Bullodgs Meet Rice In NIT Season Tip Off

Nov. 13, 2006

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 2 - Rice Owls
Tues., Nov. 14 - 9 p.m. PST
Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip Off
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena - Spokane, WA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: ESPN2
GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (1-0; 0-0 West Coast)
G -   2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 219, So., Chicago, IL
       (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals
G -   5 Derek Raivio, 6-3, 177, Sr., Vancouver, WA
       (21.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals)
G -   4 Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, 6-0, 182, Jr., Montreal, Quebec
       (6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 assists, 2.0 steals)
F -  42 Josh Heytvelt, 6-11, 238, So., Clarkston, WA
       (22.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks)
F -  32 Sean Mallon, 6-9, 223, Sr., Spokane, WA
       (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 steals)
HEAD COACH:  Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD:  189-41 (8th year - 18th at GU)  CAREER RECORD:  Same

RICE UNIVERSITY OWLS (1-0; 0-0 Conference USA) G - 5 Lorenzo Williams, 6-1, 165, Sr., Killeen, TX (11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.0 assists) G - 22 Morris Almond, 6-6, 215, Sr., Powder Springs, GA (24.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 1. blocks) G - 32 Cory Pflieger, 6-2, 175, So., Dickson, TN (17.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 assists) C - 31 Greg Killings, 6-10, 240, Sr., Miami, FL (8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks) F - 41 Patrick Britton, 6-8, 200, Jr., San Antonio, TX (5.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks) HEAD COACH: Willis Wilson (Rice, 1982) RICE RECORD: 201-203 (15th year) CAREER RECORD: Same GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA: None.

The National Invitation Tournament and hopefully the first of two trips to New York's Madison Square Garden is on tap for Gonzaga University this week. The Bulldogs will go downtown to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena for the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip Off Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday's match-ups have Colorado State University facing Baylor University at 6 p.m., followed by the Bulldogs and Rice University at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. Tuesday's losers meet at 4:30 p.m. with the winners doing battle at 7:30 p.m., the winner advancing to New York for games Nov. 22 and Nov. 24 to crown the NIT champion. Wednesday's title game will also be televised on ESPN2.

Spokane is one of four pods being staged around the country beginning Monday with each pod winner heading to New York for the NIT Season Tip Off. Semifinal games in Madison Square Garden will be Nov. 22 with the East-West and Midwest-South winners being paired. The consolation game and championship tilt are Nov. 24.

East @ Charlotte, NC - Nov. 14-15 North Carolina vs. Sacred Heart Winthrop vs. Iona West @ Spokane, WA - Nov. 14-15 Colorado State vs. Baylor Gonzaga vs. Rice Midwest @ Indianapolis, IN - Nov. 13-14 Notre Dame vs. Butler Indiana vs. Lafayette South @ Nashville, TN - Nov. 13-14 UNC-Wilmington vs. Belmont Tennessee vs. Fordham

Gonzaga University extended its home winning streak to 41 games with last Friday's 90-75 win over Eastern Washington University. That streak is the longest current streak in the NCAA Division I ranks. The Bulldogs are 29-0 in the 3-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center and won their final 12 home games next door in The Kennel. Since beginning the streak Feb. 22, 2003, with a 69-60 win over Tulsa University, the Bulldogs have also played - and won - four games at the downtown Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. That gives the Bulldogs a 45-game winning streak in the city of Spokane. The last time the Bulldogs lost in Spokane was Feb. 19, 2003, to the University of Portland 72-68 in The Kennel, where the Bulldogs called home through the 2003-04 season.

Gonzaga University has played in the National Invitation Pre-Season Tournament once and in the post-season NIT three times. The Bulldogs played the University of Memphis in the Pre-Season NIT in the Pyramid, the former home of the Tigers, on Nov. 16, 1998, taking an 88-73 decision. That advanced the Bulldogs to Lafayette, Ind., and a second-round date with the Purdue University, the Boilermakers taking an 83-68 victory. Gonzaga made its inaugural NCAA Division I post-season appearance in the NIT on March 17, 1994, the Bulldogs taking the St. Patrick's Day victory at Stanford University 80-76. Gonzaga advanced to the second round of the NIT in 1994 and 1998, and lost in the first round in 1996.

The Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena opened its doors in the fall of 1995, and Gonzaga University played the first collegiate basketball game in the facility on Nov. 24, 1995, in a 72-67 setback to Washington State University. The Bulldogs are 9-3 in the Spokane Arena and have won six straight games there. The last Gonzaga loss in the facility was an 81-80 overtime setback to the University of New Mexico, a game that was delayed 42 minutes when the Bulldogs Casey Calvary shattered a backboard on a slam dunk with approximately 9:00 to play in the second half. That New Mexico team was coached by current ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla.

Eight newcomers dot the Gonzaga University roster this season, although two of them were redshirt walk-ons a year ago. Matt Bouldin, a 6-5 guard from Highland Ranch, Colo., Will Foster, a 7-4 center from Buckley, Wash., and Theo Davis, a 6-9 forward from Brampton, Ontario, are the recruited freshmen in the fold. Abdullahi Kuso, a 6-9 forward from Tallahassee Community College by way of Kaduna, Nigeria, is the long junior college transfer. Micah Downs, a 6-8 guard from Kirkland, Wash., and David Burgess, a 6-10 forward from Irvine, Calif., were two mid-year transfers last January who won't be eligible until after finals on Dec. 16 and their grades are certified. Downs joined the Bulldogs are one semester at the University of Kansas and Burgess came to Gonzaga in the middle of his sophomore campaign at Brigham Young University. They join 6-2 sophomore guard Andrew Sorenson from Olympia, Wash., and 6-2 freshman guard Jordan Mast from Hillsboro, Ore. Mast redshirted last season while Sorenson tried out for the team in 2004-05 but did not make the squad, then tried out for the team again last season and was kept on the squad.

