For Gonzaga assistant coach Ray Giacoletti, returning to BYU’s Marriott Center brings back memories, good and bad.
Giacoletti was head coach at Utah from 2004-07 and his teams were 1-2 against Mountain West Conference rival BYU at the Marriott Center.
“I just remember winning the first year with (Andrew) Bogut and my last year I got fired three days before the game so it was the last stop,” Giacoletti said.
The Marriott Center is “just enormous,” Giacoletti said. “It’s a facility made for basketball and when you focus on the court and two baskets you don’t really notice what’s around you. It’s not an empty background (behind the baskets).”
Giacoletti said it’s difficult to communicate because of the crowd noise, but GU shouldn’t have a problem because it uses hand signals. The challenge will be a talented opponent playing in front of 22,700 fans.
“They have two really good bigs (Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock),” Giacoletti said. “They want to get out and push the ball, but they haven’t done it was much the last three games. They’ve been more focused on pounding it to the bigs. … Those bigs are going to get the majority of the shots and teams can’t double because they shoot it so well on the perimeter.”
Home sweet home?
Beasley Coliseum might look as familiar as Mount Everest to the Cougars at this point.
Halfway through the conference schedule, WSU has played its nine games in seven different arenas – two in Spokane, two at Beasley, and one each at Utah, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State.
Coach Ken Bone called it a “unique situation where we’re halfway through, and we’ve only played two games on our home court. It’s nice to play at home, and hopefully this weekend we show that.”
Because of the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule, the Cougars are also seeing an odd scheduling quirk tonight – playing a conference opponent for the first time this season after the midway point has passed. They’ll play USC and UCLA twice each in the final nine games.
Sunny days ahead?
Eastern coach Jim Hayford is expecting better weather this week, but isn’t taking the opponent for granted.
The Eagles visit last-place Northern Arizona tonight. The Lumberjacks have lost nine straight, including a 73-44 defeat at lowly Sacramento State on Monday.
Still, the Eagles are slightly better on the road in Big Sky Conference play (2-2 so far this year) than they are at Reese Court (2-3), “so I don’t mind going down to Arizona,” Hayford said. “I’m sure the weather will be better.”
The Eagles beat NAU 76-59 last month in Cheney, but trailed by four at halftime.
Christian Caple, Jim Meehan and Jim Allen contributed to this report.