Pac-10 men's basketball survey: What the writers had to say
03/10/2010 01:17:00 AM PST
03/10/2010 01:50:44 AM PST
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Some Pac-10 writers surveyed think Stanford's Landry Fields is clearly the top player in the conference.
More comments from the 31 voters who participated in our Pac-10 Basketball Writers Survey . . . many more:
DESCRIBE THIS MOST UNUSUAL PAC-10 SEASON IN ONE WORD (THAT WE CAN PRINT):
Bizarre-o, SunBelterrific, misunderstood, underwhelming, mid-major, unprecedented, mediocre, TrueBlue, horrific, compost, misunderstood, loopy, really?, muddled, Pac-none, homely, sad, unpredictable, embarrassing, ugly, calamitous, parity (or parody), pedestrian, yuck, vanilla, cuckoo, Ishtar, painful, coma-inducing, lame.
YOUR PICK FOR PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
— Jerome Randle: Best point guard on best team. Without him, Cal is Washington State. Jerome Randle, although I'm troubled by all the turnovers. Landry Fields tempts me and he's deserving, but Cal's title swings my vote. Point guard on the league champ; kept Bears on track. Though Landry Fields and Quincy Pondexter might be more important to their teams' success, Randle is the one guy who is unstoppable. Yes, he's had bad games, but they are not because of what the opposition has done. If he's playing like he can, no one can shut him down. While no one was head and shoulders above, Randle was the key player on the top team. Quincy Pondexter and Landry Fields were outstanding, but Randle gets the nod because he kept his team in the conference race, which is what a Player of the Year should do. His versatility and his leadership are what brought Cal together as a team and allowed the Golden Bears to win six of their last seven games and take control of the conference nobody else wanted to win. The best player on the best team. He's turned out to be a much better player than I would have ever imagined. He's even played some decent defense. He's not exactly my idea of the ideal point guard (he's probably not Montgomery's either) but they have forged a very effective partnership. I's really a three way tie so I'd give it to the guy on the best team. plus if he were on Stanford his numbers would be unreal.
— Landry Fields, Stanford: He's done more with less. The most consistent performer. Because he is the BEST player in the conference; Stanford is 0-18 without him Has been the most outstanding player, the most consistent player and the most valuable player — has done it at both ends and done it efficiently. He's been the best player, the most consistent player (no games less than 14 points), the most complete player, and Stanford would not have won more than a game or two without him. He can do everything on the court. Because he was so obviously Stanford's only consistent scoring threat and he still got his points. He doesn't have bad games like Randle and Pondexter, and he does so much for the Cardinal besides scoring. Sure, Stanford wasn't an upper-tier team, but how bad would it have been without him? He led the league in scoring and minutes, and was second in rebounding. What's not to love? He did more with less than any other Pac-10 player. He was the most consistent, most unstoppable, extremely well-rounded ... and it's somewhat nonsensical that the top individual honor usually goes to a player from the best team, although Jerome Randle is a fine choice, too. Productive, consistent. Plus, he keeps Stanford competitive when it really shouldn't be.
— Quincy Pondexter: It's not a team award, it's an individual award, and he's the best player in the league. Because he had both consistency and great individual performances. His play on the road during the last week, the second game while he was sick, pushed him past Jerome Randle who was a no-show against Stanford. Taking Pondexter away from the Huskies would be twice as devastating as removing Randle from Cal. His maturity and senior leadership on an otherwise young team gives him the edge. Best all around, with great intensity, too. He was the most consistent player on a 21-win team. He's a dunkmaster
WHO IS THE LEAGUE'S MOST ENTERTAINING PLAYER?
— Jerome Randle: Little guy shoots from 30 feet and is quick enough to get to the basket, plus he can't guard anybody Scares you to death, either way. When he's on, no one can stop him. With him, there's a wide range of possibilities. Every time he has the ball, which is often, something interesting will happen, whether it be a behind-the-back pass, a floater in the lane, a 28-foot three-pointer, a nonsensical pass, a cross-over dribble or an inexplicable turnover. And there is the bonus of seeing Montgomery scream at him when he makes a bonehead play. He has that electrifying quality to his game. When he gets going, it's just fun to watch. Especially the 28-footers in transition. A one-man fast break, a shooter without conscience and a player who lives to take risks. When he brings the ball up and suddenly stops six feet behind the three-point arc and fires one up — that's fun and always catches you by surprise. Fearless, always on the attack, is willing even to pick on the big boys. Who doesn't like seeing short point guards operate? In a league of one-trick ponies, his game is versatile.
— Klay Thompson: If only because he could go crazy (43 points against USD) or just make his fans go crazy (2 points, 0-for-12 against USC)
— Landry Fields: Because he does everything.
