Bulldogs Ready For WCC Tournament
March 4, 2004
Sunday, March 8 - 9 p.m. PST
Leavey Center - Santa Clara, CA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
No. 1 Seed GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (25-2; 14-0 West Coast) G - 10 Blake Stepp, 6-4, 194, Sr., Eugene, OR (14.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.9 assists, 1.3 steals) G - 20 Kyle Bankhead, 6-0, 195, Sr., Walla Walla, WA (5.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals) C - 33 Cory Violette, 6-8, 265, Sr., Boise, ID (13.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.9 blocks) F - 22 Erroll Knight, 6-6, 212, So., Seattle, WA (6.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks) F - 1 Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, 243, Jr., Le Robert, Martinique (15.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.6 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 130-31 (5th year - 15th at GU) CAREER RECORD: SameNo. 4 Seed UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO DONS (17-13; 7-7 West Coast)
If the seeds hold and these two teams meet in the semifinals it would be the first WCC Tournament matchup between the two since the 1998 championship game when USF prevailed 80-67. That marked the only time the teams have met in the tournament. Gonzaga took both meetings this year by a convincing 92-50 in The Kennel and 71-48 at USF. Cory Violette averaged 19.0 ppg and Blake Stepp 17.0 ppg in the two meetings this year, while Tyrone Riley was the only Don in double figures against the Bulldogs at 10.5 ppg. Riley was an honorable mention All-WCC selection, averaging 11.5 ppg and 7.0 rpg. Gonzaga shot 57.8 percent from the field, while USF was a paltry 29.2 percent from the field in the two games.
No. 5 Seed SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY BRONCOS (14-15; 6-8 West Coast)
No. 8 Seed UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO TOREROS (4-25; 1-14 West Coast)
BULLDOGS EARN HONORS: Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few became the first coach in 46 years to win four straight West Coast Conference Coach of the Year awards, and Blake Stepp won his second straight Player of the Year award as a Bulldog received the nod for a fourth straight year. Few, in his fifth season on the Bulldog bench, joined legendary University of San Francisco coach Phil Woolpert as the only coaches in conference history to be recognized four straight years by their peers. Woolpert did it from 1955-58. Last year Few became the first coach since Santa Clara University's Dick Garibaldi (1968-70) to win three straight times. Stepp became the fifth Bulldog since Gonzaga joined the conference for the 1979-80 season to win Player of the Year honors. He also kept alive a string of Bulldogs who have won the honor in years ending in four since Gonzaga joined the league - John Stockton in 1984, Jeff Brown in 1994 and Stepp in 2004. Dan Dickau won the award in 2002, Casey Calvary in 2001 and Bakari Hendrix in 1998 as the other Gonzaga recipients. Stepp is the first player to win back-to-back honors since Santa Clara University's Steve Nash in 1995-96. It's the ninth time in WCC history a player has won back-to-back Player of the Year honors. Stepp, an honorable mention selection and the WCC Freshman of the Year in 2001, was joined on the first team by teammates Cory Violette and Ronny Turiaf. Adam Morrison and Sean Mallon were both named to the All-Freshman team. In earning Player of the Year, Stepp averaged 14.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 6.9 assists for the Bulldogs. The senior from Eugene, Ore., led Gonzaga in WCC scoring with 17.0 ppg and shot 50.3 percent (75-149) from the field in WCC action, including 45.0 percent from 3-point range (45-100). Violette earned his third straight All-WCC selection, the senior from Boise, Idaho, averaging 13.8 ppg and a team-leading 8.0 rpg. Turiaf, a junior from Le Robert, Martinique, was named to the All-WCC squad for the second straight season. He led the Bulldogs in scoring at 15.3 ppg and grabbed 6.0 rpg. Morrison and Mallon were both big contributors for the Bulldogs off the bench, both appearing in all 27 games for the Bulldogs. Morrison average 21.1 minutes/game while averaging 11.7 ppg and 4.4 rpg. Mallon averaged 14.9 minutes/game while averaging 5.8 ppg and 2.7 rpg.
ZAGS WHEN RANKED: Gonzaga University is 60-10 when nationally ranked, including a perfect 25-0 at home with this season's 11-0 home record. The mark includes games against teams in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25.
PERFECT AT HOME... Gonzaga University recorded its fourth perfect home slate in the last six years with this year's 11-0 mark.
...AND IN THE WCC: Gonzaga University recorded its first perfect West Coast Conference season with this year's 14-0 mark. The Bulldogs became the first WCC team to run the table since Pepperdine University in 1992. Gonzaga's previous WCC best was 13-1 in both 2001 and 2002.
FEW AT GU: While fifth-year head coach Mark Few is prominent on the national coaching lists of success, he's also climbing on the Gonzaga University charts. With last Saturday's victory he moved past Claude McGrath for third in career wins at GU with 130. Hank Anderson leads the list with 291 in 21 years while Dan Fitzgerald is second with 254 in 15 years. Few is also fourth in career winning percentage among Bulldog coaches at 80.7 percent (130-31), but first among coaches who spent more than one season on the Bulldog bench. Frank McKevitt (88.9), Charles Henry (84.6) and George Varnell (83.3) all spent one season as head coach. Varnell (1908-09) was the first head coach in GU history after the team went its first year of existence without a head coach. McKevitt (1910-11) was the third head coach in GU history and Henry coached during WWII in 1943-44.
VIOLETTE BOARDS AND PASSES: Senior Cory Violette is third in career rebounds with 840, becoming just the third Gonzaga player to grab 800 career boards - Jerry Vermillion (1,670) and Gary Lechman (910) the others. He also set a career high with five assists last Saturday against Santa Clara University.
NOW THERE ARE THREE: Blake Stepp, Ronny Turiaf and Cory Violette are all members of the Gonzaga University 1,000-point club. Turiaf joined the club with 19 points against Saint Mary's College on Jan. 17 and now has 1,163 for 18th. Stepp was already a member entering the season and has 1,614 for sixth, eight shy of passing Richie Frahm (1,621, 1997-00) for fifth. Violette reached the milestone against Washington State University and has 1,275 career points for 14th.. He needs 66 points to pass John Stockton (1,340, 1981-84).
FOR THREE: Blake Stepp and Kyle Bankhead continue to climb on Gonzaga University's all-time 3-point list, Stepp taking over the top spot from Richie Frahm (280, 1996-00) with 283. Bankhead has 165 treys for sixth, passing Jon Kinloch (157, 1993-96). Stepp is also the all-time 3-point attempt leader with 719, surpassing Frahm (662).
FROM THE LINE: Ronny Turiaf and Blake Stepp each moved into the Gonzaga University Top 10 for free throws made last season. Turiaf is now 2nd with 443 after his 5-for-6 effort last Saturday. Stepp has 361 for sixth. Turiaf and Stepp each tied Frank Burgess' single-game record of 16 free throws made in a game last season. Turiaf did its against Indiana University in the Maui Invitational when he went 16-for-18, then matched the mark again when he went 16-for-22 against the University of Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament First Round. Stepp went 16-for-20 against the University of Washington to get his piece of the record.
BLOCK IT: Ronny Turiaf continues to move up the blocked shots list at Gonzaga University with 117 as he has passed Tim Ruff (99, 1981-85) for second. Casey Calvary (1998-01) is the all-time leader with 207.
20 OR BUST: Entering this season Gonzaga University was tied for 11th in consecutive 20-win seasons with six. The University of Arizona leads with 16, followed by the University of Kansas with 14 and the University of Kentucky with 13. Gonzaga is tied with the University of Connecticut, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and Syracuse University.
BULLDOGS CLOSE BOOK ON THE KENNEL: The Kennel, home of Gonzaga University's Bulldogs, has gone silent for the final time following a men's basketball game with last Saturday's 80-64 win over Santa Clara University. The Bulldogs went 397-104 in 39 years in the building for a 79.2 winning percentage. The Kennel gained the reputation as one of the toughest courts in the country, the Bulldogs losing a 29-game home winning streak Dec. 31, 2002, that ranked third longest in the country. Since 1991 the Bulldogs went 161-15 at home for a nifty 91.5 winning percentage. Gonzaga went 10-2 at home in 2003; 13-0 in 2002, winning by an average of 24.6 ppg; 12-0 in 2001, winning by an average of 24.7 ppg, and 10-1 in 2000. GU is 56-3 in The Kennel over the past five seasons. The 1999 Bulldogs completed a 10-0 season in The Kennel, winning by an average of 31.9 ppg. The Bulldogs also posted undefeated home campaigns in 1993 (13-0) and 1994 (14-0). The Bulldogs put together a 34-game home-court-winning streak from 1992-95, at the time the country's second-longest active streak. Gonzaga's men's and women's basketball teams will move into the McCarthey Athletic Center next season and a new log of Kennel history will begin. The current building is being constructed on the site of Gonzaga's former baseball facility, with a new baseball stadium scheduled to be constructed just south of the old field and east of Gonzaga's Law School.
NCAA APPEARANCES: Gonzaga University will be making its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the third longest streak among West Coast schools. The University of Arizona is bidding for a 20th straight trip to the tourney, and Stanford University a 10th straight appearance.
THEFT: While Blake Stepp is known for his scoring and assists, he continues to move up Gonzaga's career steals chart with 150 for third. John Stockton is the leader with 262.
DEPTH: Gonzaga University's depth is reflected in the fact 10 players are averaging double-digit minutes. Senior Blake Stepp leads the way with 34.0 minutes/game, followed by senior Cory Violette at 28.9 and junior Ronny Turiaf at 27.2. Senior Kyle Bankhead (24.7) and freshman Adam Morrison (21.1) also average better than 20 minutes/game, giving the Bulldogs five players averaging better than 20 minutes a night. Senior Tony Skinner is close behind at 19.9 minutes/game.
BULLDOGS SIGN THREE: Gonzaga University signed three players to letters-of-intent during the early November signing period. Josh Heytvelt, a 6-10 forward from Clarkston, Wash.; David Pendergraft, a 6-5 guard from Brewster, Wash., and Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, a 6-1 combination guard from Montreal, Canada, will join the Bulldogs in the fall. The signings were not unexpected as all three had made verbal commitments to attend Gonzaga, Pendergraft making his verbal following his sophomore season. Heytvelt is a two-time All-State 3A selection, averaged 20.1 ppg last year as a junior. Pendergraft averaged 24.5 ppg and 10.0 rpg last season as a junior, helping the Bears to a 28-0 record and Washington State Class A title. Altidor-Cespedes was rated as the third best two-guard at the ABCD camp in 2003 held in upstate New York. He was recruited by most of the Big East schools as well as Florida.
NEW ZEALANDER ENROLLS: Calum (Cal-um) MacLeod, a 7-0, 220-pound center from Wellington, New Zealand, joined Gonzaga University's men's basketball team earlier this semester. The newest Bulldog arrived in Spokane for the start of classes with the start of second-semester classes and has been in practice since. He will redshirt this season and have four years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2004-05 season. MacLeod has been playing for the New Zealand Junior National Team, the Tall Blacks. The team, so named because of their black jersey, most recently played in the Oceanic Games qualifying tournament for the Junior World Championships. New Zealand lost to Australia, which features University of Utah 6-10 freshman Andrew Bogut.
THREE OR BUST: Gonzaga University has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 357. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, when the Bulldogs went 0-for-5 at home against Portland.
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