WCC champs collect honors

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SPOKANE — Gonzaga was represented by junior Kevin Pangos and senior Sam Dower Jr. on the All-WCC first-team but the regular-season champions were shut out on the four major individual awards.

Pangos made first team for the third straight season. Dower, in his first season as a starter, was honored for the first time. Sophomore center Przemek Karnowski made honorable mention.

Saint Mary’s (Brad Waldow and Stephen Holt) and BYU (Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth) joined Gonzaga with two first-team selections.

San Diego’s Johnny Dee, Loyola Marymount’s Anthony Ireland, Pepperdine’s Stacy Davis and San Francisco’s Cole Dickerson rounded out the 10-member first-team.

Haws, sixth nationally in scoring at 23.4, was selected Player of the Year; Pepperdine’s Brendan Lane was voted top defender and Santa Clara freshman Jared Brownridge was named best newcomer. San Francisco’s Rex Walters was awarded Coach of the Year. The conference’s 10 coaches vote on the awards.

“Well deserved,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Pangos and Dower making first team. “I’d like to have seen ‘Shem’ get some credit for maybe defensive player of the year.”

It was the first time since 2009 that the regular-season champion didn’t receive at least one of the four individual awards. Gonzaga won the WCC by four games in 2009 but didn’t win any of the four individual awards for the first time since 1999.

Dower leads Gonzaga in scoring (14.9) and rebounding (7.1). He’s at 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per WCC game, despite dealing with a sore back the first couple weeks of conference games.

“It means a lot,” Dower said. “I never thought I’d be in this position, honestly, to be first team. I can definitely bring that confidence into the (WCC) tournament.”

Pangos, despite battling toe and ankle injuries, is averaging 14.7 points, 4 assists and 3.3 rebounds. He leads the WCC in assists-to-turnover ratio (2.6) and his 73 3-pointers rank third.

Few, who juggled a short-handed roster early in conference with Pangos, Dower and Gary Bell Jr. battling injuries, was passed over for coach of the year. Karnowski ranked second in blocked shots (1.8) behind Lane’s 2.4.

“I definitely think ‘Shem’ has a right to be a little frustrated that he didn’t get (defensive player). He’s been an anchor all year,” Pangos said. “Coach Few has done a great job keeping us in line with all the injuries and adjusting to whoever was available.

“But I know if you asked him or ‘Shem,’ I think they’d give up (awards) for the league championship. It could also be a good compliment to our team, how well-rounded we are and that not any one person sticks out.”

Portland senior Ryan Nicholas, a Gonzaga Prep graduate, was honorable mention. Brownridge was joined on the All-Freshman team by LMU’s Gabe Levin and Evan Payne, BYU’s Eric Mika and Pepperdine’s Jeremy Major.

The Utah Valley-New Mexico State postgame debacle put the spotlight on potential problems when the home crowd storms the floor.

Gonzaga witnessed court-stormings at Portland and San Diego this season, another at Butler a year ago and three straight at San Francisco from 2010-12.

“You’re just asking for trouble,” Few said, “in venues and leagues like ours that aren’t well staffed, well prepared.”

Pangos said fans rushing the court “is a cool aspect of college basketball” but added it brings “a danger aspect, especially if you’re not expecting it and you’re put in a bad position.”

Guard David Stockton found himself in a bad spot seconds after the final horn sounded in Gonzaga’s loss at San Diego. He was bounced around like a pinball by court-rushing fans.

“A cheerleader didn’t see me and ran straight into me full speed,” he said. “These other guys saw that and were trying to just tee off. … They saw me 10 yards away and said, ‘We’re storming the court, in the process I’m going to run him over.’? ”

Associate athletic director Steve Hertz helped guide Stockton to the sideline.

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