Gonzaga won all 14 of its West Coast Conference men’s basketball games this season, but the Bulldogs were shut out when the winners of the conference’s four individual awards were announced Monday.
It was the first time since 1999 that Gonzaga didn’t win at least one of the four awards, which is voted on by WCC coaches.
Santa Clara senior center John Bryant was named player of the year and Portland’s Eric Reveno was voted coach of the year. Gonzaga players had won or shared player of the year honors the last eight seasons. Gonzaga’s Mark Few had won or shared the coaching award seven of the last eight years.
Saint Mary’s senior forward Diamon Simpson repeated as defensive player of the year. Portland’s T.J. Campbell and Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster shared newcomer of the year.
Gonzaga junior guard Matt Bouldin was named to the All-WCC first team for the second consecutive year. Senior center Josh Heytvelt joined Bouldin on the first team. Senior guard Jeremy Pargo, sophomore guard Steven Gray and sophomore forward Austin Daye were honorable mention. Pargo was the WCC player of the year in 2008.
“Matt was probably our most consistent player all year and Josh has really played well down the stretch,” Few said. “I’m glad they got the recognition they deserve.”
Bouldin, who averaged 15.4 points and 3.7 assists in conference games, was generally considered Gonzaga’s top candidate for player of the year, but the Zags rely on balance. Four players average in double figures and six average at least eight points in WCC games.
“He (Bryant) had a great year,” Bouldin said. “I’m not going to dwell on it.”
Bryant, who shed 30 pounds after playing at 305 as a junior, averaged 18 points and 15.1 rebounds, the conference’s highest since San Francisco’s Bill Cartwright averaged 16.1 in 1979.
Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating warned Bryant that he might redshirt him if his weight was above 275.
“It definitely lit a fire under me,” Bryant said.
Said Keating: “I’m sure I wouldn’t have redshirted him if he weighed 276, but I wanted him to understand how serious this was.”
Sacre opts to redshirt
Gonzaga sophomore center Robert Sacre won’t play again this season. The 7-foot Canadian, sidelined for 2½ months after re-injuring his foot in December, has returned to practice on a limited basis. If he had played in any of GU’s upcoming games, he wouldn’t have been eligible for a medical redshirt year.
“I feel good. I want to take the risk and do it, but the best thing for me right now is to redshirt,” Sacre said. “Josh (Heytvelt) is playing great basketball. I know I wouldn’t be taking minutes from him. I’d probably see five minutes (a game). I’m willing to play those five minutes, but those might be the last five of my sophomore year and I don’t want to just have five minutes and burn a whole year.”
Sacre said it was a harder call than his original decision to attend Gonzaga.
“He’s still not going full bore and we’re running out of games,” Few said. “Obviously, he’s an entity we need and are lacking. You don’t know how many games we might play, but there’s only a guarantee of two, and that’d be a shame to waste a whole year.”
Gonzaga (23-5), which climbed three spots to No. 14 in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls, closes the regular season against South Carolina Upstate tonight at 6 in the final home game for five seniors. Pargo, Heytvelt, Micah Downs, Ira Brown and Andrew Sorenson will be honored in pre-game ceremonies.
The Spartans (9-20, 8-12 Atlantic Sun) lost their first nine games. They’re 1-15 on the road.
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