Men's Basketball Readies For Tourney
March 4, 2005
Game No. 28 - WCC Tournament Semifinals
Sun., March 6 - 6 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 (23-4; 12-2 West Coast) G - 5 Derek Raivio, 6-3, 168, So., Vancouver, WA (13.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals) G - 22 Erroll Knight, 6-7, 211, Jr., Seattle, WA (6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals) C - 1 Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, 249, Sr., Le Robert, Martinique (16.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.8 blocks) F - 3 Adam Morrison, 6-8, 205, So., Spokane, WA (17.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks) F - 13 J.P. Batista, 6-9, 269, Jr., Pernambuco, Brazil (12.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 156-36 (6th year - 16th at GU) CAREER RECORD: SameNo. 4 Seed UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO TOREROS (15-12; 7-7 West Coast)
The Toreros had one of the biggest turnarounds in the West Coast Conference this season, going from 1-13 and last place a year ago to 7-7 and the No. 4 seed this year. USD is 15-12 overall heading into the WCC Tournament, quite a turnaround from the 4-26 record of a year ago. The Toreros showed balance this year as three players averaged in double figures - Brandon Gay a team-leading 66.9 ppg, Brice Vounang 15.5 ppg and Nick Lewis 12.3 ppg. The Bulldogs won both meetings this season - 68-56 at San Diego in a game the Toreros went 2-for-20 from the field in the second half, and 90-73 in the re-match in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga has won 13 of the last 14 meetings with USD and 15 of the last 17. The Bulldogs lead the series 43-20.
No. 5 Seed PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY WAVES (16-13; 6-8 West Coast)
No. 8 Seed LOYOLA MARYMOUNT LIONS (11-16; 3-11 West Coast)
Gonzaga is 26-12 overall in the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Bulldogs losing their first five tournament games before beating San Diego in the 1992 first round at Portland, Santa Clara in the semifinals and then losing to Pepperdine in the Bulldogs inaugural appearance in the final. The Bulldogs won their first WCC Tournament in 1995 as John Rillie scored a tournament-record 96 points that still stands as the Bulldogs came in as the No. 4 seed and beat San Diego, Saint Mary's and Portland on the way to the title. Gonzaga won 13 straight tournament games as the Bulldogs captured titles from 1999-02, won the tournament semifinal in 2003 as the tourney went to the current format and then lost in the '03 final to host San Diego.
Gonzaga won its 10th straight game with last Monday's regular-season finale over Northern Colorado, but winning streaks are nothing new to the Bulldogs. This is the eighth winning streak of nine or more games since the 1999 season. That year the Bulldogs put together a 9-game streak, followed that with an 11-game run in 2000, a 14-game run in `01, a 12-game streak followed by a 14-game streak in '02, another 9-game streak in '03 and a school-record 21-game winning streak last season that was snapped in the NCAA Tournament by Nevada.
San Diego became the first host team to win the West Coast Conference Tournament in 2003, defeating Gonzaga 72-63, the Bulldogs the No. 1 seed and USD the No. 2 seed. The top two seeds have met in the final each of the past three years, No. 1 Gonzaga defeating No. 2 Saint Mary's 84-71 last year and No. 2 Gonzaga stopping No. 1 Pepperdine 96-90 in 2002 sandwiched around the 2003 matchup of top two seeds. The first time the top two seeds met for the title was 2000 when No. 2 Gonzaga downed No. 1 Pepperdine 69-65 in overtime at Santa Clara.
Gonzaga blocked 11 shots in the Bulldogs West Coast Conference regular-season final at Portland, the fourth time in school history the Bulldogs have blocked 11 shots in a game. The record was set against St. Peter's on Nov. 30, 1990, at KYLT Classic in Missoula, Mont. The Bulldogs tied the record on Feb. 11, 1999, against Saint Mary's and Jan. 25, 2001, against Santa Clara.
Senior Ronny Turiaf, who is second on the all-time blocks list with 169, had five blocks at Portland, marking the ninth time this season he has had three or more blocks in a game. He had a career-high matching six blocks at Loyola Marymount this year.
Gonzaga remained 12th in the Associated Press Top 25 this week, and jumped three spots to a tie for 13th with Syracuse in the USA TODAY/ESPN balloting.
Ronny Turiaf continues to move up the Gonzaga career charts. He is fourth on the all-time scoring list with 1,677 points, passing 2003 and '04 West Coast Conference Player of the Year Blake Stepp last Monday. He has 814 career rebounds for fourth, the fourth player in Gonzaga history with 800 career rebounds. Cory Violette is currently third with 880 career boards. His 621 career free throws made are already a career record.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is one of only two NCAA Division I head coaches with a minimum of five years head coaching experience who has a career winning percentage of 80.0 percent or better. Few is 156-36 in his sixth year on the Gonzaga bench for a winning percentage of .8125. North Carolina's Roy Williams is right behind Few at an even 80.0 percent with a career record of 460-115 through last Monday.
