OREGON: The Ducks won both of their exhibition games, clawing their way to a sloppy seven point win over Division II Grand Canyon last Wednesday before routing DIII Lewis and Clark 100-58. I'm not sure how much you read into these exhibition games, but Oregon appears far more athletic than the past couple of years, and Tony Woods and Olu Ashaolu in particular look like they are going to be real players for Oregon this season. Oregon has some things to work on, especially on the defensive end, but we'll find out a lot more about the Ducks (as well as actually get to see them), when they open the season on Friday in a huge road game at preseason #7 Vanderbilt. (7PM PT, FSN/ROOT). Meanwhile, the Ducks picked up three commitments in the last week, headlined by 4* PG and former UCLA commit Dominique Artis.
Stay after the jump for notes from around the Pac-12.
ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils had only one exhibition game, against the very Grand Canyon team that Oregon struggled with, and had much less trouble with a 20 point win. Even after plucking Herb Sendek from the ACC six years ago, Arizona State has been unable to sustain much success, with only one NCAA appearance to show for it. Not a lot is expected of ASU this season, their most heralded recruit still has not been cleared, and they don't have Big Six team on the non-conference schedule. I have to wonder how long ASU fans are going to put up with a boring Herb Sendek style with the kind of results they've been getting. ASU opens up Friday at home against Montana State.
CALIFORNIA: I go back and forth as to whether I think Cal or UCLA is going to win this conference, but both are very good. Wtih Jorge Guttierez, Allen Crabbe, and Harper Kamp, that's about as good a 1-2-3 punch as exists in the conference. They had no trouble blowing out UC-San Diego in their exhibition. Mike Montgomery is feeling much better after cancer treatment, and I expect two blowouts as Cal takes on UC-Irvine and George Washington this weekend.
COLORADO: We don't yet know much about the Buffaloes, but nobody seems to expect much out of them after they lost Alec Burks to the NBA draft. There doesn't seem to be a lot of news out on the Buffs as they don't play their exhibition until Friday night, but the Ralphie Report does have a roundtable focusing on their transition to the Pac-12.
OREGON STATE: Little Brother hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1989 (I was in freaking kindergarten, for crying out loud), and while Craig Robinson isn't going to be fired for a bad year this season, he has all his own recruits, they're talented, and Brother-in-Law in running out of excuses. That said, while some aren't predicting a lot out of OSU, they are my sleeper in that I wouldn't be shocked to see them finish somewhere around 5th and be on the NCAA bubble if thing break their way (though they need a non-conference win against either Texas or in the game that will be either NC State or Vanderbilt). The Beavers blew out Pacific in their exhibition, and they open the regular season Saturday against Cal State Bakersfield.
STANFORD: The Cardinal are again expected to be a bottom tier team in the conference, especially after losing Jeremy Green to the NBA. The Cardinal put up triple digits in their exhibtion against Ryerson, and picked up a top-100 commit last week in Rosco Allen from Bishop Gorman. At this point, Johnny Dawkins hasn't done much in his stint in Palo Alto, and I'm not terribly excited by the Cardinal this year. They open up Monday against Fresno State on ESPNU.
UCLA: UCLA just has a filthy interior, with Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith, and now you add the Wear twins to that. Nobody in the conference can compete with that, as UCLA could realistically go 6-10, 6-10, 6-8 across the front line. Cal State San Berardino gave them a suprising push in UCLA's eight point exhibition win, a game that reserve Jerime Anderson sat out after stealing a laptop. Stealing a laptop here takes the starting quarterback out for the season. Doing it a UCLA, and you get sat for an exhibition game. Just saying. UCLA opens against Loyola Marymount on Friday, before headed to the Maui Invitational.
USC: USC is another team that I'm not sure what to make of, as they are almost completely new after losing four starters (three left school, PG Jio Fontain to a knee injury), and Evan Smith is out for another month or two with an injury. They also had no exhibitons, so come into the season a complete mystery. We may not know a ton until we seem them play a few games, and they open on Friday against Cal-State Northridge.
UTAH: I'm not going to waste a lot of time on the Utes. They were a really bad Mountain West team last year, and will be the worst team in the Pac this season. They lost their exhibition to Adams State, and are playing a counting game against San Diego Christian College on Monday before taking on Boise State later in the week. I see the Ducks have two games against the Utes, and watch our RPI swirl down the toilet.
wASHINGTON: Washington lost a lot with Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and got much less rapey with the loss of Venoy Overton, but this is still an immensely talented team. Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross could be one of the league's best backcourts, and Wroton wowed reporters with his peformance in an exhibition win against Seattle Pacific, (though I watched some of this game on TV and thought Wroten was forcing and being a ballhog). Don't sleep on uw as a contender in the conference, and we'll get a good look at them as they open the season with three games over the weekend, including a TV game Monday against the Portland Pilots on ROOT.
WASHINGTON STATE: The writers pick Washington State 11th, but I think they could be better than that with Reggie Moore, Faisel Aden, and Marcus Capers could be a pretty decent core. I don't think they have any shot at the NCAAs, but a lower level tourney like the CBI is very possible. Freshman DeVonte Lacy had 21 in an exhibition blowout of Lewis and Clark State. CougCenter is looking for Reggie Moore to carry this team, being fully healed after playing last season with injury. Wazzu opens up with a big road game Monday at Gonzaga (9:00 PT, ESPN).