Men's Basketball Favored To Win 11th Straight WCC Title
Oct. 26, 2010
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University men's basketball team is once again the favorite to win the 2011 West Coast Conference regular-season champion, the Bulldogs seeking an 11th straight title.
The Bulldogs received six of the eight first-place votes from WCC coaches and a total of 48 points to out-distance Loyola Marymount University with 42 points and Saint Mary's College with 39, those two schools each garnering one first-place vote. Coaches could not vote for their team.
"One of our goals every year is to win the conference title," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "People don't understand how difficult this conference is, which makes it all that more meaningful when you do win it."
The Bulldogs were also one of four teams to have two selections to the 10-player WCC men's basketball preseason All-WCC team.
Gonzaga, which is ranked 12th in the ESPN/USA Today preseason poll (The Associated Press preseason rankings are due out Thursday), went 12-2 in conference play and 27-7 overall last year en route to a second round appearance at the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Steven Gray, a first-team All-WCC pick a year ago, and sophomore forward Elias Harris, the 2010 WCC Newcomer of the Year as well as being an All-WCC first-team selection, were both named to the preseason All-WCC team after being selected to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List earlier this month. Gray and Harris each started all 34 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, with Harris averaging 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds and Gray 13.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds.
LMU, which reached the College Insider.com Tournament last year for its first postseason appearance in 20 years, was picked to finish second after returning 13 players from last year's 18-win team. Two key returners from that team - senior Vernon Teel and redshirt junior Drew Viney - were named to the preseason All-WCC team. Teel was a first-team All-WCC selection a year ago after averaging 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Viney was also a first team pick after putting up 16.7 points and 7.0 boards in his first season at LMU after transferring from Oregon.
Saint Mary's, which was picked third, is coming off its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in school history and the 2010 Zappos.com WCC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship. Senior guard Mickey McConnell solidified a spot on the preseason All-WCC team after earning first-team All-WCC and Zappos.com WCC Championship MVP honors in 2010. McConnell is joined on the preseason team by sophomore Matthew Dellavedova. The 6-foot-4 Australian averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 assists per game and played in a conference-leading 36.4 minutes per contest.
Santa Clara was picked to finish fourth in the WCC on the strength of preseason all-conference selections Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini. Foster averaged 14.7 points to earn WCC Co-Newcomer of the Year honors in 2009, but missed the majority of last season with a foot injury. Trasolini returns for his junior season after leading the Broncos in points, rebounds and blocked shots last season.
Portland was picked to finish fifth by the coaches, followed by San Francisco, Pepperdine and San Diego. Senior Jared Stohl represents the Pilots on the preseason All-WCC squad after leading the nation in 3-point percentage last season at .478. Pepperdine junior Keion Bell also earned preseason all-conference honors after finishing second in the WCC in scoring last season at 18.5 points per game.
All eight West Coast Conference teams start non-conference action Nov. 12 with seven of the eight teams playing on their home floor. Conference plays starts on Jan. 6.
Gonzaga will face Southern Oregon University Nov. 5 in an exhibition game at 6 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center, and open regular-season play Nov. 12 against Southern University.
The conference campaign will conclude at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the third consecutive season with the Zappos.com WCC Basketball Championships on March 4-7.
2011 WCC Men's Basketball
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