West Coast Conference Recap
by James Burns
There were no surprises during the 2002 West Coast Conference tournament, held at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego. The tournaments top two seeds, No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 2 Gonzaga, did just what they were supposed to do – beat the heck out of everybody else and then slug it out against each other in the finals. And the championship round tussle was epic.
Dickau led a frenzied 32-10 Bulldog rally, scoring 19 of his game-high 29 points, helping the Bulldogs to a 96-90 victory and their fourth straight WCC conference title. The Bulldogs erased a one-point halftime deficit, 45-44, en route to the victory.
The Dance Card
Despite falling to Gonzaga and losing out on the conference’s only automatic bid, Pepperdine was selected for the NCAA Tournament.
Pepperdine, a No. 10 seed in the Midwest region, tangled with No. 7 Wake Forest during the first round.
The Demon Deacons built a commanding lead right from the start, leading by as many as 13-points (17-4) during the first half. Pepperdine would answer back with a 9-2 run to pull things close.
Trailing by only two, 74-72, with less than three minutes left in the game, Wake Forest’s Broderick Hicks nailed a deep 3-pointer to give the ACC-contingent all the cushion they would need.
Ultimately, the game was decided from the free throw line. The Waves converted on six-of-eight free throws, however, they attempted just one after the half. Wake Forest, on the other hand, was 11-of-15 from the charity stripe during the second half alone.
Gonzaga didn’t fair any better.
The Bulldogs, unhappy with their No. 6 seeding, were given very little time to complain, as No. 11 Wyoming upset Gonzaga 73-66 in the first round.
Gonzaga, normally a sharp-shooting team, shot just 26 percent from the floor – nearly 20 percentage points below its season average. Dan Dickau, the Bulldogs All-Everything, tallied a team-high 26 points but shot 7-of-24 from the field and only 4-of-14 from 3-point range.
Wyoming was led by Josh Davis (11 points and 14 rebounds), who punctuated the upset when he took a rebound and put it back emphatically with 1:07 left.
The awards and accolades continued to pour in for Gonzaga, even after they shared the regular season crown and hoisted the 2001-02 conference tourney championship.
Three Bulldog players were named to the West Coast Conference All-Conference team, one of which was no surprise.
Dan Dickau was named to the all-conference team for the second time, also earning conference MVP honors. The 6-foot guard led the WCC in scoring (20.8 ppg) and finished second in assists (4.7).
Joining Dickau were teammates Zach Gourde and Cory Voilette, two frontcourt players. Gourde and Voilette are similar in both size and stature. Both 6-foot-8 forwards averaged 13 points during conference play.
Both Pepperdine and Santa Clara registered two first-team selections – the Bronco’s Kyle Bailey and Steve Ross, and the Wave’s Boomer Brazzle and Jimmy Miggins.
Ross enjoyed one of his finest seasons with Santa Clara, emerging as one of the WCC’s top scorers (15.7 ppg) and 3-point shooters.
San Francisco’s Darrell Tucker joined Dickau as a two-time selection. The 6-foot-8 forward registered a double-double for the season, averaging 19 points per game while hauling down 10.2 boards.
Andre Laws (University of San Diego) and Coky Rochin (Portland) rounded out the all-conference team. Laws finished the season as the WCC’s fourth-leading scorer (18.2 ppg) and Rochin pulled down the most rebounds during conference play (278 rebounds).
Gonzaga’s head coach, Mark Few, was named Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Few led the Bulldogs to several program-bests during the 2001-02 campaign, including their highest-ever national ranking (No.6). Pepperdine’s Cedric Suitt was named Defensive Player of the Year and 6-foot-5 guard Terrance Johnson earned Freshman of the Year honors.
For now it seems everybody’s safe in the West Coast Conference. There were no major coaching changes following the conclusion of 2001-02 basketball season.
Two programs – San Francisco and Portland – did beef up their staff, adding a perfect mixture of youth and experience at the assistant coach positions.
San Francisco retained a Bay Area product in Anwar McQueen, the former Cal standout. McQueen, who began his coaching career in 2000 with Redwood High School in Larkspur, Calif., will replace Paul Trevor.
While at Cal, McQueen, who started in 31 collegiate games, played alongside NBA All-Stars Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jason Kidd.
Portland and head coach Michael Holton, on the other hand, welcomed Keith Brown to the Pilot staff. Brown, who recently led El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.) to a 20-12 record, joins the staff by way of Eddie Hill’s resignation.
Hill left Portland to pursue other professional interests.
The West Coast Conference announced that it is changing the format for next season’s conference tourney.
League officials announced they are changing the tournament to a “Play-in” format, in hopes of encouraging a competitive regular season. Last season, Gonzaga and Pepperdine ran away with the conference title, with only two other teams registering a winning record – San Francisco and Santa Clara.
Under the new regime, the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds will butt-heads in the opening rounds, with the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds waiting in the second round with byes.
The No. 1 and No. 2 will automatically receive byes into the semi-final rounds.
San Diego and the Jenny Craig Pavilion will again host the conference tournament at the end of the next season.
Wish Them Well
Gonzaga’s Dan Dickau spearheaded a talented cast of basketball players who bid farewell to the West Coast Conference after last season.
In all, the WCC graduated four all-conference selections and the 2001-02 Defensive Player of the Year, Pepperdine’s Cedric Suitt.
Dickau, the WCC MVP and two-time All-Conference selection, was selected by the Sacramento Kings with 28th overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft and later traded to the Atlanta Hawks. With the Hawks, Dickau joins guard Jason Terry forming a young fast backcourt.
Suitt leaves the WCC after posting a dominating defensive senior campaign, where he lead the conference in blocks (3.10 ppg). Joining Suitt are a slew of WCC scoring machines: the WCC’s fourth-leading scorer Andre Laws (18.2 ppg) from San Diego; Santa Clara’s Steve Ross (15.7 ppg); and Portland’s Coky Rochin (15.5 ppg).
Ross, like Dickau, will continue to play basketball – at least on the international level. Ross was invited to play with Team Canada during the World Championships this summer, filling in for injured forward Andy Kwiatkowski.