Gonzaga University can expect the scenery, weather and competition to improve in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Bulldogs (24-9) learned Thursday that their reward for Wednesday night’s 69-55 first-round road win over Wyoming will be a trip to Honolulu, where they will face Hawaii (20-8) on Monday.
Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. (PST) at the Rainbows’ 10,000 seat Special Events Arena. No live TV coverage is scheduled.
Hawaii advanced to the second round with a 90-73 home win over Arizona State Wednesday night. The Rainbows finished fourth in the Pacific Division of the Western Athletic Conference this year at 8-6, but lost only two games at home and stunned No. 2 Kansas 76-65 in the championship game of their own Rainbow Classic in late December.
Hawaii also defeated Indiana 82-65 in Honolulu in its first game of the season.
“It’s another situation where it’s going to be a tough task for our kids,” Bulldogs coach Dan Monson said. “The obstacles of winning in Hawaii are just as great as winning in Laramie, they’re just different obstacles.”
“In Honolulu it’s not the weather, but the laid-back atmosphere that tends to make you forget it’s a basketball game just like all the others.”
Monson said he will not let his team approach the game like it’s a luau.
“This is our biggest game of the year,” he said, “and were not going to let our kids forget it.”
Because of crowded flights, GU will leave this morning. The Bulldogs are scheduled to return Tuesday night, but may be forced to stay on the road if they win.
According to GU officials, the NIT has scheduled a Wednesday night matchup between the GU-Hawaii and Fresno State-Memphis State winners at a site still to be determined.
The Bulldogs could end up playing a third-round game in Spokane if they advance. The Arena is expected to be available and the NIT has been reluctant in the past to keep a team on the road for three straight games.