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West Coast Offseason Update

October 22, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



West Coast Conference Offseason News Update

by Andria Wenzel

The WCC preseason poll has Gonzaga University as the leading vote getter to win the conference, followed by Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Clara, Portland and Loyola Marymount.

The coaches also voted on the conference’s top returning players – half of them coming from Gonzaga, including Blake Stepp, Cory Violette and Ronny Turiaff. The other three returnees voted to the team were San Francisco’s John Cox, Saint Mary’s Daniel Hickert and Santa Clara’s Kyle Bailey.

Gonzaga

The Bulldogs’ Ronny Turiaff – who has recently been receiving treatment for a stress fracture – was called for duty in September, competing for the French national team in the Eurobasket championships.

The junior forward who averaged 15.6 points per game in a Bulldog uniform last season spent most of his time on the bench, before France ended their run – losing 69-67 to Italy in the third place game. Turiaff played 14 minutes and scored four points in the tournament.

Turiaff wasn’t the only member of Gonzaga’s program pulling national team duty. The Bulldogs’ Blake Stepp was one of 12 college players competing for the United States at the Pan-American Games. The U.S. lost to Puerto Rico, 76-70, in the third place game. In five games Stepp averaged 14.6 minutes per game and 3.2 points per game.

Stepp was also named to the John R. Wooden Award Pre-season Top 50, along with senior forward Cory Violette. Violette was named to the WCC first-team for the last two seasons. Stepp was named the WCC Player of the Year and named an Associated Press All-America honorable mention after he averaged 18.0 ppg and 6.0 apg.

Loyola Marymount

In his fourth season as head coach of the Lions, Steve Aggers has gone down under in search of a guard and forward tandem to shake up the WCC. Competing in the U-19 World Championships, Australia defeated Lithuania 126-92 an point guard Damian Martin, who will soon be heading up the Lions’ offense, had six points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Heading over with Martin will be Mathew Knight, who helped lead the Australians to a 7-1 record. Knight was third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.25 ppg and 6.2 rpg.

Pepperdine

Patrick Whitlock, who served the past two seasons as Director of Basketball Operations, was promoted to assistant coach. Whitlock replaces Gib Arnold, who took the head coaching job at the College of Southern Idaho.

Pepperdine also replaced their Neptune logo with some sort of swirling whirlpool logo, and changed the teal colors to more of a royal blue. Word on the street is that their new graphics on their court in Firestone Fieldhouse are quite attractive, however.

Portland

With a fresh batch of recruits, the Pilots headed to the Bahamas for some pre-season tune-ups.

Josh Jamieson was hired as an assistant coach after three seasons as a graduate assistant at the University of Oregon.

The Pilots have signed Dreshawn Vance, a 6-foot-8 forward from Walnut, Calif. and Seam Smith, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Vancouver, Wash. The Pilots also followed the path of Loyola Marymount, signing Chris Jackson, a 6-foot-9, 240 pound forward from the U-20 Australian national team. The Piolts also brought in 6-foot-5 forward, Devan Paul from Richmond, Calif.

Saint Mary’s

Head coach Randy Bennett has agreed to a five year contract extension through the 2007-08 season. Bennett has led the Gaels to a 24-35 record in two seasons, but the extension comes on the heels of a 15-15 season and Bennett’ two West Coast Conference semifinals appearances. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Also, the Gaels will receive a bit more exposure this season. First, the Gaels will participate in the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska in November. Saint Mary’s is scheduled to face Binghamton in the first match, and are guaranteed two additional games, and will face either Rice or Idaho State in the second round. Additionally, the Gaels will be featured on national television four times this season, twice on Fox Sports Net, and twice on ESPN 2.

San Diego

Brian Fish, who was head coach Brad Holland’s top assistant last year, has been promoted to Associate Head Coach. The Torreros have some top junior college transfers coming in after San Diego won its first-ever conference championship and made the NCAA tourney for the first time in 16 years.

The Torreros have Cameroon native Brice Vounang coming in to replace departed Jason Keep in the post. Vounang is 6-foot-8, 240 pounds and averaged 18 points per game and nine rebounds at East Oklahoma Junior College.

Brandon Gay, who was named MVP of the Jayhawk conference, is transferring from Seward community college in Kansas.

San Francisco

The Dons return four starters to last season’s 15-14 team. They have brought in California’s junior college Player of the Year, Tyrone Riky. The 6-foot-7 forward played for state champion LA community college averaging 13.7 ppg and 9.5 rpg.

San Francisco will also have an Australian native on the roster, 6-foot-7 Tom Burns.

Santa Clara

Lloyd Pierce, a 1998 SCU graduate and former player has been named assistant coach after volunteering last season as director of basketball operations. Pierce played professionally in Mexico, Australia and Germany before returning to California last year.

The Broncos lose four-year assistant coach Antonio Veloso, who was hired to be the new Athletic Director and head men’s basketball coach at the University of Great Falls, Montana.

Santa Clara has signed 6-foot-2 guard Doron Perkins from Southwestern Oregon community college. Perkins averaged 25.0 ppg and 6.5 assists per game and was named Northwest Athletic Association of Community colleges Player of the Year twice.

     

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