The long, long, long wait is over y’all. We made it. Although the regular season hasn’t started just quite yet, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are taking on the West Georgia Wolves in an exhibition game on Saturday.
Why West Georgia you no doubt are asking yourself? This time around, there is a connection between the two schools. West Georgia head coach Michael Cooney is a Spokane native and a former Gonzaga team manager. He reached out to Mark Few, and here we are.
The Zags have a history of cruising through their exhibition foes, but West Georgia is quite a bit better than most previous opponents. Despite the fact they are a D-II school, West Georgia owns three victories over D-I opponents while under Cooney’s tutelage. The Wolves have also won 144 games during his nine years with the school.
Last season, West Georgia won their Gulf South Conference title, good enough for a ticket to their tournament, where they lost in the NCAA South Regional. Still, a good D-II squad only got better this season. All four returning starters are seniors that have experience with back-to-back conference titles and 22-9 seasons.
The Zags are rolling into this game a bit rough around the edges, but should have more than enough to deal quite handily with the Wolves. Jeremy Jones is out with a high ankle sprain and Zach Norvell still isn’t where he wants to be following summer knee surgery. There is a good chance that the other four freshmen see some playing time. Although, it is important to note that playing in an exhibition game does not burn the option of redshirting.
The Zags will have to be on the lookout for teams playing with nothing left to lose, and West Georgia definitely has enough competent and skilled players to punish a lazy and uninspired Gonzaga team. Guard Steph Branch is the top returning scorer for the Wolves, averaging 13.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds. He is joined by forward Shannon Fowler, who adds 10.9 points and six rebounds per game.
First game of the season, however, should leave The Kennel popping, even if it is just an exhibition game. We are so close everyone.
- Time: 6:00 pm PT
- TV: KHQ (Greg Heister, Richard Fox, Dan Dickau)
- Radio: 1510 KGA/Sirius XM/TuneIn App (Tom Hudson, Matt Santangelo)