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Basketball: Gutierrez, Montgomery earn spots in 10th annual Pac-10 Writers Survey

By Jeff Faraudo
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 6:58 am in Basketball, Pac-10 tournament.

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez and coach Mike Montgomery earn prominent mention in our 10th annual Pac-10 Basketball Writers Survey.

Check out how the 27 writers we surveyed believe UCLA should decorate the playing floor after Pauley Pavilion is renovated next season.

And continue below to read more comments on all the questions we asked our panelists.

 PAC-10 BASKETBALL WRITERS SURVEY COMMENTS

 Here are more responses from our 27 panelists:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

– Nikola Vucevic, USC:

“He doesn’t have quite the supporting cast that some of the top players have, but he puts up big numbers and is a monster rebounder.”

– Derrick Williams, Arizona:

“Without him, Arizona would finish fourth or fifth.”

“Scores inside consistently with either hand, sinks a ridiculously high percentage of 3-pointers for a 6-8 forward, plays hurt, pounds the glass ferociously, scores nearly 20 a game on a Top 25 team with no one else averaging in double figures.”

“Less for his raw production than for his efficiency, which is off the charts.”

“Led team to conference title; they’re fourth without him.”

“He’s the most dynamic above-the-rim talent in a mostly plodding conference.”

“Arizona might not finish in top half without him.”

“Incredibly consistent, and he did it with nine fingers.”

“Without Williams, Arizona would’ve been Oregon State.”

“Most of the time, he looks like a man playing against boys. He’s the best player (by far) on the best team in the league.”

“Because, short of Williams, the league champion Wildcats don’t have a player in the conference’s top 20. Who’s their second-best player? Sixth man Kevin Parrom? Without Williams, does the UA have better players than, say, Stanford? No.”

“Because he’s really, really super good.”

“He’s a program-changing player, has stepped up in big games, and is one of the nation’s most efficient players.”

“Best big man in a big-man-shy league.”

 MOST UNDERRATED

– DeAngelo Casto, Washington State:

“The WSU center is undersized at 6-foot-8 and wasn’t much of an offensive threat his first two years. This year he’s averaging 12 points a game with a high of 25. He’s also hitting 60 percent of his shots and had two games when he was 10-for-11 from the floor. He’s third in the conference in blocked shots, averages 6.8 rebounds and rarely gets mentioned.

“He’s one of the league’s best shot blockers, rebounders and defenders. Maybe it’s the Pullman Effect, but no one gives Casto his due.”

“He’s been a horse on a team without much inside, and he stays out of foul trouble.”

– Joevan Catron, Oregon:

“Really improved, and leadership has helped Ducks overachieved, but his home floor gets more attention than he does.”

“He’s really become a solid low-post player, improved his shooting, a decent rebounder. Just edges out Markhuri Sanders-Frison.”

“Oregon wasn’t highly touted before the season. He had an amazing year.”

“For a post player, kinda small, kinda pudgy, but gets the job done with little help inside.”

– Jorge Gutierrez, Cal:

“Is extremely versatile and puts up pretty good stats but seems overshadowed by bigger names in the conference.

“Because he is just as valuable or probably more valuable to Cal than Thompson or Thomas are to their schools but doesn’t get the pub they do.’”

“No one figured he’s be such an offensive threat.”

“He should have been in the (Pac-10′s) top 5 but just couldn’t quite make it there. He does everything well, is an emotional leader on court, and led an underdog Cal team over UCLA.”

“He’s become so much more than just an effort guy and a player who’s gritty on defense. He was asked to play point guard and then play off the ball and is a standout player no matter what he’s asked to do.”

“He’s considered a top-10/top-15 player and he should be a top-3. Nobody impacts the game at both ends, nobody bring a more physical attitude and nobody inspires his team the way Gutierrez does.”

“Toughest mother in the league and has gone from being a role player to a dominant guy. And to think, Cal never gets him if Ben (Braun) stays, or Garrett Sim doesn’t renege on a commitment?

“If he was on Duke, everyone in the country would love him or hate him, instead of just those of us in the Pac-10.

– Malcolm Lee, UCLA:

“He’s a stabilizing force, plays great defense and hits big shots.”

– Marcus Simmons, USC:

“Great defensive players rarely receive enough credit, and Simmons is no exception.”

“He plays grinding, in-your-face defense for a middle-of-the-pack team.”

