Bulldogs, Gales Ready For WCC Showdown

Feb. 28, 2008

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 29 - Saint Mary's
Saturday, March 1 - 5 p.m.
McCarthey Athletic Center - Spokane, WA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: KHQ-TV (Spokane); FSN (check local listings)
No. 24/NR GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (22-6; 11-1 West Coast)
G -   2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 219, Jr., Chicago, IL
       (11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.3 blocks)
G - 15 Matt Bouldin, 6-5, 214, So., Highlands Ranch, CO
       (12.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals)
G - 32 Steven Gray, 6-4, 190, Fr., Bainbridge, WA
       (7.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals)
C -  21 Robert Sacre, 7-0, 255, Fr., North Vancouver, B.C.
       (3.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks)
F -  25 David Pendergraft, 6-6, 223, Sr., Brewster, WA
       (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals)
HEAD COACH:  Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD:  233-58 (9th year - 19th at GU)  CAREER RECORD:  Same

No. 25/23 SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE GAELS (24-4, 11-1 West Coast) G - 13 Patrick Mills, 6-0, 175, Fr., Canberra, Australia (14.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals) G - 24 Todd Golden, 6-3, 180, Sr., Phoenix, AR (7.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals) C - 50 Omar Samhan, 6-11, 265, So., San Ramon, CA (11.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.4 blocks) F - 20 Diamon Simpson, 6-7, 230, Jr., Hayward, CA (12.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.8 blocks) F - 4 Ian O'Leary, 6-7, 220, Jr., Woodland, CA (8.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks) HEAD COACH: Randy Bennett (UC San Diego, 1986) SMC RECORD: 126-86 (7th year) CAREER RECORD: Same. GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA: None.

Game No. 30 - Santa Clara
Monday, March 3 - 8:30 p.m.
McCarthey Athletic Center - Spokane, WA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: ESPN2 (Big Monday)
G -    5 Brody Angley, 5-11, 195, Sr., Redding, CA
      (12.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.7 assists, 1.4 steals)
G -    3 Calvin Johnson, 6-2, 200, Jr., Morton, TX
      (4.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals)
C -  54 John Bryant, 6-10, 305, Jr., San Pablo, CA
      (18.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.3 blocks)
F -   10 Ben Dowdell, 6-7, 215, Fr., North Nowra, NSW
      (7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks)
F -   21 Mitch Henke, 6-7, 210, Sr., Minnetonka, MN
      (9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals)
HEAD COACH:  Kerry Keating (Seton Hall, 1993)
SCU RECORD:  14-13 (1st year)  CAREER RECORD:  Same.
GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA:  3/1 at Portland.
NOTE: Poll rankings are Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN, respectively.

It doesn't get any better than this when Gonzaga University and Saint Mary's College meet Saturday at 5 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center - and West Coast Conference history will be made regardless of the outcome. For starters the game features the two premiere teams in the WCC this season as they enter the game tied atop the WCC standings with 11-1 records - the Gonzaga loss coming at the hands of the Gaels 89-85 in overtime Feb. 4. But for the first time in WCC history - dating back to the inception of the league as the California Basketball Association when the first game was played Jan. 2, 1953 - the game will feature two nationally-ranked teams. The Bulldogs got back into the Top 25 for the first time in nine weeks, earning a No. 24 ranking by Associated Press. The Gaels enter the game 25th in the AP poll and 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25.

While Gonzaga University and Saint Mary's are battling for the West Coast Conference title on Saturday, the two clubs are already assured of being the top two seeds into the WCC Tournament March 7-10 at the University of San Diego. Thus, the Bulldogs and Gaels are guaranteed a spot in the semifinals March 9. All that remains to be seen is who is No. 1 and who is No. 2. If Gonzaga wins twice or Saint Mary's wins twice, that team would earn the No. 1 seed. Should Gonzaga and Saint Mary's end in a two-way tie, the Bulldogs earn the top seed by virtue of their series sweep of USD while SMC and USD split the regular-season series. Should Gonzaga or Saint Mary's lose twice and USD win twice to create a tie for second, Gonzaga and Saint Mary's hold the tiebreakers against USD. The top seed will face the No. 6, No. 7 or No. 4 seed in the semifinals, while the No. 2 seed will face the No. 5, No. 8 or No. 3 seed in the semifinals.

