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Monday, November 02, 2009

West Coast Conference Preview


Last season, the West Coast Conference was expected to be a two-team race for the title between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. However, Saint Mary’s star guard Patty Mills went down with a broken right wrist in the two teams’ first match-up and the league became Gonzaga’s to lose. The Bulldogs didn’t disappoint, running through the league undefeated, finishing 14-0 and four games clear of Saint Mary’s, which finished in second. Portland finished in third at 9-5, and no one else finished above .500. Although Mills returned for the league tournament, Gonzaga still won the automatic bid and made a run to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina. With the Bulldogs losing several key players, this could be the year to overtake Gonzaga.

1. Gonzaga: The Bulldogs lose four starters, but don't expect them to fall off too much behind the return of Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray.
2. Portland: Could the Pilots surpass Gonzaga? They have a chance because of the return of five starters, including Nik Raivio and T.J. Campbell.
3. Saint Mary's: The losses of Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson will knock the Gaels back a bit, but Omar Samhan is one of the top centers around.
4. San Diego: The return from injury of guard Brandon Johnson will help, but De'Jon Jackson and co. will have to step up to help him.

5. Santa Clara: Without John Bryant down low, the inside-outside combo of Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini will need to become stars.
6. San Francisco: Dior Lowhorn is one of the league's top players, and guard Kwame Vaughn is a double-figure scorer in the backcourt.
7. Pepperdine: The Waves return four starters from their nine-win season of a year ago, including guard Keion Bell and forward Mychel Thompson.
8. Loyola Marymount: The Lions were just 3-28 a season ago, but they have some young talent on the roster, namely Jarred DuBois and Vernon Teel.

Player of the Year: Matt Bouldin, G, Gonzaga

All-Conference Team:
G- Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga
G- Brandon Johnson, San Diego
G- Nik Raivio, Portland 
F- Dior Lowhorn, San Francisco
C- Omar Samhan, Saint Mary's

Second Team:
G- T.J. Campbell, Portland
G- Kevin Foster, Santa Clara
G- Steven Gray, Gonzaga 
G- Vernon Teel, Loyola Marymount 
G- Vernon DuBois, Loyola Marymount 


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