I appreciate the opportunity to attend Pac-12 Basketball Media Day (#pac12hoops) provided to me by Rush the Court. It was a great experience and a fun day. To be honest, absolutely nothing was said the day long but – and you get the feeling everyone senses it – there’s a hovering excitement that this whole thing’s about to start. Like JENGA, no one is going to come close to that linchpin block, sliding out a bunch of middle pieces and passing to the next. The boat shall not be rocked before the journey.
Except, I suppose, for Spencer Dinwiddie who dropped the saltiest line of the day when he said, “But we don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, and everybody else in the rest. We view ourselves as the cream and everybody else can fight for the rest of the spots.” SHOTS FIRED! Eh, not really. I actually appreciated it from the standpoint of leadership and culture and I’m going to elaborate on that later (next week amongst a lot of my previews).
And speaking of next week and all of my previews (and in the coming weeks leading up to 11/8), I’m going to drop my team-by-teams, top backcourts and frontcourts, my predicted finishes, a new podcast with @spencerbsmith, and I don’t even know what else.
But for now, quick thoughts on each team after spending a little time with them yesterday:
Washington State: Ken Bone went in on just how deep the conference is and how the conference perhaps deserved the lashing it took for being so awful in year’s past but that those days are over. Well now his team is projected to finish last, so…
Tremendous question to Craig Robinson: Last night was a big night for thre President. How’s your defense? #Pac12MBB
— Dana O’Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) October 17, 2013
Utah: Larry Krsytkowiak said that playing hard is a talent and while I really appreciate what he’s doing at Utah, saying that playing hard is a talent means you’re still not good. They’ll be better. But still not good.
USC: I didn’t realize there’s a little bit of twang to Andy Enfield. He played everything correctly in deflecting his UCLA comment but he’s sparked interest in USC basketball and, if nothing else, JT Terrell tells us that there’s “lot’s of people getting dunked on in practice.” Well practice does make perfect, JT, so carry on.
Washington: Lorenzo Romar was asked about impact newcomers to the conference and he talked about Aaron Gordon and Mike Moser. #AWKWARD. Aside from that he seemed very encouraged by Perris Blackwell – the transfer out of USF – who LoRo says is going to give them a low post presence they “haven’t had in years.”
Stanford: I asked Johnny Dawkins “You mentioned returning a lot of players and talent to this team, yet last year you finished 9‑9. What might you see different this year, if anything?” I’ll mention that he’s returning 84% of his 2012-13 minutes played. He basically told me that they’re thinking about things differently. Dwight Powell told me the same thing, later. They went through SEAL training (like the Navy) and used the word synergy (so startup Stanford). My point here is…we’ll see, I might be selling.
ASU: Jahii Carson was much more thoughtful and articulate than I expected. Struck me as much more together than I expected and had some very high compliments to drop on his new running mate, Jermaine Marshall. I was also blown away by Herb Sendek’s hyperbole and quickness to jump into the national conversation. Dropped a lot of “best ofs” in the country/nation/game lines. Company man award for sure.
Colorado: Like I said, Dinwiddie dropped the bomb on Media Day by calling his own team the cream rising to the top. Why the hell not? It’s a shifting culture in Boulder and as my high school baseball coach taught us, once you start hoping, you’ve already lost. Sounds like Spencer’s a believer.
Cal: Someone asked Mike Montgomery how he would apprehend a thief if he were faced with a similar situation as Larry Krystkowiak when he tackled a bike snatcher. Montgomery said nothing about a two handed shove to the chest. And he talked a lot about how he likes having veterans (Solomon, Cobbs, Kravish) and tried to taper the expectations of Jabari Bird.
Oregon: Dana talked about a lot and even said he and his team should be practicing right then and not at Media Day. But he was there and someone asked a seventy-five word question about whether or not Oregon has a competitive advantage with Uncle Phil. Dana slowly, like only a mid-westerner can, said, “Well, we updated our arena. I think we had the second oldest arena in the country. We built an arena that’s very nice.” Really fair point there, Dana. He continued, “I think every university has benefactors that benefit their programs, athletically, academically. Ours just happens to be someone that runs Nike.” That’s right! Everyone has boosters, how is this any different? He came full circle, “You know, we had an update because Mac Court was just really old.” Dana Altman, you are a smooth cat.
Arizona: One of these days Sean Miller is going to jump out of that humility suit of his and just throw down some heat…wait, he already did that:
UCLA: I think I got a good idea of what the Steve Alford era at UCLA is going to be like. He’s going to be a touch understated, predictable and solid. He looked the part in the sleekest suit of the day and he didn’t rock the boat. He dropped a Wooden reference and the word excellence. Like going down a checklist of how to be UCLA’s coach and not screw it up. He did just fine up there and he’s going to be a fine UCLA head coach. Is that enough?