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Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies.

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April 29, 2008 12:52 PM

UCLA team to beat next year?

Posted by Bob Condotta

Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com released his pre-season top 25 today and has UCLA as the top-rated Pac-10 team at No. 8.

The only other Pac-10 teams rated are Arizona State at 16 and USC at 22, a bit of a difference from a year ago when as many as six conference teams tended to show up in these things.

With Darren Collison deciding to return to UCLA, I would agree that UCLA is the team to beat in the Pac-10 next year, and ASU certainly has the most returning otherwise, and USC, if all the recruits show up as scheduled, will probably be as talented as anyone other than the Bruins. So that all makes sense to me.

Maybe most eye-raising is Goodman's rating of Gonzaga at No. 6.

Luke Winn of SI.com has his own post-early entry ratings here with UCLA and USC the only Pac-10 teams among his top 15.

AS FOR IN-STATE PROSPECTS IN 2009, Scout.com currently lists just three as being recruited by the Huskies --- Peyton Siva, Avery Bradley and Aaron Dotson, though only Siva and Bradley with offers.

Scout lists just six Washington players in its current list of prospects.

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Posted by Randy

1:23 PM, Apr 29, 2008

I would see the PAC 10 as:
1) Arizona State
2) UCLA
3) USC
but I do have to admit that depends entirely upon the decisions by Mbah a Moute and Shipp. If they stay, then yes I'd flip AZ St & UCLA.

Otherwise I can't see UCLA replacing Love, Westbrook, Mbah a Moute, Shipp & Mata-Real and still being the prohibative favorite. I can't see that they have that much coming in.

Posted by MT Husky

2:32 PM, Apr 29, 2008

1. UCLA
2. ASU
3. USC
4. AZ
5. UW
6. UO
7. WSU
8. CAL
9. Stanford
10. OSU

Posted by 206er

6:59 PM, Apr 29, 2008

i agree with your predictions as of now mt husky. i'm an optimist so i think the dawgs could move past arizona, but that depends on a lot of variables.

as for the recruiting talk. all these guys sound good. especially siva. one guy who sounds like he's practically in state but went to prep school in vegas is clarence trent. a pretty versatile sounding forward that scout.com thinks a lot of. for 09 if anything maybe the dawgs could use a pg and a sf and that's it. maybe a big. but i don't see many holes or glaring needs in the lineup. for the future.

Posted by Randy

8:43 AM, Apr 30, 2008

MT,

I could agree with your list except I don't see Stanford dropping that low and I would place Oregon further down.

The return of Hill, Goods & Johnson will still leave Stanford with an experienced & strong core group.
Oregon on the other hand has Porter and Catron and little else. What they have coming in is untested and I don't see Porter putting the Ducks on his shoulders like Aaron Brooks did.

Posted by Dave " The Meatball" Armistead

12:46 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Um, lets not kid ourselves folks! Washington @ #5? Please. Yes, as a fan you should be optomistic, but come on meatballs, you guys say the same thing in the Off season every year! You know that Romar will eventually handicapp you with your Cupcake schedule, and I don't see any quality leadership for the Husky's . The Washington players don't have any post-season experience as well, so I see you guys hovering around the 8 or 9 spot.

As for my Wildcats, we'll have the return of our HOF coach, Pac-10 Player of the Year to be Chase Budinger, and a Top 5 ranked recruiting class. I see my Cats truly scratching back to the top of the Pac 10 class where they belong. Last year I certainly had to alter my projects with lame duck O'Neill at the helm, but a full steamed Lute Olson brings back hope to the dusty desert confines of Tucson. If you don't believe me, why not check out where expert NCAA Tourney analyst Joe Lunardi sees my Cats next year:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bracketology


You are all welcome to Copy & Paste the following projections and check how it appears next March!

Pac-10
1) Arizona- Return of HOF coach, Chase Budinger (best pure shooter in college basketball), Jordan Hill (best returning center in Pac-10) Nic Wise (super speedy spark plug) Jamelle Horne (watch for a huge year from him), Fendi Onobon (will excell in Lute's open floor running offense)..adding Superstar Point Guard Brandon Jennings, athletic big Emanuel Negedu, blue chipper Withey at Center. The Cats will be back to Elite Status by Mid-December.

2)UCLA- Even though they may lose half of their squad, they still have #1 Ranked recruiting, Coach who has been to 3 Final 4's, and a steady Pac-10 player of the year canidate in Collison. There will be a drop off, but look for UCLA to maintain Top 25 status all year long.

3) USC- Plenty of Athletes and a good game time decision making coach

4) ASU- Best team that they have had in years (maybe ever) but they are still not near the top in the Pac-10. They will go in and out of Top 25 all year long. Good coach, but slow play will actually be exposed this year. Pendegraph is a good emotional leader, but will cost them in tight games that go down to the wire.

5) Oregon- They will have enough althletes to get most teams in trouble.

6) WSU- Bennet will start to feel the pressures of winning without any talent. He will want one more good year at WSU so that his coaching stock maintains a high level so that he can bolt....

