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UCLA Basketball: PAC-12 Media Day Recap

The Bruins ranked fourth in the media poll, and Alford expects his three-guard starting lineup to start slow but hopefully be ready for the season opening trip to Colorado and Utah.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

PAC-12 Men's Basketball Media Day is in the books, and the story of the day is the low expectations from the media for the 2014-15 edition of the Bruins. I'll get back to that, but, ICYMI, here's the Alford/Powell segment:

The main bullet points are:

  • Alford calls the team young and inexperienced, and he looks for them to improve during the season.
  • Powell is the go-to-guy on offense and defense. (Commentary: my first thought was that Norman Powell would provide leadership this year, but upon further reflection, I realize Norman is a quiet guy, and Alford has said the whole team is quiet. There is no "Kyle" this year -- and they need it more than ever with all the new faces.)
  • Alford wants to play fast again this year. Everyone wants to run, but he doesn't know if Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh can keep up. On the other hand, they will have the option to post-feed this year. He wants to find a balance. (Commentary: good -- they need to dig deep into the bag of tricks. Post play can work in the league this year against everyone but Arizona. Welsh will be one of my keys for this year. I wasn't counting on him before Bolden and Octeus dropped out, but he is an x-factor now perhaps supplanting Parker down the road.)
  • Yes, there will be a three-guard starting lineup.
  • They're not ready to compete with Kentucky today. (Commentary: no kidding. More importantly, the Bruins head to Colorado/Utah to open up the league schedule on January 2. This might decide who finishes in second in the PAC-12).
  • Alford, butchering a Woodenism: "can't get in a hurry".

The media poll had UCLA fourth behind, in order, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Stanford was fifth. According to John Wilner, who agrees with the order of the first five, someone gave UCLA a first place vote.

I have three reactions to the poll. First and foremost, I feel like I'm back in the Walt Hazzard era having the Bruins rated fourth in a weak PAC-12 - after a two -year upswing this will likely be the weakest the league has been in at least four years. That said, I get it -- the Bruins lost five rotation players plus two more hoped for new faces (Bolden and Octeus).

Second, I can already see the narrative: picked to finish fourth in the PAC-12, they beat expectations and finish second or third -- what a masterful coaching job.

Finally, I can't wait to dive into the preview next week. I'm going to have to sharpen my pencil. I said in the thread that I thought UCLA would be ranked third. That wasn't by own forecast; I was trying to channel the MSM.  I thought the debate would be with Utah. They bring back the whole starting lineup including Delon Wright, a PAC-12 POY candidate. Utah is a defensive team (click here for PAC-12 team statistics) led by one of the two best game prep/in game tacticians, Larry Krystkowiak (here's his media day transcript) in the PAC-12 (Tad Boyle is the other one, IMO), and they were at least mid-pack offensively.  That team beat us in Utah last year.

I'll have to ask myself (again): what do the beat writers know that I don't know, are they forgetting that Utah, Colorado and Stanford play Arizona twice, and we play them once? Am I suffering from homerism?

What do you think about the media poll?