West Coast Notebook
by James Burns
“I told you so”
Somewhere Nick Lozito, Hoopville’s Big Sky correspondent, is hurting.
It’s not one of those pains that will keep you laid up in a hospital. It doesn’t even require a band-aid. But still, it’s one of those pains that make you want to call in sick to work on Monday…for fear of seeing me laughing and making a big scene.
I hate to tell you so Nick, but I told you so.
I’ve said it all along, the West Coast Conference is too tough for the Big Sky – from top to bottom. And they proved it again this past weekend.
Even after giving the Big Sky’s best team, Eastern Washington, an 11-point halftime lead, the WCC’s Gonzaga used a second half spurt to propel them to victory, 67-64. The Bulldogs’ Blake Stepp nailed a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the game to give the Bulldogs their first and only lead of the game.
Gonzaga’s budding star, Ronny Turiaf, led the charge with 19 points and 11 rebounds. As a team, the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Eagles 41-27.
Somebody give Nick a tissue, please.
Playpen for Ballers
The 2002-03 rendition of the WCC has become a playpen for baby ballers.
Several WCC teams aren’t riding the coattails of older, more mature upperclassmen; instead, upstart ball clubs like Loyola Mary mount and Portland are pinning their futures on the diapers of freshman and sophomores.
Even perennial conference champs Pepperdine and Gonzaga rely on young bucks. And, up until now, it is paying big dividends for each club.
Brandon Worthy, LMU: Word on the court says this kid had the skills to play at Duke. Instead, according to his own player bio, Worthy chose LMU for its academics. Head coach Steve Aggers sure isn’t complaining. Worthy is averaging 11 points an outing for the Lions and is red hot from the foul line, shooting 85 percent.
Eugene Jeter, Portland: Jeter brings an extra element to the Pilots: SoCal flair. The former McDonald’s All-American nominee at Del Rey High School has been effective for the Pilots off the bench. The freshman point guard recently tallied 12 points, including 10-10 from the free throw line, in a inner-state victory over Portland State (another Big Sky school).
Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga: He’s big and can move his feet. Oh yeah, the guy can score and rebound too. He has been a large reason why Gonzaga has gotten off to a good start. Without the sophomore’s presence, the ‘Zags would have a lot more than three losses at this stage in the season.
Terrance Johnson, Pepperdine: Last season’s Freshman of the Year, Johnson shows no signs of a sophomore slump this season. Johnson has paced the club at the off-guard position. The do-it-all guard can shoot, pass and steal. In their latest blowout against Lipscomb, Johnson’s stat line read like this: 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
While we were out
Pepperdine continued to make up for a lackluster start to the season, capturing the Stanford Invitational last week. The Waves beat Montana (which had upset Stanford) in the final round, 86-69.
Powered by Terrance Johnson’s game-high 23 points, Pepperdine cruised by Richmond in the opening round,
The Waves’ Jimmy Miggins was named the tournament’s MVP, averaging over 18 points and seven rebounds during the two games.