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Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, And San Diego Begin NCAA Tournament Play This Week

March 19, 2008

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RECORD THREE WCC TEAMS ADVANCE TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

For the first time in the 56-year history of West Coast Conference men's basketball, the WCC will send three teams into the NCAA Tournament. San Diego, the WCC's automatic qualifier, is making its fourth trip to the Big Dance, while Gonzaga and Saint Mary's earned at-large bids and are making their 11th and fifth NCAA Tournament appearances, respectively. The WCC was one of eight conferences in the country to send at least three teams into the NCAA Tournament. The only conferences to send more teams into the NCAA Tournament were the Big East (8), the Pac-10 (6), the Big 12 (6), the SEC (6), the Big Ten (4), and the ACC (4).

WCC NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

NCAA TOURNAMENT WEST REGION - Tampa, Florida - St. Pete Times Forum
First Round - March 21
No. 5 Drake (28-4) vs. No. 12 Western Kentucky (27-6) - 9:30 AM
No. 13 San Diego (21-13) vs. No. 4 Connecticut (24-8) - 11:45 AM

Second Round - March 23
Drake/W. Kentucky winner vs. San Diego/UCONN winner - TBA

NCAA TOURNAMENT MIDWEST REGION - Raleigh, North Carolina - RBC Center
First Round - March 21
No. 7 Gonzaga (25-7)
vs. No. 10 Davidson (26-6) - 9:25 AM
No. 2 Georgetown (27-5) vs. No. 15 UMBC (24-8) - 11:55 AM

Second Round - March 23
Gonzaga
/Davidson winner vs. Georgetown/UMBC winner - TBA

NCAA TOURNAMENT SOUTH REGION - Little Rock, Arkansas - Alltel Arena
First Round - March 21
No. 10 Saint Mary's (25-6) vs. No. 7 Miami-FL (22-10) - 9:30 AM
No. 2 Texas (28-6) vs. No. 15 Austin Peay (24-10) - 12:00 PM

Second Round - March 23
Saint Mary's/Miami winner vs. Texas/Austin Peay winner - TBA

All-times PST

AROUND THE WCC

WCC In The NCAA Tournament
The WCC has a storied history in the NCAA Tournament that spans the last half century. Below is a quick look at how WCC teams have fared in the NCAA Tournament.

WCC By The Numbers In The NCAA Tournament
65 - Number of NCAA Tournament appearances
55 - Combined number of wins by current WCC Members
32 - Number of Sweet 16 teams by the WCC since 1952 (WCC's inaugural year)
16 - Number of WCC Elite Eight appearances
4 - Number of Final Four appearances
2 - Number of National Championships
.466 - The WCC's cumulative NCAA record (55-63) by current membership

WCC Among Nation's Elite In NCAA Tournament Play
When it comes to NCAA Tournament play, the WCC ranks among the best in overall wins and overall winning percentage. Current WCC members have combined to post a 55-60 overall record in the NCAA Tournament for a .466 winning percentage. The WCC's 55 wins ranks 10th among the Division I conferences (current memberships), while the league's .466 winning percentage is the seventh best clip in the country.

WCC Tournament Head To Las Vegas In 2009
West Coast Conference Commissioner Michael Gilleran announced on March 8th that the WCC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships will move to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in 2009. This will mark the first time in conference history that the league's premier event will be held at a neutral site. The 2009 basketball championships will be the 23rd annual event on the men's side and the 17th annual women's tournament, and will take place March 5-9. Tickets are expected to go on sale on May 1st.

Jamie Zaninovich Named New WCC Commissioner
Jamie Zaninovich was introduced as the new WCC commissioner on March 8th. Zaninovich, currently the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at Princeton University, will replace Michael Gilleran who announced in September that he will leave his post on May 31 after 24 years of service in that capacity. Zaninovich, who has spent the last five years at Princeton, is responsible for all revenue-generating and external relations activities for the university's 38-team varsity athletic department. He began his career in athletic administration at his alma mater, Stanford University, playing an integral role in the school's national ascent in men's basketball as a strategist for all aspects of the program. He spent two years as Senior Assistant Athletic Director for Strategic Planning and Men's Basketball Operations after earning his MBA from the Stanford Business School in 2001.

WCC TEAM NOTES

Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-7 / 13-1 WCC)
- The Bulldogs earned the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region and will face No. 10 seeded Davidson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this Friday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

- The Zags are making their 10th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, tying them with Texas and Wisconsin for the sixth longest active streak in the nation.

- For the eighth straight season, a GU player has been honored as the WCC Player of the Year as junior guard Jeremy Pargo was the choice of the coaches this season. Pargo follows former Gonzaga standouts Derek Raivio (`07), Adam Morrison (`06), Ronny Turiaf (`05), Blake Stepp (`04, `03), Dan Dickau (`02) and Casey Calvary (`01) to help keep the honor in Spokane.

- Joining Pargo on the All-WCC first team were David Pendergraft and Matt Bouldin, while Austin Daye and Steven Gray were named to the All-WCC freshman team.

Loyola Marymount Lions (5-26 / 2-12 WCC)
- Loyola Marymount closed out its season with a 79-60 setback versus San Francisco in the first round of the WCC Tournament.

