Basketball in September?

Seems weird to think about, but even though we haven't played our first football game of the 2009 season, the start of basketball practice is less than two months away. Because of that, we're going to see some stuff trickle out here and there, even as we gear up for the football opener.

Of note in the last couple of days is a pair of articles. First, there's ESPN.com's ShootAround on the Pac-10, which quickly previews the conference. The Cougs are mentioned prominently, with Brock Motum getting the most love. Andy Katz identified him as one of his 10 Key Players:

Former Wazzu coach Tony Bennett found a gem at the Australian Institute of Sport. Motum has long been considered a highly coveted forward. New coach Ken Bone can expect him to step in immediately and make a major contribution. Motum, who's left-handed and 6-9, should be a game-changer for the Cougars.

And Joel Francisco of Scouts, Inc., listed Motum as one of the 10 Freshmen We Can't Wait To See:

The Australian import put on quite a performance at the under-19 Four Nations tournament in Melbourne. This polished post prospect should be the most college-ready freshman in the conference.

The most college-ready freshman? Yes please!

However, Doug Gottlieb had to rain on the parade by picking the Cougs to finish 8th. But then again, he picked USC to finish fifth, so I'm tempted to think he has absolutely no clue what he's talking about.

Katz also says the Coug/Zag showdown at K2 is one of his nonconference games he can't wait to see, which I completely agree with after last season's embarrassment in Pullman, and given the way the rivalry has taken off in recent years. But he goes a little too far in saying it's a "must-get" for the Cougs, citing what sees as a weak nonconference slate. Not sure if he's actually looked at the schedule or not, given that we play the No. 24 team in his preseason rankings on the road, and we'll likely play Oklahoma (a possible top 25 team at that point) in Alaska.

Oh, by the way -- he doesn't even have the Zags ranked in his top 25. This from the same guy who called Klay Thompson "a slender wing, driving to the hole as much as possible." You're slipping, Andy. Watch it.

Speaking of Thompson, the other interesting piece out there is this cool column by Daven Harmeling, who will be writing regularly for Cougfan.com this season. It's all about just how good Thompson is, which is fantastic. I had planned to write a Klay Thompson love fest at the end of last year, but never really got around to it. I felt like we got so used to what he did on the floor -- and with such consistency -- that we often took his contributions for granted.

If you need a reminder of his awesomeness -- or just want a nice reminder to get you fired up for basketball season -- make sure you read this piece. It's short, and well worth your time.

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