March 4, 2004
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Throw out the records, statistics and recent history.
It's a new season and eight teams have a chance to claim an automatic ticket to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as they compete in the 18th annual West Coast Conference Basketball Championships Friday through Monday at the Leavey Center.
This year's event marks the ninth time since 1987 that the Broncos have served as the host school. However, it is the first time Santa Clara has hosted the league championships since Toso Pavilion was deflated and the beautiful new Leavey Center was erected in the fall of 2000.
The tournament's two first round games are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Friday night with sixth-seeded Portland taking on seventh-seeded Loyola Marymount. At approximately 8:30 p.m., fifth-seeded Santa Clara hosts eighth-seeded San Diego. The winner of the Portland/LMU game will play third-seeded Pepperdine on Saturday night at 6 p.m., while the Santa Clara/USD winner will face fourth-seeded San Francisco in the second game of the session.
Regular-season champion Gonzaga enters as the top seed for the tournament and, along with second-seeded Saint Mary's College, earned two byes into the event's semifinals on Sunday night. The first session that night will feature the Gaels against the Portland/LMU/Pepperdine winner at 6 p.m. followed by a contest featuring Gonzaga against the Santa Clara/USD/USF winner at 9 p.m.
Every men's and women's tournament game will feature live statistical coverage via a real-time Gametracker, while each Santa Clara men's game can be heard live in the Bay Area on KSFB-AM (1220) or on the Internet by clicking here. For complete tournament coverage, click here.
All-session tickets to the men's tournament are sold out. However, a limited number of general admission tickets will be made available each day depending on which teams advance. Call 408/554-4660 for information.
The Broncos enter the four-day event as the number five seed after finishing the regular-season with a 14-15 overall record and a 6-8 mark in league play. Santa Clara has fared better at home this season than on the road, posting a 10-5 record in the Leavey Center during the course of the season.
During the Dick Davey era, Santa Clara has won over 70 percent of its home games. However, the home team has only won the WCC Tournament once in 17 seasons, last year when San Diego took the title and represented the league, along with Gonzaga, in the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara's two WCC Tournament titles were both at San Francisco's War Memorial Gymnasium.
Junior guards Doron Perkins and Kyle Bailey are the Broncos' scoring leaders, combining for over 37 percent of the team's offensive production. Perkins averages a team-leading 13.1 points per game and is second in the WCC in steals with an average of 2.03 per game. Bailey is the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 11.7 points per game as well as a team-high 3.7 assists per game.
San Diego enters the tournament with a 4-25 overall record and 1-13 mark in league play. However, the Toreros present a challenging matchup for Santa Clara and their lone win in league play was a 74-71 victory over the Broncos at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Feb. 7. Torero forward Brice Vounang was named the WCC's Newcomer of the Year and is averaging 17.3 points per game.