clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

West Coast Conference wrap: Ten games, ten thoughts

Couldn't catch all ten games that played out close to simultaneously on opening night? We've got you covered with a thought on each.

Corbin Kaufusi and the rest of the BYU frontcourt started the season strong.
Corbin Kaufusi and the rest of the BYU frontcourt started the season strong.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Loyola Marymount Lions 79 vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans 74
BYU Cougars 85 vs. Utah Valley Wolverines 54
San Francisco Dons 78 at UIC Flames 75
Portland Pilots 98 vs. Oregon Tech Hustlin' Owls 81
Saint Mary's Gaels 80 vs. San Francisco State Gators 56
No. 9 Gonzaga Bulldogs
vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (Cancelled)
Pepperdine Waves 66 at Fresno State Bulldogs 69
Santa Clara Broncos 63 vs. Lipscomb Bisons 65
San Diego Toreros 45 at USC Trojans 83
Pacific Tigers 61 at No. 12 Arizona Wildcats 79

1. Slow and sloppy in Okinawa

Gonzaga and Pittsburgh met in Okinawa, Japan for one of those early season games where the basketball isn't played where basketball should be played. This wasn't an airline carrier, it was an actual gym on a military base, but it still wasn't up to snuff for high-level college hoops.

After the first 20 minutes saw players slipping on a moisture-coated court the refs were forced to call the game due to unsafe playing conditions.

Zag fans shouldn't just be disappointed in the truncated season opener, or the less than ideal playing conditions. They should be disappointed in the team's performance as a whole. Sure there is an asterisk next to this performance, but it wasn't a good one regardless. Gonzaga has the best frontcourt in the country (Kyle Wiltjer led all scorers with 15 points). But right now they don't have the chemistry to utilize that talent.

2. BYU got bigger

The Cougars' best attribute is Dave Rose's commitment to a fast, high-scoring and entertaining offensive philosophy. That hasn't changed this season, as their 86 possessions against Utah Valley averaged a mere 14 seconds in length.

However things may have changed on the defensive end, though it's too early to tell. Small sample size against a team that was awful on offense last season, and all that. But in a postgame interview junior transfer Kyle Davis said, "We learned that we can play defense." We'll see if he's right over the coming games. If he is, considering BYU was 5th in the WCC in defensive efficiency last season, that'll be huge.

Speaking of Davis and huge... Davis and BYU's stable of bigs —something they did not have last season— came through, big time. The Cougars pulled down a Marriott Center record 69 rebounds on Friday. In his first game as a Cougar, the Utah State transfer, Davis, recorded 20 of those. He added 17 points to boot.

3. Giving away the game

Pepperdine is supposed to be the third best team in the WCC this season because the Waves return everybody who matters from last year's surprisingly good team. Turns out they also returned their bad tendencies.

Yes, this was at Fresno State. Yes, Fresno State is an upstart team much like the Waves of 2014-15. Still, this was a game Pepperdine needed to win if the Waves are serious about making the NCAA Tournament. Just like last year, the Waves couldn't get it done against a team they should've put away.

They had the game in the palm of their hands, too. With 4:26 to play Pepperdine held an eight point lead. For the defensive minded Waves it should've been simple: value possession and play your game on the other end. They did neither, and racked up six turnovers in the final four minutes.

Stacy Davis, the best player on the floor, accounted for two of those, while other key players Lamond Murray, Jeremy Major and Amadi Udenyi each added one of their own.

4. Homecourt heartbreak

Santa Clara trailed Lipscomb for most of this game. Then, in the middle of the second half the Broncos went on a furious 18-2 run to pull out to an 11 point lead with just under seven minutes to play.

They couldn't hold the lead. They only have one Jared Brownridge, after all.

So they game went to overtime. Brownridge scored four of the Broncos' six points in the first overtime, but the teams were still deadlocked. In the second overtime Brownridge scored seven of Santa Clara's nine points. He finished with 28 points, but missed 19 shots.

All they can do now is get over it. They have no choice, they play three games in as many days to open the season.

5. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi

Emmett Naar set a career high tonight with 29 points. Sure, his Gaels weren't playing a D1 program. But, it only took the sophomore from the land down under only 15 minutes to break his old career best of 14. Or, if you like, three minutes to match it. Between the 9:30 and 6:31 marks of the first half he hit four threes and a lay-up.

Randy Bennett lost all five starters from last season. Yet here he is, undefeated, with another Australian baller.

6. Welcome

Five transfers, all playing their first game for the Lions, accounted for 57 points in LMU's 79-74 victory over Cal State Fullerton. Adom Jacko led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Second year head coach Mike Dunlap has mined enough wealth from the JUCO to make this year less painful than it should be, considering how much work he has to do to bring the Lions back to relevance.

7. Key players on the road

San Francisco went to a university formerly named after an interstate interchange and left victorious. Tim Derksen is the focal point for the Dons this season, and he poured in 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Getting 15 points from sophomore point guard Devin Watson was nice, but his six assists and just two turnovers are even nicer. Especially after last year's spotty run of quality at the point.

8. Gone but not forgotten

Mark Tollefsen would've been the best player for the Dons this season, and an all-WCC selection in some form or another. But he bolted for the bright lights of Tucson, instead. Fear not, fans of the lanky forward, he'll still get some shots at former WCC foes. In his first game for the Wildcats he put up 10 points and five rebounds as Arizona rolled past Pacific 79-61. He gets one last shot at both the Broncos and Zags in a couple of weeks.

9. Defense?

According to KenPom, the Pilots were the fourth worst defense in the WCC last season. They opened their season by letting Oregon Tech, an NAIA team, put up 81 points. The WCC has been a very strong offensive league over recent seasons, and this year should be no different. If an NAIA team can top 80, how can you stop a D1 squad?

The Pilots won by 17, so it wasn't all bad.

10. This is how it's going to be

Hopefully first year head coach Lamont Smith knew this year would be rough in San Diego. He was handed a fledgling program fresh off losing the best backcourt it had ever seen —and did absolutely nothing with. A 6-31 performance from long range tonight, in a 45-83 loss at Southern Cal, showed just how hard it's going to be to find scoring this season for the Toreros. This is how a long year starts.