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Originally published Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Bud Withers

Pac-10's NCAA pickings not as good this year

It's good to be Quincy Pondexter and the Washington Huskies. Jay John, not so much.

Seattle Times colleges reporter

Postcards from the Pac-10:

• In the conference's best year of basketball in 2007-08, the over-under in Las Vegas on its teams' total victories in the NCAA tournament was 9 ½. This year, I'd put it at six, giving Washington, UCLA and Arizona State a chance to play on the second weekend, give or take, and Arizona and California a shot at winning one. USC? The Trojans just need to quit fighting among themselves.

• If the Huskies get sent to Portland for the first and second rounds, it'll be the closest opening site for any of the state's four Division I teams since Seattle U. went to Portland and lost to Arizona State in 1961. Kindest placement in history for any of the four was in 1953 and 1956, when Seattle U. drove up to Edmundson Pavilion to beat Idaho State on both occasions.

• This is the Quincy Pondexter the UW coaches hoped they were getting a couple of years ago, taking over the game at USC, hitting clutch shots, doing the little things. "He's been our hardest worker," says coach Lorenzo Romar.

• Nowadays, it doesn't take much to get students to storm the floor. Arizona State did it in Tempe when ASU won its fourth straight game over Arizona, a day after Oregon's students spilled out to mark the end of a 14-game Pac-10 losing streak.

• Factoid-finder extraordinaire Doug Tammaro of ASU unearthed this one: In 31 seasons of Pac-10 basketball, six teams have begun the league 0-14. Five of them then won their 15th game. The lone wolf was OSU, winless last year.

• Speaking of OSU, how do you think Jay John feels? He was the Beavers' coach last year for the start of the march to 0-18, and this season, as an assistant at Cal to one of the best coaches in the game, Mike Montgomery, he's seen the Bears beaten twice by Oregon State.

• You could have given me 100-1 that the Beavers would sweep Cal and Stanford this year, and I wouldn't have gotten anywhere near it.

• Among WSU coaches, only the Bennetts, Dick and Tony, have won games at 44-year-old Pauley Pavilion, which means Marv Harshman, Bob Greenwood, George Raveling, Len Stevens, Kelvin Sampson, Kevin Eastman and Paul Graham all whiffed. We'll give Harshman a pass, however; of his six trips there for WSU, the Bruins were national champs five times, three with Lew Alcindor.

• In their stunner over UCLA, the Cougars actually played a possession of zone defense — right up until Michael Roll drained a three for UCLA, and no doubt Tony Bennett promised his dad WSU wouldn't do that again for at least 10 years.

• Most quotable among Pac-10 coaches? USC's Tim Floyd. Least? ASU's Herb Sendek, who sometimes responds in the manner of a U.S. military general guarding intelligence on Taliban strongholds.

• USC's Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis had a confrontation after Saturday's loss to Washington, apparently over something a friend of Lewis said to Hackett. The two spent a lot of time Monday doing extra running.

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• Regarding Hackett, one of USC's vulnerabilities is having to play him at the point. No wonder Floyd was riled when UW guard Venoy Overton, who played a big part Saturday, pulled out of his USC commitment a couple of years ago.

• Floyd could end up having coached both O.J. Mayo and Demar Derozan and not winning an NCAA-tournament game with either.

• Two things that are going to concern candidates to be Arizona's next coach: The bare cupboard he's going to take over, and the fact athletic director Jim Livengood turns 64 on March 28.

• One reason OSU's Craig Robinson has a great shot to be Pac-10 coach of the year: The Beavers' 1-3-1 zone defense is like quicksand. In the past five games, the opposition's leading scorers right now — Jerome Randle, Anthony Goods, Taylor Rochestie, Isaiah Thomas and James Harden — have combined for a mere 26 points against OSU.

• Stanford is not only struggling, it loses most of its talent next year. Forgive Cardinal faithful for wondering why AD Bob Bowlsby couldn't get along with ex-coach Trent Johnson. It doesn't help knowing Duke freshman big guy Miles Plumlee had signed with Stanford before the coaching change.

• When 6-foot-10 center Renardo Sidney announced his college choice Sunday, he did it amid a dinner for 100 family and friends at LA Fairfax High, and made an elaborate show of producing a USC hat in a gift-wrapped box, wrapped inside a bigger gift-wrapped box. Nothing like a modest arrival.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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About Bud Withers

Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
bwithers@seattletimes.com | 206-464-8281

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