Team of the Week
|Guard, Alec Wintering||Junior, Portland Pilots|
|Guard, Kyle Collinsworth||Senior, BYU Cougars|
|Guard, Jared Brownridge||Junior, Santa Clara Broncos|
|Guard, Tim Derksen||Senior, San Francisco Dons|
|Forward, Stacy Davis||Senior, Pepperdine Waves|
Alec Wintering: Portland's dynamic junior point guard got up to his usual scoring ways last week with 18 and 27 points against the Gaels and Tigers. In the second game though the 5-foot-11 guard grabbed 7 rebounds.
Kyle Collinsworth: Almost single-handedly kept the Cougars from utter embarrassment at San Diego on Thursday with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Jared Brownridge: Averaged 26 points a game last week because he scored 26 points in both games last week.
Tim Derksen: With the end of his collegiate career in sight the senior has really stepped up his efficiency lately. That was on display in the Dons' OT loss to the Lions Saturday when he posted an offensive rating of 136 in a 27 point, 11 rebound and five assist performance.
Stacy Davis: Another solid week for Davis, who averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds. Run of the mill for the Senior. Oh yeah and he became Pepperdine's all-time leading scorer too.
1. Saint Mary's Gaels (22-4, 13-3)
Last week: W 74-72 at Portland, W 63-58 at Gonzaga
This week: 2/25 vs. Santa Clara, 2/27 at San Francisco
How do you respond to a near upset loss at Portland on Thursday? If you're Saint Mary's you go to Spokane and complete a season sweep of Gonzaga for the first time in over 20 years. Now back atop the WCC standings Saint Mary's is on track to earn the top seed in the conference tournament with the tie breaker over Gonzaga.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (21-7, 13-3)
Last week: W 90-68 vs. Pacific, L 63-58 vs. Saint Mary's
This week: 2/25 at San Diego, 2/27 at BYU
It's officially do or die time for Gonzaga, the team that held onto at-large hope longer than any other from the WCC this season. That hope took a real hit Saturday with an absolutely dismal performance at home, where the Zags have now lost a record four times this season, against Saint Mary's. Oh, also it put Saint Mary's in the driver's seat for regular season title along with forcing Gonzaga into a situation in which they more than likely need to win the WCC Tournament to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
3. BYU Cougars (21-8, 12-4)
Last week: W 69-67 at San Diego, W 91-33 vs. San Diego
This week: 2/25 vs. Portland, 2/27 vs. Gonzaga
BYU and San Diego played twice last week with each hosting one game due to an odd scheduling quirk. About all that did was scare the living daylight out of BYU fans who saw their team lose to last place San Diego — they really should have been more worried that BYU allowed that offense to score 67 points — then reassure everyone when the Cougars kicked the living daylight out of the Toreros two days later in Provo. BYU has shown an inability to play well against lesser opponents this season. Speaking of which, there's one coming to town two days before the season finale against Gonzaga. Let's hope the Cougars don't look past Portland because Portland's already defeated the Cougars once this season.
4. Pepperdine Waves (17-11, 10-7)
Last week: L 82-72 vs. San Francisco, W 88-76 vs. Santa Clara
This week: 2/27 at Loyola Marymount
In the preseason Pepperdine was picked to finish third in the standings, behind BYU and ahead of Saint Mary's. Right now, with one game left on their schedule, they've yet to lock up a fourth place finish. Regardless of where they finish Waves fans can't be too disappointed, as their team is already locked into the four vs. five seed game in the WCC Tournament. If they win, and things hold up top, they'll face a Saint Mary's team that Pepperdine swept this season.
5. San Francisco Dons (15-12, 8-8)
Last week: W 82-72 at Pepperdine, L 100-87 OT at Loyola Marymount
This week: 2/25 at Pacific, 2/27 vs. Saint Mary's
San Francisco is the first of a few teams who just haven't managed to show any sort of consistency this season. The Dons went into Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday and beat a very good Pepperdine team by ten. Then on Saturday down the road in Westchester they let a Lions squad without Adom Jacko put up 100 points. Their defense is suspect at best and absent at worst (normally). That said, an improbable pair of wins this week would put them into a tie with Pepperdine for fourth place.
6. Portland Pilots (12-17, 6-10)
Last week: L 74-72 vs. Saint Mary's, W 80-67 vs. Pacific
This week: 2/25 at BYU, 2/27 at San Diego
A two point loss to the first place team in the league can't send a team stumbling down these rankings (especially when the middle of the pack is full of equally uninspiring teams). What it shows, though, is that the Pilots have an offense that can hang with the best. They'll need that Thursday at BYU where the Cougars play run-and-gun as well as anybody.
7. Santa Clara Broncos (10-18, 6-10)
Last week: W 76-72 at Loyola Marymount, L 88-76 at Pepperdine
This week: 2/25 at Saint Mary's, 2/27 vs. Pacific
Jared Brownridge (20.2 points per game) has come out of his slump at just the right time. After failing to hit 20 points in a game all month he went for 26 in both games last week. Even better, he wasn't deferring to his teammates during the first half before turning it on down the stretch. If Brownridge steps up from the opening tip over this final week and then in Vegas, Kerry Keating's Broncos could have a shot at some magic in a wide open West Coast Conference tournament.
8. Loyola Marymount Lions (12-16, 5-12)
Last week: L 76-72 vs. Santa Clara, W 100-87 OT vs. San Francisco
This week: 2/27 vs. Pepperdine
The Lions aren't limping along without Adom Jacko. They're a respectable 1-2 over three games without their best player who is out with a back injury. That's great for the team going forward. Unfortunately that forward is likely next year. With no timetable on Jacko's return and facing a tough test from Pepperdine this week, then heading into Vegas as likely the eight seed in a nine team tournament (Pacific is ineligible) things aren't looking to bright right now.
9. Pacific Tigers (7-19, 5-11)
Last week: L 90-68 at Gonzaga, L 80-67 at Portland
This week: 2/25 vs. San Francisco, 2/27 at Santa Clara
Four straight losses for the Tigers. It looks like this season marred by controversy and a coaching change will end in a serious skid. Senior guard Alec Kobre is doing his best to stop that, though. He's been playing out of his mind lately and has risen to 13th in the nation in offensive rating per KenPom (129.5).
10. San Diego Toreros (8-19, 3-13)
Last week: L 69-67 vs. BYU, W 91-33 at BYU
This week: 2/25 vs. Gonzaga, 2/27 vs. Portland
Dead last in the WCC in offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage and three point percentage. This team flat out can not play basketball on one end of the floor. Defensively they're average, but that average is drooping in conference play. Those two things add up to unattractive, ineffective basketball.
That's exactly what I wrote about San Diego last week and there's no reason to change it. Yeah, they fell by just two to BYU at home on Thursday, but then went out and had totaled 14 points with 14 minutes remaining in the next game. In all honesty the bright spot for the Toreros is that their season is nearly over. With that, first year head coach Lamont Smith can overhaul the roster and begin the rebuilding process in earnest. How did Bill Grier run San Diego this far into the ground?