Men's Hoops WCC Preseason Favorite
Oct. 11, 2004
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University is the favorite to capture its fifth consecutive regular-season West Coast Conference men's basketball crown in 2005 in a vote of the conference coaches.
The Bulldogs tallied 60 points, receiving five first-place votes to edge Saint Mary's College as the Gaels collected the other three first-place votes and 56 points.
Last season, Gonzaga became the first team since Pepperdine University in 1992 to go undefeated in WCC play and became the first team in Bulldog history to post a 14-0 WCC record. Gonzaga enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history, reaching as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top poll and finishing the season third in the final AP rankings. Gonzaga went 28-3 overall and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in making its sixth straight NCAA appearance.
The return of All-WCC forwards, senior Ronny Turiaf (All-WCC first team) and sophomore Adam Morrison (All-WCC freshmen team), should help ease the departures of two-time WCC Player of the Year Blake Stepp and three-time All-WCC first team performer Cory Violette.
The Gaels return all five starters from last season's squad that posted a 19-12 overall record and tied for second in the WCC with a 9-5 mark. Headlining the list of returnees for the Gaels is a pair of All-WCC first-team members in senior guard Paul Marigney and junior forward Daniel Kickert (14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Marigney, who led the conference in scoring (20.1 ppg in WCC play), will team with 2004 WCC all-tournament selection E.J. Rowland (13.3 ppg, 4.5 assists/game) to give the Gaels one of the best backcourts in the league.
Pepperdine was picked third in this year's poll with 51 points. The Waves return four starters from last year's team that tied the Gaels for second place in the conference with a 9-5 record. Senior All-WCC first team forwards Glenn McGowan (17.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Yakhouba Diawara (18.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) return to give the Waves a solid frontcourt tandem.
Santa Clara University was selected fourth with 36 points, followed by the University of San Francisco (28), University of San Diego (20), Loyola Marymount University (19) and the University of Portland (18), respectively.
The Broncos will be led by the all-Alaskan senior backcourt of Kyle Bailey (12.4 ppg, 3.7 assists/game) and Doron Perkins (14.1 ppg, 1.9 steals/game in WCC action). First-year head coach Jesse Evans looks to lead USF to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. USD will rely on senior forward/center Brice Vounang (19.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg in WCC play) and senior forward Brandon Gay (16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg in WCC play). Vounang was the 2004 WCC Newcomer of the Year.
LMU, led by senior guard Charles Brown, returns a wealth of talent in the backcourt, while the Pilots return All-WCC first team junior guard Pooh Jeter (16.6 ppg, 3.2 assists/game) and junior wing Donald Wilson (12.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
WCC Men's Basketball
1. Gonzaga (5) 60 2. Saint Mary's (3) 56 3. Pepperdine 51 4. Santa Clara 36 5. San Francisco 28 6. San Diego 20 7. Loyola Marymount 19 8. Portland 18
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