Monday, December 25, 2006

Pac-10 Conference 2006-07 Season Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

Enjoying one of its finest seasons in years, the Pac-10 begins this week as one of the top conferences in the nation with a real possibility of having five or six teams in the NCAA tournament this season.

All Pac-10 teams currently have winning records inlcuding two undefeated (UCLA and Oregon) and three teams with a single defeat (Arizona, Washington, and Washington St.)

Overall, the Pac-10 conference ranks second in RPI versus all other conferences, and have the nation's top two ranked RPI teams in the conference with Arizona (No.1) and UCLA (No.2).

"The Pac-10 conference is the most competitive since I've been here and (Arizona) Coach Lute Olson says its the toughest since he's coached his team," UCLA Head Coach Howland said.  "You can count on the Pac-10 conference having five, or possibly six, teams in the NCAA tournament this year."

Pac-10 Predictions

2. Arizona
3. Washington
4. Oregon
5. USC
6. Washington St.
7. Stanford
8. California
9. Oregon St
10.Arizona St

Team Previews

1. UCLA (11-0)

Probable Starters
G-Darren Collison (So, 6'1, 165), G-Arron Afflalo (Jr, 6'5, 215), F-Josh Shipp (So, 6'5, 220) F-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (So, 6'8, 230), C-Lorenzo Mata (Jr, 6'9, 240)

Key Resevers
Alfred Aboya (So, 6'8, 235), Russell Westbrook (Fr, 6'3,187), Michael Roll (So, 6'5, 200), James Keefe (Fr, 6'8, 220), Ryan Wright (So, 6'8, 240)

Despite losing three starters from last season's Pac-10 championship squad, the top-ranked Bruins are playing better basletball at this point than last season.  Although the team has no seniors and just two juniors, the Bruins display a cohesiveness of more veteran teams. Perhaps it can be explained by the fact, despite the preponderance of lower-classmen, its a battle-tested roster which played six post-season NCAA tournament games and came within a single game of the championship last season.

With speedy Darren Collison at the point and Arron Afflalo and Josh Shipp running hard on the wings, the UCLA offense is running more in transition.  After averaging just 67.7 points a game in 2005-06, UCLA is averaging 77.4 points this season.  While Afflalo has maintained his solid contribution from the backcourt, Collison has exceeded all expectation thus far after taking over the reins from Jordan Farmar and Josh Shipp has provided extra-firepower from the small forward spot. 

At the same time, the Bruins are doing a stand-out job defensively allowing 59.8 points on 41.1% field-goal shooting, figures which compare similarly to 2005-06 ( 58.7 points/41.5 FG%).  Darren Collison has done an outstanding job using his speed to harass opposing point-guards.

With the loss of 7'0 Ryan Hollins to graduation,  the Bruins have lacked a strong low-post defensive presence. While Lorenzo Mata and his back-up, Alfred Aboya, have done an admirable job anchoring the defense, they lack the size to be dominant down low.  But Coach Ben Howland stresses team defense, and the Bruins have been able to compensate for their lack of size underneath by applying pressure on the perimeter to deny post-entry passes and assigning aggressive double-teams on quality post players.  Still, certain Pac-10 teams will present match-up problems for the Bruins down low.

Although we expect the Bruins to win the conference, don't expect them to go through Pac-10 play undefeated.  There are too many quality teams and traditionally hostile environments for such a young squad to go through the season untarnished.  Three, maybe four, losses will still win the conference this season.

2. Arizona Wildcats (7-3)

Probable Starters
G-Mustafa Shakur (Junior, 6'3, 190), G-Jawann McClellan (Jr, 6'4,225), F-Chase Budinger (Fr, 6'7, 190), F-Marcus Williams (So, 6'7, 205), F-Ivan Radenovic (Jr, 6'10, 244),

Key Reserves
Jordan Hill (Fr, 6'8, 210), Nic Wise (Fr, 5'10, 180), Daniel Dillon (Jr, 6'3, 195), Kirk Walters (Jr, 6'10, 241) - injured


Addition by subtraction?  Despite having arguably the most talented roster in the conference last season, the Wildcats were plagued by off-court issues with Chris Rodgers and Hassan Adams, both of whom are no longer with the club.  This season there appears to be more harmony in Tucson and the Wildcats are enjoying their spot in the top-10 ranking.

Ivan Radenovic is having a solid season shooting over 58% from the field



Post a Comment

<< Back To Bruin Basketball Report Home