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Saturday, October 29, 2011
Howland: Poll makes 'Bull's eye bigger'

By Peter Yoon

UCLA was picked by the media to win the Pac-12 title, but coach Ben Howland said that doesn't amount to a hill of beans when it comes to playing the games.

"One way or another they pick us low or they pick us high, it means nothing," Howland said. "That doesn’t help us win one game."

UCLA last won the conference title in 2008-09, the last of three consecutive regular-season championships for the Bruins and Howland said that getting picked first only makes things more difficult to do it again, especially at a school with as much history and tradition as UCLA.

"All it does is make the bull’s eye even bigger, Howland said. "You’ve already got the bull’s eye because you’ve got those four letters on your chest so we’ve got to go out and prove it."

Last year, the Bruins were picked third in the preseason media poll and used that as a sign of disrespect. They carried an edge all season, using an 'us against the world' rally cry to make a title run before finishing second, a game behind Arizona.

Getting picked to win the title, however, doesn't mean the Bruins will lose that edge.

"It’s still us against the world," point guard Lazeric Jones said. "We don’t have a home court. When we go on the road it’s us against the world. I know for sure that no one wants UCLA to win. I’m sure we have more people that don’t want us to win than people that do, so we still have that mentality."