The West Coast Conference traditionally releases its all-WCC basketball teams on the Tuesday before the conference tournament begins in Las Vegas, so those will come out tomorrow. The teams and individual honors are voted on by the league's nine head coaches.
Having seen every WCC team play live this year, and most of them twice, I present my picks for the postseason honors below, with an explanatory comment or two:
Coach of the Year: Rex Walters, San Francisco.
Comment: SMC's Randy Bennett will likely win it, and what he's done there is impressive. He also had to coach with that big cast on his hand, the result of a whiteboard mishap early in the conference season.
But USF improved the most as the season went on, in my opinion. A Dons team that was obliterated in Provo 81-56 in January almost knocked off BYU in February, beat Gonzaga a few days later, and gave SMC all it wanted last Saturday. Look for the Dons to make some noise in the tournament.
Walters also gets bonus points for being the most quotable coach in the league.
Player of the Year: Rob Jones, St. Mary's
Comment: Again, teammate Matthew Dellavedova is probably going to win. But Jones was dynamite, too, and one of the big reasons SMC went 3-1 against BYU and Gonzaga. Jones led the league in rebounding by more than two rebounds a game (over Pepperdine's Corbin Moore) and was No. 4 in scoring at 14.8 ppg.
Defensive Player of the Year: Noah Hartsock, BYU
Comment: It will be interesting to see who the coaches pick, because there's no clear-cut winner. Hartsock led the league in blocked shots (1.6 per game). BYU's Brandon Davies was the best player in the league at drawing offensive fouls, and also averaged 1.5 steals per game -- not bad for a big man. He had eight steals in one game.
Newcomer of the Year: Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Comment: Didn't play that well in Provo, but showed his mettle three weeks later in Spokane when the Zags downed the Cougars.
All-Conference Team (10 members):
Noah Hartsock, BYU
Brandon Davies, BYU
Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's
Rob Jones, St. Mary's
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Elias Harris, Gonzaga
Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
Anthony Ireland, LMU
Angelo Caloiaro, San Francisco
Evan Roquemore, Santa Clara
All-Freshman Team (5 members):
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Brad Waldow, St. Mary's
Johnny Dee, San Diego
Matt Carlino, BYU
Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga
Again, these are my picks. I'm not trying to match what the coaches will pick. This is how my ballot would look if I got one.
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