Disrespect for defending Pac-12 champs? Huskies predicted to finish fifth
Arizona, which brought in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, is picked to win the Pac-12 men's basketball title this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SAN FRANCISCO — The last time Washington was picked fifth in the conference's preseason media poll, the Huskies won their first outright league championship in school history, in 2009.
Once again, modest expectations hover over a UW team that won the Pac-12 title last season. The Huskies were predicted to finish fourth a year ago.
Maybe it's a sign of disrespect or a cold dose of reality, but this time the defending-champion Huskies were picked fifth in the Pac-12 poll.
"It's fine by me, but I'm a competitive guy," senior co-captain Abdul Gaddy said at Pac-12 media day Thursday. "I don't want to be fifth. I want to be first. That just gives me and the team more of a chip on our shoulder that we've got to bring it every day in practice to get better because people are doubting us."
No. 12-ranked Arizona, which brought in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, is picked to win the Pac-12. No. 13 UCLA garnered more first-place votes (16 to 15), but the Wildcats edged the Bruins 403-402 in the overall voting. California received three first-place votes and landed third, followed by Stanford, UW and Colorado. The bottom half of the poll: Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Washington State, Arizona State and Utah.
Washington, which garnered two first-place votes, likely received a less-than-favorable projection because it lost leading scorers Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., who were taken in the first round of the NBA draft.
"We have respect for all the programs in our conference, but at the same time us being picked fifth — we want to give the perception that we're not going to be a slouch," Gaddy said. "Just because we lost two NBA guys in Terrence and Tony that we're going to just move down.
"We've always been a team to be reckoned with, just because of our tradition and with what coach (Lorenzo) Romar has instilled in us."
Considering its history of outperforming the predictions, a middle-of the-pack prediction might result in another conference crown. But then again, UW was the preseason favorite in 2010-11 and finished third.
"Let's hope that we don't move down and let's hope that we move up," Romar said. "When we were picked to win the league what I said then was those are just people's opinions.
"It doesn't mean anything at this point, and I'm not going to change now. I feel the same way at this point."
Media members have correctly picked the conference winner five times in the past 10 years.
Rather than predictions, Romar wants Washington to focus on improving its defensive rebounding.
The Huskies' final tuneup is Saturday's closed-door scrimmage against Long Beach State before the Nov. 11 season opener vs. Loyola-Maryland.
"Our message is kind of boring," Romar said. "It's the same thing all the time in that we're going to be the best that we can be.
"We can go out and say, 'We're going to win it all.' And then you don't do what it takes to win it all. If you play to your best ability in whatever you do, whatever you're supposed to get, you're going to get it."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen
|Media picks Arizona|
|The Pac-12 preseason media poll is out, and Arizona edged UCLA for the top spot. Washington, the reigning champion, is picked fifth, receiving two first-place votes.|
|Team (first-place votes)||Points|
|2. UCLA (16)||402|
|3. California (3)||325|
|5. Washington (2)||278|
|8. Oregon St.||166|
|10. Washington St.||111|
|11. Arizona St.||107|
|A look at where the Huskies have been picked by the media, under coach Lorenzo Romar.|