Gonzaga University, which saw its run of 11 straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles snapped a year ago, has been selected as the favorite to win the WCC regular-season title in a preseason poll of the WCC’s nine head coaches.
The Bulldogs received seven first place votes and 63 of 64 possible points in the poll. The poll and all-conference team were announced Monday at Time Warner Cable Sports studios as part of the Second Annual West Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tip-Off event, streamed live on YouTube.
Gonzaga, ranked 21st in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 and 22nd in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches poll, received seven-of-eight possible first place votes (coaches could not vote for their team) from the WCC coaches, after posting a 26-7 record last season against one of the nation's toughest schedules en route to their 14th straight NCAA appearance.
Senior forward Elias Harris, redshirt-junior center Sam Dower, and sophomore guards Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos lead this year's Bulldogs – and all four were selected to the 2012-13 Preseason All-WCC Team. Harris is the WCC’s leading returning rebounder, averaging 8.5 rpg a season ago, while Dower shot 55 percent from the field and 91 percent from the free throw line during conference play. Bell connected on better than 55 percent of his 3-point attempts against WCC foes, and Pangos averaged nearly 14 points and more than three assists per game.
Harris and Pangos were All-WCC selections a year ago, Pangos was tabbed the Newcomer of the Year and Bell and Pangos were named to the WCC All-Freshman team.
The Bulldogs, who downed Northwest Nazarene University 93-45 in their lone exhibition game of the season last Saturday, open the regular season Nov. 9 against Southern Utah University.
Brigham Young University received one first place vote and was picked to finish second in the WCC preseason poll with 55 points. The Cougars led the conference in scoring last year, averaging 77.9 points per game in their first season as a member of the WCC. Senior forward Brandon Davies, an All-WCC First Team selection last year, was named to this year's preseason team after averaging over 15 points per contest in 2011-12.
Last season’s regular season and WCC Tournament champion Saint Mary’s College captured one first place vote and was selected to finish third in the preseason poll, collecting 52 points. With a 14-2 WCC record, the Gaels captured their first outright conference title since 1989. Last year’s WCC Player of the Year and 2012 Olympian Matthew Dellavedova returns to the preseason All-WCC team, and is joined by junior guard Stephen Holt. Last year’s WCC tournament MVP Dellavedova averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. Holt added three assists per game as well, while shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Just two points separate the fourth through sixth spots in the WCC preseason coaches’ poll. Loyola Marymount University (37 points) was picked to finish fourth this season. The Lions are led by preseason All-WCC selection Anthony Ireland, the conference’s leading returning scorer (16.1 points per game). The University of San Diego was selected fifth (36 points). Sophomore guard Johnny Dee – a preseason All-WCC pick – led all conference freshmen in scoring (13.7 points) and three-pointers (79 made) last season. Santa Clara University (35 points) is sixth in this year’s preseason survey. The Broncos will count on preseason all-conference selection Kevin Foster to shoulder much of the offensive load. The senior guard averaged 17.8 points per game in league action last season, after leading the nation in 3-point field goals in 2011.
The University of San Francisco (19 points), the University of Portland (15) and Pepperdine University (12) round out the preseason poll. The 2012-13 season tips off on Friday, Nov. 9, for six of the nine WCC teams. Conference play gets underway on Jan. 2, and the 2013 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships will return to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from March 6-11.
The complete preseason poll and all-conference team follows.
(First Place Vote In Parentheses)
Player, School, Yr., Pos.
Brandon Davies, BYU, Sr., F
Johnny Dee, San Diego, So., G
Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s, Sr., G
Kevin Foster, Santa Clara, Sr., G
Stephen Holt, Saint Mary’s, Jr., G
Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount, Jr., G
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, So., G
Elias Harris, Gonzaga, Sr., F
Sam Dower, Gonzaga, RS-Jr., C
Gary Bell, Jr., Gonzaga, So., G
2013 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL