Defending champion Cal, sans four senior starters from a year ago, was picked seventh today in the Pac-10 Conference annual basketball media poll.
Washington secured 33 of 35 first-place ballots and easily earned the No. 1 spot. Arizona edged UCLA for the runnerup spot. Stanford is picked ninth. The Huskies should feel good about this — the media has correctly picked the Pac-10 regular-season champion three of the past four years and 14 times over the past 21 seasons.
“It’s flattering,” coach Lorenzo Romar said of UW’s spot atop the poll. “I like our team, but I don’t know if we’re ready to win a Pac-10 yet. We got a lot of work to do.”
Arizona coach Sean Miller isn’t taking the predictions too seriously. “Preseason predictions are just that, nobody’s played a game yet,” Miller said. “There’s probably four or five teams that can compete to finish second.”
– The Pac-10, holding its media day in Los Angeles, also announced that the semifinals and finals of its conference tournament will be held jointly at the Staples Center. The first two rounds of the women’s tournament will continue to be held at USC’s Galen Center. As usual, the entire men’s event will be conducted at 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 women will play their semifinal games on the afternoon of Friday, March 11, then their championship game before the men’s final on Saturday, March 12. The league is hoping that women’s attendance will be boosted by putting both events at the Staples Center on the final two days.
– The league 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.
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. WSU 191
6. USC 178
7. Cal 151
8. OSU 120
9. Stanford 98
10. Oregon 47