Men's Basketball Hits The Big Apple
Nov. 11, 2003
Game No. 1 - Saint Joseph's University
Friday, November 14 - 6 p.m. PST
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
No. 12 GONZAGA BULLDOGS (0-0; 0-0 West Coast Conference) G - 10 Blake Stepp, 6-4, 194, Jr., Eugene, OR (18.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.0 assists, 1.6 steals) G - 4 Tony Skinner, 6-5, 198, Jr., Albuquerque, NM (8.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals) C - 34 Richard Fox, 6-11, 265, Sr., Denver, CO (6.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.3 blocks) F - 22 Erroll Knight, 6-6, 212, So., Seattle, WA (Redshirted 2003 season - transfer from Washington) F - 33 Cory Violette, 6-8, 265, Sr., Boise, ID (11.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 105-29 (5th year - 15th at GU) CAREER RECORD: Same
BULLDOGS IN THE BIG APPLE: Gonzaga University will be making its first appearance in Madison Square Garden on Friday when the Bulldogs battle Saint Joseph's University in the 9 p.m. EST nightcap of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Friday's play opens with the University of Pittsburgh meeting the University of Alabama in the 7 p.m. EST opener. The Classic actually starts Thursday with the University of Memphis taking on Wake Forest University at 7 p.m. EST, with Marquette University taking on St. John's University at 9 p.m. EST.
COAST-TO-COAST: Although they won't be facing each other, Gonzaga University and Saint Joseph's University will both participate in the Pete Newell Challenge on Dec. 20 in Oakland, Calif. The Bulldogs face Stanford University, while Saint Joe's meets the University of California in the nightcap of the showcase doubleheader.
THREE COULD HIT 1,000: At some point in the season Gonzaga University should have three active 1,000-point career scorers in the lineup. Blake Stepp has already hit the milestone and has 1,217 career points to rank 14th. He needs 10 points to surpass Bill Wilson (1,226, 1962-64) to move into 13th. Cory Violette has 903 career points and Ronny Turiaf is at 750. Stepp became the 25th Gonzaga player to reach the 1,000-point plateau. John Rillie is currently 25th on the all-time Gonzaga list with 1,004.
FOR THREE: Blake Stepp and Kyle Bankhead continue to climb on Gonzaga University's all-time 3-point list. Stepp is fourth with 209, 22 shy of moving past John Rillie (230, 1993-95) and into third. Bankhead has 128 treys to rank eighth and needs six to pass Jarrod Davis (133, 1991-92) for seventh. Richie Frahm, currently with the Seattle Sonics, is the career leader with 280 from 1996-00.
FROM THE LINE: Ronny Turiaf and Blake Stepp each moved into the Gonzaga University Top 10 for free throws made last season. Turiaf is eighth with 301 over the past two seasons, while Stepp is right behind in ninth with 298 in three seasons. Turiaf and Stepp each tied Frank Burgess' single-game record of 16 free throws made in a game last season. Turiaf did its against Indiana University in the Maui Invitational when he went 16-for-18, then matched the mark again when he went 16-for-22 against the University of Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament First Round. Stepp went 16-for-20 against the University of Washington to get his piece of the record.
REBOUNDS: Senior Cory Violette is ninth in career rebounds with 627, becoming just the 10th player in Gonzaga history to reach the 600-rebound mark. With 97 more points he'll become the fifth player in Gonzaga history to record 1,000 points and 600 rebounds.
PASS THE ROCK: While Blake Stepp is known for his scoring, he has quietly snuck up on the all-time assists list at Gonzaga University. His 433 assists rank third behind Matt Santangelo (668, 1997-000) and sure-bet NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton (554, 1981-84). Stepp is also tied for fifth in career steals with 116, Stockton the leader with 262.
BLOCK IT: Ronny Turiaf continues to move up the blocked shots list at Gonzaga University, his 75 ranking fifth. Cory Violette is 10th with 58. Casey Calvary is the all-time leader with 207 from 1998-01. Turiaf could move into second with 25 blocks this season, Tim Ruff holding that spot with 99 from 1981-85.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Six teams from the NCAA Tournament a year ago dot the Gonzaga University schedule this season - Tulsa University, University of Missouri, Stanford University, University of Maryland, Saint Joseph's University and fellow West Coast Conference foe University of San Diego. In addition, the schedule includes four teams ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top 25 and three clubs on the Associated Press Preseason Top 25. The Bulldogs played eight NCAA Tournament teams a year ago.
