The WCC has seen an inflow of gifted gamers and revered coaches lately, and although it’s unlikely that three groups make the NCAA Match once more, the convention stays sturdy from prime to backside. Each workforce apart from Saint Mary’s added a switch from a serious convention this offseason. So whereas family names have departed (Drew Timme is the lone returner from final season’s All-WCC first workforce), there’s loads of new faces unfold all around the West Coast together with acquainted faces poised for large seasons in bigger roles.
Right here’s how Pacific, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara form up forward of the 2022-23 season.
The Leonard Perry-era at Pacific received off to a little bit of a tough begin — an 8-22 marketing campaign final season marked this system’s fewest win complete in 5 years — and after dropping key contributors Pierre Cockrell and Alphonso Anderson, it could possibly be one other lengthy winter in Stockton. The switch portal was form to the Tigers at the very least, together with pickups Keylan Boone and Donovan Williams from Oklahoma State. Together with returners Luke Avdalovic and Sam Freeman, the new-look roster is improved from a yr in the past, however the issues on offense and protection are removed from resolved.
Pacific’s 315th-ranked offense in line with KenPom struggled to generate high quality seems and area the ground successfully, two areas that stay considerably of a query heading into this season. Boone, who shot 31.6% from 3-point land as a junior, hasn’t fairly confirmed himself as a deep risk but, whereas his teammate Williams performed simply 15 video games as a Cowboy. With out Bailey within the entrance court docket stretching the ground, the Tigers will seemingly battle to place the ball within the basket as soon as once more.
Nonetheless, control the ascension of Avdalovic and Freeman as they tackle extra accountability of their respective roles. Avdalovic, now in his second season at Pacific after transferring from Northern Arizona, shot 36.4% from behind the arc on 5 makes an attempt per sport in 2021-22. A catch-and-shoot maestro, he’ll get loads of seems coming off screens this season. Freeman, in the meantime, will likely be requested to carry down the paint on each ends of the ground given the shortage of measurement on the roster.
It’ll take so much for the Tigers to compete within the WCC. Their nonconference schedule is tame as soon as once more, however even then, Perry’s squad struggled in opposition to different (and smaller) packages from California final season. Three wins is just too low of a bar to set, however it’s not removed from what realistically might occur.
The Lions upset many final season, going 11-18 and enduring a 10-game dropping streak within the course of. Senior guard Jalin Anderson may have so much on his plate as the brand new vocal level on offense with Eli Scott and Joe Quintana not within the fold. Stan Johnson, now in his third season on the helm, was energetic in touchdown transfers from energy conferences, however solely time will inform if it’s sufficient to proper the ship in Los Angeles.
As a result of even with the additions of Noah Taitz (Stanford), Justin Ahrens (Ohio State) and Rick Issanza (Oklahoma), LMU’s defensive struggles haven’t been addressed. The 280th-ranked protection in line with KenPom allowed opponents to shoot 36% from deep in 2021-22, among the many worst within the nation. The return of Dameane Douglas ought to assist the trigger, together with Issanza’s measurement at 7-foot-1, however Keli Leauppe may even must step up as a shot-blocker in his senior season for the Lions to compete on the defensive finish of the ground.
On offense, the present revolves round Anderson, now in his third season. Although he got here off the bench as a sophomore, he confirmed promise as a freshman — he began 19 video games and earned a spot on the WCC All-Freshman workforce. A ball-dominant guard that may rating from throughout, Anderson’s improvement is vital to the Lions’ success at placing the ball within the basket.
LMU additionally welcomes again Dameane Douglas, a key reserve in final yr’s rotation earlier than taking place with an ankle damage. The redshirt senior was environment friendly for LMU in his 10 video games — 10.8 factors and 4.5 rebounds per sport whereas capturing over 56% from the ground. He’s but to develop his sport past the arc (the place 15.5% of his makes an attempt got here final season), however he’s certainly a scoring risk from down low.
Solely time will inform how this roster gels collectively. It’s an skilled group, which at all times bodes properly within the WCC, nonetheless the lack of Scott and Quintana can’t be understated. The additions made this offseason, together with returners stepping up, are promising but unproven as of now.
Herb Sandek is coming off his finest marketing campaign because the Broncos’ head coach — a 21-12 report, essentially the most in his six seasons on the helm, and a third-place end within the WCC. Behind Jalen Williams, SCU dealt with its enterprise down the stretch, with its solely losses coming to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco, all NCAA Match groups. However so much’s modified over the previous few months, as there’s a transparent lack of depth and firepower on the roster.
With out Williams and sharpshooter Josip Vrankic, fifth-year guard Keshawn Justice is anticipated to tackle a few of the scoring burden. He’s thrived in Sandek’s shoot-at-will offense, together with final season when he took residence All-WCC second workforce honors. A profession 38.5% shooter from deep, Justice can knockdown the longball at an environment friendly charge and, simply as importantly, can create his personal shot.
Nonetheless, the offensive gameplan received’t thrive off Justice alone. SCU was among the many top-35 in offense and adjusted tempo in line with KenPom, a product of Sandek’s run-and-gun, shoot-at-will philosophies which have change into a staple of this system’s identification. Parker Braun and Carlos Stewart are good items, however neither are true threats to attain from outdoors. The Broncos can nonetheless push the tempo on the break, however they’re unlikely get as a lot scoring from the skin like they did in 2021-22.