Like lots of other folks I like surprises as long as I am not surprised.
Several things could surprise me in west coast college basketball this year, but I am not holding my breath on a few and am wide eyed on others.
Will Johnny Dawkins be able to bring Stanford back to respectability? Always had high hopes for Dawkins coming out of the Duke system, but maybe he is another example that the teacher is always better than the pupil. Here is hoping for a better showing for the Cardinal than they have shown so far under Dawkins, it shocked the basketball world when he was given a contract extension this past year. With all the good coaches out there, his performance did not deserve an extension. And they can't even say he graduates players, everyone at Stanford graduates.
Will Jim Hayford be as good in D-1 as he was at D-3? This will be one to watch for sure. I have always been a big proponent that a coach can win at any level, if he is a winner. Hayford had a great run at D-3 Whitworth, built them into a national power. The challenges are much greater at Eastern Washington for Hayford, where he has to worry lots, including making sure his athletes are attending classes. I have always said it does not take much to rise to the top the Big Sky, Eastern has potential to do just that in future years.
Will this be the year that Gonzaga does not win the West Coast Conference? You have to hand it to the Bulldogs, when they are everyone in the league's super bowl, they have withstood challenge after challenge. Mark Few has not been able to get the job done in the NCAA tournament, but just like Stew Morrill at Utah State, but there have not been many programs who have had the league dominance like the Zags have done for too many years to count. The challenge for Gonzaga will be higher than ever, with BYU now in the league, so this will be fun to watch. BYU is really good in basketball and always will be.
Will Dan Altman take the Oregon Ducks to the NCAA? In my mind Dana Altman is going to wind up being the best coaching hire in all of college basketball in the last five years and the Ducks will go dancing this year. He has a deep team, one of the best basketball arenas in the world and nothing but upside and is playing in somewhat of a weak league, at least for now, as the Pac-12 is not very strong. ri. Last year the Ducks had half the talent as rival Oregon State, but managed to pull off a great season, while the Beaver floundered. Soon the whole world will be watching the Oregon Ducks in basketball on the same level as they watch them in football.
Will Gib Arnold be able to bring back Hawaii basketball? Watch out, Gib Arnold at Hawaii has the drive and coaching ability to make Hawaii basketball important. I have lots of admiration for people who want to be in gym, when it is 80 degrees outside, but that is a fact of life when you coach and play basketball in Hawaii, as well as a rigorous travel schedule. Arnold is slowing making some waves in the recruiting of players and in a school that flies under the radar in basketball.
Will Joe O'Brien win five games at Idaho State? Idaho State is overmatched even in the weak Big Sky and as bad as Idaho State has been under O'Brien, this year could be even worse. I think the only thing that could save him from being terminated at the end of the year would be if his team won 20 games and that is not going to happen, winning 10 would be a successful season and that is not going to happen. In the winter in Idaho, people deserve to watch good basketball, or actually at Idaho State it is been so long since they have seen good basketball, would they even recognize it.
Will Arizona win the NCAA championship? Simple answer, YES, awesome talent, a great coach some of the best fans in all of college basketball. CBS, I have a winner, do not even show the games.
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