Well, it’s time again for my Pac-10 women’s basketball picks. Each season, at this time, I put my neck on the line and find out by the end of the year that my chin and shoulders are somehow connected! Anyway, here we go.
The Beavers have a new coach, Lavonda Wagner, from the hollowed grounds of Duke, where she served as an assistant. She may win in time, but not yet.
Sherri Murrell’s teams are becoming more competitive, but not to the point where they scare anyone. Look for five or less conference wins from the Cougars.
Berkeley is also the home of a new coach, Joanne Boyle, who arrives from Richmond, where she won nearly 70 percent of her games. She has a hot recruiting class to work with and it won’t be long before the Bears will be competitive. An eighth pick may be too low.
The Huskies have been a disappointing 9-9 in each of the past two Pac-10 seasons. I don’t see any reason to think they will be better this year. It will be another clunker in the “Dawg House.”
Everybody’s hot pick this season is USC which played over its head all of last year. The Trojans are not that talented and injuries could be a factor. Look for the Women of Troy to fall back in the standings.
The once proud Ducks are only 15 games over .500 in Bev Smith’s four years in Eugene. Canada seems to be her only consistent recruiting pipeline and the top teams in the conference will be much quicker. Look for Oregon to be a “bubble” NCAA team.
The Wildcats are still reeling from the loss of Polkey but are playing together and having fun. Whether they can stop anyone in the low post remains to be seen, but a team that has been glued together by tragedy can be a very dangerous one.
Even coach Kathy Olivier will have a difficult time messing up the Bruins. The three of the four best guards in the conference reside in Westwood (Nikki Blue, Noelle Quinn and Lisa Willis). If UCLA stays healthy they are a threat to win the conference.
Candace Wiggins is the best player in the Pac-10, but the Cardinal is young. They will be a threat to take home the prize, but may have wait until next season.
Sorry Wildcat fans! After watching ASU thump Vandy this weekend, the Devils look like the best team in the conference. Say what you want about Charlie Turner Thorne, but she has emerged as one of the top conference coaches along with Tara VanDerveer and Joan Bonvicini. Arizona State is disciplined and plays great defense. This could be their season.
Before you head to your local betting parlor to bank on these predictions, remember that by March my neck has usually disappeared and I try to forget I ever wrote this column!
See you on the radio!
Each Wildcat game can be heard live on AM 1330 KJLL!