- Tim Diederichs started all 31 games this season, becoming the only freshman in LMU history to start every game of his rookie season. He finished the season ranked seventh (299 points) and ninth (106 rebounds) on LMU's freshman single season scoring and rebounding charts.

- Freshman Orlando Johnson set the all-time freshman scoring record in the Lions' season finale, while tying the rookie rebounding mark. Johnson finishes his freshman season with 383 points and 152 rebounds. The point total breaks Luther Philyaw's rookie record of 379 set in 1973, while tying Andy Osborn's record of 152 rebounds in 2002.

- Head Coach Rodney Tention resigned on March 12th. Tention coached three seasons at LMU, finishing with a record of 30-61 overall and 15-27 in WCC play.

Pepperdine Waves (11-21 / 4-10 WCC)
- The Waves defeated Portland, 50-48 in overtime, in the first round of the WCC Tournament before falling to San Diego, 73-55, in the quarterfinals.

- Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas earned All-WCC honorable mention honors and a spot on the WCC All-Freshman team. Thomas led all WCC freshmen in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and blocks (2.00 bpg). Thomas finished the season with 64 blocked shots, a Pepperdine freshman record and fourth on the school single-season records list.

- Junior guard Rico Tucker finished the season with 65 steals, ranking him fifth on the Waves' single-season steals list.

- On February 19th, Pepperdine announced that Tom Asbury will take over the reins of the Waves' program next season. Asbury was at Pepperdine for 15 seasons, the first nine as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94).

Portland Pilots (9-22 / 3-11 WCC)
- The Pilots fell to Pepperdine, 50-48 in overtime, to close out their season with a 9-22 overall record.

- The future looks bright for Portland as the Pilots' roster featured 10 underclassmen (including six true freshmen), one senior and two juniors. It is the eighth youngest roster in the nation according to kenpom.com.

- Freshman forward Luke Sikma turned in a solid rookie season, leading the Pilots and tying for sixth in the WCC in rebounding (7.3), while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. He also led the Pilots in blocked shots (28), while ranking second on the team in assists (64).

- Freshman guard Jared Stohl also enjoyed a strong rookie season, leading the Pilots and ranking second in the WCC in three-point field goals made with 58. His 58 made three-pointers ranks seventh on the UP single-season list and is a new freshman record.

Saint Mary's Gaels (25-6 / 12-2 WCC)
- Saint Mary's earned the No. 10 seed in the South Region and will face No. 7 seeded Miami (FL) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Alltel Arena in Little Rock, AK.

- The Gaels are making their fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The last time SMC made it into the "Big Dance" was at the end of the 2005 season when the Gaels, then a No. 10 seed, opened the tournament against Southern Illinois.

- Diamon Simpson was named the WCC Defensive Player of the Year, Patrick Mills was named the WCC Newcomer of the Year, and Head Coach Randy Bennett was named WCC Co-Coach of the Year. Simpson and Mills both earned All-WCC first team honors.

- SMC and Miami have meet twice before with the Hurricanes taking both games. The last game was 44 years ago on Dec. 15, 1964 with the Hurricanes posting an 89-77 win in Florida.

San Diego Toreros (21-13 / 11-3 WCC)
- The Toreros won three games in three nights, defeating Gonzaga, 69-62, in the championship game, to capture the WCC Tournament title and the league's automatic bid.

- The Toreros, who are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, are the No. 13 seed in the West Region and will face the No. 4 seed Connecticut Huskies in the first round on Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.

- Juniors Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare earned All-WCC first team honors. For Pomare, it marks the second straight season he has been named to the first team, while it marks Johnson's first honor after being selected honorable mention a year ago.

- USD has reached 20 or more wins for just the third time since moving to Division I back in 1979-80 (24-6 in `86-87; 20-9 in `99-00), and the team's 21 wins ranks second all-time.

San Francisco Dons (10-21 / 5-9 WCC)
- San Francisco defeated Loyola Marymount, 79-60, in the first round of the WCC Tournament, before falling to Santa Clara, 51-50, in the quarterfinals.

- Sophomore forward Dior Lowhorn earned first team All-WCC honors in his first season on the Hilltop. Lowhorn completed his outstanding sophomore campaign with 636 points, good for fourth place on the Dons' single-season list. The Texas Tech transfer passed USF All-Americans Ollie Johnson (627 - 1964-65) and Winford Boynes (628 - 1977-78).

- USF Interim Head Coach Eddie Sutton completes his run with the Dons with a 6-13 record after taking over the reigns in late December. Sutton finishes his coaching career with 804 career victories.

- Freshman Myron Strong finished the season ranked fifth in the WCC in steals (1.74 spg).

Santa Clara Broncos (15-16 / 6-8 WCC)
- Santa Clara defeated San Francisco, 51-50, in the quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament, but fell to Gonzaga, 52-48, in the semifinals to close out its season with a 15-16 overall record.

- Senior guard Brody Angley and junior John Bryant earned All-WCC first team honors. Angley was named All-WCC honorable mention last season, while Bryant earns his first All-WCC honor.

- Angley handed out 164 assists this season to rank him third all-time at Santa Clara with 506 career assists. He is the third player in school history to reach 500 career assists. He finishes his career four assists behind Steve Nash (1992-96) and 11 behind Brian Jones (1996-01).

- Bryant finished the season with 76 blocks, the most in a single season in program history and the eighth most in a single season in WCC history.