A season ago Gonzaga ran through the WCC. Going undefeated in the conference winning all 16 games. St Mary’s as they have been for sometime now, were the Zags biggest threat losing only two games in conference, both to Gonzaga.
Last season is done and a new season is in the horizon. Each team in the conference lost players and added pieces to their respective teams but can anyone derail the Zags this year? The two teams with the best chance to take down Gonzaga are St Mary’s and BYU.
St Mary’s went 28 and 7 on the year, made it to the NCAA tournament as an at large bid and after beating Middle Tennessee, lost to Memphis to finish their season. They have lost their best player Matthew Dellavedova who averaged 15.8 points per game and was the clear leader of the team and Mitchell Young, a solid role player for the Gaels. Stephen Holt is back however, and he will be the player to watch for St Mary’s. Holt was the second leading scorer averaging 11.6 points per game and gave the Zags some trouble last season when he put up 23 points in the Kennel. However Holt will be the focus of most teams this season and won’t get as good of looks at the basket this year with Dellavedova gone. St Mary’s also returns Beau Levesque, and Brad Waldow, two players who averaged over 10 points per game and were starters for the Gaels. I expect as always St Mary’s to have a good season and fight for the WCC title, but I don’t think they have enough firepower this season to take down the Zags. Holt will be the team leader and main scorer, but losing Dellavedova may be too much to overcome.
BYU is now entering their third season in the WCC and they are trying to get their first WCC title. After losing Brandon Davies the 6-foot-9 forward who averaged over 17 points per game, BYU has some shoes to fill. They do have leading scorer and WCC player of the year candidate Tyler Haws back along with sharp shooter Matt Carlino. Hawes averaged a remarckable 21.7 points per game last season. Hawes will be the best player again for BYU and should put up similar numbers. BYU also has Kyle Collinsworth back from his mission. The 6-foot-6 guard only averaged 5.8 points per game as a freshman but is very flexible, being able to play several positions. BYU each season seems to have players come out of nowhere and put up numbers and I expect the same this season. BYU will have a shot to make a run at Gonzaga.
The rest of the WCC
Past Gonzaga, St Mary’s and BYU it will be hard for any other WCC team to make a run at the WCC title. The next three teams have a chance, but I don’t see it quite yet. San Diego has an improved team with Johnny Dee back and Gonzaga transfer Chris Starbaugh eligible. San Francisco always seems to give Gonzaga fits. They return their two leading scorers as well with Cole Dickerson and Cody Doolin, but San Francisco is still recovering from the major overhaul of players just two seasons ago. Loyola Marymount still has Anthony Ireland who averaged over 20 points per game last season, but past Ireland Loyola should not be too much of a concern.
The WCC is Gonzaga’s to lose this season. St Mary’s will have a hard time replacing Dellavedova and teams will be locking in on Stephen Holt. Hawes might be the best scorer in the WCC but BYU lacks some of the depth that they need to get over the hump. San Diego, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount have their leading scorers back, but the rest of their squads may not be able to get it done. As always Gonzaga will have tough tests especially on the road in the WCC because they get every teams best shot and they may lose a game or two. It will be an exciting conference season but, I expect Gonzaga to get it done once again.