October 6, 2022 

Gonzaga picked as 2022-23 WCC favorites

Portland-BYU-San Francisco round out the top four selected by the coaches

LAS VEGAS — We are a little over a month away from the start of the college basketball season. Practices have officially been underway for about a week and people are starting to look at who the top teams in each conference will be. The West Coast Conference did that on Wednesday morning, releasing its preseason poll and all-conference team, voted on by the ten head coaches of the WCC.

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Gonzaga was picked to win the conference once again, with nine first-place votes and 81 points, the maximum number of available points, since coaches could not vote for their teams. The Bulldogs won the conference tournament last year and are looking for their 17th regular-season championship this year. The Zags also had three players on the preseason all-conference team: the Troung twins, Kayleigh and Kaylynne and Yvonne Ejim, the 2021-22 WCC Sixth Woman of the Year.

Portland was selected to finish second, with 71 points, while receiving the only other first-place vote in the conference. The Pilots finished last season in fourth place and made it to the second round of the WNIT. Portland placed two on the all-conference team in Alex Fowler and Haylee Andrews, both natives of Townsend, Australia.

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BYU, the 2021-22 regular-season champ, was picked to finish third with 55 points. The Cougars fell to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament championship game last year and were later upset by 11-seed Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament. First-year head coach Amber Whiting placed one player on the all-conference team in 2021-22 WCC leading rebounder Lauren Gustin.

San Francisco was chosen to finish fourth, with 54 points. The Dons are coming off back-to-back seasons, finishing in the conference’s top four under seventh-year head coach Molly Goodenbour. USF reached the WNIT for the second straight season and returns the 2021-22 WCC leading scorer, Ioanna Krimili, who was named to the preseason all-conference team.

Saint Mary’s rounds out the top half of the poll with 47 points. The Gaels finished fifth in the WCC last year and ended the season with a WBI championship. Head coach Paul Thomas returns preseason all-conference performer Ali Bamberger, the 2021-22 WCC Newcomer of the Year.

San Diego was picked sixth in the preseason poll after reaching the second round of the WNIT last year. Myah Pace returns to the Toreros after tearing her Achilles last year and was also selected to the preseason all-conference team.

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Loyola Marymount was predicted to finish seventh under second-year head coach Aarika Hughes. The Lions have a preseason all-conference player in Ariel Johnson, returning for her third year on the bluff. Santa Clara, Pacific and Pepperdine rounded out the poll in eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively.

The WCC has sent two teams to the NCAA tournament in seven of the last 11 seasons. As a result, expectations are high for this mid-major league in what many believe will be the most wide-open race in a long time. The season kicks off Monday, Nov. 7.

Written by Matthew Walter

Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.

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