The Bootleg's "Pac-10 Round-Ball Round-Up"

To keep us all up-to-date on the ongoing action involving our various Pac-10 conference rivals, The Bootleg's Men's Basketball writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna debuts his weekly hoops coverage and provides his inaugural "Kevo Power Rankings", a proprietary, unique and debate-worthy estimation of the current conference power structure.

The Bootleg's "Pac-10 Round-ball Round-up" [Week of November 9-15]

Last Monday was the official start of the college basketball season, with Top-25 schools UNC, Syracuse, Ohio State, and (unfortunately) Cal all in action as they get ready for the "2KSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic" in New York this coming week.   However, the 2009-2010 season didn't really kick off until Friday, when 128 games involving Division-I schools occurred to get things rolling.  We all know how Stanford fared this weekend with a loss to the USD Toreros at the Jenny Craig Pavilion followed up with a 17-point win over Cal Poly, so let's take a look at how the rest of the teams in the conference fared.

This article is also the beginning of the "Kevo Power Rankings", where I will be ranking each team in the Pac-10 conference WITH THE EXCEPTION OF STANFORD week-by-week.  It's a long-standing personal tradition, and by "long-standing", I mean since I arrived on The Farm as a freshman a few years ago...well, probably more accurately the 2007-2008 season, when I first boldly stated that "I don't make predictions about Stanford"). It is a fact of which few are aware - that I never predict the outcome of a Stanford game or give a ranking to the Cardinal with respect to the other teams in the Pac-10 conference.  Booties can decide for themselves where you think Stanford fits in with the rest of the bunch.  Without further ado, let's take a look-see at what each Pac-10 team was up to last week:

ARIZONA: The Wildcats had only one game this week, defeating those pesky Lumberjacks from Northern Arizona University by a score of 87-70.  There's not too much to read into this one.  Northern Arizona is a pretty inexperienced squad this year that lost their best gun from a year ago in Josh Wilson; the Lumberjacks have six freshmen and five transfers on the roster.  Furthermore, NAU went only 8-19 and didn't play well enough in conference to make the Big Sky tournament (the Top 6 of the 9-team conference make the tournament).  So 17 points doesn't look too substantial.  On the other hand, the game was never in doubt, with the Wildcats going up 23 in the first half and eventually building a 24-point lead in the second half.  Another thing to take into consideration is that these teams have played each other six consecutive years and two of those games were decided by fewer than 10 points and in only one of those six did UA end the game with a 20+ point cushion.  It was good to see Wise be able to shoulder a significant load after injuring his ankle in practice earlier in the week.  Perhaps the brightest spot was freshman Solomon Hill, who dropped 17 points and 8 boards on the Lumberjacks in his first collegiate game.  Jamelle Horne went for a double-double as well (14 and 11 boards), but it should be noted that NAU only has one guy above 6-8.

Up next for the Wildcats: Rice on 11/19 (Former Cal coach Ben Braun and Kevin Mouton have the Owls out to a 3-0 start!)

ARIZONA STATE: Like their in-state rivals, the Sun Devils only had one game on their slate, manhandling Western Illinois 87-35.  While there was a good amount of garbage time in this one and just about everyone on the Sun Devils got a lot of game action, seven players on Arizona State scored at least 8 points and no one cashed in more than 12, so the scoring was spread evenly throughout Coach Sendek's talented squad. You can say all you want about how easy it probably was for the Sun Devils to pour it on Western Illinois, but you have to give credit to what ASU did defensively, holding WIU to 23% shooting (12-52) for the game and forcing 16 turnovers.  For those interested in Western Illinois (which may not be a huge number), the Leathernecks then followed up their 52-point drubbing by traveling to Manhattan, Kansas and losing 82-50 to Kansas State.  They were 9-20 last year and 6-12 in the Summit League, a conference I have a huge man-crush on (two years ago, I stopped paying attention in my Chinese History class to watch the Summit League Championship game between Oral Roberts and IUPUI.  And who could not love North Dakota State last year with Ben Woodside?  Very underrated conference in my book). 

Up next for the Sun Devils: Texas State on 11/16 (home); USF Dons on 11/20 (home- don't sleep on the Dons this year).

