PAC-10 WEEKEND WRAP: That's a little more like it

Well, after two weeks of pretty much general craziness, things went a little more to form this week. In fact, for the first time in a while, my rankings from last week don't look too silly. That's kind of nice, to tell you the truth. Can't have you all thinking I have no idea what I'm talking about, now, can we?

First off, here are the standings after three weekends of play:


Pacific-10 Conference Standings

(updated 1.16.2010 at 11:43 PM PST)

Conf Overall
W L W L
Arizona St. Sun Devils 4 2 14 5
California Golden Bears 3 2 11 6
USC Trojans 3 2 11 6
Washington St. Cougars 3 3 13 5
Washington Huskies 3 3 12 5
Arizona Wildcats 3 3 9 9
Oregon Ducks 2 3 10 7
Oregon St. Beavers 2 3 8 9
Stanford Cardinal 2 3 8 9
UCLA Bruins 2 3 7 10

Still a pretty tightly bunched group, but there is just a smidgen of clarity, I think. First off, the top three teams are no big surprise, and only separated by one half of a game. The next three teams -- WSU, Washington and Arizona -- are only a game out. Again, no surprise with any of those teams. And then there are the final four teams, who, while only a game and a half out, are the teams we thought we'd probably see down there when conference play began.

I speculated last week that we might see a different No. 1 each week. Well, turns out that's already not true. Even No. 2 was the same. On to the rankings!

1. Arizona State

Rank last week: 1
Record last week: 2-0
Overall Record: 14-5

I wanted the Sun Devils to go on the road and show me something. Lo and behold, they did exactly that, sweeping the Oregon schools in relatively convincing fashion. Sure, it's the easiest road trip the conference has to offer, but road wins are road wins in the Pac-10, and don't look now, but ASU is on a four-game winning streak after sweeping the past two weekends. It's pretty obvious they're playing the best ball in the conference right now.

Bright spot: ASU finally survived a reasonably good shooting night from an opponent -- OSU was the first team to shoot over 50 percent eFG against the Devils and not win. You can probably chalk that up to OSU once again giving the ball away on 30 percent of their possessions. Ah, those Beavers ... so giving.

Question mark: I really don't think there are any. In a conference still full of question marks, the Sun Devils are who they are. They shoot better than most, they defend better than most, and you're not going to get a lot of inconsistency. I guess my only real question is this: Is there a possibility the squads with more talent pass them by as they continue to improve?

2. California

Rank last week: 2
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 11-6

What? The top two stay the same? What the heck? Well, the Bears did enough to stay here, but I'm growing increasingly concerned about this squad after their split in Washington. It's not the split; no shame in going 1-1 through here. It's the manner in which it happened, as the Bears are starting to put up some consistent defensive numbers -- and not in a good way. More on that in a second. Also, as CGB points out, this is a fragile squad. One guy from the rotation goes out (in this case, Jorge Gutierrez), and their performance suffers in a big way.

Bright spot: Jerome Randle is still really good, stinker of a performance against UW notwithstanding. Cal fans pray to their God/gods/no god at all that he's not the next to get injured.

Question mark: We're starting to get a bit of a bead on this team defensively now. Yes, I know Gutierrez has been out for four games, but that doesn't have much to do with the fact that they don't defensive rebound particularly well (look at their conference numbers), don't force a lot of turnovers, and their field goal defense is inconsistent at best. In other words, this team could win -- or lose -- on any given night. I'll go ahead and predict that they'll lose three games they "shouldn't" the rest of the way.

3. Washington

Rank last week: 9
Record last week:
2-0
Overall Record:
12-5

Welcome back, Huskies -- or, should I call you, "My Flavor Of The Week"? Washington fans like to point to the return of Justin Holiday as the catalyst for the Huskies' surge this weekend in whipping Stanford and Cal, but c'mon ... I have a hard time believing one guy who plays 20 minutes a game could have that big of an impact. To be sure, he provided a boost, but I just think these guys have a lot of pride, and they had their manhood challenged.

Bright spot: The aforementioned Holiday played his most extensive minutes of the season and responded in a big way by filling the stat sheet and providing excellent perimeter defense. He's an underrated guy outside Seattle.

Question mark: Stop me if you've heard this one before, but can the Huskies take this intensity on the road? If they're serious about fulfilling preseason expectations, they really should sweep the L.A. schools this weekend.

4. Arizona

Rank last week: 3
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 9-9

The Wildcats could be sitting in first place with the Sun Devils if they had figured out some way to beat Oregon State. Alas, they were doomed by their second last-second loss in a week when Lathen Wallace drained a 3-pointer . Ouch. As pained as WSU fans are by what happened against Oregon, Arizona fans have to be more crazy -- this team has now lost two games in dramatic fashion, and could just as easily be 5-1 instead of 3-3.

Bright spot: HUGE weekend for Derrick Williams -- 20 points, 10 rebounds and a block per game for good measure. And that was against the zone of OSU and the big front line of Oregon. A month ago, I would have said Reggie Moore runs away with newcomer of the year in the conference. But Williams will have something to say about that.

