By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday November 21, 2002
Wildcat staff rankings of Pac-10. Arizona is ranked No. 1
Location: Eugene, Ore.
2001-02 record: 26-9 (14-4 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Ernie Kent (sixth year)
Players to watch: PG Luke Ridnour, SF Luke Jackson
The Ducks' success lies on the shoulders of their All-America candidates, Ridnour and Jackson · The Ducks and Wildcats have a lot in common, as they arguably have the best guard/forward tandems in the nation. Last season, Ridnour ran the point for UO and led it to the Elite Eight with his 15.5 points and 5 assists per game averages. At the small forward position, Jackson added 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Ridnour and Jackson have both been named preseason All-Americans. However, the big question surrounding these two players is if they can produce without Freddie Jones and Chris Christoffersen, both of whom taken in the 2002 NBA draft.
Location: Westwood, Calif.
2001-02 record: 21-12 (11-7 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin (seventh year)
Player to watch: G Jason Kapono
The Bruins will look to push the ball this season and try to find senior sharpshooter Kapono on the wing as much as possible. The senior averaged 16 points per game last season while shooting 45 percent from behind the arc · Kapono will have to step up his play this season as the Bruins lost three starters ÷ Dan Gadzuric, Billy Knight and Matt Barnes ÷ from last season's Sweet 16 team · Besides Kapono, the Bruins return seven players from last year's squad, including sophomore point guard Cedric Bozeman. Bozeman struggled during his freshman campaign, but if Bozeman and Kapono play to their potential this season, this duo will make the Bruins a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10.
Location: Berkeley, Calif.
2001-02 Record: 23-9 (12-6 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Ben Braun (seventh year)
Player to watch: G Joe Shipp
The Golden Bears finished tied for second in the Pac-10 last season and they return their top three scorers from a year ago · Shipp is Cal's top player as he averaged 14.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game · Besides Shipp, junior A.J. Diggs is one of the strongest defenders in the Pac-10, so he should have the ability to shut down an opponent's top scorer · Last season, California was killed on the glass. Sophomore center Amir Tamir struggled on the boards last season due to foul trouble. The success of the Bears' season will depend greatly on Tamir's ability to crash the boards and become a scoring presence on the inside.
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
2001-02 Record: 22-10 (12-6 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Henry Bibby (seventh year)
Player to watch: G Errick Craven
The Trojans are coming off an Elite Eight appearance, but they lost their three best players ÷ Sam Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville ÷ to graduation ... The trio of seniors averaged 44 points, 19 rebounds and nearly 10 assists last season · USC will turn to sophomore Craven and junior guard Desmon Farmer to try to continue the success that has seen the Trojans win at least 20 games in back-to-back seasons ... Craven became the first freshman since Jason Kidd to lead the Pac-10 in steals with a 2.3 per game average · Southern California went to the junior colleges for its recruiting this season and they will need big contributions from juco transfers Brandon Brooks and Jonathan Oliver.
Location: Stanford, Calif.
2001-02 Record: 20-10 (12-6 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Mike Montgomery (16th year)
Player to watch: F Josh Childress
The Cardinal lost 47 percent of their offense when Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt were drafted in the 2002 NBA draft. Both players were dynamic scorers and Stanford has no immediate answer to replace Jacobsen's and Borchardt's scoring · Sophomore Childress, who started as a freshman, will be looked upon to increase his 7.8 points per game average · The Cardinal lack any big-time scorers and the only advantage they have over many teams is Montgomery, who has taken the Cardinal to 14 NCAA Tournaments ... For Stanford to be successful this season, it will have to become more of a defensive-oriented team rather than a team like it had last season, when the Cardinal ran their offense through Jacobsen.
2001-2002 Record: 14-15 (7-11 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Rob Evans (fifth year)
Player to watch: F Ike Diogu
The Sun Devils are looking build off of last season that saw them defeat Arizona for the first time in seven years · Freshman Serge Angounou, whom Evans had high hopes for this season, is likely out for the season due to a knee injury · Senior Curtis Mileage is also out indefinitely until he resolves his academic eligibility issues. With these two players out, senior forward Tommy Smith will be expected to carry the load for the short-handed Sun Devils · To take the pressure off of Smith, freshman center Diogu will step right in and become the No. 2 scoring option for the Sun Devils. Evans refers to Diogu as a "young Karl Malone."
2001-02 Record: 11-18 (5-13 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Lorenzo Romar (first year)
Player to watch: F Doug Wrenn
The Huskies enter the season with first-year head coach Romar, who has a tough road ahead. UW has only won 14 Pac-10 games over the past three seasons · The lone bright spot for the Huskies this season is Wrenn, who has become one of the most prolific scorers in the conference. Wrenn averaged 19.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season. The Huskies were hopeful that freshman recruit Brandon Roy would be a key contributor this season, but he is currently ineligible. He will attempt to enroll in January .
Location: Corvalis, Ore.
2001-02 Record: 12-17 (4-14 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Jay John (first year)
Player to watch: F Philip Ricci
OSU has had 12-straight losing seasons, something that John never was a part of at Arizona as an assistant to Lute Olson · The Beavers have lacked success in recent years, but their two forwards, Ricci and Brian Jackson, have shown that they can play inside with the best of them. Ricci led the Beavers in scoring last year with a 16.7 per game average to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists · At the point, senior Jimmie Haywood will run the show, but freshman Lamar Hurd will fight for the starting role by midseason. The one advantage that John has is that the team has five second-year players who averaged a combined 80 minutes per game last season.
Location: Pullman, Wash.
2001-02 Record: 6-21 (1-17 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Paul Graham (fourth year)
Player to watch: G Marcus Moore
For the Cougars to have a chance at being competitive in the Pac-10, junior guard Marcus Moore is going to have to lead the way. Moore established himself as one of the premiere guards in the Pac-10 last season by averaging 16 points and nearly 5 assists. However, he is the only scoring option for the Cougars. To make matters worse, WSU's defense was the worst in the Pac-10 last season. The Cougars allowed opponents to shoot a conference-high 49 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from behind the arc. The Cougars have added three juco transfers to the mix, but until they learn how to play defense, WSU is going to continue its losing ways.