Player of the Week
Isaiah Thomas is in the process of transforming his game from a combo-type guard to a true playmaker. Thomas saw the normal progression from his freshman to sophomore seasons making the jump from 2.6 assists per game to 3.2. He was making gradual improvements again this year, averaging 3.9 assist per contest through Washington’s non-conference schedule. But, Thomas flipped the switch as the Pac-10 season began and is averaging 8.4 assists per game in conference play. In addition, his shooting percentages have increased across the board, along with his scoring, rebounding and steals per game. Last week, Thomas torched the Arizona schools for 20.5 points, 9.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.
The Huskies established themselves as the class of the Pac-10 with an 85-68 home victory against the Arizona Wildcats. Although, the team has encountered several obstacles this season starting with the de-commitment of Terrence Jones and followed in succession with the sudden retirement of Tyreese Breshers, the season ending injury to Abdul Gaddy and the ongoing criminal investigation, Washington has endured and emerged as a stronger unit. The Huskies are 11-0 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion this season and are outscoring their opponents 95.7 to 68.9 (scoring margin +26.8 points per game). UW will head out on the road this week to face their in-state rivals in what usually is a very heated affair.
The Sun Devils are off to a miserable 1-6 start in conference play, including a current five game losing streak. There are multiple factors contributing to ASU’s poor play, but team rebounding is a glaring problem. Arizona State has been out rebounded in every conference game this season and currently holds a -9.43 rebounding margin. To extrapolate the point, ASU is giving up career-type nights to opponents in each of their conference losses.
Oregon State - Joe Burton 17 points 9 rebounds ( 7-9 FG )
Stanford - Josh Owens 15 points 11 rebounds ( 6-8 FG )
California - M. Sanders-Frison 13 points 11 rebounds ( 6-10 FG )
Arizona - Derrick Williams 31 points 10 rebounds ( 8-12 FG )
Washington State - DeAngelo Casto 25 points 5 rebounds ( 11-18 FG )
Washington - M. Bryan-Amaning 30 points 9 rebounds ( 11-16 FG )
In Arizona State’s six Pac-10 losses, the above players have combined to average 21.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49 of 73 (.671) from the field. Expect Nikola Vucevic and either Reeves Nelson or Joshua Smith to continue that trend this week.
Top 10 Centers in the Pac-10
1. Nikola Vucevic (USC) 16.1 points / 10.0 rebounds / 1.7 assists
* Vucevic is an intriguing player who continues to improve his game. At 6’10” 240 Vucevic has the size and strength to produce in the paint and on the glass, but he is also productive offensively facing the basket. His foot speed is adequate for a player his size, but he has a tendency to get lost with the speed of play. If he improves is overall understanding of the game, he should be a force next year as a senior.
2. DeAngelo Casto (Washington State) 10.9 points / 6.3 rebounds / 0.8 assists
* Klay Thompson receives the majority of the headlines, but Washington State would severely miss DeAngelo Casto’s interior presence. Casto is coming off his most productive week of the season. He averaged 21.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game against the two Arizona schools.
3. Joshua Smith (UCLA) 9.8 points / 6.7 rebounds / 0.7 assists
* The highly touted freshman is showing flashes, but foul trouble frequently forces him to miss significant game time. He has the physical size, footwork and touch around the basket to be a dominant force on both ends of the court. Improvement was made this summer, but conditioning remains an area that needs further development.
4. Markhuri Sanders-Frison (California) 10.2 points / 7.9 rebounds / 1.1 assists
* Sanders-Frison arrived at Cal a year ago to a team that was senior heavy and perimeter oriented. Now Sanders-Frison is the lone senior on a youthful Bears’ roster. Despite being undersized at 6’7” he’s asked to play center on a nightly basis. He’s averaging 11.9 points per game in conference and is Cal’s best interior defender.
5. Aziz N’Diaye (Washington) 4.7 points / 5.9 rebounds / 0.2 assists
* N’Diaye has the body and physical tools to be a force in the Pac-10 if his skills continue to progress. Like most young big men his defense is ahead of his offensive game, but at 7’0” 260 he’s a presence on both ends of the court. His minutes have been limited this year, but that should change next season.
* The police investigation surrounding a current University of Washington basketball player remains underway. No new developments have been announced at this time.
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