Question mark: Fun stat of the week. Arizona is 9-2 when shooting above 50 in effective field goal percentage; conversely, the Wildcats are 0-7 when shooting under 50

5. USC

Rank last week: 6
Record last week: 1-0
Overall Record: 11-6

Nothing like destroying your crosstown rival at Pauley to get your season back on track, eh? How about this stat for you: We know UCLA's a pretty bad offensive rebounding team, but USC dominated the defensive boards against them in a way that is simply absurd -- the Bruins were only able to grab 9.2 percent of their misses. And there were a lot of misses, as the Bruins made just 15 of 45 attempts. Good win for the Trojans.

Bright spot: USC topped 100 offensive efficiency for just the fourth time this year, and first since the win over Tennessee a month ago, and did it without Mike Gerrity scoring a single point. Dwight Lewis picked up the slack with 24.

Question mark: Is this a one-game bump in performance from playing their rivals, or are the Trojans truly over the news of their postseason ban?

6. Washington State

Rank last week: 5
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 13-5

Not much else to say here we haven't already covered. Nearly came back to beat Cal after falling behind by 20 early, and then got up 20 on Stanford and had to hold on. If this team has any designs on really cracking this top three, the solution is simple: 40 minutes of defensive intensity. The time for figuring things out has passed -- the season is more than half over. It's time for some results, otherwise, this team is most certainly destined for the NIT ... or worse.

Bright spot: This team is resilient. They got smoked by Arizona State, then came out slow against Cal, but fought back and didn't fold up the tents. That's really big, and don't forget it.

Question mark: The Cougs have played four of the first six at home, and are only 3-3. The next three games are on the road -- USC, UCLA, UW. Two wins in that stretch would be considered an unmitigated success. Three losses are also a very real possibility. This will bear watching.

7. UCLA

Rank last week: 4
Record last week: 0-1
Overall Record: 7-10

Getting killed on your home floor is never good and UCLA fans are fairly disgusted. I didn't see the game, so I'm not really sure what happened. USC's defense has made a number of teams look pretty pitiful, and we know that when the Bruins aren't hitting shots, they aren't very good. Well, they shot only 36.7 effective field goal percentage against the Trojans. Not going to be anyone like that. But I'll not penalize the Bruins for one bad performance.

Bright spot: There isn't one. Last week was a disaster.

Question mark: Is this team ever going to get its crap together? Or were the ASU and Cal wins essentially flukes?

8. Oregon State

Rank last week: 10
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 8-8

After winning two of three, the Beavers have vaulted out of the cellar. They picked up a nice win at home over the Wildcats, then had their turnover problems crop up again against the Sun Devils (30.5 percent!). That's not totally unexpected, given that ASU forces a lot of turnovers, but kind of a downer for a team that had seen those turnovers slow down somewhat the previous two games.

Bright spot: How about Roeland Schaftenaar coming alive against Arizona? It might be too strong to call his season so far a disappointment, but he certainly hasn't taken a big step forward. But against the Wildcats, he had 22 points, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Nice.

Question mark: This team's not half bad when it's not giving the ball to the opponent one out of every four possessions. Will they be able to contain it going forward as they did against Oregon and Arizona?

9. Stanford

Rank last week: 8
Record last week: 0-2
Record: 8-9

The Cardinal were cruising for No. 10 before they figured out a way to come back on the Cougs after trailing by 20 at halftime. Despite being outmanned virtually every time they step on the floor, they continue to keep battling for Johnny Dawkins.

Bright spot: Jeremy Green only got 10 shots against UW. Clearly, the Cardinal realized the error of their way, getting him 22 shots against the Cougs, and he responded with 24 points. Stanford needs to make sure that it's doing everything it can to ride Green and Fields..

Question mark: They looked pretty bad in getting whipped by Washington and in getting down by 20 to WSU. Were the home wins over UCLA and USC a result of fortunate circumstance?

10. Oregon

Rank last week: 7
Record last week: 0-2
Overall Record: 10-7

From the penthouse to the outhouse for the Ducks. Just think: Two weeks ago, Oregon was the toast of the town -- the only team 2-0 in the league -- after road wins at UW and WSU. Since then, they've lost three in a row ... at home. Yikes. Let the Ernie Kent hot seat talk start up for the 1,382nd time.

Bright spot: How about LeKendric Longmire? Averaged 14.5 points, four offensive rebounds, two steals and 1.5 assists on the weekend. Hey, gotta start somewhere.

Question mark: After lackluster performances against ASU, Kent benched Tajuan Porter and Malcolm Armstead. Now, far be it from me to question Ernie Kent, but why jerk around the two guys who led you to that 2-0 start? They played poorly against the Devils to be sure, but it seems amateurish.

Like what you read? Then check out us out on Twitter @CougCenter and @NussCoug. It's the same good stuff ... just with more brevity. Some of you will probably find that attractive.

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