Gonzaga Takes On Hofstra In First Season Opener At Home In Five Years
Nov 21, 2002
by Associated Press
The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs, coming off a disappointing performance in last season's NCAA tournament, are doubtlessly looking forward to getting this campaign off to a strong start as they host Hofstra at the Kennel on Friday.
The Bulldogs haven't been at home for a season opener since 1997, when they cruised to a 97-50 rout of Concordia.
After finding success in the NCAA tournament as a darkhorse in previous years, the Bulldogs underachieved as a favorite in 2002.
Gonzaga posted a school-best 29-4 record and earned a No.6 seed in the West Regional, but lost in the first round to 11th-seeded Wyoming.
The Bulldogs had reached the round of 16 in each of the previous two seasons.
The biggest loss the Bulldogs will have to cope with is replacing top scorer Dan Dickau, who averaged 21.0 points per game during his senior campaign.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose 81-20 record since joining Gonzaga in 1999 is the best for a third-year coach in NCAA history, still has a strong cast of returnees.
Senior Zach Gourde finished second to Dickau in scoring with 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season. The 6-foot-8 power forward also shot a team-high 54 percent from the field.
Junior center Cory Violette provides an imposing presence in the paint. Violette averaged a team-high 8.3 rebounds, and displayed his range by connecting on 28 percent of his 3-point attempts.
After missing the final 19 games of last season with a fractured wrist, senior guard Winston Brooks is back for the Bulldogs.
"Winston was just coming into his own when he was injured," Few said. "I think he's playing with great confidence this season.
Gonzaga won both of its preseason games by an average of 34 points.
Hofstra has yet to face Gonzaga, but the Pride did play at the Kennel in 1990-91 during the Spokane Shootout.
Hofstra has won each of its last two season openers, including a 67-65 triumph over Florida Atlantic last November.
The Pride returns its entire roster from a season ago, but three projected starters will not play against the Bulldogs.
Senior guard Rick Apodaca, last season's leading scorer, and sophomore forward Wendell Gibson both were suspended by the school for 14 games after testing positive for marijuana.
Senior forward Danny Gibson is also out with an injury.
Sophomore Kenny Adeleke is expected to fill the void left behind in the frontcourt.
The 6-foot-8 forward was the 2001-02 Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, averaging 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Guards Woody Souffrant and Mike Radziejewski will try to compensate for the 19.2 points per game Apodaca averaged in conference play.
Last season, the Pride had difficulties trying to match the level of play which earned it national recognition in 2001.
After going 26-5, including an 18-game winning streak, and earning a berth in the NCAA tournament in 2000-01, Hofstra struggled most of last season.
Under first-year head coach Tom Pecora, the Pride finished 12-20 - their
worst record since 1995-96.
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