Cougars picked to finish second, Davies named preseason All-WCC

(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – With the start of the highly-anticipated 2012-13 basketball season less than two weeks away, BYU has been selected to finish second in the West Coast Conference regular season in a preseason poll of the WCC’s nine head coaches. The Cougars received one first place vote and 55 of 64 possible points in the poll. The poll and all-conference team were announced Monday at Time Warner Cable Sports studios as part of the Second Annual West Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tip-Off event, streamed live on YouTube.

The Cougars finished 26-9 overall and 12-4 in WCC play and led the conference in scoring last year, averaging 77.9 points per game in their first season as a member of the WCC. Senior forward Brandon Davies, an All-WCC First Team selection last year, was named to this year's Preseason Team after averaging over 15 points per contest in 2011-12. BYU also returns starters Brock Zylstra (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Matt Carlino (12.2 ppg, 4.6 apg) and welcomes Tyler Haws back from a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines. He started 33 games in 2009-10 and averaged 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Gonzaga University has been selected as the favorite to win while Saint Mary's has been picked to finish third. Gonzaga, ranked 22nd in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches poll, received seven of eight possible first place votes from the WCC coaches, after posting a 26-7 record last season against one of the nation's toughest schedules en route to their 14th straight NCAAappearance. Senior forward Elias Harris, redshirt-junior center Sam Dower, and sophomore guards Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos lead this year's Bulldogs – and all four were selected to the 2012-13 Preseason All-WCC Team.

2012 regular season and tournament champion Saint Mary’s College captured one first place vote and was selected to finish third in the preseason poll, collecting 52 points. With a 14-2 WCC record, the Gaels captured their first outright conference title since 1989.  2012 WCC Player of the Year and Olympian Matthew Dellavedova returns to the Preseason All-WCC Team, and is joined by junior guard Stephen Holt.  Last year’s WCC tournament MVP Dellavedova averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game.  Holt added three assists per game as well, while shooting 50% from the floor.

Just two points separate the fourth through sixth spots in the WCC preseason coaches poll.  Loyola Marymount University (37 points) was picked to finish fourth this season.  The Lions are led by Preseason All-WCC selection Anthony Ireland, the conference’s leading returning scorer (16.1 points per game).  The University of San Diego was selected fifth (36 points).  Sophomore guard Johnny Dee – a Preseason All-WCC pick – led all conference freshmen in scoring (13.7 points) and three-pointers (79 made). Santa Clara University (35 points) is sixth in this year’s preseason survey.  The Broncos will count on preseason all-conference selection Kevin Foster to shoulder much of the offensive load.  The senior guard averaged 17.8 points per game over 18 games played last season, after leading the nation in three-point field goals the year prior.

The University of San Francisco (19 points), the University of Portland (15), and Pepperdine University (12) round out the preseason poll.  The 2012-13 season tips off on Friday, November 11, for six of the nine WCC teams. Conference play gets underway on January 2, and the 2013 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships willreturn to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from March 6-11.

The complete preseason poll and all-conference team follows.

2012-13 West Coast Conference Preseason Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Points
1.  Gonzaga (7) 63
2.  BYU (1) 55
3.  Saint Mary’s (1) 52
4.  Loyola Marymount 37
5.  San Diego 36
6.  Santa Clara 35
7.  San Francisco 19
8.  Portland 15
2012-13 Preseason All-West Coast Conference Team
Player School Yr. Pos.
Gary Bell, Jr. Gonzaga So. G
Brandon Davies BYU Sr. F
Johnny Dee San Diego So. G
Matthew Dellavedova Saint Mary’s Sr. G
Sam Dower Gonzaga RS-Jr. C
Kevin Foster Santa Clara Sr. G
Elias Harris Gonzaga Sr. F
Stephen Holt Saint Mary’s Jr. G
Anthony Ireland Loyola Marymount Jr. G
Kevin Pangos Gonzaga So. G