Nationally-Ranked Bulldogs Host Crusaders In Exhibition Game
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team plays its lone exhibition of the season Saturday when Northwest Nazarene University visits the McCarthey Athletic Center for a 5 p.m. tip-off.
The game will be televised on KHQ-TV in Spokane and ROOT Sports in selected markets in the Pacific Northwest, and will also be on the Gonzaga Radio Network including 1510 KGA in Spokane.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 26-7 season which saw the Bulldogs advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th straight season. Gonzaga has appeared in post-season play for 18 of the past 19 seasons, including all 13 years since Mark Few became head coach.
Few is beginning his 24th year on the Bulldog bench after serving as an assistant for 11 years prior to being promoted to head coach. He is the longest tenured coach in Bulldog history.
The Bulldogs were ranked 21st in the Associated Press pre-season Top 25 announced Friday and earlier were ranked 22nd in the ESPN/USA Today pre-season rankings.
The Zags lost two seniors a year ago; Robert Sacre the 60th and final pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2012 NBA Draft, and Marquise Carter ending his career that saw him earn West Coast Conference Tournament MVP honors as a junior.
But the cupboard is far from bare.
A pair of sophomore guards who made an immediate impact last season - and might have been the most consistent freshmen guard duos in the NCAA Division I ranks - return this season. Kevin Pangos led the Bulldogs in scoring at 13.6 ppg. He came off the bench in the season opener and started the remaining 32 games. He had a season-high 33 points early in the season at home against Washington State University to elevate his stock. Pangos also added 2.7 rpg and a team-leading 3.6 assists/game.
Gary Bell Jr. was more than a worthy compliment for Pangos. He started 26 of his 33 appearances and averaged 10.4 ppg while shooting 49.6 percent from the field on 114-of-230. He also grabbed 2.5 rpg and handed out 2.0 assists/game.
Senior Mike Hart returns at another guard, earning the starting nod in 18 of his 32 appearances. Hart, who made the squad through a tryout as a freshman in the fall of 2008, turned in another blue-collar campaign and gave the Bulldogs stability. He grabbed 3.0 rpg a year ago.
The fourth returning starter is senior Elias Harris, one of only two Bulldogs to start all 33 games in 2012, Sacre the other. He averaged 13.1 ppg, a team-leading 8.5 rpg and shot 50.2 percent from the field on 163-of-325.
The Bulldogs also have depth. Sam Dower returns for his junior year in the middle, averaging 7.6 ppg and 3.3 rpg while shooting 57.5 percent from the field on 104-of-181. He came off the bench in all 33 games.
Two newcomers have caught the eye of the coaches. The Bulldogs have 7-1, 305-pound freshman Przemek Karnowski of Torun, Poland, in the middle. Drew Barham transferred from the University of Memphis after graduating, is enrolled in graduate school at Gonzaga and is immediately eligible. Barham is a considered another outside threat among Gonzaga's arsenal of shooters.
Freshman Rem Bakamus is a walk-on from Mark Morris High in Longview, Wash., and Gerard Coleman will have to redshirt per NCAA transfer rules after joining the Boston, Mass., native joined the Bulldogs from Providence College.
The Crusaders, under the guidance of second-year head coach Dave Daniels, have been picked to finish seventh in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). NNU was 12-14 overall a year ago and 6-12 and seventh in the GNAC.
Northwest Nazarene returns a pair of starters in senior guards Keith Moilanen and Jon Hawkins, the latter a GNAC honorable mention selection a year ago and was a pre-season All-GNAC selection this year.
The Crusaders bring a couple of local products back home Saturday. Austin Damon is a freshman from Lewis and Clark High and Connor White is a junior from nearby Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, High.
The Bulldogs open the regular season Nov. 9 at home against Southern Utah University.