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Pac Ten Blog

Pac-10 “Co-Players of the Week”

Nikola Vucevic

Nikola VucevicNikola VucevicVucevic led the Trojans to a home sweep over the Arizona schools and in the process positioned the Trojans on the verge of NCAA “bubble” consideration. USC and Vucevic have more work to do this week and into the Conference Tournament, but the Trojans could be peaking at the right time. Vucevic outplayed Arizona’s Derrick Williams in route to a stunning 65-57 upset win at the Galen Center. Vucevic finished the week with 45 points, 22 rebounds, one steal and one block. He shot 16 of 28 (57.1%) from the floor, 3 of 6 (50.0%) from three and 10 of 13 (76.9) from the foul line in the games against Arizona and Arizona State. He’s recorded six consecutive double-double performances and now has 18 on the season. Also, Vucevic now has a streak of four straight games without a turnover.

DeAngelo Casto

Casto helped the Cougars bounce back from a disastrous loss at Arizona State to hand Washington its first home loss of the year. Casto scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and collected two steals while shooting 6 of 10 (60.0%) from the floor and converting on all eight of his free throw attempts. Casto will need two more solid performances this week when frontcourt dominant USC and UCLA come to town. Casto has five double-double performances this season including two in Washington State’s last two games.

What’s “At Stake” in the Pac-10 this Week?

Arizona Wildcats (23-6 / 12-4) RPI 18

Because of Arizona’s two losses last week the Wildcats now find themselves in a dogfight for the Pac-10 regular season title. UCLA heads on the road to face the Washington schools while Arizona will finish off the regular season at home against Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona on paper appears to have the easier schedule this week, but the Wildcats can not afford a stumble. Two wins would guarantee the Wildcats at least a share of the Pac-10 Title and likely will be good enough for an outright championship.

UCLA (21-8 / 12-4) 35 RPI 34

After an impressive victory over Arizona the Bruins will likely need two more wins to secure at least a share of the Pac-10 Title. Although Arizona is in the midst of a two game losing streak, it’s difficult to envision the Wildcats being swept by Oregon and Oregon State on their home court. UCLA will face a Washington team fresh off its first home loss of the season Thursday night on national television (ESPN2). UCLA has the talent to sweep the Washington schools, but it should prove to be a tough task.

Washington (19-9 / 10-6) RPI 41

Common thought indicated that the Huskies were vulnerable on the road, but untouchable at home. Now, the Huskies look capable of playing inconsistently in any venue. Washington is the most experienced and deepest team in the Pac-10, but despite their inherent qualities they’ve struggled in big games this season. Washington will be favored to win both games this week, but UCLA and USC are playing better basketball. Currently, Washington is safely in the NCAA Tournament, but a sweep could make it tenuous.

USC (17-12 / 9-7) RPI 79

The Trojans did what they needed to do last week by upsetting the first place Wildcats and easily dispatching of the last place Sun Devils. If USC can put together two more victories this week the Trojans will catapult into the NCAA Tournament “bubble” discussion. USC started off conference play losing four of their first five road games, but have bounced back to win their last two. A sweep this week and a semi-final or better showing in the Pac-10 Tournament could very well be enough to send the Trojans dancing.

California (16-13 / 9-8) RPI 67

A win this week against cross town rival Stanford would give the Bears a 10-8 conference record which could be good enough for a share of third place. Cal’s strength of schedule is among the best in the country (#19), but the Bears will realistically need a couple marquee upsets in the Pac-10 Tournament to warrant serious NCAA consideration. The Bears split the season series with UCLA, USC and Washington State, plus played Arizona tough in both losses, losing by a combined four points. The one team the Bears likely hope to avoid is Washington who’s beat them by a combined 55 points in their two meetings.

Washington State (18-10 / 8-8) RPI 70

Just when it looked like the Cougars were ready to roll over and play dead, they go out and hand the Huskies their first home loss of the season. Conceivably, the Cougars with a home sweep of USC and UCLA could place themselves right back into the heart of NCAA Tournament consideration. Washington State lacks a marquee “Top 50” RPI win at the moment, but they have six wins against “Top 100” RPI programs. Add a win or two in the Conference Tournament and Washington State is 21/22 win team. Losing Klay Thompson for the UCLA game really hurts.

