ESPN analyst explains Pac-12’s problems

slider pac12_logosIf you take a look at the men’s basketball AP Top 25 this week you’ll notice something is missing.

There is not a single Pac-12 school to be found and only Stanford cracks the bottom of the “others receiving votes” category.

You see the imbalance when you look at how the other power conferences have fared through the first three months of the season. The Big East has five teams in the poll, as does the Big 10. The ACC isn’t far behind with three.

So what’s the problem out west?

“I think it has mostly to do with coaching changes,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas told Brad Cesmat on “Big Guy on Sports” Wednesday. “A good part of the league has newer coaches and that’s not a way to have continuity.”

The conference and their perennial powers have also seen roster overhauls with many of their top-flight players skipping school early to enter the NBA draft.

“Some of them have left when they have no business leaving,” Bilas explained. “Especially the guys at UCLA. They have Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee leave last year…every kid should do what they think is best, but I don’t think those were sound decisions by either player. The league has lost a lot of players, but it’s definitely down in talent across the board.”

The struggles have hit close to home as Herb Sendek and Arizona State have stumbled out of the blocks to 6-11 start (2-3 in conference). Sendek has seen his team experience issues on the court with turnovers and close losses and off it with the suspensions and the dismissal of co-leading scorer Keala King.

Bilas still believes Sendek is the right person to lead the Sun Devils.

“I think he’s one of the truly outstanding coaches in college basketball. They’ve taken a big step back this year. There’s no sugarcoating that. That team’s not going to go to the tournament. But when Herb left [North Carolina] State…they went five or six years where they couldn’t win their way out of a paper bag.”

ASU will look to build on Saturday’s 76-66 win over Oregon State when they travel to Boulder to take on Colorado Thursday night, but they’ll do it without the services of starting point guard Trent Lockett who out after spraining his ankle against the Beavers.