Battle Of Bulldogs For NIT Crown

Nov. 23, 2006

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 6 - Butler Bulldogs
Fri., Nov. 24 - 4 p.m. PST
Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip Off
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff TV: ESPN2
GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (5-0; 0-0 West Coast)
G -   2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 219, So., Chicago, IL
       (10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals)
G -   5 Derek Raivio, 6-3, 177, Sr., Vancouver, WA
       (17.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals)
G -   4 Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, 6-0, 182, Jr., Montreal, Quebec
       (7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals)
F -  42 Josh Heytvelt, 6-11, 238, So., Clarkston, WA
       (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.4 blocks)
F -  32 Sean Mallon, 6-9, 223, Sr., Spokane, WA
      (8.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.6 assists)
HEAD COACH:  Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD:  193-41 (8th year - 18th at GU)  CAREER RECORD:  Same

BUTLER UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (5-0; 0-0 Horizon League) G - 4 A.J. Graves, 6-1, 160, Jr., Switz City, IN (17.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals) G - 10 Mike Green, 6-0, 180, Jr., Philadelphia, PA (13.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.8 assists, 21.0 steals) C - 24 Brian Ligon, 6-7, 240, Sr., St. Petersburg, FL (4.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.3 steals, 1.0 blocks) F - 1 Julian Betko, 6-5, 200, Sr., Ruzomberok, Slovakia (5.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 assists) F - 33 Brandon Crone, 6-6, 225, Sr., Frankfort, IN (10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks) HEAD COACH: Todd Lickliter (Butler, 1979) BU RECORD: 107-54 (6th year) CAREER RECORD: Same GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA: None

Gonzaga University will be meeting a member of the Horizon League for the eighth time in Friday's Battle of the Bulldogs against Butler University. Gonzaga last played a Horizon League member during the 2001 season when the Bulldogs visited the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and suffered a 72-61 setback. Gonzaga is 2-2 against UWGB and 0-2 against the University of Detroit. Valparaiso University will join the conference in July of 2007, the Bulldogs downing the Crusaders in the 2004 NCAA Tournament First Round in Seattle.

Gonzaga University and Butler University have never met on the basketball court.

Gonzaga University's win over No. 2 University of North Carolina was the highest ranked team the Bulldogs have ever defeated. Gonzaga has three wins over teams ranked third, but the Bulldogs were 0-4 against teams ranked No. 2 prior to Wednesday's upset. Gonzaga is 0-1 against No. 1.

Wednesday's win over the University of North Carolina continued Gonzaga University's success against the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Bulldogs 8-1 all time against ACC competition. The Bulldogs have two more games against ACC foes this year, the Bulldogs returning to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 21 to face Duke University, then heading to the University of Virginia for a Jan. 3 matchup. Virginia came to Spokane last year to meet the Bulldogs in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga has played the University of Maryland more than any other ACC team, losing to the Terrapins in the 1995 NCAA first round in Salt Lake City, Utah - Gonzaga's inaugural trip to the NCAA Tournament - and then defeating the Terps at their BB&T Classic at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2003, and then winning last season at the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Gonzaga has won all eight meetings against ACC foes since that 1995 setback.

Gonzaga University has a +22.8 scoring margin advantage this season. Gonzaga is averaging 86.0 ppg while opponents are scoring at a 63.2 clip. Gonzaga also has a +10.6 rebounding margin advantage.

Through the first five games Gonzaga University has its shooting touch. Gonzaga is connecting on 51.0 percent of its field goals (150-for-294). Opponents have hit just 35.9 percent of its attempts (112-for-312).

Junior college transfer Abduallahi Kuso, who came to the Bulldogs from Tallahassee JC, recorded his first career double-double on Sunday against the University of Texas San Antonio. He scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. The native of Kaduna, Nigeria, went 5-for-10 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. For the season he is 15-for-23 from the field for 62.5 percent.

Freshman Matt Bouldin found his shooting touch again Wednesday, breaking out of a 3-for-12 slump over his three previous games to go 5-for-8. He also added 14 points and a career-high 6 assists. He is averaging a team-leading 4.6 assists/game and has a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Gonzaga University extended its home winning streak to 42 games with Sunday's 92-48 win over the University of Texas San Antonio. That streak is the longest current streak in the NCAA Division I ranks. The Bulldogs are 30-0 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 - six games at the downtown Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. That gives the Bulldogs a 48-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.

It's been well documented what Gonzaga University had to replace this season with the loss of Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista. The two combined to average 47.4 ppg and 14.9 rpg. But sophomore Josh Heytvelt and senior Derek Raivio are doing their best to make their mark on the 2007 version of the Bulldogs. It's still early in the season, but through the first five games the duo are averaging 35.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg. Heytvelt has been the surprise thus far, averaging 17.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg. He scored a career-high 22 points in the season opener against Eastern Washington University, then broke that with 25 points against Rice University. He recorded his first career double against Rice by grabbing 11 rebounds. Heytvelt is 35-for-64 from the field for 54.7 percent this season. Raivio, meanwhile, has picked up where he left off last year from the free throw line. A 91.2 percent (83-for-91) shooter from the line last season, he's 18-for-21 for 85.7 percent thus far this year. He tied the school mark of 41 straight from the line during the 2004-05 season. He's averaging 17.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg. He has scored 21 points in three of the Bulldogs first five games this season.

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 Highlands 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 continue to slow the progress of several players this year. Micah Downs had a stress fracture injury flare up on him again last Saturday and he had surgery Sunday that will sideline him 6-10 weeks. A pin was placed in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. If he heals quickly he could be back in six weeks and be ready for West Coast Conference play. If it takes longer to heal a decision will be made whether or not to play him this season. As a mid-season transfer he wasn't going to be eligible to play until mid-December. He came to the Bulldogs after one semester at the University of Kansas. If he doesn't play this season he will have three years of eligibility remaining. Sophomore Larry Gregarious 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 could be sidelined 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. Transfer David Burgess, who won't become eligible until after finals in December because he was another mid-season transfer last January, has also been slowed. 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.

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 431. 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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