Injuries have slowed the progress of several players this year, the most notable to sophomore Larry Gurganious who is sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks with a cracked lower vertebrae. Gurganious' injury was recently diagnosed after he had missed most of fall practice with back problems. He is expected to be sidelined at least 6-8 weeks and perhaps the season. It's an injury that doesn't heal very quickly and sometimes doesn't heal at all, according to head coach Mark Few. Transfers Micah Downs and David Burgess, who don't become eligible until after finals in December because they were mid-season transfers last January, have also been slowed. Downs is back at practice after minor foot surgery and Burgess is expected to be sidelined until approximately Dec. 1 with an ACL sprain. Freshman Theo Davis had shoulder surgery, is expected to be out until some time in December and could sit out the season.

The status of 7-4 freshman Will Foster is still being evaluated. With potential season-ending injuries to Larry Gurganious and Theo Davis, the decision whether to redshirt Foster or not isn't an easy one. The product of White River High in Buckley, Wash., could use the year to improve his strength and his skills, but the Bulldogs had just 11 healthy bodies heading into the season opener. Foster did not play against Eastern Washington University last Friday.

Gonzaga University received votes in both of the major poll this week, the Bulldogs the first team in the others receiving votes category in the US Today/ESPN Top 25 and the second team listed in the Associated Press Top 25. The Bulldogs garnered 73 points in the USA Today/ESPN voting, 16 shy of No. 20 Creighton University with 89 points. The Bulldogs had 125 points in the AP Top 25, Wichita State University had 153 and the University of Tennessee is ranked 25th with 199.

Sophomore Josh Heytvelt didn't waste any time establishing a career high for points when he poured in 22 last Friday in the season opener against Eastern Washington University. Heytvelt, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2005 and then had the 2006 season interrupted with a foot injury, went 9-for-16 from the field. His previous best was 9 points last year against Michigan State University at the Maui Invitational. He was injured the next night and sidelined for approximately 11 weeks.

Derek Raivio's 21 points against Eastern Washington University was just his second 20+ scoring outburst over the last 17 games, matching the 21 he scored against the University of San Diego last March 5.

Gonzaga University head men's basketball coach Mark Few announced the signing of four players to national letters-of-intent to join the Bulldogs next fall. Scheduled to join the Bulldogs next season are freshmen Austin Daye, Woodbridge High in Irvine, Calif.; Steven Gray, Bainbridge High, Bainbridge, Wash., and Robert Sacre (pronounced sack-rEE), Handsworth Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, and junior college transfer Ira Brown, Phoenix, Ariz., College who hails from Conroe, Texas. Daye, a 6-10, 190-pound wing, was ranked as the 32nd-best player nationally and as the ninth best small forward by one scouting service in the Class of 2007. He was named to the Long Beach Press Telegram Best in the West first team as the seventh-leading vote getter and was named to the Hot 100 players for 2007 as selected by Sports Illustrated. Daye averaged 16 ppg, 9 rpg and 3.4 blocks/game as a junior for coach John Halagan. Gray, a 6-4, 190-pound guard, was ranked as the 52nd best player and the 13th best shooting guard in the Class of 2007. He was also named to the Long Beach Press Telegram Best in the West second team. He averaged 24.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4 assists and 2.5 steals last season for coach Scott Orness. Sacre, a 7-0, 255-pound post, was rated as the 100th best player in the Class of '07 and the seventh best center. He averaged 25 ppg, 12 rpg and 4 blocks/game for Handsworth Secondary School and coach Randy Storey last season, earning MVP of the British Columbia Provincial Tournament. Brown, a 6-4, 235-pound forward, was ranked as the 42nd best junior college player in the country after averaging 17 ppg, 10 rpg and shooting 60 percent from the field for Phoenix College and Coach Matt Gordon. A late bloomer to the collegiate game, Brown graduated from Willis High in Texas in May of 2001 and pursued a professional baseball career. He was drafted in the eight round of the 2001 Major League Draft by the Kansas City Royals and played four seasons of minor league baseball, including the 2002 season with the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League.. He attended Phoenix College last season, averaging 17.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, shooting 57.6 percent from the field (253-for-439) and blocking 59 shots. "This is the first time we've ever had a class nationally ranked," Few said of the recruiting class ranked 11th best in the nation by one scouting service. "We got some offense, we got some size and we got some athleticism. This is a talented group."

Gonzaga is tied for eighth for the longest active NCAA Tournament Appearances Streak. The Bulldogs made their eighth straight appearance in 2006, joining Wisconsin, Texas and Florida. Arizona extended its streak to 22 with last spring's selection, followed by Kansas (17), Kentucky (15), Duke (11) and Michigan State (9). Streaks that ended in 2006 were Cincinnati (14), Stanford (11) and Oklahoma State (8).

Gonzaga has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 427. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, going 0-for-5 at home against Portland.

 

 

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