Jan. 30, 2009
GAME #22: The University of San Diego men's basketball team (4-2 wcc; 12-9), under the direction of 2nd-year head coach Bill Grier, close out their Pacific Northwest trip Saturday in Spokane, Washington, against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (6-0 wcc; 5-4). Game time is slated for 3:05 p.m. (ESPN2) in the McCarthey Athletic Center (6,000 capacity).
SERIES RECORD: This is the 74th meeting between USD and Gonzaga with the Bulldogs owning a commanding 52-21 series advantage... The Toreros snapped the Zags' 13-game winning streak in the series in last year's WCC Tournament championship game 69-62 (Mar. 11) played at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion... During last year's regular season slate, Gonzaga won both meetings: 80-70 in Spokane on Jan. 19th and 59-55 in San Diego on Feb. 18th... Brandon Johnson led USD with 26 points in Spokane; Trumaine Johnson scored 17 points in the second meeting... In the WCC title game, USD was paced by De'Jon Jackson (16 points), Rob Jones (15 points) and Gyno Pomare (14 points, 10 rebounds).
TV/RADIO/INTERNET: Saturday's USD-Gonzaga contest will be telecast nationally on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen and Stephen Bardo calling the action. The game will also be broadcast on XX Sports Radio 1090 AM with Andy Masur (play-by-play) bringing you the action. Pregame begins at 2:45 pm. The game can also be heard via the internet at www.usdtoreros.com.
WCC STANDINGS (thru Jan. 29th): #20 Gonzaga (6-0 wcc; 15-4), #18 Saint Mary's (5-1; 18-2), Portland (5-1; 14-7), San Diego (4-2; 12-9), Santa Clara (2-4; 9-13), Pepperdine (2-4; 5-17), San Francisco (0-6; 8-13), Loyola Marymount (0-6; 1-21).
UPCOMING WCC SCHEDULE: (Sat., Jan. 31st) USD at Gonzaga (3 pm), Saint Mary's at Portland (6 pm), LMU at USF (7 pm), Pepperdine at SCU (7 pm).
COAC GRIER (2ND YEAR): Coach Bill Grier (Oregon, 1990), 45, is in his second season at the helm of the USD program... He enters the Gonzaga game with a career record of 34-23 (.596)... In his rookie year he guided the Toreros to an overall mark of 22-14 and 3rd place finish in the WCC race at 11-3... He guided the Toreros to three wins and the championship title at the WCC Tournament (hosted by USD) with wins over Pepperdine, Saint Mary's and No. 20 Gonzaga... The Toreros then upset No. 15 UCONN in the NCAA Tournament opener with a 70-69 overtime victory, before falling to Western Kentucky in the second round... His 11 WCC wins were the second most for league wins in a single season in program history... Hired on March 26, 2007, Grier is USD's 11th head coach overall and just the 4th head coach since the Torero program moved to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80... His 22 wins were also the most by a Torero coach in his first season at USD - previous mark was 16 held by Hank Egan ('84-85) and Jim Brovelli ('73-74). In addition to knocking off Kentucky on the road, 81-72, the Toreros earned three wins over Top-25 teams: #21 Saint Mary's, #20 Gonzaga and #15 Connecticut... Prior to USD Grier spent 16 years at Gonzaga, including the last 8 seasons as Mark Few's top assistant. Bill and his wife, Nicole, have one daughter, Giselle.
COACHES VS. CANCER "Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend": In the team's upcoming game at Gonzaga on January 31st, the USD Coaching staff will wear sneakers in support of the Coaches vs. Cancer "Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend." This is a collaborative initiative of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the American Cancer Society (the Society) slated for the weekend of Jan. 30 - Feb. 1, 2009. Participating NABC-member coaches will wear sneakers instead of dress shoes to demonstrate their support for the Society and the fight against cancer.
PORTLAND PILOTS DEAL TOREROS 69-55 LOSS (Jan. 29th): For the second straight game the Toreros got out of the gates slowly and were not able comeback... On January 22nd the Toreros scored just 14 points in the first half against Saint Mary's before losing 65-42... In Thursday's 69-55 loss at Portland Toreros found themselves down 34-24 at intermission... Both teams had four players reach double-digit scoring, but the difference was in three-point shooting and at the free throw line... USD managed to make just 2-of-10 three-pointers and struggled at the free throw line (7-14; 50%)... The host Pilots canned 8-of-14 threes (57.1%) and scored 12 more points at the charity stripe (19-24)... Gyno Pomare paced USD with 18 points on 8-10 shooting and was followed by Rob Jones (13 points-10 rebounds), De'Jon Jackson (11 points, 4 steals) and Trumaine Johnson (10 points)... Portland received 17 points and 9 rebounds from guard Nik Raivio.
