Men's Basketball Plays Final Exhibition

Nov. 7, 2001

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team gets its final preseason tune-up Thursday when the Delta Jammers of Manteca, Calif., invade The Kennel for a 7 p.m. exhibition.

Tickets for Thursday's game will be on sale from 9 a.m. until game time Thursday in person on the third floor of the Martin Centre or by calling (509) 323-4202. Phone orders must be secured with a credit card.

The Bulldogs opened the exhibition season with a 101-81 win over Brewster Packing last Saturday, and for the most part third-year head coach Mark Few liked what he saw.

"I learned some of the guys are a little better under the lights at 7 o'clock then they are in practice. I thought some of the guys really stepped up and played very well," Few said. "I also think that's partially everybody getting to be on the same team and getting to play together. In our scrimmages everybody knows what you are supposed to be doing and where you are supposed to be going. That can tend to muddle things up a little bit."

One veteran who had a solid outing was sophomore post Cory Violette. A backup last season to Zach Gourde and West Coast Conference Player of the Year Casey Calvary, the Boise, Idaho, native went 9-for-15 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range on his way to a team-high 21 points.

"Cory's had a good summer and fall. I think we hoped that's where he would be. He played with a lot of emotion and confidence, and when he does that I think he'll have a breakout year," Few said of the performance.

Violette was one of six players in double digits.

Newcomer Ronny Turiaf, the 6-9 forward for Martinique, played just nine minutes but responded with 14 points prior to fouling out. Few was impressed with the continued offensive production of Turiaf.

"I told Ronny going in I think he was a little nervous and he's had a lot to learn. We throw a lot of new sets, ideas, defenses and hundreds of different things at our people. I wanted him to play hard and play with emotion," Few noted. "The remarkable thing about him, if you look at our scrimmages and our first game he really scores per minute. Fourteen 14 points in 9 minutes isn't bad, and he had 26 points in our last scrimmage. That's good because we need even more of a low post threat."

Few also liked the offensive balance he had as Gourde and Dan Dickau each scored 16 points, Kyle Bankhead added 12 and Anthony Reason chipped in with 11 as all five starters hit double-digits.

"I thought we should have decent scoring balance this year. We shared the ball pretty well. There were only a few shots that I thought were too quick or not what we're looking for," Few said of Saturday's 101-point explosion.

The Bulldogs also got their first look at North Idaho College transfer Winston Brooks, who has been compared to Quentin Hall who was an instrumental cog in Gonzaga's run to the 1999 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

"When Winston got in a game situation he showed all of us - fans, coaching staff and maybe teammates - the value he will have for us. We maybe haven't seen that in our controlled scrimmages, but he can break out and make some things happen for us," Few said. "Winston allows us to maybe play three guards. He's the same size as Quentin, but he's different. He's a full-court defender and he's a pass-first point guard. Quentin definitely wasn't the pass-first point guard. Winston works hard and it was great to see him have a good first outing."

The Bulldogs will also be without sophomore guard Blake Stepp again on Thursday. Stepp is still experiencing swelling on his right knee which is recovering from bone degeneration surgery last spring. In his place, Kyle Bankhead and Germayne Forbes will play a bigger role.

"Bankhead is solid, and Germayne's international experience helped him. But they aren't Blake. We'll have to see what happens with Blake's situation. In the meantime, we're developing guys like we did last year when Dan (Dickau) was hurt," Few said of life without Stepp.

"Blake feels great and looks great when he plays, but it's a swelling issue. There's no pain, but for the next day or two when he's done playing it swells and the swelling lingers," Few said.

Few said the Bulldogs will continue to build on what they did Saturday.

"We're just building and getting experience. We need to get our rotation down and guys getting used to that, and working on different combinations. We just need to keep improving," Few said of the goals for Thursday's exhibition.

Senior guard/forward Alex Hernandez, held out of Saturday's scrimmage because of a lack of academic progress in Few's estimation, will return to action Thursday.

"It's not a Mark Few doghouse, it's a program expectation," Few said when asked if Hernandez was out of the doghouse. "While I still have basketball to hold over them I will do anything and everything to make certain they understand the degree is the most important thing out of here."

The Bulldogs get their final tune-up prior to opening the regular season Nov. 16 at the University of Illinois. The Fighting Illini are ranked second in the USA TODAY/ESPN preseason Top 25, and third in the Associated Press preseason rankings.

 

 

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