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WCC Power Rankings and Week in Review

Half way through the conference season things are starting to settle into place. Gonzaga has made clear this is still its league. Saint Mary's is comfortably in second place. The lower-tier teams are now regularly playing like them. Only BYU, the least consistent team around, has yet to settle into anything.

Gary Bell's return has Gonzaga at full strength for the first time in 2014.
Gary Bell's return has Gonzaga at full strength for the first time in 2014.
William Mancebo

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs, 18-3 (8-1)
Previously: 1st

Bill Grier was an assistant coach at Gonzaga from 1991 thru 2007. Now the head coach at San Diego, he knows how to play the Zags. So it shouldn't be too shocking that the team sitting seventh in these power rankings played a full 40 minute game in Spokane before losing by just three points.

The Zags bounced back from their close call by trouncing the Cougars of BYU. Gary Bell Jr., in his second game back from a broken hand, played 23 minutes. His presence helped Gonzaga hold the Cougars to just 2-11 shooting from deep. On the other end, Gonzaga hit 10-22 three point attempts.

Last Week: W 59-56 vs. San Diego, W 84-69 vs. BYU.
This Week: 1/29 at Santa Clara, 2/1 at San Francisco.

2. Saint Mary's Gaels, 16-5 (6-2)
Previously: 3rd

Brad Waldow had an impressive week with 21 points against Pepperdine and 27 against LMU. His high scoring games are indicative of Randy Bennett's presence on the sideline. During his suspension at the start of league play the Gaels averaged 66.5 points per game (that does not include their game against non-D1 William Jessup). Since his return they are averaging 84 points per game.

Last Week: W 80-74 vs. Pepperdine, W 89-61 vs. LMU.
This Week: 1/30 at San Diego, 2/1 at BYU.

3. BYU Cougars, 13-9 (5-4)
Previously: 2nd

It was a disastrous week for the Cougars. Thursday's trip to Portland went into triple overtime. With 110 points, that game marked the fourth time this season BYU has scored in triple digits. Unfortunately, it was also the fourth time the Cougars have given up more than 100 points in a game. Of those four, three have been losses.

That long game seemed to drain the Cougars of their energy. Saturday's follow up at Gonzaga was far from the exciting offensive display that was expected. Having lost both games last week, BYU is now on its second two game losing streak since the start of conference play.

Last Week: L 114-110 at Portland, L 84-69 at Gonzaga.
This Week: 1/30 vs. Pacific, 2/1 vs. Saint Mary's.

4. San Francisco Dons, 13-8 (6-3)
Previously: 5th

San Francisco has played every team in the WCC. In doing so, Rex Walters' group has made a very strong case for a fourth place ranking. The Dons' losses: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and BYU. The Dons' wins: every team ranked below them.

Last week they played just one game, against their travel partner, Santa Clara. By closing out the first half strong, the Dons basically put the game away after just 20 minutes. They allowed the Broncos to make a little run mid-way through the second but kept them at arms length the whole time.

Last Week: W 75-66 vs. Santa Clara.
This Week: 1/30 vs. Portland, 2/1 vs. Gonzaga.

5. Portland Pilots, 12-9 (4-5)
Previously: 6th

Portland, like BYU, suffered due to their triple overtime thriller on Thursday. While the Pilots fared better, since they won, they were worn out as a result. To get past the high-scoring Cougars, Portland needed to put up 114 points. Of those, 27 came from Thomas van der Mars.

The junior big man had just two points in 18 minutes on Saturday. The rest of the Pilots fell flat as well. Portland stalled at 59 points from the 6:12 to 0:30 mark of the second half against San Diego. This is a team that has a history of playing to the level of its competition. So, take that into consideration when looking at last weekend's results. However, also note that their game on Thursday ended just after 10 pm and they had to play a Saturday matinee at 1 pm.

Last Week: W 114-110 vs. BYU, L 65-63 vs. San Diego.
This Week: 1/30 at San Francisco, 2/1 at Santa Clara.

6. Pepperdine Waves, 12-10 (5-5)
Previously: 4th

The Waves slow decent continued this week thanks to an uncharacteristically bad shooting performance. Pepperdine had been one of the best shooting teams in the WCC. That, coupled with a hot start, victory over BYU and a first-place-on-the-line game against Gonzaga pushed them into second place in these rankings. Now, the Waves have lost five of seven.

Last Week: L 80-74 at Saint Mary's, L 76-66 at Pacific.
This Week: 2/1 vs. LMU.

7. San Diego Toreros, 12-10 (3-6)
Previously: 10th

The Toreros need to find a lucky charm. Their last five games have been determined by four points or less. Three of those were losses. After an 0-3 start to conference play, in which the Toereos looked thoroughly over-matched, they've pulled things together of late. Take a look at this past week. San Diego hung with Gonzaga until the end. On Saturday they went into Portland's Chiles Center, site of Gonzaga and BYU losses this season, and pulled out a come from behind victory.

Key to the turnaround is junior shooting guard Johnny Dee. He was hampered by a stomach illness earlier in conference play but has returned to form (26 points at Gonzaga, 21 at Portland).

Last Week: L 59-56 at Gonzaga, W 65-63 at Portland.
This Week:1/30 vs. Saint Mary's, 2/1 vs. Pacific.

8. Pacific Tigers, 11-8 (2-6)
Previously: 9th

After an 0-4 start to league play the Tigers have gone 2-2 over the past three weeks. Ron Verlin and his group seem to have adjusted to the style of play in their new conference. However, both victories have come at home. And, they just lost on Thursday to a gutted LMU squad that had lost six straight. A four game road trip gets underway on Thursday and six of their final ten games are away from home. The Tigers' impressive non-conference record looks like it will be overshadowed by their conference play collapse.

Last Week: L 92-81 vs. LMU, W 76-66 vs. Pepperdine.
This Week:1/30 at BYU, 2/1 at San Diego.

9. Loyola Marymount Lions, 11-11 (3-7)
Previously: 10th

Sophomore forward Ben Dickinson has missed the past three games. The Binghamton transfer made an immediate impact with his new team during non-conference play. His minutes dwindled once conference play rolled around. Now, he's out indefinitely for personal reasons. The Lions have the absolute worst luck of any team in the nation when it comes to injuries. Four impact players are out indefinately or for the season with injuries. Now, without Dickinson, the team has to rely on walk-ons to play reserve minutes.

Last Week: W 92-81 at Pacific, L 89-61 at Saint Mary's.
This Week: 2/1 at Pepperdine.

10. Santa Clara Broncos, 10-12 (3-6)
Previously: 8th

The Broncos played just one game last week, at travel partner San Francisco, and it pushed their losing streak to four games. This may be the beginning of the end for Santa Clara. Or rather, the beginning of the end of this season and the beginning of the future.

Starting senior point guard Evan Roquemore was held out of the game against BYU two weeks ago due to failure to uphold academic requirements and a breach of team rules. Against San Francisco he came off the bench. The past two weeks have given the young guys on this freshman laden team a chance to play together in real game situations. Of those freshmen, most impressive has been Jared Brownridge. He dropped 30 on BYU and 30 on San Francisco. The clear frontrunner for WCC Newcomer of the Year is surrounded by a cast of very good young players who make Santa Clara the scariest team looking forward.

Last Week: L 75-66 at San Francisco.
This Week: 1/29 vs. Gonzaga, 2/1 vs. Portland.