OREGON DUCKS (26-9) Lost in NCAA Regional Final
WHAT WENT RIGHT- Where do we start here? The Ducks showed early on in this campaign that they did not resemble last years team that failed to reach the post-season. Ernie Kent's crew dismantled Louisville in December, and finished the year undefeated at home. The Ducks had their best season since 1939.
WHAT WENT WRONG- Aside from losing to the University of Portland, it's hard to think of anything that went wrong for the Ducks. They won the Pac Ten regular season title and went the deepest into the NCAA tournament of all the conference teams.
BIGGEST WIN- At Arizona in January. This solidified their stature among the best in the conference.
TEAM MVP- Can we split this three ways? Luke Jackson, Frederick Jones, and Luke Ridnour led the way for the Ducks.
WHO'S LEAVING- Jones and starting center Chris Christoffersen are the notable seniors. Anthony Lever provided a nice shooting touch off the bench as well.
WHO'S COMING- Brandon Lincoln from Jefferson HS in Portland should be a contributor in the very near future.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT YEAR- Expect the Ducks to compete at the top half of the conference next year. They lose a lot of their inside presence with Christoffersen and reserve center Mark Michaelis graduating. Robert Johnson will need to develop his offensive game in an effort to take some pressure off the big three. Reasonable expectations for Duck fans should be a return trip to the NCAA's and a top four finish in the conference.
CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (23-9) Lost in NCAA Tournament 2nd round
WHAT WENT RIGHT- The Bears peaked at the right time, defeating UCLA in the Pac Ten tournament and earning a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.
WHAT WENT WRONG- Cal went ice cold in the 2nd half against Pittsburgh, thus preventing a trip to the NCAA sweet 16.
BIGGEST WIN- The 107-103 overtime thriller versus Oregon at Haas Pavilion in February.
TEAM MVP- Sophomore forward Joe Shipp who led the Bears in scoring at 14.8 PPG and was second on the team averaging 4.7 rebounds per contest.
WHO'S LEAVING- Looks like Jamal Sampson has decided to cast his lot for the NBA. While the athletic freshman showed glimpses of brilliance this season, his offensive game lags far behind his athleticism.
WHO'S COMING- Kennedy Winston, that's who. This athletic small forward has the potential to be an all conference player. Coach Braun appears to be building a power as he's also adding point guard Richard Midgley from Modesto. The Bears are young, and getting better.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT YEAR- Big things. Assuming Joe Ship and Shantey Legans provide veteran leadership, the Bears have the potential to be special next year. This team on paper has the ability to compete for the conference title and a solid seed in the NCAA tournament.
USC TROJANS (22-10) Lost in NCAA Tournament 1st round
WHAT WENT RIGHT- The play of Senior forward Sam Clancy. Clancy followed up a great junior season by being named the conference player of the year. The Trojans were ranked in the top 25 for most of the season, and finished in a tie for 2nd place in the conference.
WHAT WENT WRONG- The first 30 minutes of the game versus UNC-Wilmington. The Trojans had a good season, but one that will be unfairly remembered for the early exit in the NCAA tournament. By the time USC woke up, it was really too late. A late three pointer sent the game into overtime, but foul trouble and an inability to make shots cost the team a chance to make another tournament run.
BIGGEST WIN- Defeating Oregon on a semi-neutral court in the Pac Ten conference semifinals.
TEAM MVP- Clancy.
WHO'S LEAVING- It might be easier to title this section who isn't leaving? Clancy, staring point guard Brandon Granville, starting forward David Bluthenthal formed the basis of the USC offensive system.
WHO'S COMING- Coach Bibby realized that he needed players who can come in next year and contribute right away. Junior College center Jonathan Oliver should slide right in and start for the Trojans.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT YEAR- Not much. While next year's Trojans will be athletic, they won't have seasoned scorers. Desmon Farmer will be looked upon to shoulder a lot of the offensive load. It's very doubtful that USC can return to the NCAA tournament next year, but Henry Bibby has shown the ability to produce high caliber basketball in the land of Troy. Provided that the younger players continue to develop, USC won't be down more than one year.
Part II continues with the Stanford Cardinal, Arizona Wildcats, and the UCLA Bruins.