Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

West Coast Preview

December 7, 2001 Columns No Comments

2001-02 West Coast Conference Preview

by Don Weinstein

The West Coast Conference has Long been known as the conference of tournament sweetheart teams. Who can forget the 1990 Loyola Marymount team sans Hank Gathers, the various Pepperdine teams and the recent Gonzaga crews zigzagging deep into the tournament? Some perceptions are hard to break, and unfortunately, the conference in ’01/’02 bears the same potential.

Gonzaga is still strong, returning tournament standout guard Dan Dickau. The Zags look like a lock to win the conference title, but watch out for the tough press defense of the Pepperdine Waves, lead by first year coach, NBA great and former head coach Paul Westphal. This former USC All-American guard will pit his team against teams coached by former UCLA alumni stars Brad Holland (San Diego) and Michael Holton (Portland). Unlike in the O.J. case, I don’t think those two Bruins will successfully defend this Trojan.

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs: Only Michigan State and Duke join the Zags as the only teams to make the Sweet 16 in the last 3 years. Senior guard Dan Dickau takes over where John Stockton and Casey Cavalry left off, leading this year’s version of the adorable Cinderella team. Dickau averaged 18.9 points per game and 6.3 assists per game for a team that went 13-1 in conference, 26-7 overall last year, and bowed to Michigan State in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga will miss Cavalry’s leadership and 19.0 points and 6.7 boards per game. However, they return guard Blake Stepp, and Coach Mark Few certainly feels more comfortable with a new long term contract. Look for the Zags to win the conference going away.

2. Pepperdine Waves: Former NBA great and recent Sonics head coach Paul Westphal decided that being a beach bum could wait, and took the head coaching positon at his son Mike’s team and university. The Wave fans couldn’t be more pleased, as he’s generating big waves already. Pepperdine, an early 3rd place projection, now looks like the team that will come closest to challenging Gonzaga for the WCC title. They’ve knocked off Top 25 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion and have jetted out to a 3-2 start. Their only losses are to Big West power UC Irvine and the perennialy-ranked Utah. The Waves showcase a balanced attack of Terrance Johnson, Craig Lewis and Micah McKinney. They are also joined by newcomer, 6’9″ freshman guard Robert Turner. Westphal’s press defense is posing difficulties for opponents who can’t always match up with the combination of athleticism and effective strategy.

3. Santa Clara Broncos: Before this year, the Broncos were selected to be second place in the conference behind Gonzaga. In the first 5 games, Santa Clara hardly looks like the team to beat at all, as they start 1-4. Granted, they played Pac-10 teams California and Washington, but they were blitzed by these relatively weak Pac-10 entries. The team that last season finished 10-4 in conference, and 20-12 overall is height-challenged this year and may be showing the strains already. Coach Dick Davey better dust off the 1966 UCLA team yearbook and find tips from a team with no one over 6’4″ that won an NCAA championship. He does bring back returning starter, point guard Kyle Bailey, but is he enough when you lose to Nevada by 25 points?

4. Portland Pilots: New coach Michael Holton (from UCLA’s coaching staff last year) must be feeling a little deja vu with the squad he inherited. In 1979, he and Rod Foster, freshman UCLA guards lead a Larry Brown coached Cinderella squad into the finals of the NCAA, only to lose to Louisville. Likewise, his Pilots are powered by their backcourt of Adam Quick and Casey Frandsen. In an overwhelming loss to top-ranked Duke, Frandsen scored 28 points. Without the loss to Duke and the overime loss to Idaho State, the Pilots would be a perfect 5-0. Prediction: this team will be competitive this year, and a couple more recruiting classes (Holton’s specialty) will make this team a powerhouse in this conference for many years to come.

5. Loyola Marymount Lions: It’s been a long drought for the Lions and a long time since the teams that averaged 120 points per game (and won, giving up an average of 100 points). Despite being destined for another mediocre year, the Lions will bring back enough experienced players for Coach Steve Aggers to make a strong run at improvement over last year. Last year was worth forgetting at 5-9 conference, and 9-19 overall. The Lions will be powered by returning starters guard Kent Dennis and forwards Greg Lakey and Miroslav Neskovic. The Lions are off to an unexpected start of 3-3, with an impressive win over Texas A&M at College Station, Texas. Watch for the Lions to finish in the top half of the conference.

6. San Diego Toreros: Important seniors have left an underachieving team that finished 7-7 conference, 16-13 overall. However, Coach Brad Holland, the two-time WCC coach of the year, hasn’t lost too much, returning forward/center Kevin Hanson, shooting guard Matt Delzel and point guard Roy Morris. The Toreros have started the season 2-3, but two of the losses were close calls against the Pac-10’s Oregon State and Washington schools. More than likely this is a rebuilding season with only Hanson as the only returning starting senior. Look for USD to finish around the .500 mark, middle of the WCC pack.

7. San Francisco Dons:For all of their shortcomings, this team is my winner for the best college nickname in all of basketball. All right, enough self serving tripe. The Dons have a good chance to improve on their ’01/’02 record of 5-9 conference and 12-18 overall. The only problem is they’ve been blessed with some pretty tough pre-season opponents: Xavier, Seton Hall and Fresno State. . . you guessed it, all losses so far. And then of course, there’s Michigan in the Pete Newell Classic December 29th. The team that is currently 1-5 will rebound so to speak with the extremely competent front line of Hondre Brewer and Darrell Tucker. This experienced front line is joined by some exciting newcomers in the backcourt – Scepter Brownlee and DeWayne Morris. The Dons will also finish around .500.

8. Saint Mary’s Gaels: Hey listen: what you can’t do in athletics, make up for it in spirituality. Saint Mary’s finished 0-14 in the WCC, and 2-26 overall last year. Who can forget the classic battle between Loyola Marymount and the Gaels last season (Feb. 24th, 2001) where the Lions edged the Gaels 65-61. Many said that it reminded them of the classic clash between the University of Judaism and Brandeis where the Killer Keepahs won a buzzer beater from the Happy Hannukkahs 4 chai to 3 chai. In all seriousness, Coach Randy Bennett’s team seems much more competitive this year than last, returning a strong sophomore front line of Ross Benson and Chase Poole. Indeed, the spreads this year have been much tighter against Nevada, UCI an UCSB. Saint Mary’s is my early-season pick to hit the 20 loss mark, but hey, it’s an improvement.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.