Welcome to the latest edition of the 2009-2010 Pac-10 Weekly Wrap, which looks at the state of the conference's hoops featuring my personal power rankings and analysis of the state of each team. It's a day late (we'll usually do it on Monday), but hopefully worth the wait.
The last week was better for the conference than the first couple, but not by a whole lot. On to the rankings and recaps. Guess who's climbing the charts?1. Washington
Rank last week: 1
Nine days between games made for a rusty Washington team against Montana, their only game of the week. The Huskies escaped the Griz with a four-point win after trailing much of the game. I wouldn't read too much into this game, as Montana is a pretty decent Big Sky team with some nice talent.
Bright spot: The Huskies absolutely shut down Montana's best player, Anthony Johnson. He's a Pac-10 talent, and that should be as encouraging as anything. They nearly let the other guys beat them but that can be tightened up. This team still has the potential to be very good defensively.
Question mark: Who is going to lead this team? Quincy Pondexter looked superb through the first four games, but disappeared against Montana's zone. If he wants to be the man, he's got to assert himself in all situations. That's something they've got to sort out before Pac-10 play.
Rank last week: 2
I guess there's really no reason to move them down, given the results: a pair of blowout wins over terrible competition. But I did consider moving them down because Harper Kamp is likely to miss the rest of this season, and Theo Robertson is still on the shelf. This week will tell us a lot -- they really ought to handle New Mexico, Iowa State and Pacific pretty easily if they're as good as everyone wants to think they should be. We'll see.
Bright spot: Despite the loss of Kamp and with a woefully thin front line, the Bears have been one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country. Hard to believe that didn't make more of a difference against Syracuse and Ohio State. One has to think it'll start making a difference soon.
Question mark: What in the world is their front line rotation going to look like the rest of this season without Kamp? That'll be a huge issue.
3. Arizona State
Rank last week: 3
Close loss to Duke combined with two decisive wins -- over a depleted LSU and Arkansas Pine Bluff -- all away from home solidify the Sun Devils as the third best team. However, I'm not sold they can stay here. They were eventually overwhelmed by the Blue Devils' talent, and their win over the Tigers had as much to do with LSU running out of gas as anything else.
Bright spot: The Sun Devils are proving that there still is some talent left in the wake of the departures of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. Derek Glasser has been especially impressive -- not bad for a guy who was originally supposed to be a walk-on at USC.
Question mark: Just because there's still talent doesn't mean everyone has been replaced. The Devils have been one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country so far, even giving up 44.5(!) percent offensive rebounding to Arkansas Pine Bluff. Yeow.
4. Washington State
Rank last week: 5
How far can Klay Thompson carry the Cougs? That will likely be the question going forward. The Cougs face their toughest stretch of the early season, including trips to The Kennel and Manhattan, Kan.. This will either be a big boost to the team, or put them in a postseason hole they'll spend all season digging out of.
Bright spot: Did you know that Reggie Moore has a 133 offensive rating? That's really, really good. He is just simply not playing like a freshman.
Question mark: What's going to happen on a night when the other team takes Klay away? Who will score? There are options, but nothing proven. We might find out tomorrow night.
Preseason rank: 4
Wisconsin and Vandy are both good teams the Wildcats lost to last week, but they needed overtime to beat Colorado. Could have been a really bad trip to Maui without the win over the Buffs. When we say the Cougs will go as far as Klay Thompson can take them, we could say the same about Nic Wise and the Wildcasts.
Bright spot: Wise looks as if he desires to be the man for UofA. Good thing, because it's a young team that needs a strong leader.
Question mark: The Wildcats gave up an absurd amount of free throws in Maui. Aberration, or sign of things to come?
Preseason rank: 7
Think this is too high after losing back-to-back games against Portland and Montana? That loss to the Pilots doesn't look nearly as bad anymore, and the loss to Montana might not either after the Griz nearly beat Washington, too. Obliterating Montana State was good.
Bright spot: Michael Dunigan is back. The Ducks really need him, and are going to continue to need him. He provides an advantage up front in a a conference more or less devoid of big men.
Question mark: The Ducks play three games in two weeks. Can they stay sharp, especially with upcoming games against quality opponents such as Missouri and St. Mary's on the docket. For the second year in a row, it looks like the Ducks might be a victim of scheduling too aggressively.
Preseason rank: 8
Beat Virginia -- we don't have to tell you how far that goes in these parts -- and take Kentucky to overtime? Perhaps we underestimated Johnny Dawkins and his merry band of scholars.
Bright spot: The Cardinal have the same thing going for them that the Cougs do -- a great scorer who can explode on any given night. Landry Fields is averaging 23 points and 9 rebounds. That's good.
Question mark: We're still not sure we actually believe the Cardinal are for real. Can their nonexistent front line really be that small of a factor.
8. Oregon State
Rank last week: 10
After the public flogging we gave the Beavers last week, they came up with a nice win over George Washington. Nice job for OSU.
Bright spot: They survived yet another horrible offensive performance to beat GW. This is going to be a constant struggle for the Beavers all year long.
Question mark: Three of the Beavers' five games have been played at 68 possessions or more. What the heck? That's way, way too fast for that team. Perhaps some of their problems come from that.
Preseason rank: 9
Beat Coppin State, lose to Nebraska. Not a lot to learn here again.
Bright spot: The Trojans are still shooting the ball well -- 28th nationally in 3-point percentage.
Question mark: For as well as they're shooting the ball, they're dead in opponent 3-point field goal percentage.
Preseason rank: 6
What the heck is going on in Westwood? Can't win a game in your own tournament? Your starting center is transferring? Wowzer. If Ben Howland squeezes a berth out of these guys, it'll be considered his greatest coaching acheivement.
Bright spot: They beat Princeton. Yay!
Question mark: Too many to count. Way too many.