Gonzaga unveils brutal schedule
Top 25 squad looks to balance weak conference
Friday September 21, 2007 10:52AM
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Gonzaga's basketball team, seeking the return of star Josh Heytvelt and a return to the Top 25, will play Washington State, Tennessee and Memphis this season, according to the schedule released Thursday.
For the fourth straight year, nearly every game will be televised.
And once again, the Zags have loaded up on non-conference foes to balance out a weak West Coast Conference schedule in the eyes of poll voters.
"This is another challenging schedule," coach Mark Few said. "We'll meet some outstanding teams, but I think this team is up to the task."
Gonzaga will play Washington State on Dec. 5 at home, Tennessee on Dec. 29 in the fifth annual Battle in Seattle at KeyArena, and at Memphis on Jan. 26.
WSU defeated Gonzaga in Pullman last year to snap the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak in the series.
Tennessee advanced to the Sweet 16 last year. And it will be the third time Gonzaga has played Memphis, which made the Elite Eight last season.
The Zags were undone last year partially by a difficult December schedule that produced wins over Texas and Washington, but losses to Washington State, Georgia, Duke and Nevada that knocked them out of the Top 25. December is looming as a difficult month again.
Following a Nov. 29 game at Saint Joseph's, the Zags play Connecticut in Boston on Dec. 1, and travel to Oklahoma on Dec. 20. In addition to the Washington State and Tennessee games, they host Utah on Dec. 31 and Georgia on Jan. 5.
Also on the home schedule are Montana, Idaho and California-Riverside.
The Bulldogs have won or shared seven straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles. They have also made nine straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
Heytvelt was suspended from the team late last season because of drug possession. Gonzaga then lost at home for the first time in the 3-year history of the McCarthey Athletic Center and also was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round by Indiana.
The team said recently that Heytvelt completed the community service portion of his penalty and was on track to be reinstated. But no decision had been made and no date set for that.
The 6-foot-11 center from Clarkston averaged more than 15 points a game and led the team with 7.7 rebounds a game last season.
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