It's Gonzaga, again.
There wasn't much suspense surround the unveiling of the West Coast Conference's preseason coaches poll and all-conference team. Gonzaga's loaded, BYU is close and then there are eight other teams. Today served to show that the WCC coaches are pretty much in agreement with the various media outlets which have already released their preseason teams and rankings.
|1.||Gonzaga Bulldogs||81 (9)|
|2.||BYU Cougars||73 (1)|
|4.||Saint Mary's Gaels||58|
|6.||Santa Clara Broncos||37|
|7.||San Francisco Dons||32|
|9.||San Diego Toreros||17|
This is the fourth consecutive season Gonzaga and BYU have been picked to finish first and second, respectively, by the WCC coaches. It's the first time Saint Mary's has not been picked to finish in the top three since BYU joined the conference in 2011, and the second consecutive year the Gaels have not managed a single first place vote.
Pepperdine is clearly the favorite to finish third, having already unseated Saint Mary's in most polls today's included, but the gap between the Waves and Gaels is far smaller than I would have guessed it would be. A mere four points separate the two teams despite Pepperdine returning all five starters from last season's fourth place squad and Saint Mary's returning no starters from last year's team that finished tied for second.
The two teams clearly stuck in the bottom of the standings, San Diego and LMU, are both in the early stages of massive rebuilding projects. There is clearly little faith they can turn things around this year.
Above them San Francisco and Pacific are deadlocked at 32 points but heading in completely opposite directions.
The Tigers, entering year three in the WCC, are acclimated to their new conference and rising up the rankings accordingly. Rex Walters and the Dons, after a top-three finish and trip to the NIT in 2014, can't hold onto talented players and continue to fall down the standings.
In the middle the coaches seem to believe that Santa Clara and Portland are a step or two behind Saint Mary's. Why? I don't know. About all the Gaels have this year is Randy Bennett running the show and a raucous home court.
Onto the preseason all-conference team, the wealth of talent of the teams at the top is clearly visible as Gonzaga and BYU account for 50 percent of the squad.
|Jared Brownridge||Santa Clara||Jr.||Guard|
|Tim Derksen||San Francisco||Sr.||Guard|
Brownridge, Collinsworth, Davis, Karnowski and Wiltjer were all named to last season's all-WCC first team. Sabonis and Wintering jump from the 2015 all-WCC second team while T.J. Wallace rises up from being an all-WCC honorable mention last season. Chase Fischer and Tim Derksen missed out on all-conference honors last season but are expected to have breakout years as seniors.
There are only two differences between the squad the WCC's coaches picked and our Mid-Major Madness preseason all-WCC team, see for yourself.