Bulldogs, Musketeers Ready For NCAA Fray
March 13, 2006
Game No. 31 - Xavier Musketeers
Thurs., March 16 - 4:20 p.m. PST
NCAA Tournament First Round
Huntsman Center - Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: CBS (Check local listings)
No. 3 Seed GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (27-3; 14-0 West Coast) G - 5 Derek Raivio, 6-3, 175, Jr., Vancouver, WA (11.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals) G - 4 Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, 6-0, 181, So., Montreal, Quebec (4.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals) C - 13 J.P. Batista, 6-9, 269, Sr., Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil (19.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks) F - 3 Adam Morrison, 6-8, 205, Jr., Spokane, WA (28.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks) F - 32 Sean Mallon, 6-9, 218, Jr., Spokane, WA (6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.4 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 186-40 (7th year - 17th at GU) CAREER RECORD: Same
Gonzaga and Xavier have met once before on the hardwood. Xavier defeated Gonzaga 87-82 on Dec. 23, 1960, as the Bulldogs played the final game in a four-game swing through the East Coast and Midwest. Gonzaga opened the four-game trip on Dec. 19 with an 80-75 setback at Detroit, followed by an 81-80 loss to Providence the next night. The Bulldogs lost to St. John's 97-69 on Dec. 22 and concluded the trip with an 87-82 defeat at the hands of Xavier. Frank Burgess would go on to lead the NCAA in scoring that season with 32.4 points per game as Gonzaga ended the year with an 11-15 record playing as an NCAA Independent in its second season of NCAA Division I. Some 35 years later the Bulldogs and Xavier are set to meet again and Gonzaga is on the verge of having another NCAA scoring champion in Adam Morrison, who currently leads the NCAA Division I ranks with his 28.4 ppg average. He leads Duke's J.J. Redick by one full point, the Duke star entering the NCAA Tournament with a 27.4 ppg average.
Gonzaga is 10-8 overall in the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs making their eighth straight appearance. The best run for the Bulldogs was 1999 when they advanced to the Elite Eight, falling to eventual NCAA champion Connecticut. Gonzaga followed that run with Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2000 and 2001. Gonzaga has advanced to the second round each of the last three seasons.
Gonzaga is a No. 3 seed for the second straight year, the Bulldogs downing No. 14 Winthrop 74-64 and falling to No. 6 Texas Tech 71-69 at Tucson, Ariz., as part of the Albuquerque Regional last season. The highest seed the Bulldogs have been is a No. 2 seed in 2004.
Xavier, which made a run to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2004, is a No. 14 seed for the third time in the Musketeers 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Xavier was a No. 14 seed in 1989 and 1991, the Musketeers downing No. 3 Nebraska in the 1991 first round and losing to No. 11 Connecticut in the second round in games played in Minneapolis, Minn.
Gonzaga will be making its third trip to Salt Lake City in its ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs inaugural trip to the NCAA Tournament took them to SLC in 1995, the No. 14 Zags falling to No. 3 Maryland 87-63. Gonzaga returned in 2003 as a No. 9 seed and downed No. 8 Cincinnati 74-69 before losing to Arizona 96-95 in double overtime in a game dubbed an instant classic.
Gonzaga is no stranger to the Atlantic-10 Conference, playing a pair of teams from the conference this season. The Bulldogs downed Saint Louis 60-57 on Dec. 22 at the Savvis Center, then nine days later hosted Saint Joseph's and posted a 102-94 victory. With the two victories the Bulldogs took a 6-5 edge against teams in the current makeup of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Bulldogs have won five straight against the A-10. The Bulldogs are 2-0 against SLU, 1-0 against George Washington and Massachusetts, 2-2 against Saint Joseph's and 0-1 against Duquesne, Rhode Island and Temple. Gonzaga has defeated George Washington, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's and Saint Louis twice for the current five-game winning streak against A-10 foes.
Gonzaga earned the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by winning its seventh West Coast Conference Tournament title in the last eight years. The Bulldogs, who won their sixth straight WCC regular-season title, hosted the WCC Tournament for the first time in its current format, downing San Diego 96-92 in overtime in the semifinals and Loyola Marymount 68-67 in the title game. The OT win over San Diego also marked the first overtime contest in the 2-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center on the Gonzaga campus.
Xavier earned the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by defeating Saint Joseph's 62-61 in the title game Saturday at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although the tournament wasn't played on the Musketeers' home court, the tournament was in the hometown of Xavier.
Gonzaga and Xavier played two common opponents in Saint Louis and Saint Joseph's. The Bulldogs downed Saint Louis in a road game at the Savvis Center 60-57 and topped Saint Joseph's at home in the McCarthey Atheltic Center 102-94. As members of the Atlantic 10, Xavier lost both regular-season meetings with Saint Louis 59-54 and 61-47, and split the regular-season meetings with Saint Joseph's - winning 62-58 on the road and losing 68-58 at home. Xavier topped Saint Joseph's 62-61 in the title game of the A-10 Tournament played in Cincinnati at the US Bank Arena.
