The West Coast Conference shortened its name this year and came up a bit short competitively, too.
While Loyola Marymount's featured sports--men's basketball and baseball--had spectacularly good seasons, overall the WCC came up well short of its performance in the 1988-89 school year, when four men's basketball teams, one women's basketball team and two baseball teams advanced to postseason play.
Loyola was the only school to represent the conference in NCAA playoffs in basketball and baseball. The only other sport in which the WCC distinguished itself on a national level was men's soccer, where Santa Clara (20-0-3) was ranked No. 1 and tied Virginia in the NCAA title game, 1-1.
Santa Clara didn't even win the conference title. The Broncos and Portland, which was also ranked in the top 10, tied at 4-0-1. Portland was awarded the title under league tiebreaker rules.
Still it was less than a banner year for the WCC, which started the school year by streamlining its name from West Coast Athletic Conference.
In its last year as the WCAC, the conference saw four men's basketball teams win 20 or more games, with two teams advancing to the NCAAs and two more to the National Invitation Tournament, its best showing ever. And in baseball, Pepperdine and Loyola went to the NCAA regionals and Santa Clara won 40 games. All three earned national rankings.
But this past season, only Loyola managed to gain national notoriety in basketball, again setting a national scoring record and having the nation's scoring leader in Bo Kimble. And after the low point of the season--the March 4 death of Hank Gathers during the conference tournament--the Lions advanced to the NCAA final eight, the farthest a WCC team has gone since 1957. Pepperdine went to the NIT.
In contrast to the previous season, though, three other WCC teams lost 20 games and a fourth lost 19. And most of the conference's marquee players--Gathers and Kimble and Pepperdine's Tom Lewis and Dexter Howard--don't return. Gathers finished as the WCC's career scoring leader with 2,723 points and Kimble finished second. Each surpassed former San Francisco star Bill Cartwright.
For the record, Portland won the most WCC titles this year with three--men's and women's cross-country and soccer. (The WCC has not yet organized women's soccer.)
Winning two apiece were Loyola (men's basketball, baseball) and Pepperdine (volleyball, women's tennis). San Diego won the men's tennis title, Santa Clara tied for soccer, USF won its seventh golf title in 10 years and St. Mary's repeated in women's basketball.
Lions' Share of Records: The Loyola Marymount baseball team, which had the third-best season in school history at 45-17, set several season and career school records.
Outfielder Rick Mediavilla set school and WCC records by batting .416 with 112 hits. His average topped Reggie Lambert's 1985 mark of .415, while the hits broke Don Sparks' 2-year-old record of 105. Mediavilla, who played in all but one game despite being beaned in the face, also tied the school record with 269 at-bats.
Catcher Miah Bradbury, who set a season record with 31 doubles as a junior, used up his eligibility with career records in hits (306), doubles (72), at-bats (846) and total bases (490). All four records had been held by 1986 graduate Billy Bean. Bradbury finished with 36 home runs and 191 RBIs.
Relief pitcher Darryl Scott, who won 31 games in his four-year career, finished with school records in games pitched (130) and saves (22). In his four seasons, Scott struck out 320 batters in 361 1/3 innings.
Outfielder Tony Kounas set a conference record for home runs with 10.
End of an Era: After 11 years as sports information director and assistant athletic director at Loyola Marymount, Barry Zepel is resigning to pursue writing projects. Zepel, 36, oversaw Loyola's rise as a collegiate basketball and baseball power in the 1980s.
Zepel, who was tagged "Z-Man" by basketball Coach Paul Westhead, has been a fixture in the sports publicity field for 17 years, serving as sports information director at several Southland colleges, including Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Long Beach, before joining Loyola in 1979.
His resignation is effective June 15.
Stat of the Week: They didn't qualify as leaders because of limited appearances, but technically catcher Bradbury was Loyola Marymount's leading pitcher and pitcher Scott was the Lions' leading hitter. Bradbury made four pitching appearances, went 2-0 and gave up only one run in 12 innings for an earned-run average of 0.75. Pitchers rarely hit in college due to the designated hitter rule, but Scott singled in his only at-bat for a 1.000 average.