If the Bulldogscan't parlay their added depth, height and versatility into an eighth straightWest Coast Conference regular-season title and an extended run in the NCAAtournament next spring, at least they'll have this going for them: "Walkingthrough an airport, we'll definitely look like a Division¬†I team,"says coach Mark Few. "I'm not sure you could say that about us at the endof last year."
The lineup thatlost to Indiana in the first round of the NCAAs last season was short onpersonnel and stature without 6' 11", 238-pound junior forward JoshHeytvelt, the team's leading rebounder (7.7) and second-leading scorer (15.5),and 6' 9" redshirt freshman Theo Davis. Both were arrested for drugpossession on Feb.¬†9 and suspended from the team. But after completing 300days of community service and apologizing to coaches and teammates, they'vebeen reinstated and join five other players who are at least 6' 8".
The tall timber upfront also includes two of the four newcomers who make up Gonzaga's firstnationally ranked recruiting class: freshmen Austin Daye of Irvine, Calif., a6' 10" forward who averaged 30.9 points last season, and Robert Sacre ofVancouver, a 7-foot center who averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds a game."There's a battle for the four and five spots, and that's been fun towatch," says senior guard David Pendergraft. "There have been a fewblack eyes, but everyone is getting tough."
The Zags are thinonly at point guard, but starter Jeremy Pargo is durable (he hasn't missed somuch as a practice in more than two years) and polished, having spent thesummer working on his shot and playmaking (he got tips from his brother, NewOrleans Hornets guard Jannero Pargo, and at camps run by LeBron James and SteveNash). "I wanted to get confidence in my shot," says Pargo. "I feellike I'm a pretty good shooter, though a lot of people don't realize it becauseI haven't taken some of the shots they think I should take."
November 19, 2007
Don't expect himto start raining threes and jumpers just to prove he can shoot, however."When I get that open jump shot, knocking it down will help this teamwin," he says. "If I don't have to take one shot for my team to win,I'll be fine with that too."
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy or pdf.]
|PG||Jeremy Pargo (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà2"||Jr.||12.1 ppg||4.6 apg|
|SG||Matt Bouldin (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà5"||Soph.||8.9 ppg||3.1 apg|
|SF||David Pendergraft||6'‚Äà6"||Sr.||7.3 ppg||4.4 rpg|
|PF||Josh Heytvelt (RETURNING STARTER)||6'‚Äà11"||Jr.||15.5 ppg||7.7 rpg|
|C||Abdullahi Kuso||6'‚Äà9"||Sr.||4.9 ppg||4.6 rpg|
|G-F||Ira Brown*||6'‚Äà4"||Jr.||16.1 ppg||8.9 rpg|
RETURNING STARTER*JUNIOR COLLEGE STATS
Nov. 11 Montana (W77-54)
Nov. 13 Idaho
Nov. 17 UCRiverside
Nov. 22-24 GreatAlaska Shootout (vs. Western Kentucky; plus Alaska-Anchorage, Butler,E.¬†Washington, Michigan, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech)
Nov. 29 at St.Joseph's
Dec. 1 Connecticut(in Boston)
Dec. 5 WashingtonState
Dec. 8 CalState-Northridge
Dec. 17 NorthernColorado
Dec. 20 atOklahoma
Dec. 29 Tennessee(in Seattle)
Dec. 31 Utah
Jan. 5 Georgia
Jan. 26 atMemphis
Tennessee, Memphisand Washington State will be especially formidable, but a weak conferenceschedule demands it. Consider: Gonzaga played eight NCAA tournament teams outof conference last year and still ranked only 93rd in strength of schedule.
Mark Few (9thyear)
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