Player of the Week
Thompson is the first two-time “Player of the Week” winner this season. His performance in Hawaii surely opened the eyes of some of his critics. Thompson finished the week averaging 26.3 points, 3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. He was 25 of 46 from the field good for 54.3 percent and made 13 of his 25 attempts from the three point line (52%). Thompson has eclipsed the 20 point mark in eight of Washington States’ 12 games this season. Had the Cougars finished off the Butler game with a solid second half and a win, they would likely be the Pac-10s lone ranked team entering conference play.
With conference play set to begin, here's a hot and cold for each of the teams in the Pac-Ten through the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Best Win: North Carolina State (RPI 65)
Worst Loss: Brigham Young (RPI 3)
Hot: With players like Derrick Williams, Sean Miller is well on his way to rebuilding Arizona’s strong basketball tradition. Williams is the mid-season favorite to earn Pac-10 Player of the Year honors. He finished non-conference play averaging 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds per game, and is shooting over 60 percent from the field and the three point line.
Cold: Arizona has taken care of business this season winning the games they were supposed to win, but interior size is still an issue. The Wildcats could struggle against the Washington schools and the two Southern California teams.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Best Win: Alabama-Birmingham (RPI 69)
Worst Loss: Baylor (RPI 143)
Hot: The Sun Devils have been up and down this season, but the play of underclassmen Trent Lockett and Kyle Cain provide hope for conference play. ASU will be in games because of their defense, but will need higher offensive efficiency from Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks.
Cold: Arizona State has four losses, yet all have been to top tier teams. What’s more concerning is the way they’ve struggled against lesser competition in some of their wins. Although ASU has emerged victorious in these games, it hasn’t been easy. Arizona State will need more offensive efficiency to win games in the Pac-10.
Best Win: Temple (RPI 16)
Worst Loss: Southern Mississippi (RPI 47)
Hot: This is a very young Cal team that has gained a lot of experience during its difficult non-conference schedule. Three freshmen have earned significant minutes and the return of Harper Kamp bodes well for the future. If the freshmen core continues to improve, Cal could surprise during conference play.
Cold: The Bears enter conference play with the 2nd best RPI ranking of the Pac-10 schools. Although, Cal’s strength of schedule is impressive the Bears have looked terrible in most of their losses. This is a young, talented perimeter oriented team, but against good teams they struggle offensively.
Best Win: UC Santa Barbara (RPI 53)
Worst Loss: Idaho (RPI 240)
Hot: Joevan Catron’s play is exactly what new coach Dana Altman needed after a tumultuous summer. Baring a complete collapse Catron will win Pac-10’s Most Improved Player honors and has the Ducks playing at a level most experts weren’t predicting.
Cold: The difference between a 7-5 record and 8-4 mark seems even greater when it comes as a result of a home loss to Idaho. The Ducks had done so many things right early in the season, but this loss is tough to take leading into Pac-10 play. The Ducks need more production from Malcolm Armstead and Teondre Williams.
Oregon State Beavers
Best Win: Illinois-Chicago (RPI 228)
Worst Loss: Seattle (RPI 294)
Hot: There isn’t much positive to say about a Pac-10 team with a RPI of 326, however the recent play of Jared Cunningham is worth noting. Cunningham is averaging 21.5 points per game in his last two outings. The growth of freshmen Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier is also something to keep an eye on.
Cold: Coach Craig Robinson could be on the hot seat at season’s end. The Beavers’ played a weak non-conference schedule and yet still managed to finish sub-.500. Robinson needs to right the ship, but he needs help from his experienced players. Omari Johnson needs more touches and Calvin Haynes needs to find some consistency.
Best Win: Virginia (RPI 113)
Worst Loss: Tulsa (RPI 129)
Hot: Josh Owens and Jeremy Green are turning into a nice inside-outside scoring duo. Green’s shot has been a bit inconsistent, but as Owens continues to produce look for Green to get better shot opportunities. Also, Johnny Dawkins’ talented freshman class has gained valuable experience while amassing seven wins.
Cold: Stanford struggles at times getting quality offensive possessions. When the Cardinal stall, possessions seem to culminate with a forced shot from Jeremy Green. Freshmen, Dwight Powell, Anthony Brown and Aaron Bright will need to step up and provide Green and Owens some relief as Pac-10 play begins.
Best Win: Brigham Young (RPI 3)
Worst Loss: Montana (RPI 138)
Hot: When the Bruins play to their potential they are the best team in the Pac-10. A controversial loss to Kansas and a convincing win against BYU speaks to that point. Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson are having solid sophomore seasons, but the key to UCLA’s Pac-10 success remains on the wide shoulders of Joshua Smith.
Cold: UCLA is talented, but also inexperienced at key positions. JUCO point guard Lazeric Jones is transitioning well to DI basketball, but as the season progresses he will need to be more assertive offensively. Similarly, Joshua Smith needs to learn how to be a factor without collecting fouls.
