Another competitive year in the most underrated basketball conference in the country. These are a few of my observations on the 2008-09 season, predictions of how certain teams will fair in the NCAA tournament and my choices for various conference awards.
2009 Pac Ten Player of the Year
James Harden (ASU) - Harden carried a pretty ordinary supporting cast to an expected bid to the NCAA tournament and was the conferences most dominant player. Harden edges out Arizona's Jordan Hill and UCLA's Darren Collison for POY honors.
2009 Pac Ten 1st Team
G James Harden (Arizona State)
G Darren Collison (UCLA)
C Jordan Hill (Arizona)
F Jon Brockman (Washington)
F Chase Budinger (Arizona)
2009 Pac Ten 2nd Team
G Jerome Randle (California)
G Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
F Jeff Pendegraph (Arizona State)
F Taj Gibson (USC)
F Josh Shipp (UCLA)
Honorable Mention: Nic Wise (Arizona), Roeland Schaftenaar (Oregon State), Anthony Goods (Stanford), Taylor Rochestie (Washington State), Patrick Christopher (California), Justin Dentmon (Washington), Tajuan Porter (Oregon), Lawrence Hill (Stanford).
2009 Pac Ten Coach of the Year
Mike Montgomery (California) - The Golden Bears were expected to finish in the bottom half of the conference after losing its best two players. Montgomery implemented an up tempo offensive scheme built around Cal's strong group of returning perimeter players. The results were a return to the NCAA tournament. Oregon State's Craig Robinson and Lorenzo Romar of Washington were close runners up.
2009 Pac Ten All Freshman Team
G Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
G Klay Thompson (Washington State)
G Jrue Holiday (UCLA)
C Michael Dunigan (Oregon)
F DeMar DeRozan (USC)
2009 Pac Ten Defensive Player of the Year
Jordan Hill (Arizona) - Hill averaged nearly 2 blocks per game, was a monster on the defensive boards and the most dominating presence in the conference.
2009 Pac Ten Most Improved Player
Alfred Aboya (UCLA) - Aboya displayed his senior leadership on both ends of the floor and established himself as a bona fide offensive low post presence for the Bruins. Aboya edges out Landry Fields (Stanford) and Calvin Haynes (Oregon St.) for the honor.
2009 Conference Game of the Year
California 88, Washington 85 (4-OT) - The Bears victory was the only home loss suffered by the Huskies.
2009 Conference Pest of the Year
The award is shared by Venoy Overton of Washington and Daniel Hackett of USC.
Team Most Likely to win 2009 Pac Ten Tournament
UCLA Bruins - Bruins benefit from a mostly home crowd advantage, their depth and experience in this environment.
Darkhorse pick to surprise in Pac Ten Tournament
USC Trojans - They might not like each other, but they can fake it long enough to string together three wins. Their lack of a bench doesn't help them in this type of tournament. Coach Floyd's crew has to be the most disappointing team in the conference.
Team most likely to advance furthest in NCAA Tournament
I expect UCLA and Washington to advance past the first weekend. Without seeing match ups or venue, I'd say Washington has the best chance to advance past the Sweet 16 because of their rebounding and defensive pressure.
It wouldn't surprise me...
If Arizona went on a run if invited to the NCAA. When the Wildcats aren't in a true road game they are extremely dangerous and their big three of Hill, Wise and Budinger is as good as any in the country.