Men's Basketball Faces Challenging Schedule

Sept. 20, 2007

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball schedule released Thursday is once again loaded with challenges.

The Bulldogs are guaranteed to meet three teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament and were ranked in the final polls a year ago. The slate also includes some intriguing re-matches - some recent and some from years gone by.

The schedule also has nearly every game being televised for a fourth straight year.

"This is another challenging schedule," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "We'll meet some outstanding teams, but I think this team is up to the task that lies ahead."

The three NCAA Tournament teams dotting the schedule are Washington State University Dec. 5 at the McCarthey Athletic Center, the University of Tennessee Dec. 29 in the fifth annual Battle in Seattle at KeyArena and Jan. 26 at the University of Memphis.

The Cougars advanced to the NCAA second round a year ago and were ranked in 13th in the final Associated Press poll and 17th in the final USA Today/ESPN balloting. WSU defeated Gonzaga in Pullman last year to snap the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak in the series.

Tennessee lost to eventual NCAA runner-up Ohio State University in last year's Sweet Sixteen. The Bulldogs and Volunteers have never met.

The Memphis game marks the third straight year the teams will have met, the Tigers coming out on top the previous two years, including a thrilling 78-77 overtime victory last year in the Ronald McDonald House Charities game at the Spokane Arena. Memphis advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight last season before falling to Ohio State.

Gonzaga will make its second appearance in the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, the Bulldogs finishing second in the 2001 event. The Bulldogs will play Western Kentucky University on Thanksgiving Day.

Looming on the same side of the bracket as Gonzaga is Texas Tech University and head coach Bob Knight. Texas Tech lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and the Red Raiders ended the Bulldogs season in 2005 with a 71-69 second-round NCAA Tournament victory in Tucson, Ariz. The two teams would meet in Alaska if both win or if both lose their first-round match-ups.



Also in the Great Alaska Shootout, but in the opposite half of the bracket, is Butler University, which defeated the Bulldogs in the finals of the National Invitational Tournament in Madison Square Garden last November. Butler, the Cinderella story of 2007, lost in the Sweet Sixteen to eventual national champion University of Florida. Gonzaga and Butler can't meet until the final day of this year's Great Alaska Shootout.

Also on the non-conference slate this season are Saint Joseph's University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Utah and the University of Georgia.

Gonzaga will meet Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia on Nov. 29, then face UConn in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge at the Fleet Center in Boston, Mass., on Dec. 1 to complete the East Coast swing.

The Bulldogs and Hawks have split four meetings since 2002. The Bulldogs won the first meeting on the road 83-80 on Dan Dickau's 3-point buzzer-beater, then the Hawks and Jameer Nelson downed the Bulldogs in the old Kennel the following year 79-78 in overtime as Nelson hit a late OT jumper. The teams opened the 2003-04 season with a Saint Joe's win in the Coaches vs. Cancer game in Madison Square Garden, and the Bulldogs took a high-scoring 102-94 victory at home in the McCarthey Athletic Center two year's ago.

Gonzaga and UConn played one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history, the Huskies bring an end to Gonzaga's Elite Eight Cinderella run in 1999 with a 67-62 victory in Phoenix, Ariz., to keep the Bulldogs out of the Final Four. The teams played another classic in the championship game of the 2005 Maui Invitational, UConn coming out on top 65-63.

A return to the All-College Challenge in Oklahoma City, Okla., is where the Bulldogs will face Oklahoma on Dec. 20. Gonzaga played in the event in December of 2004, downing then third-ranked Oklahoma State University 78-75. Gonzaga and the Sooners will be meeting for the first time.

Utah will help ring in the New Year when the Runnin' Utes come to town New Year's Eve. The series is 1-1, the most recent meeting coming in the 2002 Maui Invitational when the Bulldogs took a 71-52 victory. Current Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti is the former head coach of Utah.

Georgia will pay its second visit to Spokane on Jan. 5 in the Ronald McDonald House Charities game at the Spokane Arena. The Bulldogs - Georgia style - lead the series 2-1 after last year's victory in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Classic in Duluth, Geo., outside of Atlanta. Gonzaga took an 82-76 overtime victory over Georgia in the Spokane Arena in November, 2003.

The Bulldogs open the season with a home exhibition game Nov. 7 against Emporia State University, then play their first three regular-season games at home prior to heading to Alaska. The University of Montana visits Nov. 11, the University of Idaho comes to town Nov. 13 and UC Riverside will be in the McCarthey Athletic Center Nov. 17. Gonzaga and Montana will be meeting for the first time since the 2004-05 season, and the Bulldogs will be playing UC Riverside for the first time.

The Bulldogs, who have won or shared seven straight and nine of the last 10 West Coast Conference regular-season titles, begin defense of their crown Jan. 12 at Loyola Marymount University. Gonzaga will make its WCC home debut Jan. 19 in a 1 p.m. matinee against the University of San Diego, coached by former 16-year Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier.

Gonzaga will seek its fifth straight WCC Tournament title and its ninth in the last 10 years when the event returns to San Diego, Calif., March 7-10. Once again the top two regular-season finishers will be seeded into the semifinals, and the third and fourth place finishers will be seeded into the quarterfinals. Gonzaga is seeking its 10th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. USD hosted the tournament from 2001-03.

KHQ-TV and FOX Sports Net Northwest will again be in partnership to televise at least 13 games. No television determination has been made for the Bulldogs WCC game at Santa Clara University on Feb. 2, a game that could also be included in the KKQ/FSN package which enters its fourth year. The Bulldogs are also guaranteed 14 appearances on the ESPN family of stations, with more possible if the Bulldogs play in the semifinals, consolation final or championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. The WCC Tournament semifinals will also be aired on ESPN2 with the title game on ESPN, other television possibilities for the Bulldogs.

All Gonzaga games will also be aired on 1510 KGA AM radio in Spokane, with all regular-season and WCC Tournament games also streamed on the web.

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