– Nikola Vucevic, USC:

“Twenty double-doubles!! Eight in a row!! And yet, no one really talked about him. In fact, back in December, Kevin O’Neill called Jio Fontan USC’s best player.”

“USC is attention-challenged, even in Los Angeles, the Clippers of the Pac-10. How many writers covering the Pac-10 can type out his name without checking to make sure they have the correct spelling? If he played at UCLA, he’d be an All-American.”

 MOST OVERRATED

– Ty Abbott, Arizona State:

“Hard to believe that guy was all-conference last season.”

– Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA:

“All hat, no cattle.”

“Nice kid, coachable, usually plays hard and not afraid to do the little things. But I keep hearing he’s an NBA first round draft choice and he yet to show himself as a consistent scoring threat inside or outside.”

“Several mock drafts say he’s a NBA first-round draft pick and maybe a lottery pick. In the Pac-10 season, he’s only shown glimpses of his potential.

“Good thing he can supposedly play in the NBA because he didn’t play very well in college.”

“He makes too many poor decisions and doesn’t appear to commit to defense.”

“Just haven’t seen much from him. He’s soft.”

– Malcolm Lee, UCLA:

“Some NBA draft boards had him as a second-round pick this year, and yet he shot 43.9 percent.”

– Reeves Nelson, UCLA:

“Incredibly inconsistent, he disappears from game to game and even half to half. Nelson beats out his equally enigmatic teammate, Tyler Honeycutt for this dubious achievement.”

– Roberto Nelson, Oregon State:

“All the talk, and so little walk — he’s a Ben Afflack/J Lo movie.”

“Did Craig Robinson really use the words `Gary Payton’ in describing Roberto Nelson’s game? Yikes! No wonder Payton hasn’t donated the Beavers any money for that practice facility. He felt insulted.”

– Venoy Overton, Washington:

“At one time he was one of the conference’s best defensive guards. This year he’s been a liability at times as teams have learned to attack him.”

– Alex Stepheson, USC:

“Always expected more from that guy, especially with his size and Vucevic at his side.”

– Isaiah Thomas, Washington:

“Erratic/bad decision maker/team vastly underachieved.”

– Klay Thompson, Washington State:

“He allows his emotions to interrupt the quality of his play.”

“Pretty, pretty shot, but he doesn’t seem to help his teammates much.”

“He’s a streak shooter who does little else but jack it up all night, yet he has a big reputation because of his genes.”

“Yes he has NBA game but he often disappears in big moments and the pot charge showed a serious lack of leadership and judgment, especially considering the timing of it.”

MOST FUN TO WATCH

– Jared Cunningham, Oregon State:

“Has an Oregon State basketball player ever made more ESPN highlight shows than Jared Cunningham.”

– Jorge Gutierrez, Cal:

“Zero regard for his body.”

“He plays so hard, all the time. His performance against UCLA truly was one guy willing his team to win.”

“Hustle, intensity, heart and he could go off on someone at any time.”

“Just has a nose for the game.”

“Always active. Always engaged. Gives everything he has on both ends of the court. If he improves his jumper, he’ll be really good next season.”

“He has the feet of a soccer star, might be the league’s best on-ball defender and has learned how to score. Plus, he’ll annoy an opposing player enough each game for at least one chippy chest-to-chest moment.”

“Willing to play 40 minutes inside YOUR jersey on defense.”

“I like to count how many times he’ll hit the floor.”

“The guy gives full effort on every play, a rarity these days.”

– Reeves Nelson, UCLA:

“He does just about everything on both ends of the floor, can make shots from just about anywhere, can drive the lane and follow his shot to get a rebound.”

– Josh Smith, UCLA:

“Same reason people enjoyed watching Big Baby Davis and Oliver Miller. He’s a big, old lovable guy who might tear down a rim one day.”

– Isaiah Thomas, Washington:

“Lil dude loves to play, drives to the rim with no fear, makes slick passes, can pop 3-pointers.”

“It has to be Thomas. Even his (many) turnovers are entertaining.”

“Because his love of the game is infectious.”

“His play tailed off considerably toward the end of the season, but even at that he remains a small guy who does big things, a feiry competitor, and an inside-outside shooting-distributing threat with considerable charisma.”

“His enthusiasm, hustle, playmaking and smiles are infectious, even if he does go overboard at times.”

– Nikola Vucevic, USC:

“So polished, inside and out. Never forces anything.”