What’s “Hot” in the Pac-10?

With the Pac-10 season coming to a close it’s time to take a precursory look at next year’s recruiting classes. Although recruiting and the projection of individual talent is an inexact science, looking at the recruiting class as a whole does identify the current status of a program. Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Stanford have all landed at least one ESPN “Top 100” prospect. USC, Colorado and Washington State have all signed at least one recruit with a rating of 90 or higher, while Oregon State, California and Utah’s highest rated recruit is listed at 89.

5 Players to Watch in the Pac-10 Tournament

1. Derrick Williams (Arizona)

Williams remains the front runner for Pac-10 Player of the Year honors and will need to have a big Pac-10 Conference Tournament if Arizona has thoughts of winning three games in the Staples Center. Don’t be surprised if Arizona’s path to the Pac-10 Tournament Championship includes both Los Angeles schools.

2. Isaiah Thomas (Washington)

The Huskies have been strong recently in the Pac-10 Tournament and this year shouldn’t be any different. Washington needs strong contributions from Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday, but for the Huskies to win the Pac-10 Tournament Isaiah Thomas needs to be UW’s star.

3. Nikola Vucevic (USC)

If USC can find away to finish the regular season with wins at Washington and Washington State the Trojans may have more to play for than any other team in the Pac-10 Tournament. Vucevic is SC’s best player and he’s shown the ability to carry the young Trojans this season. Home games at Staples don’t hurt either.

4. Klay Thompson (Washington State)

Thompson is the most prolific scorer in the Pac-10 and will single handedly win basketball games for the Cougars when he’s hitting. Washington State is in a similar position as USC, two wins this week and a strong showing in the Pac-10 Tournament may be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

5. Jorge Gutierrez (California)

Of the guys on this list Jorge Gutierrez is likely the biggest surprise, but his production in the second half of conference play is worth noting. Since the mid-way point Gutierrez is averaging 21.3 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the floor and is knocking down 83.3 percent from his free throw attempts.

Pac-10 Notes

Arizona Wildcats

* Arizona standout Derrick Williams needs to re-focus after a disappointing week against USC and UCLA. His tough week went beyond the court and into a verbal feud with USC coach Kevin O’Neill. O’Neill publically stated that Williams was protected by officials and was the recipient of charitable calls, to which Williams tweeted his defense.

Arizona State Sun Devils

* Senior forward Rihards Kuksiks has now missed four consecutive games with a sprained ankle.

California Bears

* The California Bears’ men’s basketball program received a 2-year probationary sentence in accordance with the NCAA findings. The most serious result of the probation limits official recruiting visits to no more than five per year for the next two seasons. A press release received on Friday, February 25 from the Sports Information Department at the University of California, Berkeley indicated, The Athletic Department through normal compliance review found over 300 impermissible telephone calls made by the University’s basketball staff during a six month period beginning in April of 2008. The University initiated the investigation and reported the finding promptly to the NCAA. Furthermore, the University states that internal actions were imposed upon its findings. The telephone calls are being classified as “documentation violations.” During a media teleconference on Friday, Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and chair of the Committee on Infraction stated: “The violations in this case were a result of the men’s basketball staff’s neglect, rather than an intentional effort to circumvent the rules.”

Oregon Ducks

* Junior forward Jeremy Jacob has now missed three straight games and five of Oregon’s last seven with a sore knee.

Stanford Cardinal

* Junior forward Josh Owens recorded as many made field goals (12) as the Oregon Ducks in their last meeting.

UCLA Bruins

* After 46 years Pauley Pavilion closed its doors for renovation following UCLA’s 71-49 win over the Arizona Wildcats. UCLA will return to Pauley Pavilion to start the 2012-13 Season. In an emotional string of events, Tyler Trapani the great-grandson of legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden scored the final basket.

USC Trojans

* The Trojans moved to 12-0 in games where they hold the opposition below 60 points.

Washington Huskies / Washington State Cougars

* Washington and Washington State have now concluded eight consecutive season series with a sweep. The last regular season split between the in-state rivals was in 2003. Washington earned sweeps in 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2010. Washington State earned sweeps in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Washington State Guard Klay Thompson was arrested for marijuana possession on Thursday and will serve a one game suspension and miss Saturday's match up with the UCLA Bruins.

