College Basketball Nation: Portland Pilots

Portland State player fakes handshake, steals and dunks

December, 4, 2014
12/04/14
7:58
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In the closing seconds of Portland State’s 83-71 loss to Portland, Vikings player Bryce White faked as though he was shaking the hand of a Portland player in the closing seconds, but instead stole the ball and converted a garbage time dunk.

ESPN.com's WCC preview

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
12:22
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Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the West Coast Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:


Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all nine teams in the WCC:

Brigham Young
Gonzaga
Loyola Marymount
Pepperdine
Portland
Saint Mary's Insider Free
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Clara

More WCC content:

-- Myron Medcalf's "Five things I can't wait to see" in the West Coast Conference
-- John Gasaway answers five burning questions for the league Insider
-- Brennan's Three Big Things on Gonzaga
-- Medcalf rates and analyzes the nonconference schedules of the WCC
-- Andy Katz on how new-look BYU will remain in contention in the WCC
-- Joel Francisco identifies the top freshmen and potential recruits in the WCC Insider
-- Katz on the new mission rule change by the LDS and how it could affect BYU recruiting
-- ESPN.com's Summer Shootaround preview of the WCC
-- See where Gonzaga, Brigham Young and San Francisco ranked in our "50 in 50" series, which attempted to identify the 50 most successful programs of the past half-century
-- For more coverage of the WCC in the Nation blog, click here.

Nonconference schedule analysis: WCC

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
12:00
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This week, ESPN.com is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen of the nation's top leagues. On Monday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Tuesday, we focused on the East with the A-10, Big East and CAA. Today we head out West with the Mountain West, Pac-12 and WCC.

BYU

Toughest: Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Nov. 16-17 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), at Iowa State (Dec. 1), at Baylor (Dec. 21)
Next-toughest: Utah State (Dec. 5), vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 29 in Salt Lake City)
The rest: Tennessee State (Nov. 9), Georgia State (Nov. 13), UT-San Antonio (Nov. 21), Cal-State Northridge (Nov. 24), vs. Montana (Nov. 28 in Salt Lake City), Utah (Dec. 8), at Weber State (Dec. 15), Eastern New Mexico (Dec. 18), Northern Arizona (Dec. 27)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- If BYU gets through this nonconference slate relatively unscathed, the Cougars could be the clear West Coast Conference favorites entering league play. The gauntlet begins with a matchup against Florida State in Brooklyn and then either Top 25 Notre Dame or A-10 favorite St. Joe's the next day. Going to Ames to face a restocked Iowa State squad won’t be a leisure trip, either. And the Cougars will play Baylor on the road four days before Christmas. Nothing easy for coach Dave Rose’s squad.

GONZAGA

Toughest: West Virginia (Nov. 12), vs. Kansas State (Dec. 15 in Seattle), Baylor (Dec. 28), at Butler (Jan. 19)
Next-toughest: Old Spice Classic (Nov. 22-25), Illinois (Dec. 8), at Oklahoma State (Dec. 31)
The rest: Southern Utah (Nov. 9), South Dakota (Nov. 18), Lewis-Clark State (Nov. 29), Pacific (Dec. 1), at Washington State (Dec. 5), Campbell (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- Gonzaga will prep for WCC play the hard way, too. The Bulldogs will face Kansas State, Baylor, Illinois and Oklahoma State in December alone. Prior to that stretch, they get West Virginia as part of the Tip-Off Marathon and then an average field in the Old Spice Classic (opening with Clemson). But overall, Gonzaga will face five or six teams with the athleticism and talent level to add an "L" to its record, including a trip to Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse for "College GameDay."

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT

Toughest: at Saint Louis (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 22-24), Long Beach Staet (Nov. 29), Ole Miss (Dec. 19)
The rest: Pacifica (Nov. 9), at SMU (Nov. 11), at CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 17), Portland State (Dec. 1), at Northern Arizona (Dec. 5), Morgan State (Dec. 27), CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- The WCC will probably be a three-team race between Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s. This schedule suggests that the Lions recognize they’ll need some momentum to take into the rigorous conference slate. The trip to Anchorage opens with a solid mid-major opponent (Oral Roberts), but there's not much going on in that field. Other than a road game at Saint Louis, LMU won’t face any Top 25 squads during the nonconference season, and as a result, they could enter WCC play with a respectable record, few wounds and, perhaps, a little mojo.

