Men's Basketball Announces Tough Slate
Sept. 17, 2003
SPOKANE, Wash. - A 27-game regular-season schedule laced with six NCAA Tournament teams from last season and the potential of as many as nine national television appearances highlight the 2003-04 Gonzaga University men's basketball schedule announced today.
Gonzaga will open the season on Friday, Nov. 14, when the Bulldogs head to Madison Square Garden to face Saint Joseph's University in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in a game to be televised on ESPN2. The meeting between two of last year's NCAA Tournament squads will be the rubber match in what has developed into a three-game series. Gonzaga won on a buzzer beater at Saint Joe's during the 2002 season, then saw the Hawks come into The Kennel and snap Gonzaga's 29-game home winning streak with an overtime victory last season.
Other NCAA Tournament teams dotting the schedule this season are the University of Maryland in the BB&T Tournament at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 6; the University of Missouri in Seattle's Key Arena on Dec. 13 in a game to be televised nationally on CBS; Stanford University on Dec. 20 as Gonzaga makes its second straight appearance and third overall in the Pete Newell Challenge at the Oakland Arena; West Coast Conference foe University of San Diego, and at the University of Tulsa in Bracket Buster II on Feb. 21. Gonzaga and Tulsa met last year in the inaugural Bracket Buster format, the Bulldogs taking a crucial late-season victory in The Kennel.
In addition to Gonzaga's inaugural regular-season appearance on CBS, the Bulldogs guaranteed nationally televised appearances include five games on ESPN2, three of them WCC contests from The Kennel. Gonzaga will be on ESPN2 against Saint Joseph's, at home against Saint Mary's College on Jan. 17, at home against Pepperdine University on Feb. 5 as part of Rivalry Week and at home against the University of San Diego on Feb. 26. Gonzaga's WCC game at the University of San Francisco on Feb. 12 will also be aired on ESPN2.
One WCC Tournament semifinal game and the WCC Tournament championship tilt will also be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2, and Gonzaga's Bracket Buster II game at Tulsa could also air on one of the two ESPN outlets, giving the Bulldogs the possibility of nine nationally televised games in the regular season and through the WCC Tournament.
The WCC Tournament shifts venues this year to Santa Clara University after a 3-year run at the University of San Diego. The WCC Tournament is scheduled for March 5-8. The tourney will follow the same format as last season with the sixth through eighth place teams meeting the first night, the winners meeting the third and fourth place teams the second night and those winners facing the top two seeds in the semifinals. The champion will receive the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. USD snapped Gonzaga's 4-year reign as tournament champion last season, the Bulldogs receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga opens the regular-season home schedule Nov. 21 against the University of Idaho, the first of 11 games in the final season of The Kennel. A new arena for the 2004-05 season is currently under construction.
Gonzaga will also play two games in the Spokane Arena - Nov. 29 against the University of Georgia and New Year's Eve in a men's-women's doubleheader against Eastern Washington University.
The final game in The Kennel will be Feb. 28 when WCC rival Santa Clara University visits.
"This schedule is without a doubt the most difficult we've played," Gonzaga fifth-year head coach Mark Few said. "I know we say that every year, but every year it gets more difficult. There are several teams on this schedule that could be playing late into March. This schedule will challenge us more than any other."
But Few said the Bulldogs welcome the challenge.
"We want to play a schedule of this caliber. It's great for our players, our program, the university and the city of Spokane. If we are going to be a Top 25 team we have to play a Top 25 schedule, and we're definitely doing that. This schedule will prepare us for a tough WCC schedule, the WCC Tournament and, hopefully, for another trip into the post season."
The Bulldogs will play a pair of exhibition games - Nov. 1 against Emporia State University and Nov. 8 against Northwest Sports, both contests in The Kennel.
Gonzaga's regional schedule of games on FOX Sports and the schedule of games to be televised locally on KHQ/PAX for the third straight season will be announced soon.
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