Upcoming Games of Interest

03.05.2011 Oregon @ Arizona

03.05.2011 UCLA @ Washington State

03.05.2011 USC @ Washington

Results of Interest

02.24.2011 California 81 Oregon 71

02.24.2011 Arizona 57 USC 65

02.26.2011 Arizona 49 UCLA 71

02.27.2011 Washington State 80 Washington 69

Recruiting Lists

*All rankings and ratings are in accordance with ESPN’s evaluations.

Arizona Wildcats

Committed

ESPN #23 - Nick Johnson - SG (96 Rating)

ESPN #26 - Josiah Turner - PG (96 Rating)

ESPN #69 - Sidiki Johnson - PF (93 Rating)

Verbal Commitment

ESPN #67 - Angelo Chol - PF (93 Rating)

Washington Huskies

Committed

ESPN #14 - Tony Wroten Jr. - PG (97 Rating)

Hikeem Stewart - SG (92 Rating)

Jernard Jarreau - PF (91 Rating)

Andrew Andrews - PG (86 Rating)

Verbal Commitment

Kevin Davis - PF (JC)

Potential Commitments

Braeden Anderson - PF (89 Rating)

Jaleel Williams - SG (85 Rating)

Daouda Soumaoro - C (80 Rating)

Oregon Ducks

Committed

ESPN #24 - Jabari Brown - SG (96 Rating)

Bruce Barron - PG (90 Rating)

Brett Kingma - SG (90 Rating)

Austin Kuemper - PF (89 Rating)

Potential Commitments

DeAndre Daniels - SF (95 Rating)

Jarion Henry - SF (91 Rating)

Arizona State Sun Devils

Committed

ESPN #44 - Jahii Carson - PG (95 Rating)

Potential Commitments

Jarion Henry - SF (91 Rating)

Kevin Johnson - C (90 Rating)

Nemenja Djurisic - PF (88 Rating)

UCLA Bruins

Committed

ESPN #56 - Norman Powell - SG (94 Rating)

Potential Commitment

Anthony Anderson - SG (89 Rating)

Stanford Cardinal

Committed

ESPN #60 - Chasson Randle - PG (94 Rating)

What’s “Cold” in the Pac-10?

Utah Utes

Committed

George Matthews - SF (89 Rating)

Potential Commitments

Nemenja Djurisic - PF (88 Rating)

Daouda Soumaoro - C (80 Rating)

Julian Welch - SG (JC)

California Bears

Committed

David Kravish - C (89 Rating)

Verbal Commitment

Christian Behrens - PF (Rating 85)

De’End Parker - SF (JC)


Potential Commitments

Braeden Anderson - PF (89 Rating)

Jaleel Williams - SG (85 Rating)

Oregon State Beavers

Committed

Daniel Gomis - PF (89 Rating)

Verbal Commitment

Charles Barton Jr. - SG (# Rating)

Potential Commitments

Cezar Guerrero - PG (91 Rating)

Anthony Walker - SG (89 Rating)

Elijah Carter - PG (88 Rating)

Kelvin Amayo - SF (83 Rating)

Washington State Cougars

Committed

Davonte Lacey - PG (90 Rating)

Greg Sequele - PF (89 Rating)

Potential Commitments

Braeden Anderson - PF (89 Rating)

Jaleel Williams - SG (85 Rating)

Keannau Post - C (80 Rating)

USC Trojans

Committed

Byron Wesley - SF (91 Rating)

Alexis Moore - PG (84 Rating)

James Blasczyk - C (JC)

DeWayne Dedmon - PF (JC)

Verbal Commitment

Greg Allen - SG (JC)

Potential Commitments

Jarion Henry - SF (91 Rating)

Kevin Johnson - C (90 Rating)

Tony Kimbro Jr. - SG (90 Rating)

Maurice Aniefok - SG (90 Rating)

Colorado Buffalos

Committed

Spencer Dinwiddie - PG (91 Rating)

Askia Booker - PG (90 Rating)

Damiene Cain - PF (89 Rating)

Potential Commitments

LeAntwan Luckett - SG (90 Rating)

Anthony Norris - SF (89 Rating)

Kelvin Amayo - SF (83 Rating)

Daouda Soumaoro - C (80 Rating)

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