Coaches Tab Bulldogs Men's Basketball Favorite

Oct. 12, 2005

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University was picked as the favorite to capture its sixth consecutive regular-season West Coast Conference men's basketball crown according to a vote of the league's coaches announced today.

The Zags tallied 62 points and received six first place votes. Gonzaga is followed in the poll by 2005 NCAA Tournament participant Saint Mary's College (45), which received one first-place vote, the University of Portland (43), which also received a first-place vote, and Loyola Marymount University (40). Rounding out this year's pre-season poll is Santa Clara University (36), the University of San Francisco (28), the University of San Diego (20) and Pepperdine University (14).

The Zags, listed as a pre-season Top 10 team by numerous publications, return four starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's squad that posted a 26-5 overall record and a 12-2 conference mark en route to their fifth consecutive WCC regular-season title. Junior Adam Morrison, a John R. Wooden Award Pre-season Top 50 candidate, headlines the list of returnees which includes junior point guard Derek Raivio, a 2005 All-WCC first-team member, 2005 WCC Newcomer of the Year J.P. Batista and last season's Defensive Player of the Year Erroll Knight.

Last season, Saint Mary's posted a 25-9 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection after losing to Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament title game. Saint Mary's will rely on senior All-WCC first-team forward Daniel Kickert to lead a group of eight returning letterwinners in 2006.

Portland returns four starters and its top five scorers from last season's squad that posted a 15-15 overall mark. The Pilots' .500 record and their 15 wins mark UP's best season totals since 1996. Portland is led by its veteran backcourt of seniors Pooh Jeter and Darren Cooper. The tandem, which averaged 26.6 ppg, 5.6 apg, and 2.8 spg, is the highest returning scoring backcourt duo in the WCC.

Loyola Marymount will have a new face on the sidelines this season as former University of Arizona assistant Rodney Tention takes over the reigns of the Lions. Santa Clara was one of only four teams in the country to knock off defending national champion University of North Carolina last season. The Broncos return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season's squad.

San Francisco, led by second-year head coach Jessie Evans, advanced to the post-season for the first time since the 1998 season, accepting a bid to last season's NIT. San Diego returns three starters and five letterwinners from last season's squad that tied for third in the conference. Rounding out this year's poll is Pepperdine, which returns two starters and nine letterwinners from last season's 17-14 squad. The coaches also picked three Bulldogs among the top five returning players - Morrison, Raivio and Batista. Rounding out the top five were Jeter of Portland and Kickert of SMC.

The WCC season culminates with the WCC Tournament coming to Spokane for the first time. The men's tournament will run March 3-6, while the women's tourney will be held March 2-5.

2006 WCC Men's Basketball
Pre-season Coaches Poll
(First-Place Vote in Parentheses)

1. Gonzaga (6)       62 Pts.
2. Saint Mary's (1)     45
3. Portland (1)         43
4. Loyola Marymount     40
5. Santa Clara          36
6. San Francisco        28
7. San Diego            20
8. Pepperdine           14
2006 WCC Preseason Top Returnees
(as voted by the league coaches)
J.P. Batista, Gonzaga
Pooh Jeter, Portland
Daniel Kickert, Saint Mary's
Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
Derek Raivio, Gonzaga



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