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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Will Be Watching Closely

With the start of the NCAA basketball season a little over a month away, there are many things to look at for this coming season, as always it should be an exciting year and for west coast fans here are a few of my thoughts on what I will be watching closely.

1. How will the UCLA Bruins do playing every game on the road? The history of sports is that teams that play out of their buildings do not fair well and of course the Bruins are out of cozy Pauley Pavilion because of its remodel for the entire season. Major challenge for Ben Howland. 

2. Will Jim Hayford have any shot of turning what for the most part has been a dismal program at Eastern Washington around? It was a gutsy athletic director move to hire Hayford, who had huge success at D-3 Whitworth, but the jump from D-3 basketball to D-1 is a huge step, especially when it comes to recruiting. Do not bet against Hayford.

3. Can Arizona win the national championship? They are my choice to do as such, they have the talent to go all the way, they have a great coach and a coach who right now in Sean Miller has become the best recruiter in the country, end of story.

4. Will Johnny Dawkins be able to prove at Stanford that he is a D-1 head coach that can win. Dawkins received a contract extension over the summer, a move that shocked everyone, because so far he has been a major disappointment for the Cardinal. It is time for him to step up, otherwise you might be seeing the head coach at Stanford with the name Eric Reveno.

5. Can anyone challenge Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference? I do not see it happen, they just have the dominant program right now and no end in site, despite the fact that this year's team at least on paper is one of the  "weaker" Utah State teams in some years.

6. Can Craig Robinson show us he can coach in the Pac-12? He has some nice talent this year at Oregon State, but to say he has had success with the Beavers would be a huge false premise. Like Dawkins, so far Robinson has been a major disappointment, this year is critical for the Beavers.

7. Is Dana Altman for real? This guy had a great first year at Oregon, he had some real talent this year that has the potential to not only get to March Madness, but also win some games. Do not bet against Altman taking his Ducks to the Sweet 16 this year, they are that good and he is that good as a coach.

8. Can the Portland State Vikings honor my prediction? I have them winning the Big Sky regular season championship and hosting the post season tournament. Chehales Tapscott should be the best player in the league and one player in the Big Sky can take you to the championship.

9. How will New Mexico fair this year? Steve Alford is a very good coach, outstanding recruiter and I am waiting for his Lobos at some point in Alford's tenure to sneak up on everyone and be a final four team. That is right,  final four team, once again can anyone spell BUTLER.

10. Will BYU be BYU? Can anyone break one of the greatest regular season dominance in the history of sports and I am talking about the strangle hold that Gonzaga has on the West Coast Conference. BYU is a threat to challenge the Bulldogs, many have tried and all have failed. I would never bet against Mark Few in regular season and always bet against him in post season.

11. Will west coast teams ever learn how to market their basketball teams? Marketing of college basketball teams is pathetic for the most part and please never tell me it is money and constant change of employees. It comes down to thinking outside the box and being a little creative, the days of opening the doors and they will come are over. Here is my free tip to all athletic departments, just go and buy your staff a copy of Jon Spoelstra's new book, "Marketing Outrageously, Redux". It will be the best investment you ever make.

emails to,  twitter @wchoops

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