Arizona Wildcats picked as clear favorite in Pac-12, No. 5 nationally

2013-10-17T08:45:00Z 2013-10-17T16:40:06Z Arizona Wildcats picked as clear favorite in Pac-12, No. 5 nationallyBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 17, 2013 8:45 am  • 

SAN FRANCISCO -- A rundown of news, notes and quotes from today's Pac-12 media day at the Pac-12 Networks facility. Arizona was picked to win the Pac-12 by a large margin, getting 21 of 23 first-place votes, and also ranked No. 5 nationally in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

We had a live blog going while the Pac-12 streamed the event and the podium quotes from each coach/player can be found here.


Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott ended the podium interviews by discussing a number of conference issues, saying that DirecTV is not likely to carry Pac-12 Networks during the basketball season and talking about the conference's new officiating alliance.

When asked if there was any communication or process with UA coach Sean Miller after the officiating controversy last spring, Scott said he's moving forward.

"There was a lot of communication around that and it was important to have our study... and from our perspective that to put what happened behind us," Scott said "I’ve certainly reached out to Sean and administrators at Arizona, and from that perspective it’s all in the rear view mirror and moving forward. Sean is really engaged as are other coaches in the officiating program and we're really just loking forward and not backward at this point."


Arizona coach Sean Miller said the Pac-12 is the deepest he's seen since he's been in it, and that the Wildcats' top billing may be a reach at this point.

"We might be able to get there, and be a special team down the road but if you watch practice now we have a lot of newcomers, we lost talent and we lost players who been through a lot of games before," Miller said. "We have a long way to go. I’m very concerned about the early part of our schedule because … where we are right now isn’t even close.

"There’s also seven or eight teams can be high as first or second. There’s not a lot difference between our team and the others. We believe in our team but one of the things we don’t have is experience."


The Pac-12 media poll and other projections are generally viewing the conference having Arizona at the top and a cluster of five or six teams behind them.

That's not the way Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie sees it.

"I’d probably say we don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, like everybody else," Dinwiddie said. "We view ourselves as the cream and everyone else can fight for the other spots, and we're going to try to win all of our games."

Hearing that, Colorado coach Tad Boyle noted that "Spencer doesn't lack confidence."

Then he said: "To me, it’s a wide open race. You go down every team in the league and you can make the cause every night going to be a battle. I know that's a cliche but. ... it terms of being able to pick a winner today doesn't matter. I do know this league from top to bottom is as strong as I’ve seen since I've been in it. We’re excited to be in the conversation as one of the top teams in the league and now we've gotta prove it."


ASU coach Herb Sendek said tighter new hand-checking rule could "almost have a revolutionary effect on the game."

Sitting next to guard Jahii Carson, Sendek said:

"Jahii is always tremendous at drawing fouls and getting to the line. And to be honest with you until today I didn’t realize how much this hand-checking rule seems to be a point of focus. Let's see what actually happens when the game starts. I do know when went go back, we gotta call our practices more closely."


While the coaches and a key player from every team made the rounds for interviews, they also did promotional work for the Pac-12. Nick Johnson obliged by showing off some dunks.


Injury updates: Utah forward Marco Kovacevic has a cast because of a wrist injury. WSU guard Que Johnson just started practicing two days ago bc stress fracture. "He was pretty good immediately," coach Ken Bone said.


Washington coach Lorenzo Romar on the new rule changes that promise to be tougher on defenses:

"It could really affect the way we play. The hand-checking is not going to be allowed. We have to be really smart in how we pressure. The block charge rule (making a defender set before an offensive player begins an upward motion) lends itself to the offensive playing being able to be more aggressive going to to the basket so I really like that. But defensively, we’re doing to have to make adjustments."


Aaron Gordon is the runaway winner in mentions among the new Pac-12 players.

WSU coach Ken Bone, whose team was picked a distant last, said the Pac-12 has a lot of freshman talent coming in. "Aaron Gordon is going to be pretty good," he said.

In the next podium interview, OSU coach Craig Robinson echoed the thought. 

When asked about top newcomers in the conference, Robinson mentioned one non-OSU player. "Obviously Aaron Gordon at Arizona is going to have a big impact."

Then there was Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who heavily recruited Gordon and has a longtime relationship with Gordon's dad.

"Yep. Yep. Aaron is a special player," Romar said when told Gordon had been frequently mentioned by other coaches. "He’s one of the rare, rare young kids who come into college extremely talented and yet has a motor."


New Pac-12 officials coordinator Bobby Dibler discussed the rule changes this year, most of which are intended to be tougher on defenses with regard to block/charges and goaltending, and generally avoided discussing the Ed Rush-Sean Miller situation as he did last week in Phoenix.

Dibler said his talks with Miller were just like those with other coaches, and that he did not expect to meet with the officials involved with last season's Arizona-UCLA game in the Pac-12 tournament, when Miller was called for a technical foul.

"Normally (any meetings re: controversy) would go through conference office," Dibler said. "It hasn’t happened and would not normally happen."


The Wildcats were picked No. 5 nationally in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, behind Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville and Duke.

Oregon (18) and UCLA (23) were the other Pac-12 teams who made the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Associated Press Top 25 media poll has not been released.


The Arizona Wildcats have been installed as a clear favorite to win the Pac-12 basketball race, gaining 21 of 23 first-place votes in the conference’s official poll.

Colorado and UCLA each picked up a first-place vote in the survey of media members who regularly cover the league. The Bruins were picked to finish second overall, by one point over the Buffaloes.

Last season, Arizona was picked to win the league by one vote over UCLA, but wound up in a second-place tie, a game behind the Bruins.

The full poll results, with total points and first-place votes in parentheses:

1. Arizona (21) 273

2. UCLA (1) 212

3. Colorado (1) 211

4. Oregon 196

5. California 194

6. Stanford 166

7. ASU 159

8. Washington 121

9. Utah 68

10. Oregon State 67

11. USC 63

12. Washington State 39


The Pac-12 is broadcasting today's media day via Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12.com. 

We will have blog updates and tweets as the day goes on.

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