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Crumpacker - What We Think - 1/13/16

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By John Crumpacker
#WCChoops Columnist 


Unlike other conferences, when it comes to scheduling league games, the WCC does it right. No “Big Monday’’ or “Titanic Tuesday’’ or “Wonderful Wednesday’’ or “Fish on Friday.’’ No, sir. Conference games are on Thursday and Saturday, period.

That used to be the norm across college basketball, until the tentacles of television reached out to snare schools into playing conference games on Wednesday and Sunday, such as the Pac-12 does on occasion. A few years ago, the Pac-12 even scheduled a women’s basketball game on Super Bowl Sunday, not that there’s much overlap between the mass audience for football’s championship game and the niche audience for women’s hoop. But still.

I like the common sense and simplicity of the WCC’s scheduling. Fans across the conference can count on the comfort of Thursday-Saturday games each week, with Saturday especially suited for binge-viewing.

This Saturday, for example, a fan could settle in for the 1 p.m. Game of the Week between Pepperdine and San Francisco, transition into BYU at Portland at 3 p.m., summon that second wind for San Diego at Gonzaga at 5 p.m. and finish the day with Loyola Marymount at Santa Clara at 8 p.m. Who knows? Jared Brownridge could go off for 50 against the Lions, winless in conference play.

In the Game of the Week, Pepperdine (3-2) and USF (3-3) are both fighting to stay in the top half of the WCC standings beneath Gonzaga (5-0), Saint Mary’s (5-1) and BYU (3-1). USF has one of the best backcourts in the conference with Devin Watson and Tim Derksen while the Waves seemingly has a roster full of small forward-types (Stacy Davis, Jett Raines, Lamond Murray Jr., Kameron Edwards) who range from perimeter to post.

With a few more big outings, Watson (20.3 ppg) could overtake Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer (21.5) as the WCC’s top scorer. Will Watson, Derksen and Ronnie Boyce III, playing at home, have enough firepower to hold off Pepperdine’s depth? Over the last five games USF is averaging 91 points per. Watson and Derksen are combining for 35.6 points per game, which works out to 47 percent of USF’s scoring.

For Pepperdine, Davis needs 168 points the rest of the season (that works out to 12.0 points per game) to overtake Dane Suttle as the school’s career scoring leader. The consistent and selfless Davis is currently averaging 14.2 points per game, so Suttle’s career mark is definitely within reach.  

As the conference season digs into that big slab of red meat on the plate (we’ll start that vegan diet in March, after the WCC Tournament), this is "What We Think" of this week’s slate of games:

  1. With an RPI figure of 72, BYU can go a long way towards enhancing its status as a worthy NCAA Tournament team by knocking off mighty Gonzaga on Thursday night in Spokane in a game carried to a big audience on ESPN2. Gonzaga is the only team with an unblemished record in WCC play while BYU is in third place at 3-1, with an overall mark of 12-5. It’s time for the Cougars to make a statement, and there’s no better time than Thursday night.
  2. If San Francisco isn’t careful, Loyola Marymount could catch the Dons in a dreaded “trap’’ game and notch its first conference victory. Two days later, USF faces Pepperdine on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the WCC Game of the Week from Memorial Gym. The Dons (9-7, 3-3) are at that point in their season when they could go either way, .500-wise.
  3. No team wants to lose to a winless team (see USF, above) and that’s the position Portland could be in on Thursday night vs. San Diego (5-10, 0-4). At least the Pilots know they can turn to their prolific point guard, Alec Wintering, when the going gets tough. Earlier in the conference season Wintering put together back-to-back 30-point games and over the last four contests is averaging 27 points.

Thirty years and going strong
At USF, the Dons are celebrating public address announcer Joe Hallisy in his 30th year of calling games on the Hilltop. A native San Franciscan and recently retired San Francisco firefighter, Hallisy called his first USF game on Nov. 29, 1986 and since then has handled nearly 1,000 events at Memorial Gym including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. Hallisy has missed only three games in 30 years. COMPLETE USF STORY

Some of his favorite, and most challenging, names to pronounce were Moustapha Diarra, Nikola Stojiljovic and Mamadou Cisse. His favorite recent name to call was Kruize Pinkins. 

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The WCC is fifth nationally in conference three-point field goal accuracy at .3584. … San Diego’s Jito Kok is seventh among active Division I players in career blocked shots with 235. He’s now rejecting 2.8 shots per game. … There are many reasons Saint Mary’s is off to such a good start this season at 14-2 overall. One of them is forward Dane Pineau. He’s 17th nationally in field goal percentage (.620) and 51st in offensive rebounds per game (3.2). Good things happen for the Gaels when Pineau is around the basket, just as good things happen when Joe Rahon and Emmett Naar have the ball in their hands. Rahon is 12th in the nation and Naar is 15th in assists per game. Together, their dish total is 13.25 per game.

John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.