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PAC-10 NOTES

Rules put Olson in bad mood

March 09, 2007|From Times Staff Reports

Add another item to the list of Lute Olson's gripes with the Pacific 10 Conference.

Already a vociferous critic of the conference tournament, the Arizona coach on Thursday said it was "embarrassing" that the all-conference team included only nine players when there were several others deserving of inclusion.

Conference rules dictate that a player must be included on 50% of the coaches' ballots to attain All-Pac-10 status, league spokesman Dave Hirsch said, and only nine players met that criteria.

Olson said Oregon's Maarty Leunen, Arizona's Ivan Radenovic and USC's Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt were additionally worthy.

"I think it's embarrassing to our league that we have the best conference probably in the country, the best this league has probably been, and we can't find 10 guys that deserve to be all-conference," said Olson, who repeatedly paused and at one point appeared to be on the verge of tears. "To me, that's a really, really embarrassing situation.

"I think you owe it to the 10 kids that lay it out there every day to be honored, and I've expressed that and I know they're going to be very upset with me that I've expressed this. I don't care. They've been very unfair to one kid who could have been honored.

"If someone is wrong like that, they need to know and everyone needs to know they're wrong. Now I'll wait for my call and I'll probably be suspended for the first game of the Pac-10 season next year. That's fine. If they name the player and I'm suspended, that's fine."

Hirsch would not comment on possible disciplinary action involving Olson but said coaches could recommend a change in voting procedures to the Pac-10 counsel, which includes university presidents, athletic directors and faculty representatives. The Pac-10 counsel could adopt the changes as soon as this summer, Hirsch said.

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Twice UCLA has come into the Pac-10 tournament as defending champion and both times the Bruins lost their opening game. Sophomore forward Josh Shipp, who missed last year's tournament while he recovered from a hip injury, said it was a sad moment to leave the court at Staples Center and realize UCLA was now off for at least a week.

"I really don't believe it," Shipp said of UCLA's 76-69 overtime loss to Cal. "I had high expectations after how we did last year. I honestly didn't think this would happen."

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Bruins backup center Alfred Aboya, who sat out last Saturday's loss to Washington because of a bruised left knee, played 21 minutes against California.

Early in the first half Aboya limped to the bench and when Coach Ben Howland asked, "Are you OK?" Aboya shook his head no. "But it wasn't anything," Aboya said after scoring six points and having six rebounds before fouling out. "Just tweaked something but not my knee."

Afflalo also fouled out, the first time the junior had done so since March 10, 2005.

*

Once in the first half, Howland took his point guard, Darren Collison, out of the game. "Who's playing the four spot for them?" Howland asked. "I don't know," Collison said. "You don't know?" Howland said, more loudly. "I don't know," Collison answered again. Howland's face turned red.

*

A deal that will keep the Pacific Life Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center for the next five years will be announced today, officials said.

San Jose, Seattle, Portland and Phoenix were among the cities that expressed interest in holding the Pac-10 tournament after the Staples contract expires this year, but Pac-10 Properties, the Fox Sports subsidiary that owns the tournament, negotiated an extension with Staples Center.

Some coaches, Olson and Oregon's Ernie Kent among them, said the event should be rotated to other sites, but Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said administrators are happy with it in Los Angeles.

"It's the No. 2 media market in the nation and No. 1 market in our conference," he said. "Fox Sports telecasts all the games but the championship. Their headquarters is here, and the Pac-10 Properties staff is here. And the arena, I think, is marvelous. I don't think there could be a better arena."

Times staff writers Ben Bolch, Diane Pucin and Robyn Norwood contributed to this report.

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