Checking in on the… WCCPosted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008
Michael Chin is the RTC correspondent for the West Coast Conference.
So first, five things I noticed from WCC basketball this week:
If you haven’t notice by now, Gonzaga is for real. To beat Maryland, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee in one week is a feat so early in the season. If this is a foreshadowing of what’s to come, consider them a Sweet Sixteen lock.
Patrick Mills is not the best point guard in college basketball. I love, love, love the Gaels, but Mills is not NBA-ready. Throughout last week’s tournament you saw a player who continually forced the ball, trying to make too many difficult shots and passes. He has some really spectacular moments, especially in transition, but as a true point guard he didn’t run the offense well. I would say from a point guard standpoint I would put: Lawson, Collison, and Pargo all ahead of him.
San Diego is overrated. So I really had high hopes for these guys, but they have crumbled in games this year. Close game against Wisconsin, but lose to Miami by 20. Granted the U is a top 25 team, but if you are supposed to be a tournament team, you can’t get blown away. Oh, and I don’t really think UNLV is that good, and San Diego couldn’t hang there either. I think they still have the potential to be very good, especially when you have guys like seniors Gyno Pomare and Rob Jones, but this team needs to pick it up.
Eric Reveno of Portland has done an amazing job. Welcome back to relevancy, Pilots. I guess I’ll change your name back to UP from PU. One might have thought that after a loss to Portland St. this team was a fluke. I’m going on record and saying, “You’re Wrong.” While they don’t have a special player, Reveno has them playing good team basketball and he knows how to play to their strengths.
Gonzaga is for real…Oh I already mentioned that, but I can’t believe how talented this team is. I had them ranked low because I didn’t believe Austin Daye could play the four, or Josh Heytvelt would return to his normal self. They proved this writer wrong.
Going forward I think the season just got more interesting in the conference. For starters Saint Mary’s is playing in must win situations against Kent State, Southern Illinois, and Oregon, all on the road. They have to win these games to secure a decent RPI ranking heading into conference play. What the Gaels really need is a clutch shooter. Right now they don’t have one. Carlin Hughes is the best outside threat, but he has yet to prove he can knock the big one down. (He had his chance against UTEP, SMC down by 8 with 2 minutes left. He missed a nice look that would have put the Gaels right back into the thick of things). The good thing is that despite the loss to UTEP, SMC played 5 quality halves in three games. Down 23 to UTEP they cut the lead to 8 with just over three minutes. If Patty hadn’t forced so many shots in the first half, this would have been a win.
San Diego is really in the same boat as the Gaels, but maybe a little more dire. It’s one thing to start off looking bad and then become really good. But to do the opposite is quite another story. SMC and USD were preseason studs and may end up falling this coming week. I’m not saying it’s over for these two teams, but there is a ton of work to be done before we can even whisper “March Madness.”
The surprise of the league, well actually not a surprise to me, is the play of USF and Portland. I liked both in the preseason, but for different reasons. What makes USF good is their senior tandem of Dior Lowthorn and Manny Quezada. These guys are experienced and with a young coach like Rex Walters, who comes with a winning mentality from Kansas, USF could be a spoiler when conference time arrives.
On the other hand, what you are seeing from former assistant Eric Reveno at Portland is Saint Mary’s five years ago. He brought in his own guys, gave them his mentality, and now it is starting to play dividends. He really doesn’t have a go-to scorer, but he has close to one in Nick Raivio. Also, freshman point guard TJ Campbell, who has replaced two year starter Taishi Ito, has made a nice addition. If they continue to play well, and finish in the top half of the conference, an NIT bid is not out of the question.
Next Week: More Conference Updates and a Recruiting Update…