USC: Did not play, but Tim Floyd is now the top assistant for the New Orleans Hornets, an NBA franchise he was the head coach of just a few short years ago.  I've always been a big Floyd fan, so he gets the best of luck wishes from me.

Up next for the Trojans: UC Riverside on 11/17 (home); LMU on 11/21 (home)

UCLA: Did not play either.  The SoCal schools were the only two in the conference to not play a game in the opening week.  Good for the Bruins, as they try to get healthy for the season.

Up next for the Bruins: Cal-State Fullerton on 11/16 (home- part of that 24 hours round the clock college basketball gimmick on ESPN); Cal-State Bakersfield on 11/20 (home)

CAL: The Golden Bears were the first Pac-10 team to begin 2009-2010 play, and it got off to a bit of a rocky start with a five-point win over the Murray State Racers at home (75-70).  This game could have been much closer at the end if Murray State managed the clock a little better (fouling 12 seconds in to the shot clock two times in a row in a two-possession game with less than one minute remaining - I question that.  Look, I know they were going for the steal and set a pretty nice trap on the receiver of the in-bounds pass, but once that pass goes, you gotta foul immediately!).  As close as the score was, however, the Bears were clearly the better team, getting solid play from the "Big 3" of Randle, Robertson, and Christopher.  And Murray State is a good team, coming off a 22-win 2008-2009 campaign and is expected to challenge for the Ohio Valley Conference title. 

The Bears then followed up that performance with a 95-61 win over Horizon League bottom-feeder Detroit, a Coach Ray McCallum group that includes a lot of transfers, but features guys who are pretty athletic and should do considerably better than the 7-23 mark they have put up the last two seasons (they got a solid win in their home opener Sunday night against Western Michigan to pull to 1-1 on the year).  However, this was just a 40-32 game at halftime and the Titans actually pulled to within four to begin the second half before Cal took over - thanks to some serious work of the Big 3, who combined for 62 points (22 apiece for Randle and Robertson, 18 for Christopher).  If Cal can get a consistent fourth scorer, they are going to be very tough to beat (as if they aren't already!).  I liked what I saw from Boykin in the Murray State game, and Sanders-Frison has the potential to be a solid option offensively as he had a couple of nice finishes down low.  We're going to learn a lot more about this team on Thursday against the 'Cuse.

Up next for the Golden Bears:  Syracuse on 11/19 at the Madison Square Garden ("2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic")

OREGON: The Ducks played host to one of those tournaments similar to the "Basketball Travelers Classic" that Stanford hosted at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season: Three games in three days against pretty weak competition, with the Sunday game supposedly being the most challenging.  Coach Kent's crew blasted Winston-Salem State (when did they add the "State"?) 94-43 on Friday, hammered UC Davis 95-64 on Saturday, and then defeated Ogide and the Rams of Colorado State 68-55 on Sunday (Winston-Salem State's mascot is also a Ram, so there were two flocks of Rams in the tournament- CSU was the better one, defeating WSSU 57-40).  So this three-day mini-tournament pretty much lived up to its billing.  There is a lot of young talent on this Ducks squad, but it was the mainstays of Tajuan Porter, Jovean Catron and LeKendric Longmire doing much of the work in the most significant game of the weekend, as the three combined for 44 points against Colorado State (23 for Porter, 11 for Longmire, 10 for Catron).  They did get another scorer in double-figures on Sunday, Sophomore Teondre Williams who put in 11 points (he also had 19 against Winston-Salem State and 11 against UC Davis).  The big man in the middle, Michael Dunigan, is a guy projected to be one of the top posts in the conference this year. Dunigan had himself somewhat of a sub-par weekend, averaging only 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds over the three games.  Part of the problem was that he got into foul trouble in two of the contests (including the Colorado State game in which he only played 10 minutes and had 0 points and 3 rebounds), and also there wasn't much of a need for him to come up big against weaker opponents.  On the plus-side for Dunigan, he did swat five shots against Winston-Salem State (I swear they used to just go by Winston-Salem).

Up Next for the Ducks: Portland on 11/21 (away- this is going to be a VERY interesting game to follow.  Can "Coach Rev" dial up another "W" against a Pac-10 opponent?  He opened up the 2008-2009 season with a surprising 83-82 win over Washington in Seattle).

