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Originally published October 28, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Page modified October 28, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Upset offers media-day lesson for Washington men's basketball

Huskies are very similar to Arizona squad that lost 69-68 to Division II Seattle Pacific in Thursday exhibition game. Washington plays SPU on Nov. 4.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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LOS ANGELES — Fear the Falcons.

That's one of the messages the Washington men's basketball team received during Pac-12 media day.

The Huskies heard it from Arizona coach Sean Miller, whose Wildcats dropped a 69-68 decision to Division II Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game Thursday at McKale Center.

"They're a very well-coached and very organized team," Miller said. "They move well. They have a low-post player (Andy Poling) that I believe could be a very good player in the Pac-12, and they have a wing player (Jobi Wall) who is a Pac-12 player. He had 24 points and 17 in the first half.

"To me they look like they've been practicing a long time. They have a very cohesive approach. ... They were a better team than us."

That Arizona team is, in many ways, similar to Washington this season.

Both teams lost stars from squads that advanced to last season's NCAA tournament. The defending conference champion Wildcats and the Huskies, the two-time defending conference tournament champions, are elevating unproven role players to prominent positions and relying on early contributions from freshmen.

And Washington plays its first exhibition game against Seattle Pacific on Nov. 4.

"The lesson is, you can't overlook anybody," Huskies forward Darnell Gant said. "I can't say that Arizona did that, because I don't know what happened. But for us, all we can say is make sure you come out ready to play every game so things like that don't happen."

Washington State coach Ken Bone knows better than anyone how difficult it is for Seattle Pacific to knock off a Division I team.

He played three years at SPU (1980-82) and spent 16 years with the Falcons as an assistant (1986-90) and head coach (1990-2002).

"I feel bad for Arizona, but I'm really happy for Seattle Pacific," Bone said. "Being on the other end of it at this level, I'm sure Seattle Pacific did a much better job than Arizona did preparing for that. I'm sure they were way more excited emotionally to play that game.

"Still, at the end of the day, one school has All-Americans and the other school doesn't. So for Seattle Pacific to pull off the victory, it's pretty impressive."

Arizona's shocking upset nearly overshadowed the release of the Pac-12 preseason media poll.

UCLA was picked to win the conference after receiving 14 of 38 first-place votes and 421 points. California garnered 13 first-place votes and 405 points to edge Arizona (11, 404) for second place.

Washington (335 points) was fourth followed by Oregon, Stanford, USC, Oregon State and Arizona State.

Washington State tied Colorado for 10th, and Utah was predicted to finish last.

"You pick UCLA, Cal and Arizona, and those are some good choices," Husky coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Those teams are going to be really good. I think Oregon, Stanford and Oregon State, they can have the kind of year where they finish higher than they were picked."

Last year, the Huskies were the overwhelming favorite in the preseason and finished third in the standings.

"Rankings and preseason polls really don't matter at this point," Gant said. "Look at Arizona. They were picked (third) and they're (No. 16) in the country, and look what happened to them.

"Right now we've got to be concerned about what we do, and that's getting better every day."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

Pac-12 men's poll
UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 men's basketball title in a vote of media. Washington was picked to finish fourth, Washington State in a tie for 10th. (First-place votes in parentheses):
No. Team Pts
1. UCLA (14) 421
2. California (13) 405
3. Arizona (11) 404
4. Washington 355
5. Oregon 282
6. Stanford 255
7. USC 194
8. Oregon State 188
9. Arizona State 148
10. Colorado 119
10. Washington St. 119
12. Utah 74

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