February 20, 1997 in Sports

Zags Hope To End Wild Ride With Crown

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The West Coast Conference winds up one of the wildest and most fiercely contested regular-season championship races in its history this weekend.

With just two games remaining, last year’s regular-season co-champions, Gonzaga and Santa Clara, are tied with Saint Mary’s for first place.

All three teams are 8-4 in league play, but just two games ahead of fifth-place San Diego.

Gonzaga is the only team that controls its own destiny, but the Bulldogs must play at Saint Mary’s (Friday) and Santa Clara (Saturday) - and face the possibility of finishing tied for fourth if they lose both games.

“It’s crazy, I know,” GU coach Dan Fitzgerald said, “but for our kids to be in this position right now is remarkable. I really want them to finish strong, because they’ve done such a wonderful job.”

Despite losing senior center Paul Rogers with a broken foot early in the year, the Bulldogs have managed to stay near the top of the league all season. A road sweep this weekend would give them their third regular-season title in four years and the No. 1 seed in next weekend’s WCC tournament at Loyola Marymount.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they face the most demanding road trip of the season, having to play the Gaels and Broncos on back-to-back nights in hostile surroundings.

Under the WCC’s tie-breaker system, which first compares head-to-head results and then won-loss records against other teams on their descending order of finish, GU would get the seeding nod over Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara in a tie for first or second.

If the Bulldogs lose twice and tie San Diego for fourth, they would drop to the No. 5 seed because of their 0-2 regular-season record against the Toreros.

KTRW sportstalk host Paul Seebeck will sit in for Gonzaga play-by-play announcer Dick Wright.

Wright, who missed some time behind the microphone earlier this season after undergoing cancer surgery, is in Seattle for additional tests, according to Impact Sports president Paul Sorenson, who holds the broadcasting rights to GU basketball. Sorenson will fill in Friday for Seebeck on Sports Central.

Stanford’s Young limited

If Stanford’s Tim Young plays tonight against Washington State, he figures to be limited by lingering back trouble.

The 7-foot-1 center was a big reason the 22nd-ranked Cardinal hammered WSU last month at Maples Pavilion, but he’s been held out of recent practices. Young missed much of last season with a disc ailment; his current trouble is considered related.

Air Floyd?

The Tim Floyd-to-LSU rumor is kaput. In its place: Floyd-to-Chicago-Bulls scuttlebutt.

Don’t laugh. Floyd, the former Idaho coach, and Bulls executive Jerry Krause are close friends. Word is, current coach Phil Jackson will move on after this season - possibly to Denver.

If Floyd leaves, look for the following: Ex-Idaho coach Larry Eustachy to leave Utah State for Floyd’s post at Iowa State, with Utah State trying to snag Idaho’s Kermit Davis, a former USU assistant.

The big question: Could Davis turn his back on Idaho, which gave him a second shot at head coaching after he crossed the NCAA years ago? Utah State could probably double Davis’ Idaho salary.

Big weekend for Whits

The playoff possibilities appear endless as the Northwest Conference of Independent Colleges heads into its final weekend.

Whitworth (16-6, 9-5 NCIC) dropped two on the road last weekend, greatly affecting its chances of defending its conference title. It also dropped from No. 16 to No. 22 in the NAIA Division II poll.

The Pirates are tied for third with Pacific Lutheran (14-8, 9-5), behind seventh-ranked Pacific (17-5, 11-3) and 11th-ranked Lewis & Clark (17-4, 9-4).

The Pirates put their perfect home record on the line when they play host to last-place Puget Sound (9-14, 3-11) Friday and Pacific Lutheran Saturday, both at 8 p.m.

If the Pirates win the conference, they will host a NCIC semifinal game Wednesday and the championship game March 1. If they finish second, they will host a semifinal Wednesday. The dates will be pushed back to March 1 and March 5 if two teams finish in a fourth-place tie.