PEPPERDINE

Toughest: at Cal (Nov. 13)
Next-toughest: Washington State (Nov. 16)
The rest: at Cal State Northridge (Nov. 9), at Houston Baptist (Nov. 20), UC Irvine (Nov. 24), at Montana State (Nov. 29), at Utah Valley (Dec. 1), UC Riverside (Dec. 5), at Hawaii (Dec. 8), Central Michigan (Dec. 16), vs. Alabama State (Dec. 19 in New Orleans), at Tulane (Dec. 20), Fresno Pacific (Dec. 28)
Toughness scale (1-10): 3 -- Even for a squad that won only 10 games last season, this is an average schedule. The Waves face Cal on the road in mid-November and then it’s mostly quiet until conference play. Their second-toughest opponent (Washington State) travels to Malibu but might end up being the worst team in the Pac-12. Similar programs often try to schedule win-win games against a Top 25 level squad to boost strength of schedule and secure a shot at a quality win. Not that Pepperdine is dreaming of a postseason berth, but this pedestrian slate doesn’t really give them that chance.

PORTLAND

Toughest: UNLV (Dec. 4), at Kentucky (Dec. 8), at New Mexico (Nov. 25)
Next-toughest: at Ohio (Nov. 10), at Washington State (Dec. 1), Las Vegas Classic (Dec. 22-23)
The rest: Idaho State (Nov. 15), at Montana State (Nov. 18), Portland State (Nov. 21), Lewis & Clark (Nov. 27), Portland Bible College (Dec. 14), CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 17), North Florida (Dec. 19), Texas Pan-American (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 10 -- Now, this is more like it. Portland, a team that finished 3-13 in the WCC last season, will get paid to play the reigning national champion (Kentucky, in case you hadn’t heard), will lure a Top 25 squad (UNLV) to the Chiles Center, and will compete against plenty of other big-time opponents (Colorado State in the Las Vegas Classic, Ohio, Washington State and New Mexico on the road). That Dec. 14 matchup against Portland Bible College certainly doesn’t define the Pilots’ nonconference matchups. Memo to other schools in a similar position: Nothing wrong with a Hail Mary or two in nonconference scheduling.

SAINT MARY’S

Toughest: DIRECTV Classic (Nov. 22-25 in Anaheim, Calif.), at Northern Iowa (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: at Utah State (Nov. 15), Harvard (Dec. 31)
The rest: Sonoma State (Nov. 10), Eastern Washington (Nov. 18), Cal Poly (Dec. 1), at Drake (Dec. 5), Jackson State (Dec. 11), Pacific (Dec. 19), Rhode Island (Dec. 27), Yale (Dec. 30)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- SMC's nonconference path certainly contrasts the one taken by BYU and Gonzaga. Those two schools have slotted multiple contenders. The toughest matchup on Saint Mary’s plate is its home game versus now-depleted Harvard. The tourney in Anaheim is lukewarm this season, although the opener with Drexel is very intriguing. But it’s not like Jackson State and Sonoma State will do much for the Gaels’ résumé.

SAN DIEGO

Toughest: at San Diego State (Dec. 15)
Next-toughest: at Montana (Nov. 24), vs. Oregon State (Dec. 22 in Las Vegas)
The rest: San Diego Christian (Nov. 9), Northern Kentucky (Nov. 14), Cal State Northridge (Nov. 15), Tulsa (Nov. 16), Siena (Nov. 18), at UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 21), at Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 1), at Southern Utah (Dec. 4), Tulane (Dec. 8), Arizona Christian (Dec. 11), vs. James Madison (Dec. 23 in Las Vegas), Morgan State (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- San Diego hopes to turn the corner after another lackluster season (13-18) in 2011-12. This is a solid tuneup for a team in that position. San Diego State is a Top 25 team. Nothing guaranteed against Oregon State in Las Vegas or Montana on the road. The rest of the slate is average. But right now, coach Bill Grier’s team needs wins. A few victories against the handful of BCS schools on his team’s nonconference slate would be a bonus.

