Pac-10 Media Day took
place in Los Angeles today, with the head coaches and some players
The conference conducted its annual pre-season media poll, and UCLA was picked to defend its Pac-10 title.
1) UCLA (21) 335 pts.
2) Arizona (13) 280
3) Washington 236
4) Oregon (1) 193
5) California 177
6) USC 160
7) Stanford 127
8) Oregon State 75
9 Arizona State 69
10) Washington State 54
First place votes are in parentheses.
Some exerpts from comments by the coaches:
Ben Howland, UCLA
General Remarks: "We are excited for the upcoming season. We are
optimistic with our returning players, but we did lose three players from last
year's team who led us to the Pac-10 title and the NCAA finals. If the team can
do what they did last year, play good defense, take good shots and compete in
the Pac-10 championship, then I will be real pleased."
On the Pac-10: "I think the league is going to be very tough this year. The Big East last 19 of 22 all-league players. When I think of DeVon Hardin at California, that is who I want if I could have any big guy. He is the best rebounding, shot-blocking player, and with Leon Powe gone, he is going to be the first option inside. Ayinde Ubaka is also very solid. Marcus Williams could ahve been All-Conference last year. Lute (Olson's) team returns four or five starters. They are loaded. Spender Hawes and Jon Brockman at Washington are the best one-two, four-five punch in the league. The twins at Stanford are going to be NBA players. There is a lot of good, young talent in this league. Herb Sendek at Arizona State is going to do great things at ASU. The league is going to be tough."
On Alfred Aboya and Josh Shipp: "Aboya is an effort guy who plays really hard. He will be improved from a yeaer ago. Josh Shipp will be a different player. He played in only four games last season, but he played big and got four wins. I think you will see good things from him."
Lorenzo Romar, Washington
General Remarks: "What jumps out with our team this year is our youth. It is going to take us a while to get some experience. Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon are possibly going to be two of the most improved players in the conference. We expect guys to have big years for us. We expect Jon to be one of the top rebounders in the league and Dentmon gained good confidence last season. Our freshmen are going to earn the right to have a place in our rotation. Some may start and others may come off the bench, but we anticipate them playing a lot for us. We will place more of an emphasis on going inside this year. We have been more perimeter-oriented based on our personnel, but now with the players we have, we hope to go inside more, which we like."
On leadership questions, without Brandon Roy: "Brockman is our team captain, as voted on by teammates. Dentmon will have the ball in his hands quite a bit. Despite being a freshman last season, he made some clutch plays for us both offensively and defensively. The question has been, how do you replace Brandon Roy? You don't. Brandon was so talented and such a servant on the floor, we gave him a lot of responsibilities."
Injuries: Freshman post Spencer Hawes has just started non-contact practice and is expected to practice fully next week.
Trent Johnson, Stanford
General Remarks: "My enthusiasm forthis year is tempered as we have an extremely young team. The positive of all the injuries that we have had, is that we have been able to juggle guys and play people out of position and have a competitive practice. I really do like our group, we have decent talent. Our freshmen take things in like sponges. They area all looking forward to the challenge of the season, and I truly expect this team to hopefully get better and stay together as a team."
Injuries: Freshman post Brook Lopez is out until Dec. 1st; post Peter Prowett out until Dec. 1st; forward Taj Finger just hurt his back recently and is being listed day to day, but extent of injury is uncertain.
Lute Olson, Arizona
General Remarks: "We open Saturday with our first exhibition game. As far as our team goes, our biggest concern has been injuries, as we haven't been able to get our big guys out there together a whole lot. We have good depth as a result and the prctice environment has been such that we can put good players against good player for challenges every day. I think we are going to be a very exciting team. In addition to our returners, I think we have three freshmen who will have an impact on the season."
On Mustafa Shakur: "The thing that I've tried to get across to Mustafa for the past couple of years is that if an NBA team is going to go out and get a shooter, they will find a better shooter. What will get him in the league is his defense and his work ethic. He has great quickness, but he has to be in that leadership role all the time. He has done a great job coming back. He is a team guy. He has come back from that experience and taken it as a positive one. There is no chip on his shoulder, like some guys might have. From the day he stepped back on campus, he has been about the University of Arizona and our team."
Injuries: Marcus Williams has a severly sprained ankle and has been out, but isn't expected out much longer.
Ben Braun, Cal
General Remarks: "I would imagine everyone wants to know what life is like without Leon Powe. He is doing great in Boston and now the team has the challenge of playing without him. DeVon Hardin has been a strong player for us, as he is able to hit the boards both offensively and defensively. A challenge for him is to stay in the game and not get into foul trouble. I've been pleased with our younger guys as well. I believe that this is one of the depper teams we've had, especially at the wing position. We have many guys that can step up and help us out."