Gonzaga senior Ronny Turiaf is a John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy Mid-Season Top 30 selection. It marks the sixth time in the last seven years the Bulldogs have had a Mid-Season Top 30 candidate, including Turiaf last season. The Top 10 Wooden All-America Team will be announced on March 29, and the Top Five All-Americans will gather April 9 in Los Angeles where one will receive the Wooden Award Trophy as the most outstanding collegiate basketball player of the year. Dan Dickau was Gonzaga's only Top 5 All-American in 2002, while Casey Calvary was Gonzaga's inaugural Top 10 All-American in 2001. Blake Stepp was a Top 10 selection last season for the Bulldogs. Turiaf was also a finalist for the Naismith Trophy last season. The Naismith is presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Four finalists will be announced in March, with the trophy presentation in April.
Ronny Turiaf and Adam Morrison have each been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 14 first team, the Bulldogs joining Stanford with two first-team selections. Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld of the Cardinal, and Nate Robinson of Washington round out the first team. Dan Kickert, Saint Mary's; Tre Simmons, Washington; David Lucas, Oregon State; John Cox, San Francisco, and Christian Maraker, Pacific, were named to the second team. Turiaf and Hernandez are first-team repeaters from a year ago.
Gonzaga (23-4) has recorded 20 victories for the eighth straight year and for the 12th time in the last 14 years. Gonzaga's first 20-win season in the NCAA Division I ranks was 1992 when the Bulldogs went 20-10. Head coach Mark Few has never failed to produce a 20-win season.
Since starting the 2003 season 8-5, Gonzaga University is 67-11. Gonzaga put together a 9-game winning streak and went 16-4 down the stretch following that 8-5 start, last year's club went 28-3 and this year's team is off to a 23-4 start.
Think the West Coast Conference isn't tougher this year? Gonzaga went 14-0 last year with an average winning margin of 18.1 ppg and the closest regular-season WCC game was a 10-point victory over Portland, 79-69. This year the Bulldogs have won 12 games by an average of 11.0 ppg with five wins being decided by seven or fewer points.
CLEAN SWEEP: For the second time in five years Gonzaga University has swept the West Coast Conference men's basketball awards. Mark Few earned his fifth straight WCC Coach of the Year honor, Ronny Turiaf became the fifth straight Bulldog to capture Player of the Year, J.P. Batista is the Newcomer of the Year and Erroll Knight was named the Defender of the Year in a vote of WCC coaches. The Bulldogs swept the awards in 2001 with Few, Casey Calvary as the Player of the Year, Blake Stepp as the Freshman of the Year and Mark Spink as the Defender of the Year. The Newcomer of the Year award replaced the Freshman of the Year for the 2004 season. Gonzaga also landed Turiaf, Derek Raivio and Adam Morrison on the All-WCC first team, while Batista earned honorable mention recognition and David Pendergraft was named to the WCC All-Freshman team.
BACK-TO-BACK LOSSES: Gonzaga has not lost back-to-back games since the 2002-03 season when the Bulldogs lost Dec. 28, 2002, against Stanford 81-71 in the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland, Calif., and Dec. 31, 2002, at home to Saint Joseph's 79-78 in overtime. Gonzaga has played 74 games since that Saint Joseph's loss without losing back-to-back games.
BULLDOGS WHEN RANKED: Gonzaga is 84-15 when ranked, including 20-4 this season. The Bulldogs are 37-0 at home when ranked, 32-6 away and 15-9 on a neutral court.
TURIAF IN RARE COMPANY: With 1,677 career points and 814 career rebounds, Gonzaga University senior Ronny Turiaf has become just the third member of the 1,500 points/800 rebounds club. Jerry Vermillion (1952-55) was the first with 1,547 points and 1,670 rebounds, and Cory Violette the second with 1,509 points and 880 rebounds. Turiaf is just the 10th Bulldog to score 1,500 points and is the fourth to grab 800 rebounds.
YOU CAN CALL ME: There has been much debate on television, on the radio and in the print media this season over the pronunciation of Gonzaga University sophomore Derek Raivio's last name. While the sophomore from Vancouver, Wash., insists he doesn't care, the correct pronunciation is rye-VEE-oh. All of last season and through the early part of this season everyone has gone with rav-EE-oh.
HOME, SWEET HOME: Gonzaga University has a 25-game home winning streak that is second in the NCAA Division I ranks through games of last Monday. Oklahoma State University leads the way with a 28-game streak, the Cowboys playing Texas A&M at home Wednesday and the University of Texas on Saturday for their final home games of 2005. Gonzaga went a perfect 13-0 at home this season in their inaugural season in the McCarthey Athletic Center. It's Gonzaga's fifth undefeated home season in the past seven years, and their seventh since 1993. The Bulldogs had a 34-game home winning streak from 1992-95 that ranked second in the country at the time, won 29 straight from 2000-03 and had a 20-game streak from 1998-00.
THREE BALL: Gonzaga University has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 387. 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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