TORERO TIDBITS: San Diego heads to Spokane, Washington looking to snap its two-game losing skid... USD's 65-42 loss to #22 Saint Mary's on Jan. 22nd snapped the team's season-best six-game winning streak ... The loss was also USD's third this season against a top-25 program... Head Coach Bill Grier is 3-4 against top-25 ranked teams... Last year he went 3-1 (W 63-55 vs. #20 SMC on 1-28-08; L 61-54 @ #23 SMC on 2-25-08; W 69-62 vs. #20 Gonzaga on 3-10-08; and W 70-69 in OT vs. UCONN on 3-21-08)... This season Grier is 0-3 having dropped two games at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam to #25 Wisconsin (64-49) on 11-23-08, and to #22 Miami (80-45) on 11-24-08, and at home to #22 Saint Mary's (65-42) on 1-22-09... Prior to Grier's arrival at USD the Toreros owned just two victories against top-25 teams since moving to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80 (W 75-59 vs. #25 Gonzaga in 1999; and W 86-81 in OT @ #14 UCLA in 2002)... Among the 330 NCAA Division I teams competing, USD ranked in the top-20 in two statistical team areas - #18 in free throw percentage (.747) and #20 in scoring defense (59.6) prior to their contest at Portland... Those numbers now stand at .736 (FT%) and 60.0 ppg (scoring defense)... Senior Gyno Pomare saw his streak of 18 straight free throws made end when he missed his first attempt in the first half at Portland... De'Jon Jackson, who missed seven straight games in mid-season due to knee problems, is coming around in the scoring department having notched double-digit marks in his last two outings (15 vs. SMC and 11 vs. Portland)... He totaled a career-high 4 steals agianst he Pilots as well...USD began league play this year with 4 straight wins - a program-best.
TOREROS IN WCC STATISTICAL RANKINGS: Among WCC teams for all games played this season, USD ranks first in scoring defense (60.0 ppg) and free throw percentage (.736), and second in turnover margin (+1.52)... Torero players that rank in the top-10 for all games include Gyno Pomare (3rd in FG% at .540; 4th in FT% at .795; 5th in scoring at 14.5 ppg; 6th in blocked shots at 1.15; 7th in rebounding at 6.8 ppg), Matt Dorr (7th in 3-PT% at .403), and Roberto Mafra (9th in blocked shots at 0.90). For WCC games only, USD as a team ranks 1st in free throw percentage (.753; 64-85) and turnover margin (+3.17), and 2nd in scoring defense (56.7 ppg) and rebounding defense (30.2). For WCC games only, USD Toreros that rank in the top-10 include Gyno Pomare (4th in FT% at .867; 6th in rebounding at 7.7 rpg; 7th in blocked shots at 1.33; 9th in FG% at .508; and 10th in scoring at 14.3), Rob Jones (10th in blocked shots at 1.0), Trumaine Johnson (4th in assists at 3.50; 6th in assist/turnover margin at +1.17; and 9th in 3-point% at .429), Matt Dorr (8th in 3PT% at .462) and De'Jon Jackson (6th in steals at 1.33).
TOREROS ON THE ROAD: The Toreros are 4-3 in "true" away games and 6-5 overall away from the JCP... USD's loss at Portland on Thursday snapped four straight road wins for the Toreros... For USD's seven "true" away games, fifth-year senior Gyno Pomare (16.5 ppg/9.7 rpg) leads three Toreros in double-digit scoring... He is followed by Trumaine Johnson (14.0 ppg) and Rob Jones (12.0 ppg-6.7 rpg)... For USD's eleven total away games, the same trio lead the way - Pomare (14.9 ppg-8.3rpg), Johnson (14.0 ppg) and Jones (10.0 ppg-6.1 rpg) ... Since arriving at USD, Coach Grier is 15-14 overall in away games (11-9 in "true" away games; 4-5 in neutral site).
SCOUTING THE GONZAGA BULLDOGS: The Gonzaga Bulldogs (6-0 wcc; 15-4) stayed perfect in WCC play and sit alone in first place after Thursday's 69-62 victory over the 18th-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels... The win was Gonzaga's 7th straight, a streak that began on Jan. 7th with an impressive 89-79 overtime win at Tennessee... Against Saint Mary's the Zags were paced by Matt Bouldin (17 points), Steven Gray (14 points) and Austin Daye (10 points, 9 rebounds)... SMC suffered a key loss when guard Patty Mills (18 points in 17 minutes) left the game with 3 minutes left in the 1st half with a sprained right wrist and did not return... Gonzaga is now 7-1 at home this season... For nineteen games they own a scoring margin of +17.2 ppg (79.0 to 61.8)... Through six games in WCC play they own an impressive +34.5 ppg scoring margin (92.0 ppg to 57.5 rpg)... On the season, four Zags are averaging in double-digits: center Josh Heytvelt (14.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg), forward Austin Daye (13.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg), guard Matt Bouldin (13.3 ppg) and guard Steven Gray (10.8 ppg)... Head Coach Mark Few is in his 10th year as head coach (251-64 record) and 20th year with the Bulldog coaching staff.
WCC PRESEASON COACHES POLL: At the WCC Basketball Media Day that was held in mid-October, the Toreros were selected third in the WCC Pre-season Head Coaches Poll. San Diego, the 2008 WCC Tournament champions, received 39 points along with one first place vote. Gonzaga, with 46 points (5 first place votes), edged out Saint Mary's (44 points; 2 first place votes). Rounding out the poll is No. 4 Santa Clara (30 points), No. 5 USF (23 points), No. 6 Portland (19 points), No. 7 LMU (12 points) and No. 8 Pepperdine (11 pts).
SAN DIEGO PARTICPATING IN BRACKETBUSTERS: The Toreros will be part of the seventh annual ESPNU BracketBusters event, a two-day men's college basketball extravaganza pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other on Feb. 20-21, will feature 13 nationally televised games from the pool of 102 teams. USD is one of 14 teams that appeared in last year's NCAA Tournament. The actual selection of participating teams will take place on this coming Monday, February 2, 2009.
UP NEXT FOR USD: Following Saturday's game with Gonzaga, USD will return to the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Thursday, Feb. 5th, to face the Santa Clara Broncos in a 6:30 p.m. contest. The USF Dons will visit two days later on Saturday, Feb. 7th, for a 6:00 p.m. game. Both games will be televised on Channel 4 San Diego.