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What We Think - Forecasting Week Two of WCC Play

Dec. 31, 2014

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WHAT WE THINK - PREVIEWING WEEK TWO OF WCC PLAY

By John Crumpacker, WCC Columnist | @CrumpackerOnWCC  |  Crumpacker Archives

Even though the West Coast Conference leads the nation, all 351 Division I schools, in 3-point shooting percentage at .372, I feel absolutely certain that the conference’s record for points in a game will not be broken anytime soon. Likely, never.

That would be the 283-point eruption from Loyola Marymount (147) and Gonzaga (136) on Feb. 18, 1989 in that wrinkle in time known as the Paul Westhead Era at LMU. What an era it was when a college team could score 136 points and lose, let alone by 11.

In the current era, the top two teams in the conference, GONZAGA and BYU, are also the top two scoring teams at 88.1 and 82.2 points per game, respectively. After the first week of conference games, it seems apparent that the Zags and Cougars, along with SAINT MARY’s, are poised to separate themselves from the teams below them in the standings.

Eight conference teams will ring in 2015 on New Year’s Day, with travel partners Gonzaga and PORTLAND getting special dispensation from WCC headquarters in San Bruno, Ca., to take the day off to watch the glut of bowl games. (I made that up; the Bulldogs and Pilots will probably be doing something boring like practice.)

In contrast to our weekly review featuring salient items under the handle What We Learned, looking ahead requires a degree of informed speculation that we’ll call What We Think. With that in mind:

  1. Based on its robust scoring average, BYU will make short work of SANTA CLARA on the road at the Leavey Center. The Broncos are last in the conference in scoring at 62.9 per game, 25 points fewer than the go-go Cougars.
  2. Based on SAN FRANCISCO’s disappointing loss at Saint Mary’s on Monday night, the 7-7 Dons should give BYU a more competitive game on Saturday night.
  3. History suggests that Saint Mary’s (9-3) will run its conference record to 3-0 at Pepperdine (8-4, 1-0). The Gaels have won 16 straight vs. the Waves and 22 of the last 23 games. If this recent series was reduced to a metaphorical teeter-totter, Saint Mary’s would be a 400-pound sumo wrestler on one end, firmly on the ground, looking up at a 10-year-old kid dangling his feet in the air.
  4. At Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, PACIFIC (8-6, 0-2) and host LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (4-9, 0-1) will be looking to score their first conference victory. The Lions are still finding their way under first-year coach Mike Dunlap. I’ll go with the Tigers in this battle of apex felines.
  5. At Memorial Gym on the Hilltop, it’s a duel of 7-7 teams in San Francisco and SAN DIEGO. USF coach Rex Walters said his team lacked toughness in its loss at Saint Mary’s. The Dons will need to be on point against Johnny “Deadeye’’ Dee, the WCC’s leading active 3-point shooter, and the man who so often facilitates his shots, top assist man Christopher Anderson.
  6. On Saturday in the Rose City, Gonzaga will have to contend with another rowdy crowd rooting against it as PORTLAND tries for an upset of the nation’s No. 8 team in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. Indeed, looks like it will be an upset if the Zags don’t run the table in the WCC this season.

How about that?
In being named WCC player of the week for the second time in the month of December, BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth recorded what is believed to be the first triple-double in a conference game since Pepperdine’s Doug Christie in 1991. Collinsworth had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to Gonzaga. Christie rang up 21 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists vs. Saint Mary’s in ’91.

Vegas, baby
A limited number of single-game and all-session passes to the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas March 5-10 are now available for sale online at WCCHoopsInVegas.com. All-session passes for the event at the Orelans Arena in the casino of the same name cost $135 and $175 for all nine men’s games and all nine women’s games, 18 games in all.

Breaking it down, that’s $7.50 per game for the $135 package and $9.72 per game for the $175 package. Further ticket information is available below:  HERE  or log on to WCChoopsInVegas.com.

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.