— Venoy Overton: An annoying little pest, plain and simple, but a tremendous competitor who really respects the game. There's no one you hate playing AGAINST more; there's hardly anyone you'd rather play WITH more.
— Tajuan Porter: He can be the best player on his team and then the worst player in the conference on back-to-back possessions.
— Michael Dunigan: You never know when he will vanish into thin air.
— Isaiah Thomas: Because it's still fun watching him shred through a defense. David driving on Goliath never grows old. Short and tough. He's a spark plug. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with quickness, shooting and changing momentum. Thomas plays with a lot of machismo despite his size. After scoring at Washington State and being fouled, Thomas chose to kiss his biceps while stomping to the line. His drives border on wild at times, but never lack for entertainment. I just like the way he attacks the rim.
— Jorge Gutierrez: He makes things happen.
THE PAC-10 COACH OF THE YEAR?
— Herb Sendek: Lost two big-time players and ASU was picked seventh and finished second Did the most with a spectacularly ordinary team. He's not all-interview, but he's worked wonders with a pretty limited team. Easily. Lose two best players still likely to finish second; great coach He took 10-win talent and won 20 games. Because the all-sportswriter team has more talent, and he has ASU in second place. Squeezing blood out of a stone. He's done more with less than anyone. And for these purposes, his poor showings in the Tuesday conference call shouldn't be held against him. ASU lost two stars (Harden, Pendergraph) yet stayed at or near the top of the conference. The Sun Devils lost two players to the NBA draft and still found a way to win more Pac-10 games than last year's team. The Sun Devils were picked to finish seventh in the conference but he found a way to get his players to exceed expectations and flirt with the Pac-10 championship. You look at that roster and wonder how they finish second. Then they do. He tinkered with the lineup at the right times, got Ty Abbott to bounce back from a sophomore slump and probably maximized Eric Boateng, which is quite a magic act. He did the most with the least. For a shamefully bad league, there are a surprising amount of contenders out there. No one tops Sendek, though. He took a lemon and made a surprisingly potent Limoncello. Did a lot with a little talent and a lotta `~D.' He's done the most with the least. For the soundbites, of course.
— Mike Montgomery, Cal: He helped the Golden Bears rise to their expectations in a crazy season. When Harper Kamp was hurt and out for the year, I thought the Bears would struggle without his presence inside. His loss has definitely hurt, but not enough to keep them from winning the Pac-10 title. And that's a tribute to Montgomery Because he's without question the best coach. Sure he was expected to win it, but sometimes it doesn't happen. Had a talented group of players, but still capitalized on down year. He got the absolute maximum out of this group. He adjusted his systems to fit the skills of the players he inherited. Herb Sendek will probably win, and he did a great job but Monty has a team that lacks most of the qualities that he likes: size, physical toughness, defense, rebounding. And he won the whole thing. Plus, he's fun to cover, especially compared to his predecessor. After the early injuries, he's held the Bears together and brought them to their first conference title in 50 years.
— Sean Miller: He inherited a situation with disaster written all over it in capital letters and kept the Wildcats respectable. His personnel seemed to suggest a 12-18 season, not 16-14.
— Kevin O'Neill, USC: He kept the Trojans afloat despite a lack of incentive. No one did more with less. Despite losing a freshman class that included Derrick Williams and Momo Jones, the Trojans posted the league's best non-conference win, against Tennessee. Despite sanctions that might have zapped the team's motivation, USC was 8-5 in league play before losing their last five — and even then, the five losses were by an average of 5.2 points.
THE LEAGUE'S TOP FRESHMAN?
— Derrick Williams, Arizona: Had nice numbers and presence inside, while teammates often forgot about him Sean Miller can build a pretty good team around him. Not flashy, but a solid scorer and rebounder all year long. By default. No, he seemed to be a key performer from start to finish of the season. Because Tyler Honeycutt got a late start. He's the best big man in the conference, which is not saying a lot in the Pac-10 this season, but for any freshman to make that claim, he has to be pretty good. He's pretty darn close to being the best player in the Pac-10. Gonna be a star. For stretches, he wasn't just the conference's best freshman. He was its best player. Stats, sure, but he adds an element to Wildcats that can't be underestimated. Theyd be sub-.500 without him. He is among the conference's leaders in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding and has turned out to be a great complement to veteran teammate Nic Wise. Kinda by default — there's nobody else even close. He's one of the few skilled post players in the league. It's amazing that he doesn't get more touches in their offense. He was the best true post player in the Pac-10, and the best scorer at Arizona. Without him, the Wildcats would have lost an extra four or five games, I believe. With the exception of Reggie Moore, he won it by default. Scores, rebounds, gets to the line and did it consistently. No other freshman is close. A high school wing who dominated the post as a rookie, and he was even more unstoppable late in the season when he started using his left hand more. Really mature game. Somebody check his birth certificate. Very solid, plays big. Because there are no one-and-dones this year.
