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After three weeks of beating and banging on each other the Gonzaga Bulldogs will finally have somebody else to pick on as the touring exhibition team Seattle Stars come to The Kennel for a 7:00pm tipoff, Friday, November 8. The Zags are nursing some aches and pains, most notably big men Zach Gourde (shoulder), Ronny Turiaf (shoulder) and point guard Winston Brooks (shoulder), but all should see ample playing time.
The Seattle Stars are an interesting collection of former basketball players, most of whom played Division 1 ball here in the Northwest. They are athletic with good size and have been on the touring circuit with various teams long enough to know what it takes to give a quality college team a competitive game. From the Harlem Globetrotters to Athletes in Action, these athletes are tested and will unofficially open Gonzaga's 2002-2003 season.
At point guard will be an NAIA Player of the Year from Warner Southern, Josh Hall. At 6'2", he's a solid scorer and plays smartly. Hall will have former Washington Husky and Harlem Globetrotter Jamie Booker at shooting guard. Booker is also 6'2" and can fill it up. Quinn Tebbs, a 6'5" wing from Lute Olson's Arizona program by way of Weber State (after transferring), should round out a formidable backcourt. Potential starters on the frontline include former WSU Cougar Justin Murray, a 6'8" power forward; Will Brantley, a 6'7" power forward from Oregon State; and 6'6" Dion Brown who played for the Huskies. 6'11" Chad Kirchner provides a true center that can match up with GU's highly rated post players.
From looking at the Seattle Stars' roster, it seems clear that they are best suited to run and fastbreak whenever possible. But that strategy would play into the Zags' hands as Blake Stepp, Winston Brooks, Tony Skinner, Josh Reisman and others, including a couple bigs, can fly. And rebounding is needed for fast breaks; Gonzaga has a glaring advantage in the rebounding department.
That leaves a halfcourt offense, but with five 6'8" or taller post players at Gonzaga's beck and call, that would also favor the home team.
What will be intriguing about this exhibition game will be the Zags' defense, guard play (especially against Josh Hall and Jamie Booker), how GU wings Tony Skinner and Tyler Amaya fare against the likes of Quinn Tebbs, if Zach Gourde, Cory Violette, Richard Fox, Ronny Turiaf and Dustin Villepigue can dominate inside and if the Zags are in sync at this early juncture.
But most intriguing will be who starts and how different combinations play together as Coach Mark Few and staff look for that starting quintet and rotation.
Preceding the game there will be an informational meeting in the Martin Centre Fieldhouse that will feature a presentation by the architects of Gonzaga's future arena. Everyone is invited. Doors will open at 6:00pm and the presentation will be from approximately 6:20pm to 6:40pm. Snacks and beverages will be provided.
Next Friday, November 15, the Australian Institute of Sport All-Stars will provide the #22 ranked Bulldogs their final exhibition contest before Hofstra University invades The Kennel one week later to officially begin the season.