7) CAL- Montgomery. Period. They may lose players, but he is a true wizard of the game. They could be a big surprise and climb higher (maybe finish 5th)

8) Washington- Brockman will put up solid numbers in efforts to be Pac-10 Player of the Year, but he will fall short of his goals. The Huskys will fall short of the NCAA tournament again, and Romar will truly be on the hot seat. Do or die year for Romar. This meatball thinks die.

9) Stanford- They lose too much in the Lopez twins and Coach Johnson departing; everyone will want to see Ex-Dukie Dawkins fall flat on his face. They could finish anywhere from 8th-10th

10) OSU- Nothing really needs to be said about them.

Please feel free to let the Meatball know what ya think!...I missed you guys, been doing some traveling, but I'll keep one meaty eye on all of you!

Posted by Randy

1:14 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Hey Meatball, good to see you back. Loved your predictions. Of course we all know you'd put the Wildcats in first place if the whole team left and they had to stock the team with the cheer squad! But I do think UA will be very competitive next year. As far as the Huskies go, I really don't think it's a matter of thinking the Huskies will rise up as much as the rest of the PAC 10 declining (Oregon, WSU, Stanford etc). Seriously, if nobody left school early for the NBA, the Huskies would have a tough time getting above 8th place.

And speaking of Oregon, 5th???? They lose everybody that has made that team good for the last 2 years. They'll be worse off then Washington was 2 years ago. But only time will tell. Someone unexpected always steps up to fill a void.

Of course, much more will be know in June when the deadline for withdrawing from the NBA draft passes. If Chase Budinger does stay at UA, which you seem to feel he will, than I'd put the Wildcats in the top 3. But not number 1. But I will hand it to you, spitting out all that crow you had to eat after last years 7th place finish to predict a number 1 finish next year. But we've got 7 months to find out.

Posted by Dave " The Meatball" Armistead

2:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Randy- Fair enough. I do think though my pre-season projections last year washed down the drain once Lute took the year off, and we were stuck with O'Neill, but thats the only excuse crutch that I will use. Albeit, it's a huge one with a HOF coach on the sidelines, but we are ready to move forward in Tucson. I do believe Chase will come back. That being said, if he doesn't I see us finishing likely in 3rd place.

Anyways, I like some of your young players, and I could see talent wise the Husky's finishing in 5th place, but honestly, I think Romar really holds the team back. He doesn't have much vision on or off the court. He reguarly puts out defensive liability teams, and lately I haven't seen much semblance of team offense. I see star players like Brockman and even Pondexter to an extent, take over games, but from what I've seen it looks like he just lets his players go out and play, rather than coach them.

Posted by MT Husky

2:36 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Meatball –
You’re excited about an AZ team who finished their last 13 games 4-9, lost one of the best point guards in the country, just went through one of the ugliest Head Coach/Assistant Coach ‘divorces’ I’ve ever seen and next season will be distracted by a coach in his 70’s who is constantly surrounded by gossip about his divorce and health issues? (and for the record, I do not mean that disrespectfully toward Lute, it is strictly accurate observation of the treatment he receives and will receive by the media)

If you really can feel confident that they can with the Pac-10 under those conditions then I commend you for your optimism. (I don't argue with the talent you have...I question the reality that the talent can come together and gel...something that hasn't happened at UA for quite some time)

As for the rest of the Pac-10:

UCLA, USC, and Oregon are all resting their hopes that their incoming recruits can meet expectations – always a risky hope (see Huskies 2006-2007).
Stanford’s guards’ mediocrity will be exposed with the Lopez twins gone.

Montgomery is an excellent coach but will need at least a few years to rebuild that program at Cal.

WSU has a semi-solid recruiting class coming in but their weaknesses became more apparent as the season progressed and will be without 3 of their starters. Bennett will always be able to generate formidable opposition…but he’ll be in a re-building phase.

ASU probably has the fewest question marks surrounding them and I doubt anyone disagrees will be top 5 in the Pac-10.

I’ll disregard OSU, which I think is more than fair.

And that leaves UW.

UW improved as the season progressed. The 2 seniors that left were arguably liabilities on the court as often as they were assets. QPon began to show at the end of the season what he was capable of and will tear up the Pac-10 next season. Brockman will enter next year with a fire burning in his belly. MBA will benefit tremendously from the experience he’ll gain this summer. They have the quintessential point guard in Overton. They will arguably be the deepest team in the Pac-10, and the in-coming freshmen appear to be ideal to fill the gaps revealed last season (inconsistent scoring and poor defense).

Trying to project final standings in the Pac-10 is pure guess work (as evidenced in the stark contrast between different projections - including the links provided by Meatball and Bob). But there is ample evidence it isn’t naïve optimism to state Huskies will be in the upper echelon of the Pac-10 next season…it is a logical conclusion.

