Well CC has been on a bit of a roundtabale hiatus... but no more!
1. Montgomery. Great coach or the Greatest Coach!
So for those of you who don't know, many of the roundtable questions originate from the fine posters over at California Golden Blogs. Hence, we often start off with questions like this. Anyways, Mike Montgomery has done an excellent job of turning around California after losing what was basically their entire frount court offense in Ryan Anderson and Devon Hardin. Anderson was also an efficient three point shooter and a solid rebounder, so replacing him was an intimidating task. Montgomery has done it by taking advantage of a number of returning backcourt players and through ball control. Cal is currently 1st in the country in three point shooting percentage (47.3%) and only turns the ball over on 6.9% of their offensive possessions (2nd in the country). However, they are not particularly strong in their front court and Jamal Boykin actually leads the team with a paltry 6.9 rebounds per game. Luckily most teams in the Pac 10 don't have more than one strong front court player, but don't be surprised if the Bears struggle against teams like Washington and USC.
2. UCLA lost to ASU in a thriller. Is this a sign that UCLA's iron grip on the Pac 10 is loosening or just a slight bump along the way to yet another Final 4 appearance?
I really think the talent and experience gap between ucla and other school's in the pac is relatively small this year and I would be surprised if they made the final four. That being said, the other schools in the conference will have a chance next year as the bruins will lose a few more starters and will have to work their talented underclassmen into the full rotation. But looking ahead it still seems like ucla will be the team to beat.
3. Fire Ernie Kent! Agree / Disagree
Frankly, I really don't care whether Ernie Kent gets fired or not. He has done a decent job at Oregon, and has taken them to the NCAA tournament in 5 of the 10 years he has been there and has attracted some decent talent. The problem with Oregon is that they are not in a particularly talent rich part of the country for recruiting and that they don't have any history. If the school wants to take their hoops to the next level then they will probably have to get a new coach, but I think Kent deserves at least one more year after this one to see what he can do with the talented classes he has recently brought in.
4. Mark Sanchez is off to the NFL. Does this give you hope for your team upsetting the Trojan Train next season?
I think the best hope is to be an underdog, but certainly it is fair to say that teams will have a better chance to defeat SC next season. But really, there are few teams in the country that have comparable talent and with Carroll's recent coaching hires it seems like they are setting themselves up to better take advantage of that talent gap. So the chances are better, but I'd still take our chances to win another Pac 10 title.
5. Right now parity seems to be the name of the game in the Pac 10, and the separation between UCLA, ASU, Washington, California, USC, and possibly WSU and Stanford seems small. With that in mind it also seems like the Pac 10 will only get about 4 (or fewer) NCAA tournament berths. Which teams make it by the end of the season?
ASU: They are probably the best team in the Pac this year, or at least Ken Pomeroy thinks so.
ucla: Not as good as last years team, or as good as the team the year before, but still pretty good. They will get in, and likely still get a high seed even with an average tournament resume thanks to their tradition.
Cal: Good outside shooting and discipline will take you a long way, but I really doubt they're poised to make a deep run.
USC: USC starts slow under Floyd (see an opening loss to Mercer and 1-3 to begin conference play last year), but they finish strong. Look for them to slip in towards the end of the season, but a win against the next team on the list on the road would go a long way in making tournament dreams a reality.
Washington: The Huskies are probably the most underrated team in the country, and have been playing overall much better than last year. However, I just don't trust Lorenzo Romar to keep things together down the stretch and I think this team will end up on the wrong side of the bubble after a couple of tough losses.