The tournament champion earns an automatic berth into the NAIA Division II tournament, March 12-18 in Nampa, Idaho. The others must wait for an at-large bid.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: AREA LEADERS Scoring Player, school FG-FGA FT-FTA 3pt Avg. Isaac Fontaine, WSU 170-346 117-151 57 21.4 Jason Jackman, UI 164-303 129-159 0 17.6 Lorenzo Rollins, GU 146-320 68-85 36 16.5 Ben Heimerman, Whit 124-187 104-131 2 16.1 Nate Williams, Whit 97-171 58-69 36 15.2 Carlos Daniel, WSU 125-246 87-127 0 14.7 Jeff Mix, Whit 119-194 51-78 4 13.3 Matt Santangelo, GU 110-248 50-74 41 13.0 Travis King, EWU 87-205 48-67 49 11.8 Bakari Hendrix, GU 108-201 64-93 0 11.7 Karim Scott, EWU 107-197 56-94 0 11.7

Rebounding Heimerman, Whit, 8.7 (189); Daniel, WSU, 8.6 (197); Mix, Whit, 7.3 (161); Jackman, UI, 6.2 (161); Karim Scott, EWU, 6.1 (140).

Assists Santangelo, GU, 4.4 (105); Sean Weston, Whit, 4.2 (92); King, EWU, 3.7 (84); Williams, Whit, 3.4 (64); Derrick Elliott, UI, 3.1 (66).

Steals Rollins, GU, 1.8 (42); Elliott, UI, 1.8 (38); King, EWU, 1.6 (36); Reggie Rose, UI, 1.6 (25); Mike Leasure, GU, 1.5 (35).

SCHEDULE Tonight: Idaho at Utah State, 6:05 p.m.; Eastern Washington at Montana State, 6:30; Stanford at Washington State, 7:30. Friday: Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, 7:30 p.m.; Puget Sound at Whitworth, 8 p.m. Saturday: California at Washington State, 3 p.m.; Eastern Washington at Montana, 6:30 p.m.; Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m.; Idaho at Nevada, 7:30 p.m.; Pacific Lutheran at Whitworth, 8 p.m.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - College men’s basketball notebook

This sidebar appeared with the story: AREA LEADERS Scoring Player, school FG-FGA FT-FTA 3pt Avg. Isaac Fontaine, WSU 170-346 117-151 57 21.4 Jason Jackman, UI 164-303 129-159 0 17.6 Lorenzo Rollins, GU 146-320 68-85 36 16.5 Ben Heimerman, Whit 124-187 104-131 2 16.1 Nate Williams, Whit 97-171 58-69 36 15.2 Carlos Daniel, WSU 125-246 87-127 0 14.7 Jeff Mix, Whit 119-194 51-78 4 13.3 Matt Santangelo, GU 110-248 50-74 41 13.0 Travis King, EWU 87-205 48-67 49 11.8 Bakari Hendrix, GU 108-201 64-93 0 11.7 Karim Scott, EWU 107-197 56-94 0 11.7

Rebounding Heimerman, Whit, 8.7 (189); Daniel, WSU, 8.6 (197); Mix, Whit, 7.3 (161); Jackman, UI, 6.2 (161); Karim Scott, EWU, 6.1 (140).

Assists Santangelo, GU, 4.4 (105); Sean Weston, Whit, 4.2 (92); King, EWU, 3.7 (84); Williams, Whit, 3.4 (64); Derrick Elliott, UI, 3.1 (66).

Steals Rollins, GU, 1.8 (42); Elliott, UI, 1.8 (38); King, EWU, 1.6 (36); Reggie Rose, UI, 1.6 (25); Mike Leasure, GU, 1.5 (35).

SCHEDULE Tonight: Idaho at Utah State, 6:05 p.m.; Eastern Washington at Montana State, 6:30; Stanford at Washington State, 7:30. Friday: Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, 7:30 p.m.; Puget Sound at Whitworth, 8 p.m. Saturday: California at Washington State, 3 p.m.; Eastern Washington at Montana, 6:30 p.m.; Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m.; Idaho at Nevada, 7:30 p.m.; Pacific Lutheran at Whitworth, 8 p.m.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - College men’s basketball notebook


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