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The Australian Institute of Sport is no stranger to Gonzaga. Former Bulldogs Axel Dench and Paul Rogers attended this developmental institute and are now playing pro ball Down Under. But for the first time these Aussies will be the Zags' foe, even if only for two hours, when they continue their preseason exhibition tour of America.
About a week ago the Australian team played in Mac Court against the Oregon Ducks. They scored about 85 points but gave up well over 100. But this is a team that executes the basics and fundamentals of basketball. It is also a team comprised of 17- and 18-year-olds.
Unlike most other "all-star" teams that are hastily assembled and rely on individual one-on-one play, Gonzaga will be up against a cohesive unit that has been playing together for years. Some of the Australians have committed to universities here in the states, including 6'11" Andrew Bogut (Utah). Bogut had nearly 30 points against Oregon, hitting inside and from trey land.
"The institute leads the development of elite sport and is widely acknowledged in Australia and internationally as a world best practice model for elite athletic development. The AIS is a pre-eminent elite sports training institution in Australia with world class facilities and support services."
This team compiled a 20-6 record in their league in 2002.
Nonetheless, elite in Australia does not quite equal elite in America, concerning basketball. While loaded with a roster that boasts five players over 6'10", Gonzaga will have a healthy edge in overall talent at every position. Physical play and team speed also give Gonzaga an advantage. This game, however, is ideal for the Zags because this is a team that will play like a team. Just what the doctor ordered to prepare for Hofstra and the Maui Invitational Classic only days after this final exhibition contest.
Some players to watch --
6'1" Aaron Bruce, 6'2" Damien Martin, 6'3" Rhys Carter, 6'5" Brad Newley, 6'7" Matthew Knight, 6'7" Biagoj Janev, 6'9" Steve Markovic, 6'10" Alex Maric, 6'11" Andrew Bogut, 6'11" Greg Vanderjagt and 7'3" Sam Harris. (Note: Eleven of these players play on the Australian Junior National Team.)
Once again, this game will be played with international lines, ie, wider longer key, farther 3-point arc. Game time is 8:00pm.