Bulldogs Battle Spartans in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
March 21, 2001
Game No. 33 - Michigan State University
Friday, March 23 - 4:38 p.m. PST
NCAA South Region Sweet 16
Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
Radio: KXLY 920 AM 25 minutes prior to tipoff
#12 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (26-6, 13-1 in West Coast Conference)
#1 MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY SPARTANS (26-4, 13-3 in Big Ten)
BULLDOGS STILL DANCIN': For the third straight year Gonzaga University is still dancin' in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The Bulldogs advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a grind-it-out 85-68 win over Indiana State University Sunday in The Pyramid in Memphis, Tenn. The Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 7 points in the second half, went on an 11-0 run in a 3:09 stretch late in the game to pull away from the Sycamores. A Zach Gourde basket off a Casey Calvary assist started the game-deciding spurt with 5:42 to play to put the Bulldogs ahead 68-65. Alex Hernandez got a layin with 4:36 to go, Calvary hit a pair of free throws at the 4:04 mark and Calvary got a basket with 2:59 to play for a 75-65 advantage. Dan Dickau's two free throws with 2:33 remaining ended the 11-0 run and gave Gonzaga a 75-65 lead. ISU hung in the contest in the second half with a 6-for-15 half from 3-point range, finishing 12-for-29 from long range. But Gonzaga's inside play was too much for ISU, the Bulldogs outscoring the Sycamores 36-4 in the paint and holding an 18-6 edge on second-chance points. There were 18 lead changes and 12 ties in the game.
TOP-SEEDED DEFENDING CHAMPS NEXT: South Region top seed and defending NCAA national champion Michigan State University is next up for Gonzaga University. The Spartans topped Fresno State University 81-65 Sunday at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tenn., to advance to Atlanta, Ga., and the matchup with Gonzaga. The Spartans had five players in double figures Sunday, paced by the 13 points of Charlie Bell and Aloysius Anagonye. MSU shot 50.7 percent from the field against FSU, connecting on 34-of-67 shots. FSU shot a chilly 35.3 percent (24-68). MSU controlled the boards 48-32.
NATIONALLY RANKED FOES: Michigan State University is ranked third in both the ESPN/USA TODAY and Associated Press Top 25 polls, trailing Duke University and Stanford University in both polls. MSU will be the third nationally ranked opponent Gonzaga has faced this season - losing to then 5th-ranked University of Arizona and then 8th-ranked University of Florida. MSU will be the highest ranked team Gonzaga has played since the Bulldogs lost to No. 1 ranked University of Cincinnati 75-68 in the Rock-N-Roll Shootout in Cleveland, OH, Dec. 9, 1999.
BULLDOGS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga University is making it's third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their fourth appearance overall. The Bulldogs first went dancin' in 1995, winning the West Coast Conference Tournament as the No. 4 seed and earning the automatic berth. The Bulldogs were a 14th seed and fell to No. 3 seed University of Maryland in the first round in Salt Lake City, UT. Gonzaga has been a 10th seed each of the past two seasons.
HAT TRICK: Gonzaga University is only the second team since the current alignment of the West Coast Conference to advance to three straight NCAA Tournaments. The Bulldogs became the first team in WCC history to win three straight WCC Tournament titles. Loyola Marymount is the only other team to go to three straight NCAA Tournaments since the current formation of the WCC for the 1979-80 season. LMU went to three straight NCAA Tournaments from 1988-90, but the Lions were awarded the league's automatic berth in '90 when the remainder of the WCC tourney was cancelled following the second-round death of LMU's Hank Gathers.
HOW SWEET IT IS: Gonzaga University is the first team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a double-digit seed. The Bulldogs were the 10th seed in both 1999 and 2000. Gonzaga advanced to the Elite Eight in its memorable run of '99, losing to eventual national champ University of Connecticut. GU lost to Purdue in last year's Sweet Sixteen.
CALVARY ON WOODEN AWARD FINAL BALLOT: Gonzaga University senior forward Casey Calvary is on the Top 20 final ballot for the John R. Wooden Award. The final ballot was released March 1. Calvary was originally one of the Pre-season Top 50 candidates for the 2000-01 Wooden Award All-American Team. On March 27, 2001, the 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced. One member of the Wooden Award All-American Team will be selected on Friday April 6, 2001 as the recipient of the Wooden Award Trophy as the nation's "Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year." The event will be a one hour telecast on FOX Sports Net. This is the second straight year the Bulldogs have had a Wooden Award nominee, guard Matt Santangelo getting the nomination a year ago.
