Pac-12 Media Day: No sick will towards departing UCLA, USC

By Andy Katz
FOX Sports activities School Basketball Analyst

SAN FRANCISCO — Mick Cronin and Andy Enfield occurred to be consuming breakfast collectively because the Pac-12 head coaches settled into their seats in a convention room on the Pac-12 community headquarters previous to media day Wednesday.

The UCLA and USC coaches have two extra seasons within the Pac-12 — this one and subsequent — earlier than their faculties transfer to the Huge Ten. 

However whereas the pending departures are naturally a sore topic within the league, neither the coaches nor their applications are being ostracized. 

The intimacy of the Pac-12 media day — arguably essentially the most effectively run media day among the many Energy 5 conferences — lends itself to informal conversations, hangouts and general congeniality among the many dozen head coaches.

Not one coach affected, as within the different 10, by the departure of two of the 4 largest manufacturers within the convention (the opposite two in males’s hoops being Arizona and Oregon) seem to have any sick will towards Cronin or Enfield.

The followers on the highway could possibly be a unique story, however you will not discover any distancing among the many friends. 

And that is what ought to occur. UCLA is the clear favourite to win the Pac-12. USC, picked fourth, has a squad probably certain for the NCAAs but once more. Sandwiched within the center are the Wildcats and Geese, rivals of each faculties prior to now few seasons as they’ve all jockeyed for management of the league.

The Pac-12 wants UCLA and USC to be who they’re and have been lately — convention title contenders. The Bruins have the 2 most recognizable gamers in Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Tyger Campbell, each contenders for Pac-12 Participant of the 12 months. They each performed within the Ultimate 4 two seasons in the past, and if Jaquez hadn’t damage his ankle final season within the second spherical in opposition to Saint Mary’s, then UCLA might need taken out North Carolina and in the end Saint Peter’s en path to back-to-back Ultimate Fours. Campbell is without doubt one of the most dependable ballhandlers within the league, in addition to a defensive pest who can jump-start a transition recreation.

USC is not too far behind in expertise, with the return of Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis, and having each L.A. faculties as locks for Quad 1 video games for every Pac-12 opponent goes to assist every other NCAA Event instances. Assuming Oregon is again to being Oregon and Arizona does not dip a lot in any respect, then the rivalry video games among the many 4 groups needs to be appointment viewing this season. 

There’s a quiet confidence in regards to the Geese bouncing again and once more ascending towards the highest of the league. There may be additionally a not-so-subtle boastfulness from Arizona’s Kerr Kriisa. He is bullish on the Wildcats and did not hesitate to name me out for not together with the Wildcats in my preseason prime 25. 

The fifth spot is vast open with Stanford, Colorado and Arizona State all legitimately claiming they have NCAA Event-caliber squads. This is not to say they can not end increased, however there are nonetheless questions amongst all three. Sure, this was a preseason media day, however every coach and a number of gamers did not hesitate to say their postseason potential as soon as prompted. 

Washington State, Washington, Utah, Cal and Oregon State are nonetheless in reshuffling mode, and a run to an NCAA Event bid would definitely put them forward of schedule with their present rosters. 

What we all know is that UCLA and USC are out in 2024-25. The league is leaving the Pac-12 Community workplaces after this season and relocating to a distant workforce and a brand new studio house nonetheless to be introduced. However what will not change is the Bruins and Trojans being within the thick of a title chase. 

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Andy Katz is a longtime faculty basketball author, analyst and host. He will be seen on the Huge Ten Community, in addition to March Insanity and, and he hosts the podcast “March Madness 365.” Katz labored at ESPN for practically 20 years and, previous to that, in newspapers for 9 years.

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