The Pac-10 men’s basketball coaches held their first teleconference of the season this morning. Here’s a few of the highlights”
Arizona coach Sean Miller:
— Talked about his only senior Nic Wise meshing with 10 freshman and sophomores. Wise has had four coaches and played in four systems at Arizona.
— Miller: “We’re a very mediocre team on a quest to get better. A lot of it will depend on just our daily approach, how hard we work and the improvements some of young players can make so that when the games take place, they’re more ready to be successful.”
— Brandon Lavender, Kevin Parrom and Jamelle Horne (ankle) are injured and will not practice today. Parrom (stress fracture) has missed the past four weeks and there’s a chance he could redshirt this season.
— Miller said the Wildcats’ 25-year streak of consecutive NCAA tourney appearances “is very much in jeopardy.”
Arizona State coach Herb Sendek:
— Sendek spoke highly of freshman guard Trent Lockett. “He’s a very talented young freshman we have. He’s really contributed very well so far for us and we’re very high on him moving forward in our program. He’s very versatile. Plays multiple spots for us.”
— Despite the Pac-10 troubles, Sendek believes there will be parity once conference play begins.
Oregon coach Ernie Kent:
— G Tajuan Porter (high ankle sprain) and F Joevan Catron (back) won’t play Wednesday against Mississippi Valley State and are questionable for Saturday’s game against Oakland.
— Kent said G Garrett Sim has started to play well lately in part due to the absence of Porter.
— The injuries have made the Ducks a very young team that struggles on the road and plays competitive at home.
USC coach Kevin O’Neil:
— O’Neil expects to have G Mike Gerrity and F Leonard Washington return before Pac-10 play begins. He said both players will be immediate starters when they get back.
— The Trojans have committed 130 turnovers and just 75 assists. Gerrity should help them make better decisions and take care of the ball.
— O’Neil admitted: “We’re not an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination nor will we be.”
— O’Neill said North Carolina transfer Alex Stephenson has been slow to make a big impact because he sat out a year and missed most of the offseason with a knee injury. “Over the next two months you’ll see a much improved Alex,” O’Neill said.
Washington State coach Ken Bone:
— Bone said playing games in Seattle, like Saturday’s contest against Tennessee, helps recruiting.
— Bone wants to get James Watson more minutes, but the 6-7 freshman forward has to get a better understanding of the offense. He’s played just 32 minutes in 10 games.
— Freshman G Reggie Moore has pleased the coaching staff. Bone raved his freshman guard has committed just 23 turnovers.
— Bone thinks the Cougars have adjusted to the new up-tempo offense, but wishes the defense would play better. WSU opponents are averaging 68.2 points per game, an 13 point increase.
— Bone said he wasn’t aware the 8-2 Cougars were in first place in the Pac-10.
“That was actually news to me because I have not followed the Pac-10 much right now. … Our record at Washington State is not indicative to where we will probably be because we played a whole different level of opponent then some of those other teams. Even (considering) teams that don’t have good records right now, UCLA, Arizona those teams have played some high-level competition. We’ve played Gonzaga and Kansas State and then it drops off a little bit. I’d be very pleased if we can compete with the better teams in the league, but the reality is if we can be somewhere in the middle I’d be extremely happy.”
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins:
— It’s uncertain if junior forward Josh Owens will play this season or ever again. The nature of his medical condition is also unknown. However, Dawkins said it’s not life threatening. Owens was the only returning starter.
— Sophomore center Jack Trotter, a former walk-on, has found a place in the starting lineup.
— Dawkins raved about F Landry Fields, who is second in the Pac-10 with a 23.0 points per game average. Dawkins called him a throwback player.
California coach Mike Montgomery:
— Montgomery defended the Pac-10. He said the loss of players to the NBA has attributed to the decline in the conference. He said the key to being successful in college is having a few players who are just under the NBA radar and stick around for a few years.
— Montgomery said center Max Zhang, the 7-3 newcomer from China, “causes a problem. there’s just no question about it. He’s just long.” Cal is still finding out how to use Zhang and he’s has a lot of improvement to make.
— Senior forward Theo Robertson (right foot) has finally returned from injury. Montgomery said his absence is largely responsible for Cal’s slow 6-3 start.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar:
— Romar said freshman Abdul Gaddy is “trying to find himself right now” and “right around the corner from really breaking out.”
— On the Pac-10 troubles, Romar said injuries have also played a large role.
— Romar said Cal is still one of the favorites to win the conference.
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson:
— Robinson said the Beavers biggest problem is dealing with heightened expectations. “It’s way to early for us to press the panic button,” he said. “We are a function of our own expectations and we have to get used to playing with expectations.”
— Freshman guard Roberto Nelson is still awaiting clearance from the NCAA and he has yet to practice.
UCLA coach Ben Howland:
— The Bruins are last in the Pac-10 in shooting at .415. Howland thought UCLA’s only returner Nikola Dragovic would shoot better than .241 from the field.
— Howland said UCLA needs to develop better low-post scoring options.
— He said it’s been difficult dealing with their five-game losing streak and 2-6 record because the program and its players have been successful in the past.
— F Tyler Honeycutt has been slowed by a stress fracture in his shin.