Oct. 18, 2000
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's basketball team was pegged to win the WCC men's basketball title in the 2000-2001 preseason coaches poll announced today by the league office.
The Waves received four first place votes and 46 total votes to barley edge out San Diego as the coaches pick to win the league. San Diego was chosen to finish second, earning 44 total votes and picking up the other four first place votes.
The Waves return two starters from the NCAA tourney team a year ago, including all-WCC performer Brandon Armstrong. Armstrong is one of the league's top returning scorers (14.4 ppg) and three-point threats entering his junior season in Malibu. Pepperdine comes off a 25-win season that included a WCC regular season title and an upset of Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
San Diego will have a lot of familiar faces from last season as they return 13 letterwinners from last season1s 20-win squad. The Toreros balanced attack will be spearheaded by junior Andre Laws (12.9 ppg) and senior Dana White (9.5), but USD goes deep with ten players returning that logged at least 13 minutes a game last season.
Gonzaga, the 2000 WCC tournament champion, was picked to finish third by the league coaches. The Zags will look to reload after the loss of four starters from a team that went into the third round of the 2000 NCAA tournament. Senior Casey Calvary, a Naismith Award finalist, is the lone returning starter and will be the go-to guy in Spokane this season after averaging 13.4 ppg and 6.4 rebounds last season.
San Francisco rounds out the top four in the preseason coaches poll in what is expected to be a tough battle for the 3-4-5 slot in the league. The Dons may have the best player in the conference in 2000 WCC Freshman of the Year, Darrell Tucker. Tucker will have free reign around the basket with the graduation of WCC Player of the Year Kenyon Jones. The 6-2 forward averaged 13.2 ppg and seven rebounds in his freshman campaign, while also tieing for the scoring title in conference games, the first freshman to do so.
Santa Clara was picked fifth by the league coaches following a 19-win season. The Broncos will rely on do-it-all guard Brian Jones (13.3ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.7 rpg) to boost them into to top half of the league. The sixth place slot is filled by Portland, who returns all-WCC guard Ryan Jones(14.4 ppg) in the backcourt. Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's tied for seventh in the preseason coaches poll with both teams rebuilding through freshman and junior college transfers.
WCC 2000-2001 PRESEASON MEN'S BASKETBALL COACHES POLL
1 Pepperdine (4) 46 2 San Diego (4) 44 3 Gonzaga 38 4 San Francisco 34 5 Santa Clara 27 6 Portland 17 7 Loyola Marymount 11 Saint Mary's 11