Pac-12 basketball this week: Prospect of tourney in Vegas exciting

2013-03-06T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:33:08Z Pac-12 basketball this week: Prospect of tourney in Vegas excitingPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Three days before Christmas, Oregon State played the first-ever basketball game at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, beating the University of San Diego while operations officials executed a dry run of next week's Pac-12 tournament.

"Based on our time there, it really looks like it makes for a great environment for a basketball game," Beavers coach Craig Robinson said. "The folks there did a great job hosting a little pre-tournament.…

"It's a nice venue for watching basketball. I think the fans will be happy, no matter where they'll be sitting."

Robinson isn't worried about his players sitting anywhere inappropriate in Sin City, though.

"We don't have any concerns - I can imagine there will be concerns," he said. "We happen to be in the middle of mid-terms…

"Las Vegas is a place where you can certainly get lost in the middle of the night."

The Pac-12 tournament starts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena one week from today, and all 12 teams are staying at the hotel on the Strip.

Coaches - control freaks in the best of circumstances, much less in a city with no last call - will deal with different circumstances than recent years in Los Angeles.

"I think coaches worry about everything," ASU's Herb Sendek said. "I think we worry that guys make good decisions and judgements every night, not to mention each weekend, on our campuses.

"There's trouble to be found if you're looking - wherever you're at."

Sendek said "perhaps there's the added temptation in Vegas to gamble" but that players could do that just by opening an Internet browser at home, too.

And teams won't have long to sulk if they lose: Many will fly home immediately after, either for their season-ending meetings or to await postseason invitations.

So can fans, who struggled to fill Staples Center but have flocked to buy tickets in Sin City.

"I don't think people necessarily around the conference look at L.A. as a destination place, or somewhere they want to go," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said "it's fair to say L.A. is its own entity" and that "short of the beach," travelers would choose Las Vegas over Los Angeles.

"If your team doesn't win," he said, "it's not like you got to figure out what to do with your time."

On StarNet: Join Patrick Finley at noon today for a live chat covering the Pac-12 live.azstarnet.com

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