– Derrick Williams, Arizona:

“He is the most spectacular player in the conference.”

“There’s something for everyone since he has the athleticism for the high-flying dunks and also is intelligent with the way he gets to the foul line and takes smart shots.”

“He’s very smooth and smart and never takes a bad shot.”

“Got a soft stop for SportsCenter-worthy dunks.”

 BEST FUTURE NBA PLAYER

– Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA:

“I guess. Still waiting for him to make a definitive move to elite-status.”

“His length and athleticism and defensive potential will be pleasing to pro GMs.”

– Josh Smith, UCLA:

“Size matters.”

“But he needs to get in shape.”

“He could be the poor man’s Shaq.”

“If his progress over his freshman season is any indication.”

– Klay Thompson, Washington State:

“His embrace of the high life proves this budding prospect is NBA ready.”

– Nikola Vucevic, USC:

“He might be Dirk Nowitzki before he’s done. Except he’s a better defender.”

– Derrick Williams, Arizona:

“By a hair over Honeycutt. Williams is a bit undersized, but his fundamentals are so good, he can compensate. Honeycutt has a higher ceiling, but he may never realize his potential.”

“He has the size to be a small power forward right away and the skills to grow into a small forward. Amazing versatility and body control.”

“Needs to get a little bigger, stronger, meaner, more selfish.”

“Invaluable NBA skill: Can get fouled whenever he wants.”

 COACH OF THE YEAR

– Dana Altman, Oregon:

“Something out of nothing.”

“Stepped into a perfectly miserable situation and made the best of it.”

“Getting seven (conference) wins with that team is amazing. Plus, he had to look at that god-awful floor nine times this season.”

– Ben Howland, UCLA:

“He’s taken a team that was mired in mediocrity a year ago and developed it into a contender for the conference title.”

– Sean Miller, Arizona:

“Has Arizona playing exciting ball, fighting for the league title and hanging around the Top 25 with only one player scoring in double figures.”

“The way Derrick Williams and the rest of his first recruiting class has grown is a testament to Sean Miller and his staff. The Wildcats are Pac-10 champs at a time when many thought they might still be struggling to make the NCAA tournament during the rebuilding process.”

“Tempting to give it to Montgomery, but hard to argue against the league champion.”

“Pac-10 title in his second season means he’s been lucky and really, really good. The whole package.”

“No team in the league plays harder. And while the Wildcats might have the Pac-10′s best player, UCLA and Washington are miles ahead in overall talent.”

“Inherited pretty bare cupboard, but turned ‘Zona into frontrunner faster than expected.”

“He developed the team more rapidly than anyone expected, and he’s done a great job of rebuilding the program after Lute Olson’s retirement — not easy to follow a legend.”

“He turned an absolute mess into a league champion in two seasons, with no senior (or junior) leadership.”

– Mike Montgomery, Cal:

“Because he took a team with half a returning starter and has it competing for 4th place. One of Monty’s finest coaching jobs, and there have been many good ones.”

“He’s done more with less. Ten wins in the conference is amazing considering he lost four starters.”

“As usual, he did much more with what he has than anybody else. He’s a coach competing with a bunch of recruiters. Now, if he’d replace a couple of those assistants with good recruiters … look out.”

“He quickly rebuilt the Bears into respectability after losing four starters.”

“Nobody did more with less.”

“Lost EVERY key player from conference championship team and still won 10 games in conference.”

“Has done more with less than any other coach. Cal had no business finishing fourth. They basically have six players. Dana Altman would have been a contender if Oregon had not collapsed down the stretch. And, a tip of the cap to Sean Miller.”

“California loses four starters and 84 percent of its scoring. One of this year’s starters didn’t play last year because of knee surgery. Another transferred. And yet he won 10 Pac-10 games. Pretty impressive.”

 YOUR PICK TO COACH ONE GAME

– Ben Howland, UCLA:

“He’s been to three Final Fours, so I’ve got to think he knows about prep weeks.”

“Nobody is more detail-oriented. Look at his record in Pac-10 Thursday games.”

“He wins better than 90 percent of his Thursday games.”

“He got this year’s team to play defense. Must be doing something right.”

“Ben Howland — and it’s not close.”

– Mike Montgomery, Cal:

“He finds ways to take advantage of opponent’s weaknesses.”

“He does more with less (2010-11), more with more (2009-10) and has pretty much seen it all.”

