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Gonzaga Selected Preseason Favorite

Oct. 17, 2006

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SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The Gonzaga University Bulldogs were picked as the favorite to capture their seventh consecutive regular season West Coast Conference crown in the 2006-07 WCC men's basketball preseason poll, as selected by the league coaches. The Zags tallied 62 points and received six first place votes. Gonzaga is followed in the poll by 2006 WCC Tournament runner-up Loyola Marymount University (51), which received one first place vote, the University of San Francisco (50), and Saint Mary's College (40), which also received a first place nod. Rounding out this year's poll is the University of San Diego (33), picked fifth, followed by Santa Clara University (27) in sixth, Pepperdine University (16) in seventh and the University of Portland (9) in eighth.

The Zags, coming off of a Sweet Sixteen run in 2006, return three key starters from last season's squad that posted a 29-4 overall record and a perfect 14-0 conference mark en route to their sixth consecutive WCC regular season title. Senior guard Derek Raivio, a 2004-05 All-WCC first team member, along with senior Sean Mallon (6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and junior guard Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes (4.2 ppg, 2.6 apg) headline seven returning letterwinners for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga will also welcome in Kansas transfer Micah Downs and BYU transfer David Burgess, who will both be eligible after the first semester. Raivio was also selected as one of the top six returning players in the WCC by the league's coaches.

Loyola Marymount, under second-year Head Coach Rodney Tention, was playing as well as any team in the conference at the end of last season. LMU came within two points of knocking off Gonzaga on its home floor in the WCC Tournament finale. The Lions will lean on seniors Matthew Knight (16.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and Brandon Worthy (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg), both of whom were selected among the top returning players in the conference. Knight and Worthy give the Lions arguably the best inside-outside tandem in the conference as well as the only teammates in the WCC to have reached the 1,000-point plateau.

San Francisco, picked third in the preseason poll, should boast one of the top backcourts in the conference. Armondo Surratt, the 2006 WCC Newcomer of the Year and former University of Miami (FL) standout, teams up with Connecticut transfer Antonio Kellogg and Rutgers transfer Manny Quezada to give the Dons three former Big East guards. USF also returns senior forward Alan Wiggins, Jr., who along with Surratt, was selected as one of the top returners in the WCC.

Saint Mary's, coming off of a 17-12 campaign, rounds out the top half of the poll with 40 overall points. San Diego, led by 2006 All-WCC freshmen team members Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare, is picked fifth, followed by Santa Clara in sixth. Pepperdine and Portland, under first-year head coaches Vance Walberg and Eric Reveno, round out the poll in the seventh and eighth spots, respectively.

2006-07 WCC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Gonzaga - 62 (6)
2. Loyola Marymount - 51 (1)
3. San Francisco - 50
4. Saint Mary's 40 (1)
5. San Diego - 33
6. Santa Clara - 27
7. Pepperdine - 16
8. Portland - 9
(First place votes)

2006-07 WCC Preseason Top Returners
(as voted by the league coaches)

Darren Cooper, POR (14.9 ppg, .450 3-pt percent)
Matthew Knight, LMU (16.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg)
Derek Raivio, GON (11.1 ppg, 2.8 apg)
Armondo Surratt, USF (14.2 ppg, 5.1 apg)
Alan Wiggins, Jr., USF (14.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Brandon Worthy, LMU (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg)