Men Aim For Fifth Straight WCC Title

March 5, 2003

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 30 - WCC Tournament Semifinals
Sunday, March 9 - 9 p.m. PST
Jenny Craig Pavilion - San Diego, CA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane); KALE 960 (Tri-Cities)
Pre-game show at 8:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN

No. 1 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (22-7; 12-2 West Coast Conference)
G - 1 Winston Brooks, 6-0, 198, Sr., Richmond, VA
(2.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals)
G - 10 Blake Stepp, 6-4, 192, Jr., Eugene, OR
(17.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals)
C - 33 Cory Violette, 6-8, 255, Jr., Boise, ID
(11.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks)
or 32 Zach Gourde, 6-8, 245, Sr., Vancouver, WA
(4.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.5 blocks)
F - 35 Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, 243, So., Le Robert, Martinique
(15.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.4 blocks)
F - 24 Kyle Bankhead, 6-0, 193, Jr., Walla Walla, WA
(8.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals)
or 25 Tony Skinner, 6-5, 198, Jr., Albuquerque, NM
(8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals)
HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD: 103-27 (4th year) CAREER RECORD: Same

No. 4 PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY WAVES (15-12, 7-7 West Coast Conference)
If the seeds hold this semifinal will be a re-match of the 2002 and 2000 WCC Tournament championship games. The injury-plagued Waves lost twice to the Bulldogs this season - 92-72 in The Kennel and 78-63 in Malibu, Calif. The Waves are paced by All-WCC selections Terrance Johnson and Jimmy Miggins, who averaged 15.2 and 15.1 ppg for 7th and 8th, respectively, in the WCC; and Freshman of the Year Alex Acker was, who was 9th in scoring at 13.0 ppg. Pepperdine (78.7 ppg) and Gonzaga (77.7 ppg) were 1-2, respectively, in total offense.

No. 5 SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE GAELS (13-14, 6-8 West Coast Conference)
The Gaels are limping into the WCC Tournament losers of six of their last eight games. The loss of Ross Benson in mid-February led in part to SMC's sub-par finish as it cut into the head coach Randy Bennett's depth. SMC lost a hard-fought 56-53 decision to Gonzaga after leading that game most of the night in Moraga, Calif. SMC is paced by All-WCC performer Samuel Saint-Jean who averaged 9.3 ppg and 3.7 assists/game while leading the Gaels' attack. Anthony Woodards was named the Defender of the Year in helping SMC to a league-best 64.0 ppg on defense. The Gaels have their best seed since a No. 4 finish in 1998 after winning the tourney title as a No. 2 seed in 1997.

No. 8 SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY (13-14, 4-10 West Coast Conference)
The Broncos hadn't finished out of the first division since tying for fifth in 1994, their lowest finish ever - until this season - in the current make-up of the WCC that's been around since the 1980-81 season. The Broncos' season took a turn for the worse just six games into the campaign when leading scorer Kyle Bailey went to the sidelines with a bad back and never returned. He was averaging 12.2 ppg. Jim Howell, an All-WCC honorable mention pick, averaged 9.3 ppg; Brandon Rohde averaged 10.7 ppg, and Bakari Altheimer averaged 10.6 ppg as the offensive leaders. Head coach Dick Davey saw 11 different players start games throughout the season. Following a three-game winning streak to open the season and a six-game winning streak to snap a three-game skid, the Broncos haven't put together back-to-back wins since Dec. 28 and 30 when they won the final two games in their six-game streak.

HIGH FIVE: Gonzaga University, already with a West Coast Conference record four straight WCC Tournament titles put away, seeks its fifth straight crown and with it another trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs, who go in as the No. 1 seed by virtue of winning the regular-season outright with a 72-69 win at the University of San Diego on the final day of the season, will be bidding for their sixth WCC Tournament title since 1995.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: The West Coast Conference Tournament takes on a new look this season with the top two seeds being seeded into the semifinals and No. 3 and No. 4 receiving a first-round bye. Friday's first round has No. 6 University of Portland meeting No. 7 Loyola Marymount University at 6 p.m., followed by No. 5 Saint Mary's College taking on No. 8 Santa Clara University. Saturday's matchups have No. 3 University of San Francisco facing the Portland-LMU winner at 6 p.m., followed by No. 4 Pepperdine University battling the SMC-SCU winner. No. 1 Gonzaga meets the winner of the Pepperdine game Sunday at 9 p.m. on ESPN in the late semifinal, while No. 2 host University of San Diego takes on the USF game winner in Sunday's 6:30 p.m. semifinal opener. Sunday's winners meet for the title Monday night at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

BRAINS AND BRAWN: Junior guard Blake Stepp has been named to the Verizon/College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America third team. He caries a 3.21 GPA in business administration. He was earlier named to the District VIII first team. Stepp and Kyle Bankhead, with a 3.22 GPA in sports management, were also named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic men's basketball team.

THREE OR BUST: Gonzaga University ran its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 329. 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.

RPI WATCH: Gonzaga University enters the West Coast Conference Tournament with a RPI of 42. The Bulldogs have played six teams in the Top 40 of this week's ratings according to www.rpiratings.com - Kentucky (2), Georgia (6), Utah (14), Stanford (16), Saint Joseph's (27) and Indiana (34).

DOUBLING UP: Sophomore Ronny Turiaf recorded his ninth career double-double when he had career highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds against the University of Portland in The Kennel.

GOURDE HITS MILESTONE: Senior forward Zach Gourde recorded the 500th rebound of his career against Loyola Marymount University. He became the seventh member of the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club at Gonzaga. Casey Calvary (1,509/757 from 1998-01) and Jeff Brown (1,646/515 from 1992-94) are the most recent additions. Four players in Gonzaga history have scored 1,000 points and grabbed 700 rebounds. Gourde is also ninth in field goals made with 451 as he chases Doug Spradley in eighth with 462. He also moved ahead of Mark Spink and into third in career-blocked shots with 82. Tim Ruff is second with 99 and Casey Calvary tops the list with 207.

POUNDING THE BOARDS: Gonzaga University led the NCAA Division I ranks in rebounding margin last season with a +8.9 margin to edge Louisiana Tech University (+8.8) by the slimmest of margins. Cory Violette paced the Bulldogs with his 8.3 rpg, including a 20-rebound night against Fresno State University that ranked tied for 13th nationally. GU is +6.5 thus far this season.

BULLDOGS AND THE KENNEL: The Kennel, home of Gonzaga University's Bulldogs, has 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. In the last 10 seasons the Bulldogs are 138-11 at home for a nifty 92.6 winning percentage. Gonzaga went 10-2 at home this season, the first time the Bulldogs lost two home games in a season since 1997. Gonzaga was 13-0 at home in 2002, winning by an average of 24.6 ppg. The Bulldogs went 12-0 at home in 2001, winning by an average of 24.7 ppg. GU is 55-3 in The Kennel over the past five seasons. The 2000 squad was 10-1, and 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), and suffered just one home setback in 1996 and 1998. The Bulldogs put together a 34-game home-court-winning streak from 1992-95, which at the time was the country's second-longest active streak.

FEW'S THREE-YEAR RUN: Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few's 81-20 record makes him the winningest third-year coach in NCAA history, surpassing Bill Guthridge of the University of North Carolina (1998-00) and Everett Case of North Carolina State University (1947-49) who each won 80 games in their first three seasons as a NCAA Division I head coach. In his first two seasons as head coach the Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, one of only two NCAA Division I head coaches to accomplish that feat since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

LAST FOUR YEARS: Gonzaga University trails only Duke University, Michigan State University and the University of Cincinnati in wins from 1998-02. The Bulldogs won 109 games, while Duke leads the list with 128 over that span.

SINGLE DIGITS: Only Gonzaga University, the University of Florida and Duke University has lost less than 10 games in each of the past four seasons. Gonzaga has posted marks of 29-4, 26-7, 26-9 and 28-7, respectively, in that stretch. The last time Gonzaga hit double-digits in the "L" column was 1998 with a 20-10 campaign. Current head coach Mark Few has never had 10 or more losses in his three previous seasons.

TURIAF FROM THE LINE: Sophomore Ronny Turiaf's 186 free throws made rank third on the Gonzaga University single-season list, and his 275 makes are 10th on the all-time GU list.

VIOLETTE REACHES 600: Junior forward Cory Violette became the 10th player in Gonzaga University history to grab 600 rebounds when he pulled down 11 in the regular-season finale at the University of San Diego. He has 609 career boards.

FOX COULD RETURN: Forward Richard Fox, sidelined since breaking the ring finger on his left hand on Feb. 13, is listed as probable for this weekend's West Coast Conference Tournament. Fox has missed the last five regular-season games.

BULLDOGS SIGN A PAIR: Gonzaga University men's basketball coach Mark Few signed Adam Morrison, a 6-8, 205-pound forward from Spokane's Mead High, and Derek Raivio, a 6-1, 155-pound point guard from Mountain View High in Vancouver, Wash., in November. Morrison averaged 24.4 ppg as a junior last season to lead the Greater Spokane League, while Raivio averaged 22.6 ppg as the Greater St. Helen's League 4A Player of the Year.

 

 

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