“The coach with the best players. Or, Montgomery.”

“He’s a Hall of Famer. Cal has won playing man, zone. His ability to adjust to his personnel is uncanny.  With a week to prepare, he’ll come up with a great game plan, and he’ll get his players to execute it.”

“What was that Bear Bryant line? He can take his and beat yours. He can take yours and beat his.”

“Dude’s got more than 600 wins. His coaching job this year might be among his best.”

 PAC-10′S SURPRISE TEAM

– Cal:

“I thought they’d be eighth at best.”

“Looked like a 6-12 team to me, not 10-8. And a tough out all year.”

“Much better than expected, and with players that you wouldn’t have expected to be contributing (e.g. Brandon Smith) so much.”

– Oregon:

“Anything more than two conference wins was a major accomplishment.”

“The Ducks started slowly, but midway through the conference season they were playing as well as anyone in the league. Once Altman gets players who fit his system, Oregon is going to be pretty good.”

“Six kids left the team, including all-conference candidate Michael Dunigan, and the school had a job search that turned into a public embarrassment. Dana Altman had 10 scholarship players and still went 14-16 with seven league wins. Reminds me, to a lesser extent, of the job Sean Miller did last year with a depleted Arizona team.”

“Oregon provided up and down when all I was expecting was down and down.”

“Ducks lost key players and a coach and could have mailed it in, but they play extremely hard and surprisingly well.”

– USC:

“Surprisingly competitive, including some of the preseason games (Kansas sticks out).”

 PAC-10′S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM

– Arizona State:

“Three starters back from an NCAA team, and the Sun Devils are horrible.”

“The Sun Devils were picked to finish second in the conference this year, and have struggled to a last-place finish.”

– Oregon State:

“There’s no there there. They have no talent, no athleticism, no offense, no defense, no appeal. Other than that, they’re super!”

“The meltdown at the end of the season was as spectacular as it was unexpected.”

– Washington:

“In a tough choice over ASU and OSU. Talk about packing it in.”

“Never really delivered, although Gaddy’s loss provides some reasons.”

“They should have won the league easily, but they went 4-6 in the last 10 league games.  You didn’t ask for worst coaching job, but Lorenzo Romar would have been an easy choice for me. The oppposite of Montgomery, Romar did less with more.”

“Best roster in the league, with only UCLA close. Quincy Pondexter wasn’t that hard to replace.”

“Washington may be the biggest Pac-10 disappointment of the decade. Which takes the heat off of the Sun Devils, who were big-time underperformers as well.”

“Most people considered the Huskies the odds-on favorites to run away with the title.”

“The Huskies are something you don’t often see: A bubble team with Final Four talent.”

– Washington State:

“On Christmas Eve, the Cougars were 10-1. Since then, the team went sub.-.500, and two of its best three players were arrested for drug possession.”

 HOW UCLA SHOULD DECORATE THE FLOOR AFTER PAULEY PAVILION IS RENOVATED

 ”The Wooden Court should be decorated with large images of great UCLA players of the past — put Lew Alcindor under the basket, Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe at the high post, and Gail Goodrich down in the corner. Because that’s where they belong.  With no halfcourt line at all.”

“John Wooden’s signature and nothing else. The Bruins don’tneed to draw attention to themselves.”

“An image of H.R. Haldeman with the words: A salute to Watergate and the UCLA alum who raised the first $1 million to build the place, matched by some guy named Edwin W. Pauley, to make the Wooden dream come true.”

“Old school, without much artwork. Wooden would ne disappointed to have it any other way.”

“Sam Gilbert glad-handing someone a $100 bill.”

“Keep it simple, please. A classic `Wooden’ floor would be perfect.”

“Serious answer: John Wooden, holding a rolled-up game program. Flippant answer: An outline of the 405 freeway at rush hour creeping around the edges of the court, people on cell phones, eating In-n-Out burgers.”

“Keep it the way it is now. It was good enough for Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.”

“I’d superimpose the printed play-by-play of UCLA’s 40-point loss (or whatever it was) at Stanford under Lavin.”

“The Pyramid of Success on there would look nice and be another great tribute to John Wooden.”

“A silhoutte of Nell and John Wooden.”

“It should have video footage, projected onto the floor, of the movie “Airplane” and the TV show “Hill Street Blues,” which feature alums Lew Alcindor and Michael Warren, respectively.”

