Panel Picks the Pac-10's Best

Our exclusive Bootleg.com panel pronounces their picks for the best of the Pac-10 for the 2007-08 season.

The official Pac-10 conference awards will be announced this week before the Pac-10 tournament begins on Friday in San Jose. TheBootleg.com assembled a crack (or maybe cracked) panel consisting of Sue Bair, Cyd Crampton, Peter Elderon, Warren Grimes, Bob Kinder, Tom Knecht, Anna Noriega, and Maureen Sharkey to select our version of the awards. Each of our panelists was charged with the difficult task of setting aside his or her Cardinal biases when making selections, a job made even more difficult because most of the panelists saw much more of the Cardinal than any other team. It is easier to appreciate that which one knows well. There was some heated e-mail debate and even some gloating, but no one did a "Borseth," at least not in public. This season, the Pac-10 All-Conference team has been expanded from 10 selections to 15. Are there more great players now? Doesn't seem likely. A 10-member team is more in line with the number of top-level players who deserve the honor, however the panel stuck to the official number of 15.

Thanks to the panelists and on with the show…

Pac-10 Player of the Year: Candice Wiggins, Stanford

The Player of the Year award was the very definition of a "no-brainer." You say Candice Wiggins led the Pac-10 in scoring this season and broke the Pac-10 all-time career scoring record? Eh, nice but we'd rather look elsewhere…hey, is that Sami Whitcomb? Wiggins can score, but it isn't like scoring is all she does. Wiggins is among the conference leaders in assists, steals, free throw percentage, made three-point shots, and a variety of other stats. OK, some of those involve scoring, but you get the point. Even a critter with as little neural circuitry as a fruit fly could make this call (not to disparage our expert panel, who had to use many more brain cells on some of the other categories). Does this pick really require any explanation?

Pac-10 Coach of the Year: Joanne Boyle, Cal Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

Given that Cal was picked for third in the pre-season polls, had they won their first ever conference title, shared or not, it would have been hard not to choose Joanne Boyle for Coach of the Year. In fact, in a preliminary vote before the Sunday games, that is exactly what our panel did, though it was a close vote. Historic firsts count for a lot, and Boyle has done a wonderful job building the Cal program. Perhaps some panelists were prescient; the Bears spit the bit in their final game to finish second and the panel instead chose VanDerveer, who guided a very young team to the conference title despite having to struggle back from an early two-game hole. With junior Jillian Harmon sitting out the past six games to heal a foot injury, the Cardinal rotation consisted of senior Candice Wiggins and a group of almost all freshmen and sophomores. They did not miss a beat even with Harmon in a boot.

Pac-10 Freshman of the Year: Kayla Pedersen, Stanford

Freshman of the Year was another unanimous selection, and not just because the honoree wears cardinal. Pedersen is one of the top frosh in the country. She is among the conference leaders in scoring and rebounding, and easily had the most impact of all the Pac-10 frosh. When you get tabbed to guard the likes of Candace Parker, you know you are doing all right. Plus we dig the kneepads. This is another that would not stump a fruit fly. Buzz, buzz.

Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year: Briann January, Arizona State

This was a very difficult award to select. How to judge a post vs. a guard? How to judge unfamiliar players in an area where stats don't help all that much? In the end, the pesky, aggressive perimeter defense of January was the most memorable.

2007-08 Pac-10 All-Conference Team:

Ashley Allen, Oregon State (15.3 ppg, 39.7% from three-point range)

Jayne Appel, Stanford (14.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 67 blocks, 81 assists, 58.5% field goal PCT)

Alexis Gray-Lawson, Cal (11.9 ppg, 40.6 % from three-point range)

Devanei Hampton, Cal (13.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Briann January, Arizona State (11.0 ppg, 4.66 apg, 69 steals)

Lauren Lacey, Arizona State (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Camille LeNoir, USC (10.9 ppg, 4.07 apg, 53 steals)

Taylor Lilley, Oregon (12.1 ppg)

Amina Njonkou, Arizona (13.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg)

Nadia Parker, USC (12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 40 blocks, 56.5% field goal PCT)

Kayla Pedersen, Stanford (12.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg)

Lindsey Pluimer, UCLA (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

Ashley Walker, Cal (15.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 44 blocks, 50.9% field goal PCT)

Ashley Whisonant, Arizona (15.4 ppg, 4.71 apg)

Candice Wiggins, Stanford (19.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 61 steals)

Honorable Mention (received votes): Katie Appleton, WSU; Kaela Chapdelaine, Oregon; Brittney Davis, OSU; Sybil Dosty, ASU; Emily Florence, Washington; Mercedes Fox-Griffin, Oregon State; JJ Hones, Stanford; Darxia Morris, UCLA; Jill Noe, ASU; Katelan Redmon, Washington; Natasha Vital, Cal

2007-08 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team:

Kayla Pedersen, Stanford (12.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg)

Ify Ibekwe, Arizona (10.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Katelan Redmon, Washington (11.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg)

Doreena Campbell, UCLA (8.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.41 apg)

Talisa Rhea, Oregon State (10.3 ppg, 64 three-point shots at 38.1%)

Honorable Mention: Nina Earl, UCLA; Ellie Manou, Oregon; Darxia Morris, UCLA; Jeanette Pohlen, Stanford

And there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Think the panel missed the boat somewhere? Let's hear it!

Pac-10 Tournament Notes: Pairings are now set and desperation should reign. Stanford, Cal, and Arizona State are safely in the NCAA tournament, although Arizona State is not looking at a high seed and might have to sweat if they exit the Pac-10 tournament early. Winning the Pac-10 tournament would lift the Sun Devils' seed substantially, but probably not above a #6 seed. Cal may have lost their chance at a #2 seed but they ought to be safely in as a #3 seed or at worst a #4 seed. Stanford is looking like an almost certain #2 seed, though a #1 seed is a remote possibility and an early exit might drop them to a #3 seed if certain other teams win a conference tournament and the selection committee is particularly cranky. Everyone else is hopelessly out of the NCAA tournament unless they win the Pac-10 tournament to steal the automatic bid. USC had hope for an at-large bid, but after consecutive losses to Oregon State, Arizona, and Arizona State to close the regular season, that hope is now dashed. There are too many ugly records in the conference this season and too few good wins. Sadly for the Pac-10, it appears to be a 3-bid season.

Friday games: #7 Oregon (7-11 conference, 13-16 overall) faces #10 Washington State (2-16, 5-24).

#8 Oregon State (4-14, 11-18) plays #9 Arizona (4-14, 10-19).

Saturday games: #1 Stanford (16-2 conference, 27-3 overall) takes on the #8 Oregon State/#9 Arizona winner.

#2 Cal (15-3,24-5) plays the #7 Oregon/#10 Washington State winner.

#3 Arizona State (14-4, 20-9) faces #6 Washington (8-10, 13-17).

#4 USC (10-8, 17-12) plays rival #5 UCLA (10-8, 15-14).

Sunday games: Should the seeds advance as expected, Stanford would face the USC/UCLA winner and Cal would play the ASU/UW victor in the semi-finals on Sunday.


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