Gonzaga, Nevada In Battle In Seattle
June 20, 2006
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Gonzaga University will face the University of Nevada in the fourth annual Comcast Battle in Seattle on Dec. 30 at KeyArena in Seattle, according to John Hines of Northwest Sports and Entertainment.
The game will match the West Coast Conference champion Bulldogs, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last season, and the Wolf Pack, who captured the Western Athletic Conference crown to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The matchup will be the ninth meeting between the teams, the series currently even at 4-4. It will also be the first time the teams have met since the 2004 NCAA Tournament second round also at KeyArena, the Wolf Pack taking a 91-72 victory.
Gonzaga enters the 2006-07 season without NCAA scoring champion and first team All-American Adam Morrison, who passed on his final year of eligibility to enter the June 28 NBA Draft. But the Bulldogs will have a formidable group of veterans returning off last year's Sweet 16 team. Returning starters Derek Raivio, Sean Mallon and Pierre Marie Alitdor-Cespedes will again be in the fold, with even bigger contributions expected from junior David Pendergraft and sophomores Larry Gurganious, Josh Heytvelt and Jeremy Pargo.
Ravio and Mallon will be the only players to have played in all four games of the Comcast Battle in Seattle.
Meanwhile Mark Few has led Gonzaga to six straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles and the Bulldogs have also captured six of the last seven WCC Tournament crowns with Few on the bench. Gonzaga finished fifth in the final Associated Press Top 25 and 10th in the final ESPN/USA Today Top 25 last season. Gonzaga is ranked 18th in the ESPN.com pre-season Top 25.
Gonzaga has won all three previous Comcast Battle in Seattle games at KeyArena, outlasting the University of Missouri Tigers 87-80 in overtime in the inaugural game in 2003, disposing of the University of Massachusetts 68-57 in 2004 and sinking Oklahoma State 64-62 last season on Morrison's unlikely 25-foot 3-point bank shot with 8 seconds to play before a nationally televised audience on CBS.
Nevada third-year head coach Mark Fox (52-13 record, two seasons) is bringing what may be the best Wolf Pack team ever to Seattle for this contest. The Wolf Pack returns all five starters and a total of nine letter winners from last year's 27-6 team, including two time defending WAC Player of the year Nick Fazekas. Last season, Nevada won its third consecutive WAC regular season title and earned its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament while finishing the season 20th in the final AP poll.
Like Morrison last season, Fazekas has turned down the NBA to return for one more season of college basketball. Fazekas, a 6-11, 235-pound senior forward from Arvada, Colo., led the WAC and ranked 16th in the country in scoring with 21.8 points per game last year. He also ranked in the national top 20 in rebounding with 10.4 boards per game. In 2006, Fazekas was named an AP third-team All-American.
The Comcast Battle in Seattle will also serve as a homecoming for no less than four native Seattle area High School Players. Nevada brings home three with junior guard Marcelus Kemp (Garfield High), sophomore guard Lyndale Burleson (Franklin High) and redshirt freshman Richie Phillips (Franklin). However, Juanita High School and University of Kansas transfer Micah Downs of Gonzaga may prove to be the most intriguing player returning to the Puget Sound area. Micah, a 2005 McDonalds All-American, will have to sit out the first semester at Gonzaga because of NCAA transfer rules, but should add to the already strong GU frontline when he becomes eligible following first-semester finals in mid-December.
Northwest Sports and Comcast have also announced a 3-year extension of their agreement.
Tickets for the Comcast Battle in Seattle will go on sale Sept. 16 through all Ticketmaster outlets. There will be a Spokane pre-sale on Sept. 9 through Spokane-area Ticketmaster outlets.
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