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Tue., Nov. 24, 2015, 5:30 p.m.

Zags, Huskies renew rivalry long way from home

Gonzaga and Washington will renew their rivalry Wednesday ... roughly 2,600 miles from Spokane, 2,900 miles from Seattle ... with a breakfast special 9 a.m. PST tip time (noon in the Bahamas).

It's not how either program drew it up. The matchup and time came down from the Battle 4 Atlantis/ESPN schedule-makers so GU and UW will get a head start on their long-anticipated four-game series, alternating between the teams' home floors, that begins next season.

Here's my game preview.

Read on for a few more items that didn't make the preview.

 

The contest will be played at the Imperial Arena, which is the result of a conversion of the Imperial Ballroom into a 3,300-seat basketball facility. It has a distinct look and feel, with its low ceiling and unique lighting, but coaches and players from both teams didn't think it would impact perimeter shooting. GU and UW held practices in the Arena on Tuesday.

"It's actually kind of like Saint Mary's gym," GU coach Mark Few said. "About the same size, about the same lighting. It has AC, it doesn't look like the floor is going to get wet (Zags' season opener vs. Pitt was cancelled after one half due to slippery court conditions). As long as we have that we're OK with everything."

Added Kyle Wiltjer: "The court looks awesome. It's kind of lit up and the crowd is in the dark. We got to shoot a lot today at practice. There's not really a backdrop, there's not really anything to adjust to."

Washington senior guard Andrew Andrews said it's just a matter of getting time in the Arena, "This tournament gives you a lot more time than others," he said. "I don't really think it's too big of an adjustment."

Chimed in Husky coach Lorenzo Romar: "That’s coming from a guy that can shoot."

--Both teams have dealt with extensive early season travel. Gonzaga faced Pitt in Okinawa, Japan, and UW opened against Texas in Shanghai, China.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar said his team has checked all the boxes in terms of its approach to the trip to China, knocking off Texas, and following it up with two easy home wins.

"I would anticipate we would come here and do the same thing," Romar said. "Right now we haven’t let anything stand in the way of what we’re trying to do."

Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski has traveled extensively with the Polish national team. "For some of the guys it will be harder to handle," he said. "Probably the first day is the most important to get used to the time zone and the climate."

Kyle Wiltjer cracked: "I'm just happy I got my frequent flyers. I got a lot of miles on these last couple trips."

"A mileage plan on our charter?" Few interjected. "I don’t even have that one."

 




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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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