“They should have Ben Howland painted about five feet out on the floor in front of UCLA’s bench because that’s where he usually stands. Even better: Have him signaling a time out.”

“How about John Wooden’s face . . . Or maybe a bunch of little Wooden faces spelling out UCLA in script? It might be best, though, to have a bunch of cars, representing the traffic jams on the 405 at game time.”

“The Pyramid of Success at midcourt. Silhouettes of Alcindor and Walton in the lane.”

“Deep in the Smog. Halo-adorned image of John Wooden pokes through billows of gray skies.”

“Lots of contenders given LA: a beach scene, palm trees, the Hollywood sign. But put me in charge and we’re not only painting the Pyramid of Success at center court, but we’re also not painting a midcourt stripe through it.”

“UCLA should decorate the floor with a dollar bill, replacing the image of George Washington with that of the man responsible for so much of their historic success:  Sam Gilbert.”

“The Pyramid of Success, of course. Industriousness on one baseline, Enthusiasm on the other, culminating in Competitive Greatness at midcourt. Forget mistaking activity for achievement; this activity would be an achievement.”

 THE 2011-12 PAC-12 CHAMPION

– Arizona:

“Sean Miller’s just getting started.”

– UCLA:

“UCLA wins 2012 title, despite losing Honeycutt.”

“The Bruins, who will have more draft picks on their roster than the rest of the league combined.”

“Especially if Lee and/or Honeycutt return.”

“In a landslide, unless Smith, Honeycutt and/or anyone else bails early.”

“No seniors this year, and Josh Smith will have some time to bulk up a bit.”

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  • Yoda

    Cal will surprise in 2011-12 and be right in the mix for the championship.

    Some of those comments on Pauley are priceless. You writers are a cynical bunch.

  • milo

    Viva Jorge!

  • Uh Huh!

    JF: This was an excellent post! Lots of great stuff here. However, this was my favorite:

    RE Monty: “He’s a coach competing with a bunch of recruiters. Now, if he’d replace a couple of those assistants with good recruiters … look out.”

    That got me laughing.

  • Uh Huh!

    To be fair, the Cal staff has nonetheless been able to finish 1st and 4th the past 2 seasons, so something’s working! Who knows? Maybe some of those asst’s not only do a good job of bringing in the right mentality, but also do a lot of stuff in practice or scouting on tape that has helped the team win. In other words, it isn’t necessarily as easy as the quote would indicate.

  • Uh Huh!

    I’m bummed that there was no mention of either MSF or Kamp. Both of them exceeded my expectations by a pretty good margin and were VITAL to Cal’s success this season. Not enough can be said about how they manned an undermanned front line all season long!
    Brandon Smith had tremendous improvement, and I already am on record saying Gutierrez could be considered most improved. He’s not the best outside shooter, but he stepped up to hit some key 3 ptrs during the season.

    I think you could arguably give most improved to all FOUR players. Just a tremendous job!

  • Esquire Joe

    Wait, I’m confused. So Arizona was the conference champion because Williams, the best player in the conference (by far), willed them to it, but Sean Miller was the coach of the year because he won with nothing?

    It’s not that Miller’s not a very good coach, apparently on his way to being a great coach. It’s just that he has a hell of a lot more to work with than Monty does. Yes, he won a championship with that lot more, and they won the games they were supposed to win. But UCLA and UW also did them a few favors down the stretch. I think there might have been a little bias against Monty because he won it last year.

  • Uh Huh!

    Joe:
    Sure – people like to mix these things up. Rotate the awards around some. That may be odd, but it happens all the time.
    Many thought Monty’s job this year was better than last, take heart in that, at least.
    Perhaps Cal got the POY vote for Randle over Landry Fields in a close vote last year b/c Cal won the title. So, it fits that the COY award goes to the Champ in a tight vote as well. I don’t necessarily agree with biasing the vote toward the champ all the time, but that’s often the way voting goes.
    Can’t have it both ways for Cal year after year.

    Landry Fields supporters are having their last laugh now as they see him do very well for the Knicks, while Randle is off in Turkey somewhere.

  • Uclol

    Interesting stuff. I have to agree that Monty is not only the COY (Cal finishing 4th in conference?), but also with Williams is POY.

    As far as how to decorate the new Pauley, well since Ucla has already stolen the colors, song, and mascot from Cal, why not just make the appropriation complete and decorate the court with the Campanile & Sather Gate as well?