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Courtside Conversations ? Nov. 8, 2006
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/08/2006
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Pac-10 women’s basketball coaches, players, and media gathered in San Jose, Calif., this week for their annual media extravaganza.  The day consisted of coach speak, player interviews, and a challenge to see who could count the number of times the word “excited” was used by the coaches. 

 

We heard Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer talk about her concern regarding the Cardinal point-guard position.  She barely got around to sharing her insights on what should be one of the best teams in conference history.  USC head-man Mark Trakh made it seem like there wasn’t a qualified player to be found on his campus.  UCLA underachiever Kathy Olivier somehow used the phrase “best player in the nation” to describe Bruin guard Noel Quinn, and Oregon coach Bev Smith tried to sound convincing when she used the term “exciting” to discuss her team’s chances.

 

So it goes at Pac-10 Media Day.  Well, don’t just listen to coaches and players.  You’ve come to the right place to find out exactly what will take place within the Pac-10 Conference this season.  Yes, I’m usually 90 percent wrong, but that extra 10 percent keeps me around.  So, here are my predictions for how things will settle out during the upcoming campaign:

 

1.                  Stanford ?- The best coach in the conference has the best team in the conference.  A Final Four appearance and a National Championship are not out of the question.

2.                  California ?- Second-year coach Joanne Boyle is loaded with young talent.  Center Devanei Hampton could be starting for any team in the nation.  We’ll see if this team can avoid taking a step backward while it continues to improve.

3.                  Arizona State ?- The Sun Devils still have depth and talent.  Preseason all conference selection Emily Westerberg returns. Charlie Turner-Thorne must avoid injuries to key players to remain in the top three.

4.                  Arizona ?- The Cats will be the surprise team in the Pac-10.  If Joan Bonvicini’s young and improving team can navigate through a brutal non-conference schedule, that includes 20 games against ranked teams, something special could happen.  An early season test at top-ranked and defending champion Maryland will be an indicator of what’s to come.

5.                  UCLA ?- Okay, Noel Quinn is really good but what else does UCLA have to offer?

6.                  USC ?- This is a dangerous pick.  If the Trojans get healthy before Pac-10 play begins, they’re good enough to finish second.  If they can’t put a consistent line-up on the floor, they may be fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth.

7.                  Washington ?- I can’t figure out why everyone is so excited about this team.  Cameo Hicks is solid but this team could be the biggest disappointment since Steve Nash visited a barber.

8.                  Oregon ?- Bev Smith might be looking for work in March.

9.                  Oregon State ?- The coaching of Lavonda Wagner will be good enough to keep this team out of the cellar.

10.              Washington State ?- What more can be said about a team that just can’t take the next step.  Coach Sherri Murrell deserves better.

 

So, there you have it.  Don’t bet the farm and hold on tight.  Seven Pac-10 Teams will be invited to the NCAA Tournament and the Cats will be one of them.  You heard it here first.  Take my 10 percent and run!

 

See you on the radio!

Paul Johnson

 

·                    Each Wildcat Women’s Basketball Game is broadcast live on AM 1400 KTUC.  Find out more about Paul at: http://www.pauldanieljohnson.net.

 

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