OREGON STATE: A team that many think have a shot to reach the NCAA tournament this year did not put their best foot forward this weekend, as they went just 1-2 in a three-day tournament hosted by Texas Tech.  Perhaps a 64-60 loss at the hands of the Red Raiders on their home court was expected or at least not surprising, but a 67-43 loss to Texas A&M Corpus-Christi?  This one is considerably less forgivable. Interestingly (or not) enough, that is the same score that Stanford beat Colorado by on 12/02/07 in Boulder as part of the Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge).  Sure, the Islanders from Corpus Christi went to the Southland Conference tournament championship game last season and almost knocked off regular season champs Stephen F. Austin (I watched this game on ESPN360, certain that a Stephen F Austin win would keep Stanford in the NIT picture since an SFA loss would send them to the NIT as regular-season conference champs... I was wrong), but you can't get blasted like that if you are Oregon State.  You want to show everybody that you can keep the momentum of last season's CBI Championship going, and this isn't the way to do it.  One of the problems this weekend for the Beavers was Omari Johnson's lack of scoring, dropping in 11 points over the course of the weekend and going scoreless in the four-point loss to Texas Tech.  Card-killer Schaftenaar was pretty good, consistently scoring 13 or 14 points over the three games.  The thing I have never understood about Oregon State is why Laethen Wallace doesn't get more burn - this dude can light it up from downtown in a hurry.  I'm not saying he should start (which hey, I would like to see on a personal level), and I'm not questioning Coach Robinson's motives, but I think he can be a serious threat offensively, if only for his three-point shot.  Oh yeah, sandwiched in between those two losses to the Texas schools was a 62-47 win over independent South Dakota.

If you're a closet Beaver fan like me (don't kill me- my mom went to Oregon State -  I'm also a pretty big fan of most Pac-10 schools outside of conference play), I wouldn't be too worried.  The Beavs started out really slowly last year before picking things up considerably (they lost their first four games against inferior competitors such as Howard, Yale, and Montana State).  While they probably thought they should go 2-1 this weekend, there is plenty of basketball to be played, and there are plenty of opponents who are going to be thrown off by the amoeba 1-3-1 zone that picks up beyond half court and seemingly wreaks havoc on more athletic teams.

Up next for the Beavers: Sacramento State on 11/21 (home - no more Loren Leath for the Hornets!)

WASHINGTON: Like the Oregon schools, Coach Romar's bunch had a Friday-Saturday-Sunday slate this weekend, and like the Ducks, they were victorious in all three. It didn't come without some drama however, as the Huskies nearly squandered an 18-point lead in their opener against Horizon League foe Wright State before holding on 74-69 thanks to 30 points from Isaiah Thomas.  The rest of the weekend went much more smoothly for Washington, defeating Belmont 96-78 and the Bone-and-Dominguez-less Portland State Vikings 111-55.  One thing I am really interested in this season concerning UW is the play of their big men.  How will they fill the shoes left behind by Jon Brockman?  Matt Bryan-Amaning is their strongest threat down low, and showed pretty well this weekend thanks to a 23-point, 7-rebound performance against the Bruins of the Atlantic Sun variety.  However, he is really all they have right now. He and Brendan Sherrer are the only two players on the Husky team that stand 6-9, and Sherrer is a guy who has not seen much time in his career.  Outside of the post though, this team is golden.  Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter are absolute beasts.  I am really looking forward to another Pondexter-Fields showdown come Pac-10 season; those two guys could easily be the top two scorers in the conference (with the edge going to Landry, of course!).  I haven't even mentioned Abdul Gaddy - shame on me.  He's nice too.

Up next for the Huskies: San Jose State on 11.20 (home - Adrian Oliver returns to his original college spot!  I can't wait to see this one.  The Spartans are supposedly good enough to finish above .500, but how will they fare against top-of-the-line competition?  We'll find out Friday!)

WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars played the part in their annual demolishing of Mississippi Valley State.  But this year, the Delta Devils put up 66 in defeat- an accomplishment for them considering the fact that they scored 51 points COMBINED in their last two trips to Pullman.  I had a chance to meet some of the Delta Devils' band members when we stayed in the same hotel for the opening weekend of the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Anaheim, and I've had a soft spot in my heart for them ever since.  Life as a SWAC school is one tough cookie, having to take a boatload of "guarantee games" every year against Top-25 opponents.  Take their 2008-2009 schedule for example.  November 14th at Arizona State, November 15th at Washington State, November 17th at Oklahoma, November 18th vs James Madison, November 20th at Montana, November 24th at Arizona, November 25th at Georgia, November 29 at Iowa State, December 2 at Creighton- how are you supposed to win with a schedule like that?  They probably didn't set foot on campus for three weeks. ...but I digress.

The Cougars are a team that are projected to finish near the bottom of the conference, but they have plenty of talented players that had a solid outing in Coach Bone's first game as the head honcho of a Pac-10 school.  Klay Thompson, a more-than-likely candidate for First-Team All Pac-10 this year, scored 20 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, dropped 3 dimes, and picked 2 pockets.  Also, the second-coming of Ivory Clark (De'Angelo Casto) went for 18 and 4 with 3 blocks.  Marcus Capers and Reggie Moore also added 10 points apiece for the Coug effort, as the freshman Moore also had 6 assists and 4 rebounds.  But this was against MVSU, a team they beat 71-26 two seasons ago and 76-25 last season.  This year: 94-66.  It was still a blowout, but significantly closer than the previous two seasons.  Also, they have a guard named Anthony Brown on their team.  How dare he de-commit, forgo his senior season of high school, and jump ship to Pullman and somehow get cleared by the NCAA to play immediately for Coach Bone!

Up next for the Cougars:  Eastern Washington on 11.16 (home); Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW for short) on 11.19 (home)

The Official Kevo Power Rankings: After Week 1 of 2009-2010 for Pac-10 teams (excluding Stanford- like I said, I never make predictions on the Card - call it superstition if you wish).  Mind you, these are based merely off this past week's results and have nothing to do with pre-season media polls or how teams might project to play as the season goes on.  I am implementing a super-arbitrary, proprietary scoring system that will be summed each week and a team will have a cumulative total as the season goes on. 

Traditionally, the scoring system will look like this: 0 for 9th, 2 for 8th, 4 for 7th, 6 for 6th, 8 for 5th, 10 for 4th, 12 for 3rd, 14 for 2nd, 16 for 1st (if I think there are ties, I hate dealing with decimals so this will keep it nice and simple all the way through.  If two teams are tied for first, then they both get 15, and so on).  USC and UCLA are at the bottom simply because they didn't play this week, and will each get one point.  I can't completely knock ‘em for not having a chance to state their case, but you gotta compete if you want to make an impression on Kevo's mind!

1.       Washington- 16 pts

2.       Cal- 14 pts

3.       Arizona State- 12 pts

4.       Oregon- 10 pts

5.       Arizona- 8 pts

6.       Washington State- 6 pts

7.       Oregon State- 3 pts (creative license- they didn't play better than two teams in the Pac-10 this week, but get props for playing two virtual road games and one neutral-site contest).

8.       UCLA-1 pt

9.       USC- 1 pt

Check back next week!

About the Bootleg's Newest Author: Kevin Danna, Stanford '09, started out as a student manager-in-training for the Men's Basketball Team on October 14, 2005, and has lived and breathed Stanford Basketball ever since. From doing laundry to filming practice to working summer camps, he has been involved with many facets of the Men's Basketball program.  Upon retirement from his manager position on March 25, 2009 at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, Kevin took an undeservedly prolonged break from any kind of work and eventually got his degree from The Farm in Spanish.  Shaking off the cobwebs of five months of laziness, Kevin has started working as a play-by-play and color broadcaster for gostanford.com, calling home contests (in English) for several Stanford sports.  He also hosts a sports talk show on 90.1 FM KZSU from 9-10pm every Tuesday entitled "The Sports Zoo", as well as a music show called "408's Finest" immediately following sports talk from 10pm-Midnight.  An alumnus of San Jose's Bellarmine Prep, Kevin proudly admits that he currently lives at home in San Jose with his parents and cat. 


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