THE LEAGUE'S MOST SURPRISING TEAM?
— Arizona State: Pretty impressive, putting together another 20-win season after depending so much on current NBA players James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph in previous years No great talent, but smart and adaptable. Not only didn't I see how they could be this good, I still don't see how they are this good. Still not sure how this team won 12 conference games. They have the athleticism of a big toe after losing James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. That should have jettisoned the Sun Devils to the bottom of the conference. Instead, somehow, they're on the bubble. They're not that talented. Seriously. How can they have 22 victories?
— Stanford: Worst players 3-through-12 in the conference and yet were competitive, expecially at home. Seven conference wins after being picked to finish last by everyone, and that was before the Cardinal lost its two best big men, freshman Andy Brown and returning starter Josh Owens, for the season before the season began. Stanford stays in games and didn't finish last like us genius media guys predicted. Johnny Dawkins deserves a lot of credit. How did that team win 13 games?
— Oregon State: Not because it finished better or worse than most people thought, but because you never knew what the heck you were going to get from one game to the next.
— USC: With issues about the Trojans' former coach, departed players and possible NCAA sanctions, no one was expecting much from the Trojans this season. Finishing 16-14 with victories over Tennessee (ranked), winning the Diamond Head Classic, and being competitive in the conference came as a surprise to many observers.
— UCLA: It's astounding how bad they are on defense. Howland must want to vomit watching them play that lame 2-3 zone. It shows that even good coaches can make huge recruiting mistakes (Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson, for example).
UCLA. Sub .500 season? What must John Wooden think?
THE LEAGUE'S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM?
— Washington: Pondexter and Thomas, plus decent supporting cast, good enough that Huskies should have not been such a joke on the road Preseason No. 9 by Sports Illustrated. One win out of the Northwest. The defending champs returned six of their top eight scorers and added the highest-rated freshman in the conference. They should have eased into the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies should've been a top 15 team all season. Washington by far. These guys should've repeated, but they're just too full of themselves. Does any team do more posturing and over-the-top celebrating? Washington. No contest.
— Oregon State: With so many players in the second year of that system, it seemed a safe assumption that their advancement in execution would offset the advancement of the league's scout. Didn't happen that way.
— UCLA: Wouldn't you think a Los Angeles school with UCLA's pedigree could find a decent point guard somewhere on the planet? Just plain hard on the eyes. The Bruins were picked to finish third in the conference and never found the consistency need to live up to that. Injuries played a part in the Bruins' subpar season, but so did the lack of talent in some key positions. Departures, injuries, whatever ... deal with it. You're UCLA.
— Oregon: Maybe Washington could have been better. Maybe UCLA should have been better. But there's simply no way that the Ducks should be the (second)-worst team in a bad league. I know they're relatively young, but I didn't think they'd be the worst-shooting team in the Pac-10.
IF OREGON MAKES A CHANGE, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE SCHOOL HIRE AS THE DUCKS' NEXT COACH?
Mark Few: Great coach, great recruiter, squeaky clean, Oregon alum, grew up the area, parents still live there, has accomplished everything that can be done at Gonzaga. I'd love to see what Mark Few can do in the Pac-10. I'd like to see him give up the cushy, guaranteed NCAA spot he has at Gonzaga. But I don't think he will. The national wonks would love that story for a while.
— Tony Rodham, ex-First Brother-in-Law: Start interviewing the brothers of former first ladies and see if any of them can hoop. Heard Tony Rodham has an impressive crossover dribble.
— Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's: I'd like to see Mark Few be the coach, but since that won't happen, we'll go with Randy Bennett, who probably won't get it because he's not glamorous enough.
— Cameron Dollar, Seattle: At least he can beat Oregon State.
— Bob Knight: They're already moving into a Knight Arena, right?
— Mike Dunlap, Oregon assistant: They're already paying him for next year, anyway.
— Jamie Dixon, Pitt: Great coach and media friendly as can be, unlike some Mark Fews I could mention.
— Reggie Theus: He's made for the college game and he'd exploit all the perks of Eugene.
— Steve Alford: Let's see what Nike's money will get on the open market. How about Steve Alford? Fresh start, fresh arena, fresh approach.
— Paul Westhead, Oregon women's coach: Just an easy move down the hall at the Cas Center.
IF A PAC-10 PLAYER IS TAKEN IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NBA DRAFT, WHO WILL IT BE?
— Quincy Pondexter: There aren't 30 better players — or NBA prospects — than Quincy Pondexter. Quincy Pondexter is really good and has a pro body. Quincy Pondexter will go in the late first round. He's probably the only stud Pac-10 upperclassman who, for sure, has an NBA body. End of the first round, say, 28th.
