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Gonzaga basketball will face Portland and Pacific once during 16-game conference schedule

UPDATED: Thu., May 30, 2019, 6:29 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Filip Petrusev, center,  grabs a rebound during the second half against Pacific last January at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Filip Petrusev, center, grabs a rebound during the second half against Pacific last January at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga knows it will play seven conference foes twice and two opponents just once under the West Coast Conference’s new scheduling system.

The Zags learned Thursday those single games in the 2020 conference season will be against Portland and Pacific. For the second straight year, GU’s lone date with the Pilots will be at the Chiles Center in Portland. The Gonzaga-Pacific matchup will be at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The WCC is entering its second season with a 16-game schedule instead of the round-robin 18-game format. The move was made in hopes of boosting the WCC’s chances of earning more postseason tournament berths.

The schedule is formulated using 2018 team RPI, 2019 team NET rankings, last year’s WCC Tournament seeding and a spring survey of the conference’s 10 head coaches.

Portland was winless in conference last season. The Pilots finished ninth at 4-14 in 2018. Pacific placed ninth with a 4-12 mark last year after going 9-9 in 2018.

Gonzaga faced Pepperdine once last season, but the Waves could be in the top five in the WCC coaches’ preseason poll.

Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga’s longtime conference rival, has solo meetings with Pepperdine and Portland. BYU meets Santa Clara and Pacific once. Pepperdine’s single games are vs. Saint Mary’s and San Francisco.

Conference play will begin Jan. 2. Dates and times will be announced later this summer.

Gonzaga finished 16-0 last season, claiming its 18th outright or shared title in 19 years. Saint Mary’s and BYU shared second place five games behind the Zags. The Gaels upset the Zags in the WCC Tournament title game to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The WCC Tournament will be held March 5-10 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

The Zags’ nonconference schedule includes a home game vs. North Carolina, road games against Washington, Texas A&M and Arizona (Dec. 14), and the Battle 4 Atlantis holiday tournament.

WCC women’s teams will continue playing an 18-game round-robin slate.

Daniels joining Utah as director of player development

Former Gonzaga assistant coach Donny Daniels will join Utah’s staff as director of player development.

Daniels had formulated plans to retire after the 2019 season but decided to take a bit of a detour by joining Utah’s staff in a less time-consuming position. The Utes created the position of director of player development for Daniels, who assisted at Utah from 1989-2000 and spent the last nine seasons at Gonzaga.

“Donny brings a wealth of experience and value to our program,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “His basketball knowledge, his life experiences and his community impact alone will go far in connecting our program’s past with the present.”

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