Pac-12 coaches teleconference: The postseason is on the mind
During Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference, coaches from Colorado, Arizona and Oregon talked about their postseason chances and the road ahead. Arizona coach Sean Miller also addressed the potential for his basketball team to schedule a game to be played in the Wildcats' football stadium.
Colorado's Tad Boyle
Arizona took it to the Buffs on Saturday, winning 88-61 in Boulder. “I see just a pride and a grit and a determination from their entire organization, from their coaches to their players,” Boyle said. “It's hard to put into words how good they are defensively, just the pride they take in stopping people.”
When the NCAA tournament committee looks at Colorado's resume, Boyle is hoping it doesn't throw aside how good the Buffs were before the loss of guard Spencer Dinwiddie. “I don't think that's right. I think our body of work needs to speak for itself with and without Spencer,” Boyle said. “I hope the work that was done by our program before Spencer got hurt is not discounted.”
Colorado is “hopeful” swingman Tre'Shaun Fletcher can play this Saturday as the Buffs face the Utes. Fletcher has been out since mid-January after undergoing knee surgery, but Boyle didn't know if the freshman would play until seeing him practice this week.
Oregon's Dana Altman
The Ducks are quacking right along quite nicely with three wins in a row, but they're still trying to forget their last three loses, which all came by a difference of two points each. “We've got to put that behind us,” Altman said. “It comes down to a four-game season for us, critical ball games, each and every one of them.”
Part of the issue in those close losses has been a lack of a communication on defense leading to breakdowns on important possessions. “We just haven't found a real flow, especially defensively,” Altman said. “Talking on defense and getting five guys to play as a group is always important. We haven't handled end-of-game situations well at all.”
On whether guard Damyean Dotson will play against UCLA on Thursday following a missed game because of disciplinary actions: “I think that Dot has done a tremendous job here for two years. The final decision is between Dot and I. He's a good young man …. we'll probably move in that direction (of Dotson returning).”
Arizona's Sean Miller
Miller addressed a report about Arizona considering playing a basketball game at their football stadium. He shot down any concrete plans, but did say it's a topic of discussion. “We have some ideas within our own athletic department in trying to take advantage of, No. 1, the rabid fan base we have and No. 2, the incredible weather. There's no serious discussions with anyone in particular. I don't know if the whole football stadium basketball game thing will ever come to fruition. We are looking into it.”
So, are the Wildcats looking for payback on Wednesday after losing to the Golden Bears earlier this month, Arizona's first loss of the year? “I don't really believe that's the case,” Miller said. “We respect Cal a great deal. That night, they were better than we were. I think each team probably had a handful of possessions … where the game could have gone either way.”
On working back into roles following forward Brandon Ashley's injury: “When you try to replace a player like him, who is a starter and double-figure starter, you're not all of a sudden going to sub a player in and be fine. Every day since his injury we've gotten better.”
Arizona State's Herb Sendek
Sendek didn't have answers for point guard Jahii Carson's struggles. In the last five games, Carson has shot 31 percent from the floor and it hurt especially in getting swept by the mountain schools this past week. “We've seen him play at a very high level … but right now he's not playing his best,” Sendek said. “If I knew, we would certainly attend to it.”
Missed shots at the rim, missed three-pointers and missed free throws led to the Sun Devils tailspinning against the Utes this weekend. “All of that added more tension to our defense,” Sendek said.
On how he regards the 86-63 loss to Utah: “I regard it as a loss. I regard it as our team not playing nearly well enough. It's up to us to move on quickly because the next game is almost ready to start.”
Utah's Larry Krystkowiak
Scheduling strong non-conference games has been a point of emphasis for Krystkowiak even if it hasn't shown just yet. He said talks with basketball programs are improving as Utah has shown signs of becoming a stronger opponent. “It's hard to get games because the perception is, if you beat Utah … it could only hurt teams if they lost to us,” the Utes coach said. “It gets a little complicated.”
On the importance of signing role players such as Colorado's Wesley Gordon: “I think there's a lot of value for players who don't really have a specialty in one thing, but also don't have a weakness.”
