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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

January 2, 2013 at 6:00 PM

A brief look at all matters WCC . . .

We have a detailed look at Pac-12 men’s basketball teams in the Thursday editions, but with Gonzaga cutting a pretty good swath at 13-1, today we’ll look at the West Coast Conference, with my predicted finish:

1. Gonzaga (13-1)

Coach — Mark Few.

RPI — 7.

Outlook — Having stumbled only against 11th-ranked Illinois, the Zags, winners of five straight games against Big 12 teams, rate the clear favorite’s role in the WCC. It’s a balanced attack led by seven-footer Kelly Olynyk (15.7 ppg) but with a heavy guard presence in Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. GU is shooting a glittering .518, allowing .397 and has a 10.5 rebound margin. Elias Harris is still a force, albeit with some inconsistency, and Mike Hart is a valuable presence either starting or off the bench. Freshman Przemek Karnowski and senior swingman Guy Landry Edi have been struggling. Zags are still vulnerable against premier guards, but they have plenty of answers to that weakness, at least until they get to March.

2. Saint Mary’s (11-3)

Coach — Randy Bennett.

RPI — 81.

Outlook — Gaels, defending champs of the WCC, have lost to Pacific, Georgia Tech and Northern Iowa (RPI 142), with a best win at Utah State. Matt Dellavedova (17.4 ppg), has topped the 30-point mark three times and is one of the craftiest guards around. Second-leading scorer is bouncy Stephen Holt (11.2). It’s an excellent shooting team, both from the field (.501) and FT line (.761). Glaring deficiency is three-point defense (.399). SMC is apt to miss hefty forward Rob Jones, who graduated, and relatively low RPI probably means the Gaels will need to beat Gonzaga at some point to make the NCAA tournament. But they know how to do that.

3. Santa Clara (11-3)

Coach — Kerry Keating.

RPI — 75.

Outlook –Broncos have rebounded in a big way from being the first WCC team to go winless in league play since 2001. That squad was without suspended G Kevin Foster and injured F Marc Trasolini, both of whom are contributing in a major way, Foster leading in scoring at 18.9 ppg and Trasolini second at 15.9 and leading in rebounds at 7.6. The win at St. Louis is big; the losses are to Utah State, Cal-Santa Barbara and Duke, in a game in which the Broncos led early in the second half. Foster is a volume gunner who will carry the team at times and point guard Evan Roquemore has a nifty 3.44-1 assist-turnover ratio.

4. Brigham Young (10-4)

Coach — Dave Rose.

RPI — 33.

Outlook — The Cougars always seem to have scorers, and this year it’s 6-5 swingman Tyler Haws, just back from a Mormon mission and averaging 20.9 after riddling Virginia Tech for 42 points. Just behind is 6-9 forward Brandon Davies (20.1). After Davies, there isn’t a lot of proven size, and the other obvious frailty is a team three-point shooting percentage of .315. G Matt Carlino (9 of 41 threes) can shoot the Cougars into it or out of it. The resume shows no real notable wins, and double-figures losses to four BCS-level opponents.

5. San Francisco (7-6)

Coach — Rex Walters.

RPI — 154.

Outlook — Federal Way product Cole Dickerson has been brilliant at forward, leading the Dons in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (11.9). De’End Parker, a JC product originally committed to UCLA, has hit 20 of 38 threes and averages 15 ppg. Point guard Cody Doolin, with 80 assists and 37 turnovers, is the leading returnee on a team that underwent off-season upheaval; the top four scorers either graduated or transferred out. Not much on the resume, once you get beyond a 16-point win over a St. John’s team with a 107 RPI.

6. San Diego (7-8)

Coach — Bill Grier.

RPI — 255.

Outlook — The uptick of late last season hasn’t carried over to this year, and that has to concern Grier, the former Gonzaga assistant. There are no marquee victories, but losses to Cal State-Northridge and Stephen F. Austin. It’s a guard-oriented team, with leading scorer Johnny Dee (15.2) and jet-propelled point Christopher Anderson (9.3). Forwards Chris Manresa and Ken Rancifer average 9.9 each. Toreros surrender .438 shooting, not a good sign.

7. Pepperdine (8-5)

Coach — Marty Wilson.

RPI — 188.

Outlook — Waves have a pair of overtime wins (one against Washington State), plus a one-point escape against Fresno Pacific in their last game. It’s a guard-oriented group led by Lorne Jackson (14.8), but 6-6, 235-pound freshman forward Stacy Davis has been a force inside and is the second-leading scorer. Defense (.394 FG shooting by foes) has been an asset.

8. Loyola Marymount (7-6)

Coach — Max Good.

RPI — 222.

Outlook — Lions have the league’s leading scorer in 5-10 G Anthony Ireland (21.3), backed by forward Ashley Hamilton (14.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg). Guard Ayodeji Egbeyemi (11.3) is the No. 3 scorer, and all three are topping the 40-percent mark on threes. Nothing approaching a quality win yet, even with a 7.6 rebound margin.

9. Portland (7-8)

Coach — Eric Reveno.

RPI — 241.

Outlook — Reveno is a solid coach, but the Pilots, shooting only .420 (.300 from three) are testing him. Leading scorer is 6-7 F Ryan Nicholas, Gonzaga Prep product (13.7), backed by off-guard Kevin Bailey (11.9). Nobody who plays significantly is shooting better than .333 on treys. Best win is against 9-4 Bradley, but there’s also a recent loss to Texas-Pan American.

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