Highlighted Quotes From Each Team at Pac-12 Media Day

Posted by Adam Butler on October 24th, 2016

Pac-12 Media Day, the annual effusing of excitement, promise and not caring for the media poll, was held on Friday at the conference’s network headquarters in San Francisco. There were no on-stage fireworks (there rarely are) but Allonzo Trier was replaced by Kadeem Allen as Arizona’s player representative the night before things got started. Sean Miller would not comment. There was Larry Scott’s now annual promotion of all things Pac-12 + China as well as no update on a DirecTV deal. Following each player/coach stage appearance, and wrapping the day up, was the conference’s top official, Bobby Dibler. Did you know that a Pac-12 referee (or rather a Western Officiating Consortium official) was a Naismith Men’s Basketball College Official of the Year? Quite an honor and something not held by a west coast official since 2011 or 2012 (according to Dibler). All-in-all, it was a reminder that basketball season is upon us, and that to this point, we’ve had nothing but our own opinions and perhaps some “insider” knowledge, to evaluate, predict, and feel about our favorite teams. If you’re a stat nerd, we don’t even have KenPom’s updated ratings (ed. note: KenPom released his ratings Sunday) or a Pac-12 preview from Hanner and Winn over at SI. But Media Day finally gave us some knowledge straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth! Let’s dive into some of the key quotes to come out of each team’s address:

Four years as leader of the nation's premier D1 West Coast athletic conference has earned Scott huge financial bonuses on top of an already sizable base salary (U.S. Presswire).

As the Pac-12 gets ready for the new season, so does commissioner Larry Scott, who faced some of the same questions at Media Day that has been a hot topic league-wide. (U.S. Presswire)

Washington State, Ernie Kent and Josh Hawkinson

“If there was ever a time that a team needed a summer tournament, it was us, an opportunity to go overseas.”

This was Ernie Kent’s opening line and I’d have to agree. The benefit of these trips was expressed many times over throughout the day but when you consider it’s Year 3 at Wazzu and the Cougars went 1-17 in conference last year – yeah – they could use the extra practice. The Cougs do have some seniors, experienced big men like Josh Hawkinson and Conor Clifford, but they are seniors who have won just 11 conference games in their three previous efforts. It could be another long one in Pullman.

Arizona State, Bobby Hurley and Tra Holder

“We don’t get too caught up in where we’re projected to finish.”

In addressing what he’s most looking forward to about Year 2 in the Pac-12, Hurley talked a little about everything: team flaws, strengths, talents, etc. It was interesting that he addressed the predictions piece first. The media poll was: A) not something he was directly asked about, and B) something every other coach dismissed much more aggressively (i.e., “That means nothing”). In other interviews, however, Hurley gave a very different impression:

UCLA, Steve Alford and Isaac Hamilton

Steve Alford and UCLA check in much higher than expected. (AP)

Steve Alford and UCLA have a big year in front of them after a subpar 2015-16 campaign. (AP)

“So when that bar is that way, there’s expectations. When you don’t meet or come close to those expectations, we talk to our players all the time, there are going to be consequences.”

I asked Alford about the letter he wrote to fans after last year’s 15-17 performance, which was well below expectations. I particularly appreciated his words around “consequence.” As a coach, he asks things of his players and can demonstrate the consequences of not doing them. A poor defensive stance has a consequence of two points, for example. As a leader, he demonstrated the consequences of not upholding, perhaps, the responsibilities of being the head coach at UCLA.

Stanford, Jerod Haase and Reid Travis

“I’d say the first four months there was an evaluation process of what the program is, what it’s been in the past. Talked to former players, former coaches and with the current team and current staff as well. We’ve talked a lot about culture.”

Brand new to Palo Alto, Haase has been diving into what his program is going to become. He’s inheriting a pretty unique situation in that the Cardinal are a relatively veteran group coming out of a coaching change. There wasn’t necessarily the emptying of the cupboard as is the case in most other coaching changes. Of course Stanford isn’t a place to necessarily bolt from. Haase will be building a new program with his own twist on culture on a campus that seems to have a deeply ingrained culture defined well beyond sport.

Washington, Lorenzo Romar and Malik Dime

“I think Markelle [Fultz] is a little unique in that he’s further along in terms of his overall basketball IQ and his talent ability.”

