The Pac-10 starts the year with three teams in the Top 25--UCLA
(page 70), Stanford (page 88) and Arizona (page 109)--but could
very well finish with four. Oregon has its top nine players back
and is poised for its second trip to the NCAA tournament in
three years. "It took a little while for us to learn to win,"
says Ducks coach Jerry Green. "Now we're there."
This is an article from the Nov. 15, 1996 issue
The team's high-scoring three-guard attack is led by senior
Kenya Wilkins, a 5'10" penetrator who knows how to spread the
ball around. Not surprisingly, the Ducks have great wings,
notably sharpshooters Jamal Lawrence and Terik Brown, who
combined for 141 three-pointers last season. The middle is
patrolled by a pair of 235-pound bruisers, Kyle Milling and Rob
Ramaker, who last year elbowed the team to the top of the
Pac-10's rebounding stats.
Like Oregon, Washington is on an upswing. The Huskies are coming
off their first winning season since 1987. "It's the NCAAs or
nothing," says junior forward Mark Sanford (team-high 16.5 ppg).
Big things are expected from a pair of 7-footers, beefy
(270-pound) center Todd MacCulloch and nimble forward Patrick
Femerling. How far Washington goes, however, will hinge on the
play of a talented but untested backcourt.
USC should climb north of .500, and considering the tumult of
the past two years, that would be quite a feat. Henry Bibby
(page 178), who took over coaching duties late last season, has
steadied the program and has a solid nucleus in guard Stais
Boseman, power forward Jaha Wilson and two newcomers, Kentucky
transfer Rodrick Rhodes and highly recruited 6'6" freshman
Senior guard Isaac Fontaine (18.1 ppg) is a good bet to lead the
conference in scoring, but how much help he gets will determine
how good Washington State turns out to be. Veteran forwards
Carlos Daniel and Tavares Mack have to expand their roles, and
the Cougars need some new blood to step in and step up. "The old
guys have to go to the next level, and the young guys have to
play old," says Fontaine.
After Todd Bozeman's resignation this summer and with an NCAA
investigation into the program's alleged misdeeds continuing,
Cal is looking forward to getting back to basketball under new
coach Ben Braun, who led Eastern Michigan to the NCAAs three
times during his 11-year tenure. Even so, as senior guard Randy
Duck says, "no matter what's going on with the coach, it's still
the five guys on the floor who have to put the ball through the
hoop." The sweet-shooting Duck and guard Ed Gray (15.6 ppg)
notwithstanding, the Bears will have more trouble doing that
than will their opponents.
"We're not very big," says Bill Frieder, coach of Arizona State.
"We lost our best player [Ron Riley], we're a little bit young,
and we don't have a lot of depth." And that, Frieder should add,
is why the Sun Devils are going to finish ninth. Last year
Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-10 in seven statistical
categories and at one point had lost 18 of 19 games. This season
second-year coach Eddie Payne has 10 new players. It's a start.
Projected Finish '95-96 Record
1 UCLA (4) 23-8
2 Stanford (11) 20-9
3 Arizona (25) 26-7
4 Oregon 16-13
5 Washington 16-12
6 USC 11-19
7 Washington State 17-12
8 California 17-11
9 Arizona State 11-16
10 Oregon State 4-23