In the conference realignment mess, the West Coast Conference has gone largely unscathed. BYU joined in 2011, and charter member Pacific re-joins the conference this season. But the conference hasn't lost anyone. In fact, the WCC hasn't lost a member since 1980 (Seattle).
That stability has kept several long running rivalries intact. But what it has failed to do is to foster parity. Gonzaga and St. Mary's have won the past five conference tournaments, and the same two teams have won the past 13 regular season titles. Of course, the Zags have won 11 of those. Saint Mary's has one regular season championship, and the schools tied in 2011.
Is there going to be newfound parity this year? Doubtful.
Gonzaga swept through the WCC regular season last year without a loss, and then won the (horribly formatted) WCC Tournament. But their season came to an end in the round of 32 with a loss to eventual Final Four team Wichita State. Now they've lost the conference's best front court tandem of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. They do still have one of the best back courts in all of college basketball with juniors Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, and senior David Stockton. With 7-2 sophomore Przemek Karnowski and senior Sam Dower returning, the Zags will have plenty of firepower again. The wildcard is Providence transfer Gerard Coleman. The 6-4 slasher is an absolute menace going to the rim and will make a nice counterpoint to Pangos and Bell who both take far more 3s than 2s.
A lot of the national media will be writing off Saint Mary's after graduating Matthew Dellavedova, who may have been the greatest player in school history. They also lost 6-9 Mitchell Young, and 6-1 Jorden Page's career may be finished after the knee injury he suffered in last year's WCC final. Delly's strength was playing off of high ball screens, and SMC will look to speed things up this year. The Gaels also might have the most athletic team in the conference, and they'll look to a pre-season trip to Australia to get their defense in order. Solid defense, especially early in the season, will have to carry the day. Senior guard Stephen Holt will take over the playmaking role, while a slimmed down 6-9 sophomore Brad Waldow is ready to prove he can play without Delly's assistance. Kerry Carter, from Citrus College, will be the release valve, and potentially the difference between a solid season and a great one.
When Brigham Young joined the WCC most of the media assumed the conference would become a Gonzaga/BYU match. After consecutive 3rd place finishes and no trips to the conference finals, it's clear the program is still a step behind St. Mary's. The Cougars are deep and talented, but need to replace three starters, including Brandon Davies who was 1st Team All WCC. Now the team will be powered by the back court of juniors Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino, which is the ultimate good news/bad news situation. Carlino has talent, but he's been out of control for his first two seasons. If the staff can harness his abilities then BYU could slip into the league's top two.
2013-14 West Coast Conference Player of the Year
Tyler Haws, Jr., G, BYU
2013-14 West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year
Garrett Jackson, Jr., F, Saint Mary's
2013-14 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM
Stacy Davis, So., F, Pepperdine
Johnny Dee, Jr., G, San Diego
Cole Dickerson, Sr., F, San Francisco
Tyler Haws, Jr., G, BYU
Stephen Holt, Sr., G, Saint Mary's
Anthony Ireland, Sr., G, Loyola Marymount
Ryan Nicholas, Sr., F, Portland
Kevin Pangos, Jr., G, Gonzaga
Evan Roquemore, Sr., G, Santa Clara
Brad Waldow, Jr., F/C, Saint Mary's
2013-14 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE FRESHMEN TEAM
Brett Bailey, San Diego
Nino Jackson, Loyola Marymount
Jeremy Major, San Diego
Erik Mika, F/C, BYU (Freshman of the Year)
Dane Pineau, F, Saint Mary's
2. Saint Mary's
3. Brigham Young
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego
6. Santa Clara
10. Loyola Marymount