Sean Miller said he wasn't concerned about Arizona's second-place placement in the Pac-10's media poll, though he may respect it.

"A year ago they were right -- they picked us fourth and we finished fourth," Miller said. "To me the Pac-10 you have Washington with great success and having so many players back. You can see why they're picked No. 1 and maybe four or five of us could be second.

"For us, we really can't control anything outside our program. We can continue to be better on defense. If we finish fifth, sixth or second, our goal will remain the game and obviously we hope we're in the mix to be a part of that postseason."


Washington was picked to finish first for the first time in coach Lorenzo Romar's tenure with the Huskies.

"It's flattering," Romar said. "I wish they'd give us the conference championship now. I like our team but we also were just at practice this week and I don't know we will be ready to win the Pac-10 right now. We've got a lot of work to do."


If Washington beats Arizona this season on the strength of Isaiah Thomas' shooting, you can blame a former Wildcat.

Thomas said he worked out often over the summer with Jason Terry, whom he has known for years.

"His father coached me in fourth grade so I've known him since then," Thomas said. "He just helped me a lot. This summer, it was all about repetition. We'd get in the gym at 6 in the morning. It got me my shot to where it's real consistent and they'll have to respect my jump shot."


Sean Miller is scheduled to speak from 12:15-12:30. The links may take 30-60 minutes after each speaker until they are posted.


In Larry Scott fashion, the Pac-10 has considerably upgraded its media day presentation.

For years held at a Los Angeles airport hotel ballroom, the media day was moved to downtown L.A., at the swaky Nokia Theatre across the street from the Staples Center. Coaches and their key players (one typically comes from each team) are sitting on barstools on the stage while a huge screen behind them has their names and team logos.


Miller joined five other Pac-10 coaches in talking about the league's new joint tournament format, which will pair the men's and women's teams for the semifinals and finals.

"I think so much of March Madness doesn't begin with the NCAA tournament," Miller said. "It begins with conference tournament and to allow fans to travel to one location, will bring together should bring even more people to our event and make it be something we're all very, very proud of."


The Pac-10 Tournament will hold women's semifinals at noon and 2:30 p.m. on Friday March 11, with the men going at 6 and 8 p.m. The women's final will be held Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and the men's final will be at 3 p.m.


Derrick Williams' media day appearance is particularly convenient. His mother, Rhonda Moore, works adjacent to the Nokia Theatre site for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Williams, of nearby La Mirada, said he intended to have lunch with mom before heading home. The Wildcats are not practicing today.


Cal coach Mike Montgomery said Chinese center Max Zhang has signed a pro contract with the Shanghai Sharks and will not return to the Bears. Zhang was expected to play during the Pac-10 season after spending this fall with the national team.


Oregon coach Dana Altman said forward Jeremy Jacob will be out three to six weeks because of arthroscopic knee surgery.


Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said guard Roberto Nelson will finally be eligible to play by Dec. 10 or 11. Nelson missed all of last season with eligibility issues but was possibly the Beavers' best player in practice.


Arizona was picked second in the Pac-10 men's basketball media poll released this morning at the Nokia Theatre.

The Wildcats picked up 296 points and one first place vote among the 35 voters who regularly cover the league. They were followed by UCLA, with 281 points and also one first-place vote, while ASU was picked fourth and Washington State fifth.

USC was picked sixth, followed by California, Oregon State, Stanford and Oregon.

The conference also announced today that it will combine the semifinals and finals of the men's and women's tournaments at the Staples Center. The first two rounds of the women's tournaments will be held at USC's Galen Center while all rounds of men's action will be at the Staples Center.

"We wanted to provide our student-athletes and our fans with a memorable experience and felt a joint tournament in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world would deliver just that," Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "Having an opportunity to play on the same floor where the Lakers and Sparks have combined to win seven NBA and WNBA championships gives us a championship setting that is difficult to match. Our fans will now be exposed to the best of both men's and women's college basketball to wrap up the Pac-10 season."

The conference also announced it has renamed its coach of the year award in men's and women's basketball to the John Wooden Coach of the Year Award, and will honor the former UCLA coach during the conference tournament.

Full results of the media poll, with total points and first place votes in parentheses:

1. Washington (33)...348

2. Arizona (1).....296

3. UCLA (1)....281

4. ASU ...... 215

5. Washington State ... 191

6. USC ..... 178

7. California .... 151

8. Oregon State....120

9. Stanford....98

10. Oregon ... 47


Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball