Bulldogs, UConn In Battle In Seattle

June 26, 2008

SPOKANE, Wash. - The 2007 Comcast Battle in Seattle set the attendance record for a college basketball game in the state of Washington. That record may not last for long.

Following five great years of the popular neutral site contest, Northwest Sports & Entertainment announced Thursday the game is back for what will be its most anticipated match-up to date. Entering the KeyArena for the sixth annual Comcast Battle in Seattle will be two of the most successful programs in the last fifteen years as the Gonzaga University Bulldogs go up against the University of Connecticut Huskies. The event will take place on Saturday Dec. 20.

To tip off the annual event, nine members of the Gonzaga men's basketball team will be at the Battle in Seattle booth in Riverfront Park signing autographs for players and fans as part of the Spokane Hoopfest weekend. Players will be available Thursday, Friday and Saturday. An 8x10 photo is provided at no cost along with the new Battle in Seattle collectable poster to all in attendance. Signatures are limited to time, but are free to the public.

The autograph schedule will have Andrew Sorenson, Robert Sacre and Micah Downs at the booth Thursday from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Steven Gray, Will Foster and Josh Heytvelt will be in attendance Friday from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Ira Brown and Matt Bouldin will be available Saturday from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. followed by Jeremy Pargo from 11 a.m.-noon.

The upcoming season will mark the first time a Hall of Fame inductee and National Championship winning coach will be on the sidelines for the Comcast Battle in Seattle. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun will bring more than 700 wins, a NIT Championship and two NCAA Championships into the KeyArena, with the hopes of adding to his already impressive win total. But that is not all Calhoun will be bringing to Seattle. He will also have with him what could be one of his best teams in his 24 years at the university.

 

 

Led by reining NABC National Defensive Player of the Year and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Hasheem Thabeet, the 2008-09 version of the Huskies will look to add to their success of a year ago during which they won 24 games and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 7-3 center from Tanzania would have likely been a lottery pick in the NBA Draft this off season, but chose to return to school with the hopes of winning a national championship. Joined by nearly every key contributor from last year's team, that goal is not out of the question.

The team returns all five starters and their top six scorers, all of whom scored at least 7.5 points per game. Leading the Huskies with 14.8 points per game was forward Jeff Adrien. The powerful Adrien also led the team with 9.1 rebounds per game and has scored more than 1,000 points in his UConn career. The 6-7 forward will enter his senior year as one of the top players in the country.

Finishing second on the team in scoring was point guard A.J. Price. Price, a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, finally lived up to his potential as he averaged 14.5 points per game, 5.8 assists per game and was named an All-American honorable mention. The senior will be coming off knee surgery, but is expected to be at full strength when the Huskies open the season.

The opposite bench in the 2008 Comcast Battle in Seattle will also feature a University with a Hall of Fame quality coach and a team loaded with experienced returnees. The Bulldogs are coming off of a season during which they won more than 20 games for the 11th straight year and in 2008 made their 10th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

This could be the Zags deepest team in school history as six of their top seven scorers return from the team that won 25 games and captured the West Coast Conference regular-season championship for the eighth straight year.

Directing the Bulldogs will be senior guard Jeremy Pargo. The Chicago native was named the 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and was an All-America honorable mention. He averaged 12.1 ppg and led the team with 6.0 assists/game a season ago.

Assisting Pargo will be junior guard Matt Bouldin and sophomore forward Austin Daye. Bouldin led the Zags in scoring last season, averaging 12.6 ppg. He also tallied an impressive 2.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds per contest. Daye broke into the college basketball scene scoring in double figures in six of his first seven games, including a double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds) against Montana in this college debut. The son of former NBA player Darren Daye, Austin finished third on the team in scoring (10.5) and second on the team in rebounding (4.7).

Other key Gonzaga returnees include senior Josh Heytvelt, sophomore Steven Gray, sophomore Robert Sacre, and senior Micah Downs.

The Bulldogs and the Huskies last met Dec. 1, 2007 in Boston with the Zags prevailing by the score of 85-82. Connecticut holds a 2-1 all-time series lead over Gonzaga.

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