Big West Top 10 Countdown: No. 5

We're still a few months away before the games actually begin but Big West fan J. Kline gives us his early predictions of what's in store for the 2003-04 basketball season.

#5 Pacific
Predicted Record: 9-9

It's easy to forget that on Feb. 1, Pacific was in the driver's seat in the BWC. Demetrius Jackson (2nd team all-BWC) was hot that evening, scoring 28; carrying his team to a 1-pt road win at CSF. Alas, no fearful symmetry for these Tigers; 1-9 after the halfway mark. Injuries to key players, more second-half road games, poor shot selection, and just plain cold shooting de-clawed these cats. But, with most of their best players returning and an excellent replacement at PG, UOP will be a predator this year.

Soph F Christian Maraker will be UOP's star. He averaged 13.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 51% FG in his first 12 games as a frosh; BW POTW twice. Unfortunately, Maraker injured his back weightlifting before the 12th contest (a brutal battle vs. CSUN). He suffered back spasms the remainder of the season. UOP won that game, but was 4-13 thereafter. Maraker's FG% and productivity dropped. He played in pain, and developed a strained right arch, which led to torn ligament. Maraker's playing productively for his Swedish national team this summer, indicating he's now healthy.

Also healthy is fellow Swede, junior wing Jasko Korajkic. He never fully got on-track due to a broken shooting hand in pre-season. Maraker and Korajkic form a formidable forward pair. Junior PF Matt Kemper benefits from being a year removed from knee surgery and JC. Kemper's the enigmatic Tiger, posting 12 ppg and 8 rpg at home; 3 ppg and 5 rpg, shooting (a digusting) 18% FG on the road. A hip flexor certainly didn't help.

The key departees are PG Jackson and C Tim Johnson. Jackson was floor leader and scoring leader. Through the CSF game, he averaged 16 ppg (on a respectable 1.30 pps), was BW POTW twice, and projected as a POY candidate. But, his best game may have provided a model for failure, when he sank a season-high 5 threes. With Maraker ailing, Kemper struggling, and few other options, Jackson may have tried to do too much by himself. A few games after CSF, he fell, bruising his tailbone, but struggled to play through it. His offensive efficiency decayed to (a disatrous) 0.85 pps over his final 9 games.

DJ's replacement is JC transfer David Doubley, a big-time playmaker who'll be comparable to Mark Brown of USU. Doubley's surrounded by senior guards Miah Davis and Myree Bowden. This threesome is quick and athletic. Doubley won't replace Jackson's scoring, but he'll have more assists (DJ had more t.o.'s than assists) and he'll adjust quickly, having had a RS year. Initially, he won't fill DJ's shoes, but he'll be a comparative upgrade down the stretch, when DJ struggled last season. Senior SF Tom Cockle and JC transfer Marko Mihailovic add outside shooting to round out the rotation.

2003-04 Big West Projections
No. 10 Long Beach State
No. 9 Cal State Northridge
No. 8 UC Riverside
No. 7 Idaho
No. 6 Cal Poly SLO
No. 5 Pacific