NATIONAL LEADERS: Blake Stepp was among the NCAA leaders in three categories last season. His 6.0 assists/game ranked tied for 22nd, his 3.0 3-point field goals/game ranked 30th and his single-game Gonzaga record 16 assists against Long Beach State University tied him for third for the most assists in a game.
POUNDING THE BOARDS: Gonzaga University finished 19th in rebound margin in 2003 with a +.5.7. Wake Forest University led the NCAA a year ago at +9.6. the Bulldogs paced the NCAA Division I ranks in rebounding margin in 2002 with a +8.9 margin to edge Louisiana Tech University (+8.8) by the slimmest of margins.
BULLDOGS AND THE KENNEL: The Kennel, home of Gonzaga University's Bulldogs, has gained the reputation as one of the toughest courts in the country, the Bulldogs losing a 29-game home winning streak Dec. 31, 2002, that ranked third longest in the country. In the last 12 seasons the Bulldogs are 139-10 at home for a nifty 93.3 winning percentage. Gonzaga went 10-2 at home IN 2003, the first time the Bulldogs lost two home games in a season since 1997. Gonzaga was 13-0 at home in 2002, winning by an average of 24.6 ppg. The Bulldogs went 12-0 at home in 2001, winning by an average of 24.7 ppg. GU is 55-3 in The Kennel over the past five seasons. The 2000 squad was 10-1, and the 1999 Bulldogs completed a 10-0 season in The Kennel, winning by an average of 31.9 ppg. The Bulldogs also posted undefeated home campaigns in 1993 (13-0) and 1994 (14-0), and suffered just one home setback in 1996 and 1998. The Bulldogs put together a 34-game home-court-winning streak from 1992-95, which at the time was the country's second-longest active streak.
THREE OR BUST: Gonzaga University has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 331. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, when the Bulldogs went 0-for-5 at home against Portland.
FOR HIS COUNTRY: Senior guard Blake Stepp played for USA Basketball in the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He averaged 14.6 minutes/game, 3.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg and 0.8 assists/game. His 3-pointer with 1:24 to go in the opening game against Argentina broke a 74-74 tie and propelled USA to an 80-79 win over the favored Argentineans. He scored a tournament-high 7 points, going 2-for-4 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
20 OR BUST: Gonzaga University is tied for 11th in consecutive 20-win seasons with six. The University of Arizona leads the way with 16, followed by the University of Kansas with 14 and the University of Kentucky with 13. Gonzaga is tied with the University of Connecticut, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and Syracuse University.
SINGLE DIGITS: Only Gonzaga University, the University of Florida and Duke University have lost less than 10 games in each of the past five seasons. Gonzaga has posted marks of 29-4, 26-7, 26-9 28-7 and 24-9, respectively, in that stretch. The last time Gonzaga hit double-digits in the "L" column was 1998 with a 20-10 campaign. Current head coach Mark Few has never had 10 or more losses in his four years as a head coach. Duke went 25-7 and Florida 25-8 last season.
INJURY UPDATE: Gonzaga University will be as close to full strength as the Bulldogs have been throughout the preseason when they tip it off for real on Friday against Saint Joseph's University. Tony Skinner returned to action in last Saturday's exhibition after missing the exhibition opener with a sore knee. Ronny Turiaf, who has been on the sidelines for both exhibition games with a stress fracture, has been cleared to play after getting out of his boot last week. It's unknown how many minutes Turiaf will be able to play - if any - against the Hawks. The Bulldogs still have a couple of questionable players. Erroll Knight, who returned for last Saturday's exhibition after sitting out the opener with a slightly sprained ankles, re-injured the same ankle last Saturday. Freshman Adam Morrison is still nursing a sprained wrist suffered a week ago last Sunday in practice. Trainer Steve DeLong is cautiously optimistic both will be able to play on Friday.
FRESHMEN DEBUT: Three freshmen could make their regular-season collegiate debuts for Gonzaga University on Friday. Redshirt freshman Sean Mallon and true freshmen Adam Morrison and Derek Raivio will be in uniform when the Bulldogs tackle Saint Joseph's University. Mallon sat out last season after coming to the Bulldogs from a standout career at Spokane's Ferris High. Adam is a product of Spokane's Mead High and Raivio comes to the Bulldogs from Vancouver, Wash., and Mountain View High.
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