Men's Basketball Faces Another Tough Slate
Oct. 20, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. -Just when you think it can't get any tougher, Gonzaga University seems to come up with a more challenging men's basketball schedule than the previous season.
That's the case with the 2007 schedule released Friday.
The Bulldogs open the regular-season in the McCarthey Athletic Center on Nov. 10 against nearby rival Eastern Washington University at 5 p.m., the first of four straight games to be played in Spokane before the Bulldogs hopefully make one of their possible two coast-to-coast trips to New York.
Fans will get two early chances to see the 2007 Bulldogs when they play exhibition games against Augustana College of Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 1 and Warner Pacific College of Portland, Ore., on Nov. 4. Both games are at 7 p.m.
Following the EWU game the Bulldogs will compete in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) Tip-off Classic at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Gonzaga's opening-round opponent will be Rice University in the 9 p.m. game, preceded by Baylor University and Colorado State University in the 6 p.m. opener. The first-night losers play in the consolation game the next day at 4:30 p.m., followed by the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
The NIT is owned and operated by the NCAA and under the new format Spokane is one of four 4-team pods. The four pod winners advance to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Tip-off Classic semifinals on Nov. 22 and consolation and championship play Nov. 24.
The Bulldogs are guaranteed one trip to Madison Square Garden this season, a Dec. 21 date with Duke University, a game fans a year ago were hopeful of seeing - perhaps in the NCAA Tournament - but one that never materialized as Gonzaga and Duke both lost on the same day in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Duke's J.J. Redick were in a two-man race for the national scoring title last year, won by the junior Morrison. Morrison left Gonzaga and was the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Bobcats, while Redick was a senior a year ago and was drafted as the 11th pick by the Orlando Magic. Charlotte, coincidentally, will be in New York at The Garden to face the New York Knicks the night prior to the Gonzaga-Duke matchup.
In addition to Duke, the Bulldogs will face four other teams that participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The first will be the University of Texas on Dec. 2 at the Hall of Fame Basketball Classic at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz. The Longhorns were a No. 2 tourney seed a year ago, advancing to the Final Four before losing to LSU in the semifinals.
Cross-state rival University of Washington will come to the McCarthey Athletic Center on Dec. 9. The Huskies, which snapped a 7-game losing streak to Gonzaga last year in a game played in Seattle, were a No. 5 seed and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to the University of Connecticut.
Following the Duke game the Bulldogs get nine days off between games, returning to action in the fourth annual Comcast Battle in Seattle at KeyArena against the University of Nevada, a No. 5 NCAA Tournament seed and victim of a first-round upset a year ago.
The University of Memphis will come to the Spokane Arena on Feb. 17 for the Ronald McDonald House of Charity Classic, the Tigers a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament last season and falling to UCLA in the Elite Eight of the Oakland Regional. Eighth-ranked Gonzaga went to fourth-ranked Memphis last season, the Tigers taking the victory on their home court.
Other notable games on the Gonzaga schedule are a return trip to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Classic in Duluth, Geo. (an Atlanta suburb) on Dec. 16 to face the University of Georgia, a trip to the University of Virginia on Jan. 3 and a game at Stanford University on Jan. 31. The Bulldogs competed in the 2002 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Classic in Atlanta's Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks. This year's game was moved to the Gwinnett Center in Duluth because the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are meeting in an NFL game that afternoon and the Georgia Dome - home of the Falcons - and Phillips Arena are next to each other and share parking lots.
Virginia visited Gonzaga last season and the Bulldogs are returning the favor this season for a Jan. 3 contest to face the Cavaliers in 15,000-seat John Paul Jones Arena that opens this season on the UVA campus.
Stanford came to Spokane last season for a nationally televised game as ESPN College Game Day came to town. Although this will be the sixth meeting between the teams, it's only the second at Stanford's Maples Pavilion for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga won a 1994 NIT first-round game at Stanford for their only previous meeting with Stanford on their home court. The Bulldogs did compete in the Fry's Invitational hosted by the Cardinal to open the 1993-94 season, but the two teams did not meet. Gonzaga will open defense of its West Coast Conference regular-season crown in its bid for a seventh straight title on Jan. 6 when Loyola Marymount visits. The Bulldogs, who went undefeated in WCC play for the second time in three years last season, conclude the regular season at the University of San Diego on Feb. 26.
The University of Portland will host the WCC Tournament this season, the men's tourney running March 2-5 at the Chiles Center. The only other time Portland hosted the tournament was in 1992, the Bulldogs making their first title-game appearance in a 73-70 setback to Pepperdine University.
"This is another outstanding schedule," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "We'll be battle tested by the time we start WCC play, and even then we have a couple of tough non-conference games that fall in the middle of the league schedule. It certainly doesn't get any easier from one year to the next, but this is the kind of schedule we want to put our team through to prepare us to reach the ultimate goal."
Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said the television portion of the schedule will be announced later.
"We're releasing our schedule a lot later than we had planned, but we had to wait for our conference office to finish television negotiations," Roth said. "It was only this week we got the go ahead from conference officials to release our schedule. However, we cannot announce our television schedule until conference officials have signed the contract."
(All Times Pacific Time Zone)
*Denotes West Coast Conference Game.
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