You’re excused for not recognizing the Pac-10 when glancing over standings. It’s only been a week, so a lot will change, but with Oregon undefeated, Arizona State winless and California getting shellacked by No. 2 Stanford — it’s an intriguing start.
“Cal and us – we’re young,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne, whose team lost six seniors and PG Dymond Simon due to knee injury. “Our teams are still trying to figure things out. But we certainly have all the pieces it takes to be a very good basketball team. Everybody is better, which is what we want in our conference. We get criticized across the country for not being a strong and it’s getting stronger, which is great.”
The legitimacy of that strength will be tested this week. USC (8-5, 2-0 Pac-10) and UCLA (9-4, 2-0), which impressed in nonconference play and the opening week, will play Stanford (11-1, 1-0). The Cardinal guards are hampered by injury and the LA schools have solid backcourts, so there could be more upsets.
But most pundits intimated Stanford could go undefeated in the conference as the clear top team. How USC and UCLA fare against the perennial favorite will make a statement.
Washington (6-6, 1-1) hosts Arizona State (8-5, 0-2) tonight at Hec Ed after a 4-3 road trip during the month of December. If the Huskies can rebound and feed off their crowd, they may defeat the Sun Devils for the first time since 2004. ASU has lost four of its past five games.
A UW win would show the lumps taken on the road taught some lessons.
The highlight will be Oregon (11-3, 2-0) against Oregon State (9-3, 1-1), which will be broadcasted on FSN this Saturday. It’s a classic battle of two different philosophies — the run-and-gun versus grinding defense.
“The bottom line is, you have to break down and understand what the routes are,” OSU coach LaVonda Wagner said on a teleconference call. “[Oregon coach Paul] Westhead, he runs routes. It looks like they’re just running in transition, but they’re very organized and they run routes and you just have to know what those are.”
Well, Wagner may figure out the Ducks’ route this weekend, but if overall Pac-10 play is anything like the openers, a clear path to the top may remain murky.
The full schedule:
Thursday, January 7
Arizona at Washington State*, 6 p.m. PT
Arizona State at Washington*, 7 p.m. PT
Friday, January 8
California at UCLA*, 7 p.m. PT
Stanford at USC*, 7 p.m. PT
Saturday, January 9
Arizona at Washington*, 12 p.m. PT
Oregon at Oregon State*, 1 p.m. PT (FSN)
Arizona State at Washington State*, 2 p.m. PT
Sunday, January 10
Stanford at UCLA*, 2 p.m. PT
California at USC*, 3 p.m. PT
* Indicates Pac-10 game
Game times local to site
PAC-10 ON TELEVISION
Saturday, Jan. 9
Oregon at Oregon State, 1 pm PT (FSN)