Posted on: December 28, 2008 10:39 pm

PAC-10 Power Rankings (Pre-Conference)

There are still a few non-conference games remaining for the PAC-10 before the conference action begins this weekend. But most of the games are quite insignificant, and likely won't have much bearing on my rankings anyhow. Without furture ado, here are my PAC-10 Power Rankings heading into conference play.

  1. UCLA: Despite early struggles, they are a solid team with Collison at the helm. That three-guard lineup of Collison, Shipp, and Holiday is the best in the conference and enough to give any team fits.
  2. Arizona : They have a few ugly losses, but they have the best win in the conference (over Gonzaga). The Big Three are carrying a lot of the load and they have been getting help from unexpected talent. The youth is a concern.
  3. CAL: I said before the season, they are a surprise team to watch out for. Montgomery almost has you forgetting that they lost Ryan Anderson to the NBA. They're a great shooting team with a lot of long-range weapons.
  4. ASU: They've only got one loss, but that's not indicative of their struggles against a soft schedule. Harden is a beast that will carry this team far, but he's going to need a lot more help against the PAC-10.
  5. USC: Their record is padded because of their OOC schedule. DeRozan has performed well, but he's not even scratching Mayo numbers yet. They've got a few scorers and an average defense.Look for a loss or two in the second week of conference play.
  6. Stanford: They played a light OOC schedule, only eight games, but they won them all. With one of the wins coming over Santa Clara, they have done enough to deserve this spot for now. Their lacking frontcourt will cost them this spot... soon.
  7. Washington: Brockman is finally getting some offensive help, and a bit more muscle down low as well. They'll be moderately successful in PAC-10 play because of their interior size alone. They still need Pondexter to step it up another notch.
  8. Washington State: They got blasted by a couple of top-tier programs in non-conference play. I understand that the deliberate offense reduces points, but to only have three guys in double-digits (and just barely) isn't good. They need someone to step up and be a scoring threat in the worst kind of way.
  9. Oregon: They are a young team without a signature win, and some ugly losses. Ernie Kent will be on the hot seat if he can't get his freshmen to perform and fast. Don't sleep on Oregon though, they have the talent, just lack experience - and that's a great recipe for a second-half surge.
  10. Oregon State: Any surprise that they are here? With losses to Howard, Nevada, Yale, Montana State, and Iowa State it's not looking good that they'll pick up a win any time soon. The new coach has a huge task in front of him, maybe his brother-in-law can use some of that Senate Seat Money to buy off a couple refs for him. Just kidding, but seriously - it looks like they may go two straight seasons without a conference win. That's BAD!
Posted on: October 17, 2008 7:51 pm

California Golden Bears '08-'09 Preview

California Golden Bears

Head Coach: Mike Montgomery
Last Season’s Results: Conf 7-13 (9th), Overall 17-16. Post Season: None.


Backcourt: Unless Montgomery wants to shake things up, Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Marquise Kately will start this year. Randle, Christopher, and Kately averaged over 10 ppg each while providing 52% of the Bears scoring last season.

Similar to last season, Christopher, Kately, and Randle will likely have relatively similar scoring numbers. Though, it looks as if Patrick Christopher will be t the go-to guy and leading scorer for the team.

Kately will be the lone senior starting for the Gold Bears who feature two seniors, and nine juniors. Their experience should not be underestimated even if they have underperformed in past years.

Frontcourt: Jamal Boykin, Jordan Wilkes  provide the one-two punch for Cal‘s frontcourt. While Boykin is serviceable, he is not a force underneath. Wilkes only received scrub minutes last year, but with  the lack of big men, his role could increase dramatically. The Boykin-Wilkes one-two combo is about as effective as a 5-year-old throwing punches at his dad.

If Wilkes is incapable of performing, or is out performed in the practice, Harper Kamp will take the starting spot.

Bench: D.J. Seeley, Theo Kately, Harper Kamp, Nikola Knezevic

Key Departures: Ryan Anderson  turned pro, while DeVon Hardin and Eric Verneisel graduated. The three players are a huge loss for the Golden Bears as the accounted for 46% of the Bears scoring and 52% of the rebounding. That’s a lot of production to make up for.

Key Recruits:
SG-D.J. Seeley - Seeley has good range and ankle-breaking moves, but he will likely be the sixth man until he can improve his decision making skills. Don’t be surprised if he has a few games where he goes off, and if he can learn to make the smart play he might wind up in the starting lineup by season’s end.

SG-Jorge Gutierrez - He is athletic and quick, but lacks talent and speed on the defensive end. Gutierrez isn’t talented enough to be a star at the D-1 level, but his hustle and energy help him contribute in unmeasured areas.

*Click recruit names with a link for their highlight video.

Strengths: The Bears compile one of the deepest backcourts in the PAC-10 this year. They have a lot of players who have underperformed under the old coach. With Montgomery at the helm, expect a lot of growth. Look for this team to push the tempo and apply a lot of pressure on the perimeter.

Weaknesses: CAL’s losses of Hardin and Verneisel will have a huge impact considering they weren’t able to recruit another big man as a replacement. Jamal Boykin is serviceable at best, but beyond that CAL is in trouble. Montgomery may be forced to experiment with a four-guard lineup due to the lack of post players. Look for teams to exploit CAL’s front court.

Key Dates:
Nov 28 @ UNLV
Jan 17 @ Stanford
Jan 24 vs. Oregon

Outlook: The Golden Bears will be hard pressed with the loss of Ryan Anderson, but should still be more competitive thanks to having Montgomery on the sidelines. CAL will need to force the tempo this year to be competitive. Their depth at guard will allow them to force the tempo and be competitive in a lot of games, but will ultimately be undone by their lack of frontcourt players.  Since this can be considered a transition year for the Golden Bears, as long as they make strides as a team and improve upon their placement in the conference standings it will be considered a successful season.

Projected Finish: Seventh in the PAC-10. No post-season appearance.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com