Men's Basketball Gets First Exhibition Test

Nov. 7, 2002

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University head men's basketball coach Mark Few gets his first real look at the 2002-03 version of the Bulldogs Friday when Northwest All-Stars visits The Kennel for a 7 p.m. exhibition.

It's the first of two exhibitions for the Bulldogs prior to opening the regular season at home Nov. 22 against Hofstra University. Gonzaga will face the Australia Institute of Sport next Friday at 8 p.m. following the Bulldogs' volleyball match with the University of San Diego.

"It will be good to play against some different faces," Few said. "This has been an unbelievably physical pre-season because of the size and depth we have underneath."

There's been a broken nose (Zach Gourde), a lost tooth (Ronny Turiaf) and several other bumps and bruises, some of which will limit the playing time of some of the key players on Friday. Turiaf and senior guard Winston Brooks are expected to be sidelined to allow shoulder injuries to fully heal.

"We've been taking it easy with Ronny and Winston," Few said. "If this was the regular season they could both play, but the rest will allow them to heal. You don't want to take a chance this early that they could further injure the shoulder and be sidelined down the road." That will give Few a chance to take a look at newcomers Tony Skinner (6-5, junior guard), Richard Fox (6-11, redshirt junior center), Josh Reisman (6-0, redshirt fredhman guard), Dustin Villepigue (6-9, redshirt freshman forward) and Tyler Amaya (6-6, redshirt freshman, forward).

Few said Blake Stepp will start at the point guard, Kyle Bankhead will be at the off guard, Skinner at the small forward and veterans Zach Gourd and Cory Violette underneath for Friday's opener.

"We'll play a lot of guys," Few said. "The younger players need the minutes, so it will be good for them."

Few also said freshman Sean Mallon of Spokane's Ferris High will redshirt.

"It's just a numbers game with Sean," Few said. "He is an excellent talent and could step in and play this year, but he wouldn't get that many minutes. However, if a big guy were to get hurt early we would not hesitate to pull Sean off redshirt. He's a great addition to this program and will be a quality player for us for four years."

Northwest All-Stars are based out of Seattle. In two games within the area, the All-Stars lost to Eastern Washington University 117-73 last Saturday and at Oregon State University 84-72 last Monday. Two names familiar to area basketball fans are Dion Brown and Jamie Booker, both University of Washington alums. Brown's last season was 1991, while Booker played through the 1996 season.

"Their roster has changed frequently, so we don't really know who to expect on Friday," Few said. "But in a situation like this you're not as worried about the opponent as you are yourselves. This game is all about us getting better and getting an opportunity to face somebody other than us."

The Bulldogs are coming off a 29-4 campaign and a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga is the four-time defending West Coast Conference Tournament champion. After finishing sixth in last year's final Associated Press Top 25 and 16th in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25, the Bulldogs enter this season 22nd in the ESPN/USA Today. The pre-season AP poll will be released Monday.

Tickets for Friday's contest are still available to the general public. Fans can call (509) 323-4202 or visit the Gonzaga ticket office on the third floor of the Martin Centre during regular business hours. Tickets are $15 each for a reserved seat in the upper north bleachers across from the team benches. All phone orders must be secured with a credit card.



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