Pressing Times for Pac-10 Basketball


Pressing Times for Pac-10 Basketball


The talent drain began two years ago and the Pac-10 is still in recovery mode.

After sending six teams to the NCAA tournament for three straight years, the league was nearly invisible last March with only two schools represented - its fewest since 1988.

And regaining its status as one of the nation's elite conferences this season seems doubtful.

The cause of the Pac-10's lingering woes? The NBA draft. In 2008 and '09, the league produced 13 first-round picks and eight lottery selections - more than any other conference. Fourteen of those players had eligibility remaining.

Among the underclassmen who bailed early were Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook of UCLA, Brook and Robin Lopez of Stanford, O.J. Mayo and DeMar DeRozan of USC, James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State, and Arizona's Jerryd Bayless.

Those departures combined with a lack of blue chip recruits plunged the Pac-10 into mediocrity.

The league had a team in the final AP Top 25 rankings every year since 1986 until last season. It flopped during nonconference play, going 2-12 against ranked opponents with several ugly losses. None of the teams finished the season ranked among the top 20 in the RPI, either.

"Last year our league was much better than how we were perceived, but because of the lack of wins in the nonconference and maybe a lack of scheduling (tough games) in the nonconference, we took a beating as a group of teams that didn't get it done," second-year USC coach Kevin O'Neill said.

The Pac-10 will try to notch some notable wins this season, with such Top 25 teams as No. 1 Duke, Kansas State, Kansas, Gonzaga, Missouri, Baylor, Butler, Tennessee and BYU among its nonconference opponents.

O'Neill believes beating ranked teams early will improve the Pac-10's national standing.

"Your reputation will be shaped by what you do there because once you get into conference you just play each other," he said.

Only Washington is ranked in AP's Top 25 preseason poll at No. 18, although UCLA and Arizona were among others receiving votes.

The Huskies made it to the final 16 of the NCAA tournament. They return four starters and are picked to win the league title this season. After that, it's a scramble, with the Arizona schools and UCLA in contention.

The bulk of Pac-10 rosters are filled by West Coast players, and O'Neill pointed out the high school talent level dipped the last two years. Fewer players from the East Coast venture west, "so it's important for us to get the best players in our area," he said.

O'Neill should know. Most of the Trojans' recruiting class bailed out before the start of last season after the school imposed its own sanctions on the basketball program in the wake of NCAA violations involving Mayo.

Once a school lands good players, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, "You've got to keep them. All the one-and-done kids hurt respective programs when they left early."

The talent drop-off was so steep that only two Pac-10 players were drafted in June. And no underclassmen declared for the draft, which means more veterans are around to play this season, even if their ability doesn't match that of their predecessors.

"It's like a program that loses five seniors," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "You've got freshmen coming in and they've got to grow. Once they grow, start to develop, you're back in business again."

Second-year Arizona coach Sean Miller is optimistic about what's to come.

"If you follow the class that will be here a year from now, some of the best players in the nation who happen to be in the West are coming into our conference," he said.

Recruiting will be bolstered by the conference's expansion in July, when Colorado and Utah join. A new television deal will be negotiated, and the league is looking into starting its own television network.

"We have a history and tradition of great basketball, so we've got to emphasize that and get back to that," Montgomery said. "The bottom line is we've got to win."

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

Warriors' Durant exhibits entire scoring arsenal vs Blazers

OAKLAND – In the final preseason game on the schedule, at his new home of Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant entered the highlight zone.

The team’s newest superstar exhibited his entire scoring arsenal, dropping 3-pointers, soaring in for dunks and swishing mid-range post-ups.

The most impressive dunk came with 9:02 left in the quarter, when Durant took a pass from Draymond Green and finished the fast break by taking off from about 10 feet and throwing it down.

[POOLE: Instant Replay: Curry, Durant light it up in win over Blazers]

The most impressive trey came with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter, when Steph Curry came down in transition, slipped a pass to Durant, who threw it in from 32 feet.

Durant scored 14 points in the third quarter, 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep.

Durant’s line: 28 points (11-of-21, 5-of-8, 1-of-2), seven rebounds, six assists and one block.

Instant Replay: Curry, Durant light it up in win over Blazers


Instant Replay: Curry, Durant light it up in win over Blazers


OAKLAND – The preseason ended Friday night with the kind of offensive fireworks the Warriors expect to carry into the regular season.

Stephen Curry scored 35 points and Kevin Durant poured in 28 points as the Warriors overcame an early 16-point deficit to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 107-96 at Oracle Arena.

Ian Clark added 17 points to bolster the scoring of Curry and Durant.

With the exception of the first five minutes, the Warriors starters sparkled, outscoring Portland 84-50 over the next 31 minutes and leading by as much as 21.

The Warriors finished the preseason with a 6-1 record.

Damian Lillard, playing two miles from his old neighborhood, led Portland with 20 points. CJ McCollum added 16.


Simply put, that would be Curry and Durant.

Curry’s line: 35 points (12-of-21 from the field, including 8-of-13 from beyond the arc, 3-of-3 from the line), four rebounds and two assists. He scored 14 points in each of the first two quarters. He played 28 minutes and finished plus-17.

Durant’s line: 28 points (11-of-21, 5-of-8, 1-of-2), seven rebounds, six assists and one blocked shot. He scored 14 points in the third quarter. Durant played 31 minutes and finished plus-2.


Draymond Green didn’t score much, only 4 points, but his put his fingerprints on this game in just about every other way. He hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds, passed for six assists, adding a steal and a blocked shot. He played 26 efficient minutes, finishing plus-15.

Ian Clark still is trying to nail down a spot in the rotation and he made another impressive argument on his behalf. Coming off the bench with 4:09 left in the first quarter, he took two shots and made them both, including a 3-pointer. Playing both guard positions, Clark had 17 points (7-of-11, 3-of-6), two assists, one rebound and one block.


Warriors: C JaVale McGee (L knee strain) was listed as questionable and upgraded to available prior to tipoff. C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery) was listed as out.

Blazers: C Meyers Leonard (lower back soreness) and G Shabazz Napier (L ankle sprain) were listed as questionable. Leonard entered in the third quarter. Napier did not play. C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) was listed as out.


The Warriors open the season Tuesday, Oct. 25, when the San Antonio Spurs visit Oracle Arena.