Bennett offers up 2005-06 hoops schedule

DICK BENNETT HAS UNVEILED a 2005-06 men's basketball schedule that is notable for three reasons. First, there are more home games. Second, they play in Seattle twice --- the annual trip to meet the Huskies, plus a Christmas-time showdown with Utah in Key Arena. And third, it's formidable, with 14 of the 27 regular season opponents coming off post-season appearances this past season.

"It's a good schedule and one we paid our dues for two years to set up," Bennett said. "We have more home games and are going to go to some places where Cougar fans who do not often see us will have a chance to watch us play."

WSU will play 16 "home" games, including 13 in Pullman, two at the Spokane Arena and one at Seattle's KeyArena. The Cougars will host BYU (Nov. 22) and Arizona (Dec. 29) in Spokane, and perennial NCAA tourney participant Utah on Dec. 22.

"The Spokane trips are a little different this year. Instead of two conference games, we are taking a very good nonconference game and an excellent Pac-10 game up there," Bennett said. "Playing one game at a time will not seem so much like a road trip."

Other 2005 NCAA Tournament teams on this season's schedule include Gonzaga, Washington, UCLA and Stanford. WSU will also play 2005 NIT teams Arizona State and Oregon State.

The remainder of the home schedule includes the season opener against UC Riverside, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas State, Portland, Oregon, USC and California.

The Cougars will play at San Diego State (Dec. 10), USC (Jan. 12), California (Jan. 28), Oregon (Feb. 18) and Arizona (March 4).

The Pacific-10 Tournament, which for the first time since returning in 2003 will include all 10 teams, takes place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 8-11.

Most all of the opponents are recognizable and from good conferences," Bennett said. "We hope to continue to develop the schedule to open some new rivalries with other major conferences. That is the aim and we are still working on that."

Cougar fans will have their first opportunity to see the 2005-06 squad when WSU hosts Lewis-Clark State in an exhibition game Nov. 15.

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