Team of the Week
Guard: Alec Wintering — Portland Pilots
Amazingly, this is the all-WCC senior’s first appearance on the team of the week. Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to him putting up big numbers game-in, game-out. But you can’t deny a spot to the six-footer after a week in which he averaged 24.5 points, 7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Guard: KJ Feagin — Santa Clara Broncos
In just his third game of the season, the sophomore went for 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists against San Francisco. Feagin is five-of-11 from long range on the year.
Forward: Trevor Manuel — LMU Lions
A string of highlight reel plays from the sophomore Oregon transfer kept LMU in the game against Saint Mary’s. He averaged 17.0 points per game last week.
Center: Jock Landale (third appearance) — Saint Mary’s Gaels
A ruthlessly efficient season continues for the Australian junior. Last week he took 17 shots, made 11 of them and totaled 32 points to go along with 20 rebounds.
Center: Przemek Karnowski (second appearance) — Gonzaga Bulldogs
The senior went for 16 points and seven rebounds against Pepperdine, then 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists against Pacific. The best passing big man in the nation, Karnowski could well post a triple-double this season.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-0, 2-0)
Last week: W 92-62 vs. Pepperdine, W 81-61 at Pacific
This week: 1/5 at San Francisco, 1/7 at Portland
One of just three undefeated teams remaining (Villanova and Baylor) and a top-five team in the polls for the first time since February 2015, Gonzaga is legit. Saturday saw the Zags play their first true road game of the season at Pacific. After a rocky start Gonzaga picked up its 14th win of the season by 20 points. Mark Few’s team is rolling into 2017 and conference play as the clear-cut favorite to win the WCC, and perhaps every game this side of March.
2. Saint Mary’s Gaels (12-1, 2-0)
Last week: W 72-60 at Loyola Marymount, W 72-60 vs. San Diego
This week: 1/5 vs. BYU, 1/7 at San Francisco
On Thursday in Los Angeles the Gaels won by 12, but it wasn’t comfortable. Loyola Marymount pushed Saint Mary’s and forced the 349th slowest team in the country, per KenPom, to play 71 possessions. That’s not an insane number for most teams, but the Gaels hadn’t played that many possessions in a game all season. Up next is a home date with the blistering BYU Cougars. If the Gaels can’t control the tempo they could be in trouble, both Thursday and in the race for the WCC title.
3. BYU Cougars (11-4, 2-0)
Last week: W 89-59 vs. Santa Clara, W 81-76 at Loyola Marymount
This week: 1/5 at Saint Mary’s, 1/7 vs. Pacific
In two games since the start of WCC play, the Cougars have connected on 18-of-35 three point attempts (51.4). After an inexplicably poor start to the season — in their first nine games of the season BYU hit just 51-of-176 threes (29%) — they’re now shooting 35.1 percent from distance. The Cougars are an offensively-minded team that is finally starting to look like a team capable of playing good offense.
4. Portland Pilots (9-5, 2-0)
Last week: W 80-76 at Pacific, W 73-60 vs. Pepperdine
This week: 1/5 at Santa Clara, 1/7 vs. Gonzaga
Two weeks ago Portland was third in these rankings, then fell to seventh last week after back-to-back losses. Now, after opening conference play with two straight wins the Pilots are back in third. It’s been a roller-coaster season for Portland. A trip to Santa Clara followed by a visit from Gonzaga could spell a disappointing week for this up-and-down team. But, if you want to finish top-half in the WCC you have to take care of business against lowly Pacific and Pepperdine, which Portland did.
5. Loyola Marymount Lions (7-6, 0-2)
Last week: L 72-60 vs. Saint Mary’s, L 81-76 vs. BYU
This week: 1/5 at Pepperdine, 1/7 vs. Santa Clara
Back-to-back losses yet the Lions stay put in the rankings, but how? Because when you’re up by three in the final three minutes against BYU, just two days after hanging with the 19th ranked team in the country (Saint Mary’s) for 35 minutes you don’t deserve to fall from fifth. It’s hard to imagine a more brutal opening week than LMU just went through. Oregon transfer Trevor Manuel (9.8 ppg) is coming into his own as a sophomore.
6. San Francisco Dons (11-4, 1-1)
Last week: W 80-74 vs. San Diego, L 72-58 at Santa Clara
This week: 1/5 vs. Gonzaga, 1/7 vs. Saint Mary’s
The Dons’ shoddy defense cost them this week. They allowed San Diego to post its best offensive efficiency in a road game this season (1.11 points/possession) and then let Santa Clara score 1.17 points/possession. USF’s offense isn’t good enough to make up for hapless defensive play.
7. Santa Clara Broncos (7-8, 1-1)
Last week: L 89-59 at BYU, W 72-58 vs. San Francisco
This week: 1/5 vs. Portland, 1/7 at LMU
Senior guard Jared Brownridge (18.5 ppg) is seven points shy of 2,000 for his career. He was held to just eight against BYU on Thursday, then went for 20 against San Francisco. His week looked much like the Broncos’ season on the offensive end: streaky and inconsistent.
8. San Diego Toreros (7-7, 0-2)
Last week: L 80-74 at San Francisco, L 72-60 at Saint Mary’s
This week: 1/5 vs. Pacific, 1/7 at Pepperdine
The Toreros have no depth. Eight guys played against San Francisco, and just seven against Saint Mary’s. Point guard Olin Carter III (17.4 ppg) didn’t come off the floor Saturday against Saint Mary’s.
9. Pacific Tigers (6-9, 0-2)
Last week: L 80-76 vs. Portland, L 81-61 vs. Gonzaga
This week: 1/5 at San Diego, 1/7 at BYU
In perhaps the high point of the season in Stockton, California, Pacific had an eight point lead over Gonzaga in the second half. The Tigers would go on to lose that game by 20 points.
10. Pepperdine Waves (4-10, 0-2)
Last week: L 92-62 at Gonzaga, L 73-60 at Portland
This week: 1/5 vs. LMU, 1/7 vs. San Diego
Pepperdine made the trip to the frigid Pacific Northwest last week and returned home to Malibu with two more losses. Now on a nine game losing streak, the Waves are as cold of a team as there is in college basketball.