UCLA picked to finish fourth in Pac-12 media poll

After losing four starters from last year’s Sweet 16 squad, UCLA men’s basketball was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12.

A preseason media poll slotted the Bruins behind Arizona, Utah and Colorado — but did give them one first-place vote. All 31 other first-place votes went to the Wildcats, widely considered a national title contender.

They lost guard Nick Johnson and forward Aaron Gordon — the Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Year, respectively — but return point guard T.J. McConnell and adds five-star recruit Stanley Johnson.

“There’s no better team than Arizona,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle told USA Today last week. Continue reading

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Best quotes of Pac-12 Media Day

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When you gather together every Pac-12 coach into one room, a few good moments are bound to materialize. Here are some of the best quotes from Thursday’s Pac-12 Media Day, held at Pac-12 Networks studios in San Francisco.

— Arizona ran away with media votes in the preseason poll, taking 21 of 23 first-place votes. UCLA and Colorado finished second and third, respectively, each taking one of the two remaining votes.

Buffs guard Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t agree with that projection: “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.” Continue reading

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UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr ready to embrace hype

CULVER CITY – If Anthony Barr’s growing hype can be distilled into a single sequence, it would be one on Nov. 17, 2012. That day, the UCLA linebacker blew through USC’s line untouched, crushing quarterback Matt Barkley on second-and-seventh.

Less than three minutes later, UCLA beat USC 38-28, winning the rivalry for the first time since 2006. Shoulder separated, Barkley never played another collegiate down.

Asked about the moment at Friday’s Pac-12 Media Day, Barr laughed.

“I want to know why the tackle just let me go, for whatever reason,” Barr said. “He should be standing up here and talking to you guys, because he’s the reason why I was able to make that play.” Continue reading

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