Krystkowiak says the culture among high school basketball players has shied away from teaching general skills. It's hard to find basketball players like Gordon with so many taught to be their team's leading scorer. “It's about getting on an AAU team where my son can score a lot of points, grab a lot of rebounds, or 'Gee, there's too many guards on that team.' It's unfortunate, but you can only have so many stars.”
Washington's Lorenzo Romar
Asked what has been an issue that's hurt rival Washington State's program, Romar said that coach Ken Bone simply hasn't had stability during his time in Pullman, Wash. Romar cited the loss of point guard Reggie Moore and, this year, DaVonte Lacy's injury for setting Wazzu back. “I think there have been some unfortunate circumstances taking place,” Romar said.
Romar on the Washington-WSU rivalry having lost its luster over the last few years: “I always felt that rivalries are at their best when both teams are playing at their highest level.”
USC's Andy Enfield
Guard Byron Wesley had scored 20 or more points in three straight games, but was suspended by Enfield this past week as USC fell to California and Stanford. Wesley will be back as the Trojans take on the Oregon schools this week. “Those players need to lead by example because they're starters and they're talented. In Byron's case, he has a whole other year here, so he needs to understand he needs to be a leader,” Enfield said.
California's Mike Montgomery
Junior Ricky Kreklow has been injured throughout his long career, but he's returned from a midseason injury this year to play more than 20 minutes a game. “He's relatively inexperienced in terms of game action. We're awfully young, in some ways we're not that physical. Rick is not afraid to mix it up,” Montgomery said.
Freshman Jabari Bird has scored in double figures in his last two games and is improving following an ankle sprain that disrupted his year. “Playing great, got a great bounce to his step and he's just fine,” Montgomery said. “He made a couple plays the other night, and he should get better as the season goes on.”
On Cal's next opponent, Arizona, which took its first loss of the year to Cal on Feb. 1: “They've been good all year, they'll continue to be good. I don't know there's a drastic difference. They're third in the country for goodness sakes.”
UCLA's Steve Alford
Alford didn't know exactly why his Bruins allowed the Stanford Cardinal to score 82 points on 62 percent shooting on Saturday. He thought it might be a combination of a hot night for Stanford and too many breakdowns on defense. “We thought we were doing the same things [as usual],” he said. “Well, hopefully it's a one-game deal.”
UCLA's key as it hosts Oregon on Thursday is cutting down on turnovers, Alford said. When the Bruins dropped UO 70-68 a few weeks back, 16 turnovers led to 25 points for the Ducks.
Washington State's Ken Bone
The rival Huskies are on deck for Wazzu, but the Cougars have confidence despite a 2-13 conference record. They beat UW 72-67 in their last meeting. “For us to score 72, that's pretty good because we've had a hard time scoring. As I recall, I think we did a pretty good job on the glass that night,” Bone said.
Bone said guard Que Johnson's lack of offensive production has not been the reason for his limited minutes since the return of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy from an injury. He also denied that Lacy's return has hurt Johnson's production. “Que's time has dropped a little bit over the last few games and he actually didn't start this last trip due to defense, not offense,” Bone said.
Asked if he was pleased with his recruiting of the Seattle area, Bone said he was despite battling Washington, Gonzaga and other national programs. He pointed to three-year contributor Reggie Moore and Lacy as examples of recruiting well in the Northwest. “I wish we had more of them but we certainly have been able to land some good players out of Seattle,” Bone said.
Oregon State's Craig Robinson
UCLA assistant coach David Grace spent 2009-13 with Robinson's Beavers staff and was hired as a West Coast recruiter. He left Oregon State for UCLA this offseason. “When I first talked to David, he just had a different view on the job having been in the military. I thought he had a more global view of what our job was like,” Robinson said. “I didn't know David at all. When I moved out to Corvallis, I was just looking for someone who had ties on the West Coast and looking for someone who could sort of work his way into the West Coast market.”
Stanford's Johnny Dawkins
Dawkins praised the improvement of Josh Huestis, the team's leading rebounder, who came out of high school as a low-post center. “He's made himself into a heck of a player,” Dawkins said. “He's always been a presence for us defensively, shot-blocking, rebounding. He came from Montana, he was playing center. We wanted him to play on the perimeter, which was a big jump. His overall work ethic is what made that happen.”