U$C Pac-10 Tourney Preview

Take a deep breath because Stanford is headed into hostile territory for a "neutral" site game against the Trojan squad that has handed Stanford arguably its two ugliest losses of the year. Where do you look for rays of hope? Simon Sez the efforts Stanford gave in the desert last week harken of a new, tougher Cardinal squad. Read on for the full preview, including the other three Thursday games.

As the top eight teams in the Pac-10 gather in Los Angeles this weekend for the renewed Pac-10 tournament, Stanford can’t afford take any trips down Rodeo Drive. They have the USC Trojans on the schedule, and this year that hasn’t led to good results. In the first well-publicized meeting, Stanford committed 27 turnovers but lost the game in the final minutes en route to a 90-82 defeat. This unfortunately was the better of the two games, as Stanford was blown out in the 2nd half and lost the game 77-58. This was an ugly display in which Stanford beat the press but usually started their offensive sets with 22-25 seconds on the shot clock. This led to bad shots, often long three’s that didn't go down. Clancy dominated the boards down low, and Stanford had no chance in the game. It looks like Stanford has toughened up over the past weekend and realize what is at stake, but for the Cardinal to finally take out the Trojans it will take contributions from many sources. It will take strong defensives effort on Clancy as well as a strong press break to be able to stay with USC. This is a time for Stanford to make a statement to the committee and perhaps sneak into a high seed. The tournament results really weigh heavily with the selection committee. Here is what you should see as Stanford plays USC for the third time:

PG - Tony Giovacchini 6-2 180 lbs vs Brandon Granville 5-9 175 lbs 13 PPG

This matchup wasn’t very good in the first two matchups as Granville often bottled up Tony on the press. Tony has had a lot of trouble in his games after “The Shot” and his playing time is showing. He has had a great deal of trouble against USC in particular, which he can hopefully turn around. I don’t really know what to look for, as Chris Hernandez and Tony each have their problems with USC. Tony often picks up his dribble in the backcourt, which leads to bad passes. Hernandexzsometimes gets out of control on the press and loses handle of the basketball. Tony has had some tough games recently, but has a chance to end his career on a high note in the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments. Look for Granville though to have the upper hand in this matchup. Advantage: Brandon Granville

SG - Julius Barnes 6-1 180 lbs 10 PPG vs Errick Craven 6-2 170 lbs 11.5 PPG

This matchup was a disaster as well in southern California, as Craven pressured Barnes into many turnovers. In defense of Julius, he was often asked to dribble the ball through five guys on the press, but still Craven caused huge problems. He is very strong for a freshmen and is a big time player. Very athletic and is one of the reasons USC presses so much. Barnes seemed to find his stroke in Arizona, as he gave Stanford a much needed 3rd scoring option. He is still on a tender ankle and probably can’t play extended minutes, especially against USC. He needs to have a big game for Stanford to win, as USC will guard Curtis and Casey tightly. Stanford really needs that third scorer this game, and how Barnes plays really affects Stanford. Craven has been a major problem on the press and should continue to be effective. Advantage: Push

SF - Casey Jacobsen 6-6 210 lbs 22.5 PPG vs David Bluthenthal 6-7 220 12 PPG 7 RPG

Casey has finished off perahps the best Stanford season in the school’s history. He looked like a true leader last Thursday as he came back into the game with six stitches, and even with his shot not falling contributed seven assists and six rebounds. He always seems to do a little extra when he goes down to LA and will definitely be counted upon. Casey also needs to put in a big effort on Bluethenthal as Stanford can’t afford to let him have another big game. Advantage: Casey Jacobsen

PF - Teyo Johnson 6-7 240 lbs vs Sam Clancy 6-7 240 lbs 19.3 PPG 10 RPG

This is where Stanford fans should be very very afraid. Not so much that Teyo has struggled, but he is running into a beast known as Sam Clancy. Clancy has established himself as a top post player as well as one of the best in the nation. He is huge which makes him very tough under the basket; he is hitting mid range shots and is very tough on the press. On top of it all he is making free throws now as well! He has ten straight double-doubles and it seems like he will be a very tough cover. Don’t look for Borchardt to guard Clancy until maybe the end of the game to prevent C-Bo from getting in foul trouble. Clancy was also the reason why the USC press is tough as he is a huge obstacle guarding the ball. Teyo has had foul trouble the entire season but with the return of Justin Davis it will most likely be a revloving door against Clancy to see who has the most success. Clancy will be a load down low. Advantage: Sam Clancy

C - Curtis Borchardt 7-1 240 lbs 16.3 PPG 11.3 RPG vs Rory O'Neil 6-11 200 lbs

Kostas Charrisis will continue to be sidelined, so Rory O'Neil, a true freshman, will take his place. Either way, Borchardt has a monumental advantage and should touch the ball on every possession. O'Neil is tall and has a good jump shot but shouldn’t be able to handle Curtis. Curtis continues to be dominant on offensive and looked very good in Arizona. Curtis now is the third leading rebounder in the nation at 11.3 per game and is grabbing the nation’s attention. He helps out the press but will need to have better hands when receiving entry passes. Curtis has a good advantage this game, but he needs to defend O’Neil out on that midrange jumper. That shot really hurt Stanford last game and needs to be eliminated. Advantage: Curtis Borchardt

Overall this has to be a huge weekend for Stanford. This is the biggest Pac-10 stage you can have, with fans and media from all over Pac-10 country watching you play. For Stanford to make the title game that would include a national TV game on CBS. Lots of exposure that will surely get into the suite of the selection committee. I think it is very tough for a team to beat another conference opponent three times. USC definitely matches up well against Stanford but it finally looks like Stanford’s toughness is coming around. Look for this to be another emotional game with Stanford pulling through in the end similar to the Arizona game. Advantage: Stanford 80-75


