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Originally published October 23, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Page modified October 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

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UW men’s basketball picked sixth in Pac-12 preseason poll

Quite predictably, Washington is saddled with modest expectations at the start of the 2014-15 men’s basketball season while the forecast is dim at Washington State and Arizona is the near unanimous pick to repeat as regular-season champions.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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SAN FRANCISCO – Once again Washington is saddled with modest expectations at the start of the 2014-15 men’s basketball season while Arizona is the near-unanimous pick to repeat as regular-season champions.

The Huskies were picked sixth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, which is two spots higher than last year when they finished 17-15 overall and 8-8 in the Pac-12, which tied for eighth. Washington failed to reach the postseasosn for the first time since 2007.

“Based on what the public knows about our program, I’m surprised we were picked that high,” coach Lorenzo Romar said Thursday at Pac-12 media day. “From the outside looking in, you have C.J. Wilcox gone. And people may not know what else we have. I don’t have a problem with that.

“But I do think that we have more to our program. We have more personnel to where we’ll play this season and see what happens.”

Washington returns guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews, who could comprise the best backcourt in the Pac-12. However, the Huskies will need to find answers everywhere else.

They’ll likely rely on fourth-year junior Jernard Jarreau, a 6-foot-10 forward who missed most of last season after a knee injury in the opener. And it remains to be seen if redshirt sophomore 6-11 center Robert Upshaw, who sat out last season after transferring from Fresno State, will win the other starting job on the front line.

A quartet of wings (senior Mike Anderson, sophomore Darin Johnson, junior Quevyn Winters and freshman Donavan Dorsey) are battling for the fifth spot in the lineup.

“This year roles will be defined quicker because we have more players that make plays,” said Romar, who anticipates an 8-9 man rotation will formulate after the Nov. 6 exhibition against Saint Martin’s. “I think guys will separate themselves earlier this year than in more recent years.”

Since the start of fall practice three weeks ago, Romar has stressed the importance of improving a defense that was 10th in the Pac-12 in points allowed (74.7 points per game) and last in opponent field goal-percentage (.475).

“If we’re going to be successful at all, if we’re going to win big games, advance to the NCAA tournament, it will be because we played good on the defensive end,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to make sure our team understands.”

Media day provided Romar and Williams-Goss a chance to hobnob with Pac-12 coaches and the best players in the conference while promoting a once-proud program that’s missed the NCAA tournament the past three seasons.

“I had no idea what this day would be like, but it’s been a great experience,” said Williams-Goss, who underwent a gauntlet of interviews at the Pac-12 Networks studios, including a swanky rooftop lunch overlooking San Francisco Bay and AT&T Park. “There’s a lot of talk because that’s what this event is. But once we get on the floor, everything will sort itself out.”

Pac-12 media poll
Arizona, which is ranked No. 2 in the coaches’ poll, is expected to vie for the national title. A look at the Pac-12 preseason media poll:
TeamPts
1. Arizona383 (31)
2. Utah317
3. Colorado 316
4. UCLA 290 (1)
5. Stanford 264
6. Washington189
7. California 188
8. Oregon 159
9. Arizona State 155
10. USC 106
11. Washington St.84
12. Oregon State 45
(First-place votes in parentheses)

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



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