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PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week Five

Posted by naterb on December 7, 2009

Most seasons if you lose a close game, you’re going to drop a spot or two in the conference power rankings. Most seasons if you get blown out on the road you’re going to drop in the power rankings as well. But this isn’t most seasons.

The PAC-10 is down a significant amount, there’s no question about it. It is down so much that losing on your home court to a team that finished ninth in the Big-12 actually solidifies a higher spot in the power rankings.  It’s still early, but things are certainly starting to take form in the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Less Big Man

Posted by naterb on December 2, 2009

If things weren’t bad enough for the Bruins this season, breaking news makes the teams outlook even worse.

Forward/Center Drew Gordon will be transferring away from UCLA at the winter break, and is no longer a part of the Bruins team. This, apparently is by mutual agreement.

“After several discussions with Drew, we both have decided that it is in the best interests of our program and Drew that he continues his career at another school.” -Ben Howland

Some may take this as a sign of the rats jumping ship from a Bruins team that has struggled immensely already this season. That is wrong on two accounts. First, the Bruins are likely to turn the season around, and secondly this wasn’t a surprise to Howland and Co. which means that it was an internal issue.

According to Andy Katz over at ESPN, the issue was Gordon’s attitude being viewed as “detrimental” to the team.” I don’t see any other explanation for the departure, and Gordon clearly wasn’t happy with things in UCLA – particularly Ben Howland.

At this point, Gordon has not announced his destination, though San Diego State has been rumored. I believe it would be more likely he would wind up at UNLV who are in desperate need of inside rebounding presence. One way or another, it could be interesting to see where Gordon winds up – but I doubt it except for the team that gets him.

As for the Bruins, they now face replacing their third-leading scorer (11.2) and second-leading rebounder (5.3). That is a big hole to fill, and one that could have given them an advantage in a conference that is thin in the middle.

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PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week Four

Posted by naterb on December 1, 2009

Last week I gave UCLA the benefit of the doubt in keeping them in the top half of the conference, but it appears as though I shouldn’t have. The Bruins are in bad shape with or without Dragovic and have taken the biggest hit in these rankings of the year dropping four spots this week.

The thing about all of this though, is you can pretty much throw all of it out the window once conference play starts. But we’ll go along pretending I have a clue as to what’s going on. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dragovic returns…

Posted by naterb on November 29, 2009

I believe I’ve already made it clear how poor UCLA’s start is, and after UCLA’s 47-74 drubbing at the hands of Portland things looked even worse. Then the following night, the Bruins showed signs of life by pushing Butler to the final minute.  So what’s with the Jekyll & Hyde act that the Bruins only wins are against Cal State-Bakersfield and Pepperdine? Simply put, it’s the senior leadership they receive from Nikolai Dragovic.

Dragovic anchors a ridiculously young team that has too much potential and not enough experience to make a whole lot of noise this season. Unfortunately, the Bruins have floundered without Dragovic in the lineup. Which is why Howland brought Dragovic back despite the investigation into his October altercation being incomplete – a decision I completely disagree with for the sake of the integrity of the team. Sure, Dragovic scored 14 and led the Bruins against Butler, and will recapture his starting role in the near future. But in an age of college basketball that has more controversy than not, is it really worth it for the Bruins to risk it simply for a few wins until their freshman can catch up, especially when other schools are seeing investigations of this nature through before making decisions?

Howland is making a huge mistake. Dragovic has already been accused once, but his live-in girlfriend opted not to pursue charges. And while the rumor is that Dragovic was the victim, and not the attacker in the most recent incident, it doesn’t change the fact that Dragovic wasn’t smart enough to just walk away, report it to security, or take numerous other avenues. Garland Judkins was effectively suspended for the year under Russ Pennell for the same type of decision.

It’s a shame really, that Howland after cherrishing so much success over the past few years is utterly incapable of enduring a few weeks or even a whole season without compromising the integrity of the program.

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Stanford: Better than UCLA – so far

Posted by naterb on November 26, 2009

Final 1 2 OT T
Stanford (3-3) 38 25 2 65
Kentucky #5 (6-0) « 32 31 10 73

Is it possible that at 3-3, Stanford has looked more impressive than Oregon, ASU, and UCLA, and possibly even Cal? It is certain they have been more impressive than USC and Oregon State, but forcing a heavily heralded Kentucky team into an overtime game is impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mauii Invitational Reduces Learning Curve

Posted by naterb on November 26, 2009

 Considering the match-ups, it is no surprise that the Wildcats went 1-2 in their stay in Mauii. But it wasn’t just run-of-the-mill basketball for the young squad. Arizona faced their toughest competition to date in Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, and managed to remain close to have a shot at the end. Read the rest of this entry »

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PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 3

Posted by naterb on November 25, 2009

It has certainly been a bizzare week of PAC-10 basketball. With so many teams struggling out of the gate it not only looks like the PAC-10 is down, but it is way down. But as I said earlier, withhold your judgement. Afterall, do you really trust records that put Arizona State (4-0) as the top team in the conference?

That is the very reason I do the Power Rankings, because the quality of a team isn’t just in wins and losses… Read the rest of this entry »

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Special Preview: Mauii Invitational

Posted by naterb on November 21, 2009

If you’re so much of a basketball snob that the college hoops season doesn’t begin until the Mauii Invitational or NIT Season Tip-off, then you’ve missed out on a lot of quality games already.

But that’s no reason you can’t jump in and get excited about this week’s Mauii Invitational – the 26th Annual. I’m not going to bore you with the history of the tournament  – that wouldn’t be fun for you to read or even for me to write.  

The Tournament begins Monday and ends with the Championship game at 10 pm on Wednesday. The tournament continues to bring in quality teams as Arizona, Gonzaga, Maryland and Wisconsin highlight this year’s bracket – all of which have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament if the cards fall their way. Read the rest of this entry »

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UCLA loses despite win

Posted by naterb on November 21, 2009

Final 1 2 T
Cal State Bakersfield (1-2) 35 29 64
UCLA (1-1) « 35 40 75
Dragovic is just criminal. Photo from the L.A. Times

Just Criminal. photo from: L.A. Times

Despite winning 75-65 to Cal State Bakersfield, UCLA suffered a huge setback Friday when senior forward Nikola Dragovic was arrested for an “incident” last month, and consequently suspended Friday.

And since this isn’t the first time Dragovic has been in trouble, the suspension is sure to last longer than just a single game against Cal State-Bakersfield. The question is: how long will the Bruins only returning starter be out? According to Howland, that will be determined as more information becomes available. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick Weekend (2) Preview

Posted by naterb on November 20, 2009

There have been some surprises the first week, but for the most part the games have gone as expected. This weekend isn’t going to be a highlight weekend for the PAC-10, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to keep track of.

Don’t want to be a whipping boy

First off, let me just say that I wouldn’t want to be Cal State-Bakersfield tonight when they face of against UCLA. After coming off an embarrassing season-opening loss, the Bruins will look to make a statement. What better way than against an Independent school that just can’t muster the talent to keep up with the Bruins. Should they perform a miracle and manage to literally steal one, the Bruins will be in for a LONG season. But don’t bet on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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