Men's Basketball Favored To Repeat In WCC

Oct. 3, 2001

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Three-time defending West Coast Conference Tournament champion Gonzaga University was voted as the favorite to win the WCC men's basketball title in the 2001-02 WCC pre-season coaches poll released Tuesday.

The Bulldogs, the defending regular-season champion, were a unanimous pick for the top slot receiving first place votes from each of the other seven head coaches. The University of San Francisco finished second in the voting while Santa Clara University edged Pepperdine University for the third place. Coaches did not rank their respective teams.

Gonzaga will be led by All-America candidate Dan Dickau who averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 assists in conference play last season. Dickau was on the USA Men's Basketball World University's Games team. Mark Few, last year's WCC COach of the Year, enters his third year and looks to take the Zags to a fourth straight straight Sweet 16. Last year's WCC Freshman of the Year Blake Stepp returns to the backcourt, while Zack Gourde returns in the post to give Gonzaga three returning starters from last year's 26-7 squad.

USF is coming off a disappointing season plagued by injuries, but head coach Phil Mathews enters this season with the cupboard full. Returning in the frontcourt is the league's top returning scorer and rebounder, 6-7 junior Darrell Tucker, who managed to grab 6.8 rpg and pour in 16.5 ppg per game last year. In the middle for the Dons is 7-0 center senior Hondre Brewer who shattered the WCC season blocks record as a junior with 114 swats.

SCU returns one of the league's top returning scorers in Steve Ross and one of the conference's top freshman performers in sophomore Kyle Bailey.

Former NBA All-Star and coach Paul Westphal takes the reins at Pepperdine this season, minus NBA first-rounder and the league's leading scorer Brandon Armstrong. Senior guard Craig Lewis may be just the guy to help pick up the scoring slack for the Waves.

The University of San Diego was picked to finish fifth in the poll followed by Loyola Marymount University, the University of Portland and Saint Mary's College, respectively.

2001-02 WCC Men's Basketball
Pre-season Coaches Poll (First Place Vote in Parenthesis)

Team                Pts.
1. Gonzaga (7)        49
2. San Francisco (1)  37
3. Santa Clara        34
4. Pepperdine         33
5. San Diego          31
6. Loyola Marymount   20
7. Portland           15
8. Saint Mary's        9



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