Oct. 26, 2010
SAN BRUNO, Calif. --- The Gonzaga University men's basketball team was selected as the favorite to win the 2010-11 West Coast Conference Championship after receiving six first place votes and 48 of a possible 49 points from conference head coaches. The Bulldogs were also one of four teams to have two selections to the 10-player WCC Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team.
Gonzaga, which is ranked 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Poll, has won 10 consecutive WCC regular season championships. The Bulldogs went 12-2 in conference play and 27-7 overall en route to a second round appearance at the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Steven Gray and sophomore forward Elias Harris, the 2009-10 WCC Newcomer of the Year, were both named to the Preseason All-WCC Team after being selected to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List earlier this month. Gray and Harris each started all 34 games for the Bulldogs a year ago, with Harris averaging 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds and Gray 13.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds.
Loyola Marymount, which reached the College Insider.com Tournament last year for its first postseason appearance in 20 years, was picked to finish second after returning 13 players from last year's 18-win team. Two key returners from that team - senior Vernon Teel and redshirt junior Drew Viney - were named to the Preseason All-Conference Team. Teel was a First-Team All-WCC selection a year ago after averaging 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Viney was also a first team pick after putting up 16.7 points and 7.0 boards in his first season at LMU after transferring from Oregon.
Saint Mary's, which was picked third, is coming off its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in school history and the 2010 Zappos.com WCC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship. Senior guard Mickey McConnell solidified a spot on the Preseason All-Conference Team after earning First-Team All-WCC and Zappos.com WCC Championship MVP honors in 2009-10. McConnell is joined on the Preseason All-Conference Team by sophomore Matthew Dellavedova. The 6-foot-4 Australian averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 assists per game and played in a conference-leading 36.4 minutes per contest.
Santa Clara was picked to finish fourth in the WCC on the strength of preseason all-conference selections Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini. Foster averaged 14.7 points to earn WCC Co-Newcomer of the Year honors in 2008-09, but missed the majority of last season with a foot injury. Trasolini returns for his junior season after leading the Broncos in points, rebounds and blocked shots last season.
Portland was picked to finish fifth in the Coaches Poll, followed by San Francisco, Pepperdine and San Diego. Senior Jared Stohl represents the Pilots on the Preseason All-Conference Team after leading the nation in three-point percentage last season at .478. Pepperdine junior Keion Bell also earned preseason all-conference honors after finishing second in the WCC in scoring last season at 18.5 points per game.
All eight West Coast Conference teams start non-conference action on Friday, November 12 with seven of the eight teams playing on their home floor. Conference plays starts on Thursday, January 6, highlighted by Loyola Marymount playing host to Saint Mary's on ESPNU. A total of 14 conference games will be broadcast by ESPN2 and ESPNU, and overall, 43 of 56 WCC men's basketball games will be aired on national or regional television.
The conference campaign will conclude at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the third consecutive season with the Zappos.com WCC Basketball Championships on March 4-7.
2010-11 WCC Men's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
Team - (First Place Votes) - Points
1. Gonzaga (6) - 48
2. Loyola Marymount (1) - 42
3. Saint Mary's (1) - 39
4. Santa Clara - 28
5. Portland - 25
6. San Francisco - 18
7. Pepperdine - 14
8. San Diego - 10
(* - Coaches could not vote for their own team)
2010-11 WCC Men's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Keion Bell, G, 6-3, Jr., Pepperdine University
Matthew Dellavedova, G, 6-4, So., Saint Mary's College
Kevin Foster, G, 6-2, So., Santa Clara University
Steven Gray, G, 6-5, Sr., Gonzaga University
Elias Harris, F, 6-7, So., Gonzaga University
Mickey McConnell, G, 6-0, Sr., Saint Mary's College
Jared Stohl, G, 6-2, Sr., University of Portland
Vernon Teel, G, 6-4, Sr., Loyola Marymount University
Marc Trasolini, F, 6-9, Jr., Santa Clara University
Drew Viney, F, 6-8, Jr., Loyola Marymount University