Coaches in the West Coast Conference predict Gonzaga will return to the top of the conference this year.
The conference released its preseason coaches poll on Monday. Gonzaga received seven first place votes and 63 of 64 possible points in the poll. BYU received one first place vote and was picked to finish second. Saint Mary's was third, followed by Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
Four Bulldogs made the preseason All-WCC team: Gary Bell, Jr., Sam Dower, Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos. Harris returns as the WCC's leading returning rebounder.
Below is the news release from the conference:
With the start of the highly-anticipated 2012-13 basketball season less than two weeks away, Gonzaga University has been selected as the favorite to win the West Coast Conference regular season title in a preseason poll of the WCC's nine head coaches. The Bulldogs received seven first place votes and 63 of 64 possible points in the poll. The poll and all-conference team were announced Monday at Time Warner Cable Sports studios as part of the Second Annual West Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tip-Off event, streamed live on YouTube.
Gonzaga, ranked 22nd in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches poll, received seven of eight possible first place votes from the WCC coaches, after posting a 26-7 record last season against one of the nation's toughest schedules en route to their 14th straight NCAAappearance. Senior forward Elias Harris, redshirt-junior center Sam Dower, and sophomore guards Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos lead this year's Bulldogs – and all four were selected to the 2012-13 Preseason All-WCC Team. Harris is the WCC's leading returning rebounder, averaging 8.5 boards per contest a season ago, while Dower shot 55% from the floor and 91% from the free throw line during conference play. Bell connected on better than 55% of his three-point attempts against WCC foes, and Pangosaveraged nearly 14 points and over three assists per game.
Brigham Young University received one first place vote and was picked to finish second in the WCC preseason poll with 55 points. The Cougars led the conference in scoring last year, averaging 77.9 points per game in their first season as a member of the WCC. Senior forward Brandon Davies, an All-WCC First Team selection last year, was named to this year's Preseason Team after averaging over 15 points per contest in 2011-12.
2012 regular season and tournament champion Saint Mary's College captured one first place vote and was selected to finish third in the preseason poll, collecting 52 points. With a 14-2 WCC record, the Gaels captured their first outright conference title since 1989. 2012 WCC Player of the Year and Olympian Matthew Dellavedova returns to the Preseason All-WCC Team, and is joined by junior guard Stephen Holt. Last year's WCC tournament MVP Dellavedova averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. Holt added three assists per game as well, while shooting 50% from the floor.
Just two points separate the fourth through sixth spots in the WCC preseason coaches poll. Loyola Marymount University (37 points) was picked to finish fourth this season. The Lions are led by Preseason All-WCC selection Anthony Ireland, the conference's leading returning scorer (16.1 points per game). The University of San Diego was selected fifth (36 points). Sophomore guard Johnny Dee – a Preseason All-WCC pick – led all conference freshmen in scoring (13.7 points) and three-pointers (79 made). Santa Clara University (35 points) is sixth in this year's preseason survey. The Broncos will count on preseason all-conference selection Kevin Foster to shoulder much of the offensive load. The senior guard averaged 17.8 points per game over 18 games played last season, after leading the nation in three-point field goals the year prior.
The University of San Francisco (19 points), the University of Portland (15), and Pepperdine University (12) round out the preseason poll. The 2012-13 season tips off on Friday, November 11, for six of the nine WCC teams. Conference play gets underway on January 2, and the 2013 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships willreturn to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from March 6-11.
The complete preseason poll and all-conference team follows.
2012-13 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
Team (First Place Votes)
1. Gonzaga (7)
2. BYU (1)
3. Saint Mary's (1)
4. Loyola Marymount
5. San Diego
6. Santa Clara
7. San Francisco
2012-13 PRESEASON ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM
Gary Bell, Jr.