Bulldogs Tip Off Men's Hoops Season Friday At EWU
Nov. 15, 2000
Game No. 1 - Eastern Washington Eagles
Friday, November 17 - 7 p.m. PST
Reese Court - Cheney, WA
Radio: KXLI 630 AM 25 minutes prior to tipoff
GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (26-9, 11-3 in West Coast Conference)
EASTERN WASHINGTON EAGLES (15-12, 14-4 in Big Sky Conference)
Sunday, November 19 - 2 p.m. PST
The Kennel - Spokane, WA
Radio: KXLY 920 AM 25 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: GUTV Channel 15/AT&T Cable in Spokane
WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY PHOENIX (14-16, 6-8 in Midwestern Collegiate)
NEW SEASON STARTS FRIDAY IN CHENEY: Year two of the Mark Few era begins Friday at 7 p.m. in nearby Cheney, Wash., when Gonzaga University tips off the 2000-01 men's basketball season. And if this season is anything like the first, then get out your dancin' shows. Few took the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season last March in his first year at the helm after 10 seasons as a Bulldog assistant coach, Gonzaga finishing 26-9 overall.
BULLDOGS DANCE INTO 2000 SWEET 16: For the second straight year, Gonzaga University danced into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The 10th-seeded Bulldogs toppled 7th-seeded University of Louisville 77-66 in the first round of the tournament in Tucson, Ariz., then came back with a major 82-76 win over highly-touted and No. 2 seed St. John's University. The Bulldogs, in just their third NCAA Tournament ever and back for a second straight season, fell short in their bid to duplicate their 1999 Cinderella march to the Elite Eight when they lost to No. 6 seed Purdue University 77-65 in the Sweet 16 in Albuquerque, NM. Gonzaga is one of five teams to advance to the Sweet 16 each of the past two seasons - Duke University, the University of Florida, Michigan State University and Purdue University the others.
FRIENDS BECOME RIVALS FOR A NIGHT: Pre-game introductions of Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and first-year Eastern Washington University head coach Ray Giacoletti won't be necessary prior to Friday's regular-season opener at Reese Court on the EWU campus. Few and Giacoletti have been best friends for years. But Few said the two can't let their close personal friendship interfere with the task at hand. "I wouldn't say there's extra incentive for either of us to win. It's a different feeling playing against a very, very good friend. Our wives are good friends, and he baby sits A.J. (the Few's son born in January) once in awhile. It's tough," Few said of the upcoming meeting. "You put that aside and it's Gonzaga versus Eastern, two programs playing and it doesn't have much to do with Ray and myself."
EASY TUNEUPS: Gonzaga University had a pair of relatively easy tune-ups in preparation for Friday's opener, downing the Yakima Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association 103-86, and then disposing of the Old Dogs AAU - a compilation of Gonzaga alumni - 121-80 last Saturday. "I think it was hard to focus on the second exhibition. The first exhibition was pretty intense and had the feel of a league game in January or February. That was good for us and I thought we responded very well," Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few said of the two exhibition games. "The second one is tough because it's just not a very serious deal no matter how you try to mask it to be. We lost a little focus, even though we tried to dial into the seriousness of it."
NEW FACES IN LINEUP: A trio of new faces have joined a couple of familiar veterans in the starting lineup for Gonzaga University in the two exhibition games. True freshman Blake Stepp, redshirt junior Dan Dickau and junior college transfer Alex Hernandez have joined veteran seniors Casey Calvary and Mark Spink in the lineup. Dickau isn't exactly a new face, having redshirted at Gonzaga last season after transferring from the University of Washington. But his 26 points against the Yakima Sun Kings and 16 more against the Old Dogs AAU were nonetheless his first appearances in meaningful action in more than 18 months. He hadn't played since fracturing his left heel three games into the Pacific-10 Conference season and undergoing surgery Jan. 15, 1999. Stepp is a true freshman from Eugene, Ore., who scored 19 first-half points against Yakima, and Hernandez joined the Bulldogs this season from Casper (Wyo.) Community College.
GUARD, FRESHMEN DRAW FEW'S PRAISE: Head coach Mark Few was particularly pleased with junior transfer guard Dan Dickau and true freshman Blake Stepp at the guard spots, as well as the overall play of his freshmen in the two exhibition games. "I think the guards were the biggest surprises in the exhibitions. They shot the ball so well and played so well. The second surprise might be the freshmen have played so well in their first Division I action." In addition to Stepp, the Bulldogs have true freshmen Cory Violette, redshirt freshmen Kyle Bankhead and Jay Sherrell, and sophomore Germayne Forbes who sat out last year as a freshman due to an eligibility ruling by the NCAA. All saw their first Division I action in the exhibition games.
POINT IS IN GOOD SHAPE: Junior Dan Dickau, who joined the Bulldogs last season from the University of Washington, seems to be ready to follow in the long line of outstanding point guards at Gonzaga University. He's scored 26 and 16 points, respectively, in the first two exhibition games to go with 9 assists. But the offensive production doesn't shock head coach Mark Few. "I think Dan will continue to be a scoring point guard. That's obviously one of his strengths. I can't say it came as a huge surprise."
STEPP(ING) IN: Freshman guard Blake Stepp didn't waste any time making himself a force, scoring 19 first-half points against the Yakima Sun Kings and 14 points against the Old Dogs AAU. "Part of Blake's game has been a surprise, parts haven't," said head coach Mark Few. "He's very competitive and gifted. But he's still a freshman and will have his ups and downs, and won't shoot it great every night out. He has to improve his other areas. When he is shooting it and pushing the ball he can really do some positive things."