Oregon Vs Washington

This could actually turn out to be a decent game. Washington is always dangerous because Doug Wrenn can always get hot. Oregon is coming off of a sweep in Los Angeles and is playing very good ball. Washington beat them up in Seattle but should have lots of trouble keeping up with Oregon’s fast pace. Here are the starting lineups:

Luke Ridnour vs Curtis Allen

Ridnour has to be 2nd most improved player in the conference to Curtis Borchardt. Looks like he could be a NBA player. Allen is quick but doesn’t bring much else to the table. Advantage: Luke Ridnour

Freddy Jones vs Doug Wrenn

A super matchup, Jones could be conference player of the year with the Ducks' championship. Wrenn doesn’t get a lot of publicity but if he were still at UCONN, he could be on some All-American lists. A very good matchup, perhaps the best in the tourney: Advantage: Freddy Jones, slightly

Luke Jackson vs Erroll Knight

Jackson is also a rapidly improved player. Often throws out his arm to create space, but the tactic has been very effective. Advantage: Luke Jackson

Robert Johnson vs Grant Leep

This matchup really won’t figure too much into the result of the game. Leep can hit a few three’s and Johnson plays tough defense. Advantage: Grant Leep, slightly

Chris Christofferson vs David Dixon

Both players have quietly had decent seasons. Dixon lost a lot of weight and was a pretty good center;Christofferson took advantage of Ridnour’s passes and Jones’ great penetration skills this season. Advantage: Chris Christofferson

Overall Wrenn needs to score 30-35 points for Washington to have a chance. Oregon is playing on the top of their game and should open this game up in the 2nd half. Advantage: Oregon 90-68


Arizona vs Arizona State

This is a much better matchup than one would think. Arizona State won the game in Tempe and kept the game in Tucson very close. They play a physical brand of basketball and are able to stop Arizona’s attack effectively. Here are the starting lineups:

Jason Gardner vs Jason Braxton

Battle of the Jason’s isn’t very even. Gardner is a fantastic player, one of the elite in the country and will be a 1st round pick on the next level. Lightning quick and a great three-point shot. Should give Braxton and the Sun Devils fits. Advantage: Jason Gardner

Salim Stoudamire vs Curtis Millage

Stoudamire could play a great role in the end of the game as he shoots FTs at his incredible 93% clip. He is a streaky shooter but has had a good freshman year and should be the next great Arizona guard. Millage had a good year as well, also his first in the Pac-10, but he is a junior after transferring from a JC. Problem with Stoudamire is that you don’t really know what you will get. Advantage: Curtis Millage

Luke Walton vs Awvee Storey

Walton has had a great all-around year. Storey has had a tough year with his eye injuries but is a good rebounder and a ferocious defender. Walton has been playing on a high level and could be a big factor in this Pac-10 tournament. Advantage: Luke Walton

Rick Anderson vs Tommy Smith

Anderson has had a decent season but Smith probably has more of a chance of having a big game. Long and lanky and very athletic, could be a tough cover for Anderson, who is basically the opposite.

Isiah Fox vs Chad Prewitt

Prewitt really established himself as a top post player in the country. He lacked the exposure of a major school ,but his stats don’t lie. Can step back and hit the three and finishes well down low. Fox and Frye will do their best to try and contain Prewitt, but he should get his points. Advantage: Chad Prewitt

ASU might not have many advantages talentwise, but they play as a team. They don’t let the opposition score easy baskets and should keep this game close. I still don’t see Arizona losing this game but the Devils should keep this close. Advantage: Arizona 73-67


California vs UCLA

A very intriguing game - perhaps the biggest on the schedule. Which UCLA shows up? Who knows!!! The Bruins have the talent to win the tournament and they also are capable of losing this first game by 20. Here are the starting lineups:

Shantay Legans vs Cedric Bozeman

Legans has had some good offensive performances recently but isn’t quite a reliable scorer. Bozeman has been a disappointment this year but shows signs of life every once in a while. PLEASE KEEP LEGANS AWAY FROM MATT BARNES!! Advantage: Shantay Legans

Brian Wethers vs Billy Knight

My Cal friend says to expect Wethers to get the start, but Shipp and Forehan-Kelly will also get minutes here. Knight, like much of the UCLA roster, has been an enigma.. Advantage: Wethers and Forehan-Kelly

Joe Shipp vs Jason Kapono

Kapono’s got a stroke to die for, but hardly gets to use it unless Luke Walton is guarding him. Alright, that isn’t quite accurate, but I feel he could be so much better!! Shipp has been a leader for Cal but still can’t match “The Headband”. Advantage: Jason Kapono

P.S. Amit Tamir will be in this spot as well, could make a difference - just ask Oregon!

Jamal Sampson vs Matt Barnes

Sampson is really raw but has a great future ahead of him. Might give a little something extra for Barnes, who to say the least probably doesn’t have too many friends on the Cal roster. Barnes has had a great season and has established himself as a low post presence when he isn’t assaulting midgets. Advantage: Matt Barnes

Dan Gadzuric vs Solomon Hughes

Both seven footers have done well for themselves this season. Gadzuric has stayed out of foul trouble and Hughes has found the basket. Both could go to the NBA. Look for Gadzuric to have the upperhand though if he stays out of foul trouble. Advantage: Dan Gadzuric

Steve Lavin, fresh off a 6th place finish in the Pac-10, looks hopeless as his team trails Cal in the final minute. He is almost awaiting his pink slip from Dalis the minute he steps into the locker room. He puts his face in his hands ready to head off to a lower Divison II program and……..SWISH! Kapono lights up a three - Lavin uses his 12th life. Advantage: UCLA 77-76


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