Team of the Week
|Guard: Joe Rahon||Junior: Saint Mary's Gaels|
|Guard: Chase Fischer||Senior: BYU Cougars|
|Guard: Alec Wintering
||Junior: Portland Pilots
|Forward: Nate Kratch||Junior: Santa Clara Broncos|
|Forward: Kyle Wiltjer||Senior: Gonzaga Bulldogs|
Joe Rahon: Saint Mary's plays with two point guards (Emmett Naar being the other) and both have already made appearances on the team of the week. Rahon's second appearance comes on the heels of an eight assist performance against UC Davis and a nine assist outing against UC Irvine. Averaging 7.7 assists per game Rahon ranks sixth in the nation. His facilitating has the Gaels shooting better than any team in college basketball with a 65.5% effective FG%.
Chase Fischer: The sharpshooter's slump is over. Fischer scored 26 points against Utah and 21 against Weber State. That's an average of 23.5 points per game for the week.
Alec Wintering: 21 points and six assists against Portland State. 26 and eight against Boise State. He is the engine that powers the Pilots. Need more proof? At 5-foot-11, almost always the shortest player on the court, Wintering averaged five rebounds per game this past week. He hustles.
Nate Kratch: Santa Clara's leading scorer in their one game this week was Kratch, not Jared Brownridge. The junior forward racked up 29 points on 13-15 shooting. Also, 12 rebounds. Kerry Keating has to be happy that someone other than Brownridge is able to produce like this.
Kyle Wiltjer: In ten minutes against Washington State Wiltjer racked up 20 points (though he only added two more in the final thirty minutes). In the loss to Arizona Wiltjer played 39 minutes and scored 33 points.
The Zags can't close out games. The Guard play has been atrocious. On offense, 11.3% of possessions end with a steal, that's the 328th worst mark in the nation. If the season ended today point guard Josh Perkins' offensive rating of 88.7 would be the third worst among non-benchwarming Zags since Ken Pomeroy began tracking the stat in 2002.
2. Saint Mary's Gaels (6-0)
Last week: W 81-67 vs. UC Davis, W 70-60 vs. UC Irvine
This week: 12/12 at California
Randy Bennett's dual point guard attack is working to perfection as the Gaels lead the nation in effective field goal percentage. They have a win over Stanford at home, but according to KenPom Sunday's win over UC Irvine is their best of the year. A win in their lone road game of the non-conference season next weekend at Cal could well push this young, inexperienced squad above Gonzaga in the power rankings. One of just 13 undefeated teams in the nation as of press time, they're more than just an exceptional offense.
3. BYU Cougars (5-2)
Last week: L 83-75 at Utah, W 73-68 vs. Weber State
This week: 12/9 vs. Utah State, 12/12 at Colorado
The Cougars went .500 last week against two in state rivals. Nick Emery was ejected from the game against Utah, and subsequently suspended for the game against Weber State, for punching Brandon Taylor in the gut. The loss of Emery helped overshadow a disturbing trend from the Cougars two losses this season. Those games were decided by a combined nine points. BYU missed 20 free throws in those two games. Only ten teams in the country have a worse FT% than the Cougars (59.5%).
4. Pepperdine Waves (4-4)
Last week: W 70-55 at Cal State Northridge
This week: 12/9 vs. Long Beach State, 12/12 at Ball State
The Waves are on a two game winning streak, which shouldn't be news considering the talent on this squad. Encouraging signs from the past two games can be found nearly everywhere. Shooting is improving, turnovers are down and the Waves are controlling tempo. Lamond Murray's emergence continues, as the junior is leading the team in scoring (15 ppg) rather than Stacy Davis (14.0 ppg).
5. Santa Clara Broncos (2-7)
Last week: W 78-75 vs. San Jose State
This week: 12/12 vs. Pacific Union
Here is an indictment of the quality of the bottom half of the conference: the 2-7 Broncos rank fifth despite that record, which includes wins over an abysmal San Jose State squad and maybe the worst power five conference team in Boston College. That said, Kerry Keating's squad is showing signs of improvement. Namely, that Jared Brownridge (17 ppg) can score four points and Santa Clara can win a game. When Brownridge dropped 44 points on Thanksgiving the Broncos took Arizona, the same Arizona team that just won in Spokane, to overtime. If Brownridge and his supporting cast can play well simultaneously this team will be good.
6. Loyola Marymount Lions (5-3)
Last week: L 79-70 at Oregon State, W 77-76 vs. UC Riverside
Here's another indictment of the state of the WCC: LMU is one of four teams with a winning record but the Lions rank dead last among WCC teams in KenPom. Adom Jacko (14.8 ppg) had another great week, and very nearly made his second appearance on the team of the week. None of the metrics are pretty, but somehow things are working in Westchester.
7. Portland Pilots (4-5)
Last week: W 78-72 at Portland State, L 81-71 vs. Boise State
This week: 12/8 vs. Idaho State, 12/12 vs. Sacramento State
Alec Wintering is still performing at an all-WCC level, Bryce Pressley is still a legitimate second scoring option. But, beyond those two there hasn't been much else. Then the Pilots hung with a solid Boise State squad thanks in large part to 11 points from Jazz Johnson off the bench. Someone needs to step up if Eric Reveno's team is going to stay afloat, Johnson might be the answer.
8. San Diego Toreros (3-5)
Last week: W 71-56 vs. Bethesda, W 53-48 vs. San Diego State
This week: 12/9 vs. Denver
Three game winning streak over a bad Drexel team, a non-Division 1 Bethesda squad and then a real upset over San Diego State outdoors, in Petco Park. Don't let that fool you, though, this is still a team that almost can't play offense. Only against a historically inept offense like the Aztecs can you win a game while shooting 33.3% from the field. No player on the roster has an offensive rating of 100 or better.
9. San Francisco Dons (4-4)
Last week: L 81-77 vs. Eastern Washington, L 82-50 at Montana
This week: 12/7 vs. Cal State Northridge
Tim Derksen and Devin Watson were playing like a great guard combo to push San Francisco out to a surprising 4-2 record. Their play hasn't changed — Derksen and Watson were the two leading scorers in both games last week — but nobody else has stepped up to help much.
10. Pacific Tigers (1-6)
Last week: L 70-67 vs. UC Irvine
This week: 12/12 at Fresno State
This is a team that, on paper, shouldn't be anywhere near the bottom of the conference. Computers love them (relative to how I feel, at least). The Tigers haven't been out of a game since their opener on the road at Arizona. They're just not getting it done and continue to trudge along as the only WCC team without a win over Division I competition. Two road trips remain before WCC play (Fresno State and Green Bay), and a win in either would be quite shocking.