ESPN’s Jay Bilas Says New Coaching Hires Have Hurt Pac-12 Basketballby Victor Rodriguez on Jan. 26, 2012, under Sports
What has happened to Pac-12 basketball?
A conference who regularly has more than one team in the top 25 has yet to have a team defeat a team inside the top 25 this season. So far, teams like Cal Poly, Fairfield, Idaho, Loyola Marymount, Montana State, Northern Arizona, South Dakota State, UC Riverside and Wyoming have all won games against the Pac-12. California, who is tied a top the conference standings, was embarrassed by Missouri earlier this year, losing by 39 points to the Tigers.
One starting point to why the Pac-12 is down could be the lack of a signature of star player. This year there is no Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love or O.J. Mayo to carry a mediocre conference.
Coaching is another area that could explain why the conference is down. In the past, no matter how many coaching changes took place, the then-Pac-10 had two coaches in Arizona’s Lute Olson and Stanford’s Mike Montgomery that could carry the conference when other teams were in the rebuilding process. Now, the longest tenure coach is Lorenzo Romar at Washington who has been there 10 seasons. Even if you include Colorado and Utah, as both just recently joined the conference, nine of the Pac-12’s 12 coaches have been there four years or less. The stability that was once there with Olson and Montgomery’s teams has evaporated.
“I think having so many new coaches is a factor. But the Pac-12 has also lost a lot of pros,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas told the Victor and Matt Show on 110SportsPodcast.com. “Arizona lost MoMo Jones in addition to losing Derrick Williams. Other teams have lost guys. Teams have been able to absorb it in the past, but the number of new coaches has had an impact too. It’s hard to get continuity for the first few years when you have a new coach. The Pac-12 has really good coaches, but being in a new place, I don’t care what league you’re in, your continuity is going to take a hit.”
Help is on the way. Next year’s freshmen class is loaded with talent and Arizona has the top-rated incoming class and UCLA has one of the best player makers in Kyle Anderson coming to the west coast. In order for a conference to be really good, it needs its elite teams to be really good and both the Wildcats and Bruins have not lived up to the billing the last few years. While the remaining teams need to carry their share, the reality is most conferences only have a couple teams that sit a top the conference standings year in and year out. For the Pac-12, the transition and cycle has run its course and the conference should return to elite status.
– For the full interview with Jay Bilas listen to Episode 139 on 110SportsPodcast.com.
110SportsPodcast.com features a weekly sports podcast and daily blogging. Episodes include interviews, entertainment, comedy, insight and analysis.