The big story from the WCC over the last four days is the tragic injury for Brandon Johnson. Johnson tore his Achilles tendon against San Diego St., and he will miss the remainder of the season.
LMU (o-8; 0-1): Things are starting to turn ugly in Los Angeles. With the issues surrounding Bill Bayno, and injuries to some of their top players, it is starting to become a possibility that LMU won't have a win heading into 2009. In their lone game this week, the Lions fell to Wyoming by a score of 62-55. LMU continues to get good production from LaRon Armstead, as the talented freshman had 15 points and 4 rebounds in the defeat. The return of Vernon Teel over the next two weeks should provide a huge boost to this struggling team.
Schedule this week: 12/13 @ UCSB
Pepperdine (1-7; 0-2): Speaking of struggling programs, Pepperdine recorded their seventh consecutive loss earlier today. The Waves fell to Dan Monson and his Long Beach St. 49ers 80-61. The game was relatively competitive until the midpoint of the 2nd half, when the 49ers heated from beyond the arc. While it was expected this team would struggle, I have been very disappointed in the play of Mychel Thompson. Thompson was impressive as a freshman, and it looked like he was ready to emerge as one of the top players in the conference this season. However, Thompson hasn't score in double figures since the second game of the season, and only scored six points against LBSU. Thompson's poor play saw him earn a spot on the bench against UC Irvine, but the results remained the same, as he only scored two points in the 71-63 defeat.
Schedule this week: 12/13 vs. Pacific
Portland (5-2; 1-1): Who would have thought that Portland fans might be frustrated with a 5-2 start to this season? After playing great basketball over the first month of the season, the Pilots fell back to earth with a 63-58 loss to Eastern Washington. Portland had the lead with just over 12 minutes remaining, but they could not contain the duo of Benny Valentine and Milan Stanojevic, who scored 16 and 17 points respectively. Robin Smeulders led the way for Portland with 18 points, but the usually consistent Nik Raivio shot only 2-12 from the field. The Pilots did bounce back later in the week, with a 68-65 victory over Idaho. Raivio bounced back from his poor performance against Eastern Washington, as he led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Schedule this week: 12/13@ BYU
St. Mary's (6-1; 1-0): In a match up of two traditional mid-major powers, St. Mary's beat Kent St. 75-69. In the victory, the Gaels were led by 26 points from Patty Mills and 19 points from Omar Samhan. Although he struggled on the offensive end, Diamon Simpson grabbed 15 rebounds. I would consider this to be the top victory for the WCC this week, especially after Kent St. defeated St. Mary's in Moraga last season.
Schedule this week: 12/13 @ San Diego St.
San Diego (4-4; 0-1): In their 57-46 loss to San Diego St., USD lost much more then a basketball game. As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Johnson, who is one of the elite guards in the WCC, was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Johnson is not the type of player that USD can just replace, and this injury likely ends any hope of USD competing for the WCC championship. TKR would like to with Brandon Johnson a speedy recovery from this horrible injury, and his tremendous offensive ability will be missed.
Schedule this week: 12/8 vs. San Jose St.; 12/10 vs. New Mexico; 12/13 @ Oregon
San Francisco (6-3; 1-1): Rex Walters and his USF Dons continue to be one of the pleasant surprises this season. After playing great in a tough defeat against USC last week, it appeared that the Dons had fallen back to earth when they were blown out by Cal Poly. In the 60-41 defeat, Dior Lowhorn scored 21 points, but none of his teammates were able to score in double figures. However, this has proven to be a resilient team, and they demonstrated this again with their 78-74 victory over Long Beach St. Dior Lowhorn matched his season high with 26 points and also grabbed eight rebounds in this terrific game. USF can be a very good team if they can find someone to complement the tremendous Lowhorn.
Schedule this week: 12/9 @ Pacific; 12/13 @ Boise St.
Santa Clara (4-4; 2-0): Don't look now, but the Santa Clara Broncos have found their groove. After beginning the season 1-4, the Broncos have won three consecutive games and are playing terrific defense. Against San Jose St., John Bryant had the game winning basket with 7.5 seconds remaining, which secured the 59-56 victory. Bryant scored 20 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the victory. San Jose St. will compete for the WAC title this year, so this is a very good victory for Santa Clara. The Broncos followed up this thrilling victory by destroying Sacramento St. 51-32. John Bryant again led the way with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Much like Dior Lowhorn at USF, this Santa Clara team could be scary if they can find someone to complement the dominate John Bryant.
Schedule this week: 12/13 vs. Notre Dame (CA) Argonauts