SAN FRANCISCO

Toughest: vs. Stanford (Nov. 9 in Oakland), at Nevada (Dec. 15), Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25)
Next-toughest: St. John’s (Dec. 4)
The rest: UNC Pembroke (Nov. 5), Cal State East Bay (Nov. 13), American (Nov. 19), Columbia (Nov. 24), Montana (Nov. 30), Pacific (Dec. 8), Holy Cross (Dec. 18), Dominican U (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- San Francisco is rebuilding after multiple players decided to transfer this offseason. That fact only enhances the difficulty within the team’s nonconference schedule. The Dons open up the Diamond Head Classic with a matchup against San Diego State. They’ll face Stanford, Nevada and St. John’s, too. All of those games could be lopsided losses for USF.

SANTA CLARA

Toughest: at Saint Louis (Nov. 14), at Duke (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: Utah State (Nov. 28), at Pacific (Dec. 15)
The rest: Simpson (Nov. 10), USC Upstate (Nov. 20), Utah Valley State (Nov. 21), Eastern Washington (Nov. 23), UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 1), Pacific Union (Dec. 8), at San Jose State (Dec. 11), Cal Poly (Dec. 17), Alcorn State (Dec. 21), SMU/Wagner (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- Last season, Santa Clara finished WCC play with an 0-16 record. So this is the right schedule for the Broncos. Heavy hitters Duke and Saint Louis will be good barometers as Santa Clara preps for matchups against the WCC’s best. The rest of the nonconference schedule features a multitude of winnable games. And if you finish 0-16 in any league, tasting victory -- regardless of the competition -- is essential. And this schedule gives Santa Clara a chance to do that.
Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the WCC, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

BYU: Matt Carlino
The former UCLA transfer showed flashes of a bright future in his partial first season with the Cougars. But as BYU's lead guard in 2012-13, he'll need to raise his own offensive game another step, while working in plenty of touches for forward Brandon Davies and bound-to-be-rusty Tyler Haws.

[+] EnlargeElias Harris
AP Photo/Kevin P. CaseyThis is the year for Elias Harris to live up definitively to the recruiting hype at Gonzaga.
Gonzaga: Elias Harris
With emerging junior Sam Dower and highly touted freshman Przemek Karnowski, the Zags are at no loss for frontcourt talent in 2012-13. So why is Harris their most important player? Because this is -- or at least should be -- his team, the last chance for one of Gonzaga's biggest-ever recruits to punctuate a hot-and-cold career.

Loyola Marymount: Anthony Ireland
Ireland is without question LMU's best player, and he's also its most important, a point guard who averaged 16.1 points and 4.9 assists per game last season. After the unexpected loss of would-be senior Jarred DuBois to transfer (Utah), Ireland will have to do even more.

Pepperdine: Jordan Baker
Baker, whose freshman season was full of promise and frustration, is important both now and in the future as Pepperdine -- which finished just 4-12 in the WCC last season in the first place -- looks to recover from the losses of leading scorers Taylor Darby and Corbin Moore.

Portland: Ryan Nicholas
Portland won just seven games last season and then lost its point guard, Tim Douglas, who led the team in usage rate before transferring. That means even more will be expected from Nicholas. The 6-7 forward led the Pilots with 11.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg last season and might need to up those totals even more as a junior.

Saint Mary's: Brad Waldow
We know what we're going to get from this team's best player, guard Matthew Dellavadova, but we don't know what to expect from his supporting cast now that seniors Rob Jones and Clint Steindl have graduated. Waldow averaged 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game as a freshman, with an offensive rating of 121.8. More minutes and touches should lead to more production, particularly on the boards, something the Gaels will desperately need.

San Diego: Johnny Dee
Dee showcased huge potential in 2011-12, including (but not limited to) his 30-point outburst against Pepperdine in the WCC tournament. Fellow sophomore guard Christopher Anderson will be crucial too, but Dee has the makings of a star.