Posted by Dave " The Meatball" Armistead

3:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

MT Husky- I know that you didn't write all of that with a straight face. Huskies deepest team and possible upper echelon of Pac-10???? Seriously that is taking stark opitism to new heights...actually, it crosses the line and is rather delusional. Not to be mean, but you guys have been irrelevant for quite some time and next year will be no different. You will change your tune in December when you guys struggle again.

I won't re state everything in my post, but first point of contention is that Bayless is not a very good point guard. He is a great college scoring guard, but had difficulties tying in his teammates, and if you look back on our season he didn't perform well against the better teams. We will miss him, but not very long once Brandon Jennings (you see that kid in the Jordan Brand game?? absolutely sick point guard skills) is running the show. Jennings, Budinger, and Hill are all bonafide 1st round if not Lottery picks, and mark my meatball like words Horne will absolutely flourish coached by Olson. He came in as a 5 star recruit with Andre Iguodola athleticism but Kevin O'Neill put the brakes and locks on his game.

We have depth at every position and Lute is going to snag another guard before the summer is out. Things are quite sunny in Tucson.

Oh yeah, and everyone says UofA has been in a 5 year slide. I would call it a standstill. Well, 2003 we were in the Elite 8. Every since that we've made the NCAA tourney, but never really made any noise. Lots of things can be attributed to this, but I will point to one other outside factor: Christine Olson. With this Witch gone, Lute can focus back on what's important, and I think that will directly turn into a Pac-10 Championship and a deep tourney run. Ding dong the witch is dead!

Posted by MT Husky

4:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I’m sober and straight-faced Meatball.

Predicting how good the majority of the Pac-10 teams will be next year is pure speculation as most are losing so much yet admittedly gaining some talented Freshman (yeah, Brandon Jennings looks incredible…but I stand by me concerns regarding U of A stated above) – no one has no idea how it will pan out.

But, we do KNOW this.

Huskies are one of only 2 teams (the other being ASU) who has their 2 best players returning (Brockman and Qpon) next season.

They lost nobody (for every 3 Appleby hit (and went cold at the end of the season on top of that) he killed the Huskies with his defense…and Morris was not an impact player in any way).

This is a team that was only 2 wins a away from tying for 5th place in the Pac-10 with poor guard play.

And yet, when you look at next year’s roster, the Huskies go 10 deep easy:
1) Brockman
2) QPon
3) Overton
4) MBA
5) Joel Smith
6) Wallace
7) Dentmon
8)\ Holiday
9) Suggs
10) Thomas

(Yeah…that’s 10 guys who can contribute in a big way…I’d call that one of the deepest teams in the Pac-10.)

So, with that evidence (fact!), how in heaven’s name is this team NOT 2 wins better in the Pac-10 next season???

That isn't optimism or more speculation...that is level-headed logic.

I 100% stand by my statement regarding 'depth' and Huskies in the 'upper echelon of the Pac-10'.

Seriously Meatball, you’ve got some exciting recruits but I’d be very nervous about how next year pans out for you…it is going to be a circus around there and that makes for a difficult environment for young players to build chemistry and become a ‘Team’.

Posted by Randy

1:34 PM, May 01, 2008

Meatball, what are you smoking??? Depth at every position !!??? I've never seen Arizona so thin. Singing the praises of Jamelle Horne (3.0 ppg) and Fendi Onobun (3 year 2.2 ppm) is ludicrous. AZ is going to play Budinger, Wise, Jennings and Hill (and who knows who the 5th will be..Horne?) for 39 minutes a game while the rest languish on the bench. The same thing as last year. And that's assuming Wise holds up.

You love to heap riducule on Husky fans for putting faith in our current players who have shown the capabilty of playing well and in incoming players who have good reviews from numerous sources but you need a touch of reality when you looking at your own Wildcat's. They are thin thin thin.

Posted by Dave " The Meatball" Armistead

9:13 AM, May 02, 2008

Randy- Since reading comprehension is an issue for you, I will spell it out for you again. Jamelle Horne was a 5 Star recruit coming in from Highschool. That means top 25 coming in. He is a freakish athlete that never got to play his game under Kevin O'Neill. When Lute coached our inter-squad Blue/Red game, Horne dominated. His play last year was handcuffed by the coach; now he will be able to flow freely. I guess you will just need to wait and see but I can honestly say there isn't a player on Washington that has his skill set or potential.

Guards are the only place where we are currently thin this year, I will give you that, but Lute will get a top JC guy or another guard before the season starts so I am not too worried.

Guards: Jennings,Wise, Johnson
Forwards: Budinger, Horne, Negedu, Onobon, (Johnson interchangeable) Hill will play Forward at times
Centers- Hill, Withey, Jacobsen

The way I see it, we have a few guys that can rotate between a few spots, so yeah, that's a lot of depth.

The Fast Squad:

Jennings, Wise, Budinger, Horne, Hill

The Big Squad

Jennings, Budinger, Horne, Hill, Withey

The Athlete Squad

Jennings, Budinger, Horner, Negedu, Hill

Last year, Hill had no help at all and now we have a healthy Onobun, and incoming Negedu and Withey. Things on paper look great, we'll see how they handle the negative Tucson press.

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