How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Pac-10

With the fall beginning and college basketball just around the corner, it's time to look back at what our favorite teams did during their summer vacations. Some did some good things; some had a bad time. So let's look back at who did what in our How I Spent My Summer Vacation series.

Today's look is the Pac-10 Conference.

The Pac 10 is coming off a season where six of its members (Arizona State was jobbed) reached the field of 64. And UCLA was bounced in the Final Four, again. Hey, at least it's not the Sweet 16 anymore, UCLA. Although, you have to wonder if the Bruins squandered their best shot under Ben Howland. No matter, the team is loaded again. So you could probably pencil the Bruins in for the Final Four. Just figuring out who will beat them is the kicker.

Let's see how each team did during its summer vacation.

This thing has turned into a circus. Lute Olson is back, and that might not be a good thing. Although the Wildcats appeared to have not missed Olson at all, as they flamed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament, just like Olson was sitting on the bench. Alright, cheap shot, but there are some other concerns with recruiting shenanigans and other problems looming for the program. The good news is that Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise all return.

Arizona State
Coach Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils were screwed out of the tournament, but there is a solid program building in Tempe. He recently scored a verbal agreement from Corey Hawkins, son of former NBA guard Hershey Hawkins. Corey, however, is a junior, so there will be some waiting. But this is a sign that the Devils are on the rise. And why shouldn't they be? They have a beautiful campus, beautiful women and a pretty good facility. Expect them to make some noise and be players in the Pac-10 this season.

The cross-bay rivalry between Stanford and Cal took a new turn as Mike Montgomery was introduced as the Bears new leading man. Montgomery said that he now has a bigger recruiting window in Cal, than he did at Stanford. The team did lose top recruit Garrett Sim, who went to Oregon. Because obviously Sim hates good coaching.

The Ducks extended the contract of Ernie Kent, proving that they don't like good coaching, either. Hey, just trying to have a little fun here, folks. Kent gets a lot of heat from Ducks fans, and it seems a little bit undeserved. He takes the Ducks to the tournament every year and has a couple of Elite 8 appearances. Now suddenly the fans in Eugene think they are UCLA fans. And that shouldn't quell this season, with a young team and Tajuan Porter. But Michael Dunigan is a nice player and this team should at least be interesting. But face it Ducks fans, you are going to have Kent to kick around for a while.

Oregon State
The Beavers long for the success that Kent has provided at Oregon. Craig Robinson is the new coach in Corvallis. Robinson is the brother-in-law of presidential nominee Barack Obama. He even appeared at the Democratic national convention. Now he is trying to show that he is an agent of change in college basketball.

The Trees hired a new coach, Johnny Dawkins from that great coach factory, Duke. Of course, Montgomery was hired at Cal before Trent Johnson bailed for LSU, preventing a reunion. (Nice career move, Johnson. Why leave the Pac-10 for the SEC?) Dawkins was unsuccessful in his first order of business -- finding a pair of 7-foot twins to replace the Lopez twins.

Remember that time when the Huskies were actually a pretty good basketball team? The Huskies were coming off consecutive Sweet 16 berths in 2005 and 2006. Now they languish behind Washington State and Gonzaga in the state of Washington. Lorenzo Romar probably isn't in jeopardy, but he's getting close. Jon Brockman returns and he's still a load. But reports indicate that he's much leaner and has some new post moves. Expect the Huskies to play that up-tempo style that Romar used earlier in his tenure with Washington.

Washington State
The Cougars only return two starters, losing most of its scoring. Which, of course, means they only lost about 20 points per game. Just kidding, people. Tony Bennett was brought in an outstanding freshman class to help his team remain among Pac-10 elite. One of those recruits is Klay Thompson who, just like his dad Mychal, doesn't know how to spell his first name.

The Bruins will miss Kevin Love, but Howland has the team loaded again. Darren Collison, Mike Roll and Josh Shipp all return. Jrue Holliday, J'Mison Morgan, Jerime Lee and Malcom Lee bring a lot of athleticism to the team. Morgan (6-foot-10), will be a monster down low. Morgan had originally committed to LSU, but probably made a wise choice coming to Pauly. UCLA will be much more athletic this year and should be able to dominate and a Final Four berth is the minimum.

There is an old Jerry Tarkanian quote -- at least attributed to him -- that the NCAA was so pissed at (insert big name school here) that they put (insert mid-major school here) on probation. While USC is not a mid-major school, you have to wonder if the basketball program will eventually be held responsible for all of the alleged activities of the school's football team. Does that seem fair? No. But this is the NCAA. The Trojans hoop team could end up paying dearly for the O.J. Mayo payment allegations. And if not, maybe Yahoo! can do some more investigations.

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