No matter what question was posed to the 30 writers who responded to our fifth annual Pac-10 basketball survey, it seems the answer invariably was either Brandon Roy or Leon Powe.

Well, not every time.

We also asked writers who regularly cover the conference what place West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga would have finished in the Pac-10, who were the league's most improved and most disappointing players and what the Pac-10 should do about its tournament, which begins today at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

But Roy, Washington's versatile senior guard, and Powe, the sophomore forward from Cal, got most of the attention — just as they do from opposing defenses.

In fact, they became only the second and third players voted unanimously to our five-man all-conference team. Oregon's Luke Jackson received all 30 votes in 2004.

Roy was voted the league's Player of the Year, echoing the choice of the league's coaches earlier in the week. He garnered 24 votes, with Powe capturing the other six.

Said one voter in the anonymous polling of sports writers from each Pac-10 market, "If (Roy) were a team, he's everything the NCAA selectioncommittee loves — plays his best in big games, wins a lot, and has been at his best down the stretch."

A dissenting voice said Powe "stands up to the ultimate MVP litmus test in that he makes everybody else on the floor better when he is in the game.


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Roy beat Stanford's clutch senior guard Chris Hernandez 17-11 as the player you'd want with the ball in his hands at the finish of a close game.

Roy also was projected as the Pac-10's highest NBA draft choice and even got two votes as the league's most improved player.

The latter category was dominated by Cal junior point guard Ayinde Ubaka, of whom one voter said, "He looked like a washout until this season. Now — sorry Leon — he is the biggest reason for Cal's emergence."

Perhaps the greatest endorsement of Roy and Powe came when voters were given the chance to play general manager and asked to move any player to any other team's roster to strengthen it.

Powe was named on nine ballots, six suggesting he'd make Pac-10 champion UCLA complete. "The Bruins would be a Final Four team," one writer said.

Roy was viewed as a remedy for other teams by four voters, two pairing him with Powe at Cal. "The Bears have the low-post presence with Powe, the perimeter attack with Ubaka and Richard Midgley but lack the versatile slasher type," one writer said. "Roy would make Cal almost undefendable."

Players from Arizona and Oregon dominated the polling for most disappointing player. Arizona's hot-and-cold junior Mustafa Shakur got the nod in a close balloting, with one writer suggesting, "The former No.1 prep point guard looks like he should be playing at a midmajor."

But Arizona senior Hassan Adams, arrested early Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence, made a late run. "Just seemed like his head wasn't in the right place most of the season, which made him a perfect poster boy for Arizona," one writer said. "Any chance he's changing his number to 0.12 for the Pac-10 tourney?"

Adams was suspended by the team for the Pac-10 tournament but will be reinstated before the NCAA tournament, if Arizona is selected.

The writers split on how the conference should proceed with the Pac-10 tournament, now in its fifth season in Los Angeles after being reinstated. Twelve said leave it as is, and six want it scrapped altogether.

But 11 suggested tweaking the format by either returning to an eight-team bracket or rotating the site.

The writers don't think much of the Pac-10's prospects in the NCAAs — 15 putting the league's odds of reaching the Final Four at 100-to-1. But few were convinced neighboring Gonzaga could dominate the Pac-10.

Eight said the Zags would win the league, but 15 projected a third-place finish, citing guard play, defense and difficulty on the road as primary reasons.

Finally, voters were asked which player possibly considering early entry into the NBA draft should stay in college another year. Oregon sophomore Malik Hairston won the category but outpointed Powe just 8 to 71/2. 

The status of Powe's surgically repaired knee and the limits of his offensive game were provided as the biggest reasons he might benefit from another year at Cal.

We suspect some voters simply couldn't bear the notion of watching the 2007 Pac-10 season without either Roy or Powe.