San Francisco: Cody Doolin
When you lose this many players (nine) in one offseason, your most important player becomes anyone with a warm body. But Doolin and fellow junior Cole Dickerson stuck around, and both will have to take on major roles in the wake of all those defections.

Santa Clara: Kevin Foster
Foster was en route to a solid if unspectacular individual 2011-12 before being suspended for the final 12 games of the season. But the 3-point gunner is back for his senior year and should be the focus of the Santa Clara attack.

Behind the box scores: Thursday's games

February, 17, 2012
2/17/12
7:24
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A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Thursday:

Duke 78, NC State 73
NC State’s Scott Wood missed three free throws on Thursday (7-for-10) after missing three free throws in his last outing against Georgia Tech (2-for-5). Wood had made an ACC-record 66 free throws in a row dating back to last season before his first Georgia Tech miss.

Michigan State 69, Wisconsin 55
Draymond Green scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out four assists for the Spartans, the fourth time this season he’s reached all three of those levels in a game. Only one other player this season has more than one such game; Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has done it twice.

Florida State 48, Virginia Tech 47
Florida State went 1-for-8 from the foul line in the win. The Seminoles are the fifth team this season to win a game after making one or fewer free throws; the Seminoles’ eight attempts are the most of those five teams.

San Diego 78, Portland 75 (OT)
San Diego’s Christopher Anderson dished out 13 assists and recorded five steals in the win, joining UNC’s Kendall Marshall and Iona’s Scott Machado as the only players this season to reach both those levels in a game.

Central Connecticut State 65, St. Francis (PA) 60
Trillion of the Night: Tony Peters of St. Francis (PA) played nine minutes without accumulating a stat in the Red Flash’s 65-60 loss to Central Connecticut State.

ESPN.com's WCC preview

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
6:51
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the West Coast Conference, here is Diamond Leung's quick wind sprint through the league:



Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all nine teams in the WCC:

BYU
Gonzaga
Loyola Marymount
Pepperdine
Portland InsiderFree
Saint Mary's
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Clara

More WCC content:

WCC preview: Coaching quotable

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
5:43
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An assortment of quotes from each of the nine coaches at the recent WCC Media Day:

BYU's Dave Rose: “Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock, Charles Abouo, they’ve played in big games, made winning plays in games, and we will play through our posts as we start the season.”

Gonzaga's Mark Few: “[Robert Sacre] is a phenomenal leader, plays the game with a lot of passion, and he’s true blue Zag all the way through. I just hope he has a fantastic senior year. He deserves it.”

Loyola Marymount's Max Good: “If [Ashley Hamilton] gives all that he’s got, he can be one of the premier players in our league.”

Pepperdine's Marty Wilson: “I can guarantee our guys will play hard, will play smart and play together.”

Portland's Eric Reveno: “Tim Douglas as a freshman gave us outstanding games and was a sparkplug, and now we’re looking for consistency.”

Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett: “Rob [Jones] has improved significantly from last year to this year. The areas are not just skill-wise. It’s composure, leadership and being able to bring it every day.”

San Diego Bill Grier: “[Ken Rancifer] is in better shape. His nickname is ‘Flash.’ I’m hoping for something like ‘Marathon’ Rancifer.”

San Francisco's Rex Walters: “We have a chance to play with what I think is the Big Three. Let’s be honest. The Big Three is BYU, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s.”

Santa Clara's Kerry Keating: “[Kevin Foster] is able to get his shot off against pressure just as easily as he does when he’s wide open.”

Nonconference schedule analysis: WCC

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
11:44
AM ET
For the rest of the week, ESPN.com will be breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen different leagues. On Tuesday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Wednesday, we continued with the Big East, Atlantic 10 and Colonial.

We are devoting Thursday to the West, beginning with the Pac-12 and now continuing with the newly expanded West Coast Conference ...