First of all, I love the phrase “talent ability.” Secondly, there are many pundits picking Washington freshman Markelle Fultz as the conference Player of the Year. That’s fantastic as, according to his coach, he has talent ability and is also projected as the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Again, things that are all well and good. But will that equate to basketball wins?

Oregon State, Wayne Tinkle and Tres Tinkle

“That’s just getting used to the transition between when I can call him dad, when I can call him coach. It was tough for me just to know who I’m talking to.”

That’s Tres Tinkle on adjusting, or performing, as player-son. This is probably a question each of the Tinkles has had to answer many times. But following the story of Cullen Neal out of New Mexico, this type of relationship feels like something we all need to be more sensitive to. Considering the lightning rod that is Bryce Alford (bless him for taking the heat he does), Tres is going to see an increase in expectations as he develops into an all-conference type under his father’s tutelage. Expectations often come with great criticism. Be careful how you criticize.

USC, Andy Enfield and Elijah Stewart

The Andy Enfield Era At USC Took Some Time To Get Off The Ground (AP)

The Andy Enfield Era at USC took some time to get off the ground and now he faces another rebuilding project. (AP)

“As coaches, I can never blame a player for leaving if they think another situation is better for them.”

Enfield was one of a few coaches to note the total number of D-I transfers this year (around 800). Departures are a particularly strange situation at USC right now as the Trojans lost two players to… nobody? Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic declared for the NBA Draft and neither was drafted or wound up on an NBA roster. Is that a problem? Something to blame them for? As Enfield notes, he couldn’t do that. It’s a decision these kids made to, presumably, better their situations. For USC fans, it didn’t necessarily better theirs.

Colorado, Tad Boyle and Wesley Gordon

“I remember when Bill McCartney was a football coach at Colorado. He came in and picked Nebraska.”

There were a lot of rivalry-based questions for Boyle and Gordon. Not entirely sure the genesis or rationale but the response above was fantastic. He addressed school history (3-points), recruiting strategy (3-points), upset no actual other Pac-12 opponents (2-points), and made what was generally a very sterile room chuckle (2-points). It was a 10-point answer.

California, Cuonzo Martin and Jabari Bird

          “Ivan Rabb was mentioned nine times.”

While that’s not explicitly a quote, Rabb came up a lot during Cal’s time on stage and understandably so. He’s probably the top returning player – as it pertains to draft projections – and was something of a surprise to be a returnee. Then, as he usually does, Kevin O’Neill had a thought:

Arizona, Sean Miller and Kadeem Allen

“I wouldn’t want to be here at Media Day with anyone else other than Kadeem [Allen].”

I was tempted to note Miller’s “no comment” when asked about Allonzo Trier but felt the above more aptly addressed the situation or lack thereof. We know nothing and nothing has been said. Just lots and lots of speculation. What Miller also didn’t address, and he’s addressed it basically everywhere else, is the progress of Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The junior point guard is going to completely and independently (as in, won’t be splitting time with Kadeem Allen) hold down the critical role in Sean Miller’s system. Miller has alluded to great progress. It could be the linchpin to Arizona playing up the road in Glendale.

Utah, Larry Krystkowiak and Kyle Kuzma

“I can’t say we’re a basketball program that has a system that goes out and recruits players to that system.”

And this is why Larry Krystkowiak might be the best basketball coach in the Pac-12. Sure there are a lot of components to being a college coach but here’s a guy noting that he collects the best talent that he can and then puts them in positions to succeed. He did it with Delon Wright and then again with Jakob Poeltl. Of course you can seemingly do that with anyone who is an NBA caliber player. But Utah has been systematically fluid and has won a lot of basketball games over the past few seasons. He has optimized for a point guard and a center. This year it will be for a forward (Kyle Kuzma).

Oregon, Dana Altman and Tyler Dorsey

“So it is kind of nice to have a group back that’s been with us.”

KenPom is now tracking a new “statistic” called continuity. You can find it on the Height/Experience page. In the past we’d poke fun at Altman’s transfers and consistently question team chemistry. Then they’d go out and win 23 ball games and make the NCAA Tournament. Last year they returned about 60 percent of their production, the most of the Altman era. They were a #1 seed. This year they’ll exceed that returning production. What’s that going to produce?

Adam Butler (47 Posts)

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