We're rounding the 50 day mark until Midnight Madness. Before we all pause to think about how wonderful that is, read this quick blast of news (extra points if you're reading on the new SBNation smartphone app).
- If you've read tweets from Guy Landry recently and have wondered why they're originating from Madagascar, it's because he's busy leading the Ivory Coast national team to the quarterfinals of the Fiba Africa Cup being held in Antananarivo. A laudatory article from Fiba's Jeff Taylor, entitled "That Gonzaga Guy Is Good" (get it?) has more on the tournament, and does all sorts of pleasing things like name drop Rony Turiaf and hint at Guy's Final Four goals. After a blowout win against South Africa, Guy and Le Cote d'Ivoire lost to Egypt and Cameroon. That set up a do-or-die match versus Rwanda, during which Landry went off for 34 big ones, including making seven of seven from inside the arc and 11 of 14 free throws. That win prompted a quarterfinal match against undefeated tournament favorite Senegal which the Ivory Coast won this morning. No word yet on who their semi-final opponent will be, as Fiba's not big on the whole publishing-a-bracket thing. At stake for the winner of the Africa Cup? A berth in the Olympics.
- Mark and Marcy Few's 10th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Gala kicks off this weekend at Circling Raven Golf Club and concludes with Saturday evening's memorable, star-studded gala at Spokane's Davenport Hotel. The gala will feature old friends Leon Rice, Billy Grier and Dan Monson, as well as Montana coach Wayne Tinkle. Former Seattle Supersonics coach and cancer survivor George Karl will speak at the event. Native Spokanite and Sportscenter anchor Neil Everett will attend along with ESPN's Sean McDonough. The Fews have raised an estimated $4.7 million for cancer research since they began hosting the events. Notably absent this year will be perpetual MC Jay Bilas, who has appeared at all but one of the nine previous galas. The Spokesman's Jim Meehan reported yesterday the outspoken Bilas can't travel because of a bad back. Sadly, this most likely means wealthy Spokanites in tuxedos won't get to hear a grown man quote Young Jeezy.
- BYU finished off their summer tour of Greece this past week by taking on both the Grecian and Italian national teams in the little shindig they call the Acropolis of Athens Tournament. Cougar basketball play-by-play man Greg Wrubell has an interesting account of how the team ended up playing the previously-unscheduled matches by subbing in for the Macedonian national team at the last minute. Greece won handily 83-54, and Italy blitzed them on Wednesday 102-63. In all fairness to the Cougars, however, they lost to the fourth and seventh ranked national teams in the world, respectively, at the end of a draining road trip on another continent with an ailing big man (Noah Hartsock). True to Euro basketball form, Greece largely avoided taking a physical approach with the Cougars and instead picked apart the BYU zone with quick passes, lots of off ball movement, and ball and basket cuts. It will be interesting to see to what extent Gonzaga can employ the same tactics against BYU this season, and just how often BYU will work out of a zone. New Cougar players Josh Sharp and Demarcus Harrison both received substantial minutes and looked, well, like talented freshmen. Notably absent was indefinitely suspended Cougar big man Brandon Davies, whose timetable for return is still unclear in the wake of a BYU Honor Code violation.
- The BTI men's schedule board website, which Gonzaga was using as a central means of putting together the ever mysterious Zag-curated tournament, is in its sixth day of either being down or having relocated to another, more private domain name. Jerry Krause had posted at least his third want-ad of the off-season earlier this month asking for a fourth and final team to join the tournament. Just as we dispelled rumors earlier this week of Baylor, DePaul, New Mexico and Oklahoma State being potential teams that might populate those three or four remaining schedule vacancies, there's another name that we can most likely write off. That team is Air Force, who has been rumored in connection with the GU tournament in unofficial circles for some time. The Falcons already have a date with Colorado lined up for November 23rd, and the most recent iteration of the proposed tournament would take place in Spokane November 21st-23rd. Also of note: Air Force will travel to Santa Clara to take part in Kerry Keating's version of what the Zags are trying to do - the Cable Car Classic - on December 29th and 30th. It's doubtful that the Falcons would travel to two separate WCC schools' non-qualifying regular-season multiple-team events. (The Cable Car Classic is also noteworthy for taking place during the first weekend of WCC league play. While BYU, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Pepperdine will all have two league games under their belt before the new year rings in, Santa Clara will be busy still playing non-conference games. The Broncos won't start league play until January 5th. Looks like we'll all have to refresh our memory about interpreting "games behind" in half-game increments).
Will potential Zag-tournament schools include old Zags' teams, like Long Beach State (Dan Monson) or Boise State (Leon Rice)?Gonzaga will not take on Boise State or Long Beach State this upcoming season. What schools will end up populating the Zag-hosted tournament? Will the whole thing fall through?