BYU

Toughest: Chicago Invitational Challenge (Nov. 25-26), Baylor (Dec. 17), at Virginia Tech (Jan. 25)
Next-toughest: at Utah State (Nov. 11), vs. Oregon in Salt Lake City (Dec. 3), UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 22)
The rest: BYU-Hawaii (Nov. 15), Longwood (Nov. 18), Prairie View A&M (Nov. 22), vs. Northern Arizona in Prescott Valley, Ariz. (Nov. 30), Weber State (Dec. 7), at Utah (Dec. 10), Buffalo (Dec. 20), Cal State San Marcos (Dec. 27)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- BYU begins its season at Utah State's raucous Spectrum and also has a late-January date at Virginia Tech. In between, the Cougars host Baylor, play rising Oregon in Salt Lake and also head to the Chicago Invitational Challenge, where there is a game against Nevada and a likely date with Wisconsin if BYU takes care of business in the first game. It’s not always easy to get an at-large bid out of the WCC, but this nonconference schedule certainly gives Dave Rose’s team a chance.

GONZAGA

Toughest: at Illinois (Dec. 3), Michigan State (Dec. 10), vs. Arizona in Seattle (Dec. 17), at Xavier (Dec. 31)
Next-toughest: Washington State (Nov. 14), Notre Dame (Nov. 30), Butler (Dec. 20)
The rest: Eastern Washington (Nov. 11), vs. Hawaii in Vancouver, British Columbia (Nov. 19), Western Michigan (Nov. 26), Oral Roberts (Dec. 15), Air Force (Dec. 22), Longwood (Feb. 27)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- As usual, the Zags aren't afraid to play anyone this season. The refreshing part for Gonzaga fans is that some big-time programs are headed to Spokane, including Michigan State, Notre Dame and Butler, along with the traditional rivalry game with Washington State, which arrives for the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. That Battle In Seattle with Zona should be fun and road trips to Illinois and Xavier will provide brutal environments, but Gonzaga has usually been bold about playing wherever it can find good competition. Mark Few gets creativity points too for getting center Robert Sacre a hometown game in Vancouver.

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT

Toughest: at UCLA (Nov. 11), at Florida State (Dec. 18)
Next-toughest: Harvard (Nov. 19), Saint Louis (Nov. 29), North Texas (Dec. 4)
The rest: Middle Tennessee (Nov. 13), at Idaho State (Nov. 23), Northern Arizona (Nov. 26), Columbia (Dec. 2), La Sierra (Dec. 3), Idaho State (Dec. 10), at Morgan State (Dec. 21), Vanguard (Dec. 27), TBA BracketBusters (home)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- LMU has a record number of home games this season, including ones against rising mid-majors Harvard and North Texas. It has difficult road games across town at UCLA for the season opener and also a nationally televised return trip to Florida State. The Lions need a bounceback after a disappointing 2010-11 season, and this schedule certainly offers the opportunity for statement wins.

PEPPERDINE

Toughest: at Arizona State (Nov. 15), at UCLA (Nov. 28), vs. Washington State in Seattle (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: Hawaii (Dec. 3)
The rest: Pomona-Pitzer (Nov. 12), at Cal State Bakersfield (Nov. 19), Central Michigan (Nov. 21), at UT-San Antonio (Nov. 26), at Northern Arizona (Dec. 7), Cal State Northridge (Dec. 10), Montana State (Dec. 18), at Seattle (Feb. 16)
Toughness scale (1-10): 4 -- The Waves play three Pac-12 teams away from home, including the always-difficult trip to UCLA. That’s balanced out with a mix of mid-majors at home and on the road. It’s a schedule that should give first-year coach Marty Wilson and his team some confidence heading into WCC play.

PORTLAND

Toughest: at Washington (Nov. 14), at Kentucky (Nov. 26)
Next-toughest: Washington State (Nov. 20), at UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 22), at Saint Louis (Dec. 3), at Nevada (Dec. 22)
The rest: vs. Florida Atlantic in Seattle (Nov. 12), vs. Georgia State in Seattle (Nov. 13), Lewis & Clark (Nov. 29), at Boise State (Dec. 7), Ohio (Dec. 10), Montana (Dec. 17), at Utah (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- The return trip to Kentucky is the highlight of the schedule, but where the difficulty lies is in the overall quality of the opponents. The Pilots play road games against rising programs such as UC Santa Barbara, Nevada, Saint Louis and Boise State. Home games against Ohio, Montana, and a game against Florida Atlantic in Seattle won’t be easy. There are also three Pac-12 opponents on the schedule.

