Team of the Week
|Guard: Kyle Collinsworth||Senior, BYU Cougars|
|Guard: Eric McClellan||Senior, Gonzaga Bulldogs|
|Guard/Forward: Lamond Murray Jr.||Junior, Pepperdine Waves|
|Forward: Adom Jacko||Junior, Loyola Marymount Lions|
|Forward: Domantas Sabonis||Sophomore, Gonzaga Bulldogs|
Kyle Collinsworth: He added to his NCAA record with a tenth career triple-double Thursday at LMU with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. That was his fourth this season, which is tied for second most in a season in NCAA history. He also holds the single-season record, set last year, which is six. He trails himself.
Eric McClellan: With little room for error and no clear leader it seems the senior transfer from Vanderbilt is stepping up to the plate for the Zags. McClellan posted a GU-career-high 23 points in the loss to Saint Mary's, a game he took over from the get-go, and then 19 to rally the Zags past Pacific. Just what the doctor ordered.
Lamond Murray Jr.: I think in an ideal world, Marty Wilson would like to see every single one of the Waves score the exact same number of points. So, in such a balanced offense we really should be even more impressed with the numbers Murray is putting up. The junior went for 21 points and eight rebounds against San Diego, then 20 and seven against BYU.
Adom Jacko: Let's just get the stats out of the way because while Jacko had another big week on paper he is on here mostly because watching him dunk the ball all over San Diego was very entertaining: 26 and 12 against BYU, 23 and five against San Diego.
Domantas Sabonis: At this point it's not a stretch to say that Sabonis, rather than Kyle Wiltjer, is Gonzaga's best player. The sophomore had 17 points and 18 rebounds against Saint Mary's on Thursday. Saturday at Pacific he went for 12 and 20. His rebounding ability alone will get him on an NBA floor next season, should he choose to enter the draft.
1. Saint Mary's Gaels (17-2, 8-1)
Last week: W 70-67 vs. Gonzaga, W 89-74 vs. Portland
This week: 1/30 at Pacific
No doubt about it the Gaels are the best team in the WCC right now and seem only to be getting better. Gonzaga tested the Gaels mettle Thursday, stifling the potent offense early and building a 15 point second half lead. Saint Mary's came back, then almost blew it, but held on in the end. It's the Gaels first truly great win of the season (sorry Stanford and BYU) on a résumé that features no bad losses (at Cal, at Pepperdine). Then Saturday the Gaels avoided a let down against Portland by connecting on 11 straight shots to open the second half. Best team in the conference, best offense in the country.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (15-5, 7-2)
Last week: L 70-67 at Saint Mary's, W 71-61 at Pacific
This week: 1/28 vs. Santa Clara, 1/30 vs. San Francisco
Gonzaga blew yet another second half lead Thursday in Moraga, then looked utterly uninterested in beating the Tigers for much of the game on Saturday. This team has by far the most talent in the conference but at this point it's clear Mark Few and company aren't able to put it all together. Fifth year senior Kyle Dranginis got his first start since December 8th on Saturday in Stockton. Since Przemek Karnowski's season came to an end after just five games, Dranginis is the only upperclassman in the rotation who has been with the program from the start of his career. There's nobody on this team who can provide the veteran leadership needed down the stretch of conference play, where any more losses could sink the Zags chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga hasn't missed the Big Dance since 1998.
3. Pepperdine Waves (13-7, 6-3)
Last week: W 76-58 vs. San Diego, W 71-65 vs. BYU
This week: 1/28 at San Diego, 1/30 at BYU
A statement win over BYU, the Waves' third straight over the Cougars, pushed Pepperdine ahead of BYU in both the WCC standings and here in the power rankings. An odd bit of scheduling by the conference now sends Pepperdine into a rematch of last week as the Waves head to San Diego and then to BYU this week. Pepperdine came into the season with high expectations (they were picked to finish third by the WCC coaches) and the Waves promptly disappointed by dropping four of their first six games. The loss at UCLA being the only respectable loss of the bunch. Since then they've won 11 of their past 14 games with recent wins over Saint Mary's and BYU. These are power rankings, and the Waves are showing just how strong they can be.
