If a Coach Says Something Interesting at a Media Day, Does It Make a Sound?Posted by Bennet Hayes on October 18th, 2013
There is nothing quite like media day season, is there? Well, okay there is, but amidst all the generic answers and meaningless chatter are tiny, real pieces of actually interesting information – I swear. In case you haven’t spent the week sifting through sound bites and press releases, here are a few of the more noteworthy revelations from recent media days in the AAC, ACC, and Pac-12.
Let’s start out west. While some may have been disappointed by the lack of intra-LA fireworks at Pac-12 media day, we’re going to count the continued discussion of the UCLA-USC “rivalry” as a step in the right direction. Earlier in the week, Andy Enfield was quoted as saying “we [USC] play uptempo basketball here – if you want to play slow, go to UCLA.” He took a predictable shot at softening the blow of those words on Thursday, but let’s focus instead on his tacit admission that the quote is real. Sarcastic or not, those words exited his mouth. Steve Alford played nice and refused to bite in response to the comment, but you better believe that the architect of those grinding, tough New Mexico teams would love nothing more than a snail-paced 65-35 beat-down of his cross-town foes come January 5. The tempo clash will be a constant subplot to the rivalry as long as these two coaches are at the helm, and despite the niceties of yesterday’s media day, don’t expect Enfield’s declaration to disappear from memory anytime soon.
The sexy new arrivals dominated much of the discussion at ACC media day, but there was plenty of vitriol to go around when it came to Maryland’s impending departure from the conference. While Coach K continued his rhetoric on what he believes to be a damaging decision for both school and league, Maryland players braced for hostile road receptions throughout the ACC. In admitting that “they are still here this year,” Nick Faust showed internal Terrapin of the awkwardness surrounding this final go-around, adding that “we’ve got to make the best of it.” With a young, talented roster looking to get Mark Turgeon to his first NCAA Tournament in College Park, there are plenty of reasons on the court to keep an eye on the Terps this season. But add in this unhealthy dose of anger swirling around the jump to the Big Ten, and Maryland may be a program that proves downright impossible to ignore in 2013-14. On a lighter note, the ACC media was happy to spill the beans about Evan Smotrycz and his old crustacean followers. You would think it’d be even easier to round up a few lobsters on the coast of the Atlantic?
Now as fun as a few programs were in the ACC, what about a brand, spanking new conference? That’s what American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco had to show off at his media day, and he spoke like a man looking to find a little attention. He certainly isn’t the first to come down hard on the side of not paying players, but the aggression of the stance reeks of a man looking for a viable national platform. If that was part of the motivation, you can’t blame him – he is at the helm of a league with no history and an uncertain future. It also appears that the conference is going to be riding the “conference of Hall of Fame coaches” as a calling card – at least for now – as the pedigrees of legends like Rick Pitino and Larry Brown were a constant source of attention. With very little holding this odd collection of schools together, it’s certainly time for the league to start building an identity, but they should find that task far more achievable on the court than in the press room.
And yes, there were plenty of other words uttered that were not worth writing about, but we should expect nothing less – they are media days, after all. And the best part about them? They are now over and done with, which means we are that much closer to actual basketball being played. Bring. On. November.