SAINT MARY’S

Toughest: vs. Baylor in Las Vegas (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: Northern Iowa (Nov. 14), at Denver (Nov. 23), vs. Missouri State in Las Vegas (Dec. 23)
The rest: Shamrock Classic (Nov. 27-28), at Cal Poly (Dec. 3), Jackson State (Dec. 13), Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 17), Kennesaw State (Dec. 19), Eastern Washington (Dec. 20), at TBA BracketBusters (road)
Toughness scale (1-10): Incomplete -- Saint Mary’s has only officially released a partial schedule, so this list was compiled in conjunction with some of their opponents announcing games. The highlights for the Gaels are opening the season with a late-night affair against Northern Iowa for the Tip-Off Marathon and playing Baylor and Missouri State on consecutive days in Vegas. SMC is also hosting an event on campus that includes Weber State, Jacksonville State and San Francisco State.

SAN DIEGO

Toughest: San Diego State (Dec. 7), at Stanford (Dec. 17)
Next-toughest: Montana (Nov. 20), UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 13)
The rest: Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 14), San Diego Christian (Nov. 16), vs. New Orleans in New Orleans (Nov. 25), vs. Alcorn State in New Orleans (Nov. 26), at Tulane (Nov. 27), at UC Irvine (Dec. 3), Maine (Dec. 10), vs. South Alabama in Las Vegas (Dec. 22), at Cal State Bakersfield (Feb. 18)
Toughness scale (1-10): 3 -- San Diego had to redo the early part of its schedule after the cancellation of the Rainbow Classic and is now headed to New Orleans for the three-game Hoops for Hope Classic at Tulane. The Toreros also host a crosstown game against San Diego State as well as solid mid-major teams in Montana and UC Santa Barbara.

SAN FRANCISCO

Toughest: Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 23-26), at Montana (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Seattle (Nov. 19)
The rest: North Dakota State (Nov. 11), Northern Arizona (Nov. 12), Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 13), San Jose State (Nov. 16), Pacific Union (Dec. 4), Pacific (Dec. 10), Menlo College (Dec. 17), at Holy Cross (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 1 -- Rex Walters said he and school administrators decided it wasn’t in the best interest of the program to play guarantee games. That’s one reason why rising San Francisco won’t be facing any power-conference teams. With few possibilities for notable nonconference wins, the Great Alaska Shootout becomes important. Assuming it gets past Dartmouth, USF could play Murray State in the second round, with New Mexico State and Southern Miss lurking on the other side of the bracket.

SANTA CLARA

Toughest: 76 Classic (Nov. 24-27), at Washington State (Dec. 11)
Next-toughest: at UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 15)
The rest: UC Merced (Nov. 11), San Jose State (Nov. 19), Cal State Northridge (Dec. 3), Pacifica (Dec. 13), Pacific (Dec. 17), at Houston Baptist (Dec. 21), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 29), Air Force (Dec. 30)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- The 76 Classic presents a big opportunity for Kerry Keating’s team to do some damage and open some eyes. The Broncos have an opening-round game against MWC contender New Mexico and then face either Oklahoma or Washington State. They also have road trips to Washington State and UC Santa Barbara. The rest of the schedule gives them an opportunity to go into WCC play with momentum.
The rest of the schedule gives them an opportunity to go into WCC with momentum.

WCC keeps fingers crossed with BYU

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
4:05
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Earlier this month, when Big 12 athletic directors were pursuing a possible 10th member to replace Texas A&M, they reached out to Brigham Young University.

But will the Cougars listen again if the phone rings? Would they dismiss being an independent in football and eradicate their West Coast Conference affiliation before spending a full year in the league?

BYU isn't saying boo publicly, only issuing this general statement:

“There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour,’’ associate athletic director Duff Tittle said. “Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference.’’

The university would not comment further and athletic director Tom Holmoe isn’t making any public comments either.

