|Gonzaga, Butler headline talented field Great Alaska Shootout|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 20 November 2007 08:14|
Coach Mark Few said there won't be any such surprises this year because the entire field of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout is solid, starting with No. 14 Gonzaga's opening game against Western Kentucky on Thursday.
``I knew when we got matched up with them it was going to be a heck of a challenge for us,'' Few said.
Gonzaga and No. 22 Butler, which faces Michigan in the opening game Wednesday, headline the field of eight. Eastern Washington faces Virginia Tech on Wednesday and Texas Tech faces host Alaska-Anchorage, ranked No. 16 among Division II teams, on Thursday.
Wade in 2001 made a name for himself in the Shootout, scoring, defending, rebounding and distributing the ball, showing the skills that would take Marquette to a Final Four appearance and his pro team, the Miami Heat, to an eventual NBA championship.
Gonzaga (3-0) already has defeated Montana, Idaho and UC Riverside but faces a Hilltoppers team that forced 56 turnovers in its last two games.
Western Kentucky's Courtney Lee, who averaged 17.3 points per game last year, is an NBA prospect. Senior point guard Tyrone Brazelton combines quickness with an excellent shooting eye.
From what he can see, Few said, Western Kentucky (3-0) should be a Top 25 team.
``They remind me of our team 10 years ago,'' he said.
Few ticked off what he said were other ``sneaky'' good teams.
Butler (3-0) advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA tournament last year and returns a pair of senior guards in A.J. Graves and Mike Green.
Bob Knight's Red Raiders lost five seniors but are always tough to score on, Few said, and Michigan coach John Beilein in his first season with the Wolverines is another crafty coach.
Gonzaga hasn't been so bad itself, winning all three of its games by at least 26 points.
In the absence of center Josh Heytvelt, out with a foot injury, the Zags have gotten solid contribution from Austin Daye. Few said the 6-foot-10 forward is earning minutes because of his play so far, which includes a team-leading 18.0 points per game.
``He's a gamer,'' Few said.
Gonzaga's not the only team in the tournament playing youngsters.
Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said he will probably play a nine-man rotation that includes five freshmen and a sophomore, making a schedule that includes three games in four days even more telling.
``You get to find out where you are,'' Greenberg said. ``What better way to find out where you are than to play very good competition.''
Few also likes the idea of playing good teams with different styles on a neutral court.
``It kind of mimics what you're going to see in an NCAA tournament,'' he said.