Gonzaga's stranglehold in the West Coast Conference ended last year, as Saint Mary's ended the Zags' string of 11 straight conference titles. This year, the conference looks as strong as ever after sending a record three teams to last year's tournament.
WCC is Guard Country
The conference returns a trio of elite guards, including the guy Gonzaga fans love to hate: Matthew Dellavedova. The reigning WCC Player of the Year is back for another season and has picked up right where he left off, scoring 31 points in back-to-back games
Loyola Marymount's junior guard, Anthony Ireland also has the hot hand. His scoring average has made quantum leaps since he arrived in Los Angeles, from 10 ppg as a freshman to 16 as a sophomore and now 20 ppg as a junior.
Kevin Foster is a consistent 20 point scorer for Santa Clara. He was suspended last season, derailing the Dons' hopes for a WCC title. Now, with a healthy team back on the floor he and the Broncos could rise to the top again.
San Francisco in Rebuilding Mode
The Dons are on the rebound after Michael Williams and Paris Blackwell were part of a mass exodus from the team. Six players in all left the program, leaving head coach Rex Walters scrambling to field a new team.
Surprisingly, San Francisco is still a threat in the WCC. They won five straight games after a season-opening loss to Stanford.
BYU Is No Longer a Newcomer
Last year's new kids on the block, BYU, have made themselves right at home in the WCC. Last season they continued their streak of appearances in the NCAA Tournament – now six straight. The Cougars return double-double threat Brandon Davies and he could challenge the likes of Dellavedova and Foster for the league scoring title. The Cougars also have a sophomore sensation in Tyler Haws, who has scored 18 or more points in each of his first seven collegiate games.
Guards and a changing of the guard are the themes of the West Coast Conference this season. And if last season taught us anything, even a national powerhouse like Gonzaga could have its hands full.