Gonzaga Headlines WCC Media Day - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gonzaga Headlines WCC Media Day

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by William Maupen

SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- Coaches and players from around the West Coast Conference convened in Los Angeles today for the third annual WCC Basketball Tip-Off Event. On the men's side Gonzaga was represented by head coach Mark Few and senior forward Sam Dower. The women's team sent head coach Kelly Graves and senior guard Haiden Palmer.

G-Prep product Ryan Nicholas was there as well, with his current team the University of Portland Pilots.

During the Tip-Off Event, the WCC released the preseason coaches poll and all-conference team. Gonzaga is expected to dominate the league, once again, this season.

The coaches picked both the men and women from Gonzaga to finish in first place. On the men's side, the Bulldogs received eight of the ten first place votes. BYU came in second and received one first place vote. The Zags chief rival, Saint Mary's, also picked up one first place vote but finished in third. On the women's side, Gonzaga received nine of the ten possible first place votes. San Diego picked up the remaining vote and is expected to finish second.

Three Zags were named to the women's preseason all-WCC team. Junior Sunny Greinacher and seniors Haiden Palmer and Jazmine Redmon. Joining those three are Zhane Dikes of San Francisco, Jennifer Hamson of BYU, Maya Hood and Amy Kame of San Diego, Danielle Mauldin and Jackie Nared of Saint Mary's and Hazel Ramierz of Loyola Marymount.

The men's preseason all-WCC team saw only two Zags, junior guards Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos. Rounding out the team is Stacy Davis of Pepperdine, Johnny Dee of San Diego, Cole Dickerson and Cody Doolin of San Francisco, Tyler Haws of BYU, Stephen Holt and Brad Waldow of Saint Mary's and Anthony Ireland of Loyola Marymount.

After the preseason predictions were announced, I had a chance to sit down with Gonzaga senior forward Sam Dower. He's optimistic about his season and the team's future. Gone are Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, two players who last season led the Zags to a number one ranking in the polls, but their legacy remains thanks in large part to Sam Dower.

Since arriving at Gonzaga, Dower has spent practice after practice playing against Harris, Olynyk and Robert Sacre, all three of whom are now in the NBA. "I know what it takes because I've learned from those guys," said Dower.

Dower knows his role will increase and he is ready to step into the starting line up as a senior, saying, "I know I'm going to have a bigger role this year. I worked hard this summer on my conditioning, making sure I'm in the best shape I can be to play extended minutes, while still being efficient."

What about his supporting cast? Preseason all-WCC players like Bell, Jr. and Pangos are obvious contributors, but what about having a back-up point guard like David Stockton? According to Dower, "There's nothing like it. He just has a feel for the game." When the two of them are on the court you can expect a lot of Stockton to Dower because, Dower says, "Me and him have a connection, we've lived together for four years. We have a bond off the court that really carries onto the court."

This is Dower's last season as a Bulldog, but he's hoping to leave a lasting legacy like Harris, Olynyk and Sacre before him. Dower spoke about mentoring the Zags' freshman center, Ryan Edwards, "I try to help him out as much as I can because I know when I first came here I didn't know what the heck was going on but, I had Rob (Sacre) to tell me and help me through the process."

Last year the Gonzaga contingent, coach Few and Elias Harris, left media day a bit early. They went to watch their old teammate, Robert Sacre, practice with his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Gonzaga representatives left early this year as well. They went to watch their old teammate, Sacre, practice with another old teammate, Harris, both of whom now play for the Lakers. Maybe next year the Zags will leave early again, hopefully to watch a practice including Sam Dower.

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