That’s fine. It’s not his decision. Any move by BYU will be made by the school president in conjunction with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The university is adamant that it wants its own network to be successful on a national and global stage. BYUtv has an agreement with the WCC and ESPN that works to its advantage by getting games on television that weren’t available under the previous contract with the Mountain West and Comcast. Not having to share those rights on BYUtv, which is not a tier 1 or tier 2 issue, may sound familiar to Big 12 schools after squawking over the Longhorn Network, a joint venture between Texas and ESPN.

BYUtv probably wouldn’t be an issue for Big 12 membership, but the question is do both parties want each other? That’s still undetermined. The Cougars may want to sit and wait to see if the Big 12 really does stick together for the foreseeable future.

The conflicting reports out of Oklahoma and Missouri on Thursday night make it seem as if there are two differing opinions about the unity of the conference. Oklahoma made it seem as if there was an agreement in place for the schools over the next six years, while Missouri’s news conference indicated there were talks but that nothing was set in stone. In fact, MU's chancellor did not rule out his school moving to another league.

BYU’s hierarchy does like being with like-minded, faith-based universities in the WCC that can understand its mission. The Cougars do seek stability and their new conference does offer it up.

But if the Cougars did want to leave, they wouldn’t get held up by the WCC. The league fully understands that BYU may want to join a major football conference, but the WCC isn’t fretting an imminent departure. The conference is pumping up BYU’s admission with higher-profile members Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s and moved its tournament semifinals away from Sunday for the Cougars.

Bottom line: BYU will take its time surveying the scene. Could the Cougars leave independence and the WCC? Of course. But, as you can see from the interview with commissioner Jamie Zaninovich at the top of this post, no one seems to be overly worried in the WCC offices in San Bruno, Calif.

Week in Review: Bummin' on Sparty

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
4:58
PM ET
As we get set for a hoops-filled weekend, here's a linky look back on the week that was at the College Basketball Nation blog:
There wasn't much to recommend about Monday night's slate of games; one look at the scores from the evening will tell you why.

But up in Seattle, Washington did get a more-than-it-bargained-for challenge from 3-point enthusiasts Portland, who cut the Huskies' 18-point second-half lead to six with 8:25 remaining in the game. The Huskies eventually regrouped, went on an 11-point run to put themselves up 79-64, and then cruised to a deceptively wide margin of victory in the 94-72 win.

Lorenzo Romar was, perhaps counterintuitively, pleased with this development. From the AP recap:
Watching a 16-point lead get whittled down to six with less than 10 minutes remaining, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar had one thought: "This is great."

Huh?

"It would be great if we could win every game by 30 points, but that's not reality," Romar said. "... We're going to be in this position a lot more coming up."

Romar's "This is great" doesn't win Huskies quote of the night honors, however. That award goes to point guard Isaiah Thomas, who described the feel of the game as such:
"I looked up and we were up a lot, then I looked up and we were only up six and then we won by 22," Thomas said.

And there, my friends, is how it must feel to play basketball for the Washington Huskies. Or, really, for any team that plays uptempo, all-out high-pressure hoops. UW averages 75.0 possessions per game, making them the sixth-fastest team in all of college hoops. When things are happening that quickly, who has time to keep track of the score?

Hey, don't forget about these games!

December, 2, 2009
12/02/09
1:34
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The Big Ten/ACC Challenge will dominate the news cycle in the sport tonight, but there are other significant games that must not be ignored.

Washington State at Gonzaga: The Cougars won the Great Alaska Shootout and were led by Klay Thompson's 43 points in the win over San Diego. Gonzaga, UCLA and others passed on Thompson and it turned out to be a mistake. The Zags are coming off a Maui Invitational win over Cincinnati. The Cougars could be the sleeper team in the Pac-10 if this keeps up. I've been to this game before, and it's an intense rivalry between two schools separated by 70 miles of rolling hills.

