West basketball notes: Despite unflattering report, USF's Walters honored by WCC
At best, it was a curious choice.
Mark Few led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to another West Coast Conference championship last week, and the Zags will head to the WCC tournament this week with the No. 1 seed for the 11th time in Few's 15 seasons.
But on Monday, the league's coaches picked San Francisco's Rex Walters as the WCC Coach of the Year. On paper, it seemed like a logical choice, and perhaps coaches are tired of seeing Few win it year after year.
After all, Walters guided the Dons to just their second 20-win season since 1981-82 and a tie for second place with BYU in the WCC's regular-season standings.
He did it after losing preseason All-WCC pick Cody Doolin just four games into the season.
Saturday, however, the Contra Costa Times published a lengthy and unflattering report about Walters and his program that detailed why Doolin left USF (he has since transferred to UNLV) and why a total of 11 players have left the program in the past 23 months.
It makes one wonder if Walters' colleagues had read the report before they voted on the league's postseason awards.
Written by Jeff Faraudo, the Times' story alleges that Doolin was involved in a fight with fellow guard Tim Derksen during a Nov. 19 practice and that Walters encouraged the brawl by gathering the players and coaches in a circle to watch it.
The "boxing match" that ensued after Walters told the combatants "you can either practice or you can fight" lasted barely 30 seconds, according to Faraudo's sources, and neither player was hurt.
Doolin quit three days later. Last year, Rutgers coach Mike Rice was fired after a video surfaced that showed him abusing players verbally and physically and using gay slurs in practice.
Would Walters have been shown the door if there were a video of the Nov. 19 incident?
San Francisco issued the following statement to the San Francisco Chronicle after the Times' story was posted Saturday.
"We've conducted proper due diligence and we have no comment on the matter. The focus of everyone associated with our men's basketball program remains on the court and next week's WCC Championships."
UCLA recovers from suspensions
Credit new UCLA coach Steve Alford for making what had to be a difficult decision before one of the Bruins' biggest games of the year last week.
Prior to UCLA's Pac-12 showdown with Oregon, a game the Ducks won 87-83 in double overtime, Alford suspended star guards Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson for an unspecified violation of team rules.
The loss to an Oregon team straddling the NCAA Tournament bubble marked UCLA's first two-game losing streak of the season.
However, the players responded well to the suspensions, as Adams scored 24 points and Anderson chipped in 14 on Sunday night to help UCLA overcome an 11-point deficit and beat Oregon State 74-69 at Pauley Pavilion. Oregon State was looking to sweep UCLA for the first time since 1988.
Arizona clinched the Pac-12 regular-season championship with a 79-66 win over Stanford on Sunday, but the Bruins (22-7, 11-5) are in good position to claim second place. They are a game in front of Arizona State and two games in front of the three teams currently tied for fourth: Colorado, Stanford and California.
UVU-NMSU brawl fallout
The ugly incident involving Utah Valley University students and fans and New Mexico State players last week caused NMSU and the Western Athletic Conference to suspend NMSU's K.C. Ross-Miller for two games and Renaldo Dixon for one game.
Ross-Miller chucked the basketball at UVU's Holton Hunsaker moments after UVU's 66-61 overtime win as UVU students were storming the floor. The volatile mix of celebrating fans and dejected NMSU players didn't end well, and some punches were thrown in the melee that ensued.
Monday, UVU issued a statement saying it "has taken appropriate action pursuant to the University's Student Rights and Responsibilities Code" and has "notified the students involved and has initiated disciplinary action."
UVU said it would not disclose the students' names or the disciplinary action taken, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).