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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Full Pac-12 podium transcript: Jim Mora, Anthony Barr, Xavier Su’a-Filo

COACH JIM MORA: First of all, thanks to everybody for coming out today. We’re excited to be here and I’m excited to be sitting between these two fine, young men, great student‑athletes, the pillars of our program, both great players, better young men. I think they are great ambassadors for UCLA and college football in general. We’re excited about the direction of our program.

We made some progress last year, and I think these two guys would tell you we’re nowhere close to where we want to be. We have a vision, we’re headed in the right direction but we have challenges we have to overcome this year in order to become the team that we desire to be.

First and foremost in those challenges is we have a very depleted secondary and we’re going to be playing four players back there, or five or six, whatever package we’re in that really haven’t played, ever, at this level. So that will be a challenge. Our schedule is a challenge. This conference that we play in is a challenge, but I think these young men would tell you that being the competitors that they are and we are as a football team we relish those challenges. We can’t wait for those challenges, we embrace ‘em and look forward to ‘em and we’re going to rise up to ‘em. We’re excited to be here, welcome your questions, and thank you.

Q: Coach, as a new coach last season you made some risky moves, maybe because of the fact that you were new. Can we expect similar risky moves in place this season? Continue reading

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Larry Scott: Pac-12 fans should drop DirecTV

CULVER CITY — Any Pac-12 fans that still have DirecTV should mark the date their contract expires.

Commissioner Larry Scott said at Friday’s Pac-12 Media Day that negotiations for the satellite provider to carry the Pac-12 Network are still at the same “impasse” that existed last year. He made it clear that the conference will not be able to reach an agreement with DirecTV for the upcoming football season, and said he wanted to say so now to allow fans an opportunity to switch.

“I urge our fans that are intent on not missing their team’s games this fall to drop DirecTV and switch to one of the many providers that have it,” Scott said. “All of our coaches and athletic directors that previously had DirecTV have now switched to a provider that has it and they are urging their fans to do the same.” Continue reading

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Anthony Barr, Xavier Su’a-Filo to represent UCLA at Pac-12 Media Day

Linebacker Anthony Barr and offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo will represent UCLA at next month’s Pac-12 Media Day. Sony Studios Lot in Culver City will host the event on July 26.

Neither is a surprising choice given their status as potential All-Americans, but the conference better make sure the mics are working perfectly: Barr is one of the softest speakers on the team.

The rest of the media day lineup: Continue reading

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