Butler at Ball State: I know it doesn't sound too tough, but the Bulldogs are coming off two losses at the 76 Classic in Anaheim. Going to a MAC gym isn't exactly an easy task for anyone, especially with the Bulldogs desperately needing a win. This will be a big deal for Ball State, but Butler needs this game to stop the bleeding. Butler didn't have a bad loss at the tournament in Anaheim. But this would qualify as a bad loss.

Siena at Georgia Tech: The Saints desperately need to win this game if they have any chance at an at-large berth. Siena hasn't won a quality nonconference game yet. The Yellow Jackets are hardly the type of team that will gladly bow down. Siena will have to earn this win down to the final seconds if it wants to pull off the upset. The Yellow Jackets' interior may be too tough for the Saints, though.

UNLV at Arizona: The Runnin' Rebels are fresh off a win over Louisville at home. I had a number of coaches tell me that the UNLV newcomers, notably the freshmen, are much better than projected. Arizona didn't fare all that well in Maui, but the squad is still trying to find itself with so many new parts and a new staff. This would be a huge win for the Wildcats as they seek to be relevant throughout the season.

Cal at New Mexico: I wrote about this game in my Daily Word but I can't emphasize enough how critical this is to the Lobos. If UNM can pull off the upset over Cal, it would signify to the rest of the MWC that the Lobos are a real player for the league title. Cal could use a true road win to improve its national standing. This will be one of the toughest road games it plays all season.

Dayton at Miami (Ohio): The RedHawks nearly beat Kentucky. Dayton took out Georgia Tech. This is a dangerous road game for the Flyers. It should be counted as a quality win because of how hard it has been to win in Oxford, Ohio.

Old Dominion at Richmond: ODU was the preseason favorite to win the Colonial, but the Monarchs didn't pick up a high-profile win over Missouri or Mississippi State in South Padre Island, Texas. Richmond was the sleeper pick in the Atlantic 10 and has won four straight after losing to what now looks like a solid William & Mary team. This is one of those rivalry games that gets no national pub.

Western Kentucky at South Carolina: The Hilltoppers could use a win like this to improve their stock. South Carolina should count this as a quality win if it can land it. This is a tough game for Darrin Horn, who used to coach at Western Kentucky.

Oklahoma State at Tulsa: James Anderson is on display for Oklahoma State in a rivalry game that gets no national pub. Tulsa has Jerome Jordan in the post as its stud. This should count as a quality win for whoever can land the W.

Ole Miss at Arkansas State: Yet another dangerous road game for a "power six" team with NCAA aspirations. ASU coach John Brady is always crafty and the Rebels won't get out of Arkansas State easily.

Arkansas at Oklahoma: Willie Warren is back for Oklahoma. Arkansas is reeling. But the Sooners need to play a good, sound game after the debacle in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Razorbacks haven't proven they can be consistent.

Rice at Harvard: Any time an Ivy League team can get a home game against a Conference USA squad, it is significant. And hey, Rice is known as the "Harvard of the South." This game is a natural.

BYU at Utah State: The Cougars are the favorites in the Mountain West. The Aggies are the top pick in the WAC. The two schools are bitter rivals. This should be good.

San Diego State at San Diego: The Toreros have better wins so far this season than the Aztecs. Beating San Diego State will only enhance the profile of the WCC. San Diego State needs something positive before it gets into the MWC, and losing to the nearby rival wouldn't help.

Portland State at Portland: This is the type of game the Pilots must win -- you can't lose to Portland State after knocking off UCLA and Minnesota and getting ranked in the AP Poll. There will be a lot of eyes on this one.

Missouri at Vanderbilt: The Commodores were just OK in Maui, but are still an NCAA-potential team and could contend for a top three finish in the SEC East. Mizzou is a difficult out no matter where the game is played. This will be a extremely tough game for the Commodores.

Utah at Weber State: The Utes shocked Illinois in Las Vegas but now come back to reality with a tough, in-state rivalry game. Winning this game would say a lot about the Utes' improvement.

Northern Iowa at Iowa State: Huge game in the state for both squads. UNI beat BC in the Paradise Jam while Iowa State is projected to be a top six Big 12 school. The Cyclones are in the midst of a major three-game lineup. After this game, theygo to Cal and then host in-state rival Iowa.

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