3 Big Games, Part 2

Gonzaga always plays a rigorous non-conference schedule, and the 2006/07 season figures to be no different. Back in July, GU Nation took a look at three non-league teams the Zags will be facing in 2006/07: Texas, Virgina and Duke. Today GU Nation takes an early look at three more non-league teams the Zags will be facing this upcoming season: Nevada, Memphis and Georgia.


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THE NEVADA WOLF PACK

2005/06 Record: 27-6

Key Losses: F – Mo Charlo (26.3 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG); C – Chad Bell (19.7 MPG, 2.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG)

Key Returning Players: F – Nick Fazekas (31.8 MPG, 21.8 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG); G – Marcelus Kemp (26.0 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 36% 3PT); G – Kyle Shiloh (27.5 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 47% 3PT); F – Demarshay Johnson (17.4 MPG, 5.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG); G – Ramon Sessions (26.2 MPG, 4.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.9 APG); G – Lyndale Burleson (15.4 MPG, 2.2 PPG, 1.5 APG)

Who's Coming In: F – JaVale McGee (6-11, Ranking: 3 star scout.com); F – Tyrone Hanson (6-6, Ranking: 3 star scout.com); G – Brandon Fields (6-4, Ranking: 2 star scout.com)

Summary: The 2005/06 season was yet another successful one for the Wolf Pack, who won the WAC regular season and postseason titles. However, Nevada unexpectedly bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the first round at the hands of Montana. The Wolf Pack had two big issues to deal with during the offseason, and both turned out in their favor. First off, after a flirtation with the NBA draft, forward Nick Fazekas, one of the best big men in all of college basketball, decided to return for his senior season. Secondly, Coach Mark Fox, who was a candidate for the open Nebraska job, decided to stay with Nevada. 2006/07 figures to be another big season for Nevada, as most of their scoring punch returns. Fazekas is a highly skilled low post big man who keeps getting better each year. He's also one of the nation's top rebounders. Kemp, who scored 34 points in Nevada's NCAA tourney loss to Montana, is a powerfully built guard who can score all over the floor. He has been a natural scoring sharpshooter ever since his years at Garfield High School in Seattle. Three of the other four key returning players are experienced upperclassmen. The recruiting class is highlighted by the lengthy and mobile McGee, who is loaded with upside. Count on another WAC championship for the Wolf Pack, as well as another NCAA tournament appearance. With experience, good coaching and two of the best players in the west, Nevada figures to be very dangerous come March. Also, it will be a homecoming for Kemp as this will be the Battle in Seattle game in Key Arena.

THE MEMPHIS TIGERS

2005/06 Record: 33-4

Key Losses: F – Rodney Carney (27.2 MPG, 17.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 39% 3PT; G – Darius Washington (26.5 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 36% 3PT); F – Shawne Williams (27.3 MPG, 13.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG)

Key Returning Players: G – Chris Douglas-Roberts (22.6 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG); G – Antonio Anderson (27.3 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 37% 3PT); F – Joey Dorsey (21.1 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG); F – Robert Dozier (18.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG); F/C – Kareem Cooper (11.1 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG); G – Andre Allen (15.6 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 3.0 APG, 36% 3PT); F- Waki Williams (6.7 MPG, 1.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG)

Who's Coming In: G - Willie Kemp (6-2, Ranking: #40 scout.com); G – Doneal Mack (6-5, Ranking: #83 scout.com); F/C – Hashim Bailey (6-10, Ranking: 3 star scout.com); F – Pierre Niles (6-8, Ranking: 3 star scout.com); G – Tre'Von Willis (6-4, Ranking: 3 star scout.com)

Summary: Memphis enjoyed arguably their best season ever last season. Not only did they win the regular season and postseason C-USA titles, but they also earned the school's first number one seed in the NCAA tournament and made an Elite 8 run. Unfortunately, the team lost their best and most experienced player in Carney, and saw Shawne Williams and Darius Washington leave early for the NBA draft. The good news is that Memphis used a rotation of 10-11 players last season, so a lot of experience returns. Few, if any coaches, have assembled talent quite like John Calipari has. Douglas-Roberts, a highly versatile scorer, figures to be a featured component of the offense from the wing. Anderson is a long distance sharpshooter. Allen, who many felt actually ran the offense better than Washington, will take over a lot of the point guard duties. The Tigers would really like to see Dozier, Dorsey or Cooper develop into a consistent low post offensive threat. Kemp is the most highly touted of the newcomers. He's highly competitive, makes good decisions from the point guard position, and is an excellent on ball defender. Mack is a sharpshooter deluxe who can fill up the stat sheet. This game will take place in the 12,000 seat Spokane Arena and will be packed to the rafters with fans for a charged atmosphere.

THE GEORGIA BULLDOGS

2005/06 Record: 15-15

Key Losses: G – Kevin Brophy (10.0 MPG, .9 PPG); F – Younes Idrissi (20.1 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG)

Key Returning Players: G – Levi Stukes (26.2 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 40% 3PT); G – Mike Mercer (24.0 MPG, 11.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG); G – Sundiata Gaines (28.4 MPG, 10.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.4 APG); G – Channing Toney (23.0 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 36% 3PT); G – Billy Humphrey (21.1 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 39% 3PT); G/F – Terrance Woodbury (16.7 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG); F – Steve Newman (16.0 MPG, 4.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 36% 3PT); C – Dave Bliss (16.1 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG); C – Rashaad Singleton (11.7 MPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.1 RPG)

Who's Coming In: F – Albert Jackson (6-10, Ranking: 3 star scout.com); F – Takais Brown (6-8, Ranking: 3 star scout.com

Summary: After a few seasons of difficulty trying to rebuild the Bulldog program after the Jim Harrick-NCAA fiasco, it appears that Coach Dennis Felton has UGA on the right track. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs suffered a couple of set backs during the offseason. Idrissi, one of the team's best big men, was asked not to return to the team, and the team lost Kevin Brophy, one of the team's most beloved players, to a fatal car crash. The good news for the Bulldogs is that the majority of the team returns, including their three guard attack of Stukes, Mercer and Gaines, who all averaged double figures last season. The Bulldogs also have two more top returning guards in Toney and Humphrey who nearly averaged double figures as well. Woodbury, Newman, Bliss and Singleton will provide size in the middle. The Bulldogs are a highly athletic bunch that loves to attack the boards. Incoming forward Albert Jackson, a product of Oak Hill Academy, is also an outstanding rebounder. Brown, a JC transfer, figures to add more muscle in the paint. Count on UGA winning more games this year and being highly competitive in the SEC, plus earning a seed on the NCAA Tournament. With so many returning starters, Dennis Felton could be coaching one of the most improved teams in the country and being Gonzaga's toughest road game of the year.


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