WHICH CURRENT PAC-10 PLAYER WILL BE THE BEST NBA PLAYER IN FIVE YEARS?
— Klay Thompson: He has an NBA shot and NBA size for a shooting guard. Talented, with lots and lots of upside. He'll be nice and strong by then.
— Derrick Williams: He'll leave Arizona early and be a regular in the NBA five years from now.
— Abdul Gaddy: Believe it or not.
— Tyler Honeycutt: He already does the stuff you can't teach. Give him a jump shot and he's gonna be terrific.
— Quincy Pondexter: I'm beginning to see more and more Brandon Roy in Quincy Pondexter.
— And this one . . . Does Jayne Appel count?
WHO WINS THIS WEEKEND'S PAC-10 TOURNAMENT AND THE AUTOMATIC BID?
— Cal: Experienced team that, when the shooters are on could win two games in the NCAA tournament. If the shooters are cold, he Bears could be eliminated by the 10-minute mark of the first half of their first game. Because they're harder to beat than anyone else, and because they'll be able to avoid Oregon State. It would be just like this league to get one bid this year. Because it is the best team and because it may HAVE TO in order to get into tourney. Everything I liked about Cal back in October I still like in March. Although the Huskies might be heating up at just the right time. Cal can survive an off game by Randle, Christopher or Robertson and still out-score and out-coach Washington. Confidence is sky-high.
— Washington: It promises to be ugly basketball, and the Huskies thrive on that. The Huskies need to win it to get into the tournament and they are too talented not to be playing in March. Bidding for the tournament, the Huskies will play with proper urgency. They're finally starting to play like they're capable. The Huskies seem to be hitting their stride at the right time, and won't have to worry about USC, which swept them during the regular season. Huskies are the best team, are playing the best basketball and have their backs against the wall. Has the best depth of the contenders that is necessary for a three-day run. Because they have the most to gain. That's probably the only way they get in. The way this year has gone, there's no way the favorite wins the tournament. Because I pulled their name out of a hat. I think Cal and ASU are already in the NCAA tourney. Huskies still need to build a case. Playing well, and I can't see Cal finishing the job Huskies are finally living up to their potential this season and proving they can win away from home.
— UCLA: Because USC's ineligible, Monty hates the tournament and the Bruins will have enough good players and crowd support to survive.
— Arizona State: The Sun Devils are the most consistent team because of their defense. Best mix of inside-outside, great defense and playing great of late.
— Oregon: Because Ernie Kent and Tajuan Porter have the Eye of the Tiger right now. This season needs a fitting end.
IF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT WERE EXPANDED TO 96 TEAMS THIS SEASON, HOW MANY BIDS WOULD THE PAC-10 GET? Two. America demands that be the limit, and at that, Washington would have to be a 21-seed.
THE BETTER BET: A PAC-10 TEAM REACHED THE SECOND WEEKEND OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT OR WINS THE NIT? Washington wins NIT There's no way a Pac-10 team can win the NIT, so let's go with Cal having a shooter's chance of reaching the Sweet 16. Are you kidding? The Pac-10's gonna dominate the NIT and the CBI. NIT baby! That the next governor of California is a wedge of cheese. No, the second weekend. The Pac-10 will be run out of the NIT in minutes. Second weekend of the NCAA. The teams that are OK with taking an NIT bid aren't good enough to win it. Second weekend. I'd always take "the field" over any individual team in the NIT. However, I think Cal is good enough to win a couple of NCAA games ... and Washington, too, if they can just get invited in. A Pac-10 team making the second weekend. A hot Cal team could accomplish that. NCAA, but Cal (the most likely) is still a longshot. Because whoever squeaks in will go as an 11 or 12 and those often get decent paths to the Sweet 16.
WHICH TEAM WILL WIN THE 2010-11 PAC-10 REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP?
— Arizona State: Lots of returning talent, incredibly tough zone defense that is difficult to prepare for, especially if it's your second game in three days.
— Arizona: Please, no. Make it stop. I can't endure this again. Okay, okay. Arizona, but I'm not happy about it. Almost everybody back, plus can you really tell the difference between MoMo Jones and Nic Wise? They look and play the same. Good coach, good young talent.
— UCLA: They're young, and they'll have a lot of things figured out by next year. Too much talent to be awful two years in a row. And not being awful should be enough to beat out Arizona, which will finish second. UCLA returns to form. What a cruel question. Trusting name brand and coaching, we go with UCLA. After this nightmare year, I'm clueless.
— Texas or Missouri: I'm counting on expansion. Otherwise, who knows? Minus those four Bears and Pondexter, the league looks like it'll be even worse.