In the first meeting Feb. 4 in Moraga, Calif., Saint Mary's College's Todd Golden hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night with 1:19 left in overtime and Patty Mills scored the final 10 points of regulation and five more in extra time as SMC held off the Zags 89-85. Golden went 6-for-6 from long range and finished with 19 points. Mills scored 23 despite shooting 0-for-6 on 3's and 5-of-15 overall. He made 13 of 18 free throws, six over the final 2:55 of regulation and five in OT. Diamon Simpson added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Gaels, who overcame 26-for-42 free-throw shooting to beat the Zags at home in McKeon Pavilion for the third time in four years and second in a row. Gonzaga's Micah Downs missed short on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with :05 to play that would have sent the game to a second OT. Jeremy Pargo did everything he could to keep the Zags in it, hitting a tying trey with 3:17 left and another the next time down to give Gonzaga the lead. He scored nine in OT and finished with 27 points and nine assists for Gonzaga, which had three players foul out during the extra session. Austin Daye scored 15 points for Gonzaga, which faced a ranked conference opponent for the first time since Jan. 27, 1990, the Loyola Marymount team featuring Bo Kimble and the late Hank Gathers. This one stood up to the thrillers that these teams are known for, with regulation ending in wild fashion at 74-all. Mills picked off a pass from Daye, drove the length of the floor and converted a go-ahead 3-point play with 23.3 seconds left. Pargo scored moments later, then Mills was fouled and missed the first of two free throws - giving Gonzaga another chance. Abdullahi Kuso dunked with 5.9 seconds left and Tron Smith missed an off-balanced attempt just before the buzzer.

Think Gonzaga University hasn't played a tough schedule? The combined record of the teams who have handed the Bulldogs their six losses is 130-36 for a winning percentage of 78.3 percent. The University of Memphis (27-1) leads the way as four of the six teams have already won 20 or more games through contests of Wednesday. In addition, the Bulldogs have also defeated the University of Connecticut, ranked 15th by Associated Press and 16th in the USA Today/ESPN poll this week.

It's time to start checking the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) as the second half of West Coast Conference action winds down and teams start eyeing the WCC Tournament and subsequent NCAA Tournament berths. Gonzaga enters Saturday's game with an RPI of 35 through games of Wednesday. The Bulldogs strength of schedule is 108. Of the other two schools among the top three in the WCC, Saint Mary's College has an RPI of 30 and a SOS of 143, while the University of San Diego has an RPI of 103 and a SOS of 94. The West Coast Conference is 14th in the conference RPI, but the WCC is ranked first in the non-conference strength of schedule.

With a 22-6 record, Gonzaga University has won 20 games for the 11th straight season and for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons. Gonzaga (11-1) has also hit double-digit wins in West Coast Conference play for the 11th straight year and for the 12th time in the last 13 campaigns.

Gonzaga University leads the overall series with Saint Mary's College 45-23 and the Bulldogs have won the last 12 meetings in Spokane. The last time the Gaels won at Gonzaga was 68-63 Jan. 21, 1995. SMC also won the return meeting in Moraga the following week for the last time the Gaels have posted back-to-back wins in the series. The Zags have won 28 of the last 33 meetings since those back-to-back setbacks, all five loses in Moraga, including this year's 89-85 OT setback Feb. 4.

Gonzaga University has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 488. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, going 0-for-5 at home against Portland. UNLV holds the all-time streak of 668 entering this season. Every five years since 1997, Basketball Times has evaluated the best of the best NCAA programs - those that have won two-thirds of their games over 10 seasons. Gonzaga University is one of 29 schools that qualified for the evaluation this year, and to follow is how the Bulldogs stacked up against the other 28 programs that also met the two-thirds criteria. Gonzaga first made the list in 2002, one of 28 teams to meet the two-third criteria. Special thanks to Jack Styczynski of Basketball Times and the 10 panelists who participated in the 2007 evaluation.