Best Win: Tennessee (RPI 20)
Worst Loss: Bradley (RPI 224)
Hot: USC’s season may be a tale of two halves. Prior to Jio Fontan’s arrival the Trojans were led by freshmen guards and the bruising front court of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson. However, with Fontan in the line-up the Trojans look like a team that can score with consistency both inside and out.
Cold: With Fontan now eligible the Trojans have a bit more depth, but their roster is still extremely thin. If Maurice or Bryce Jones wear down, Southern California could be in trouble as the season progresses. Foul trouble to either Vucevic or Stepheson will also be a concern, especially against bigger teams like UCLA and Washington.
Best Win: Portland (RPI 45)
Worst Loss: Michigan State (RPI 80)
Hot: The Huskies have absolutely throttled teams at home this season. Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning are leading UW’s attack, but the key to Washington’s success is their ability to get production from everyone that steps on the court. Washington’s versatility and depth are why the Huskies are picked to win the Pac-10.
Cold: Washington struggled on the road last season and early indications identify a similar trend this season. UW is an aggressive team that thrives on controlled chaos. Athleticism and physicality allow the Huskies to dominate lesser teams, but can Washington win close games against good teams?
Washington State Cougars
Best Win: Portland (RPI 45)
Worst Loss: Kansas State (RPI 14)
Hot: The Cougars’ performance against quality competition is much improved over last season. The biggest key is the addition and play of Faisal Aden. Aden’s ability to score is freeing up Klay Thompson and that’s exactly what Washington State needed. WSU’s performance in Hawaii over Christmas was impressive and should validate Klay Thompson’s abilities.
Cold: Washington State struggled in conference play last year and it appeared to be because of fatigue to their primary scorers. The Cougars need to get more consistent offensive production from their big bodies to keep Thompson, Aden and Reggie Moore strong throughout the Pac-10 season.
Top 5 Freshmen Production (Pac-10)
1. Joshua Smith (UCLA) 10.2 points / 6.8 rebounds /k 0.8 assists
* Smith is second in scoring and rebounding among freshmen in the Pac-10. As with most freshmen Smith has struggled with consistency early in the season, but when he’s playing well he’s already the best true big in the conference. His development will be key to UCLA’s Pac-10 championship hopes.
2. Maurice Jones (USC) 11.3 points / 3.6 rebounds / 4.2 assists
* Maurice Jones leads the Pac-10 in minutes played. He started the year with four consecutive 40 minute performances and has played less than 30 minutes only once. Jones has eclipsed the 20 point mark twice and has recorded four or more assists in 12 of the 13 games USC’s played.
3. Kyle Cain (Arizona State) 8.5 points / 8.5 rebounds / 0.7 assists
* Cain leads all Pac-10 freshmen in rebounding, and is averaging 12 boards a game over ASU’s last four contests. The Sun Devils’ offensive struggles and lack of depth in the front court make Cain’s emergence even more vital to Arizona State’s success.
4. Dwight Powell (Stanford) 8.2 points / 4.1 rebounds / 1.0 assists
* There is no questioning Powell’s potential, but to this point his production remains inconsistent. Powell started the first nine games of the season, but has come off the bench in the past two. If Stanford is to make a splash in the Pac-10 they need his offense to support Jeremy Green and Josh Owens.
5. Bryce Jones (USC) 9.8 points / 3.2 rebounds / 2.1 assists
* Bryce Jones is third highest scoring freshman in the Pac-10, but the arrival of Jio Fontan has heavily reduced his minutes (28.1 to 18 minutes per game). Jones has scored in double figures seven times this season, including a 21 point game against New Mexico State.
Others Receiving Votes
6. Roberto Nelson (Oregon State) 8.5 points / 2.0 rebound / 0.8 assists
7. CJ Wilcox (Washington) 8.6 points / 2.4 rebound / 1.5 assists
8. Allen Crabbe (California) 8.5 points / 5.2 rebound / 1.8 assists
9. Ahmad Starks (Oregon State) 7.8 points / 0.5 rebound / 1.5 assists
10. Gary Franklin (California) 7.6 points / 1.1 rebound / 1.8 assists
Other Notable Pac-10 Freshmen
* Tyler Lamb (UCLA)
* Terrence Ross (Washington)
* Keala King (Arizona State)
* Anthony Brown (Stanford)
* Devon Collier (Oregon State)
Upcoming Games of Interest
12.29.2010 Washington @ USC
12.29.2010 Washington State @ UCLA
12.31.2010 Washington State @ USC
12.31.2010 Washington @ UCLA
Results of Interest
12.21.2010 USC 65 Tennessee 64
12.21.2010 Stanford 68 Oklahoma State 79
12.22.2010 California 63 Kansas 78
12.22.2010 Washington State 83 Mississippi State 57
12.23.2010 Washington State 77 Baylor 71
12.25.2010 Washington State 68 Butler 84
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