The West Coast Conference Tournament is over. Fans filter in to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas to make their way home and it gives one time to reflect on the WCC season.
Teams have surprised and some have disappointed. For some the journey is not over and for others there is optimism for the future.
For four teams, they will have a brand new season beginning next week.
No. 1 Gonzaga (RPI: 6, SOS: 72)
As much as the fans of the other eight WCC schools would not like to admit, Gonzaga has a legitimate shot at winning the NCAA Tournament. Mark Few said over the weekend this might be his most adaptable team.
“[We] can handle physical play, [we] can handle a fast pace, we can handle a slow pace and not get frustrated,” Few said. “We’ve been able to adapt man or zone. We’ve also been able to, I think, not so well in stretches in games and get it solved down the stretch, which is tough to do in any form of athletics.”
The Bulldogs have not been past the Sweet Sixteen since the memorable 1999 season that put the Gonzaga program on the national map. This team, with National Player of the Year candidate Kelly Olynyk, may be the best team Gonzaga has ever had.
But they are also not resting on a WCC championship.
“You got to enjoy your successes when they come but you have to short-minded,” Olynyk said. “It’s not the end of the season for us and we still want to come out and make some noise in the [NCAA] Tournament.”
Saint Mary’s (RPI: 31, SOS: 96)
The fate of Saint Mary’s is hanging in the balance.
The Gaels are once again on the bubble and there seem to be serious concerns about their NCAA Tournament resume. The most glaring is their one win against a Top 25 RPI team (Creighton, RPI: 25).
The out of conference strength of schedule was also an issue but now that it has eclipsed the 100 mark, that may no longer be one.
Saint Mary’s has not made consecutive NCAA Tournaments in the program’s history and has not been picked as an at-large team since 2008. Saint Mary’s was the WCC automatic bid in 2010 and 2012.
Most bracket predictions have Saint Mary’s in but the lasting image of the WCC championship game and a week for other teams to improve their resumes could come back to haunt the Gaels.
Once again, they will be sweating on Selection Sunday.
BYU (RPI: 68, SOS: 94)
While the Cougars have run into hard times in the last month, their numbers are hanging strong and should land them in the NIT. It will be the first time since Dave Rose’s first season as head coach that the Cougars will not make the NCAA Tournament.
Depth is an issue for BYU.
The only legitimate big man is Brandon Davies and he has consistently gotten into foul trouble this season. It is a primary reason Rose has moved to a four-guard starting lineup, which has included Matt Carlino, Tyler Haws, Brock Zylstra, and Craig Cusick.
Their ability to close games has also caused problems. It was part of the reason the Cougars had a quick exit in the WCC Tournament.
Santa Clara (RPI: 100, SOS: 126)
The Broncos are good but their streaky shooting gets them into trouble. It did against a red-hot Loyola Marymount team. It did it against Gonzaga at the Leavey Center. It did it twice against BYU.
With that said, they are likely a CIT team. This is a tournament they won two seasons ago when they had both Marc Trasolini and Kevin Foster active.
This could be a similar run for the Broncos but growth going forward will be key. The problem with that is losing Trasolini, Foster, and Raymond Cowels III will hit Santa Clara hard.
This is the last hurrah for this trio and they need to make the most of it.
Best of the rest
San Francisco may have the most talent of any team not named Gonzaga returning for next season. Their ability to shoot the basketball and their athleticism could break them into a Top 3 spot in the WCC.
Johnny Dee is just good. It is the second straight year Dee has made the All-Tournament team in the WCC Tournament. When the lights are brightest, he has arrived. This can only be a good sign for San Diego moving forward.
LMU very clearly proved they were better than that 1-15 league record. Wins over Portland, San Francisco, and Santa Clara on consecutive days was not easy task. They even played Gonzaga well for a half. After a tumultuous season, it was fun to watch the Lions end the season like that.