Dishin’ on the Pac-12 tournament
Site: Key Arena
Top Seeds: (1) Stanford, (2) California, (3) UCLA, (4) Colorado
For the first time in many years it is not a forgone conclusion that Stanford will roll through the Pac-12 tournament and earn the West coast number one seed. In fact, this is one of the deepest fields in years for the Pac-12 and there is an abundance of talent to watch.
Stanford may have the best player in the tournament in Chiney Ogwumike, but Toni Kokenis, a key part of Stanford’s success the last few years, has been ruled out of the tournament due to illness. California already defeated Stanford on their own court, so a neutral site game will certainly not intimidate the Bears. Co-champions during the regular season, these two seem ready for a deciding game in the finals.
Cal is led by senior Layshia Clarendon, who seems to make big plays at big times, along with the athletic inside-outside combination of Gennifer Brandon and Brittany Boyd. All three were All-Conference team selections.
UCLA and Colorado have been pleasant surprises, and both should already have NCAA bids locked up. UCLA has been using center Alyssia Brewer with success, teaming with multi-faceted wing Markel Walker. Colorado has been one of the surprises of the season, earning the number four seed with a senior-laden group led by Chucky Jeffery. While they have five in-conference losses, they are all to Stanford, California and UCLA.
Other players to watch for include Stanford’s Joslyn Tinkle and Amber Orrange, Colorado’s Arielle Roberson, the conference freshman of the year, Oregon’s high scoring Jillian Alleyne, USC’s Cassie Harberts, Utah’s Michelle Plouffe and Washington’s Kristi Kingma.