The Pac-10 was arguably the best conference in college basketball last season. However, the talent level is way down in 2008-09. The top of the conference should still have teams that can contend for a Final Four, but the conference is not particularly well-rounded. These are the bottom four teams of the conference: some are teams that have never really been to the top, and some are teams that will be getting their first taste of the basement in a long time. It will still be a very interesting season out West, but I don’t see these teams doing much.
10. Oregon State Beavers- Coach: Craig Robinson (1st Year)
Backcourt: Josh Tarver and Ricky Claitt led a backcourt that can’t hold their own even against mid major teams. While Tarver does get the basket somewhat well, he has a terrible knack for turning the ball over. His 62 turnovers in 31 games (only averaging 24.4 minutes per game) is pretty bad, and he led the Beavers in that category- 20 ahead of the second place man. Claitt should never shoot threes- as he was 3-29 last season from behind the arc- and I can’t imagine how poor he could be this year now that the line has been moved back.
Frontcourt: Josh’s twin brother Seth is probably the Beavers best player, although he only averages around 10 PPG. Roeland Schaftenaar is the center, yet last year he wasn’t even in the top four on Oregon State for total rebounds. The frontcourt is certainly better than the backcourt, but after these two players there isn’t much else to offer.
Bottom Line: This program is struggling and will have a lot of trouble winning a game in the Pac-10. For Last season, Oregon State managed to lose their opening game to Colorado State, a team that went winless in the Mountain West. This season, the Beavers look worse. While the coaching change was needed, I don’t know if getting an Ivy League coach was the right move. OSU should pray that maybe a top mid-major coach wants to move on to the Pac-10 and try to rebuild this program, but until then don’t expect anything from these guys.
PG-Josh Tarver (Jr.)
SG- Rickey Claitt (Sr.)
SF- Seth Tarver (Jr.)
PF-Omari Johnson (So.)
C- Roeland Schaftenaar (Jr.)
9. Oregon Ducks- Coach: Ernie Kent (11th Year)
Backcourt- Tajuan Porter leads a young team and can be a big scoring threat. However, he loves to shoot even when he is having an off night. Joevan Catron is the next best option in the Ducks backcourt. He can also stroke it at times, but most of the problem in this backcourt is shot selection and turning the ball over. If they can take better shots and hang onto the ball it could make a huge difference in the standings. The Ducks have a freshman phenom in Teondre Williams, but I am hesitant to say he will play a huge role quite yet.
Frontcourt- This is where Oregon falls behind most of their Pac-10 competition. They have freshman Michael Dunigan who can be a force down low, but if other teams are concentrating on him and can box him out, the Ducks offense will be crippled. The fact that Oregon’s best option in the paint is a freshman shows the inexperience of Oregon. As a result, it’s tough to project them much higher that second to last.
Bottom Line: This team needs to start playing defense or they will get run off the court in this conference. Obviously they won’t be able to compete with UCLA or Arizona State, but if they want to finish in the top half of the conference they will need to stop teams from putting up ridiculous numbers on offense. The guards also need to stop chucking up three pointers when they’re down. Having a viable option in the paint with Dunigan will help them in close games, but I still don’t see many wins from the Ducks in 2008-09.
PG- Tajuan Porter (So.)
SG- Teondre Williams (Fr.)
G/F- Joevan Catron (So.)
F- Frantz Dorsainvil (Jr.)
C- MIchael Dunigan (Fr.)
8. Stanford Cardinal- Coach: Johnny Dawkins (1st year)
Backcourt- The Cardinal return most of their backcourt players in Mitch Johnson and Anthony Goods. Johnson will be running point and Goods will most likely be getting the start at shooting guard if the Cardinal run a three guard offense. Jeremy Green is one of the best freshman guards in the nation and he will take on a strong role for Stanford. He has a great outside shot and could help this team down the stretch.
Frontcourt- Obviously Stanford lost an awful lot in the frontcourt after Brooke and Robin Lopez declared for the NBA Draft after their sophomore seasons. Lawrence Hill is the only experienced big man, and Josh Owens is a sophomore that got very limited playing time last season but showed that with some work he can be a good player. Jarrett Mann, another freshman, should also see plenty of playing time while this group tries to pick up the slack left by the Lopez twins.
Bottom LIne: Its difficult to put such a talented program that plays great defense this low in the conference, but with virtually no big men and a new coach Stanford will go through some major pains. If Mitch Johnson can take leadership of this team it’s possible that they can finish much higher than 8th, but that’s a big if.
PG- MItch Johnson (Sr.)
SG- Anthony Goods (Sr.)
G- Jeremy Green (Fr.)
G/F- Jarrett Mann (Fr.)
F- Lawrence Hill (Jr.)
7. California Bears- Coach: Mike Montgomery (1st year)
Backcourt: Believe it or not, Cal has one of the best backcourts in the conference. Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle have both proved that they can score and are experienced players. Of course, the departure of Ryan Anderson hurts this team tremendously. However, DJ Seeley (a freshman) is going to fit in nicely at point right away.
Frontcourt: The frontcourt is definitely a weakness for Cal and where they fall behind other teams in the conference. Harper Kamp and Jamal Boykin are their best bets down low. They’re both undersized and are barely Pac-10 caliber frontcourt players.
Bottom Line: Cal will be a great team in 2009-10 but not this season, unless Christopher and Randle can put up Ryan Anderson like numbers. Cal also needs to play defense if they want a shot at an NCAA bid they’ve been striving for over the last couple seasons.
PG- DJ Seeley (Fr.)
SG- Patrick Christopher (Jr.)
G- Jerome Randle (Jr.)
F- Jamal Boykin (Jr.)
F- Harper Kamp (So.)