Gonzaga Game Is on the Books

'Tis the season for recruiting, but college basketball coaches also spend their spring and summer months working and reworking the schedule for their upcoming season. We previously reported to you the majority of Stanford's 2005-06 schedule, with two games still outstanding. One is now complete, though two more games have changed as a result.

This is a game which we were cautiously optimistic would make the schedule, given a strong desire from both schools as well as ESPN, and we now know that Stanford and Gonzaga will play this winter the first half of a home-and-home series.  The two games will take place in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, with this coming year's edition at Gonzaga on February 11.  The two teams will then play at Stanford the following year.

The series is a big win for not just the two schools, but also the Pac-10 and WCC conferences.  This year's game in Spokane (Wash.) will not only be broadcast nationally on ESPN, but also the "College Gameday" show will be televised from the site of the game that Saturday, focusing a full day of the national sports network on the pair of West Coast programs.  It is possible that ESPN and the College Gameday crew could also come to Maples Pavilion for the 2006-07 game, but Pac-10 television contract considerations related to Fox Sports Net remain cloudy at this time.

There is a ripple effect of the finalized Stanford-Gonzaga game, as felt on two other dates on the Cardinal's 2005-06 schedule.  You may remember that Stanford and Cal were originally slated to meet on February 11.  The Bay Area rivals will now play on Thursday February 9, though the game has been moved to Haas Pavilion on Berkeley's campus.  The first Stanford-Cal game of the season, to be played January 14, was originally slotted for Berkeley and will now be played in Maples Pavilion at Stanford.

Why the switch?  If you witnessed the Stanford-Cal game at Haas Pavilion this past January, you may have an inkling.  That game at Cal was played in front of a tepid crowd, with a decidedly absent home court advantage for the Bears.  Stanford handled Cal, 74-58, in one of their easiest victories in years at the Bears' lair.  That game was held on Saturday January 15, 2005, three days before the spring semester started at Berkeley.  With that weekend also the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, Cal students were not only on winter break but also occupied with ski trips and other competing activities.  Classes at Berkeley start for the spring 2006 semester on January 17, again after the MLK holiday weekend.  Cal would have been saddled with another neutral court atmosphere on his home court for the planned January 14 game against Stanford.  But with the 2006 home destinations now switched, Cal plays Stanford on their court in February, with a full complement of students on campus.

Stanford and Gonzaga have played twice in the last three years, with the Cardinal and Bulldogs meeting in back-to-back years of the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland (Calif.) in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.  Stanford won both meetings, by respective scores of 81-71 and 87-80.  Gonzaga won the two previous meetings, with the all-time series knotted at 2-2.

The Cardinal have one more game to still schedule for the coming year.  Their slate looked full in the spring, but the holdup on the Gonzaga game was actually the less difficult of the two major hurdles they have unexpectedly faced since.  Stanford was set to play Alabama in the "Colorado Classic" in Denver (Colo.) on November 26, but the Tide pulled back.  Despite continued efforts, that event has not been able to be repaired, and Stanford is left looking for a last-minute opponent to fill out the last slot of their 2005-06 non-conference schedule.  Talks are ongoing with several possible opponents, but Cardinalmaniacs™ should not hold their breath for a power program to fill that slot.  It is beyond Stanford's control, given the dissolution of the Alabama game, but most programs have finalized their schedules by this late date.  Others don't want to face Stanford in a home-and-home...

All dates are subject to change

(Changes since last schedule update)

Nov. 5 Sonoma State Stanford, Calif. Exhibition
Nov. 12 Cal Poly Pomona Stanford, Calif. Exhibition
Nov. 19 UC-Irvine Stanford, Calif. Est. noon tip-off
Nov. 23 USF Stanford, Calif. Possible double-header w/ Stanford women
Nov. 28 Cal Poly S.L.O. Stanford, Calif.  
Dec. 2 @ Montana Missoula, Mont.  
Dec. 4 @ UC-Davis Davis, Calif. Last game before dead week/finals break
Dec. 18 Denver Stanford, Calif.  
Dec. 21 Princeton Oakland, Calif. 9th annual Pete Newell Challenge
Dec. 29 @ UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. Pac-10 opener, UCLA on winter break
Dec. 31 @ USC Los Angeles, Calif.  
Jan. 5 Oregon State Stanford, Calif. Pac-10 home opener, students on campus
Jan. 7 Oregon Stanford, Calif.  
Jan. 14 Cal Stanford, Calif. Now played at Maples Pavilion
Jan. 19 @ Arizona Tucson, Ariz.  
Jan. 21 @ Arizona State Tempe, Ariz.  
Jan. 26 Washington State Stanford, Calif.  
Jan. 28 Washington Stanford, Calif.  
Feb. 2 @ Oregon Eugene, Ore.  
Feb. 4 @ Oregon State Corvallis, Ore.  
Feb. 9 @ Cal Berkeley, Calif. Game at Haas Pavilion = Cal students
Feb. 11 @ Gonzaga Spokane, Wash. ESPN telecast plus College Gameday
Feb. 16 Arizona State Stanford, Calif.  
Feb. 18 Arizona Stanford, Calif.  
Feb. 23 @ Washington Seattle, Wash.  
Feb. 25 @ Washington State Pullman, Wash.  
Mar. 2 USC Stanford, Calif.  
Mar. 4 UCLA Stanford, Calif. Senior Day at Maples Pavilion
Mar. 9 Pac-10 Tournament Los Angeles, Calif.  
Mar. 16 NCAA Tournament TBD Card shoot for 12th straight Big Dance

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