Washington State coach Kyle Smith and players Efe Abogidi and Tyrell Roberts made their way to the Bay Area to participate in yesterday’s Pac-12 men’s basketball media day, and they were greeted just a bit rudely: The media members who cover the league voted WSU 8th in their preseason poll.
At first blush, that seems low for a burgeoning program that looks like it’s on the cusp of an NCAA tournament appearance. But when you look at the actual results of the poll, it’s not as insulting as it might first seem:
Coming off a trip to the 2021 @FinalFour, @UCLAMBB is a near-unanimous favorite in the 2021-22 Pac-12 media poll!— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 13, 2021
» https://t.co/8PXhMfHZ8y#Pac12MBB pic.twitter.com/XveKIq8aJ7
The difference between 4th and 8th is quite small — if just a couple of people had voted differently, WSU could have been sitting at the top of that group.
It’s not hard to see why WSU would slot behind these programs in a lot of people’s minds: These media polls are often guided by what amounts to their level of faith in a program/coach. Arizona is usually good; Arizona should be slotted up there. Same with Colorado. Reporters also talk themselves into ASU’s recruiting under Hurley needing to pay off eventually. Oregon State just had a deep run in the tournament.
WSU, meanwhile, is a traditionally moribund program whose ascension has been built on shrewd recruiting, excellent coaching, and just plain hustle. Writers are always going to have a bit less faith in that than someone’s four stars.
“We’ll find out. That’s why we play the games. Don’t invest too much in that,” Smith said yesterday. “There’s good teams in this league. We’ve been 11th and 10th — we gotta do it. Hopefully eighth will be a little chip on our shoulder, but we gotta do it.”
The fact that WSU has finished 10th and 11th is noteworthy, I think — projecting a team to jump from two years of that to some place on the fringes of what usually results in an NCAA tournament spot is actually a pretty big vote of confidence, to be honest, even if you think 8th is too low.
“We have some things to build on, but it’s just gotta be consistent and keep building there,” Smith said. “We don’t really set big goals at the beginning of the season; we are process oriented. I know that everyone talks about our analytics but it really is day to day and you see the growth and at the end of the day the results usually happen so we’ll look forward to it.”
Smith made sure to add: “Winter is coming. That’s our theme — come on up to Pullman.”
A couple of Cougs made appearances on the all-Pac-12 teams, with guard Noah Williams making the 10-player first team and Abogidi earning “honorable mention,” meaning he received at least one vote for first or second team.
Cougs in the City#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/Gj0OinGOhv— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 13, 2021
Cougs behind the scenes at #Pac12MBB Media Day#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/gRQ0NJ9d1w— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 13, 2021
Hey @KlegerWalker and @WSUCougarWBB, what do you think of @ghost_roberts shot?#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/4lRco4P9aj— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 13, 2021
Cougs making the most of their time at #pac12mbb Media Day#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/TWHgZu3IjH— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 13, 2021
Nothing's easier than talking basketball on the @Pac12Network #GoCougs. pic.twitter.com/ApP2fc49dz— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 13, 2021
It's all about that confidence boost.@WSUCougarMBB's Efe Abogidi discusses training with the pros.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) October 13, 2021
https://t.co/7bHMYBa4SA#Pac12MBB | #BackThePac | #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/B0Nq5g9uCd
Cougs signing off on #Pac12MBB media day#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/cezeFt0D59— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) October 14, 2021
I have @WSUCougarMBB finishing higher than 8th in @pac12. Cougars Efe Abogidi and Tyrell Roberts agree with me: pic.twitter.com/d4Tv3rNNfx— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) October 13, 2021
Williams First Team, Abogidi Honorable Mention, Cougs Picked Eighth - Washington State University Athletics
SAN FRANCISO – Kicking off Pac-12 Media Day in the Bay Area the conference office released its 2021-22 Preseason Media Poll with the Cougs picked to finish eighth
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Washington State men's basketball head coach Kyle Smith and student-athletes Efe Abogidi and Tyrell Roberts speak to the media at 2021 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day on Wednesday, October 13th in San Francisco. Follow Pac-12 men's basketball with the Pac-12 Now app, available now in your app store for iOS, Android, and Apple TV.
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