Xavier's run to the Atlantic 10 Tournament title as the No. 10 seed was perhaps even more amazing because of a season-ending injury to the Musketeers' leading scorer and the dismissal of their starting point guard. Senior forward Brian Thornton underwent successful surgery Feb. 12 to repair a fracture in his right ankle as well as a damaged ligament after suffering the injury the previous day against La Salle while trying to secure a loose ball. Thornton was the team's leading scorer (15.3 ppg.), leading rebounder (6.8 rpg.), top field goal shooter (64.0 percent) and blocked shot leader (2.1 bpg.). Senior guard Dedrick Finn was dismissed from the basketball team Feb. 22 for violation of team policies. Finn played in 122 career games, scoring 912 points and dishing off 481 assists. Finn made 102 career starts, including his 53rd consecutive start. He was averaging 5.0 points and 4.0 assists at the time of the dismissal.
Gonzaga continues to lead the NCAA Division I home court winning streak list with 40, and in the process extended its school record with its West Coast Conference Tournament championship game victory over Loyola Marymount. Hofstra has moved into second with 20, the Flying Dutchmen idle until the post-season. Connecticut has taken over third with 19 straight.
Gonzaga won its 18th straight game with its West Coast Conference Championship over Loyola Marymount. George Washington had its 18-game streak snapped in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Nevada is second with 14.
Since Gonzaga's streak of seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances began in 1999, the Bulldogs have gone 101-11 in West Coast Conference regular-season play, including 23 straight victories. Overall in that stretch the Bulldogs are 120-12 against WCC foes including WCC Tournament games. The Bulldogs have been most dominant against Saint Mary's, posting a 21-1 overall record and 15-1 regular-season record. Only Pepperdine, San Diego and Santa Clara have managed to beat the Bulldogs more than once over the last eight seasons. Pepperdine and USD have turned the trick three times each, while SCU has a pair of wins over the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs lost 73-70 at San Francisco last season before running off nine straight to end the regular season, and concluded a 14-0 regular season this year. Dating back to last season's WCC Tournament the Bulldogs have won 27 straight over WCC competition. Gonzaga, which has won or shared eight of the last nine WCC regular-season titles, went 14-0 in West Coast Conference play in 2004, the first team since Pepperdine in 1992 to run the table. The Bulldogs posted back-to-back 13-1 seasons in 2001-02.
Gonzaga University men's basketball coach Mark Few has signed three players to letters-of-intent for the 2006-07 season. Joining the Bulldogs next fall will be Matt Bouldin, a 6-5 guard from ThunderRidge High in Highlands Ranch., Colo., 6-9 forward Abdullahi (ob-duh-lie) Kuso out of Tallahassee, Fla., Community College and 7-3 center Will Foster from White River High in Buckley, Wash. Bouldin was the Colorado Player of the Year as a junior, averaging 15 ppg and 8 assists/game for the 24-4 Grizzlies. ThunderRidge has been in the State 5A title game each of his three previous seasons, capturing the title as a freshman in 2003 and taking the runner-up trophy each of the past two seasons. Kuso played 15 games and averaged 11.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.5 blocks/game last season for coach Eddie Barnes. He was named to the Panhandle Conference All-Academic team. He had originally signed a letter-of-intent to attend Rutgers University, but never played for the Scarlet Knights. He attended Rimi College in his native Kaduna, Nigeria. Foster's White River team, a member of the Seamount League, has advanced to the Washington State 3A Tournament each of the past three years and has posted a 57-21 overall record in that span.
Gonzaga is tied for eighth for the longest active NCAA Tournament Appearances Streak. The Bulldogs are making their eighth straight appearance, joining Wisconsin, Texas and Florida. Arizona extended its streak to 22 with this year's selection, followed by Kansas (17), Kentucky (15), Duke (11) and Michigan State (9). Streaks that ended this season were Cincinnati (14), Stanford (11) and Oklahoma State (8).
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 extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 423. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, going 0-for-5 at home against Portland.
Gonzaga junior Adam Morrison has been named to the United State Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-America team. He is joined on the first team by Randy Foye, Villanova; J.J. Redick, Duke; Brandon Roy, Washington, and Shelden Williams, Duke. Morrison is the third Bulldog honored by the USBWA, joining Dan Dickau as a first-team selection in 2002 and Blake Stepp as a second-team pick in 2004.
Junior Adam Morrison has also been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America first team. Senior J.P. Batista Morrison were named to the NABC All-District 14 first team. This marks the eighth straight season the Bulldogs have been represented on the All-District team.
Senior J.P. Batista recorded his 19th career double-double and his 15th this season with his 13 points and 10 rebounds in the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship against Loyola Marymount. The effort came after Batista sufgered a mile quad contusion and ankle sprain in the semifinal victory over San Diego.
With its 27-3 record, Gonzaga has reached the 20-win plateau for the ninth straight season and for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons. The Bulldogs set a school record for wins with their 28-7 record in 1999 and tied it in 2004 with a 28-3 mark.
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