Junior Jeremy Pargo is in the Top 10 on the Gonzaga University career charts for assists and steals. His 400 career assists rank fourth behind Matt Santangelo (668), Blake Stepp (640) and John Stockton (554). The Gonzaga co-captain is seventh in career steals with 119. Pargo also has 826 career points as he bids to become the 30th Bulldog to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Senior Abdullahi Kuso has 72 career blocks to tie Paul Rogers for seventh on the all-time Gonzaga University charts. Mark Spink is sixth with 80 blocks.

Gonzaga University is in search of its 10th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs current streak of nine straight appearances ranks the Bulldogs tied for sixth for consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with the University of Florida, University of Texas and University of Wisconsin.

There's no place like home, and the McCarthey Athletic Center has become quite the home for the Bulldogs since it opened for the 2004-05 season. Gonzaga is 50-2 in the new facility, winning its first 38 games in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Santa Clara University halted the streak with an 84-73 victory Feb. 12, 2007. That loss also snapped a 50-game home winning streak for the Bulldogs, at the time the longest streak in the nation, as Gonzaga left the old Kennel with 12 straight home victories.

There might be some magic in that No. 5 jersey freshman Austin Daye is wearing - especially when it comes to the free throw line. Daye is 78-for-85 for 91.8 percent from the stripe this season. He was ranked fourth nationally through games of Sunday when the latest rankings were compiled. Derek Raivio, who wore No. 5 throughout his Gonzaga career, is one of the most prolific free throw shooters in NCAA history. He finished his career hitting 92.7 percent from the line and holds the top three single-season percentage marks in school history. Raivio went 148-for-154 for 96.1 percent to lead the NCAA Division I ranks in percentage a year ago and ranks second all-time on the NCAA single-season list. For his career he went 343-for-370 for 92.7 percent to rank second in the NCAA based on a minimum of 300 free throws made and 2.5 free throws made/game. Raivio set the Gonzaga record of 56 consecutive free throws. Daye had 29 straight makes this season.

Head coach Mark Few picked up his 225th career victory Jan. 19 against the University of San Diego. With 233 victories, Few is third on the all-time Gonzaga victories chart behind Hank Anderson (290-275 in 21 seasons) and Dan Fitzgerald (252-171 in 15 seasons). Few is the active winningest coach in West Coast Conference games at 111-13 and fourth on the all-time WCC wins list behind Carroll Williams, Santa Clara University (165-137), Dick Davey, SCU (122-88) and Fitzgerald (112-88).

Gonzaga University has a +13.6 scoring margin overall this season, and a +19.7 scoring margin in West Coast Conference play. Gonzaga is averaging 77.1 ppg overall and 82.1 ppg in conference action. However, Saint Mary's leads in scoring margin overall among WCC schools, holding a +14.4 margin overall, while Gonzaga leads in WCC play at +19.7.

Gonzaga University men's basketball coach Mark Few added three players to his charges for the 2008-09 season with the signing of three players to letters-of-intent. Andy Poling, 6-11, 230-pound forward from Westview High in Portland, Ore.; Grant Gibbs, 6-5, 190-pound guard from Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa, and Demetri Goodson, 6-0, 175-pound guard from Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas, outside of Houston, made their intentions official to become Bulldogs on the first day of national letter-of-intent signing day. All three had previously made verbal commitments. Poling averaged 13.9 ppg last season to rank fifth in the Metro League in scoring while leading the Wildcats to a 21-8 overall record and 8-2 second-place Metro League finish. He was named honorable mention All-State 6A in Westview's first season in the newly-created State 6A classification. He was also voted first-team All-Metro League for the Wildcats, ranked seventh in the state heading into the State 6A Tournament where they lost their first two games. Poling was rated one of the 20 best centers in the country by one scouring service. Gibbs averaged 15.0 ppg, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rpg as Linn-Mar captured the Iowa State 4A title last spring. He had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the quarterfinal win over Sioux City North; 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals in the semifinal victory over Urbandale, and scored 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had a pair of assists and steals in the title game against Bettendorf to cap a 24-1 season. He finished third in tournament scoring with 45 points and tied for fourth with 21 rebounds in earning All-Tournament honors. Goodson helped lead Klein Collins to the Region 2 title game last season while averaging 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 7.0 assists/game. He was an All-State 5A selection, the largest classification in Texas. Goodson was rated as high as the 135th best player in the country by one scouting service.



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