Bulldogs Ready To Dance Again
March 16, 2004
Game No. 30 - NCAA Tournament First Round
Thurs., March 18 - Approx. 6:30 p.m. PST
KeyArena - Seattle, WA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
No. 2 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (27-2; 14-0 West Coast) G - 10 Blake Stepp, 6-4, 194, Sr., Eugene, OR (14.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.7 assists, 1.2 steals) G - 20 Kyle Bankhead, 6-0, 195, Sr., Walla Walla, WA (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals) C - 33 Cory Violette, 6-8, 265, Sr., Boise, ID (14.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.9 blocks) F - 22 Erroll Knight, 6-6, 212, So., Seattle, WA (6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks) F - 1 Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, 243, Jr., Le Robert, Martinique (15.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.5 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 132-31 (5th year - 15th at GU) CAREER RECORD: Same
Gonzaga University earned its highest seed in seven NCAA Tournament appearances Sunday when the Bulldogs received a No. 2 seed against No. 15 Valparaiso University.
The Bulldogs and the Crusaders will tip off in the late game Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle. Michigan State University and the University of Nevada will meet in the 4:35 p.m. opener of the second session, with Gonzaga and Valparaiso tipping off 30 minutes following the completion of that game. Tip off is estimated to be somewhere between 6:30-7 p.m. PST.
In the second season of the pod system, the Gonzaga/Valpo/MSU/Nevada pod winner will advance to the St. Louis, Mo., Regional. The other Seattle pod has No. 8 seed University of Alabama facing No. 9 seed Southern Illinois University at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday, with No. 1 Stanford University taking on No. 16 University of Texas-San Antonio 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. The winner of the SIU/'Bama/Stanford/UTSA pod will be in the Phoenix, Ariz., Regional.
The Gonzaga/Valpo winner will face the MSU/Nevada winner on Saturday at 12:20 p.m., while the two winners from the other pod will meet 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. The standard Regional designations - West, South, Midwest and East - have been eliminated from NCAA lingo, with the Regional sites being referred to by the city name to help avoid confusion of where the various pod winners are headed.
Gonzaga is the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament champion, while Valpo duplicated that in the Mid-Continent Conference.
BULLDOGS BACK IN KEYARENA: Back to the beginning. That might be the rallying cry for Gonzaga University's men's basketball team as the Bulldogs head to KeyArena for the NCAA Tournament First/Second Round beginning Thursday against Valparaiso University. KeyArena is where Gonzaga's current 6-year run in the NCAA Tournament began in 1999. The Bulldogs topped the University of Minnesota 75-63 and then disposed of Stanford University 82-74.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: KeyArena has become Gonzaga University's home away from home. In addition to the NCAA success of 1999, the Bulldogs have won two other games in the facility. Gonzaga defeated the University of Washington 76-66 on Dec. 13, 1999, as the Huskies moved their home games to KeyArena while their arena was undergoing a major remodel. Earlier this season Gonzaga beat then-No. 3 University of Missouri 87-80 in KeyArena in a game nationally televised by CBS, Gonzaga's inaugural CBS regular-season nationally televised game.
ST. LOUIS REGIONAL: Should Gonzaga University move on the Sweet 16 the next stop would be St. Louis, Mo. The superstitious were hoping Gonzaga would be played in the Phoenix, Ariz., Regional because in 1999 the Bulldogs went from Seattle to Phoenix to continue their march to the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs might be the favorite of St. Louis fans if the Bulldogs advance. Former Bulldog shortstop Bo Hart was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals last summer and took the city by storm with his torrid start and hustling approach to the game. He's ticketed to be in the lineup again this season.
ZAGS WHEN RANKED: Gonzaga University is 62-10 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 GU's victory in the regular-season finale he moved past Claude McGrath for third in career wins at GU, Few now with 132. 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 81.0 percent (132-31), 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: Senior Cory Violette is third in career rebounds with 859, becoming just the third Gonzaga player to grab 800 career boards - Jerry Vermillion (1,670) and Gary Lechman (910) the others.
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 1,202 for 15th. Stepp was already a member entering the season and has 1,644 for fifth, three shy of passing Jeff Brown (1,646, 1992-94) for fourth. Violette reached the milestone against Washington State University and has 1,313 career points for 13th.. He needs 28 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 286. Bankhead has 168 treys for sixth, passing Jon Kinloch (157, 1993-96). Stepp is also the all-time 3-point attempt leader with 734, 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 462. Stepp has 372 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 119 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 34.1 minutes/game, followed by senior Cory Violette at 29.4 and junior Ronny Turiaf at 27.4. Senior Kyle Bankhead (24.6), freshman Adam Morrison (20.9) and senior Tony Skinner (20.0) also average better than 20 minutes/game, giving the Bulldogs six players averaging better than 20 minutes a night.
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 second-semester classes and has been practicing with the Bulldogs since his arrival. 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 359. 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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