talk of bubbles in the college basketball circuits. Something usually saved for the springtime is already being spoken of in late February. Oregon saw bubbles as is slouched into late winter, with USC and California blowing them all around in the Pacific Northwest. Nobody thought that the team with the two Lukes would be dancing amongst the bubble blowers, waiting for the last calls to dinner.

“Okay kids, Stanford! Get your finger out of your nose! Arizona and California are already at the table. Arizona State, put down that frog and get inside…and where the heck is Oregon? Are they around the corner with USC and Oregon State? Why does that kid hang out with those trouble-makers. All they do is play in the mud and blow bubbles.”

Oregon only has six losses, but included in those losses is a setback to a Cincinnati team that has lost recently to DePaul and Charlotte. Combine this with the loss to USC in the sports arena and the Ducks don’t look so spectacular. Bubbles everywhere. In losses, they often toss up shots that would force Bobby Knight to toss a chair in the general direction of the poor kid at the end of the bench. True, they have also lost to ranked teams in Arizona, California and Stanford, but who really cares. This is a team that was ranked fourth in the nation before the season began, and they were the lone representative of the Pac-10 in the last stages of the big dance in 2002. This was supposedly the team to beat in the Pac-10.

Maybe this is why they aren’t doing so well this year. Last year, the Oregon Ducks were the darling underdogs of the Pac. They had one good recruiting class, and they had a program that was eager to prove itself. And don’t anybody forget Freddie Jones.

What is truly amazing is that Oregon looks to be the team that will round out the five Pac-10 teams in the tournament this year. Above them, Stanford and Arizona State of all teams!

What makes the Pac-10 interesting right now is that there is a tournament. And I would like to look at the match-ups before anybody else.

Arizona versus Washington

Arizona is going to crush the Huskies. The Huskies are being powered by a sophomore, when everybody thought that Doug Wrenn would be the problem. Lorenzo Romar can’t handle the depth that Arizona presents, and even if he put in Cameron Dollar, there will be no leadership on his team. This match-up isn’t even worth talking about.

California versus Oregon State

I still can’t believe how well this team is playing despite missing starters from last year and strong recruits. How long its success will last having absolutely no depth is still to be seen. Last year, USC’s lethargy showed in the first round of the tournament. When will California fall flat on its face?

Stanford versus USC

This is going to be the best first round game, as Stanford is inconsistent, and USC is all heart and no basketball savvy. I’ve been hyping USC all year, and this is its last chance to not make me look stupid.

Arizona State versus Oregon

Oregon is the time-tested, junior-led team that will beat Arizona State, and give them something to think about heading into the tournament. Arizona State is still so young, and Oregon will definitely have to look out for them next year.

Five more games

Don’t forget, I’m way ahead of myself here. There are still five more games for each of these teams. USC can finish strong and win the Pac-10 tournament, forcing six Pac-10 teams into the Big Dance. Stanford can crush Arizona and Oregon to finally feel like it deserves that rank of 21. Arizona State can get some sort of consistency going as it heads down the yellow brick road with a dominant freshman. The best part of the season is now. Let’s see what happens.


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