Arizona, UCLA lead the way in the Pac-12 preseason media poll

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With the recruiting hauls pulled in by both Arizona and UCLA, many expect these two proud programs to give the Pac-12 a noticeable boost in 2012-13.

That includes the media who cover the conference apparently, as they’ve pegged the Wildcats and Bruins as the top two teams in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.

Arizona was their pick to win the conference, finishing with 15 first-place votes and 403 total points. But it was UCLA, who came in second with 402 points, that led the way in first-place votes with 16.

Following those two are the two Bay Area schools, as California was picked to finish third and Stanford fourth. Defending regular season champion Washington (fifth) and defending Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado (sixth) round out the top half of the poll.

    Team                                          Pts.
1. Arizona (15)                              403
2. UCLA (16)                                 402
3. California (3)                             325
4. Stanford                                     296
5. Washington (2)                         278
6. Colorado                                    262
7. Oregon                                       217
8. Oregon State                             166
9. USC                                            163
10. Washington State                   111
11. Arizona State                           107
12. Utah                                           78
First place votes in parentheses

Two picks stick out in regards to being too low come March: Colorado and USC (ninth). The Buffaloes will have to rely on a young front court alongside junior forward Andre Roberson, but players such as forward Josh Scott, wing Xavier Johnson and guard Xavier Talton are talented.

As for USC, the Trojans were hit hard by injuries last season, and they’ll be helped by the return of Jio Fontan (torn ACL) and the addition of skilled transfers such as Ari Stewart, J.T. Terrell (both began their careers at Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine).

It can also be argued that Arizona State, picked to finish 11th, should be slotted ahead of a Washington State team (picked 10th) that may return Brock Motum but has a major question to answer at the point due to the dismissal of Reggie Moore.

Six Pac-12 teams open regular season play on November 9, including the reopening of Pauley Pavilion (Indiana State at UCLA) and Stanford taking on San Francisco at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.