Revamped Gonzaga Looks for Improvement Against Utah

Nov 25, 2002

by Associated Press

After losing star point guard Dan Dickau to the NBA, Gonzaga coach Mark Few formed this season's team around a corps of big men.

Few's 20th-ranked Bulldogs continue their adjustment to the reconfigured lineup as they face Utah in the opening round of the Maui Classic.

On Saturday, Gonzaga beat Hofstra 69-61 in its season opener. However, the win proved that the Zags have some work ahead of them.

Hofstra outrebounded Gonzaga 41-38 and forced the Bulldogs to take 20 3-pointers, only five of which found their mark.

The Pride took the lead midway through the second half before center Cory Violette scored ten points in an eight-minute span to put Gonzaga ahead for good.

"They outplayed us," said Violette, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. "A team with our size and ability should not get outrebounded."

"It's nice to learn a lesson without losing," added Few, who called the game a "reality check."

Gonzaga, which is still tinkering with player combinations, may have a few more lessons to learn before it works out all of the kinks.

"We're still figuring our combinations and how the minutes are going to shake out," Few said earlier in the week.

"Depth is a strength of this year's team. We hope to use that in a positive way."

Blake Stepp, who started Saturday in Dickau's old position, had five points and four assists in 35 minutes. Few said that Stepp will bring a more up-tempo style of play to the Bulldogs.

"Blake is adept at throwing the ball ahead and getting it up the floor," Few said. "Dan very much liked to cruise the lanes of the floor so he could hit a 3 or a pull-up jumper."

Utah comes in off Friday's 61-47 win over Southern Utah.

Forward Britton Johnsen, the 2002 Mountain West Conference player of the year, scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. His frontcourt mate Tim Frost, a University of Portland transfer, added 13 points.



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