KNOW THINE ENEMY - NEW FACES IN THE PAC
1. Herb Sendek assumes control of a struggling ASU basketball program. When he's not indulging in interpretive dance (left), Herb enjoys running boring half-court sets and alienating his fan base. Still, there's a good deal of optimism in Tempe...dare I say, Herb-mania? This is largely due to the fact that Herb Sendek is neither Rob Evans nor Dirk Koetter. It will be strange to see a fundamentally-sound Sun Devil squad, but the talent isn't there to make much of an improvement over last year's 9th place finish.
2. Tony Bennett (right) takes over for his cranky old man in Pullman. Bennett fils will always have a special place at the bottom of our cold, black heart for leading Wisconsin-Green Bay to an upset of Cal in the 1994 Tournament as an annoying, scrappy point guard. I know, the whole world thinks Wazzu is kitschy and cool, scoring forty points a game, whoo hoo! Not me - I hate you, Tony Bennett and I hated your old man and I hope you go 0-18 in conference. You won't of course...you'll probably beat us in Pullman.
3. Josh Shipp (G/F - UCLA)
Lost in all the Budinger-mania is the return of Shipp (left), who was one of UCLA's primary scoring threats before losing most of last season to a hip injury. His return is a main reason UCLA is justifiably favored to repeat as conference champions. Big brother Joe was a standout for Cal from 2000-3.
4. Chase Budinger (F - Arizona)
The Chosen One, Budinger is touted as Lute's best recruit...ever? The hype machine may be cranked way up, but there's good reason. He's extremely athletic and has the requisite white guy funny haircut to ensure over-exposure by the WorldWide Leader. The hair is apparently closely cropped now, but here's betting that it's Morrison-length by season's end.
5. Spencer Hawes (C - Washington)
I know he's a Seattle kid and a Udub legacy, but it takes cojones to sit across from Roy Williams and say "Sir, I appreciate that I'm your top recruiting priority, and that yours is the premier program in the history of the sport, and that you're favored to win it all next year. But no sir, I cannot accept your scholarship offer...I will instead attend the University of Washington." Hawes is out with a knee but plans to return by 11/1; if he can get healthy, the 7-footer will start and immediately contribute for what was once a football school. *sniff*
6, 7. The Lopez Twins (C, F - Stanford)
"Hi, I'm Brook! I'm Robin! We're the only reason to watch Stanford basketball this year!"
8-9. The Tarver Brothers (G-Oregon State)
Josh was a medical redshirt last year; little brother Seth is a true freshman. Together they form a brand-new starting backcourt for Jay John's team. The Beavers return a lot of experience in the frontcourt, so the Tarvers' play will likely determine whether OSU climbs back to respectability.
10. The Galen Center (USC)
It's not literally a 'new face,' but the Trojans have finally ditched the dreary LA Sports Arena for a shiny new on-campus venue. A bit of good news for a program whose off-season alternated between tragic (the shooting death of Ryan Francis) and merely frustrating (Gabe Pruitt becoming academically ineligible for part of the '06-'07 season).