The 2011 college basketball season is just about set to get underway, which means conferences have released their various preseason honors. The West Coast Conference joined in this past week as they released their preseason standings predictions and all-conference team. The Gonzaga Bulldogs were given seven first place votes and projected to finish first overall. The Saint Mary's Gaels received one first place vote and came in second in the rankings. New WCC entrant Brigham Young University received the other first place vote and came in third.
While Gonzaga, SMC and BYU are the expected favorites in the WCC, the next couple spots features some interesting dark horses that could make things at least a little uncomfortable for the conference favorites. The San Francisco Dons and Santa Clara Broncos both bring something to the table that makes them realistic darkhorses in the WCC.
The San Francisco Dons return their entire starting five, as well as their top four scorers and rebounders. Of their 2010-2011 squad, the only significant loss is Moustapha Diarra, who was seventh on the team in minutes. Amidst all these returning players, only two are seniors (Rashad Green and Angelo Caloiaro). The team has a solid mix of youth and veteran experience and could be a surprise this season.
The Santa Clara Broncos enter the 2011-2012 season having won the CollegeInsider.com Basketball Tournament last season. They will lose some significant minutes from Ben Dowdell, Troy Payne and Robert Smith, but they return the conference's leading scorer in Kevin Foster who averaged 20.2 points per game as only a sophomore. When you have a big scorer, it provides plenty of opportunities to score some upsets.
Here is the WCC's preseason poll, as well as the preseason all-conference team:
2011-12 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
Team (First Place Votes) Points
1. Gonzaga University (7) 63
2. Saint Maryʼs College (1) 56
3. Brigham Young University (1) 52
4. University of San Francisco 42
5. Santa Clara University 35
6. Loyola Marymount University 27
7. University of Portland 25
8. Pepperdine University 13
9. University of San Diego 11
2011-12 PRESEASON ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM
Player School Yr. Pos.
Brandon Davies BYU Jr. F
Matthew Dellavedova Saint Maryʼs Jr. G
Kevin Foster Santa Clara Jr. G
Rashad Green San Francisco Sr. G
Elias Harris Gonzaga Jr. F
Rob Jones Saint Maryʼs Sr. F
Nemanja Mitrovic Portland Sr. G
Robert Sacre Gonzaga RS-Sr. C
Drew Viney Loyola Marymount RS-Sr. F
Michael Williams San Francisco Jr. G
Note: Team listed alphabetically