WEST COAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. GONZAGA. The Bulldogs lose both Adam Morrison
and J.P. Batista
from a team that went to the Sweet Sixteen last year and almost to the Elite Eight before falling apart against UCLA. Nevertheless they are still putting an excellent team on the floor and Gonzaga will once again spend the majority of the season in the top 25 and be a player come March. Gonzaga had a lot of good players that werent really allowed to blossom because they relied so much on Morrison last year. There is definitely potential that some of them will step up. Derek Ravio is a terrific outside shooter and he should get more looks this season. David Pendergraft was a contributor off the bench last year who will play a bigger role this year. David Burgess and Abdullahi Kuso
join the squad. Burgess is a BYU transfer and Kuso is an outstanding JUCO transfer, so they should also contribute. If Jeremy Pargo
can stay healthy, he should be an asset to the backcourt as well. All and all when you look at Gonzagas roster, you see that they are still a very good team. Chances are they wont be a top five caliber team like they have been the previous two seasons, but they are definitely still a major player in college basketball and will once again dominate this conference.
-2. SAINT MARYS. The Gaels finished second in the league last year, but were still an astounding six games behind Gonzaga. They appear to have a strong team again this year, but will have to find a way to replace their best all around player in forward Daniel Kickert
. Forward Brett Collins averaged in double figures last year and his return to the starting lineup should give them a boost. They also have a pretty stable backcourt and a lot of balance. They dont appear to be all that deep, but they have a very strong front court and should continue to be a force in the league.
-3. LMU. The Lions won just twelve games last year, but tied for second place in the conference standings with eight league wins and advanced to the conference championship game where they nearly upset Gonzaga to advance to the NCAA Tournament, but missed an open lay-up at the buzzer. Three starters are back, including Forward Mathew Knight who averaged 16ppg and 10rpg last season. Guard Brandon Worthy is also back who averaged 15ppg and distributed the ball very well a season ago. They arent likely to finish ahead of the Zags in the conference standings, but they are certainly capable of beating them in the conference tournament if they were to face them.
-4. SAN DIEGO. The Toreros lost two of their top players, including their leading scorer in Nick Lewis as well as their best defender in Corey Belser
. Three starters are back though. Guard Ross DeRogatis and forward Gyno Pomare both averaged in double figures last year. Brandon Johnson came off the bench as a freshman last year and averaged 9.3ppg. Hell likely be a big contributor this year. This team is lacking size and strength in its frontcourt though and that will effect their success.
-5. SANTA CLARA. The Broncos have been one of the more bi-polar teams these past two years. Theyll play great against great teams, and then lose to teams that are among the worst in the league and leave you scratching your head. They were 11-16 last year and went through a stretch where they lost ten out of eleven. They followed that up with four straight wins before losing in the conference tournament to Saint Marys in a close overtime game. Four starters are back this year for the Broncos. Unfortunately one of them isnt Travis Niesen who was their best all around player last year. Guard Brody Angley is a good scorer and assist man and he will have to step up as a leader this year. More than anything, this team just needs to reach its potential more often than it does.
-6. SAN FRANCISCO. The Dons have shown some signs of brilliance over the past two years, but really havent put anything solid together to solidify themselves as a legitimate NCAA contender. They do have some talent this year. Guard Armondo Surratt and forward Alan Wiggins both averaged over 14ppg last year and are a dangerous insde-outside combo. Still, they are a little weak on talent outside of those two and someone will have to step up if theyre going to be competitive this year.
-7. PEPPERDINE. The Wave were a very young team last year who played a fast paced style of game. The problem was that they were awful at shooting the ball. Four starters return to the squad and with that experience there should be some improvement, but they lost their final eight games last year. Guard Michael Gerrity, who averaged 14ppg and distributed the ball well last season, appears to be their top player. However, the Wave are lacking in their defensive play and theyll need to improve upon that if they want to be a force in the league.
-8. PORTLAND. The Pilots had an experienced and talented team last year and along with that came high expectations. The results were not anywhere near what the expectations were and because of that they now have a new head coach. Darren Cooper is a very good guard who averaged 15ppg last year, but he is really the only playmaker the Pilots have. A lack of talent and experience will likely result in a long season.
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
3. Santa Clara
4. San Francisco
7. Saint Marys
8. San Diego
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.