After Saturday's final round of WCC regular-season men's basketball games and before the conference tournament begins Wednesday in Las Vegas, the league will announce its all-conference teams, coach of the year, player of the year, etc.
I don't have a vote in the matter, but perhaps this weekend I will roll out my picks.
One would be BYU's Brandon Davies, who started the season slowly but has been phenomenal in WCC play. Davies had 23 points and 10 rebounds Thursday night during the Cougars' 74-63 loss to Gonzaga, and was the best player on the floor, along with GU's Elias Harris (19 points, 16 rebounds). But Davies has been far more consistent this year than Harris.
Now if the big guy can cut down on the technical fouls.
He had another one on Thursday when he missed a dunk, then hung on the rim a bit too long. The game was tied 5-5 at the time, and Davies was attempting a putback that would have given the Cougars a lead. He thought he was fouled on the play, and hung on the rim to avoid crashing down on another player.
It was Davies' third technical. He also got one for protesting a call against Pepperdine in the early going, and one at Portland when he says he was trying to be a peacemaker and break up a squabble between two players.
After Kevin Pangos hit the two technical free throws, Robert Sacre followed a miss with a rebound basket. Davies missed a jumper on BYU's end, then Harris scored off an offensive rebound to make it 11-5 for the Zags, and the crowd was into it, big-time.
For the Cougars, it was a costly turn of events, and they never got the lead again.
"We fought hard. We didn't give up all game, despite our shooting percentage. We stayed confident and we kept getting shots that we wanted. You have nights like this where they are not falling. I think we got a lot more shot attempts than they did, and that was one of our goals -- just to get shots. Unfortunately, some of those didn't fall for us," Davies said.
With Hartsock not playing in the second half, the Cougars went with three freshmen on the floor -- Anson Winder, Josh Sharp and Matt Carlino -- for much of the final 20 minutes. Sharp played 18 minutes (second-most all season behind 22 against Prairie View) and had three rebounds but did not score.
"Those freshmen, they don't play like freshmen," Davies said. "They are really mature and they know what they are doing out there. Coach wouldn't start them if they didn't know how to handle things. They handled it well, and they fought with us. Everybody who was in there -- all five guyss -- were giving it their all."
A few more comments from Davies after the game:
On how Gonzaga played ugly but won:
"You gotta give them a lot of credit defensively. We got them on their heels a little bit, in spurts, but we didn't do that the whole game.
They were able to make runs. That's what good teams do."
On playing without Hartsock:
"Well, Noah is a great player. It definitely hurts to see him out. You know, but we, individually, everyone of us, had to step it up a little bit. I feel like personally I did that in spurts. I didn't do that well enough all game. We are better with him in there."
On whether they had a sense that Noah Hartsock wouldn't be effective:
"We knew he would get some minutes. He was feeling good [at shootaround]. But you never know with an injury like that. Sometimes it bugs you, sometimes it doesn't. You just hope for the best for him."
On how they handled the crowd, atmosphere, pressure:
"All of us, we were definitely excited. We were up for the game, and I think you could see that in our effort. But you can't just win off effort. Shots weren't falling, and they did a great job defensively of getting us off our rhythm."
On Gonzaga throwing the ball off the backboard, showboating, and whether that upset the Cougars:
"You know, that's basketball. We don't think too much about the play. You know, unfortunately we got the foul, but that kind of just started a run for us. We got a stop, they didn't get a shot off easily. That's what we can take out of that particular play."
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