You don't have to be very adept to use SDL, it's really not any harder or easier than simply using cout and updating the screen with text to represent the various game objects.. in fact I kind of think it's easier than that... (that's how I wrote my first tic/tac/toe program, just updating the text every frame, sdl is not really harder than that).
SDL is nice because it works on multiple operating systems. So if you are learning to program in VC++ it'll work and if you are learning in DevC++ or in Linux it'll work well.
To create something like pong, you probably wouldn't write pixels directly to the screen, that would be pretty slow to draw every pixel of the paddle over and over. Instead you would blit a bitmap to the screen which you would move around and erase as you moved it. It shouldn't be difficult at all to make a basic white paddle in bmp format for use.
The worst part of tutorials for me is that generally the writers don't have an interest in explaining everything you are doing. A lot will just throw up the lines and expect you to understand them. So, I can try to help if there is anything you don't understand (and I'm learning this too so I'm no expert I'm sure others here can help you even better )
http://cone3d.gamedev.net/cgi-bin/index.pl?page=tutorials/gfxsdl/index \<--- is a page with 6 decent tutorials that are reasonably in depth. If for some reasons you aren't even understanding the non-sdl code here (like .. int array; ) then that means that you need to actually get some basic C++ tutorials. He doesn't really use any advanced C++ in the tutorials though so you won't have to worry about much if you know your basics.
Even if later on you decide you don't like SDL just the basic ideas will pretty much convert to anything else. I've been reading opengl tutorials that were made without sdl and writing them using sdl (for bmp image loading, creating the window, handling events) and it's pretty much the same whatever library you use for the basic stuff.