Sunday, February 11, 2007

Today's Look At Pac-10 Hoops

The Pac-10 has often been mocked by college basketball fans outside the region in recent years. That perception has changed this season, even though conference leader UCLA (without starter Darren Collison) lost at West Virginia on Saturday. Here’s how the Pac-10 shapes up after this past weekend’s games.

UCLA: 10-2 Conference, 21-3 Overall: Guard Aaron Afflalo looks to lead the Bruins back to the Final Four. The NBA will ultimately be perfect for him: his initials are AA, and the refs let you take 12 steps.

Washington State: 10-3, 21-4: In coach Tony Bennett’s initial season after taking over for father Dick, the Cougars have won 20 games for the first time since 1993-94. Reached for comment, Tony remarked, “Dad was a real slack-ass.”

USC: 8-4, 18-7: O.J. Mayo will make the Trojans even better next year, but the prized recruit just received a three-game suspension. Reggie Bush must be involved somehow.

Oregon: 8-5, 20-5: Guard Aaron Brooks might win the Pac-10 player of the year award. Still, a confused Randy Moss blasted Brooks for not getting him the ball.

Arizona: 8-5, 17-7: After a win in Eugene, the Wildcats’ 23rd consecutive NCAA tournament bid appears safe. They’re as much of a March fixture as sloppy drunks wearing “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons.

Stanford: 7-5, 15-8: The Cardinal has been boosted by freshman twins Brook and Robin Lopez. Too bad they don’t play for Arizona, where they’d be the Lute Olson Twins.

Washington: 6-7, 16-8: U-Dub still faces an uphill climb to return to the NCAA tournament. But inspiration will come from former Huskie Nate Robinson’s credo at the NBA Slam-Dunk Contest: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.”

California: 4-8, 12-12: The Bears have lost six in a row. Fans are blaming Rex Grossman.

Oregon State: 2-11, 10-16: The Pac-10 tournament used to exclude the bottom two teams. But could you imagine this event without the Beavers? Yeah, I could too.

Arizona State: 0-13, 6-18: Although coach Herb Sendek left NC State, his current team represents what most ACC fans would love to see: the Devils in last place.

Pac-10 commissioner Thomas Hansen is confident that the league will make him proud in March. If nothing else, he already gets points for accuracy. Unlike the Big Ten and Atlantic 10, the Pac-10 actually has 10 teams.