FEW'S TWO-YEAR RUN: Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few has had two of the best rookie and sophomore seasons in NCAA history. The Bulldogs' 26 wins last year ranked him tied for 7th for "Top 10 Career Starts For Head Coaches By Victories." His 2-year total of 52 wins has him tied for third for second-year coaches with Dan Monson, his predecessor at Gonzaga, and Ben Carnevale of the University of North Carolina (1945-46). Few carries a 52-15 record into Friday's game.
BULLDOGS HIT 20 WINS AGAIN: With a 26-6 record, Gonzaga University has hit the 20-win plateau for the 8th time in the last 10 seasons, matching last year's total and second all-time behind only the 1999 school record mark of 28-7. This year marks the fifth time the Bulldogs have hit the magic 20-win plateau in the regular season. The 1994 squad took a 20-6 record into the West Coast Conference Tournament, the 1998 team was 21-8 entering the tourney, the 1999 Bulldogs went 22-6 in the regular season and the 2000 squad was 21-8 heading into the WCC Tournament. Gonzaga's first 20-win season as a NCAA Division I program came in 1992 with a 20-10 mark, falling to Pepperdine University 73-70 in the Bulldogs' first appearance in the WCC Tournament title game.
BULLDOGS IN THE KENNEL: The Kennel - home of Gonzaga University's Bulldogs - has gained the reputation as one of the toughest courts in the country. In the last nine seasons the Bulldogs are 115-9 at home for a nifty 92.7 winning percentage. The Bulldogs have put the finishing touches on a 12-0 home record this season, winning by an average of 24.7 ppg. The Bulldogs are 32-1 in The Kennel over the past three seasons. Last year's 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.
ELITE COMPANY: Gonzaga University is one of just three schools to advance to the Sweet Sixteen each of the past three seasons. Michigan State University, Friday's opponent in the South Region, and Duke University are the other two. Duke and MSU are both playing in their fourth straight Sweet Sixteen. Since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 18 occasions where teams have had runs of three years or more into the Sweet Sixteen. The University of North Carolina leads the way with a 9-year stretch from 1985-93, followed by Duke with a 7-year run from 1986-92 in addition to its current streak.
CALVARY DOUBLES UP: Casey Calvary collected the 11th double-double of his Gonzaga University career and his fourth of the season with his 16 points and career-high 15 rebounds in last Friday's NCAA First Round victory over the University of Virginia. His previous rebounding high was 13 at the University of Texas-Pan American on Dec. 28, 1998. His previous best this season was 12 at home against Saint Mary's College on Feb. 11.
CALVARY MOVES INTO TOP 10 IN SCORING... Senior forward Casey Calvary has become the 22nd player in Gonzaga University history to surpass the 1,000-point barrier, entering Friday's NCAA Tournament game with 1,492 points for 8th. Calvary needs 16 points to move past Rich Evans (1,507 from 1947-50) and into 7th.
...AND SURPASSES 700 REBOUNDS: Casey Calvary became just the fourth player in Gonzaga University history to join the 1,000-point/700-rebound club. He grabbed 7 rebounds against Monmouth University on Dec. 30, 2000, to join the 600 rebound club, and hauled in 6 rebounds Feb. 22, 2001, at Santa Clara University to surpass the 700 mark. He has 746 rebounds entering Friday's NCAA Tournament game to rank fourth on the all-time list. Jerry Vermillion (1,547 points/1,670 rebounds), Gary Lechman (1,452/910) and Greg Sten (1,168/783) are the other three members of the 1,000 points/700 rebounds club.
BLOCK PARTY: With three blocks against Santa Clara University on Jan. 25, 2001, Casey Calvary became the most prolific shot blocker in West Coast Conference history with 186. He has 44 this season for a West Coast Conference career leading 204. He was tied with current University of San Francisco shot block artist Hondre Brewer. Brewer had 201 after his seven blocks in USF's WCC Tournament first-round loss. Calvary is by far the all-time leader in GU history (Tim Ruff is second with 99).
