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Crumpacker - What We Think - 2/24/16

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By John Crumpacker
#WCChoops Columnist 


On the same week that Hollywood hands out its annual awards to much fanfare, I’d like to do the same for the West Coast Conference, even though I don’t have any shiny gold statuettes to present and the reception might sound like that of crickets on a quiet night. All I have to give for a season’s worth of scrutiny is ample respect for jobs well done. That will have to suffice.

In a guard-centric conference like the WCC, it’s hard to pick just two for an all-conference team. Heck, I could come up with an all-guard team, with a sixth man off the bench -- a guard, of course -- for good measure. It would look like this:

G – Emmett Naar, SAINT MARY’S
G – Jared Brownridge, SANTA CLARA
G – Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
G – Nick Emery, BYU
G – Devin Watson, SAN FRANCISCO

Sixth man – Tim Derksen, USF

But in the interest of inclusivity, I’ll include a center and a couple of forwards for my All-WCC 1st team:

F – Kyle Wiltjer, GONZAGA
F – Stacy Davis, PEPPERDINE
C – Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga
G – Collinsworth, BYU
G – Naar, Saint Mary’s

The question is, would this 1st team beat my 2nd team over 40 minutes? Here it is:

F – Kyle Davis, BYU
F – Dane Pineau, Saint Mary’s
C – Evan Fitzner, Saint Mary’s
G – Alec Wintering, Portland
G – Watson, USF

Or maybe these Honorable Mention lads could rise up and beat either the 1st team or the 2nd team:
Chase Fischer, G, BYU; Brownridge, Santa Clara; Adom Jacko, F, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT; Nick Emery, G, BYU; Derksen, USF; Jock Landale, C, Saint Mary’s; Lamond Murray Jr., Pepperdine.

Player of the Year – Sabonis, for a season’s worth of yeoman work scoring and rebounding.

Coach of the Year – Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s, for sending out the conference’s most efficient team twice a week, every week, with only two notable slipups (hello, Pepperdine!)

To all those named above and their teammates and coaches, see you in Las Vegas.

With one week to go in the regular season, here’s "What We Think" as teams gird for Las Vegas:

  1. Saint Mary’s will beat Santa Clara at home on Thursday and San Francisco on the road on Saturday to finish the conference schedule 15-3 as the WCC’s regular season champion. Though tied with Gonzaga at 13-3, the Gaels have the tiebreaker based on their season sweep of the Zags. It’s a nice position to be in and I don’t see Bennett’s team frittering away a great chance at winning its first regular season title since 2011-12. By defeating Grand Canyon in a puzzling season-ender on Monday, Saint Mary’s would roar into Las Vegas with a full head of feel-good at 25-4.
  2. If Gonzaga beats last-place San Diego on Thursday and BYU does the same vs. Portland, both likely scenarios, it will set up a dandy battle for second place on Saturday in Provo. If they both win on Thursday, the Zags would be 14-3 and the Cougars 13-4. I have to like BYU at the Marriott Center in the last game of the regular season against somewhat-slumping Gonzaga. The Cougars won the first game by a point in Spokane, 69-68. If all that happens, BYU will rue a pair of games that it let get away, at Portland and at Pepperdine. Those losses will probably mean the difference between an NCAA and an NIT invite – unless coach Dave Rose’s team rises up and wins the conference tournament.
  3. Saddled with an unfortunate set of circumstances, PACIFIC will end its season ends on Saturday night at Santa Clara. The school’s administration self-imposed a ban on the WCC Tournament as an NCAA investigation continues.

L.A. Story
In a game that will have no bearing on the top of the conference, Pepperdine is at Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon in the WCC’s final Game of the Week for 2015-16. For the Waves, 17-11 overall, it could be another step closer to 20 wins, which would be a first in coach Marty Wilson’s tenure in Malibu. Of course, to get to 20, Pepperdine would have to advance to the WCC Tournament final. As the No. 4 seed, the Waves would probably encounter Saint Mary’s in the semifinals on March 7.

Pepperdine swept the Gaels during the regular season but as the saying goes, it’s always hard to beat a team three straight times in one season.

Follow the three dots...
USF will seek its seventh straight victory vs. PACIFIC on Thursday in Stockton. … The Dons are averaging 85 points per game in their last 16 contests. … Then again, coach Rex Walters’ team has allowed 100 points or more in four games this season. … For becoming Pepperdine’s career leader in scoring last week, Davis was named the WCC’s Player of the Week. … ESPN’s Joe Lunardi now projects Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga as 11 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. … Among all Division I schools, Saint Mary’s is fifth in scoring defense at 60.2 points per game. … The Gaels’ Naar leads the NCAA in 3-point shooting accuracy at .479.

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.