Pac-10 Hoops Media Day

At Pac-10 Basketball Media Day Thursday, UCLA is picked to win the conference, and the conference coaches talked about their teams, the league, each other, and a whole lot more, including the brother-in-law of Oregon State's Steve Robinson. UCLA is praised for most of the day...

The poll from the Pac-10 Media:

1- UCLA (37 first place votes- 379 points)
2- Arizona State (1 first place vote- 325 points)
3- USC (292 points)
4- Arizona (241 points)
5- Washington (217 points)
6- Washington State (188 points)
7- Oregon (147 points)
8- Cal (143 points)
9- Stanford (115 points)
10- Oregon State (40)

Craig Robinson, Oregon State

-- Daniel Deane, who transferred in, he expects to contribute, as well as Omari Johnson, a freshman from Los Angeles.

-- Practice is at 5:30 in the morning. 

-- He's planning to go to Chicago on election night, to watch results of the election – that one involving his brother-in-law, Barack Obama.

-- At Oregon State, his first plan is to change the culture of losing, and replace it with winning. He quoted his brother-in-law, saying he "likes to be the underdog."

-- He wouldn't name a starting lineup, but implied that Josh Tarver, who was the player who came with him for media day, is a pretty good bet. <p>

-- He provided a basketball scouting report on his brother-in-law: He is probably in the top 25% of pick-up basketball players.  He's left-handed, a true lefty and is best going left. He has a very good outside shot, "as most people do as they get older." He's "wiry strong and he knows the game." He has a high basketball IQ, so it's fun to play with him. Obama, though, has never played Robinson one-on-one.  "We have never played one-on-one. He's knows exactly what he's doing."

Mike Montgomery, California

-- Said that, after Craig Robinson's comments, the press will twist it to say that Barack Obama is "way to the left."

-- Said he has no aspirations to be first lady.

-- He said everyone wants to talk about taking the Cal job after being the Stanfor coach for so long.  "It's difficult to duplicate the 18 years I had at Stanford," Montgomery said. "I'm very proud of what I accomplished there."

-- The team is challenged, vertically challenged, according to Montgomery. "We lost two draft picks, both which were inside guys. Ryan Anderson and Devon Hardin.  We return a good nucleus of players – Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson, who is coming off injury.  With bigs, it's our most critical area of need. Harper Kamp had knee surgery and is still recovering.  Taylor Harrison has not been on the floor for a year and half (because of injury).

-- He said his brother was running for president of his homeowner's association.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

-- He said there is still a letter at his mother's house from Mike Montgomery when Montgomery was recruiting him. Montgomery, who was leaving the room at the time, called back, "I've always been a lousy recruiter, Lorenzo."

- He thinks his team is much more experienced than in previous seasons, with seniors Jon Brockman, Justin Dentmon and Artem Wallace, and junior Quincy Pondexter. 

-- On Brockman: "As a freshman he averaged 8 and 6. As a sophomore he was all-conference. As a junior he was third in the nation in rebounding. Each year he's made a significant improvement and he can do it again. I think he has. He's in better shape. He's like a sleek Doberman. But he's still at 250 pounds and hard as a wall, but better proportioned.  He's a very efficient basketball player right now. We should cherish every moment of his last year at Washington."

-- On 5-8 freshman guard Isaiah Thomas: "He is definitely small, that's for sure. He's one of those guys that doesn't know he's small, though. He's a very confident player. He's a type of player that can captivate you a bit, watching him and wondering how he survives out there. He has a big heart, and is courageous. I'm glad we have him on our team."

Russ Pennell, Arizona

-- "Bet you didn't expect me to be here, did you?"

-- Arizona is a good team to be the interim coach of, with talent like Chase Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill.

-- Style-wise, he leans philosophically toward Lute Olson's style. He lives the motion offense and wants to give players the freedom to do things.  Defensively, he'll play man-to-man, mixed with some zone. He wants to play in Arizona's up-and-down style but implement a good pressure defense.

-- He expects Jamelle Horne to step up.  He has been impressed with freshman Brandon Lavender. 

Ernie Kent, Oregon

-- Oregon is a young basketball team, but talented.  He said they have six freshmen, so there's a lot of teaching going on in practice. 

-- He expects to play Tajuan Porter off the ball more. 

-- He thinks the new three-point line could bring back the mid-range game to college basketball.

-- Believes UCLA deserves to be the pre-season pick to win the conference, returning three good players and getting the #1 recruiting class.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State

-- While the Sun Devils still have just one senior, Sendek believes they're a much more experienced team.

-- He feels very fortunate that James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph decided to return this season.

Tim Floyd, USC

-- Surprised that ASU got only one first-place vote.

-- For the first time, he has four guys in the program who have been with the team for three years – Daniel Hackett, Keith Wilkinson, Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis.

-- Expects the guys who were hurt last season – Mamadou Diarra, Marcus Simmons, and Kasey Cunningham, to make big impressions.

-- Believes he has good young talent.  He said that Demar Derozan could be "the most talented of any freshman I've been around."  He might be "the best athlete" he's "ever coached."

-- Floyd told a story about freshman guard Percy Miller (AKA Lil Romeo, the wealthy entertainer). On a recent recruiting weekend, Miller was designated to entertain two recruits and instead of taking the $30 stipend per recruit that is allowed by the NCAA, Miller said he didn't need it.

-- On UCLA: "They're the measuring stick. They've been to three Final Fours in a row. You have a system they play that's difficult to play against. They have outstanding guard play all three years, and consistent. And this year that's not going to change. It's great when UCLA is great. If you can beat them it really helps you. We need UCLA to be great."

Tony Bennett, WSU

-- He has 10 first-year players, either redshirt or true freshmen, and one sophomore who's never played college basketball.  He was told he has the most freshman in Division 1 this season. 

-- He feels you can't replace Robbie Cowgill, Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver. But he thinks he'll play the young players, go through the growing pains with them and reap the benefits a few years down the line like he did with Cowgill, Low and Weaver.

-- Cited Klay Thompson as the freshman who has the best chance of having an impact.

-- In talking to his father, his predecessor at WSU, Dick Bennett, the subject of the best coaches the senior Bennett had ever faced came up. Bennett: "Two names that came off his tongue right away were Charlie Spoonhour and Ben Howland."

Johnny Dawkins, Stanford

-- He's going to rely on his two captains, Mitch Johnson and Anthony Goods.

-- He's been impressed with the play of junior wing Landry Fields in practice.

-- About his style of play: "We'll be somewhat different than years past. We don't have the Lopezes. So we'll play a little faster. We'll play man-to-man defense, but play a faster pace than Stanford has traditionally played."

-- On Mike Montgomery being at Cal: "He's been great. I've spoken to him a number of times when I got the job and when we've crossed paths.  He's a good resource for me, knowing all the ins and outs of Stanford. He's shown a willingness to help and I appreciate it."

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