CALVARY WOODEN AWARD NOMINEE: Gonzaga University senior forward Casey Calvary is one of 50 nominees for the John R. Wooden Award. A poll was conducted of The John R. Wooden Award Committee to determine the Pre-season Top 50 candidates for the 2000-01 Wooden Award All-American Team. On March 27, 2001, the 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced. One member of the Wooden Award All-American Team will be selected on Friday April 6, 2001 as the recipient of the Wooden Award Trophy as the nation's "Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year." The event will be a one hour telecast on FOX Sports Net. The top 50 Candidates have been selected based on last year's individual performance and team records. In late December, the Wooden Award committee will release the Mid-season Top 30 during a half-hour program on FOX Sports Net. This is the second straight year the Bulldogs have had a Wooden Award nominee, guard Matt Santangelo getting the nomination a year ago.
FEW'S ROOKIE SEASON: Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few had one of the best rookie seasons in NCAA history, the Bulldogs' 26 wins ranking him tied for 7th for "Top 10 Career Starts For Head Coaches By Victories." He's tied with such coaching legends as Jim Boeheim at Syracuse University (1977), Denny Crum of the University of Louisville (1972) and Nolan Richardson of Tulsa University (1981). All won 26 games as rookie head coaches at the NCAA Division I level.
20 WINS AGAIN: For the seventh time in eight years Gonzaga University hit the 20-win plateau, the Bulldogs' 26 wins last season second only behind the 1999 school record mark of 28-7 mark. Last year marked the fourth time the Bulldogs hit the magic 20-win plateau in the regular season. The 1994 squad took a 20-6 record into the West Coast Conference Tournament, the 1998 team was 21-8 entering the tourney, the 1999 Bulldogs went 22-6 in the regular season and the 2000 squad was 21-8 heading into the WCC Tournament. Gonzaga's first 20-win season as a NCAA Division I program came in 1992 with a 20-10 mark, falling to Pepperdine University 73-70 in the Bulldogs' first appearance in the WCC Tournament title game.
BULLDOGS IN THE KENNEL: The Kennel - home of Gonzaga University's Bulldogs - has gained the reputation as one of the toughest courts in the country. In the last nine seasons the Bulldogs are 103-9 at home for a nifty 91.9 winning percentage, finishing 10-1 last season. The Bulldogs completed a 10-0 season in The Kennel in 1999, 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. Gonzaga was 10-1 at home in 1998. The Bulldogs put together a 34-game home-court-winning streak from 1992-95, which at the time was the second-longest active streak in the country.
BULLDOGS VS. EAGLES: Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University will renew their rivalry Friday night on Reese Court on the Eagles' campus, the regular-season opener for both clubs. The Bulldogs have dominated the series in recent years, winning 13 straight and 19 of the last 20. The only breakthroughs for the Eagles since the 1986-87 season were a 62-60 win that season in the consolation game of the Inland Empire Classic at the now-demolished Spokane Coliseum, and during the 1989-90 campaign when the Eagles prevailed 70-55 in The Kennel. Gonzaga leads the series 41-9 since joining the NCAA Division I ranks for the 1958-59 season, including last year's 81-47 win in The Kennel.
BULLDOGS VS. PHOENIX: The home opener for Gonzaga University will be Sunday at 2 p.m. in The Kennel when the Bulldogs host the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The teams will play a home-and-home this season, the Bulldogs repaying the visit Dec. 29 in Green Bay. The Bulldogs and the Phoenix haven't faced each other since November of 1985 when the Bulldogs prevailed 63-47 in Spokane. The series is tied 1-1, the Phoenix posting a 63-52 double-overtime victory in Green Bay during the 1984-85 season.
GOURDE STILL QUESTIONNABLE: While Gonzaga University's coaches and trainers are hopeful Zach Gourde will see some playing time Friday at Eastern Washington University, his status and availability may not be know until later in the week. Gourde underwent surgery Sept. 6 to repair a torn meniscus of his right knee injured while playing basketball. He was cleared for full practice activity this week. "If the knee swells then we'll have to back him off. If it doesn't, then we'll have to factor in how his timing. We want his return to be a positive thing for him," head coach Mark Few said.
RANKED TEAMS ON SCHEDULE: A pair of ranked teams loom in the not-to-distant future on Gonzaga University's schedule. The first big showdown is Nov. 29 when the Bulldogs face top-ranked (Associated Press Top 25 and ESPN/USA TODAY Top 25) University of Arizona at Lute Olson Court at McKale Center on the Wildcats' campus. The Bulldogs are no stranger to McKale Center, having defeated the University of Louisville and St. John's University last March in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Tucson. Gonzaga will also face 11th-ranked (both polls) University of Florida Dec. 20 in Sunrise, Fla., in the Hip Health Care/Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. The Bulldogs and Gators are no strangers. Casey Calvary's tip-in with :04 remaining gave the Bulldogs a 73-72 Sweet 16 victory in 1999 at the NCAA West Regional in Phoenix, Ariz. Gonzaga received 4 votes in this year's AP pre-season Top 25 and 3 points in the ESPN/USA TODAY pre-season balloting. Gonzaga finished 24th in last year's final ESPN/USA TODAY poll.
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