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West Coast Notebook

January 2, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



West Coast Notebook

Dynasty in the Making?
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have nothing to fear but devastating injury itself. The 22nd nationally ranked team is healthy and hitting on all cylinders. Senior guard Dan Dickau is providing the leadership needed for a national contender with an 18.5 point per game average. He’s joined by the surprising big play from 6-8 sophomore forward Cory Violette who’s pouring in 11.1 points per game to go along with 8.2 boards. The Dogs are currently 12-2 with their only losses on the road to ranked Illinois and Marquette. They have only one non-conference game left with the competitive New Mexico, and then it should be a cake walk through a conference occupied with rebuilding programs. They should get by New Mexico in a January 7th road game, and if they run the table (not an unreasonable notion) in the WCC, look for the then 27-2 Bulldogs to be a 1 or 2 seed in the West bracket of the NCAAs.

You Can’t Have High Tide without some Low Tide
The Pepperdine Waves were feeling like the kings of Los Angeles County with impressive wins over nationally ranked UCLA, USC and Cal State Long Beach. If it wasn’t for that close loss against UC Irvine, they could have added Orange County real estate to their L.A. and Malibu lots. Since the December 6th buzzer beater against USC, Pepperdine, now 6-6, has felt a strong undertow on their great start. They’ve lost 4 out of 6 games, mostly to ranked or should-be-ranked teams. They lost big on the road to Big West standout UCSB, up and coming Oregon and 12th-ranked Arizona. Running this gauntlet of ringer teams should provide the thick skin needed to be a top 3 team in the WCC.

Life on a Two Lane Highway
Some teams in the WCC are traveling southbound and some northbound, and it’s time to write some tickets.

Southbound:
Santa Clara: Many including yours truly picked this squad to finish 1st in the WCCWOG (that is, WCC With Out Gonzaga). However the Broncos have gotten off to a disappointing 4-8 start, and find themselves in the basement. I can understand losses to Pacific, Washington and Ohio State, but Belmont, Portland State and Wright State? The team’s size appears to be an issue, getting outrebounded regularly. A recent win over UC Santa Barbara in the Cable Car Classic might get Santa Clara on the right track before conference play.

Portland: The Pilots are also 4-8 and in the basement. If you throw out the 42 point loss to No. 1 Duke, Portland’s average loss margin was 5 points. They’re getting strong numbers from seniors Ross Jorgusen and Coky Rochin, but they’re going to have to bring leadership down the stretch in games.

Northbound:
St. Mary’s: The Gaels of St. Mary’s have improved their win total 150 percent this year over last year. . . and it’s still pre-season! At 5-6, they’ve been respectable in losses against UC Irvine, Nevada and New Mexico, all strong teams. The 5 victories came against no-name universities, but a win is a win is a win. Backed by a strong front line of sophomore forward Chase Poole and junior forward Ross Benson, this team will surprise many of the smaller teams in the WCC. Did you hear that Santa Clara? Mark the calendar February 1st. That’s when we see the clash of the saints: Mary vs. Clara.

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