Patty Mills, on the other hand, was on the national radar after four games in a St. Mary's College uniform.
"You're at a Division I college and you expect to have a lot of media," said Mills, who scored 37 points in a nationally-televised 99-87 victory over Oregon on Nov. 20. "But never did I expect it to be like this."
There used to be a time when West Coast Conference schools -- and its players --received national recognition only after an upset like Santa Clara's or during an improbable run in the NCAA Tournament, like Loyola Marymount in 1990 or Gonzaga in 1999.
But with a record 19 games carried nationally this season on ESPN's host of networks, plus many games seen regionally on Comcast SportsNet West or Fox Sports Net, those days are rapidly coming to an end for the once-sleepy WCC. Particularly for the seven teams not named Gonzaga.
On Saturday, Comcast will show the Gonzaga-Santa Clara game at 4 p.m. and the Portland-St. Mary's game at 7 p.m. On Monday, ESPN2 has the Gonzaga-St. Mary's game and ESPNU will carry the Portland-Santa Clara contest. Both start at 8 p.m.
"Television is the key ingredient if we're going to continue to improve as a conference," WCC commissioner Michael Gilleran said. "When it comes
Gonzaga has certainly been the most recognizable WCC team in the past 10 years, but No. 21 St. Mary's might be starting to catch up.
The Moraga school announced in November that at least 16 of the men's basketball team's 30 games would be televised. That included a record seven games on Comcast.
Nine of the Gaels' past 10 regular season games will be on TV. The WCC tournament's semifinals and final will be on ESPN.
"You hope to create some more exposure for your program," said St. Mary's athletic director Mark Orr, who deals directly with Comcast to get Gaels games shown on the network. "Get fans interested in St. Mary's; get fans interested in the college; and not just the men's basketball program."
To help increase television exposure, the WCC moved its men's basketball games following the 2004-05 season from Thursdays and Saturdays -- occupied by the Pac-10 -- to Saturdays and Mondays.
Some tipoff times were also shifted from 7 or 7:30 p.m. to 8 or 9 p.m., which allowed conference games to be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. It means viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones have to stay up past 1 or 2 a.m. to see the conclusion of a game, but Gilleran said it was a price it had to pay.
But with increased exposure perhaps comes increased expectations. Dick Davey and Brad Holland were not brought back this season to coach Santa Clara and San Diego, respectively. And after USF and Pepperdine got off to bad starts, Dons coach Jessie Evans took what the school termed a "leave of absence" Dec. 26 and Vance Walberg stepped down as Waves coach Jan. 17.
Walberg's last game with the Waves was a 92-57 loss to Gonzaga, which was on ESPN.
"I can only speak for St. Mary's, but I don't think (the increased exposure) has warped my expectations of (coach) Randy Bennett or the men's basketball program," Orr said. "I admire what Gonzaga's done, but I also know we have our own set of challenges here. And we're going to do it the best way there is to do it at St. Mary's."
Contact Curtis Pashelka at firstname.lastname@example.org.