Gonzaga Men Picked To Win 12th Straight WCC Crown

            SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The West Coast Conference coaches have picked Gonzaga University to win a 12th straight regular-season men's basketball title in the preseason poll released Thursday at the WCC Tip-Off event at YouTube headquarters.

            The Bulldogs received seven of the nine first-place votes and 63-of-64 possible points in the poll. Coaches could not vote for their team.

            Senior center Robert Sacre and junior forward Elias Harris were also named to the Preseason All-WCC team as voted  by the coaches, the Bulldogs one of three teams to have multiple selections on the squad. Coaches could also not vote for their players.

            Gonzaga, ranked 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 coaches poll, has won or shared the last 11 WCC regular-season championships, and 11 of the last 13 WCC Tournament championships. The Bulldogs are seeking a 14th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga advanced to the Third Round of last season's NCAA Tournament.

            Sacre averaged 12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game a season ago, while Harris posted similar numbers at 12.4 points and six rebounds per contest.

            Head coach Mark Few will get his first real look at the Bulldogs Friday when Carroll College visits the McCarthey Athletic Center. Tipoff is 6 p.m. and the game will be televised locally on either KHQ-TV or KAYU-TV depending on the status of the World Series and a Game 7.

            Saint Mary's College received one first place vote and was picked to finish second in the WCC preseason poll with 56 points.  The Gaels captured a share of the WCC crown last year, and feature a pair of Preseason All-WCC selections.  Senior forward Rob Jones is the WCC's leading returning rebounder, averaging 8.9 boards per game.  Junior guard Matthew Dellavedova, an All-WCC First Team selection last year, was named to this year's Preseason Team after averaging over five assists per contest in 2010-11. 

            WCC newcomer Brigham Young University captured one first place vote, and was selected to finish third in the preseason poll, collecting 52 points.  The Cougars advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last year as members of the Mountain West Conference.  This year, in their new home, junior forward Brandon Davies is a Preseason All-WCC selection.  Davies finished fifth in the MWC last year in rebounding with over six boards per game, while averaging 11.1 points. 

            Last year the University of San Francisco had its best WCC season since 1982, and the Dons have been selected to finish fourth in this year's WCC preseason poll with 42 points.  San Francisco returns all five starters from last season, including senior guard Rashad Green and junior guard Michael Williams - who were each selected to the Preseason All-WCC Team.  Green averaged 12.6 points per game last year, and 19 points per game in the postseason.  Williams drained 74 three-pointers last season, the second-most in program history.

            Santa Clara University finished strong down the stretch last season, winning eight of its final nine games en route to capturing the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament title.  This year's Broncos are picked fifth in the WCC with 35 points.  The Santa Clara attack is led by junior guard Kevin Foster, a Preseason All-WCC selection.  Foster was the CIT most valuable player last year, and led the nation in three-point field goals per game (3.7).  Foster was the WCC's leading scorer, averaging 20.2 points per night. 

            Led by Preseason All-WCC selection Drew Viney, Loyola Marymount University has been selected sixth in the preseason coaches' poll with 27 points.  Viney, a redshirt senior forward, battled through injuries to average over 17 points per game last season.  He has twice been named All-WCC.  The University of Portland (25 points), Pepperdine University (13), and the University of San Diego (11) rounded out the preseason poll.  Portland senior guard Nemanja Mitrovic is a Preseason All-WCC selection.  The sharp-shooter averaged 13.5 points per game and ranked sixth nationally in three-point field goal percentage a season ago.

            The 2011-12 season tips off on Friday, Nov. 11, for six of the nine WCC teams.  For the first time, conference play will begin prior to January, with a Portland at Gonzaga match-up slated for Wednesday, Dec. 28.  The 2012 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball Championships will return to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from Feb. 29-March 5.




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