On the Pac-10: "This is going to be as deep a conference as I've seen. If you look at the way our conference played out last yeaer, we had some wins against some top teams. We have some very good teams top to bottom in the Pac-10. UCLA looks like the team to beat. Washington returns a solid nucleus, Lute always has a strong Arizona team. Oregon lost a number of close games last year, but if they can turn some of those close losses into wins, they can challenge for the championship. Stanford is another one that will be awfully good. If you look across the board, every team has gotten better and every campus has optimism as good players are returning."
Tony Bennett, Washington State
General Remarks: 'I thought that since I w3as a first-year head coach I got to go first, but I ralize now that I'm up here I'm first because we finished last in the Pac-10. I'm looking forward to the season. I think my father left us with a fighting chance and I think we can be competitive. We have experience. I wouldn't say we're a veteran team, but I would say middle-aged. Kyle Weaver, Derek Low and Robbie Cowgill have experience in the Pac-10. We have quality depth this year. Experience and depth are going to help us. People always ask me, are you going to be different than your dad? We will do a lot of similar things. The team will play hard-nosed defense, they will take care of the ball and hopefully execute better. It's a great league. The team is hungry and ready for the season."
Herb Sendek, Arizona State
General Remarks: "It is a great honor to be associated with the Pac-10 Conference. When I was at NC State, we had the opportunity to play Washington and California, so I have first-hand knowledge of how competitive the conference is. The Pac-10 is one of the elite conferences in the nation, and I have tremendous respect for the league. I have enjoyed getting to know our team. We have guys that are eager to learn and get better, so from that perspective practice has been fun."
On ASU's personnel: "We are a collection of individuals right now, trying to become a team. We are hard-pressed to put in a new system under limited time constraints. We are trying to get everything up and running. We have relative balance in terms of classes. Jeff Pendergraph is coming off a tremendous freshman year. Some of our other freshmen will have a baptism by fire, as we ask them to step up."
Jay John, Oregon State
General Remarks: "The season is upon us. When you take a look at our team, on paper, you can come up with who we are and were we need to go. Our front line has experience, our back court is unproven and untested. This team has the most physical and basketball skill talent I've had. For us to be successful, our front line needs to step up and play strong so the back court can get their legs underneath tem. I'm excited about our young boys. Sasa Cuic, Marcel Jones and Kyle Jeffers are better than they were a year ago."
On Roeland Schaftenaar: "He is going to be very good. As a freshman he is 6-11, 235, 18 years old. He can really do everything on the court. He's not a shot-blocker, high-flyer type of guy, but in terms of shooting, passing, he can do all that. He is a very tough kid, a very bright kid."
Scott Duncan, assistant, Oregon
General Remarks: "Updating you on Coach (Ernie) Kent, he had rotator cuff surgery on Tuesday. When you get to be our age and they tell you to have surgery, you do it right away. He is doing fine, he was just not able to fly here. Our team went to the Bahamas in August and, as coaches will tell you, the real advantage of that is the 10 days of practice before the trip. The guys worked their tails off and played very well. The team wants to get back to scoring and more of that fast-paced basketball we like. Not everything is perfect, but we are pleased with their progress, their work ethic and their determination. Injury-wise, Malik Hairston has not practiced, he has a bad groin. We want to make sure he is 100% before we get him on the court, so he probably won't start practice for a week and probably won't play until November 17th against UC Irvine. The only other injury is from Churchill Odia, our junior transfer, who had knee surgery in August. He is probably two weeks out from practice. The team has a great attitude and we are excited."
Tim Floyd, USC
General Remarks: "This will be easier than what I just did as I just chaired by first Pac-10 meeting. Our new building is a fabulous facility. We had a chance to go in there last wek and it is a great, great building. I am hopeful this will help us build a fan base for USC basketball and build strong recruiting classes. The Galen Centeris designed perfectly so it will be a great place. As far as the team that will represent us in the building, we really don't know. We lour our backcourt in May. We are trying to convert players to the point position. We have a 6-6 player back there right now in Daniel Hackett who should be a senior in high school. He's going to be a great player at some point in this league,maybe at the point, maybe at some other spot. Backcourts are where it's at in college basketball. You look at the Final Eight teams and their guards are all great. We've improved ourselves in terms of talent and depth. We've brought in six new freshmen who can all play, but we still may be a year away with getting all these pieces together."
On remembering Ryan Francis: "We remember Ryan. We love Ryan. He was our energy, our heart and our leader. Guys respect a guy that plays hard. He was the all-time giver and that's where we're going to miss him. I've always said, you can replace points, but you have a real hard time replacing leadership."