4. BYU Cougars (11-7, 4-3)
Last week: W 91-80 at Loyola Marymount, L 71-65 at Pepperdine
This week: 1/28 vs. Loyola Marymount, 1/30 vs. Pepperdine
The Cougars entered the WCC five years ago riding the high of Jimmermania. With a win over Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament the Cougar faithful figured they would run through this league with its high school sized gyms unchallenged. While the Cougars have indeed been Gonzaga's challenger for the past two seasons, they continually trip over those little schools with their little gyms. Saturday's loss at Pepperdine marks the 13th time the Cougars have fallen to a WCC foe other than Saint Mary's or Gonzaga since entering the league. The Gaels have lost to only eight teams other than BYU and Gonzaga in that span while the Zags have only lost three times. BYU clearly has the talent, coaching and resources to compete for titles year in and year out. Once again, however, the Cougars are tripping over their own feet in games they can't afford to lose.
5. Loyola Marymount Lions (10-10, 3-6)
Last week: L 91-80 vs. BYU, W 67-63 vs. San Diego
This week: 1/28 at BYU, 1/30 at San Diego
The Lions didn't get the win over BYU on Thursday, but they went out on a 20-0 run during the first half and led 50-40 at intermission. Their defense is terrible, but the Lions offense has put it together over the past four games (during which they are 3-1). Adom Jacko is a monster and probably the best dunker in the conference.
6. Pacific Tigers (6-13, 4-5)
Last week: W 70-61 vs. Portland, L 71-61 vs. Gonzaga
This week: 1/30 vs. Saint Mary's
Having nothing to play for can make a team dangerous. Until Sunday Southern Methodist was the lone remaining unbeaten in college hoops. The Mustangs have a postseason ban hanging over their heads, the regular season is all they have. Pacific self-imposed a postseason ban back in December, so all they can hope for is to pick off some of the WCC's marquee teams. Nobody's overlooking SMU, but Pacific is exactly the kind of team that gets overlooked, making them all the more dangerous. They very nearly mucked up Saturday's game against Gonzaga enough to take down the Zags in Stockton. They'll get a shot to do the same to league-leading Saint Mary's this weekend.
7. San Francisco Dons (10-9, 4-5)
Last week: W 74-61 at Santa Clara
This week: 1/28 at Portland, 1/30 at Gonzaga
Uche Ofoegbu has really blossomed since becoming a starter just before the start of conference play. He brings balance to this Dons team that was overly-reliant on Devin Watson and Tim Derksen to start the season. After a streak of three bad games, in which the Dons went 0-3, Ofoegbu returned to form Thursday against Santa Clara scoring 21 points. Watson added 22, Derksen had 19 and the Dons picked up a win. If they all show up to play the Dons have a puncher's chance against anybody in the WCC.
8. Santa Clara Broncos (7-14, 3-6)
Last week: L 74-61 vs. San Francisco
This week: 1/28 at Gonzaga, 1/30 at Portland
After opening the season with seven straight losses the Broncos' offense made dramatic steps forward. That progress came to a halt at home against San Francisco team that is typically terrible on the defensive end. At 91.7 the Broncos posted their second worst offensive efficiency rating since that losing streak ended. Fluke or not it led to a bad loss on their home court.
9. Portland Pilots (9-13, 3-6)
Last week: L 70-61 at Pacific, L 89-74 at Saint Mary's
This week: 1/28 vs. San Francisco, 1/20 vs. Santa Clara
Aside from that surprising home win over BYU two weeks ago the Pilots have been in a complete free fall since the second week of conference play. There is little to no consistency to this team, and they seem to take what is given by the opponent rather than dictate the terms of the game themselves. Against Pacific the Pilots scored 0.92 points per possession, then with the Gaels not needing to worry much defensively the Pilots put up 1.14 points per possession.
10. San Diego Toreros (6-13, 1-7)
Last week: L 76-58 at Pepperdine, L 67-63 at Loyola Marymount.
This week: 1/28 vs. Pepperdine, 1/30 vs. BYU
Against Division I teams the Toreros average 28.7% shooting from behind the arc, bottom-ten nationally in that category. On Saturday at Loyola Marymount the Toreros managed to go 7-14 from deep but still couldn't pull out a win.