Ten players to look out for in West Coast Conference play

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2013 1:10 p.m. MST

With the first weekend of West Coast Conference play in the books, take note — this is not the conference of pushovers.

Gonzaga has been the story of the West Coast Conference up to now. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 8 in the USA Today coaches poll and No. 9 in the Associated Press poll.

The last time Gonzaga was ranked that high was in 2010. During that season, the Bulldogs went two weeks as the No. 9 team in the nation in the USA Today coaches poll.

The Bulldogs haven't taken the easy road on the way to the premier ranking. They defeated West Virginia on Nov. 12, Clemson on Nov. 22, Oklahoma on Nov. 25, Washington State on Dec. 5, Kansas State on Dec. 15, Baylor on Dec. 28 and Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve.

BYU has played a schedule nearly as difficult as the Bulldogs, but the Cougars dropped their high-profile contests of the preseason, suffering losses to Iowa State, Baylor, Notre Dame and Florida State.

Still, following the first weekend of play, the Cougars are riding a four-game winning streak and have also won seven of their last eight games — their only loss coming against Baylor.

Meanwhile, defending regular-season and tournament champion St. Mary's College has struggled in the early going, but has defeated a few notable opponents.

The Gaels became one of the few teams in the Stew Morrill era to beat Utah State twice in nonconference contests in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. That win Nov. 15 is the Aggies' only loss of the season, and it was the second time St. Mary's has won in Logan in the last two years.

The surprise of the WCC has been the Santa Clara Broncos. They finished dead last in the WCC last year — losing every single conference game.

This year they've already surpassed their overall win total from last year, though they did lose to Gonzaga in the early going of conference play.

San Diego, Loyola Marymount, and San Francisco are also fighting to also have successful conference seasons.

Here are the WCC standings through the first weekend of conference play:

1. No. 8 Gonzaga, 2-0 (15-1)

1. BYU, 2-0 (12-4)

3. St. Mary's, 1-0 (12-3)

3. San Diego, 1-0 (8-8)

5. Pepperdine, 1-1 (9-6)

5. Santa Clara, 1-1 (12-4)

7. Loyola Marymount, 0-2 (7-8)

7. Portland, 0-2 (7-10)

7. San Francisco, 0-2 (7-8)

West Coast basketball conference play enters its second week with top players looking to lift their teams to victory in search of a conference championship.

Here are the 10 players you should look out for through the remainder of WCC play.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com, lhemsley@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney, @EarlOfHemsley

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Washington, UT

I'm not sure Davies is smart enough to be the best big man in the conference. He is Mr. up and down, a great game one night, then reverts back to his greatest talent, committing silly, stupid fouls and riding the bench most of the game. Great players do not spend most games in foul trouble. Davies is a senior, he should know better, but with Haws this year, BYU would probably not be above 500 as a team. Haws makes BYU a pretty good team, not Davies. Like at SF, BYU better learn how to win with Davies on the bench--it's what we've come to expect.

Salt Lake City, UT

Davies has the potential to be the best big man in the conference. Olynyk has been dominant of late though. Davies has done better with his foul trouble but I wouldn't put it all on him. The truth is, BYU has no guard that can stop dribble penetration defensively, which puts more pressure on the bigs to protect the basket. As a result, the bigs are ALWAYS in foul trouble.
Get the guards to play better position defense and Brandon, Nate, and Ian will play better on both ends of the floor.

Idaho Falls, ID

Very surprised you didn't list Kevin Pangos forGonzaga. They have 3 guys who can take over a game.

Louisiana Cougar
Pineville, LA

Brandon Davies has potential but is FAR from the best big man in the WCC. Right now, that would be Olynyk from GOnzaga.

BYU is in major trouble when Davies continues to make silly fouls. San Francisco made that point clear. Even when Zylstra bailed out the Cougars with a hot hand in the first half, BYU continued to be in trouble. Zylstra, Sharp, and Carlino played extremely well and saved the season for BYU.

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