, John Shaffer
LOS ANGELES — Two years ago, BYU became a member of the West Coast Conference. This season, another new team joins the fold — Pacific.
Actually, Pacific, located in Stockton, Calif., was a charter member of the WCC before leaving in 1970-71.
The addition of Pacific, which previously belonged to the Big West, gives the WCC an even 10 teams. That means the league will have an 18-game regular-season schedule and a conference tournament — to be held once again at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas — that no longer features first-round and second-round byes for the tournament's top two seeds.
Pacific won the Big West last season and played in the NCAA Tournament.
“Geographically and philosophically, Pacific fits,” said WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. “They have a great market. In some respects — I say this with some risk — it’s a little bit like Spokane. It’s a sizable market and sizable fan base. I think they’re going to see a real bump when BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco come to town in terms of the energy in their building. It will help them. That will help everyone in the league. If we were adding two more games to men’s basketball schedule, or anything else, we had to ensure that they were the right games.”
Zaninovich is happy and comfortable with the current size and makeup of the WCC.
“It’s not really about having a number, it’s about having the right teams,” he said. “We didn’t just want to have 10 teams. We weren’t going to 10 with just anybody. Now, we have the right 10.”
TRAVEL PARTNERS: With 10 members, the WCC is going to have travel partners again. The league went away with travel partners when BYU joined the league in 2011-12. BYU’s travel partner is San Diego.
Most conference games will follow a Thursday-Saturday format.
“Travel partners is a great concept but sometimes is a hard thing to execute,” Zaninovich said. “I think it will make the student-athlete experience on those trips better. It will be less time spent out of class. It’s a more equal, competitive environment. It’s a routine that helps when you’re a coach and a student-athlete.”
TV EXPOSURE: Zaninovich announced Thursday that 90 percent of this year’s men’s conference games will be televised either at the national or regional level or produced for broadcast on the conference’s new network, TheW.tv.
As recently as a couple of years ago, only 50 percent of the league’s conference games were televised.
“We’ve really benefited from some great partners, starting with ESPN and Times Warner,” Zaninovich said.
QUOTABLE: BYU coach Dave Rose, when asked about San Diego guard Johnny Dee’s new, surfer-style hairdo: “I hope he’s been spending more time at the beach than he has in the gym. But I doubt it.”
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: The WCC preseason All-WCC team, as voted on by the 10 league coaches, is made up of Gonzaga’s Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos; BYU’s Tyler Haws; Pepperdine’s Stacy Davis; San Francisco’s Cole Dickerson and Cody Doolin; Saint Mary’s Stephen Holt and Brad Waldow; San Diego’s Johnny Dee; and Loyola Marymount’s Anthony Ireland.
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