UCLA has plenty of changes coming this basketball season. The Bruins are playing their games off campus, starting several new players and adding a pair of two new conference foes in Colorado and Utah this season. But the pressure of playing for a program that strives for nothing short of championship excellence remains the same.
The Bruins were picked to win the Pac-12 in the conference media poll that was revealed as part of the Pac-12 Media Day on Friday at the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles.
"Our team always has high expectations," Coach Ben Howland said at the event. "It's the expectations we put on ourselves that matter most. It's always nice to be picked high, but that doesn't guarantee anything. It's where you finish."
UCLA, with 14 first-place votes and 421 overall, was named the favorite, ahead of California and Arizona, who were the other teams earning first-place votes.
The media have selected the Bruins seven previous times and were correct five times, including the Bruins' last two conference titles in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Howland and senior guard Lazeric Jones talked to the media about a variety of things, including recruiting, Derrick Rose, the additions of Colorado and Utah and the Wear twins, who are both expected to play serious minutes after sitting out last season after transferring to North Carolina. Here are some highlights:
Howland on the Wear twins:
"They're very similar, actually. It's interesting. Dave - they're the same size. They work out. Everything they do together. It's unbelievable. These guys take every class together. They share the same bedroom. I mean everything's together. They're really close. But what I'm most impressed about them in their work ethic."
Howland on Colorado joining the Pac-12:
"Yeah, they're 5,000 feet above sea level. That affects you. They've got a great home-court situation because of that."
Howland, whose phone began ringing mid-answer, on texting and tweeting more after the NCAA changed its recruiting rules:
"I don't mind texting. That's fine. I think it's good for us. Having to keep track of every phone call you make and write it down is very, very difficult. You see, I'm trying to tweet right now. I apologize. That was my trainer trying to update me on the MRI (to Anthony Stover). I won't take it now, but I'll let you know right after."
Jones on his relationship with Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who attended the same high school:
"I mean, we're just really good friends. We don't talk too much about basketball. It's more like back in high school and things like that."
Jones on playing in the Sports Arena and so close to rival USC:
"It was different. But it was alright. The fact that we're right by SC is kind of weird. I was talking to somebody earlier about us getting booed on our home games, but it will be a different experience."