Coaches Tab Bulldogs WCC Men's Basketball Favorite

Oct. 22, 2009

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University has been selected as the favorite to capture an unprecedented 10th consecutive West Coast Conference men's basketball regular-season title in the 2009-10 WCC Preseason Coaches Poll released Thursday.

The Zags received six first place votes and tallied 48 points to narrowly edge the University of Portland, which received the remaining two first place votes and collected 44 overall points. Saint Mary's College was picked third with 34 points, followed by the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University, which tied for fourth with 26 points. Rounding out this year's poll is the University of San Diego in sixth place with 21 points, followed by Pepperdine University in seventh place with 13 points and Loyola Marymount University in eighth place with 12.

The Bulldogs senior guard Matt Bouldin and junior guard Steven Gray were also named to the All-WCC Pre-Season Team as selected by the coaches.

Gonzaga, which went 28-6 a year ago and finished the season ranked 10th in the final Associated Press Top 25, enters the season having won nine consecutive WCC regular-season titles, marking the longest active conference title winning streak in the nation. The Zags streak is also tied for the fourth longest streak in NCAA Division I history, knotting the Bulldogs with the University of Kentucky, which won nine straight Southeastern Conference crowns from 1944-52. If Gonzaga does indeed capture its 10th WCC regular season title, the Zags would tie Connecticut (1951-1960 - Yankee Conference) and UNLV (1983-92 - Big West Conference) for the second longest streak in NCAA Division I history. UCLA owns the longest streak with 13 consecutive Pacific-10 Conference titles (1967-79).

The Zags will have a different look this season as 11th-year head coach Mark Few welcomes in seven newcomers and 10 players who have never played a minute of collegiate basketball. The Zags will have a few familiar faces to lead them this season, headlined by Bouldin, a 2009 All-WCC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9 first-team selection. Bouldin, a 2010 John R. Wooden Award Pre-Season Top 50 Watch List member, is one of the most versatile players in the country, averaging 13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and handing out 3.4 apg.



Bouldin and Gray are joined by fellow returnees sophomore guard Demetri Goodson, redshirt sophomore center Robert Sacre and senior center Will Foster. Gray, who made 11 starts last season, averaged 9.1 ppg, to go along with 3.2 rpg, and 2.1 apg, while Goodson hit one of the most memorable shots of the 2009 NCAA Tournament to send Gonzaga to the Sweet Sixteen with his length-of-the-court drive and floater to defeat Western Kentucky University. The 7-0 Sacre returns after having played just five games last year because of a foot injury. Foster, at 7-5 the tallest Bulldog, gives Gonzaga size and depth up front.

The Pilots return their top 12 players from last year's team, which finished 19-13 overall, third place in the WCC standings and advanced to the Postseason Tournament (CIT), marking the first postseason appearance for the program since 1996. Four Pilots earned All-WCC awards last season, tying for the most in school history. Senior point guard T.J. Campbell shared WCC Newcomer of the Year honors with Santa Clara's Kevin Foster. Campbell was joined on the 10-player All-WCC First Team by senior guard Nik Raivio, while junior guard Jared Stohl and senior forward Robin Smeulders were honorable mention selections.

Saint Mary's, coming off a school-record 28 wins, will look toward returning starters Omar Samhan, Wayne Hunter and Mickey McConnell to lead the squad this season. Samhan, who is a fifth-year senior, enjoyed a standout junior season in which he averaged 14.1 ppg and 9.4 rpg, en route to All-WCC first team honors.

The Dons and the Broncos return two of the best players in the league. San Francisco will be led by senior forward Dior Lowhorn, who has paced the conference in scoring in each of the last two seasons, while Santa Clara returns sophomore guard Kevin Foster, who was named the WCC Co-Newcomer of the Year in his rookie season.

San Diego, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount round out this year's poll and each team landed a player on the preseason all-conference team. The Toreros welcome senior guard Brandon Johnson, who was granted a medical redshirt last season, while the Waves and the Lions bring back sophomore guards Keion Bell and Jarred Dubois to lead them in 2009-10.

2010 WCC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. GONZAGA (6)       48 pts.
2. Portland (2)      44
3. Saint Mary's      34
4. San Francisco     26
   Santa Clara       26
6. San Diego         21
7. Pepperdine        13
8. Loyola Marymount  12

2010 WCC Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference

Keion Bell, PEP
Matt Bouldin, GON
T.J. Campbell, POR
Jared DuBois, LMU
Kevin Foster, SCU
Steven Gray, GON
Brandon Johnson, USD
Dior Lowhorn, USF
Nik Raivio, POR
Omar Samhan, SMC  

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