BULLDOGS WIN 20-OF-21: Gonzaga University enters Friday's NCAA Tournament game having won 20 of its last 21 outings. The Bulldogs' 14-game winning streak, which was tied with Hofstra University for the longest current winning streak in NCAA Division I, was halted with their loss at Santa Clara University the final week of the regular season. The 14-game streak bettered the Bulldogs' 11-game streak set late last year. The setback also prevented the Bulldogs from going undefeated in West Coast Conference play for the first time in their 22-year WCC membership. The last WCC team to go 14-0 was Pepperdine University in 1992, also the last year a WCC team won at least 13 conference games. The Bulldogs, nonetheless, came back to defeat the University of San Diego in the regular-season finale to set a school record for WCC wins with 13. Twice the Bulldogs have gone 12-2 in winning the WCC regular-season title - 1999 and 1994.
TALE OF THE TAPE: While most observers have Michigan State University the prohibitive favorite over Gonzaga University, the Bulldogs stack up well statistically against the Spartans. Gonzaga holds the edge in scoring average, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and blocks. But the Spartans have a big edge in rebounding, grabbing 42.4 rebounds/game. MSU leads the country in rebounding margin at +15.3 rebounds/game, while Gonzaga was 22nd in the latest NCAA statistics at +5.6 rebounds/game.
CALVARY, DICKAU GARNER MORE HONORS: Gonzaga University senior Casey Calvary has been named to the All-District 14 first team and junior Dan Dickau was a second-team selection as selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
ALL-ACADEMIC ACCOLADES: Gonzaga University junior point guard Dan Dickau was named to the Verizon All-Academic first team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Dickau and backcourt mate Blake Stepp were also named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic squad. Dickau has a 3.33 grade points average in broadcast studies, Stepp a 3.49 GPA in sports management.
BULLDOGS WIN 200TH: Gonzaga University's win at the University of Montana earlier this year was the 200th for the Bulldogs in the last 10 seasons. Gonzaga is 221-89 since the 1991-92 season for a .713 winning percentage.
WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR JUD? Friday's Gonzaga University matchup against Michigan State University takes on a unique twist centering on former MSU head coach Jud Heathcote. Heathcote coached the Spartans for 19 seasons from 1976-95, guiding MSU and the Magic Johnson-led squad to the 1979 NCAA title. But upon his retirement, Heathcote returned to his familiar surroundings of Spokane, where he coached at West Valley High before embarking on his collegiate career as an assistant at Washington State University, his alma mater. A Bulldog season ticket holder, Heathcote is found behind the Gonzaga bench at most home games. Nearby is Don Monson, former assistant coach under Heathcote at MSU and former head coach at the University of Idaho and University of Oregon. Monson is the father of former Gonzaga head coach and current University of Minnesota head man Dan Monson. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and his staff interact often with Heathcote, including a standing Tuesday lunch date when in town.
NCAA EXPERIENCE: Four members of this Gonzaga University team have NCAA Tournament experience under their belts. Seniors Casey Calvary and Mark Spink are appearing in their third straight NCAA Tournament, sophomore Zach Gourde is playing in his second after redhsirting during Gonzaga's Elite Eight run in 1999 and point guard Dan Dickau was a freshman at the University of Washington when the Huskies lost to the University of Connecticut at the buzzer in the Sweet Sixteen of the '98 tourney. Washington, the 11th seed, upset No. 6 Xavier University and toppled No. 14 Richmond University on the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
TATTOOS AND SUPERSTITIONS: Gonzaga University players sport some classy tattoos and also have a few superstitions. Alex Hernandez is the most tattooed Bulldog with a cross and a praying hand on his right arm, and a "Cuba's Finest" and a basketball with his first name adorning his right arm. "The cross and praying hand are for religious reasons and good luck, Cuba's Finest speaks for itself," Hernandez said. The only other tattooed player is Anthony Reason, who sports a panther on his left arm. Dan Dickau, Cory Violette and Germayne Forbes all say a pre-game prayer as part of their ritual.
DANNY BOY: Think junior point guard Dan Dickau hasn't been an important cog in Gonzaga University's 26-6 record and 13-1 West Coast Conference mark? Think again. The Bulldogs are 21-2 with Dickau in the lineup, 5-4 without him. He missed nine games prior to the start of West Coast Conference play with a broken left index finger. He was averaging 16.0 ppg and 5.0 assists/game through the first four games of the season at the time of his injury. Since his return he is averaging 19.5 ppg, 6.7 assists/game and has a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio in 19 games.
O-FER FROM THREE: The last time Gonzaga University took the collar from 3-point range was in an 0-for-5 night in The Kennel against the University of Portland on Jan. 30, 1993, a 71-53 Gonzaga victory. Gonzaga has made a 3-point field goal in 264 straight games. Gonzaga made a school record 291 treys in 1999.
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